Issue #159

This week – how Hugh Herr plans to connect robots to humans; biohacker won a legal battle to remain a cyborg; DeepMind’s AI can now construct a 3D scene from a 2D image; and more!

More Than A Human

How we’ll become cyborgs and extend human potential

A couple of years ago, Hugh Herr broke the internet with his TED talk where he showed his bionic legs. Now he’s back, with another TED talk, in which he details “NeuroEmbodied Design,” a methodology for creating cyborg function that he’s developing at MIT, and shows us a future where we’ve augmented our bodies in a way that will redefine human potential — and, maybe, turn us into superheroes. “During the twilight years of this century, I believe humans will be unrecognizable in morphology and dynamics from what we are today,” Herr says. “Humanity will take flight and soar.”

Biohacker Who Implanted Transit Chip in Hand Evades Fine

Australian biohacker Meow-Ludo Disco Gamma Meow-Meow (that’s his legal name) got famous when he implanted a travel card into his arm. That did not go well with local authorities which charged him with traveling without a ticket and failing to produce a ticket for transportation officials. Recently, Meow won a court battle against local authorities and is allowed to travel with his implant. “Cyborg justice has been served “, he wrote in a Facebook post.

New Jelly-Like Neural Implant Eliminates the Need to Drill Through the Brain

Sticking a needle or electrode into a brain is not a fun experience. That’s why researchers from Carnegie Mellon University developed a flexible, squishy silicon-based hydrogel that sticks to neural tissue, bringing non-invasive electrodes to the brain’s surface. Researchers are hoping that their work will lead to a new era of safer neural implants and give rise to better, more accurate neural readings that could help us understand diseases and other brain conditions. Or connecting brains to the internet.

Artificial Intelligence

How to get empowered, not overpowered, by AI

Many artificial intelligence researchers expect AI to outsmart humans at all tasks and jobs within decades, enabling a future where we’re restricted only by the laws of physics, not the limits of our intelligence. MIT physicist and AI researcher Max Tegmark separates the real opportunities and threats from the myths, describing the concrete steps we should take today to ensure that AI ends up being the best — rather than worst — thing to ever happen to humanity

Alphabet’s DeepMind Makes a Key Advance in Computer Vision

Researchers at Alphabet’s DeepMind today described a method that they say can construct a three-dimensional layout from just a handful of two-dimensional snapshots. So far the method, based on deep neural networks, has been confined to virtual environments, they write in Science magazine. Natural environments are still too hard for current algorithms and hardware to handle.

Is There a Smarter Path to Artificial Intelligence? Some Experts Hope So

Deep learning is the cornerstone of today’s AI systems. But some AI experts start to point out the limits of deep learning. Others try to go beyond deep learning and use different approaches to build intelligent machines, like dusting off a logic language from 1970s.

A machine has figured out Rubik’s Cube all by itself

Yet another bastion of human skill and intelligence has fallen to the onslaught of the machines. A new kind of deep-learning machine has taught itself to solve a Rubik’s Cube without any human assistance. The milestone is significant because the new approach tackles an important problem in computer science—how to solve complex problems when help is minimal.

Fighting AI Surveillance with Scarves and Face Paint

Looks like cyberpunk not only predicted global corporations, AI, and mass electronic surveillance, but also fashion. There are researchers who are designing clothes and accessories specifically to fool computer vision algorithms. Their creations look like they were taken from a cyberpunk story.


Inside the Mad Lab That’s Getting Robots to Walk and Jump Like Us

Cassie is one of the most interesting robots out there. It is a bipedal robot that looks like an ostrich. Wired went to visit University of Michigan and see what Cassie is capable of.

Flying Dragon Robot Transforms Itself to Squeeze Through Gaps

At JSK Lab at the University of Tokyo, roboticists have developed a robot called DRAGON, which (obviously) stands for “Dual-rotor embedded multilink Robot with the Ability of multi-deGree-of-freedom aerial transformatiON.” It’s a modular flying robot powered by ducted fans that can transform literally on the fly, from a square to a snake to anything in between, allowing it to stretch out to pass through small holes and then make whatever other shape you want once it’s on the other side. Check the video here to see DRAGON in action.

Boston Dynamics Talks About The Future Of Robots

Here’s a 30-minutes long interview with Marc Raibert, CEO of Boston Dynamics. He discusses the story of Boston Dynamics, the progress of their robots and the challenges facing robotics.

Westworld-like ‘Mesmer’ robot comes alive in a UK factory

A visit to Engineered Arts – a company that builds life-sized, humanoid robots that look incredibly realistic and move smoothly, quietly and relatively naturally. Their recent product – Mesmer – looks very humanlike, but it is still inside the uncanny valley. You can check the demo here.

Sharing the workplace with robots? New tool helps designers create safer machines

Researchers from Germany have created a new tool to help design safer robots. The “safety map” combines data about robot’s collision behaviour with human injury data, and adds information about robot’s design. The ‘safety map’ helps users to determine if the robot they are designing is capable of inflicting specific injuries during unexpected collisions. They can also pinpoint the most dangerous areas in the robot’s workspace and compare their robot with others in terms of safety characteristics.

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