Issue #202

This week - OpenAI beats pro gamers on a livestream; Boston Dynamics drops new video; how viable are giant robots in combat; AI invented a new sport; why futurism needs to get real; and more!


No More Shiny Tomorrows: Futurism Needs to Get Real

I'm sharing this article first because it talks about futurism - a topic that cannot be avoided when talking about AI, robotics and merging humans with machines. Amber Case calls to embrace Middle Futurism - a flavour of futurism that sits between those perfect renderings of the future and the bleak dystopian future. It calls for creating products that use technology in harmony with humans, to the point of completely becoming invisible, instead of being just about technology.

More than a human

► Longevity Myth Busting - Aubrey de Grey (1:09:50)

Allison Duettmann challenges Aubrey De Grey with the top objections against longevity to be debunked and debated before opening up the floor to the public.

Artificial Intelligence

How to Train Your OpenAI Five

OpenAI Five is the first AI agent to beat pro gamers on livestream. In this post, OpenAI shares the results of the research which is your typical research summary post - why DoTA, how the model was trained, etc. The interesting thing mentioned in the post is the OpenAI Five Arena where you can either team up or play against OpenAI Five agents.

AKQA says it used AI to invent a new sport called Speedgate

People from AKQA fed a recurrent neural network with rules from 400 different sports. The network then generated a bunch of new games with their rules. Some of them were a miss, but some of them were viable games. With some final finishing from humans, the rules of the new game have been refined and Speedgate was born - the first ever sport generated by an AI. Here is a video explaining the rules of the game.

The Coming AI Autumn

Here is an interesting article arguing that we are not heading towards AI Winter but rather towards AI Autumn. As the AI hype starts to dwindle, those who focus on human-centered applications of AI may win in the long term. "People who can apply ML to solve real human problems will become the most important tech people out there", states the article.

Microsoft wants to unleash its AI expertise on climate change

Microsoft announced to turn what it does well–technology and AI–outward to support climate action. It will aggregate and host environmental data sets on its cloud platform, Azure, and make them publicly available. The company will also scale up the work it does with other nonprofits and companies tackling environmental issues. Microsoft is also working to prove that these types of data-driven projects can deliver enormous benefits to both the environment and the economy.

Robotics

► Mush, Spot, Mush! (1:06)

"How many Spots do you need to tow a truck?", someone asked at Boston Dynamics. The answer is ten, as shown in the newest video from Boston Dynamics. I wonder if they do a Christmas version where Spots are pulling Santa's sledge. And they can use Atlas as Santa.

► Giant Robots & Power Suits (31:54)

Isaac Arthur takes one of the most popular tropes in sci-fi - giant robots, mechas and powersuits, and checks how actually useful the giant robots would be.

The Drones And Robots That Helped Save Notre Dame

Two DJI drones were assessing the fire from the sky while on the ground a specialised firefighting robot named Colossus was used to fight the fire from the inside of the cathedral. It is not mentioned in the article, but after the fire, a drone with a thermal camera was used to check the state of the of Notre Dame's walls.

Amazon buys warehouse robotics startup Canvas Technology

Amazon bought Canvas Technology, a startup that builds autonomous carts that can move goods around warehouses, to further automate operations in their warehouses.

Inflatable Robots Are Destined for Space, If We Can Control Them

Maybe, instead of metal, the space robots will be made from fabrics and rubber, like Baymax from Big Hero 6. They are lightweight, cheap and safe. But soft robots are harder to control than their hard cousins. This is the problem researchers from Brigham Young University, with the help from NASA, try to solve.

Biotechnology

Gene-Edited Babies: What a Chinese Scientist Told an American Mentor

New York Times reveals the communication between He Jiankui, who announced in December last year the birth of the first genetically modified humans, and Stephen Quake from Stanford University. The article shows the messages exchanged between two scientists - one wanted to rush with the research and to publish the results, and a second who asked if the ethical side of the project is solid.

First U.S. Patients Treated With CRISPR As Human Gene-Editing Trials Get Underway

University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia announced the start of treating two patients with cancer with experimental CRISPR gene therapy. The article also has some Q&A about CRISPR if you are interested in learning more.

Researchers Create 3D-Printed Heart Using Human Tissue

Scientists at Tel Aviv University have 3D printed a small heart using human tissue that includes vessels, collagen, and biological molecules. The plan is to one day make organ donations obsolete and print tissues instead. The technology is still many years out from human transplants, though — the team’s rodent-sized printed heart isn’t quite there yet. 

CRISPR Can Turn Human Cells Into Biocomputers

Researchers from Switzerland have integrated a biocomputer based on a modified CRISPR-Cas9 system into a human cell, a step towards creating powerful biocomputers.

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