Issue #106

This week – ethics of augmenting humans; new AIs trying to be better than Deepmind; the future of cars and transport in general; neural implants and brainjacking; and more!


More than a human

Humans of the near future

In this article, Oliver Pickup investigates the transhumanism movement, the implications for humankind and asks, is it morally wrong to augment humans?

 

3D printed bionic hands trial begins in Bristol

The world’s first clinical trial of 3D printed bionic hands for child amputees starts this week in Bristol, UK. Good luck, Open Bionics!

 

Neural Implant Tech Raises the Specter of Brainjacking

Really? No way… Jokes aside. Making sure that your brain is safe will be one of the biggest challenges for companies working on neural implants.

 

New Study Finds Best Way To Determine If You Are Android Still Cutting Open Forearm To Reveal Circuitry Within

The Onion reports, “Should you reach a point at which you begin to question your own humanity, the best technique for determining if you are man or machine is to take a sharp knife and, beginning at the wrist, make a lengthwise incision on your inside forearm” to check if there are some mechanical parts. Again, it’s from The Onion.

 

Artificial Intelligence

Forget AlphaGo—DeepMind Has a More Interesting Step Toward General AI

The researchers at DeepMind, which created the champion Go-playing robot AlphaGo, are working on an approach that could prove significant in the quest to make machines as intelligent as we are. In two papers published this week and reported by New Scientist, researchers at the Alphabet subsidiary describe efforts to teach computers about relational reasoning, a cognitive capability that is foundational to human intelligence.

 

This New Atari-playing AI Wants To Dethrone Deepmind

A new AI mastered Atari games. This one is a bit more curious about the world. It learns in a different way than deep reinforced learning agents and it learns faster and better than them.

 

Microsoft Masters Ms Pac-Man With a Horde of AI Agents

Maluuba, an artificial intelligence startup Microsoft acquired in January, created an AI agent that mastered the Pac-Man. The lessons learned from this project can be soon applied to real-life scenarios where the AI needs to balance demands in an efficient way.

 

DARPA Is Working to Make AI More Trustworthy

In order to probe the AI mind, DARPA is funding research by Oregon State University that will try to understand the reasoning behind decisions made by AI systems. DARPA hopes that this will make AI more trustworthy.

 

Robotics

The Rise of the Machines – Why Automation is Different this Time

Another great video made by Kurzgesagt. This time they took to explain why automation is different this time. The overall tone of the message is pessimistic but I’m waiting for the follow-up video about the universal basic income to see how they will explain it and make the vision of the future less bleak.

 

Carmageddon is Coming

Not that Carmageddon. This article explores the future of cars and an overlapping confluence of three different technological waves — the smartphone, the electric battery and artificial intelligence — that have created the conditions for a technological disruption so profound it’s going to change almost everything about the way we move in modern society.

 

The Robot Takeover Is Greatly Exaggerated

There was a paper published recently that was claiming that robots are already costing American jobs. Of course, it was widely discussed and contributed to the “the robots are taking our jobs!” fear-mongering. But some economists looked closely into that paper and come to the conclusion that the automation is not the biggest threat here, but other factors like income inequality and slow growth.

 

6 ways drones could change health care

All six of these are examples of delivery services – deliver medicines to rural areas, deliver blood samples to labs, deliver survival kits. I hoped to see something more creative, like the defibrillator drone.

 

A Colonoscopy Robot and Other Weird Biomedical Tech From IEEE’s Biggest Robotics Conference

Here’s a list of some cool biomedical robots.

 

Biotechnology

Gene-Editing Companies Hit Back at Paper That Criticised CRISPR

In the last issue, I shared with you the article describing a research showing that CRISPR is not as precise as researchers thought it to be. It generated a lot of noise and even made values of biotech companies using CRISPR go down. Some of these companies and many other scientists started to criticise the paper. This article from MIT Technology Review nicely summarises the critique.

 

Baby Genome Sequencing for Sale in China

Veritas Genetics, a Boston-based DNA sequencing company, is offering to decode the complete genomes of newborns in China, leading some to ask how much parents should know about their children’s genes at birth.