Issue #177

This week – how Sweden is becoming a nation of cyborgs; DeepMind imagines animals; xenobiology; an interview with veteran data scientist on AI, deep learning, fintech; and more!


More than a human

Thousands Of Swedes Are Inserting Microchips Under Their Skin

Sweden – the nation of cyborgs? Thousands of Swedes have had microchips inserted into their hands. The chips are designed to speed up users’ daily routines and make their lives more convenient — accessing their homes, offices and gyms is as easy as swiping their hands against digital readers. They also can be used to store emergency contact details, social media profiles or e-tickets for events and rail journeys within Sweden. Around the size of a grain of rice, the chips typically are inserted into the skin just above each user’s thumb, using a syringe similar to that used for giving vaccinations. The procedure costs about $180.

 

Will In-Vivo Networking and Neuralink make us become a Cyborg?

This article looks into one possible way we can become cyborgs – by using brain implants.

 

Iron Man-like exoskeletons studied to improve productivity, safety, and well-being

Over the next decade, American manufacturers are facing an industrial skills gap with projections of 2 million manufacturing jobs going unfilled due to a lack of qualified and skilled applicants. A large portion of the current manufacturing workforce is nearing retirement age and younger generations often lack the interest to learn the technical skills associated with jobs in manufacturing. Furthermore, occupational injuries cost U.S. companies more than $13 billion annually, with overexertion injuries accounting for the majority of injuries. The solution for all those problems? Exoskeletons!

 

Diabetes Patients Are Hacking Together The Tech They Need. Doctors Are Just Tuning In.

If you don’t have it, build it. A group of suffering from diabetes hackers come together and created OpenAPS – an open source artificial pancreas. It combines a continuous glucose monitor with an insulin pump. The monitor checks the patient’s glucose level and if it is too low, it injects insulin with the insulin pump. Now the doctors are catching up with them.

 

Artificial Intelligence

DeepMind’s Eerie Reimagination of the Animal Kingdom

Using Generative Adversarial Network (GAN), researchers from DeepMind created an AI that can “imagine” whatever the researchers asked it to reproduce. You can check the computer generated images here. However, generating those images required tapping into the computational power of Google. As someone wrote: “The good news is that AI can now give you a more believable image of a plate of spaghetti. The bad news is that it used roughly enough energy to power Cleveland for the afternoon”

 

The Smart, the Stupid, and the Catastrophically Scary: An Interview with an Anonymous Data Scientist

A long conversation with a veteran data scientist on AI, deep learning, FinTech, and the future. Very insightful, cold look from someone who wasn’t named but seems to spend a lot of time with AI research. Keep in mind, the interview is from 2016, so some things may be outdated but the general message is still valid today.

 

Robotics

Global industrial robot sales doubled over the past five years

International Federation of Robotics released the new World Robotics Report. Key takeaways – 381,000 units were shipped globally in 2017 – an increase of 30 percent compared to the previous year. The top markets are China, South Korea, Japan, USA, and Germany.  And 85 robot units per 10,000 employees is the new average of global robot density in the manufacturing industries. Links to the reports can be found in the article.

 

HAHN Group acquires Rethink Robotics IP

HAHN Group, a German automation specialist, has acquired all of the patents and trademarks from Rethink Robotics. The HAHN Group says it will further develop Rethink’s technology, “combining it with German engineering and know-how of industrial applications.”

 

A Drone-Flinging Cannon Proves UAVs Can Mangle Planes

With more and more drones in the sky, the chances of a collision with an aircraft increases. To illustrate how dangerous such an encounter can be, one researcher put a commercially available drone into an air cannon and shoot it in a lab into an airplane. If you are curious what a drone can do to a flying aircraft, here is the video showing what will happen.

 

Tiny Drones Team Up to Open Doors

In a move inspired by natural engineering, robotics researchers have demonstrated how tiny palm-size drones can forcefully tug objects 40 times their own mass by anchoring themselves to the ground or to walls. It’s a glimpse into how small drones could more actively manipulate their environment in a way similar to that of humans or larger robots.

 

Biotechnology

Synthetic Life: Could We? Should We?

A group of panellists discuss the application of synthetic biology in agriculture, removing waste, and healthcare. It’s one-hour long video, mostly focusing on what synbio promises to deliver and with some interesting ideas.

 

Can We Create Aliens? : Xenobiology And XNA

Xenobiology sounds like something from a science fiction novel. It is a subfield of synthetic biology which goes beyond the canonical DNA-RNA-20 amino acid system and tries to build life we have never seen before. This video explains what xenobiology is and what it promises to deliver.

 

Our Genetic Legacy

Here an article from Daisy Robinton in which she explains why we should take control over our genes. “This is our future. We must push forward; thoughtfully, carefully, but forward nonetheless, to give the inheritors of our legacy what we wish for ourselves: a greater health span. A greater life span. A better life”, she writes.