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NYU-KAIST Global AI & Digital Governance Conference Held
< Photo 1. Opening of NYU-KAIST Global AI & Digital Governance Conference > In attendance of the Minister of Science and ICT Jong-ho Lee, NYU President Linda G. Mills, and KAIST President Kwang Hyung Lee, KAIST co-hosted the NYU-KAIST Global AI & Digital Governance Conference at the Paulson Center of New York University (NYU) in New York City, USA on September 21st, 9:30 pm. At the conference, KAIST and NYU discussed the direction and policies for ‘global AI and digital governance’ with participants of upto 300 people which includes scholars, professors, and students involved in the academic field of AI and digitalization from both Korea and the United States and other international backgrounds. This conference was a forum of an international discussion that sought new directions for AI and digital technology take in the future and gathered consensus on regulations. Following a welcoming address by KAIST President, Kwang Hyung Lee and a congratulatory message from the Minister of Science and ICT, Jong-ho Lee, a panel discussion was held, moderated by Professor Matthew Liao, a graduate of Princeton and Oxford University, currently serving as a professor at NYU and the director at the Center for Bioethics of the NYU School of Global Public Health. Six prominent scholars took part in the panel discussion. Prof. Kyung-hyun Cho of NYU Applied Mathematics and Data Science Center, a KAIST graduate who has joined the ranks of the world-class in AI language models and Professor Jong Chul Ye, the Director of Promotion Council for Digital Health at KAIST, who is leading innovative research in the field of medical AI working in collaboration with major hospitals at home and abroad was on the panel. Additionally, Professor Luciano Floridi, a founding member of the Yale University Center for Digital Ethics, Professor Shannon Vallor, the Baillie Gifford Professor in the Ethics of Data and Artificial Intelligence at the University of Edinburgh of the UK, Professor Stefaan Verhulst, a Co-Founder and the DIrector of GovLab‘s Data Program at NYU’s Tandon School of Engineering, and Professor Urs Gasser, who is in charge of public policy, governance and innovative technology at the Technical University of Munich, also participated. Professor Matthew Liao from NYU led the discussion on various topics such as the ways to to regulate AI and digital technologies; the concerns about how deep learning technology being developed in medicinal purposes could be used in warfare; the scope of responsibilities Al scientists' responsibility should carry in ensuring the usage of AI are limited to benign purposes only; the effects of external regulation on the AI model developers and the research they pursue; and on the lessons that can be learned from the regulations in other fields. During the panel discussion, there was an exchange of ideas about a system of standards that could harmonize digital development and regulatory and social ethics in today’s situation in which digital transformation accelerates technological development at a global level, there is a looming concern that while such advancements are bringing economic vitality it may create digital divides and probles like manipulation of public opinion. Professor Jong-cheol Ye of KAIST (Director of the Promotion Council for Digital Health), in particular, emphasized that it is important to find a point of balance that does not hinder the advancements rather than opting to enforcing strict regulations. < Photo 2. Panel Discussion in Session at NYU-KAIST Global AI & Digital Governance Conference > KAIST President Kwang Hyung Lee explained, “At the Digital Governance Forum we had last October, we focused on exploring new governance to solve digital challenges in the time of global digital transition, and this year’s main focus was on regulations.” “This conference served as an opportunity of immense value as we came to understand that appropriate regulations can be a motivation to spur further developments rather than a hurdle when it comes to technological advancements, and that it is important for us to clearly understand artificial intelligence and consider what should and can be regulated when we are to set regulations on artificial intelligence,” he continued. Earlier, KAIST signed a cooperation agreement with NYU to build a joint campus, June last year and held a plaque presentation ceremony for the KAIST NYU Joint Campus last September to promote joint research between the two universities. KAIST is currently conducting joint research with NYU in nine fields, including AI and digital research. The KAIST-NYU Joint Campus was conceived with the goal of building an innovative sandbox campus centering aroung science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) combining NYU's excellent humanities and arts as well as basic science and convergence research capabilities with KAIST's science and technology. KAIST has contributed to the development of Korea's industry and economy through technological innovation aiding in the nation’s transformation into an innovative nation with scientific and technological prowess. KAIST will now pursue an anchor/base strategy to raise KAIST's awareness in New York through the NYU Joint Campus by establishing a KAIST campus within the campus of NYU, the heart of New York.
