Insight No. 78: Breaking-through Technologies: “AI for Everybody”

Insights, Technology

Artificial intelligence has so far been mainly the plaything of big tech companies like Amazon, Baidu, Google, and Microsoft, as well as some startups. For many other companies and parts of the economy, AI systems are too expensive and too difficult to implement fully.

What’s the solution? Machine-learning tools based in the cloud are bringing AI to a far broader audience. So far, Amazon dominates cloud AI with its AWS subsidiary. Google is challenging that with TensorFlow, an open-source AI library that can be used to build other machine-learning software. Recently Google announced Cloud AutoML, a suite of pre-trained systems that could make AI simpler to use.

Microsoft, which has its own AI-powered cloud platform, Azure, is teaming up with Amazon to offer Gluon, an open-source deep-learning library. Gluon is supposed to make building neural nets — a key technology in AI that crudely mimics how the human brain learns as easy as building a smartphone app.

These products will be essential if the AI revolution is going to spread more broadly through different parts of the economy.

Poem No. 123: “Phenomenal Woman” by Maya Angelou

Gedichte, poems

Pretty women wonder where my secret lies. 
I’m not cute or built to suit a fashion model’s size 
But when I start to tell them, 
They think I’m telling lies. 
I say, 
It’s in the reach of my arms 
The span of my hips, 
The stride of my step, 
The curl of my lips. 
I’m a woman 
Phenomenally. 
Phenomenal woman, 
That’s me. 

I walk into a room 
Just as cool as you please, 
And to a man, 
The fellows stand or 
Fall down on their knees. 
Then they swarm around me, 
A hive of honey bees. 
I say, 
It’s the fire in my eyes, 
And the flash of my teeth, 
The swing in my waist, 
And the joy in my feet. 
I’m a woman 
Phenomenally. 
Phenomenal woman, 
That’s me. 

Men themselves have wondered 
What they see in me. 
They try so much 
But they can’t touch 
My inner mystery. 
When I try to show them 
They say they still can’t see. 
I say, 
It’s in the arch of my back, 
The sun of my smile, 
The ride of my breasts, 
The grace of my style. 
I’m a woman 

Phenomenally. 
Phenomenal woman, 
That’s me. 

Now you understand 
Just why my head’s not bowed. 
I don’t shout or jump about 
Or have to talk real loud. 
When you see me passing 
It ought to make you proud. 
I say, 
It’s in the click of my heels, 
The bend of my hair, 
the palm of my hand, 
The need of my care, 
‘Cause I’m a woman 
Phenomenally. 
Phenomenal woman, 
That’s me.

Poem No. 217: “Woman Work” – by Maya Angelou

Uncategorized

I’ve got the children to tend
The clothes to mend
The floor to mop
The food to shop
Then the chicken to fry
The baby to dry
I got company to feed
The garden to weed
I’ve got shirts to press
The tots to dress
The can to be cut
I gotta clean up this hut
Then see about the sick
And the cotton to pick.

Shine on me, sunshine
Rain on me, rain
Fall softly, dewdrops
And cool my brow again.

Storm, blow me from here
With your fiercest wind
Let me float across the sky
‘Til I can rest again.

Fall gently, snowflakes
Cover me with white
Cold icy kisses and
Let me rest tonight.

Sun, rain, curving sky
Mountain, oceans, leaf and stone
Star shine, moon glow
You’re all that I can call my own. 

Insight No. 212: “Breakingthrough Technologies – 3D Organ Bio-Printing”

Creatures, Insights, Nature, Technology

Almost 114,000 people in the United States are currently on the waiting list for a lifesaving organ transplant. Another name is added to the national transplant waiting list every 10 min.. On average, 20 people die every day from the lack of available organs for transplant.

But the shortage of organs for transplant is a universal problem.  Unfortunately, there is a lack of statistics about the demand for organs in other world regions. The statistics below refer to the USA only…

IN GENERAL

3D bio-printing, the process of using bio-ink composed of tissue or human cells, has come a long way over the last decade. The goal of developing functioning whole organs, such as kidneys, livers or hearts, is becoming more and more of a reality.

3D bio-printing uses a typical layer-by-layer 3D printing method, depositing bio-inks or bio-materials, to create 3D tissues or structures used for medicine or tissue engineering. This technology is being applied to regenerative medicine to address the need for tissues and 3D printed organs for transplant.

THE BONES, BODY PARTS & TISSUE

In 2017, a team from the University of Glasgow developed a new technique called “nano-kicking” to grow 3D samples of mineralized bone for the first time. Using this method, the researchers were able to turn stem cells taken from human donors into 3D bone grafts. These grafts could be ready for implantation as early 2020.

