May 12, 2023

Posted by orrinj at 7:42 AM


Posted by orrinj at 7:35 AM


How generative AI is building better antibodies: Language models similar to those behind ChatGPT have been used to improve antibody therapies against COVID-19, Ebola and other viruses. (Ewen Callaway, 5/04/23, Nature)

At the height of the pandemic, researchers raced to develop some of the first effective treatments against COVID-19: antibody molecules isolated from the blood of people who had recovered from the disease.

Now, scientists have shown that generative artificial intelligence (AI) can provide a shortcut through some of this laborious process, suggesting sequences that boost the potency of antibodies against viruses such as SARS-CoV-2 and ebolavirus. A study published last week in Nature Biotechnology1 is part of growing efforts to apply 'neural networks' similar to those behind the ChatGPT AI platform to antibody design.

Posted by orrinj at 7:31 AM


The New Right Loves the State: American conservatives are flirting with the authoritarian-adjacent European conservatism of old. (FRANCIS FUKUYAMA, MAY 10, 2023, Persuasion)

Conservative intellectuals have been trying to come up with a coherent justification for strong-state populist policies. Patrick Deneen has attacked the liberal project root and branch in his book Why Liberalism Failed, pointing to John Locke himself as the mistaken point at which Western thought turned away from religiously-defined (or what he calls "teleological") political authority. He has also called for a conservative rethinking of its embrace of the private sector and capitalism. Catholic integralists like Harvard Law Professor Adrian Vermeule have been open in their support for a more hierarchical system that would substantively define the "common good" in place of liberalism's agnosticism about final ends.

Finally, there has been a lot of open admiration expressed for strongman leadership and authoritarian government. Rod Dreher moved to Budapest and sees Viktor Orbán's Hungary as a model for the United States, while Tucker Carlson spent a week broadcasting from there. Donald Trump in a recent interview effusively praised Xi Jinping, Vladimir Putin, and Kim Jong Un, all of whom were very "smart" and effective leaders. He has made various proposals for using violence and summary judgments against drug dealers and wants to round up homeless people and put them in special camps. Other conservatives have expressed admiration for El Salvador's Nayib Bukele (including Senator Marco Rubio), a democratically elected leader who has used extrajudicial means to round up tens of thousands of gang members.

Make no mistake: this is not your grandfather's conservatism. American conservatives are now talking more like older European ones--not like, say, the German Christian Democrats, who today are in many ways to the left of the Democratic Party, but older ones like Spain's Francisco Franco or Portugal's Antonio Salazar who were happy to see democracy abolished in their countries altogether. There is plenty to criticize on the woke Left, but this new type of conservative is not talking about rolling back particular policies; they are challenging the very premises of the liberal state and toying with outright authoritarianism. They are not simply deluded by lies about the 2020 election, but willing to accept non-democratic outcomes to get their way. And they are providing ample support for a broad retreat in foreign policy away from liberal internationalism towards isolationism.

There's something undeniably delicious about the European nature of MAGA.  It is Anglospherics they hate. 

Posted by orrinj at 7:23 AM


Sweden to pave world's first permanent e-road for EV charging while driving (Ioanna Lykiardopoulou, May 10, 2023, Next Web)

As countries across Europe scale up efforts towards fossil fuel-free mobility, Sweden is working on the world's first permanent electric road -- allowing electric cars and trucks to charge while driving.

The project is led by the Swedish Transport Administration, Trafikverket, which has selected the E20 highway. Specifically, it will build the electric road system (ERS) on the 21km route from Hallsberg to Örebro, located between the country's two largest cities, Stockholm and Gothenburg.

The e-road is now at the procurement and final planning stage, while Trafikverket expects to complete and introduce it to the public in 2025/2026.

Posted by orrinj at 7:18 AM


Meet The Texas Startup That Recycles Rare-Earth Magnets, Bypassing China (Amy Feldman, May 10, 2023, Forbes)

At a factory in San Marcos, Texas, workers gather Bird scooters, computer hard drives, MRI machines and motors from hybrid cars in order to separate out the old rare-earth magnets so they can be ground down and shaped into new ones. These strong permanent magnets are everywhere, even if most people know nothing about them. They go into everything from electric vehicles to wind turbines to consumer electronics to missile guidance systems. Yet for years, the U.S. has been largely dependent on China for rare-earth processing. Noveon Magnetics, the startup behind this recycling effort, has a grand plan -- and some patented technology -- to make a dent in that dependance.

"We didn't realize till the last decade how big the potential shortfalls were," says Scott Dunn, Noveon's cofounder and chief executive. "You don't just get to turn on the spigot and produce these. They're not a commodity." [...]

Dunn figures that once its San Marcos facility is at capacity, by 2024 or 2025, it will be able to churn out 2,000 tons of magnets under long-term supplier agreements, using a mix of recycled and mined rare-earth materials, and bringing in revenue of $250 million with 40% Ebitda at current magnet prices. After that, he hopes to set up similar magnet factories in Europe and Asia (outside of China), with a goal of reaching $1 billion in revenue within five years.

Posted by orrinj at 7:14 AM


Supreme Court Outrages Republicans With Split Decision Ruling (NICK MORDOWANEC, 5/11/23, Newsweek)

Republican lawmakers and the pork industry are none too pleased with a Supreme Court decision on Thursday that upholds California's Proposition 12 ballot initiative, requiring pork sold in the state to be raised under strict guidelines among other ramifications.

The 5-4 decision was upheld by Justices Neil Gorsuch, Clarence Thomas, Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan and Amy Coney Barrett. The majority reaffirmed a decision from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, arguing that this was not a constitutional issue.

"Companies that choose to sell products in various states must normally comply with the laws of those various states," Gorsuch wrote in the opinion. "Assuredly, under this court's dormant Commerce Clause decisions, no state may use its laws to discriminate purposefully against out-of-state economic interests. But the pork producers do not suggest that California's law offends this principle.

"Instead, they invite us to fashion two new and more aggressive constitutional restrictions on the ability of states to regulate goods sold within their borders. We decline that invitation. While the constitution addresses many weighty issues, the type of pork chops California merchants may sell is not on that list."

Posted by orrinj at 6:40 AM


US representative Rashida Tlaib defiantly leads Nakba day in Washington (Brooke Anderson, 11 May, 2023, New Arab)

Following the cancellation of the event at the Capitol by McCarthy, it was held in the Dirksen Senate Office Building, which Senator Bernie Sanders was able to secure with his position as chair of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee. Chairs are able to approve rooms for events.

The attempt to cancel the event only seemed to give it more publicity and embolden Tlaib and other speakers, including Nakba survivors and their descendants, who tied the symbolism of being displaced from their original venue to the decades-long displacement of Palestinians from their homeland.

"We are here," human rights attorney Noura Erakat said repeatedly in her opening and closing remarks.