Issue #296

This week - updates from Neuralink; Spot gets new accessories; how AI will revolutionise games; a spinach that sends emails; and more!


More than a human

Neuralink May Start Human Implants Later This Year, Elon Musk Says

In one of his recent tweets, Elon Musk said the Neuralink team is working with FDA to make their device ready for human trials maybe even this year.

Elon Musk Says He Wired Up a Monkey’s Brain to Play Video Games

Apparently, there is a happy monkey out there with Neuralink implant playing video games with its brain.

This startup will keep your dead body on ice for €30 a month

German company Tomorrow Biostatis offers a chance to achieve immortality by freezing your dead body in hope that future technology will be able to revive you. Their business model is interesting - according to Emil Kendziorra, CEO of the company, €100k is set aside for each patient. That money is then invested with the idea of 2–3% return of investment per year — 2% for inflation and 1% to pay for the storage of the body.

Artificial Intelligence

► Future AI will revolutionise games (20:25)

AI is already being used in game development with systems like Nvidia's DLSS but that is the end of the graphics pipeline as Coreteks says in this video. The real revolution will happen when the AI is applied everywhere in games - from generating realistic and unique virtual worlds to synthesizing audio and voices to making characters act more realistic.

How Mirroring the Architecture of the Human Brain Is Speeding Up AI Learning

Once again, AI researchers look at nature for inspiration. This time, it is to solve the one-shot learning problem. In this experiment, the researchers trained neural network high-level concepts and then used it to learn new concepts. The experiment was simple but their AI was able to learn faster than a typical neural network while using fewer training examples.

Robotics

► Launch Event: Meet Spot's Expanded Product Line (24:24)

Boston Dynamics revealed new accessories and services to go with their Spot robot. You can equip your Spot with an arm and when it needs to rest, it can dock to the charging station. Boston Dynamics also released Scout - a web-based interface that allows controlling Spot remotely wherever you are. As I am writing this, their shop hasn't been updated with the new accessories but I expect them to not be cheap.

► Mesmer Demo (4:44)

Engineered Arts presents Cleo - their newest humanoid robot designed for entertainment. Looks cool but it is still deep in the uncanny valley.

Makers of Sophia the robot plan mass rollout amid pandemic

Hanson Robotics, the creators of humanoid robot Sophia, announced their plans to mass-produce robots by the end of the year. Four models, including Sophia, would start rolling out of factories in the first half of 2021, just as researchers predict the pandemic will open new opportunities for the robotics industry. Hanson believes robotic solutions to the pandemic are not limited to healthcare, but could assist customers in industries such as retail and airlines too.

Biotechnology

Scientists create spinach plants which can send emails when they detect explosives

Researchers from MIT have engineered spinach that sends emails. The plants are coated with carbon nanotubes that emit a fluorescent signal when they detect explosives. The fluorescent glow is then picked by infrared cameras and if the change is big enough, an email is being sent. Interesting idea and maybe soon we will see more detector like this one out there in the world warning us about pollution.

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