KAIST holds its first ‘KAIST Tech Fair’ in New York, USA
< Photo 1. 2023 KAIST Tech Fair in New York > KAIST (President Kwang-Hyung Lee) announced on the 11th that it will hold the ‘2023 KAIST Tech Fair in New York’ at the Kimmel Center at New York University in Manhattan, USA, on the 22nd of this month. It is an event designed to be the starting point for KAIST to expand its startup ecosystem into the global stage, and it is to attract investments and secure global customers in New York by demonstrating the technological value of KAIST startup companies directly at location. < Photo 2. President Kwang Hyung Lee at the 2023 KAIST Tech Fair in New York > KAIST has been holding briefing sessions for technology transfer in Korea every year since 2018, and this year is the first time to hold a tech fair overseas for global companies. KAIST Institute of Technology Value Creation (Director Sung-Yool Choi) has prepared for this event over the past six months with the Korea International Trade Association (hereinafter KITA, CEO Christopher Koo) to survey customer base and investment companies to conduct market analysis. Among the companies founded with the technologies developed by the faculty and students of KAIST and their partners, 7 companies were selected to be matched with companies overseas that expressed interests in these technologies. Global multinational companies in the fields of IT, artificial intelligence, environment, logistics, distribution, and retail are participating as demand agencies and are testing the marketability of the start-up's technology as of September. Daim Research, founded by Professor Young Jae Jang of the Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering, is a company specializing in smart factory automation solutions and is knocking on the door of the global market with a platform technology optimized for automated logistics systems. < Photo 3. Presentation by Professor Young Jae Jang for DAIM Research > It is a ‘collaborative intelligence’ solution that maximizes work productivity by having a number of robots used in industrial settings collaborate with one another. The strength of their solution is that logistics robots equipped with AI reinforced learning technology can respond to processes and environmental changes on their own, minimizing maintenance costs and the system can achieve excellent performance even with a small amount of data when it is combined with the digital twin technology the company has developed on its own. A student startup, ‘Aniai’, is entering the US market, the home of hamburgers, with hamburger patty automation equipments and solutions. This is a robot kitchen startup founded by its CEO Gunpil Hwang, a graduate of KAIST’s School of Electrical Engineering which gathered together the experts in the fields of robot control, design, and artificial intelligence and cognitive technology to develop technology to automatically cook hamburger patties. At the touch of a button, both sides of the patty are cooked simultaneously for consistent taste and quality according to the set condition. Since it can cook about 200 dishes in an hour, it is attracting attention as a technology that can not only solve manpower shortages but also accelerate the digital transformation of the restaurant industry. Also, at the tech fair to be held at the Kimmel Center of New York University on the 22nd, the following startups who are currently under market verification in the U.S. will be participating: ▴'TheWaveTalk', which developed a water quality management system that can measure external substances and metal ions by transferring original technology from KAIST; ▴‘VIRNECT’, which helps workers improve their skills by remotely managing industrial sites using XR*; ▴‘Datumo’, a solution that helps process and analyze artificial intelligence big data, ▴‘VESSL AI’, the provider of a solution to eliminate the overhead** of machine learning systems; and ▴ ‘DolbomDream’, which developed an inflatable vest that helps the psychological stability of people with developmental disabilities. * XR (eXtended Reality): Ultra-realistic technology that enhances immersion by utilizing augmented reality, virtual reality, and mixed reality technologies ** Overhead: Additional time required for stable processing of the program In addition, two companies (Plasmapp and NotaAI) that are participating in the D-Unicorn program with the support of the Daejeon City and two companies (Enget and ILIAS Biologics) that are receiving support from the Scale Up Tips of the Ministry of SMEs and Startups, three companies (WiPowerOne, IDK Lab, and Artificial Photosynthesis Lab) that are continuing to realize the sustainable development goals for a total of 14 KAIST startups, will hold a corporate information session with about 100 invited guests from global companies and venture capital. < Photo 4. Presentation for AP Lab > Prior to this event, participating startups will be visiting the New York Economic Development Corporation and large law firms to receive advice on U.S. government support programs and on their attemps to enter the U.S. market. In addition, the participating companies plan to visit a startup support investment institution pursuing sustainable development goals and the Leslie eLab, New York University's one-stop startup support space, to lay the foundation for KAIST's leap forward in global technology commercialization. < Photo 5. Sung-Yool Choi, the Director of KAIST Institute of Technology Value Creation (left) at the 2023 KAIST Tech Fair in New York with the key participants > Sung-Yool Choi, the Director of KAIST Institute of Technology Value Creation, said, “KAIST prepared this event to realize its vision of being a leading university in creating global value.” He added, “We hope that our startups founded with KAIST technology would successfully completed market verification to be successful in securing global demands and in attracting investments for their endeavors.”
A KAIST research team identifies a cause of mental diseases induced by childhood abuse
Childhood neglect and/or abuse can induce extreme stress that significantly changes neural networks and functions during growth. This can lead to mental illnesses, including depression and schizophrenia, but the exact mechanism and means to control it were yet to be discovered. On August 1, a KAIST research team led by Professor Won-Suk Chung from the Department of Biological Sciences announced the identification of excessive synapse removal mediated by astrocytes as the cause of mental diseases induced by childhood abuse trauma. Their research was published in Immunity, a top international journal in the field of immunology. The research team discovered that the excessive astrocyte-mediated removal of excitatory synapses in the brain in response to stress hormones is a cause of mental diseases induced by childhood neglect and abuse. Clinical data have previously shown that high levels of stress can lead to various mental diseases, but the exact mechanism has been unknown. The results of this research therefore are expected to be widely applied to the prevention and treatment of such diseases. The research team clinically screened an FDA-approved drug to uncover the mechanism that regulates the phagocytotic role of astrocytes, in which they capture external substances and eliminate them. As a result, the team found that synthetic glucocorticoids, namely stress hormones, enhanced astrocyte-mediated phagocytosis to an abnormal level. Glucocorticoids play essential roles in processes that maintain life, such as carbohydrate metabolism and anti-inflammation, but are also secreted