Issue #160

This week – OpenAI bots play Dota 2; AI is as good as doctors; a documentary about bionics; end of the line for ASIMO; and more!


More than a human

Beyond bionics: how the future of prosthetics is redefining humanity

This video (15 minutes long) from Guardian explores the world of prosthetics and meets real-life cyborgs. It also explores how the technology looks like right now, from DIY 3D printed prosthetics to state-of-the-art robotic arms, and what can we expect in the future.

 

Artificial Intelligence

OpenAI Five

OpenAI Five is a group of five AI bots designed to work together and crush in Dota 2. It already started to defeat amateur human teams at Dota 2 and in about a month, on July 28th, OpenAI Five will play against top Dota players.

 

AI’s health advice is as good as a doctor’s, startup says

Babylon Health, an AI health startup from London, said that its system can now offer health advice as good as what you’d get from a human doctor. Babylon Health said that it gave its artificial intelligence technology the same test required of would-be general practitioners in Britain and that the AI performed better than humans.

 

Expert predicts ‘AI nationalism’ will change geopolitical landscape

US and China are leading in the AI race, leaving everyone else behind. This can end up in a duopoly forcing other countries to choose their supplier of AI services and change the geopolitical landscape, states the article.

 

Robotics

End of the line for ASIMO, Japan’s famed robot?

Is this the end of ASIMO? Honda said it may scrap future generations of ASIMO, now on its seventh iteration. “We will still continue research into humanoid robots, but our future robots may not be named ASIMO,” Honda spokesman told AFP. There are rumours that the team behind ASIMO has been dissolved but Honda wasn’t confirm that yet.

 

Being human: how realistic do we want robots to be?

What if you can’t distinguish between an android and a human? Many movies and video games tackled this problem. With robots getting better all the time, roboticists will have to answer that question too. Interestingly, the answer changes vary depending on the culture. Japanese, for example, are generally ok with humanoid robots while Western societies are more afraid of robots.

 

How Roboticists Are Copying Nature to Make Fantastical Machines

Nature had a lot of time to develop creative and effective methods of locomotion. Now, roboticists are looking at nature’s designs to learn how to make their robot walk, jump or slither, and this video from WIRED showcases what they have learned and built so far.

 

Deep Drone Racing: Learning Agile Flight in Dynamic Environments

Researchers have created a racing drone that can fly on its own. By combining deep learning with state-of-the-art path-planning and control system algorithms, their quadrocopter was able to successfully navigate and fly around a racing track with static and moving gates.

 

Robotics Engineer Barbie builds robots, teaches kids to code

I welcome with open arms every attempt to get young people into robotics and engineering.

 

Teaching Bipedal Robots to Step Across Discrete Terrain

Here’s another bipedal robot learning how to walk. This one learns how to walk on stepping stones of varying height and distance between them.

 

Robots Are Making $6 Burgers in San Francisco

You can soon get a burger made by a robot in San Francisco. Unlike other similar ideas, Creator is not using a humanoid robot that flips the burgers. Instead, it looks like a mini factory with a conveyor belt.

 

Biotechnology

The Rise of DNA Data Storage

There are still some big problems to solve in DNA storage (writing DNA is more expensive than reading, for example) but if companies researching the idea figure a way around them, we will be able to store huge amounts of data for very long time (thousands of years). This article quotes that with DNA storage, we could store every movie ever made in a space roughly the size of a sugar cube.