Issue #149

This week – France’s plan to become an AI powerhouse; Europe wants to grant robots right but the experts say “don’t do it”; Bill Gates’ letter on genetic engineering; UN tries to define a “killer robot”; and more!


More than a human

A Brain-Boosting Prosthesis Moves From Rats to Humans

After proving that brain zapping works in rats and monkeys, Robert Hampson hopes to move his research into humans and build a neural prosthesis that could augment all manner of brain functions—not just in victims of dementia and brain injury, but healthy individuals, as well.

 

MIT’s wearable device can ‘hear’ the words you say in your head

Called AlterEgo, this device can hear your inner voice and turn them into words. It also can talk to you, using bone-conduction headphones, promising more personal connection with computers.

 

Artificial Intelligence

Emmanuel Macron Talks to WIRED About France’s AI Strategy

Last week, Emmanuel Macron, the president of France, outlined France’s strategy to become an AI power. In this interview, Macron explains his vision and talks about the impact of AI on society and politics. Interestingly, he promises that is that of the algorithms developed by the French government will be open and algorithms developed by any company getting money from the French government will also be required to be open.

 

Elon Musk warns A.I. could create an ‘immortal dictator from which we can never escape’

Elon warns about AI again. In a documentary by American filmmaker Chris Paine, Musk said that the development of superintelligence by a company or other organization of people could result in a form of AI that governs the world.

 

Virtual robots that teach themselves kung fu could revolutionize video games

AI researchers at UC Berkeley and the University of British Columbia have created virtual characters capable of imitating the way a person performs martial arts, parkour, and acrobatics, practising moves relentlessly until they get them just right. Check the video in the article presenting the results. I can’t wait to see Atlas the robot doing kung fu.

 

How soon will computers replace The Economist’s writers?

Asks a journalist writing for The Economist.

 

There’s an AI Running for the Mayoral Role of Tama City, Tokyo

Tired of human politicians? Why not choose a robot! At least in Tama City, Tokyo, where an AI runs in elections amongst traditional human candidates.

 

Dungeons and Dragons, Not Chess and Go: Why AI Needs Roleplay

Maybe the true test for AI should not be chess, Go or even Starcraft, but role-playing games like Dungeons and Dragons. It is a way more complex game requiring close cooperation with players and quickly adapting to the new situations while making sure the story in the game is interesting. That sounds like a challenge.

 

Robotics

Experts warn Europe: Don’t grant robots rights

The European Parliament passed a resolution last year that envisions a special legal status of “electronic persons” for the most sophisticated autonomous robots. More than 150 experts in robotics, artificial intelligence, law, medical science and ethics weighed into the debate on Thursday, with a clear warning against such a move. The lawmakers argue that giving advanced robots legal status would make it possible to hold machines to account for any damage they may cause. The experts said the European Parliament’s proposal could allow manufacturers, programmers and owners of robots to claim they were not responsible for them.

 

DroneShield is keeping hostile UAVs away from NASCAR events

Don’t bring your drone to NASCAR races. It will be grounded by DroneShield’s anti-drone tech. And it won’t be the first such technology was deployed to protect sports events. Previously, the company was protecting the Commonwealth Games in Brisbane and the Olympics in PyeongChang.

 

UN reopens talks on defining ‘killer robots’

A new round of talks on the use of so-called killer robots reopened at the United Nations on Monday, with a focus on defining the characteristics of autonomous lethal weapons.

 

Robots Replace Soldiers in First Breaching Exercise of its Kind

U.S. and British troops participated in the Robotic Complex Breach Concept demonstration, during which several remote-controlled vehicles performed a task usually carried out by soldiers.

 

Next Generation Robots – Boston Dynamics, Asimo, Da Vinci, SoFi

ColdFusion looks in this video into the next generation of robots, which are promising to be more dexterous, versatile and innovative than current robots. It starts with Boston Dynamics’ robots and ends with robotic fishes, cats and battlebots.

 

Biotechnology

Gene Editing for Good

In this letter, Bill Gates states how gene editing and CRISPR, in particular, could help humanity overcome some of the biggest and most persistent challenges in global health and development, from feeding the world to curing diseases.

 

Is the World Ready for Synthetic People?

Drew Endy talks about Genome Project-write, or GP-write, the impact of synthetic biology and why it is important to make synthetic biology as open as possible.