2nd October 2015

Issue #17

In this issue – Bionic Olympics, prosthesis, robot standing in the queue for the new iPhone, computer solving SAT test, more robots, drones, synthetic biology and more!


More Than Human

Bionic Olympics to be hosted in 2016

Yes, there are Bionic Olympics. It’s called Cybathlon and it will take place in Switzerland in October 2016. The augmented contestants will be competing in various competitions, in which they and their devices will be put to the limit.

My 12 pairs of legs

Athlete, actor and activist Aimee Mullins talks about her prosthetic legs — she’s got a dozen amazing pairs — and the superpowers they grant her: speed, beauty, an extra 6 inches of height … Quite simply, she redefines what the body can be.

This Is What the Future of Prosthetics Looks Like

Prosthetics doesn’t have to be boring anymore. Thanks to advancements in technologies like 3D printing, prosthetics can now look beautiful and express its owner. This article explores how the future of prosthetics might look like and shows some interesting designs.

Paralyzed Patient Walks Using Brain-Wave System

Researchers from University of California, Irvine had created a system, that allowed a 26-year-old man who was paralyzed in both legs has regained the ability to walk using a system controlled by his brain waves, along with a harness to help support his body weight.

20 Ironman Suit Exoskeleton Makers

If you are waiting for your own Iron Man’s exoskeleton, then you should keep an eye on those companies.

Artificial Intelligence

AI system solves SAT geometry questions as well as average human test taker

The Allen Institute for Artificial Intelligence (AI2) and University of Washington researchers have created an artificial intelligence system that can solve SAT geometry questions as well as the average American 11th-grade student.

AI Is About To Go Mainstream And Reshape The Workplace

This article from Wired compares today’s AI to client/server computing in the 1980s, and the introduction of database servers and visual development tools like PowerBuilder, which redefined how businesses work.

New A.I. Test: Can Machines Make Art?

Many people are having doubts in the famous Turing Test. They believe that it is not good enough to distinguish real AI from a very clever written, but still dumb, program. So these people proposed a different approach to testing if the system is a true AI. Let the machine make a art – paintings, stories, poems, architectural designs, and then let the human decide if it was created by machine or not.

Why This Neural Net Thinks the Starship Enterprise Is a Waffle Iron

Some guy gave to neural network an opening sequence from Star Trek: The Next Generation and asked it to tell what it sees. The results were… interesting. Some might say there were a bit poetic, but still far away from what the net was seeing. Later in the article explains why did the neural network classified objects as it did.

Move Over, Siri—The Next Generation of Virtual Assistants Is Almost Here

The new generation of personal virtual assistants is coming and being powered by state of the art AI system might our throne Siri and other current assistants in our phones.

Robotics

Robot Sent to Wait in Line for New iPhone

What can you do if you don’t like standing in queues, but you want the new iPhone? Send a robot!

Mobile robots could help the elderly live fuller lives

Mobile service robots developed by computer scientists at the University of Lincoln, UK, could soon be helping elderly people stay independent and active for longer.

A folding robot weighing four grams that crawls and jumps

Researchers at EPFL have thrown convention out the window by creating robots patterned on origami: flat, ultra-light and foldable. Their creation is able to crawl and jump and weights only four grams.

Advanced Robotics on a Dime

The robot-butlers we all saw in sci-fi movies are sort of here now, but they are very expensive or built just to show off. Hong Kong–based WowWee aims to change all that when it delivers the first sub-$600 multifunction home-service robot. The freestanding, self-navigating Switchbot—part concierge, part security guard—will roll out in 2016.

Git-R-Drone – The emergence of Rescue Drones

This article explores the possibility of using drones in search-and-rescue scenarios, but rather than focusing on the military application it focuses on civilians. Drones can be used as flying ambulances or robotics lifeguards. They can also be used to search for lost people in the mountains and there are already cases when drones proved to be useful in searching for lost people.

Robot art

Engineers from Imperial College London have developed computer software that enables the user to control a robotic arm with eye commands to paint a simple picture.

US Army Wants Robot Medics To Carry Wounded Soldiers Out Of Battle

US Army is funding projects that would allow in the future to carry off the wounded soldiers from battlefields quickly and safely without risking the life of human medics.

To Make Robot Hands More Like Ours, MIT Built These Softer, Smarter Fingers

At the International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems, Bianca Homberg, Daniela Rus (the director of MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory) and their colleagues are showing off the latest advance in robotic digits: Modular fingers made of silicone and embedded with sensors, dexterous enough to pick up everything from soft toys to single pieces of paper without needing to be programmed to understand what it’s gripping.

Robot mimics cockroach in Russian research initiative

A Russian team from the Immanuel Kant Baltic Federal University have created a small robot that looks and behaves as a cockroach and have showed their prototype. It is under 10cm long and it moves with a speed of 30cm per second and it’s controlled via smartphone.

A drone running on Kali Linux that can steal data just by hovering above you

Someone made a drone running on Kali Linux – a special Linux distribution designed for hackers. So maybe the next time you see a drone hovering above your home it’s not only stealing your privacy, but it might also be hacking your network.

Creepy robot shows that babies try to make their mothers smile

Scientists from University of California, San Diego, wanted to know why babies are smiling to their mothers. Their hypothesis was that babies smile to get mom or any other caregiver to smile back at them. To test that, they built a creepy baby-robot, which clearly falls into uncanny valley.

Japan robot owners warned off droid sex

Last week there was a lot of noise around sex robots. Some people were calling to ban them, others said is is a stupid idea. Nevertheless, SoftBank, the company behind a chatty Japanese humanoid named Pepper has felt the need to remind customers who purchase the robots not to engage in sex with them. You can find in Pepper’s user agreement: “The policy owner must not perform any sexual act or other indecent behaviour.”.

Biotechnology

Why Genetic Modification Is About To Get Easier

A short video from DNews about CRISPR, its impact on gene editing and a bit of ethical questions.

Synthetic Biology Is Not Just Good, It’s Good For You

Synthetic biology (synbio for short) is a term that circulates freely through the tech world, but what exactly does it mean? It inspires both excitement and concern, depending on application and context. The article shows how synbio is used now and what it promises to deliver.

Researchers Make Artificial Cells That Can Replicate Themselves

The researchers made a synthetic “protocell” made of DNA and proteins packaged inside lipids, which are fatty compounds meant to mimic the cell membrane. These spheres aren’t alive, but the DNA in them contains instructions to replicate under the right conditions. By changing the pH of the spheres’ environment, the researchers were able to trigger the cells to divide.

New, Alternative CRISPR Enzyme Could Make Genetic Edits More Precise

If you are familiar with CRISPR you should know that in order to “cut” DNA precisely where we want a special enzyme is used called Cas9. Cas9 isn’t the only enzyme that can do this—it just happens to be the one that scientists have found easiest to use. Newly discovered enzyme called Cpf1 allows to edit genes in an easier to control way.

Other

Google’s Quantum Computer Just Got a Big Upgrade

D-Wave, Google’s machine developed with NASA, is making the leap from 512 qubits—the fundamental building block of a quantum computer—to more than a 1000 qubits. And according to the company that built the system, this leap doesn’t require a significant increase in power, something that could augur well for the progress of quantum machines.

Megacities on the move – your guide to the future of sustainable urban mobility in 2040

A full report by Forum for the Future on future of cities and on the rise of the megacities. It explores four scenarios, compares them and plots possible timeline for each of the scenarios.

Cats and robots

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