12th July 2019

Issue #214

This week - plans for more CRISPR-modified babies; AlphaStar is getting unleashed to play StarCraft 2 against humans; AI vs humans in poker - 1:0; robotic pets; and more!


More than a human

Five couples lined up for CRISPR babies to avoid deafness

Five Russian couples who are deaf want to try the CRISPR gene-editing technique so they can have a biological child who can hear. Denis Rebrikov, who leads the project, plans to apply to the relevant Russian authorities for permission in “a couple of weeks”.

The Jesuit Priest Who Believed in God and the Singularity

Pierre Teilhard de Chardin can be labelled as one of the first transhumanists ever. Through his work on evolution as a way for creating more and more complex and intelligent organisms and systems, he predicted the Internet way before people thought about connecting computers together and saw what we refer today as Singularity - the emergence of a superintelligence. At the same time, he was also a Jesuit priest trying to merge Christian philosophy with technological progress.

Artificial Intelligence

AlphaStar will play against humans in StarCraft 2

If you play competitive StarCraft 2, there is a chance you will be matched against AlphaStar - DeepMind's AI trained to play the game which already has proven to beat some pro players. AlphaStar will play anonymously only in Europe and you have to opt-in to get a chance to play against AI.

AI smokes 5 poker champs at a time in no-limit Hold’em with ‘relentless consistency’

Pluribus - an AI agent created in collaboration between Carnegie Mellon and Facebook - has proven itself to beat five professional poker players in the same game, or one pro pitted against five independent copies of itself.

Where We See Shapes, AI Sees Textures

AI researchers have found out that neural networks trained to classify images put too much emphasis on texture than the shape of the object. Their finding gives us a better understanding how neural networks see the world and will help train better AIs.

Darkest Before The Dawn: AI research will go "dark" just before the singularity

Here is an interesting thing to think about. Darkest Before The Dawn scenario proposes that AI research labs will go dark just before creating artificial general intelligence. It states that "in the near future governments and institutions are quickly going to realize they have to go dark as giving this technology to the public is too dangerous and changing things too fast."

AI Trained on Old Scientific Papers Makes Discoveries Humans Missed

Using just the language in millions of old scientific papers, a machine learning algorithm was able to make completely new scientific discoveries. The algorithm found some possible thermoelectric materials, which convert heat to energy and are used in many heating and cooling applications. The algorithm didn’t know the definition of thermoelectric, though. It received no training in materials science. Using only word associations, the algorithm was able to provide candidates for future thermoelectric materials, some of which may be better than those we currently use.

Robotics

Infographic: Impact Of Advanced Robotics On Job Markets

In order to gauge how the adoption of advanced robotics will affect the labor market, the Boston Consulting Group carried out a survey of executives and managers from 1,314 global companies in early 2019. The research found that 67 percent of Chinese companies are expecting a reduction in the number of employees due to automation, along with 60 percent in Poland and 57 percent in Japan. Some companies are more at risk than others with only 34 percent of organizations in Italy expecting reductions by comparison.

The Second Coming of the Robot Pet

Are robots going to replace pets? Mita Yun thinks yes, you can replace a pet with a robot. She, amongst many other roboticists, works to create a pet robot which can be your friend. It might sound ridiculous, but researchers studying robot-human interactions have found that humans can form bonds with robots.

The drone that separates into microdrones mid-flight

Researchers from Singapore have designed a drone that can separate itself into five microdrones mid-flight. The design of the microdrone was inspired by "helicopter seeds" that can be found on various trees, the microdrones fly in a similar way to how these seed pods travel.

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