in response to external stimuli such as stress, allowing the body to respond appropriately. However, excessive and long-term exposure to glucocorticoids caused by chronic stress can lead to various mental diseases including depression, cognitive disorders, and anxiety. < Figure 1. Results of screening for compounds that increase astrocyte phagocytosis (A) Discovered that synthetic glucocorticoid (stress hormone) increases the phagocytosis of astrocytes through screening of FDA-approved clinical compounds. (B-C) When treated with stress hormones, the phagocytosis of astrocytes is greatly increased, but this phenomenon is strongly suppressed by the GR antagonist (Mifepristone). CORT: corticosterone (stress hormone), Eplerenone: mineralocorticoid receptor (MR) antagonist, Mifepristone: glucocorticoid receptor (GR) antagonist > To understand the changes in astrocyte functions caused by childhood stress, the research team used mice models with early social deprivation, and discovered that stress hormones bind to the glucocorticoid receptors (GRs) of astrocytes. This significantly increased the expression of Mer tyrosine kinase (MERK), which plays an essential role in astrocyte phagocytosis. Surprisingly, out of the various neurons in the cerebral cortex, astrocytes would eliminate only the excitatory synapses of specific neurons. The team found that this builds abnormal neural networks, which can lead to complex behavioral abnormalities such as social deficiencies and depression in adulthood. The team also observed that microglia, which also play an important role in cerebral immunity, did not contribute to synapse removal in the mice models with early social deprivation. This confirms that the response to stress hormones during childhood is specifically astrocyte-mediated. To find out whether these results are also applicable in humans, the research team used a brain organoid grown from human-induced pluripotent stem cells to observe human responses to stress hormones. The team observed that the stress hormones induced astrocyte GRs and phagocyte activation in the human brain organoid as well, and confirmed that the astrocytes subsequently eliminated excessive amounts of excitatory synapses. By showing that mice and humans both showed the same synapse control mechanism in response to stress, the team suggested that this discovery is applicable to mental disorders in humans. < Figure 2. A schematic diagram of the study published in Immunity. Excessive stress hormone secretion in childhood increases the expression of the MERTK phagocytic receptor through the glucocorticoid receptor (GR) of astrocytes, resulting in excessive elimination of excitatory synapses. Excessive synaptic elimination by astrocytes during brain development causes permanent damage to brain circuits, resulting in abnormal neural activity in the adult brain and psychiatric behaviors such as depression and anti-social tendencies. > Prof. Won-Suk Chung said, “Until now, we did not know the exact mechanism for how childhood stress caused brain diseases. This research was the first to show that the excessive phagocytosis of astrocytes could be an important cause of such diseases.” He added, “In the future, controlling the immune response of astrocytes will be used as a fundamental target for understanding and treating brain diseases.” This research, written by co-first authors Youkyeong Byun (Ph.D. candidate) and Nam-Shik Kim (post-doctoral associate) from the KAIST Department of Biological Sciences, was published in the internationally renowned journal Immunity, a sister magazine of Cell and one of the best journal in the field of immunology, on July 31 under the title "Stress induces behavioral abnormalities by increasing expression of phagocytic receptor MERTK in astrocytes to promote synapse phagocytosis." This work was supported by a National Research Foundation of Korea grant, the Korea Health Industry Development Institute (KHIDI), and the Korea Dementia Research Center (KDRC).
KAIST Research Team Develops World’s First Humanoid Pilot, PIBOT
In the Spring of last year, the legendary, fictional pilot “Maverick” flew his plane in the film “Top Gun: Maverick” that drew crowds to theatres around the world. This year, the appearance of a humanoid pilot, PIBOT, has stolen the spotlight at KAIST. < Photo 1. Humanoid pilot robot, PIBOT > A KAIST research team has developed a humanoid robot that can understand manuals written in natural language and fly a plane on its own. The team also announced their plans to commercialize the humanoid pilot. < Photo 2. PIBOT on flight simulator (view from above) > The project was led by KAIST Professor David Hyunchul Shim, and was conducted as a joint research project with Professors Jaegul Choo, Kuk-Jin Yoon, and Min Jun Kim. The study was supported by Future Challenge Funding under the project title, “Development of Human-like Pilot Robot based on Natural Language Processing”. The team utilized AI and robotics technologies, and demonstrated that the humanoid could sit itself in a real cockpit and operate the various pieces of equipment without modifying any part of the aircraft. This is a fundamental difference that distinguishes this technology from existing autopilot functions or unmanned aircrafts. < Photo 3. PIBOT operating a flight simulator (side) > The KAIST team’s humanoid pilot is still under development but it can already remember Jeppeson charts from all around the world, which is impossible for human pilots to do, and fly without error. In particular, it can make use of recent ChatGPT technology to remember the full Quick Reference Handbook (QRF) and respond immediately to various situations, as well as calculate safe routes in real time based on the flight status of the aircraft, with emergency response times quicker than human pilots. Furthermore, while existing robots usually carry out repeated motions in a fixed position, PIBOT can analyze the state of the cockpit as well as the situation outside the aircraft using an embedded camera. PIBOT can accurately control the various switches in the cockpit and, using high-precision control technology, it can accurately control its robotic arms and hands even during harsh turbulence. < Photo 4. PIBOT on-board KLA-100, Korea’s first light aircraft > The humanoid pilot is currently capable of carrying out all operations from starting the aircraft to taxiing, takeoff and landing, cruising, and cycling using a flight control simulator. The research team plans to use the humanoid pilot to fly a real-life light aircraft to verify its abilities. Prof. Shim explained, “Humanoid pilot robots do not require the modification of existing aircrafts and can be applied immediately to automated flights. They are therefore highly applicable and practical. We expect them to be applied into various other vehicles like cars and military trucks since they can control a wide range of equipment. They will particularly be particularly helpful in situations where military resources are severely depleted.” This research was supported by Future Challenge Funding (total: 5.7 bn KRW) from the Agency for Defense Development. The project started in 2022 as a joint research project by Prof. David Hyunchul Shim (chief of research) from the KAIST School of Electrical Engineering (EE), Prof. Jaegul Choo from the Kim Jaechul Graduate School of AI at KAIST, Prof. Kuk-Jin Yoon from the KAIST Department of Mechanical Engineering, and Prof. Min Jun Kim from the KAIST School of EE. The project is to be completed by 2026 and the involved researchers are also considering commercialization strategies for both military and civil use.