In the meantime the group has already demonstrated functional bone grafts after implanting them into a dog’s leg — one which would otherwise have required amputation. This technology is also specifically being funded through a collaborative effort with Find A Better Way. The goal is to help those who have suffered landmine related injuries.

THE HEART

The most promising of of 3D printed organs for transplant is the heart. As organs go, the heart is actually one of the easiest to recreate because it doesn’t employ any complex biochemical reactions. Rather, its primary function is to act as a pump.

Biolife4D, a biotech startup, hopes to create miniature hearts for testing in small animals within a year. The process was developed in part by several research groups:

  • First, a patient’s heart is scanned with an MRI machine, creating a digital render of the shape and size.
  • Next, using a blood sample from the patient, blood cells can be converted into stem cells and then converted again into heart cells. The resulting hydrogel mixture is their bio-ink to be used with a 3D printer.
  • The bio-ink is printed layer by layer onto a biodegradable scaffold. It provides a structure on which cells can grow, forming the exact shape of the patient’s heart.
  • Within a few days, the hearts cells join and begin to beat like a heart. Once ready, the scaffold can be removed with heat and the heart is ready for transplant.

Using the patient’s own cells to prepare the organ means it’s less likely to be rejected by the host. As such, the patient isn’t required to take immune-suppressant drugs, which might otherwise make them susceptible to other diseases.

THE KIDNEYS

Of the potential 3D printed organs for transplant, a 3D printed kidney is one of the most difficult. That’s because of the complexity of the organ’s structure, which is necessary for its function.

In 2016, Jennifer Lewis’ lab at Harvard developed a novel printing method that uses ‘inks’ consisting of kidney cells and surrounding material. This ink ends has the consistency of toothpaste and can be extruded at room temperature, allowing them to make complex tissue structures.

Thanks to this novel ink, the research group has been able to recreate part of the nephron, the functional unit of the kidney. The nephron is responsible for filtering the blood and reabsorbing all of the useful components and excreting out the rest. With this achievement, the field of 3D printed organs for transplant is a lot closer now to creating a functional kidney.

3D printed artificial kidneys are already used for training purposes. More advanced models might act as a substitute for organic implants. Of course, scientist are working on the objective to develop 3D printed kidneys made of organic cells that are suitable to replace the original human organ.

Scientists also work on solutions to replace at least parts of the kidney by 3D bio-printed products to fill the dramatical lack of donors.

THE LIVER

Organovo, a San Diego-based bio-printing company, has already demonstrated that it can 3D print human liver tissue patches, implant them into mice and be functionally beneficial. 

These liver patches are currently as thick as a dollar bill and are used to extend patients’ lives until they can recieve proper transplants. These partial liver transplants are currently targeted for human trials in 2020.

Until liver transplants begin, Organovo is also using their bio-printed liver patches for pre-clinical testing and drug discovery research. Using multi-cellular 3D human tissues that mimic a real liver, they can better assess the effects of specific drugs and compounds without risking lives.

A San Diego-based start-up “printed” the world’s first 3D human liver this year, but cautions that the ability to bioprint transplantable human organs will take years.

THE LUNGS

Scientists successfully 3D print an organ that mimics lungs recently.

In a 3D printing first, scientists have figured out how to print artificial versions of the body’s complex vascular networks, which mimic our natural passageways for blood, air, lymph, and other vital fluids.

“One of the biggest road blocks to generating functional tissue replacements has been our inability to print the complex vasculature that can supply nutrients to densely populated tissues,” says Jordan Miller, assistant professor of bio-engineering at Rice’s Brown School of Engineering.

Miller says our organs contain their own vascular networks, like the lung’s blood vessels and airways, and the bile ducts and blood vessels in the liver. “These interpenetrating networks are physically and biochemically entangled, and the architecture itself is intimately related to tissue function,” he says.

But Miller and his team are the first to develop bio-printing technology that “addresses the challenge of multi-vascularization in a direct and comprehensive way.”

The scientists created a new open-source bio-printing technology that they called “stereolithography apparatus for tissue engineering,” or SLATE. During the SLATE process, layers are printed one at a time from a liquid pre-hydrogel solution. When that solution is exposed to blue light, it becomes solid.

The scientists made a lung-mimicking structure as a test. SLATE held up, showing itself to be sturdy enough to create a rhythmic intake and outflow of “breathing.” Red blood cells had enough room to carry oxygen through the body. Researcher outline that there is still a long way to go to print organic lungs. In fact, they admit they still have to learn more about the human body`s architecture but significant progress is made.

