Issue #126

This week – Sophia the robot gets Saudi Arabia citizenship; a new neural network from the godfather of modern AI; why biological immortality is mathematically speaking impossible; Aibo is back; playing with DIY CRISPR; and more!


More than a human

Eugenics 2.0: We’re at the Dawn of Choosing Embryos by Health, Height, and More

There is a startup that combines machine learning and genetics to predict which IVF embryos in a laboratory dish would be most likely to develop type 1 diabetes or other complex diseases. Armed with such statistical scorecards, doctors and parents could huddle and choose to avoid embryos with failing grades. Naturally, such thing attracts ethical questions and the word “eugenics” shows up quickly.

 

Immortality Is Impossible, Say Scientists Studying the Mathematics of Aging

Bad news for all hoping to live forever (at least by keeping their original bodies). A new research provides mathematical evidence that ageing and eventual death must happen, no matter how we intervene in the ageing process.

 

When man meets metal: rise of the transhumans

Here’s yet another journalist from a mainstream newspaper who explores the transhumanism movement and tries to understand why some people merge their bodies with technology.

 

Digital Death by Isaac Arthur

Isaac Arthur as always delivered a great video. This time, he wonders about immortality and death. It is often thought that if we cure ageing or find out how to upload a human mind that humans will be immortal. In this video, Isaac will examine that notion and see how well it holds up against astronomical timelines.

 

Artificial Intelligence

Google’s AI Wizard Unveils a New Twist on Neural Networks

Geoff Hinton and his research made the current state of the art neural networks possible. Now, he proposed a new way of thinking about neural networks by proposing capsule networks. The idea behind capsule network is to put some knowledge into the network instead of letting the network to figure things on its own. Initial tests look promising, but more research is required. If Hinton’s intuition is proven correct, we might see a new era in machine learning where machines learn faster from smaller sets of data.

 

Soon, Non-Biological Intelligences Will Populate Our Planet

“Our grandchildren, or their grandchildren, are likely to be living in a different era, perhaps more Machinocene than Anthropocene. Our task is to make the best of this epochal transition, for them and the generations to follow. We need the best of human intelligence to make the best of artificial intelligence.”

 

Does Regulating Artificial Intelligence Save Humanity or Just Stifle Innovation?

Recently, many famous people called to start thinking how to regulate AI research before it is too late. Their argument is that regulating AI research will save humanity from Skynet scenario. Others say regulations will impact innovation. This article briefly looks at pros and cons of both sides and also shows that AI and robots are already regulated indirectly. For example, drones need to follow aviation laws.

 

Can we teach robots ethics?

We are not used to the idea of machines making ethical decisions, but the day when they will routinely do this – by themselves – is fast approaching. So how, asks the BBC’s David Edmonds, will we teach them to do the right thing?

 

Robotics

Saudi Arabia Gives Citizenship to a Robot

Saudi Arabia has a new citizen named Sophia. Sophia, however, is not a human. It’s a robot.

 

People are outraged that Sophia the robot has more rights than most women in Saudi Arabia

Sophia, the newest citizen of Saudi Arabia, is a robot. And that robot has now more rights than most women in Saudi Arabia. She also achieved something that migrant labourers, the children of Saudi women and foreign men, and migrant families who have been there for generations can only dream of.

 

Sony’s Aibo robot dog is making a comeback

Sony’s robot dog – Aibo – is back! Sony has refreshed the look of the robot but the biggest changes are inside of it. It can connect now to Sony’s AI systems to analyse what it hears and sees, as well as learn from other robot dogs’ behaviour on the network. Sony says that the goal with the Aibo is to provide a companion for children and families, and not to replace a digital assistant like Google Home.

 

Amazon Is Quietly Building the Robots of Sci-Fi—Piece by Practical Piece

This article explains why building a commercially viable robot is hard and why Amazon is best placed to conquer yet another area – robotics. Amazon is one of those companies that will hugely benefit from automating everything – from warehouses to delivery. And they how resources to fund robotics research.

 

Biotechnology

Scientists Developed a Way to Precisely Edit Genes in the Human Brain

Precision gene editing has not been possible for cells that have stopped dividing, which includes mature neurons. Recently, researchers have developed a technique that enables gene editing on neurons. This new tool will present amazing new opportunities for neuroscience research.

 

Mail-Order CRISPR Kits Allow Absolutely Anyone to Hack DNA

With CRISPR, genetic engineering is easy. So easy, that everyone can do it. Annie Sneed (who is not a scientist) shares in Scientific American her attempts to modify living organisms using CRISPR and checks how easy is to play God nowadays.

 

The 5 Wildest Biotech Products Of The Future

Some of these products are quite interesting. Like that mushroom lamp you can grow yourself.