KAIST presents a microbial cell factory as a source of eco-friendly food and cosmetic coloring
Despite decades of global population growth, global food crisis seems to be at hand yet again because the food productivity is cut severely due to prolonged presence of abnormal weather from intensifying climate change and global food supply chain is deteriorated due to international conflicts such as wars exacerbating food shortages and nutritional inequality around the globe. At the same time, however, as awareness of the environment and sustainability rises, an increase in demand for more eco-friendly and high-quality food and beauty products is being observed not without a sense of irony. At a time like this, microorganisms are attracting attention as a key that can handle this couple of seemingly distant problems. KAIST (President Kwang-Hyung Lee) announced on the 26th that Kyeong Rok Choi, a research professor of the Bioprocess Research Center and Sang Yup Lee, a Distinguished Professor of the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, published a paper titled “Metabolic Engineering of Microorganisms for Food and Cosmetics Production” upon invitation by “Nature Reviews Bioengineering” to be published online published by Nature after peer review. ※ Paper title: Systems metabolic engineering of microorganisms for food and cosmetics production ※ Author information: Kyeong Rok Choi (first author) and Sang Yup Lee (corresponding author) Systems metabolic engineering is a research field founded by Distinguished Professor Sang Yup Lee of KAIST to more effectively develop microbial cell factories, the core factor of the next-generation bio industry to replace the existing chemical industry that relies heavily on petroleum. By applying a systemic metabolic engineering strategy, the researchers have developed a number of high-performance microbial cell factories that produce a variety of food and cosmetic compounds including natural substances like heme and zinc protoporphyrin IX compounds which can improve the flavor and color of synthetic meat, lycopene and β-carotene which are functional natural pigments that can be widely used in food and cosmetics, and methyl anthranilate, a grape-derived compound widely used to impart grape flavor in food and beverage manufacturing. In this paper written upon invitation by Nature, the research team covered remarkable cases of microbial cell factory that can produce amino acids, proteins, fats and fatty acids, vitamins, flavors, pigments, alcohols, functional compounds and other food additives used in various foods and cosmetics and the companies that have successfully commercialized these microbial-derived materials Furthermore, the paper organized and presents systems metabolic engineering strategies that can spur the development of industrial microbial cell factories that can produce more diverse food and cosmetic compounds in an eco-friendly way with economic feasibility. < Figure 1. Examples of production of food and cosmetic compounds using microbial cell factories > For example, by producing proteins or amino acids with high nutritional value through non-edible biomass used as animal feed or fertilizer through the microbial fermentation process, it will contribute to the increase in production and stable supply of food around the world. Furthermore, by contributing to developing more viable alternative meat, further reducing dependence on animal protein, it can also contribute to reducing greenhouse gases and environmental pollution generated through livestock breeding or fish farming. In addition, vanillin or methyl anthranilate, which give off vanilla or grape flavor, are widely added to various foods, but natural products isolated and refined from plants are low in production and high in production cost, so in most cases, petrochemicals substances derived from vanillin and methylanthranilic acid are added to food. These materials can also be produced through an eco-friendly and human-friendly method by borrowing the power of microorganisms. Ethical and resource problems that arise in producing compounds like Calmin (cochineal pigment), a coloring added to various cosmetics and foods such as red lipstick and strawberry-flavored milk, which must be extracted from cochineal insects that live only in certain cacti. and Hyaluronic acid, which is widely consumed as a health supplement, but is only present in omega-3 fatty acids extracted from shark or fish livers, can also be resolved when they can be produced in an eco-friendly way using microorganisms. KAIST Research Professor Kyeong Rok Choi, the first author of this paper, said, “In addition to traditional fermented foods such as kimchi and yogurt, foods produced with the help of microorganisms like cocoa butter, a base ingredient for chocolate that can only be obtained from fermented cacao beans, and monosodium glutamate, a seasoning produced through microbial fermentation are already familiar to us”. “In the future, we will be able to acquire a wider variety of foods and cosmetics even more easily produced in an eco-friendly and sustainable way in our daily lives through microbial cell factories.” he added. < Figure 2. Systems metabolic engineering strategy to improve metabolic flow in microbial cell factories > Distinguished Professor Sang Yup Lee said, “It is engineers’ mission to make the world a better place utilizing science and technology.” and added, “Continuous advancement and active use of systems metabolic engineering will contribute greatly to easing and resolving the problems arising from both the food crisis and the climate change." This research was carried out as a part of the “Development of Protein Production Technology from Inorganic Substances through Control of Microbial Metabolism System Project” (Project Leader: Kyeong Rok Choi, KAIST Research Professor) of the the Center for Agricultural Microorganism and Enzyme (Director Pahn-Shick Chang) supported by the Rural Development Administration and the “Development of Platform Technologies of Microbial Cell Factories for the Next-generation Biorefineries Project” (Project Leader: Sang Yup Lee, KAIST Distinguished Professor) of the Petroleum-Substitute Eco-friendly Chemical Technology Development Program supported by the Ministry of Science and ICT.
2023 Global Entrepreneurship Summer School in Silicon Valley Successfully Concluded
< 2023 Silicon Valley Global Entrepreneurship Summer School Participants > The 2023 KAIST Global Entrepreneurship Summer School (GESS) was successfully held. Co-hosted by the Center for Global Strategies and Planning (GSP) (Director Man-Sung Yim) and the Startup KAIST (Director Hyeonmin Bae), the 2023 KAIST GESS was the second one of the summer programs, repeating the Silicon Valley global entrepreneurship bootcamp of 2022 (2022 GESC), based on industry-academia collaboration. This program was designed to provide students with the opportunity to visit Silicon Valley, the global hub of entrepreneurship, and personally experience the Silicon Valley culture while developing human networks that would serve as a foundation for their overseas startup development. A total of 20 participants were selected earlier this year, including potential KAISTian entrepreneurs and early-stage entrepreneurs from KAIST within one year of incorporation. In particular, a number of foreign students of various nationalities such as Vietnam, Azerbaijan, Honduras, Indonesia, Philippines, and Kazakhstan, increased significantly, demonstrating the enthusiasm for entrepreneurship across national boundaries along with the program's growing international status. This year's event was also open to 20 Impact MBA and Social Entrepreneur (SE) students from KAIST's College of Business for the Silicon Valley program. For the past two months, the participants have trained on business model development and pitching at KAIST's main campus in Daejeon. From June 21st to the 30th, they visited the campuses of leading universities, such as, Stanford University, UC Santa Cruz, and UC Berkeley, as well as KOTRA Silicon Valley Trade Center (Manager Hyoung il Kim), and local alumni companies and Apple company to experience the global technology startups. The start-ups by KAIST alums including B Garage (CEO Aiden Kim), ImpriMed (CEO Sungwon Lim), Medic Life Sciences (CEO Kyuho Han), and VESSL AI (CEO Jaeman Ahn) participated in the program and gave lectures and company tours to inspire the participants to have passion to take on the entrepreneurial endeavors and challenges. On the last day, the participants gave presentations on their team’s business items in front of local venture capitalists in Silicon Valley. After receiving continuous coaching from Silicon Valley's professional accelerators through remote video conferencing and face-to-face mentoring for the last two months, the participants developed their business models and presented their creative and innovative ideas, revealing their potential as future global entrepreneurs. At the final competition, Team Sparky that developed “Snoove” won the first prize. Snoove is a scientifically-proven mattress accessory that applies mild vibration to the mattress to aid users in achieving better sleep, a method previously used to soothe infants. < GESS Pitching Day Presentation > Kevin Choi from the Team Sparky said, "Seeing and experiencing the realities of entrepreneurship in Silicon Valley, a global startup scene, made me think about the importance of unlearning, challenging, and failing to be a global entrepreneur who contributes to our society." Man-Sung Yim, the Associate Vice President of the International Office, who organized the event added, "Through this experience, we expect KAIST students to grow to become global leaders who would create global values and enhance the international reputation of our university." Meanwhile, the GSP and Startup KAIST commented that they will to continue to develop the KAIST GESS program to foster prospective entrepreneurs who can compete in the global market based on the success of this program.
