Issue #283

This week - virtual influencers are taking over; US city bans facial surveillance; Spot is getting its arm next year; slaughter-free meat farms on Mars; and more!


More than a human

Tunisian Startup 3D Prints Bionic Arms Running on Solar

Tunisian startup Cure Bionics builds 3d printed bionic arms powered by solar cells. The arm's socket is adjustable with a turning wrist to be applicable with children's arms as they grow fast. The prosthetic hand is also controlled with muscles, which eliminates the surgical processes to connect with the human body. And it all started when Cure Bionics' founder met in a hospital an 8-year old boy who lost arm and leg to an electric shock.

A New Way to Plug a Human Brain Into a Computer: via Veins

A team of scientists and engineers came up with a new way to get into our heads - through veins. They designed an expandable, springy tube called a stent with electrodes which then is being threaded through veins into the brain. No drilling through skull required.

This Scientist Believes Aging Is Optional

Here is a review of David Sinclair's new book - Lifespan: Why We Age and Why We Don’t Have To*. Sinclair, who is one of the leading researchers in reversing ageing field, explains the latest research in the field and pathways we can follow to live longer and healthier lives.

Artificial Intelligence

AI mistakes referee’s bald head for football — hilarity ensued

And this is why you need a diverse training dataset for your AI. A football tracking AI thought a bald linesman’s head was the ball and repeatedly kept showing him instead of the ball in play. 

Portland, Maine passes referendum banning facial surveillance

Portland, Maine has banned facial surveillance in the city. It means that the city and its departments and officials cannot use or authorise the use of any facial surveillance software on any groups or member. If they do, the public can sue them.

Virtual Influencers Make Real Money While Covid Locks Down Human Stars

Virtual influencers are here. At a time when interacting safely with other humans can no longer be taken for granted, the appetite for digital spokespeople is accelerating. Lil Miquela, Seraphine, Imma and Plustic Boy to just name a few gained a massive following and become an alternative to human influencers on social media.

Too many AI researchers think real-world problems are not relevant

In this article, Hannah Kerner states that the AI community has little to no interest in applied AI. "Even a hint of the word “application” seems to spoil the paper for reviewers", she writes. For a technology with such potential to do good and bad, this disconnect from reality is concerning.

Robotics

Engineers on Halloween be like...

Reason to learn robotics - you will know how to build cool props for Halloween.

Disney Made a Skinless Robot That Can Realistically Stare Directly Into Your Soul

Robotics researchers at Disney created a robot that can realistically gaze at people and perform other life-mimicking animations, like breathing, blinking, saccades, and other subtle movements that make the robot feel alive. For more technical details, check the paper here

Walmart Scraps Plan to Have Robots Scan Shelves

Walmart has ended the partnership with Bossa Nova Robotics to introduce robots in their stores. The robots were supposed to roam around the shops and scan if there are empty shelves. Walmart decided to end the partnership after seeing similar results from workers grabbing online orders during the pandemic.

Boston Dynamics’ Spot is getting an arm and self-charging dock next year

Boston Dynamics' CEO revealed that the company will offer an arm (which we already have seen on YouTube) and a self-charging dock for Spot next year. He also revealed that around 260 robots have been sold so far, showing that there is a market for these kinds of robots.

Biotechnology

Florida mosquitoes: 750 million genetically modified insects to be released

Local officials in Florida have approved the release of 750 million mosquitoes that have been genetically modified to reduce local populations. The aim is to reduce the number of mosquitoes that carry diseases like dengue or the Zika virus. The green-lighting of a pilot project after years of debate drew a swift outcry from environmental groups, who warned of unintended consequences.

The Xenobot Future Is Coming—Start Planning Now

Synthetic biology promises to improve human existence, but if we don’t have a plan, public confusion will grow to untenable levels. Our governing structures were created in an era before artificial intelligence, globalization, and synthetic biology. Within the next decade, we will need to make important decisions: whether to program novel viruses to fight diseases, what genetic privacy will look like, who will “own” living organisms, how companies should earn revenue from engineered cells, and how to contain a synthetic organism in a lab.

World CRISPR Day: Event Recap and Highlights

Here is a recap of Synthego' World CRISPR Day, which opened with Dr. Jennifer Doudna’s keynote speech, followed by 8 sessions spanning a range of application areas, from agriculture to drug discovery.

Meat on Mars: Aleph Farms wants to serve 'slaughter free' steaks in space

Aleph Farms announced the launch of its Aleph Zero space program focused on one day establishing large-scale meat cultivation facilities (called "BioFarms") in extraterrestrial environments. The company specializes in what it describes as "slaughter-free" steaks grown from animal cells. 


Tangents

► Becoming a Kardashev-1 Post-Scarcity Civilization (24:19)

Another excellent video by Isaac Arthur. In this one, Isaac explores different pathways we can take to get to Kardashev Level 1 post-scarcity civilisation and why he believes we can get there sooner than we think.


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