Issue #279

This week - CRISPR wins 2020 Nobel Prize in Chemistry; NVIDIA is building UK's fastest supercomputer; Toyota presents robotic butlers; why robots in care homes are inhuman; and more!


Artificial Intelligence

Nvidia is building the UK’s fastest supercomputer to use for AI research in healthcare

The Cambridge-1 will deliver 400 petaflops of AI performance, giving it a spot among the world’s 30 most powerful supercomputers. Nvidia says it will also be among the three most energy-efficient supercomputers on the current Green500 list. I hope it will be more power-efficient than recent RTX 30 series GPU cards.

Web Neural Network API

Web Neural Network API is a proposed web API that would allow developers access to low-level hardware AI hardware and accelerators. In other words, it would allow web apps to run AI directly on the hardware and open new possible AI applications in the browsers. Web Neural Network API is a draft right now but it would be interesting what developers could build with it if it moves forward and gets implemented in the browsers.

An AI can simulate an economy millions of times to create fairer tax policy

Can AI simulate an entire economy? AI researchers from Salesforce think yes, it can. Their tool, named AI Economist, uses reinforced learning to identify optimal tax policies for a simulated economy. In one early result, the AI found a policy that—in terms of maximizing both productivity and income equality—was 16% fairer than a state-of-the-art progressive tax framework studied by academic economists. The improvement over current US policy was even greater.

Robotics

Toyota’s robotic butler will serve you from the ceiling

Researchers from Toyota Research Institute showcased what they have been working on and what kind of future they see for robots in our homes by inviting to visit their Virtual Open House where robots wipe the dust from the furniture, clean the sink and do the dishes. There is even one cleaning robot that hangs from the ceiling (looks a little bit like GLaDOS).

Robots to be introduced in UK care homes to allay loneliness – that’s inhuman

Some UK care homes are to deploy robots in an attempt to allay loneliness and boost mental health. The wheeled machines will “initiate rudimentary conversations, play residents’ favourite music, teach them languages, and offer practical help, including medicine reminders”. They are being introduced after an international trial found they reduced anxiety and loneliness. This is positive, but they are not a viable alternative to human interaction, argues Fay Bound Alberti and explains why a technological solution to a problem of loneliness is missing the point.

UK Military Develops Drone With a Double Barreled Shotgun

The UK military has designed a hexacopter drone that’s equipped with two shotgun barrels. The drone, called i9, is capable of flying indoors and identifying targets. i9 is also designed to act as a “battering ram,” knocking target drones out of the sky.

► Why Boston Dynamics Should Be Worried About The Competition  (8:04)

Boston Dynamics is a leader in human-like and quadruped robots. For years, their robots were leagues ahead of anything in that space. But that is changing. New companies emerge, copying their designs and asking a fraction of what Boston Dynamics asks for their robots. The company may have to change if it does not want to become to new competitors what PARC Xerox was for Apple (thanks OtherAxisDenied for sharing this on our Discord)

Biotechnology

Genetic scissors: a tool for rewriting the code of life wins 2020 Nobel Prize in Chemistry

The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences has decided to award the Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2020 to Emmanuelle Charpentier and Jennifer Doudna - two scientists two who discovered CRISPR/Cas9 genetic scissors that opened an easier way to modify DNA and advanced life sciences.

CRISPR is Dead

Josiah Zayner, one of the lead biohackers in the world, shares his thoughts about CRISPR. Zayner's post calms down the CRISPR hype and declares CRISPR dead, citing the recent Nobel Prize for its discovery as a proof.

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