A KAIST research team develops a high-performance modular SSD system semiconductor
In recent years, there has been a rise in demand for large amounts of data to train AI models and, thus, data size has become increasingly important over time. Accordingly, solid state drives (SSDs, storage devices that use a semiconductor memory unit), which are core storage devices for data centers and cloud services, have also seen an increase in demand. However, the internal components of higher performing SSDs have become more tightly coupled, and this tightly-coupled structure limits SSD from maximized performance. On June 15, a KAIST research team led by Professor Dongjun Kim (John Kim) from the School of Electrical Engineering (EE) announced the development of the first SSD system semiconductor structure that can increase the reading/writing performance of next generation SSDs and extend their lifespan through high-performance modular SSD systems. Professor Kim’s team identified the limitations of the tightly-coupled structures in existing SSD designs and proposed a de-coupled structure that can maximize SSD performance by configuring an internal on-chip network specialized for flash memory. This technique utilizes on-chip network technology, which can freely send packet-based data within the chip and is often used to design non-memory system semiconductors like CPUs and GPUs. Through this, the team developed a ‘modular SSD’, which shows reduced interdependence between front-end and back-end designs, and allows their independent design and assembly. *on-chip network: a packet-based connection structure for the internal components of system semiconductors like CPUs/GPUs. On-chip networks are one of the most critical design components for high-performing system semiconductors, and their importance grows with the size of the semiconductor chip. Professor Kim’s team refers to the components nearer to the CPU as the front-end and the parts closer to the flash memory as back-end. They newly constructed an on-chip network specific to flash memory in order to allow data transmission between the back-end’s flash controller, proposing a de-coupled structure that can minimize performance drop. The SSD can accelerate some functions of the flash translation layer, a critical element to drive the SSD, in order to allow flash memory to actively overcome its limitations. Another advantage of the de-coupled, modular structure is that the flash translation layer is not limited to the characteristics of specific flash memories. Instead, their front-end and back-end designs can be carried out independently. Through this, the team could produce 21-times faster response times compared to existing systems and extend SSD lifespan by 23% by also applying the DDS defect detection technique. < Figure 1. Schematic diagram of the structure of a high-performance modular SSD system developed by Professor Dong-Jun Kim's team > This research, conducted by first author and Ph.D. candidate Jiho Kim from the KAIST School of EE and co-author Professor Myoungsoo Jung, was presented on the 19th of June at the 50th IEEE/ACM International Symposium on Computer Architecture, the most prestigious academic conference in the field of computer architecture, held in Orlando, Florida. (Paper Title: Decoupled SSD: Rethinking SSD Architecture through Network-based Flash Controllers) < Figure 2. Conceptual diagram of hardware acceleration through high-performance modular SSD system > Professor Dongjun Kim, who led the research, said, “This research is significant in that it identified the structural limitations of existing SSDs, and showed that on-chip network technology based on system memory semiconductors like CPUs can drive the hardware to actively carry out the necessary actions. We expect this to contribute greatly to the next-generation high-performance SSD market.” He added, “The de-coupled architecture is a structure that can actively operate to extend devices’ lifespan. In other words, its significance is not limited to the level of performance and can, therefore, be used for various applications.” KAIST commented that this research is also meaningful in that the results were reaped through a collaborative study between two world-renowned researchers: Professor Myeongsoo Jung, recognized in the field of computer system storage devices, and Professor Dongjun Kim, a leading researcher in computer architecture and interconnection networks. This research was funded by the National Research Foundation of Korea, Samsung Electronics, the IC Design Education Center, and Next Generation Semiconductor Technology and Development granted by the Institute of Information & Communications Technology, Planning & Evaluation.
