Issue #115

This week – OpenAI conquered Dota 2; Alexa controlled exoskeleton; DIY pharmaceuticals; Elon being Elon; and more!


More than a human

Direct Neural Interface & DARPA – Dr Justin Sanchez

As director of DARPA’s Biological Technologies Office, Dr Justin Sanchez is part of a team that is looking at how to decode brain signals and use them to control robotic prosthetics. In this talk, Dr Justin Sanchez takes us through various real world applications of direct neural interfaces.

 

Artificial Intelligence

OpenAI vs Dota 2

We can add another game in which AI is better than the best humans. OpenAI created a bot which beats the world’s top professionals at 1v1 matches of Dota 2 under standard tournament rules. This is a step towards building AI systems which accomplish well-defined goals in messy, complicated situations involving real humans.

 

China’s Plan for World Domination in AI Isn’t So Crazy After All

Another article pointing out that China is becoming an AI super power. China has all the ingredients to do it – a vast amount of data, huge market, many great companies and startups, and a steady stream of investments. Looks like it is a matter of time when the next big breakthrough in AI will not come from DeepMind, Google, OpenAI or Facebook, but from Baidu or other Chinese company.

 

Elon Musk: Artificial intelligence ‘vastly’ more of a threat than North Korea

Elon being Elon.

 

Robotics

Amazon’s Alexa can now steer exoskeletons

An Alexa controlled exoskeleton. We are in the future.

 

The robot that staves off loneliness for chronically ill children

A Norwegian startup No Isolation has created a robot that helps children with long-term sickness be part of normal life again, like virtually being in the school with other children.

 

Bioengineers developing better models of the bone, muscles and nerves

There is a contest where virtual skeletons compete for the best one to achieve simple tasks, like walking. These machine-learning algorithms might soon help to create better robots.

 

Mishap doesn’t dampen enthusiasm for security robots

A short history of Knightscope, the creators of that security robot that ended up in a fountain a couple of weeks ago. Despite this mishap, it looks like we are seeing a creation of a new industry – security robotics, with more startups trying to enter this new market.

 

Biotechnology

Scientists Use CRISPR Gene Editing to Create the World’s First Mutant Social Insect

Two teams of scientists removed a gene that plays a key part in an ant’s odor receptors. The result – they laid very few eggs, wandered aimlessly, and showed poor parenting. Apart from being an interesting challenge, the results of the experiment can advance our understanding of social communication.

 

Gene Editing Spurs Hope for Transplanting Pig Organs Into Humans

Dr. George Church, a geneticist at Harvard who led the experiments, said the first pig-to-human transplants could occur within two years. If it happens, it will be a big step forward in medicine. We will be able to grow organs on demand and adjust them on DNA level to match the recipient’s immune system.

 

A DIY Pharmaceutical Revolution Is Coming—If It Doesn’t Kill Us First

One guy had an epiphany – there are these meth labs all over the world making drugs. Can we take a similar approach to drugs that are legal? It’s an interesting idea but the path to DIY pharmaceuticals is long with many ethical, technical and legal obstacles on the way.