This week - prosthetic arms are not as cool as it seems; Google's project to enhance hearing; a call to ignore killer robot bans; bring back your dead with an AI; patients seem to be ok with robot doctors; and more!
More Than A Human
Advanced prosthetic arms are cool until you get one. Britt H Young shares her experiences from using such an arm and why she decided to go back to a "dumb" prosthetic. Britt writes that the weight of the arm was exhausting and cycling through the grip patterns to choose one was annoying. The article also dives into our obsession with cyborgs and points out that this obsession is “continuing to drive that wedge between disenfranchised disabled people and those with money and power, creating a new ‘desirable disabled person.’”.
As the possibility of space travel and long-term human presence in space, as well as the prospect of engineering and enhancing ourselves becomes more real than ever, Juan Enriquez explores the possibility and inevitable risks of human speciation. The conclusion - "historically, when we have encountered perceived human diversity, it has not usually ended well", and the proposed solution could be "to think carefully about the rights and protections we provide to existing species that demonstrate different forms of intelligence" right now and use that experience as a blueprint for interactions with future human species.
Business Insider reports that Alphabet's R&D division, X, is quietly working on a top-secret augmented-reality device that would give people enhanced hearing abilities. The group is working on a device named Wolverine (personally I'd call it Daredevil) that seems to be an advanced earbud filled with sensors to enhance hearing. One possible application cited in the article is speech segregation which would allow to select and focus on one speaker in a group setting with overlapping conversations.
The plan is to be forever young and Paul Skallas shows how ideas of transhumanism and its promise of eternal youth or at least slowing down ageing gets traction among politicians, athletes and other ambitious people.
US National Security Commission for AI, a panel headed by ex-Google CEO Eric Schmidt and former deputy secretary of defense Robert Work, advises the US government to ignore calls to ban killer robots and that the US has a “moral imperative” to explore AI weapons. The report argues that the US intelligent weapons "can be used in ways that are consistent with international humanitarian law".
Researchers from UberAI and OpenAI have created an AI that can beat games like Montezuma’s Revenge (a very hard game for AIs to beat and master) like no AI system before. The trick was to let AI go back to previous steps, ones that are promising for a winning solution, and to explore other solutions that may have been left behind on the first go-around. This resulted in a family of algorithms named "Go-Explore" that not only beat all other AIs but humans too.
MyHeritage's Deep Nostalgia is a tool where you upload a photo of your dead relative and the AI deepfakes it and brings your loved one "back to life" as a GIF.
A multinational team reported that they have trained an AI-powered system to be as accurate as trained dogs at correctly identifying cases of prostate cancer from urine samples. Their plan is to one day create a sensor small enough to embed in smartphones and extend the system to also sniff out other types of cancers, diabetes, or COVID-19.
A study performed by MIT and Brigham and Women’s Hospital team has found that a large majority of patients reported that interacting with a health care provider via a video screen mounted on a robot was similar to an in-person interaction with a health care worker. In a larger online survey conducted nationwide, the researchers also found that a majority of respondents were open to having robots not only assist with patient triage but also perform minor procedures such as taking a nose swab.
Being soft and squishy can be an advantage in an environment like deep under the sea where the weight of the water above wants to violently squish you. That's the approach the team of Chinese researchers took to built a robot that was released in the South China Sea 3,224m below the surface.