Issue #289

This week - what's next for Boston Dynamics; the AI girlfriend seducing lonely men in China; can we upload our minds; is DNA really like language; and more!


More Than A Human

► Can You Upload Your Mind & Live Forever? (13:57)

Kurzgesagt takes a closer look at the concept of mind uploading and digital immortality. It explains what do we mean by "mind uploading" and explores challenges and questions we are and will face before anyone achieves digital immortality - from the fundamental question of what is mind and what makes you "you" to technical challenges of brain scanning to speculating how digital immortality could change our behaviour.

German Bionic raises $20M led by Samsung for exoskeleton tech to supercharge human labor

German Bionic raised $20 million to fund that its plans to use to continue building out its business, as well as its technology, both in terms of the hardware - the Cryo X exoskeleton - and the cloud-based software platform. This news also shows there is interest in exoskeletons not only in research but also as a business.

Artificial Intelligence

The AI Girlfriend Seducing China’s Lonely Men

Looks like movie Her has become a reality. Xiaoice is an AI bot that’s redefining China’s conceptions of romance and relationships. Appearing as an 18-year-old who likes to wear Japanese-style school uniforms, she flirts, jokes, and even sexts with her human partners, as her algorithm tries to work out how to become their perfect companion. According to Xiaoice’s creators, the bot has reached over 600 million users. The author of this article visits one of them and describes the life of someone who is dating a bot.

This Company Uses AI to Outwit Malicious AI

As AI is used more widely, new opportunities for exploiting weak spots in the technology also are emerging. That’s given rise to companies that probe AI systems for vulnerabilities, with the goal of catching malicious input before it can wreak havoc. This article focuses on one of those companies - Robust Intelligence - which creates an AI to outwit check reading AIs.

Robotics

Hyundai Buys Boston Dynamics for Nearly $1 Billion. Now What?

This article contemplates Boston Dynamics future as a part of Hyundai - how the partnership can look like and what the acquisition means for their robots - Spot, Handle and Atlas. The fate of Atlas is an interesting question. "Depending on whether Hyundai views Boston Dynamics as a company that does research or a company that makes robots that are useful and profitable, it may be difficult for Boston Dynamics to justify the cost to develop the next Atlas, when the current one still seems so far from commercialization", writes Evan Ackerman.

Why Do Many Self-Driving Cars Look Like Toasters on Wheels?

The answer - form equals function. Industry experts had long predicted that the first autonomous vehicles would be shared electric shuttles, to ferry multiple people around cities à la UberPool. Without any need for steering wheels or pedals, the cubes give passengers more room to manoeuvre inside. Cubes also work nicely as electric vehicles, at a time when most AV-makers promise their first offering will be electric. The conventional, combustion-powered vehicle has an engine and a drivetrain, but EVs have compact powertrains, enclosing all the necessary parts, which fits neatly on the bottom of vehicles.

Biotechnology

We Call DNA a Language. Is It?

We tend to use the language metaphor when describing DNA. But as this article points out, "if our understanding of a thing like DNA changes, the metaphors we use to describe it should change as well, or else they can encumber further scientific discovery" and describes how this metaphor has deceived us and oversimplified the complexities inside DNA.

Stop Arguing over GMO Crops

"In 2020, the “GMO vs. organic” debate is outdated and unproductive", states this article and calls to accept and support GMO research as a path to feed the world and make agriculture resilient to climate change and make feeding the world sustainable. 

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