The Daily Dose: Weakness of AI discoveries and scientists behaving badly

Bat plague continues: A New York Times article highlights the continuing crisis facing bats in America. A fungal pathogen responsible for a condition called White Nose Syndrome has decimated bat populations while they hibernate for the winter. As yet, the scientific community lack the understanding about the disease and experts are at odds with each other how to treat it. White Nose Syndrome started in the East but has now spread to West Coast caves.

There’s an app for that too: Art conservation has long depended on science to save priceless works of art that stretch from Antiquity to the 20th Century. Now, conservationists, scholars, and curators have a new weapon in their arsenal. A smartphone app unveiled at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science can zoom in on the smallest areas and create a 3D image similar to a topographical map. This can allow researchers to discern whether older paintings exist beneath the top layer, amongst other capabilities.

Engineering cell’s to make insulin: A study in the journal Nature reports that scientists from the University Of Geneva have designed “human pancreatic cells that don’t normally make insulin, a hormone that regulates the amount of glucose in the blood, to change their identity and begin producing the hormone.” The discovery could lead to new and more effective ways of treating diabetes.

Weakness in AI discoveries: A Rice University statistician is sounding the alarm about the scientific community’s increasing reliance on discoveries made using machine learning techniques. According to Genevera Allen, findings that relied on artificial intelligence have resulted in a reproducibility problem. Until this can be resolved, Allen suggests discoveries be viewed with caution.

Scientists behaving badly: Finally, the people at Retraction Watch continue their important sleuthing work. They report that a team of scientists in China and associated with the Second Military Medical University in Shanghai engaged in some seriously fraudulent publishing. In order to make their study more impressive, they included three German scientists as authors even though the three researchers had nothing to do with the study or even knew about it. They went so far as to create fake email accounts for the German scientists. When the Chinese researchers were caught, they immediately retracted the study and blamed their actions on language barriers. How the inability to speak German resulted in a fraudulent paper and forged email accounts only they know.

IMAGE SOURCE: Creative Commons

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