MVITRO Co., Ltd. Signs to Donate KRW 1 Billion as Development Fund toward KAIST-NYU Joint Campus
KAIST (President Kwang Hyung Lee) announced on the 29th that it has solicited a development fund of KRW 1 billion from MVITRO (CEO Young Woo Lee) for joint research at the KAIST-NYU Joint Campus, which is being pursued to be KAIST's first campus on the United States. KAIST plans to use this development fund for research and development of various solutions in the field of 'Healthcare at Home' among several joint researches being conducted with New York University (hereinafter referred to as NYU). Young Woo Lee, the CEO of MVITRO, said, "We decided to make the donation with the hope that the KAIST-NYU Joint Campus will become an ecosystem that would help with Korean companies’ advancement into the US." After announcing its plans to enter New York in 2021, KAIST has formed partnerships with NYU and New York City last year. Currently, NYU and KAIST are devising plans for mid- to long-term joint research in nine fields of studies including AI and bio-medicine and technology, and are promoting cooperation in the field of education, including exchange students, minors, double majors, and joint degrees under the joint campus agreement, The ceremony for the consigning of MVITRO Co., Ltd.’s donation was held at the main campus of KAIST in the afternoon of the 29th and was attended by KAIST officials such as President Kwang Hyung Lee and Jae-Hung Han, the executive director of KAIST Development Foundation, along with the NYU President-Designate Linda G. Mills, and the CEO of MVITRO, Young Woo Lee. < Photo. (from left) Kwang Hyung Lee, the President of KAIST, Linda G. Mills, the President-Designate of NYU, and Young Woo Lee, the CEO of MVITRO, pose for the photo with the signed letter of donation on May 29, 2023 at KAIST > Linda Mills, the nominee designated to be NYU president next term said, “I am proud to join our colleagues in celebrating this important gift from MVITRO, which will help support the partnership between KAIST and NYU. This global partnership leverages the distinctive strengths of both universities to drive advances in research poised to deliver profound impact, such as the intersections of healthcare, technology, and AI." President Kwang Hyung Lee said, "The KAIST-NYU Joint Campus will be the first step in extending KAIST's excellent science and technology capabilities to the international stage and will serve as a bridgehead to help excellent technological advancements venture into the United States." Then, President Lee added, "I would like to express my gratitude to MVITRO for sympathizing with this vision. I will work with NYU to lead the creation of global values.” On a different note, MVITRO Co., Ltd., is a home medical device maker that collaborated with Hyundai Futurenet Co., Ltd. to develop an IoT product that combined a painless laser lancet (blood collector) and a blood glucose meter into one for a convenient at-home health support, which received favorable reviews from overseas buyers at CES 2023.
KAIST debuts “DreamWaQer” - a quadrupedal robot that can walk in the dark
- The team led by Professor Hyun Myung of the School of Electrical Engineering developed “DreamWaQ”, a deep reinforcement learning-based walking robot control technology that can walk in an atypical environment without visual and/or tactile information - Utilization of “DreamWaQ” technology can enable mass production of various types of “DreamWaQers” - Expected to be used in exploration of atypical environment involving unique circumstances such as disasters by fire. A team of Korean engineering researchers has developed a quadrupedal robot technology that can climb up and down the steps and moves without falling over in uneven environments such as tree roots without the help of visual or tactile sensors even in disastrous situations in which visual confirmation is impeded due to darkness or thick smoke from the flames. KAIST (President Kwang Hyung Lee) announced on the 29th of March that Professor Hyun Myung's research team at the Urban Robotics Lab in the School of Electrical Engineering developed a walking robot control technology that enables robust 'blind locomotion' in various atypical environments. < (From left) Prof. Hyun Myung, Doctoral Candidates I Made Aswin Nahrendra, Byeongho Yu, and Minho Oh. In the foreground is the DreamWaQer, a quadrupedal robot equipped with DreamWaQ technology. > The KAIST research team developed "DreamWaQ" technology, which was named so as it enables walking robots to move about even in the dark, just as a person can walk without visual help fresh out of bed and going to the bathroom in the dark. With this technology installed atop any legged robots, it will be possible to create various types of "DreamWaQers". Existing walking robot controllers are based on kinematics and/or dynamics models. This is expressed as a model-based control method. In particular, on atypical environments like the open, uneven fields, it is necessary to obtain the feature information of the terrain more quickly in order to maintain stability as it walks. However, it has been shown to depend heavily on the cognitive ability to survey the surrounding environment. In contrast, the controller developed by Professor Hyun Myung's research team based on deep reinforcement learning (RL) methods can quickly calculate appropriate control commands for each motor of the walking robot through data of various environments obtained from the simulator. Whereas the existing controllers that learned from simulations required a separate re-orchestration to make it work with an actual robot, this controller developed by the research team is expected to be easily applied to various walking robots because it does not require an additional tuning process. DreamWaQ, the controller developed by the research team, is largely composed of a context estimation network that estimates the ground and robot information and a policy network that computes control commands. The context-aided estimator network estimates the ground information implicitly and the robot’s status explicitly through inertial information and joint information. This information is fed into the policy network to be used to generate optimal control commands. Both networks are learned together in the simulation. While the context-aided estimator network is learned through supervised learning, the policy network is learned through an actor-critic architecture, a deep RL methodology. The actor network can only implicitly infer surrounding terrain information. In the simulation, the surrounding terrain information is known, and the critic, or the value network, that has the exact terrain information evaluates the policy of the actor network. This whole learning process takes only about an hour in a GPU-enabled PC, and the actual robot is equipped with only the network of learned actors. Without looking at the surrounding terrain, it goes through the process of imagining which environment is similar to one of the various environments learned in the simulation using only the inertial sensor (IMU) inside the robot and the measurement of joint angles. If it suddenly encounters an offset, such as a staircase, it will not know until its foot touches the step, but it will quickly draw up terrain information the moment its foot touches the surface. Then the control command suitable for the estimated terrain information is transmitted to each motor, enabling rapidly adapted walking. The DreamWaQer robot walked not only in the laboratory environment, but also in an outdoor environment around the campus with many curbs and speed bumps, and over a field with many tree roots and gravel, demonstrating its abilities by overcoming a staircase with a difference of a height that is two-thirds of its body. In addition, regardless of the environment, the research team confirmed that it was capable of stable walking ranging from a slow speed of 0.3 m/s to a rather fast speed of 1.0 m/s. The results of this study were produced by a student in doctorate course, I Made Aswin Nahrendra, as the first author, and his colleague Byeongho Yu as a co-author. It has been accepted to be presented at the upcoming IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA) scheduled to be held in London at the end of May. (Paper title: DreamWaQ: Learning Robust Quadrupedal Locomotion With Implicit Terrain Imagination via Deep Reinforcement Learning) The videos of the walking robot DreamWaQer equipped with the developed DreamWaQ can be found at the address below. Main Introduction: https://youtu.be/JC1_bnTxPiQ Experiment Sketches: https://youtu.be/mhUUZVbeDA0 Meanwhile, this research was carried out with the support from the Robot Industry Core Technology Development Program of the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy (MOTIE). (Task title: Development of Mobile Intelligence SW for Autonomous Navigation of Legged Robots in Dynamic and Atypical Environments for Real Application) < Figure 1. Overview of DreamWaQ, a controller developed by this research team. This network consists of an estimator network that learns implicit and explicit estimates together, a policy network that acts as a controller, and a value network that provides guides to the policies during training. When implemented in a real robot, only the estimator and policy network are used. Both networks run in less than 1 ms on the robot's on-board computer. > < Figure 2. Since the estimator can implicitly estimate the ground information as the foot touches the surface, it is possible to adapt quickly to rapidly changing ground conditions. > < Figure 3. Results showing that even a small walking robot was able to overcome steps with height differences of about 20cm. >
