The Download: AI to predict ice, and healthcare censorship in China

by Massimo Barnett
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The news: Researchers have used deep learning to model more precisely than ever before how ice crystals form in the atmosphere. Their paper, published this week in PNAS, hints at the potential to significantly increase the accuracy of weather and climate forecasting.

How they did it: The researchers used deep learning to predict how atoms and molecules behave. First, models were trained on small-scale simulations of water molecules to help them predict how electrons in atoms interact. The models then replicated those interactions on a larger scale, with more atoms and molecules. It’s this ability to precisely simulate electron interactions that allowed the team to accurately predict physical and chemical behavior.

Why it matters: If researchers could model how ice forms more accurately, it could give a big boost to weather prediction overall, especially those involving whether and how much it’s likely to rain or snow. It could also aid climate forecasting by improving the ability to model clouds, which affect the planet’s temperature in complex ways. Read the full story.

—Tammy Xu

China has censored a top health information platform

China has censored DXY, the country’s leading health information platform and online community for Chinese doctors. On August 9, DXY fell silent across its social media channels, where it boasts over 80 million followers. While Weibo offered the vague explanation that the platform’s five channels had violated “relevant laws and regulations,”  Nikkei Asia reported that the order came from regulators and won’t end without official approval.

In the increasingly polarized social media environment in China, healthcare is becoming a target for controversy. The suspension has met with a gleeful social reaction among nationalist bloggers, who accuse DXY of receiving foreign funding, bashing traditional Chinese medicine, and criticizing China’s health-care system, illustrating just how politicized health topics have become. Read the full story.

—Zeyi Yang

Podcast: How to craft effective AI policy

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