Issue #92

Inside – meet a cyborg actress and archer, some articles about AI safety and the meaning of AI in general, traditional robots and one biological robot, researchers from Francis Crick Institute have a permission to engineer human embryos and more!


More than a human

Grant Imahara and Angel Giuffria

Grant Imahara (he was a host at Mythbusters) meets Angel Giuffria, a real-life cyborg actress to discuss her prosthetic arm. “The future is soon!”

 

Prosthetic arm technology that detects spinal nerve signals

Scientists from Imperial College London showed their new prosthetic arm that uses spinal nerve signals. To control the prosthetic, the patient has to think like they are controlling a phantom arm and imagine some simple manoeuvres, such as pinching two fingers together. The sensor technology interprets the electrical signals sent from spinal motor neurons and uses them as commands.

 

Artificial Intelligence

Five AI Startup Predictions for 2017

These predictions are: Bots go bust, Deep learning goes commodity, AI is cleantech 2.0 for VCs, MLaaS dies a second death, Full stack vertical AI startups actually work. Very interesting read on where AI startups are failing and what can come up from the ashes of the failed companies.

 

‘Artificial Intelligence’ Has Become Meaningless

“It’s often just a fancy name for a computer program”, argues Ian Bogost, as he compares the current AI hype with what AI is in movies – a true human-like machine.

 

How Dangerous Would Westworld-Level Artificial Intelligences Really Be?

HBO’s television show asks some deep philosophical questions about the ethics of artificial intelligence and consciousness. While we’re not likely to see results as bloody as on the show, it might be best to not mistreat our robot counterparts.

 

Artificial Intelligence Is Not a Threat—Yet

Last two years we saw a lot of people raising concerns about AI and if it is a threat to humanity. I’m sceptical and so is the author of this article in which he makes three points why AI Doomsday is unlikely.

 

How rival bots battled their way to poker supremacy

We can add poker to the games which we thought computers won’t beat humans for a long time. Two teams created two different programs that smashed the best poker players. This article from Nature nicely describes both algorithms and compares them without going into the technical details.

 

Robotics

Amoeba-Like Robot Programmed With DNA

Researchers in Japan have managed to design a tiny robotic system that moves like a living cell. It is a fluid-filled sac containing only biological and chemical components. The molecular components work in concert to stretch and change the shape of the sac, propelling it with cell-like motion through a fluid environment. The motion can be turned on and off with DNA signals that respond to light.

 

An Amazing (Illegal) Plan to Defeat Terrorist Drone Attacks

Black Sage Technologies developed a system to track and even shut down any drone. They hope their system would be useful in ensuring safety, but there is a problem to make their vision come true. The current US laws forbid frequency jammers. These laws were passed when no one dreamed about having a small drone. Hopefully, we will not have to see a terrorist attack with drones for the laws to change.

 

TALOS Humanoid Now Available from PAL Robotics

Do you ever want to have a humanoid robot? If the answer is yes, then you can buy from PAL Robotics their humanoid robot – TALOS. 32-degrees-of-freedom, 1.75-meter-tall, 100-kilogram robot designed for dynamic walking, heavy lifting, and (eventually) assisting humans with all of those tasks that we really don’t want to be doing. It can walk 3 km/h and the battery last for 3 hours. I wasn’t able to find a price tag.

 

Robot uses social feedback to fetch objects intelligently

These researchers are working on a robot which asked to give a wrench it will give a wrench, but if confused it will ask questions to find which wrench to you mean. Interesting is the last paragraph of the article. The system worked so well that people (the test subjects) thought the robot had capabilities it actually didn’t have, like following eye gaze or knowing what “on the left” or “closest to me” means.

 

Biotechnology

For the First Time, Researchers Can Genetically Modify Human Embryos

The UK has given researchers at the Francis Crick Institute permission to edit the genes of early-stage human embryos. This is huge news, not only in genetics and biology fields, but for science as a whole. No other researcher has ever been granted permission to perform gene editing on viable human embryos before. The research will try to answer what is happening with a human embryo in the first seven days of development and thus help reduce the number of miscarriages and treat infertility.

 

3 Exciting Biotech Trends to Watch Closely in 2017

tl;dr – Cell Therapies and Regenerative Medicine, Neuroscience and AI Invades Biotech.

 

Scientists Have Created A Way to “Delete” DNA in Living Cells

CRISPETa is a tool to remove the pieces on non-coding DNA (which makes 99% of the whole DNA in our bodies).  The hope is that this tool can help treat disease-causing mutations by removing the problem causing non-coding DNA.