Seanie Lee of KAIST Kim Jaechul Graduate School of AI, named the 2023 Apple Scholars in AI Machine Learning
Seanie Lee, a Ph.D. candidate at the Kim Jaechul Graduate School of AI, has been selected as one of the Apple Scholars in AI/ML PhD fellowship program recipients for 2023. Lee, advised by Sung Ju Hwang and Juho Lee, is a rising star in AI. < Seanie Lee of KAIST Kim Jaechul Graduate School of AI > The Apple Scholars in AI/ML PhD fellowship program, launched in 2020, aims to discover and support young researchers with a promising future in computer science. Each year, a handful of graduate students in related fields worldwide are selected for the program. For the following two years, the selected students are provided with financial support for research, international conference attendance, internship opportunities, and mentorship by an Apple engineer. This year, 22 PhD students were selected from leading universities worldwide, including Johns Hopkins University, MIT, Stanford University, Imperial College London, Edinburgh University, Tsinghua University, HKUST, and Technion. Seanie Lee is the first Korean student to be selected for the program. Lee’s research focuses on transfer learning, a subfield of AI that reuses pre-trained AI models on large datasets such as images or text corpora to train them for new purposes. (*text corpus: a collection of text resources in computer-readable forms) His work aims to improve the performance of transfer learning by developing new data augmentation methods that allow for more effective training using few training data samples and new regularization techniques that prevent the overfitting of large AI models to training data. He has published 11 papers, all of which were accepted to top-tier conferences such as the Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics (ACL), International Conference on Learning Representations (ICLR), and Annual Conference on Neural Information Processing Systems (NeurIPS). “Being selected as one of the Apple Scholars in AI/ML PhD fellowship program is a great motivation for me,” said Lee. “So far, AI research has been largely focused on computer vision and natural language processing, but I want to push the boundaries now and use modern tools of AI to solve problems in natural science, like physics.”
KAIST research team develops a cheap and safe redox flow battery
Redox flow batteries, one of the potential replacements for the widely used lithium-ion secondary batteries, can be utilized as new and renewable energy as well as for energy storage systems (ESS) thanks to their low cost, low flammability, and long lifetime of over 20 years. Since the price of vanadium, the most widely used active material for redox flow batteries, has been rising in recent years, scientists have been actively searching for redox materials to replace it. On March 23, a joint research team led by Professors Hye Ryung Byon and Mu-Hyun Baik from the KAIST Department of Chemistry, and Professor Jongcheol Seo from the POSTECH Department of Chemistry announced that they had developed a highly soluble and stable organic redox-active molecule for use in aqueous redox flow batteries. The research team focused on developing aqueous redox flow batteries by redesigning an organic molecule. It is possible to control the solubility and electrochemical redox potential of organic molecules by engineering their design, which makes them a promising active material candidate with possibly higher energy storage capabilities than vanadium. Most organic redox-active molecules have low solubilities or have slow chemical stability during redox reactions. Low solubility means low energy storage capacity and low chemical stability leads to reduced cycle performance. For this research, the team chose naphthalene diimide (NDI) as their active molecule. Until now, there was little research done on NDI despite its high chemical stability, as it shows low solubility in aqueous electrolyte solutions. Although NDI molecules are almost insoluble in water, the research team tethered four ammonium functionalities and achieved a solubility as high as 1.5M* in water. In addition, they confirmed that when a 1M solution of NDI was used in neutral redox flow batteries for 500 cycles, 98% of its capacity was maintained. This means 0.004% capacity decay per cycle, and only 2% of its capacity would be lost if the battery were to be operated for 45 days. Furthermore, the developed NDI molecule can save two electrons per molecule, and the team proved that 2M of electrons could be stored in every 1M of NDI solution used. For reference, vanadium used in vanadium redox flow batteries, which require a highly concentrated sulfuric acid solution, has a solubility of about 1.6M and can only hold one electron per molecule, meaning it can store a total of 1.6M of electrons. Therefore, the newly developed NDI active molecule shows a higher storage capacity compared to existing vanadium devices. *1M (mol/L): 6.022 x 1023 active molecules are present in 1L of solution This paper, written by co-first authors Research Professor Vikram Singh, and Ph.D. candidates Seongyeon Kwon and Yunseop Choi, was published in the online version of Advanced Materials on February 7 under the title, Controlling π-π interactions of highly soluble naphthalene diimide derivatives for neutral pH aqueous redox flow batteries. Ph.D. Candidate Yelim Yi and Professor Mi Hee Lee’s team from the KAIST Department of Chemistry also contributed to the study by conducting electron paramagnetic resonance analyses. Professor Hye Ryung Byon said, “We have demonstrated the principles of molecular design by modifying an existing organic active molecule with low solubility and utilizing it as an active molecule for redox flow batteries. We have also shown that during a redox reaction, we can use molecular interactions to suppress the chemical reactivity of radically formed molecules.” She added, “Should this be used later for aqueous redox flow batteries, along with its high energy density and high solubility, it would also have the advantage of being available for use in neutral pH electrolytes. Vanadium redox flow batteries currently use acidic solutions, which cause corrosion, and we expect our molecule to solve this issue. Since existing lithium ion-based ESS are flammable, we must develop safer and cheaper next-generation ESS, and our research has shown great promise in addressing this.” This research was funded by Samsung Research Funding & Incubation Center, the Institute for Basic Science, and the National Research Foundation. Figure 1. (a) Structures of various NDI molecules. (b) Solubility of NDI molecules in water (black bars) and aqueous electrolytes including KCl electrolyte (blue bars). (c–d) Structural changes of the molecules as the developed NDI molecule stores two electrons. (c) Illustration of cluster combination and separation of NDI molecules developed during redox reaction and (d) Snapshot of the MD simulation. NDI molecules prepared from the left, formation of bimolecular sieve and tetramolecular sieve clusters after the first reductive reaction, and a single molecule with a three-dimensional structure after the second reduction. Figure 2. Performance results of an aqueous redox flow battery using 1M of the developed NDI molecule as the cathode electrolyte and 3.1M of ammonium iodine as the anode electrolyte. Using 1.5 M KCl solution. (a) A schematic diagram of a redox flow battery. (b) Voltage-capacity graph according to cycle in a redox flow battery. (c) Graphs of capacity and coulombs, voltage, and energy efficiency maintained at 500 cycles.
