News

Jose Carmena in IEEE article titled “Timeline: The Evolution of Assistive Technologies”.

Jose Carmena is mentioned in IEEE’s publication The Institute in an article titled “Timeline: The Evolution of Assistive Technologies”  (see timeline at the bottom of the article, year 2017). In celebration of The Institute's 40th anniversary this article highlights topics and technologies  over the past four decades that have applied electronics to significantly help people overcome disabilities. Professor Carmena is recognized for contributions to the neural basis of motor-skill learning and neuroprosthetic systems. His research program in neural engineering and systems neuroscience is aimed at understanding the neural basis of sensorimotor learning and control, and at building the science and engineering base that will allow the creation of reliable neuroprosthetic systems for the severely disabled. He is also co-chair of the IEEE Brain Initiative and Co-Director of the Center for Neural Engineering and Prostheses at UC Berkeley and UCSF.

Sculpted Light in the Brain

In an effort to gather scientists at the interface between neurosciences, optical engineering, and computer science, an all-day conference is being held on Friday, June 9, in Stanley Hall titled Sculpted Light in the Brain.   Participants are united in their mission to develop technologies to enable real time optical communication with the living brain.  The endeavor was initiated with a $2k seed grant to the California Institute for Quantitative Biosciences (QB3) and grew into a $20K showcase for the collaboration between neuroscientists, electrical engineers, and computer scientists, highlighting U.C. Berkeley's position as a preeminent leader in brain research. The conference, which already has a 50 person waitlist, will host 11 fully funded speakers including EE Associate Prof. Laura Waller,  present 25 posters, and is supported by a dozen corporate sponsors .

Armando Solar-Lezama: Academic success despite an inauspicious start

Alumnus and Mexican immigrant Armando Solar-Lezama (CS Ph.D. '08) is the subject of an MIT News article describing some of the academic obstacles he had to overcome on his path to becoming a tenured professor at MIT.  Armando's creative  approaches to his class assignments were discouraged in Mexico and despite self-educating to narrow the gap, he experienced systematic repression in high school when he moved to Texas with his family in 1997.  After he graduated from Texas A&M, he was welcomed into the Berkeley EECS graduate program.  Under the mentorship of Prof. Ras Bodik, Armando discovered the nascent area of "program synethesis," which has since blossomed into a popular field of research.  Read about Armando's challenging and inspiring journey.

Meet the most nimble-fingered robot yet

Many researchers are working on ways for robots to learn to grasp and manipulate things by practicing over and over, but the process is very time-consuming. The research work on robotic deep learning by Prof. Ken Goldberg is featured on the cover of MIT Review in an article titled "Meet the Most Nimble-Fingered Robot Yet".  Instead of practicing in the real world, Prof. Ken Goldberg and colleagues have developed a robot that learns by feeding on a data set of more than a thousand objects that includes their 3-D shape, visual appearance, and the physics of grasping them. This data set was used to train the robot’s deep-learning system. Advances in control algorithms and machine-learning approaches, together with new hardware, are steadily building a foundation on which a new generation of robots will operate.

David Culler named Interim Dean for the Division of Data Sciences

Prof. David Culler has been appointed the Interim Dean for the newly created Division of Data Sciences.  The purpose of the new division is to bring techniques to bear in statistics, mathematics, and computer science on new sources of data.  One of their goals is the creation of an undergraduate data science major and data science minor.   Prof. Culler's duties will include fostering a cooperative atmosphere among the relevant faculties; working with the administration to form an advisory board with representation of key external constituencies; advancing fundraising efforts in concert with broader campus fundraising objectives; and enlisting a team of Berkeley faculty members who will work with him to develop the initiative. He will begin his new role on July 1, 2017 for a two-year term.

Two sophomores are using AI to fight fake news on Facebook

EECS sophomore Rohan Phadte and Interdisciplinary Studies major Ash Bhat have built a Messenger bot called NewsBot to help users discern whether articles are "fake news" on Facebook. Besides determining the validity of an article, it also offers a barometer that shows where an article might fit on the left-right bias spectrum, and is one of the only tools of its kind.  The idea for the algorithm first came to them during machine-learning classes.  Although it still has some bugs, they are making updates every day and the tool will improve as more users provide feedback.   "We want people to read more than just the headline. We want them to understand what the news they see says and who it's coming from." Bhat says.  Read the article on Mic.

Stuart Russell TED talk: 3 principles for creating safer AI

CS Prof. Stuart Russell gave an engaging TED talk in April describing some of the problems in, and possible solutions for, creating a species that is smarter than humans.  He argues that building provably altruistic,  humble, and humanitarian machines might help us avoid some of the pitfalls inevitable in a future with superintelligent AI.

Avideh Zakhor: the brains behind Google Earth and Street View

Computer vision pioneer Prof. Avideh Zakhor is the subject of a Mercury News profile titled "Avideh Zakhor: the brains behind Google Earth and Street View,"  which touches on her emigration from Iran,  the creation of the 3-D city modeling technology for a Defense Department-funded start-up which she ultimately sold to Google, and her current research on indoor mapping.  She also discusses the value of encouraging skilled immigrant workers to come to the U.S and the importance of getting more women into STEM fields.  "Maybe then we wouldn’t in Silicon Valley have a shortage of STEM workers — it makes it very hard for tech companies to operate; the labor market is very tight." she says.

David Patterson is leading one of Google's most crucial projects

Prof. Emeritus David Patterson is profiled in a CNBC article which describes how he postponed retirement to conduct research at Google into the Tensor Processing Unit (TPU), an ambitious new chip that's designed to run at least 10 times faster than today's processors and is sophisticated enough to handle the intensive computations required for artificial intelligence.  Without it, it is estimated that Google would have to double its data centers to support even a limited amount of voice processing.  Prof. Patterson described his work on the TPU when he returned to Berkeley as a Colloquium speaker on May 3rd.

Berkeley CS faculty among the most influential in their fields

U.C. Berkeley has the top ten most AMiner Most Influential Scholar Award winners across all fields of computer science in 2016 and the top five most award winners in the fields of Computer Vision, Database, Machine Learning, Multimedia, Security, Computer Networking, and System.  The 28 CS faculty members included in the rankings were among the 100 most-cited authors in 12 of the 15 research areas evaluated. Two were among the 100 most-cited authors in 3 different areas each: Scott Shenker ranked #1 in Computer Networking, #51 in System, and #99 in Theory; and Trevor Darrell ranked #8 in Mulitmedia, #18 in Computer Vision, and #100 in Machine Learning.  Out of the 700,000 researchers indexed, only 16 appeared on three or more area top 100 lists.  See a more detailed breakdown of our influential faculty scholars.