Issue #98

Zuckerberg says Facebook is working on brain interface, the god in the machine, Russian gunslinging robot, and as always, news and articles on AI, robotics and biotechnology!


More than a human

Zuckerberg: Facebook Is Working on a Brain Interface That Lets You “Communicate Using Only Your Mind”

I remember Mark Zuckerberg said a year or maybe two years ago that in the future we will be communicating via some sort of telepathy. Facebook wants to make that future a reality.

 

God in the machine: my strange journey into transhumanism

After losing her faith, a former evangelical Christian felt adrift in the world. She then found solace in a radical technological philosophy – but its promises of immortality and spiritual transcendence soon seemed unsettlingly familiar.

 

Liz Parrish – Human of the Future

Interesting talk by Liz Parrish, the CEO of Bioviva, where she explains that biological ageing is a disease and we can address it with gene therapy.

 

Here’s Everything You Need to Know about Elon Musk’s Human/AI Brain Merge

Elon said that the mind enhancing technology should be about 8 to 10 years away from being usable by people with no disability.

 

Artificial Intelligence

We Created AI, and Now They Are Teaching Us

Researchers from DeepMind have created an AI that can remember experiences just like a human and protect valuable memories from being overwritten by new experiences. Not only it is a step forward for AI research, but it also helps us understand our own brains and how it works.

 

The future of AI isn’t HAL—it’s intelligence augmentation

I like the message of this article. It’s not humans vs machines, but humans with machines.

 

New institute aims to make Toronto an ‘intellectual centre’ of AI capability

Vector Institute, based in Toronto backed by many companies, aims to maintain Canada’s place as one of the intellectual centres of AI research.

 

Jürgen Schmidhuber on the robot future: “They will pay as much attention to us as we do to ants”

A quite long interview with Jürgen Schmidhuber – the German computer scientist says artificial intelligence will surpass humans’ in 2050, enabling robots to have fun, fall in love – and colonise the galaxy.

 

Even AI Creators Don’t Understand How Complex AI Works

This article discusses the problem of “black box AI” – an AI that does the job it meant to do, but we don’t know how exactly it did it or how it will do it. The black box AI problem touches the problem of consciousness and morality of AI, which is another hot topic in philosophy and AI research.

 

Robotics

Russia’s New Space Robot Can Drive, Use Tools… and Shoot

Russian engineers created a versatile humanoid robot designed for space missions. Then they give him guns, taught him how to shoot and the internet freaked out.

 

How Open-Source Robotics Hardware Is Accelerating Research and Innovation

Open sourcing tools is a great way to accelerate progress in any field. In robotics, open source software made a big impact in the research. IEEE Spectrum lists a few open hardware projects for robotics, ranging from gripper mechanisms to haptic interfaces to complete standalone robots.

 

Why Georgia Tech Built a Tarzan Robot That Swings Around on Wires

Researchers from Georgia Tech were inspired by sloths and have built a robot that can swing around on overhead wires. They hope their design will be useful in farming to monitor crops. And one day, it may swing around electrical wires in cities, too.

 

UK creates anti-drone squad to combat prison smugglers

UK created a special anti-drone squad made of police and prison officers to tackle the problem of drones used to smuggle contraband into prisons. If you have in your mind a group of people shooting down drones with high-tech anti-drone rifles, I’m sorry to disappoint you. The squad will primarily be an information-sharing exercise.

 

Biotechnology

The Unbearable Weirdness of CRISPR

Nautilus shares a story of Francisco Mojica, whose work on understanding the genome of a salt-loving microbe led to a world-changing technology.

 

The Future of Food: To GMO or Not To GMO?

GMO crops got a bad reputation. But as the human population grows (UN estimated they will 9.7 billion of us by 2050), we might have to revisit the fears of GMO crops and accept that modifying crops could be the only way to feed the world.

 

Tiny ‘Organ Chips’ Promise Big Boost to Testing of Food, Drugs

Researchers at the FDA’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition are studying the “organ chips” – tiny pieces of plastic containing living cells to represent one organ. These chips can be used to study effects of drugs without conducting expensive and sometimes controversial tests on humans.

 

Google Offshoot Starts A 10,000-Person Study To Plumb Human Biology

Verily, formerly known as Google Life Sciences, plans to begin a long-awaited 10,000-person study to explore the biology of healthy people in the next several months, the company says. Each patient will undergo a battery of physical tests, including genome sequencing, a CAT scan of the chest to check for the buildup of calcium in heart arteries, eye exams and blood tests. They will return every year for five years for follow-up tests.