Issue #281

This week - DIY exoskeleton and prosthetic hand; the dangerous rise of military AI; Agility Robotics starts selling their humanoid robots; and more!


More Than A Human

Print These Electronic Circuits Directly Onto Skin

A big challenge ahead of smart tattoos was to find a way to sinter—that is, use heat to fuse—metal nanoparticles to fabricate circuits directly on the skin (or fabric or paper) without burning the skin in the process. Recently, researchers have found a way to do exactly that. Their technique allowed to put flexible electronics directly on the skin and they were able to measure body temperature, skin moisture, blood oxygen, heart rate, respiration rate, blood pressure and bodily electrical signals such as electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG) readings.

► Hydrogen muscles for Iron Man exoskeleton (11:50)

Inspired by Iron Man, Alex has built an exoskeleton powered by hydrogen. All of that has been built in his garage workshop.

► Aluminum Hand Update (10:24)

Ian Davis took matters into his own hands and built himself an aluminium prosthetic hand.

Artificial Intelligence

The Case for a Learned Sorting Algorithm

This is an interesting paper - researchers have tackled the classic problem of sorting with a help of machine learning and created Learned Sorting Algorithm. Researchers claim "average 3.38x performance improvement over C++ STL sort, which is an optimized Quicksort hybrid, 1.49x improvement over sequential Radix Sort, and 5.54x improvement over a C++ implementation of Timsort, which is the default sorting function for Java and Python".

Australia wants AI to handle divorces — here’s why

An online app called Amica is now using artificial intelligence to help separating couples make parenting arrangements and divide their assets. The app uses past cases to make suggestions to users on how to resolve problems around divorce and separation. The app has even been backed by the Australian government for those in such circumstances.

Robotics

‘Machines set loose to slaughter’: the dangerous rise of military AI

Autonomous machines capable of deadly force are increasingly prevalent in modern warfare, despite numerous ethical concerns. Is there anything we can do to halt the advance of the killer robots?

China tests swarm of ‘suicide drones’ launched from a truck and helicopters

China has developed a new low-cost “suicide drone” that is despatched in a swarm to attack a target, according to mainland media reports. It was commissioned as part of the government’s military-civilian fusion strategy, a People’s Liberation Army insider who requested anonymity told the South China Morning Post.

► Agility Robotics: The Next Steps (3:18)

Big news from Agility Robotics. The company has announced it has raised $20M in a new funding and started selling their humanoid robot - Digit. Tech Xplore reports that the price tag for Digit is $250,000 but I wasn't able to find any confirmation of that on Agility's website. Nevertheless, it is first or one of the first advanced humanoid robots you can actually buy and use.

Robotics enter the COVID-19 fight

The US Office of Naval Research shares how they repurposed a robot designed for shipboard firefighting and maintenance tasks to help fight against COVID-19. The robot has successfully demonstrated disinfection of a room of COVID-19 at a testing centre.

Biotechnology

CRISPR Could Finally Make the First Truly Allergy-Free Cat

About 10% of people are allergic to cats because of one protein. Scientists and immunologists have been interested in this protein, known as Fel d 1, for decades because of its role in cat allergies. If they could figure out a way to stop cats from producing this protein, they could put an end to the sneezing, wheezing, and sniffling once and for all. And with CRISPR in hand, they might finally do it.

Tangents

To Boldly Go Where No Internet Protocol Has Gone Before

Vinton Cerf helped create the internet 40 years ago. Now, he plans how to take the internet off planet and into the stars. In this interview, he shares his vision for interplanetary internet and it could work.

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