The cause of disability in aged brain meningeal membranes identified
Due to the increase in average age, studies on changes in the brain following general aging process without serious brain diseases have also become an issue that requires in-depth studies. Regarding aging research, as aging progresses, ‘sugar’ accumulates in the body, and the accumulated sugar becomes a causative agent for various diseases such as aging-related inflammation and vascular disease. In the end, “surplus” sugar molecules attach to various proteins in the body and interfere with their functions. KAIST (President Kwang Hyung Lee), a joint research team of Professor Pilnam Kim and Professor Yong Jeong of the Department of Bio and Brain Engineering, revealed on the 15th that it was confirmed that the function of being the “front line of defense” for the cerebrocortex of the brain meninges, the layers of membranes that surrounds the brain, is hindered when 'sugar' begins to build up on them as aging progresses. Professor Kim's research team confirmed excessive accumulation of sugar molecules in the meninges of the elderly and also confirmed that sugar accumulation occurs mouse models in accordance with certain age levels. The meninges are thin membranes that surround the brain and exist at the boundary between the cerebrospinal fluid and the cortex and play an important role in protecting the brain. In this study, it was revealed that the dysfunction of these brain membranes caused by aging is induced by 'excess' sugar in the brain. In particular, as the meningeal membrane becomes thinner and stickier due to aging, a new paradigm has been provided for the discovery of the principle of the decrease in material exchange between the cerebrospinal fluid and the cerebral cortex. This research was conducted by the Ph.D. candidate Hyo Min Kim and Dr. Shinheun Kim as the co-first authors to be published online on February 28th in the international journal, Aging Cell. (Paper Title: Glycation-mediated tissue-level remodeling of brain meningeal membrane by aging) The meninges, which are in direct contact with the cerebrospinal fluid, are mainly composed of collagen, an extracellular matrix (ECM) protein, and are composed of fibroblasts, which are cells that produce this protein. The cells that come in contact with collagen proteins that are attached with sugar have a low collagen production function, while the meningeal membrane continuously thins and collapses as the expression of collagen degrading enzymes increases. Studies on the relationship between excess sugar molecules accumulation in the brain due to continued sugar intake and the degeneration of neurons and brain diseases have been continuously conducted. However, this study was the first to identify meningeal degeneration and dysfunction caused by glucose accumulation with the focus on the meninges itself, and the results are expected to present new ideas for research into approach towards discoveries of new treatments for brain disease. Researcher Hyomin Kim, the first author, introduced the research results as “an interesting study that identified changes in the barriers of the brain due to aging through a convergent approach, starting from the human brain and utilizing an animal model with a biomimetic meningeal model”. Professor Pilnam Kim's research team is conducting research and development to remove sugar that accumulated throughout the human body, including the meninges. Advanced glycation end products, which are waste products formed when proteins and sugars meet in the human body, are partially removed by macrophages. However, glycated products bound to extracellular matrix proteins such as collagen are difficult to remove naturally. Through the KAIST-Ceragem Research Center, this research team is developing a healthcare medical device to remove 'sugar residue' in the body. This study was carried out with the National Research Foundation of Korea's collective research support. Figure 1. Schematic diagram of proposed mechanism showing aging‐related ECM remodeling through meningeal fibroblasts on the brain leptomeninges. Meningeal fibroblasts in the young brain showed dynamic COL1A1 synthetic and COL1‐interactive function on the collagen membrane. They showed ITGB1‐mediated adhesion on the COL1‐composed leptomeningeal membrane and induction of COL1A1 synthesis for maintaining the collagen membrane. With aging, meningeal fibroblasts showed depletion of COL1A1 synthetic function and altered cell–matrix interaction. Figure 2. Representative rat meningeal images observed in the study. Compared to young rats, it was confirmed that type 1 collagen (COL1) decreased along with the accumulation of glycated end products (AGE) in the brain membrane of aged rats, and the activity of integrin beta 1 (ITGB1), a representative receptor corresponding to cell-collagen interaction. Instead, it was observed that the activity of discoidin domain receptor 2 (DDR2), one of the tyrosine kinases, increased. Figure 3. Substance flux through the brain membrane decreases with aging. It was confirmed that the degree of adsorption of fluorescent substances contained in cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) to the brain membrane increased and the degree of entry into the periphery of the cerebral blood vessels decreased in the aged rats. In this study, only the influx into the brain was confirmed during the entry and exit of substances, but the degree of outflow will also be confirmed through future studies.
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