Issue #240

This week - US limits exports of AI software; drones replace fireworks show; a table-waiting-cat-robot; bionic humans aren't science fiction; and more!


More than a human

Delta’s new exoskeleton crews could lift your luggage with ease

Delta Airlines is partnering with Sarcos Robotics to test its battery-powered, full-body exoskeletons to aid airports ground crew.

NextMind Unveils $400 Brain-Computer Interface Developer Kit

NextMind, a Paris-based brain-computer interface (BCI) startup, debuted a $400 neural interface dev kit at CES. Attaching to the back of the head with a simple forehead strap, eight non-invasive EEG prong-like electrodes pick up brain waves from the visual cortex. The company is pitching a number of use cases, one of which was its potential application in VR headsets.

► Bionic humans aren’t science fiction (13:47)

A smartwatch printed directly onto your skin? Bionic human eyes and ears? A 3D printer that prints human cells? This isn’t science fiction; augmented humans are around the corner. Not only that, integrating technology with biology will soon be within the grasp of the average person, potentially taking us all beyond our current human limitations.

Artificial Intelligence

U.S. government limits exports of artificial intelligence software

The Trump administration took measures to crimp exports of artificial intelligence software as part of a bid to keep sensitive technologies out of the hands of rival powers like China. Under a new rule, companies that export certain types of geospatial imagery software from the United States must apply for a license to send it overseas except when it is being shipped to Canada.

► MuZero: DeepMind’s New AI Mastered More Than 50 Games (5:26)

Two Minute Papers explains MuZero - the latest AI from DeepMind that mastered over 50 classic Atari games without any prior knowledge about the games. In Go, chess and shogi, without any knowledge of the game rules, MuZero matched the superhuman performance of the AlphaZero algorithm that was supplied with the game rules.

Robotics

► 2,000 drones light up night sky in Shanghai to welcome New Year (0:53)

Drones - a high-tech replacement for firework shows. That countdown around 0:32 looks like something taken from a cyberpunk world.

Restaurant cat robot meows at dining customers

At CES, PuduTech unveiled BellaBot - a table-waiting with a cat face that behaves like a cat. The article also features other interesting robots but can you beat a table-waiting-cat-robot that meows on you when your dinner is served?

Agility’s two-legged robot Digit is for sale and Ford is the first customer

You can buy now Digit - Agility Robotics' bipedal robot, the company announced at CES. The price is was not revealed, but what was revealed was the first customer - Ford, which uses the robot to solve the last-50-feet problem, those final steps from the curb to the door.

Biotechnology

A computer made from DNA can compute the square root of 900

Chunlei Guo at the University of Rochester in New York state and colleagues developed a computer that uses 32 strands of DNA to store and process information. It can calculate the square root of square numbers 1, 4, 9, 16, 25 and so on up to 900. The DNA computer could help to develop more complex computing circuits, says Guo. “DNA computing is still in its infancy, but holds great promise for solving problems that are too difficult or even impossible to handle by current silicon-based computers,” he says.

What CRISPR-Baby Prison Sentences Mean for Research

He Jiankui sentence sent a strong signal that the Chinese government would bring criminal charges for an act that shocked the world, and are likely to deter others from similar behaviour.

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