Berkeley in the News Archive

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Thursday, 12 June 2014

1. Engineering an affordable exoskeleton

Engineering professor Homayoon Kazerooni's Robotics and Human Engineering Laboratory is developing an affordable, lightweight robotic system, called an exoskeleton, which can be worn under clothing and help paraplegics and other people with impaired motor skills live more ordinary lives. "Many paraplegics are not in a situation to afford a $100,000 device, and insurance companies don't pay for these devices," Professor Kazerooni says. "Our job as engineers is to make something people can use. ... The key is independence for these people. ... I want them to get up in the morning and go to work, go to the bathroom, stand at a bar and have a beer." Full Story

2. Big and Little Robot Team Up to Tackle Terrain
Discovery News

A team of Berkeley researchers, including Duncan Haldane and Ronald Fearing, was at the IEEE robotics conference in Hong Kong last week demonstrating VelociRoACH, a small, expendable robot that could be used to go ahead of big, expensive ones to scout terrain conditions and communicate hazardous conditions to be avoided. The idea -- on missions -- would be to sacrifice cheap robots to protect bigger, multi-million-dollar ones. Link to video. Other stories on this topic appeared in Engadget and Gizmodo Australia. Full Story

3. Love hormone may help old muscles regenerate
Business Standard (India)

A team of Berkeley researchers led by associate bioengineering professor Irina Conboy has found that oxytocin, a feel-good hormone produced in the brain, can help rejuvenate muscles, and is a promising target for anti-aging treatments. Stories on this topic appeared in a variety of sources around the world, including the Huffington Post, LiveScience, and Metro News Canada (AFP). Full Story

4. Appeals Court Upholds Wins for Fair Use in HathiTrust Case
Library Journal

Berkeley law professor Molly Van Houweling, co-founder of the newly formed Author’s Alliance, weighs in on a federal appeals court decision that the creation of a full-text searchable database of millions of books constitutes fair use of copyrighted works. She says that the current ruling is a win for fair use advocates and authors alike. “Fair use serves authors who want to be found, not forgotten," she says. "HathiTrust allows readers to find books that might otherwise be forgotten in its collections to either check it out from the library or purchase it.” UC Berkeley and dozens of other institutions were defendants in the suit, which was filed after the consortium of nonprofit institutions created an organization called the Hathi Trust Digital Library. The library's goal was to give readers a means of searching for terms in printed material, as well as help disabled patrons access full books in alternative forms. Full Story

5. Schools' next test is getting tenure ruling to pay off in class
Los Angeles Times

A Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge ruled in a lawsuit this week that school districts should have more authority to hire the best teachers and fire the worst. Associate public policy professor Jesse Rothstein testified for the state and its largest teacher unions in the lawsuit. He says about prior efforts nationwide: "There's been a big national experiment taking place. ... There's no evidence yet that these changes have had a beneficial effect." Full Story

6. Few applicants for blue-collar jobs in S.F.
San Francisco Chronicle

Labor economist Sylvia Allegretto, of Berkeley's Center on Wage and Employment Dynamics, explains why blue-collar jobs are so difficult to fill in San Francisco. She says the problem isn't that there's a lack of workers, "it's that (employers) are not willing to pay them at the rate they want to be paid." Many low- and middle-income job seekers can't afford to live in the city, she says, so they face a difficult question: "Is it worth it for me to commute into San Francisco for this job?" Full Story

7. Why the Dow hitting 17,000 actually matters

Business and finance professor Terrence Odean weighs in on the possibility of the Dow Jones Industrial Average reaching 17,000. “I expect that the biggest effect of hitting 17,000 is that the event gets news coverage and, in the process, reminds (or informs) investors that the market has been going up,” he says. “While this could prompt some people to sell, I’d expect it to trigger more buying than selling. ... People like to chase trends ... and people are more likely to buy when they are thinking about the market than thinking about something else such as the World Cup.” Full Story

8. Real-Estate Sector Moves Crowdfunding Beyond the Trinkets
Wall Street Journal (*requires registration)

Richard Swart, director of crowdfunding research at Berkeley's Fung Institute, says that real estate is the "hottest sector" in crowdfunding today. "It's getting the most interest and the most activity," he says. Full Story

9. Forget the Turing Test: Here’s How We Could Actually Measure AI

Berkeley researchers Avideh Zakhor, Michael Jordan and Stuart Russell are quoted in a story about artificial intelligence and what type of test will indicate it has truly been achieved. Zakhor, a computer vision researcher, says we should aim for computers to “be as good as the best human, or better than the best human” at recognizing objects and people. Jordan, a machine learning researcher, suggests: "An example of a task is a system providing a running commentary on a sporting match. ... Even more difficult: The system doesn’t know about soccer, but I explain soccer to the system and then it provides a running commentary on the match.” Russell, a computer scientist, says: "If you fix a landmark goal, you tend to end up with systems that are narrow and inflexible. ... In developing general-purpose AI we look for breadth and depth of capabilities and flexibility in developing new capabilities automatically.” Full Story

10. California Report: California Colleges Move to Accommodate Growing Population of Disabled Students
KQED Radio

In the 1960s, Berkeley students pioneered the independent living movement, opening doors for people with physical disabilities. Laws and attitudes have changed dramatically since then, and now universities are accommodating more students with cognitive conditions. Link to audio. Full Story

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