7th December 2018

Issue #183

This week – meet the biohackers; CRISPR babies follow-ups; DeepMind’s AI folds proteins; Waymo launches taxi services in Arizona; a cyborg plant; and more!


More Than A Human

► Meet the BiohackersIn this film Catrin Nye from BBC meets people inserting technology under their skin, trying to edit their DNA, changing their diet to try and live to 150 and trying to create entirely new human senses. She meets biohackers in the UK, Germany and the US who want to push the limits of what it means to be human.

The gene-edited Chinese twins represent a multi-generational ethical quandary The birth of the first genetically-modified humans spawned many questions about the ethics of altering the human genome. This article focuses on one of those questions – the question of informed consent.

First CRISPR Babies: 6 Questions That RemainScientific American answers six questions about the recent birth of CRISPR babies. The questions vary from what is going on with He Jiankui (the scientist behind the research) to how were the babies modified to how all of this will impact the entire germline editing research.

The Military Is Investing Millions in Exoskeleton “Super- Soldiers” US Army is investing $6.9 million into ONYX – Lockheed Martin’s exoskeleton suit that straps on over the soldier’s clothes — instantly turning them into a “super-soldier”

**► Transhumanism: Is Curing Aging Impossible?This video looks at three different theories of aging. Each one of them proves that overcoming aging using only biology is futile and the only way to truly live forever is to become a non-biological being. **

Artificial Intelligence

**AlphaFold: Using AI for scientific discoveryHere is a post from DeepMind describing AlphaFold – an AI system designed to help scientists predict a protein’s shape from its DNA sequence, thus accelerating the research of in biotech. **

► Research at NVIDIA: The First Interactive AI Rendered Virtual World This video shows a machine-generated world from a video. The machine learning algorithm was trained to render urban environments from videos of cities. This technique can find use in video games for example, where it can make generating realistic cities easier.

Robotics

► Riding a Waymo self-driving taxi – Waymo OneHere is a review of Waymo One, Waymo’s driverless taxi service, that started running this week in Arizona. Are self-driving finally here?

Largest police force in the US steps into the drone age The New York Police Department has shown off its first fleet of drones. The department said Tuesday that potential uses for its 14 drones include search and rescue, hard-to-reach crime scenes, hostage situations, and hazardous material incidents. It says drones can reduce risk to officers and bystanders during a response to dangerous situations. They’ll be operated by officers who are specially trained and licensed. The NYPD says the drones won’t be used for routine patrol or traffic enforcement.

Alphabet’s drone division will begin trialing aerial deliveries in Finland next yearWing, Alphabet’s drone company, after months of testing its drone delivery service in Australia, will begin testing drone deliveries in Helsinki, Finland, next year.

Congress Races to Pass a Self-Driving Car Law By Year’s End With Waymo rolling out autonomous cars into the wild city environment, the law needs to catch up with the technology. In the US, senators began to circulate new language for the AV Start Act, a bill that has lingered in congressional limbo for almost a year. In this new draft language, the bill would create a loose framework for the testing and deployment of automated vehicles.

**The Promise—and Complications—of Domestic RobotsThere is a tournament where teams of roboticists put their autonomous service robots to the test for practical domestic applications, like assisting in shopping or in the kitchen. The tasks for robots to perform seems simple for us, humans, but making a robot do them is a big challenge. **

Could drones replace cameras for making animated movies? New research shows how drones can greatly reduce the effort required to make realistic animated figures for movies and television. It requires two drones flying around actors in the scene, picking the right angles to record their movement and doing motion capture on the fly.

Biotechnology

► Elowan: A Plant-Robot HybridResearchers from MIT Media Lab have created Elowan – a plant-cyborg. Elowan is a hybrid that merges a plant and a robot. The electrodes read the plant’s natural bioelectrochemical signals which then are being used to control a robot to move the plant towards the source of light.

Baboons Survive for Half a Year after Heart Transplants from Pigs Four baboons were able to live with a transplanted hearts grown in a pig bringing human trials into view.

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