Issue #224

This week - OpenAI learns to play Hide and Seek; 18-year old builds a mind-controlled prosthetic; Russian space robot is sent back home; how a 15th-century manuscript keeps confounding AI; and more!


More than a human

Young scientist develops mind-controlled 3-D printed prosthetic

Eighteen-year-old Farida Cajee from South Africa built a “mind-controlled 3D-Printed prosthetic hand” using PET bottles she found in her town. "The hand works by using an Arduino UNO and what the Arduino UNO does is it is basically the mother body. When the user wears an EEG headset, it will pick up the brain signal and send the signal to the Arduino which then transfers it into a movement", she said.

A prosthetic leg that can sense touch makes it easier for amputees to walk

A new bionic prosthesis, developed by researchers from ETH Zurich and the Universities of Belgrade and Freiburg, and described in Nature Medicine today, tries to make it easier for amputees to get around by letting them “feel” surfaces again. The researchers implanted four tiny electrodes into the residual nerves in the amputees’ thighs. The team developed algorithms to translate the data coming from sensors in the “knee” of the prosthesis and sole of the shoe into electrical signals. The brain translated these signals, helping the user adjust their gait accordingly.

Biohacking: The Art and Science of Upgrading the Human Being

Here is a quick introduction to biohacking. The article explains what biohacking is, how it differs from bodyhacking and what biohackers do to live longer, healthier and more productive lives.

Artificial Intelligence

► OpenAI learns to play Hide and Seek (2:57)

In this video, OpenAI shares the results of teaching AI agents to play hide and seek. It is interesting to see AI figuring out how to block doors and build shelters to avoid being caught by the seekers.

Ex-Google worker fears 'killer robots' could cause mass atrocities

A new generation of autonomous weapons or “killer robots” could accidentally start a war or cause mass atrocities, a former top Google software engineer has warned. Laura Nolan, who resigned from Google last year in protest at being sent to work on a project to dramatically enhance US military drone technology, has called for all AI killing machines not operated by humans to be banned.

► Machines probably aren’t interested in global takeover. Here’s why. | Gary Marcus (4:10)

Gary Marcus is not concerned about AI taking control over the world. The main argument he uses is that current machines don't have resources to take the world and they don't display any desire into gaining territory. "Machines have no interest in us", Marcus says.

How a Mysterious Manuscript Keeps Confounding AI

Written in the early parts of the 15th century, Voynich Manuscript, a 240-page compendium of seemingly illegible and likely codified text, has amassed a proud track record of confounding scholars and eminent code breakers, including Alan Turing, alike. Today researchers use AI to crack the manuscript with mixed results. We might need algorithms that better understand human languages to decipher the book.

Robotics

Universal Robots Introduces Its Strongest Robotic Arm Yet

Universal Robots, a robotics company from Denmark, introduced UR16e, its strongest robotic arm yet, with a payload capability of 16 kilograms (35.3 lbs). Universal says the new “heavy-duty payload cobot” will allow customers to automate a broader range of processes, including packaging and palletizing, nut and screw driving, and high-payload and CNC machine tending.

Russia terminates robot Fedor after space odyssey

Building robots is not easy and making them work in space is even harder, as the Russian Space Agency has learned. Fedor, or Final Experimental Demonstration Object Research, was built to assist space station astronauts but it was found that its design does not work in space.

Biotechnology

The Entirety of YouTube Could Fit on a Teaspoon

DNA storage promises massive capacities in extremely small volumes, like storing the entire YouTube in a teaspoon. However, the technology is still new and requires solving some big problems before it reaches server farms.

Genetically Modified Mosquitoes Are Breeding in Brazil, Despite Biotech Firm's Assurances to the Contrary

The deliberate release of 450,000 transgenic mosquitoes in Jacobina, Brazil has resulted in the unintended genetic contamination of the local population of mosquitoes, according to new research published last week in Scientific Reports. Going into the experimental trial, the British biotech company running the project, Oxitec, assured the public that this wouldn’t happen.

Scientists Create A Device That Can Mass-Produce Human Embryoids

Scientists have invented a device that can quickly produce large numbers of living entities that resemble very primitive human embryos. Researchers welcomed the development as an important advance for studying the earliest days of human embryonic development. But it also raises questions about where to draw the line in manufacturing "synthetic" human life.

CRISPR'd Animals: Uncommon Model Organisms in Genetic Research

Mice and yeasts are commonly used in genetic engineering research. But they are more organisms used by scientists. The list also includes animals like zebrafish, flies, cuttlefish, ants and more.

How a Centuries-Old Sculpting Method Is Helping 3D Print Organs With Blood Vessels

Rather than printing an entire organ, researchers have created a new method of 3d printing organs where they took a Lego-block-like approach, making organ building blocks (OBBs) with a remarkably high density of patient cells, and assembled the blocks into a “living” environment. From there, they injected a “sacrificial ink” into the proto-tissue. Similar to pottery clay, the “ink” hardens upon curing—leaving a dense, interconnected 3D network of channels for blood to run through.

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