In this issue – Boston Dynamics’ new wheeled robot. On editing human genome and ethics of enhancing humans. Softbank CEO predicts the Singularity to arrive by 2047. Roborace shows its autonomous racing car. Do robots deserve human rights, and more!
More than a human
After successfully synthesizing yeast genome (12 million base pairs long), one scientist was asked which organism should be synthesized next. The answer: “Why don’t you take a page out of history and set the bar high? Do the human genome.” And that’s how the quest of synthesizing human genome started. The goal is to advance the research of synthesizing organisms the same way as Human Genome Project advanced gene sequencing. But as every biotech touching humans, it raises a lot of ethical questions.
Imagine that you are the only one among your friends who is a “pure” human, genetically unaltered human. This puts you in a disadvantage. To avoid such scenarios, some of the CRISPR advocates call to make the gene editing easy to access for everyone, not just for the selected few.
For the first time, the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Medicine approved the editing of human genes, though they expressed caution at the notion. This is a reversal from the staunch restriction that is currently in place by the FDA.
NPR talks with Yuval Noah Harari, author of the Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow, about human enhancements, biological inequality and what can be done to control the growth of bioengineering and artificial intelligence.
Kevin Kelly from WIRED argues that as we had electrification of things we will experience soon (or we are experiencing it right now) “cognificiation” – adding intelligence to everything we can.
We have another prediction of when the Singularity will happen. This time it is from Softbank CEO Masayoshi Son who predicts the technological singularity will occur by 2047, claiming a single computer chip will have an IQ equivalent to 10,000 by then.
Some people say that we have only one chance to make artificial general intelligence right. Rob Miles explains why it is so important to do it right by showing that once the super AI is on any changes to it will be hard to implement, not because of complexity, but because the machine will resist such change.
Boston Dynamics officially showed its newest robot – Handle. From a leaked video we already knew that Handle is the first wheeled robot made by Boston Dynamics and we had a small teaser of its capabilities. Handle is an impressive piece of engineering. It even can jump!
At Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Roborace showed the autonomous racing car that the teams will be using. It looks beautiful and futuristic. I can’t wait to see it in action.
Another great video from Kurzgesagt – In a Nutshell. This time they explore the question of machine consciousness and machine rights. As the AI becomes more advanced we might reach a point when machines become self-aware. Would they deserve any rights when it happens? How would we justify the denial of the rights for the machines?
Inspired by nature, the designers of six-legged robots used three gait walking method used by insects – at any time three legs have contact with the ground. It was thought to be the fastest and the most efficient way for these kinds of robots to walk. But recent research showed that there is a faster way for a six-legged robot to walk – unseen in nature bipedal gait.
Robotics researchers from Japan have built the longest robotic arm in the world using helium balloons. This 20m long arm weights only 1.2kg and it’s practically useless when it comes to grabbing and lifting things. But still, a robot from balloons.