Issue #147

This week – new robots from Festo; more about ethics and regulations around self-driving cars; a teen who built a prosthetic arm for his dad; and more!


More than a human

Elon Musk’s Neuralink Sought to Open an Animal Testing Facility in San Francisco

It is starting.

 

Transhumanism: Humanity’s Goal Since Discovering Fire

“When did our species start taking control of our own evolution? Plenty of people today would say that we likely began taking control of our evolutionary development at the start of the 21st century, which included the successful mapping of the entire human genome. Though I would argue that our species began taking control of our own evolutionary development when we first started controlling fire.”

 

The teen who built a prosthetic arm for his dad

Robbie Frei’s father lost part of his arm serving in Iraq, so Robbie designed and 3D printed for him a new one. He then shared his design so people around the world can 3D print their own prosthetics. Accessible technology FTW!

 

Artificial Intelligence

There’s an algorithm to simulate our brains. Too bad no computer can run it

Scientists just created an algorithm capable of performing a complete human brain simulation. Great! Now we just have to wait for someone to build a computer powerful enough to run it.

 

Can you sue a self-driving car?

The recent fatal accident involving an autonomous car brought back all the ethical and legal issues surrounding self-driving cars. Who is responsible if an accident happens? Is the law lagging behind the tech? A law professor from Stanford University gives some answers.

 

The Ethics of Self-Driving Cars

The ethics of self-driving cars once again, this time from the point of view of a philosopher on YouTube who gives a very good summary of the problem. Questions he tries to answer – does the Trolley Problem tell us anything about self-driving cars? What are the moral, legal, or ethical issues thrown up by autonomous vehicles? Should we be more critical of corporations like Uber?

 

Dungeons and Dragons creatures, generated by neural network

Another episode of “let’s feed a neural network with some names and see what will we get back!” This researcher went super nerdy and feed the network with names of monsters from Dungeons and Dragons. There is also a list of AI-generated spells (links in the article).

 

Robotics

BionicWheelBot from Festo

Guys from Festo added a new robot to their zoo. This time, it is a spider robot that can turn into a ball and roll away.

 

And a bionic bat, also from Festo

Its name is BionicFlyingFox. It looks like a real bat and can fly like a real bat. Check the video in the article to see it in action.

 

Cheetah III robot preps for a role as a first responder

You probably have seen Cheetah the robot somewhere on the internet. This quadruped robot got a lot of attention for its ability to run fast and jump over obstacles. With the third iteration being in progress, the focus goes into creating a commercially viable robot with enhancements such as a greater payload capability, wider range of motion, and a dexterous gripping function.

 

Robot Uses Iron Man Tech to Walk

This robot uses ducted fan jet engines attached to its feet to manage balance its balance. By applying a thrusting force that comes out of the foot it is able to maintain centre of gravity even though the robot is extended well beyond its normal range of motion.

 

These Are Not the Robots We Were Promised

We dreamed of C-3POs and androids but instead, we have Siri and Alexa. As this article points out, there are two reasons why this happened. First, building a humanoid robot is hard. Second, building a humanoid robot that people would like to have and not be scared of it is even harder.

 

Biotechnology

CRISPR plants won’t be regulated

In a big win for the biotech industry, the US Department of Agriculture says it won’t regulate plants whose genomes have been altered using gene-editing technology. The USDA says gene editing is just a (much) faster form of breeding. So long as a genetic alteration could have been bred into a plant, it won’t be regulated. That includes changes that create immunity to disease or natural resistance to crop chemicals, as well as edits to make seeds bigger and heavier. It doesn’t include transgenic plants (those with a gene from a distant species)—those will still be regulated.