Issue #130

This week – dancing with a robot; the impossibility of intelligence explosion; a story of a guy who tests gene engineering on himself; teaching robots by being a puppeteer; and more!


More than a human

Genetically Engineering Yourself Sounds Like a Horrible Idea—But This Guy Is Doing It Anyway

Here’s a story of Josiah Zayner – a biohacker who sells cheap DIYBio kits and experiments with editing his own genes. His background, his ideas, what the community thinks of him and his struggles with US and German governments.

 

Thought-Controlled Prosthetic Hand Restores 100 Realistic Touch Sensations

Researchers from the University of Utah have created a prosthetic arm that not only can be controlled using thoughts but can also transmit touch sensations back to the brain. The sensory feedback will help patients better use their new limb and make it feel less alien.

Artificial Intelligence

The impossibility of intelligence explosion

A very interesting article by François Chollet, the author of Keras (it’s a deep learning framework if you are not into building AIs), where he argues that superintelligence or explosion of intelligence is impossible. He writes that intelligence is situational, meaning that such thing as general intelligence. “Your brain is one piece in a broader system which includes your body, your environment, other humans, and culture as a whole.” Intelligence is also defined and limited by the context of its existence, by its environment, which puts some hard limits on how intelligent a system can be. I highly recommend to take some time and read his thoughts.

 

The Many Tribes of Artificial Intelligence

There are many approaches to solve intelligence. Some draw inspiration from nature, while others are inspired by mathematics. This article goes through different schools of artificial intelligence (named “tribes” in the article) with a brief description what is their main idea.

 

Human-Level AI Are Probably A Lot Closer Than You Think

Here’s a different definition of Singularity: “the moment when humans can no longer predict the motives of AI”. Using this definition, Damien Scott argues that Singularity is closer than we think and that self-conscious AI is not necessary to achieve it. “That might be the kind of creep of the singularity across a whole bunch of different domains: All these things getting better and better, as an overall a set of services that collectively surpass our collective human capabilities”, says Scott.

 

Artificial intelligence goes bilingual—without a dictionary

Two new papers show that neural networks can learn to translate with no parallel texts—a surprising advance that could make documents in many languages more accessible.

 

Robotics

A human-robot dance duet | Huang Yi & KUKA

Have you ever danced with a robot in a pale moon night? An interesting example of a human-robot interaction.

 

Berkeley startup to train robots like puppets

Embodied Intelligence Inc. has a novel idea how to train robots, which combines machine learning and virtual reality. They are working on a system in which a human “teaches” robot how to perform a task using a VR headset. The AI algorithms try to understand what human has done and then translate that knowledge into a physical robot.

 

Human pilot beats AI in drone race

Humans can be better than AI and robots! At least in drone racing and until the AI catches up.

 

Artificial muscles give soft robots superpowers

This new artificial muscle can be made in 10 minutes with materials generally available that can be acquired for less than $1 and it is said to be able to lift up to 1000 times its weight.

 

UK to give police new powers to ground drones

The UK government has announced it will introduce draft legislation in the spring aimed at preventing unsafe or criminal use of drones. Among the measures planned for the forthcoming Drone Bill plus secondary legislation amendments the government has planned are new powers for police to order an operator to ground a drone if it’s deemed necessary. Police will also be able to seize drone parts to prove it has been used to commit a criminal offense.

 

Biotechnology

CRISPR Harnessed to Turn Bacteria into Microscopic Tape Recorders

A tape recorder is a useful metaphor for what researchers have done. They have engineer bacterias that can record the changes they experience using CRISPR as a way to record said experiences. Such bacterias might be useful to track previously inaccessible phenomena.