Tipp No. 20: “Königsberger Meat Balls” from East Prussia – A Traditional German Recipe with History (“Königsberger Klopse” aus Ostpreussen)

Food, Insights, Reisen, Tipps, Travel
Königsberger Klopse.PNG

My Mom was born 1939 in Königsberg in East Prussia (Ostpreussen in the very North-East, former map of Germany).

Germany before 1945.png
Ostpreussen flucht Haff.jpg

Like thousands of Germans (the vast majority of refugees were elderly people, women and children), her family crossed the frozen “Haff” (= huge “Danziger Bay” between Königsberg/Pillau and Gdingen) with the aim to escape from the Russian Red Army and their revenge. Many lifes were lost and entire treks of thousands of refugees disappeared under the ice of the Baltic Sea (the last escape corridor) after East Prussia was isolated and cut off from the German territory by the Red Army in winter 1944/45.

MV Gustloff

As far as my grandma told me, my mothers family was trying to reach the last ship leaving the harbor Gotenhafen / Gdingen (todays Gydnia) at the Baltic Sea…the famous military transport ship “MV Wilhelm Gustloff”, which was acccepting civilian refugees.

But my grandma and her family was about 1 hour too late and missed the “Wilhelm Gustloff”. The transporter ship left Gotenhafen for his final tour this day.

9.400 lifes lost after bombarding refugee rescue ship

On 30 January 1945, the “Wilhelm Gustlow” operated under the flag of the red cross was bombed by submarine S-13 (Soviet Navy) and sank immediately after being hit by 3 torpedos. By one estimate, 9.400 people died, which makes it the largest loss of life in a single ship sinking in world history.

2,5 mio German refugees evacuated by a fleet of 1000 merchant- and warships. 

In a desperate act of humanity, about 2,5 mio German refugees were evacuated spontaneously by a quite unprepared fleet of approx. 1000 merchant-ships & warships quickly relocated to the Baltic Sea.

Do you notice something? Yes, we have caused a (admittedly just Germany internal) refugee crisis as well just one generation ago.

Königsberg.jpg

Königsberg – Kaliningrad

However, Germany lost all Eastern states/ territories (Ostpreussen, Schlesien, Pommern, Berlin-Brandenburg, Sachsen und Mitte) to Russia and Poland, as a result of the WWII. Königsberg and the region East Prussia (Ostpreussen) was part of the reparation package, Germany paid.

After being largely destroyed in World War II by Allied bombing and Soviet forces and annexed by the Soviet Union thereafter, the old German city “Königsberg” was renamed Kaliningrad because the Soviets wanted to gain access to the Baltic Sea for geo-strategical reasons.

Königsbergs unique regional cuisine is unforgotten

Königsberg was well-known within Germany for its unique regional cuisine. One of the popular dishes from the city was “Königsberger Klopse”, which is still made today in some specialist restaurants in Kaliningrad and present-day Germany.

koenigsberger-marzipan-teekonfekt--28708_04

Other food and drink native to the city included:
+ Königsberger Marzipan for teatime (pic l-h-s)
+ Kopskiekelwein, a wine made from blackcurrants or redcurrants + Bärenfang + Spirgel or Spirkel + Schwarzsauer + Klunker Soup + Rader-Cake (polnish: Faworki) + Tilsiter Cheese (Tilsit is a town in East Prussia) + Ochsenblut, literally “ox blood”, a champagne-burgundy cocktail mixed at the popular Blutgericht pub, which no longer exists.

East Prussia and and its formerly flourishing capitol Königsberg is lost but not the recipes of our grandmothers forwarded to our mothers…and then to us….

KÖNIGSBERGER KLOPSE IN CREAMY CAPER SAUCE

Für die Klößchen (for the Meat Balls):
250 g Rinderhackfleisch (Ground Beef)
250 g Schweinehackfleisch (pork minced meat)
1 Brötchen, eingeweicht (in water soaked roll) 
1 große Zwiebel(n) (big onion)
2 Ei(er) (eggs)
2 EL Paniermehl (2 soup spoons bread crumbs)
Salz (salt)
Pfeffer (pepper)
etwas Sardellenpaste (some anchovy paste)

Für die Brühe (for the stock / bouillon):
1 Liter Fleischbrühe, klare (Bouillon)
Salz (salt)
1 große Zwiebel(n) (big onion)
1 Lorbeerblatt (bay leaf)
3 Körner Piment (3 corns of pimento)
3 Pfefferkörner (3 corns of black pepper)

Für die Sauce:
3 EL Butter
2 EL Mehl (flour)
Zucker (sugar)
Zitronensaft (Lemon Juice)
375 ml Brühe vom Kochen der Klopse (Bouillon from meat ball cooking)
125 ml Sahne (creme)
Kapern, 1 Röhrchen (caper, 1 glass)
1 Eigelb (egg yolk)
Salz und Pfeffer (salt & pepper)

Außerdem: 1 kl. Bund Petersilie, zum Garnieren. Besides: 1 Little bundle of parsley for decoration.

