Issue #154

This week – Spot Mini will be available next year; growing an ear on forearm; sending a robot for a graduation ceremony; safety in DIY biology movement; and more!


More than a human

Your forearm is a great place to grow a new ear

Plastic surgeons with the U.S. Army successfully pulled off a new kind of total ear reconstruction and transplant, in which they built a new ear from harvested rib cage cartilage, then placed it under the skin of patient’s right forearm. They allowed it to grow there for a few months, until it was finally ready for placement on the patient’s head.

 

Mark O’Connell: five books to understand transhumanism

Mark O’Connell, author of To Be a Machine, a book exploring transhumanism and bringing it concepts closer to an average person, shares five books to read if you want to understand the movement better.

 

Artificial Intelligence

Google’s Duplex Raises the Question: Should Robots Sound Robotic?

Google’s recent demo of their making phone calls and speaking like a real human with a real human was as impressive as it was terrifying for some people. Some people started to ask if we are going too far in blurring the line between humans and machines. They ask if it is needed for AI to be as human-like as possible, opening way for deceit like deepfakes did earlier this year.

 

This DeepMind AI Spontaneously Developed Digital Navigation ‘Neurons’ Like Ours

When Google DeepMind researchers trained a neural network to tackle a virtual maze, it spontaneously developed digital equivalents to the specialized neurons called grid cells that mammals use to navigate. Not only did the resulting AI system have superhuman navigation capabilities, the research could provide insight into how our brains work.

 

To Build Truly Intelligent Machines, Teach Them Cause and Effect

Judea Pearl, a pioneering figure in artificial intelligence, argues that AI has been stuck in a decades-long rut. His prescription for progress? Teach machines to understand the question why. In this interview with Quanta Magazine, he explains what he means by that and talks in general about current AI and where it is heading.

 

Robotics

Boston Dynamics’ Robot Dog Will Be Available Next Year

If you ever wanted that smaller four-legged robot from Boston Dynamics, I have a good news for you. The company recently announced they plan to start selling Spot Minis next year. The price is still unknown.

 

Robot stands in for US student at graduation

Can’t make for your graduation because you are too sick to move? Why not send a robot that will make you be there!

 

Chinese Port Goes Full Robot With Autonomous Trucks and Cranes

Chinese city of Caofeidian plans to have a fully autonomous port running by the end of 2018. Plan is to automate as many operations as possible. The US-Chinese startup TuSimple, a specialist in developing self-driving trucks, will replace human-driven terminal tractor-trucks with 20 self-driving models. A separate company handles crane automation, and a central control system will coordinate the movements of both.

 

We asked people if they would trust driverless cars

A new research has found that we may be more willing to trust driverless cars in certain situations, but not so much in other cases. People are most willing to use such cars in closed environments such as university campuses, airports, retirement villages, holiday parks and golf courses. But people are most unwilling to sit in the driver’s seat of a vehicle with no driver controls (no pedals or steering wheel). People are also hesitant to be passengers in areas with high pedestrian traffic and public transport with no chaperone.

 

Inside Ocado’s Andover CFC3 automated warehouse

A little sneak peak into Ocado’s automated warehouse where robots move on a grid and prepare orders to be sent.

 

Biotechnology

As D.I.Y. Gene Editing Gains Popularity, ‘Someone Is Going to Get Hurt’

Across the country, biohackers — hobbyists, amateur geneticists, students and enthusiasts — are practicing gene editing, concerning some bioterrorism experts. After a virus was created from mail-order DNA, scientists are sounding the alarm about the genetic tinkering carried out in garages and living rooms.

 

‘Memory transplant’ achieved in snails

A team successfully transplanted memories by transferring a form of genetic information called RNA from one snail into another. The snails were trained to develop a defensive reaction. When the RNA was inserted into snails that had not undergone this process, they behaved just as if they had been sensitised.