Issue #127

This week – Waymo put self-driving cars on the roads in Phoenix; genetically modified apples hit stores in US; how to cure ageing; mixing human brain cells with rats; and more!


More than a human

How to Cure Aging – During Your Lifetime?

What if we could stop ageing forever? Will it happen during our lifetime? Kurzgesagt looks closer at three techniques – reducing senescent cells in the body, increase production of NAD+ enzyme and stem cells – that might cure ageing sooner than some of us think.

 

Bionic Eye Trial Approved

Pixium Vision, a French company, has received the approval to begin in-human trials of a miniature wireless sub-retinal implant. Named PRIMA, the device may help those with advanced dry age-related macular degeneration get improvements in their eyesight.

 

Do We Need Brain Implants to Keep Up with Robots?

To keep up with machines, we should boost our cognitive powers with brain implants, says Christof Koch, the director of Allen Institute for Brain Science.

 

Artificial Intelligence

This AI Bot That Messes With Email Scammers As Long As Possible Is Brilliant

This is so good. An online safety non-profit in New Zealand made a bot that engages with email spammers, mimics how they write and messes with them as long as possible. Brilliant.

 

Building A.I. That Can Build A.I.

By some estimates, only 10,000 people worldwide have the education, experience and talent needed to build the complex algorithms that will drive this a breed of artificial intelligence. Google and others, fighting for a small pool of researchers, are looking for automated ways to deal with a shortage of artificial intelligence experts.

 

DeepMind “Never Found the Limit” of AlphaGo Zero’s Intelligence

DeepMind CEO and co-founder Demis Hassabis, speaking at Google’s Go North conference, said, about AlphaGo Zero, their newest and most powerful AI, “We never actually found the limit of how good this version of AlphaGo could get. We needed the computers for something else.”

 

Stephen Hawking: “I Fear That AI May Replace Humans Altogether”

“The genie is out of the bottle. I fear that AI may replace humans altogether,” says Stephen Hawking. “If people design computer viruses, someone will design AI that improves and replicates itself. This will be a new form of life that outperforms humans.”

 

Computer says no: why making AIs fair, accountable and transparent is crucial

As powerful AIs proliferate in society, the ability to trace their decisions, challenge them and remove ingrained biases has become a key area of research. To understand the AI “black box”, some researchers traced the behaviour of a neural network layer by layer. Others propose to feed the AI with different inputs and see how they impact the end result. Others want to ban “black box” AIs straight away.

 

Clever Machines Learn How to Be Curious

Some researchers want to make better AIs by embedding into them something you might think is hard to define – curiosity.

 

Robotics

Waymo makes history testing on public roads with no one at the wheel

It’s a big news. Waymo, Google’s self-driving car company, has now cars driving on public roads in the Phoenix metropolitan area with no one in the driver’s seat. The cars will be used as a taxis and will be fully autonomous. The company is so confident in the technology that they will not put a human driver as a safety measure.

 

Market for Humanoid Robots Set to Grow Ten Times by 2023

If you want to build a humanoid robot, this might be a good time for you. A new report claims the market for humanoid robots will expand tenfold by 2023. Current estimates put its value at $320.3 million, but it’s projected to reach $3.9 billion within the next six years.

 

How to Build a Robot That Won’t Take Over the World

Not everyone thinks that Asimov’s famous Three Laws of Robotics are good enough to prevent a robot from harming people. In this interview, Christoph Salge proposes a new approach called Empowerment. It’s an interesting concept, where the robot not only looks for itself but also for its human partner.

 

This metamorphosis bot can change outfits for different tasks

Meet Primer – a new robot from MIT. What’s special about this robot is that it can change its function in an interesting way. All it needs to do is to step on at a purpose-build sheet of plastic, heat it up and the sheet, which then takes its shape like an origami, adds new functionality to the robot. Like the ability to roll, the ability to be a boat. It can even transform itself into a glider and fly.

 

Future robots won’t resemble humans – we’re too inefficient

Ask someone on the street to name a robot and you might hear “Terminator”, “the Cybermen” or “that gold one from Star Wars”. What you’re not going to be given are names like Tesla Model X, Cassini or DJI Inspire 2. These are all robots, but they don’t follow the sci-fi narrative of what robots should be like.

 

Biotechnology

Genetically Modified Browning-Resistant Apple Reaches U.S. Stores

This month, a new kind of apples hits the supermarkets in the US. “Arctic apple” is a genetically modified apple that does not go brown once sliced and left alone for some time. Success for the “Arctic apple” could herald a new wave of lab-grown foods and other companies working on genetically modified foods are looking closely how the market and the consumers react.

 

Tiny human brain organoids implanted into rodents, triggering ethical concerns

Researchers working with human brain organoids are charting into unknown waters. They want to put those micro quasi-brains into rats and see what will happen. It doesn’t come as surprising that when you mix human organs or cells with animals a lot of ethical questions is raised.