Das Rezept ist für 4 Portionen kalkuliert. The recipe is for 4 person.

Zubereitung (Preparation)
Arbeitszeit: ca. 45 Min. / Koch-/Backzeit: ca. 40 Min. / Schwierigkeitsgrad: normal / Kalorien p. P.: ca. 754 kcal

Klopse (Meat Balls):
Aus Hackfleisch, dem ausgedrückten Brötchen und der geschälten, fein gehackten Zwiebel in einer Schüssel mit den zwei Eiern, Salz und Pfeffer einen geschmeidigen Fleischteig kneten. Den Klopsteig mit Paniermehl binden. Je nach persönlichem Geschmack kann auch noch ein wenig Sardellenpaste hinzugefügt werden. Aus der Teigmasse Klopse formen.

Brühe (Bouillon):
Die geschälte, klein gehackte Zwiebel und die Gewürze in die Brühe geben. Brühe erhitzen, evtl. nachsalzen. Die Klopse in die Brühe geben und ca. 10 Minuten köcheln lassen. Dann das Lorbeerblatt, die Pfefferkörner und Pimentkörner herausnehmen. Die Klopse in der Brühe in weiteren ca. 10 Minuten gar ziehen lassen. Dann herausnehmen und abgedeckt warm stellen.

Kapernsauce (Caper Sauce):
Butter erhitzen. Mehl darin anschwitzen. Mit der Brühe unter Rühren ablöschen. Die abgetropften Kapern und die Sahne hinzugeben. Die Sauce nun nicht mehr kochen lassen. Mit Zitronensaft, Zucker, Salz und Pfeffer süß-sauer abschmecken. Anschließend ein Eigelb zum Legieren in die Sauce rühren, die Klopse hineinlegen und mit der Petersilie garniert servieren.

“GUTEN APPETIT!”

ostpreuss.jpg

East Prussia – Ostpreussen is today a part of Russia, Poland and Lithuania.

Further Details about The Evacuation of East Prussia and Königsberg

In 1944 the medieval city of Königsberg, which had never been severely damaged by warfare in its 700 years of existence, was almost completely destroyed by two RAF Bomber Command raids — the first on the night of 26/27 August 1944, with the second one three nights later, overnight on 29/30 August 1944. Winston Churchill (The Second World War, Book XII) had erroneously believed it to be “a modernized heavily defended fortress” and ordered its destruction.

Gauleiter Erich Koch protracted the evacuation of the German civilian population until the Eastern Front approached the East Prussian border in 1944. The population had been systematically misinformed by Endsieg Nazi propaganda about the real state of military affairs. As a result, many civilians fleeing westward were overtaken by retreating Wehrmacht units and the rapidly advancing Red Army.

Reports of Soviet atrocities in the Nemmersdorf massacre of October 1944 and organized rape spread fear and desperation among the civilians — leading to collective suicides of entire villages of old people, women & Children left behind by their men servicing in the Wehrmacht (German Armed Forces).

Thousands lost their lives during the sinkings (by Soviet submarine) of the refugee ships Wilhelm Gustloff, the Goya, and the General von Steuben.

Königsberg surrendered on 9 April 1945, following the desperate four-day Battle of Königsberg. The number of civilians killed is estimated to be at least 320,000.

However, most of the German inhabitants, which then consisted primarily of women, children and old men, did manage to escape the Red Army as part of the largest exodus of people in human history: “A population of East Prussia which had stood at 2.2 million in 1940 was reduced to 193,000 at the end of May 1945.”

Following Nazi Germany’s defeat in World War II in 1945, East Prussia was partitioned between Poland and the Soviet Union according to the Potsdam Conference.

Southern East Prussia was placed under Polish administration, while northern East Prussia was divided between the Soviet republics of Russia (the Kaliningrad Oblast) and Lithuania (the constituent counties of the Klaipėda Region).

The city of Königsberg was renamed Kaliningrad in 1946. Most of the German population of the province had left during the evacuation at the end of the war, but several hundreds of thousands died during the years 1944–46 and the remainder were subsequently expelled.

Germany losses