Issue #312

This week - gene therapy partially restores a bling man's sight; the limit on lab-grown human embryos to be relaxed; Microsoft translates text into code; Germany says 'ja' for self-driving cars; and more!


More Than A Human

The Rise of Neurotechnology Calls for a Parallel Focus on Neurorights

Chile has started working on a bill to protect the right to personal identity, free will, mental privacy, equitable access to technologies that augment human capacities, and the right to protection against bias and discrimination. To my knowledge, this is the first initiative in the world that aims to distribute new enhancement technologies fairly and safely. Let's see if other countries will follow Chile's example.

Artificial Intelligence

Microsoft uses GPT-3 to let you code in natural language

During this year's Microsoft Build developer conference, the tech giant showed a new tool that can transform plain English text into code. Under the hood, the new tool is using GPT-3 from OpenAI, with which Microsoft has a close relationship.

Google AI Researchers Are Dreaming Up a New Species of Search Engine

In a recently published paper, Google AI researchers propose a new kind of search engine. Their idea is to instead of an information retrieval system we have now, create tools that do filtering and knowledge synthesis for you - just ask a question (any question) and this new AI-based search engine will go through the internet, find what you need and generate the answer in a human-friendly form.

Developers Turn To Analog For Neural Nets

The machine learning revolution not only changed how we write software but is also changing the hardware powering it. This article goes deep into details on how analog computing and photonics can create new hardware to improve the performance and power consumption of next-generation AIs.

First-Hand Experience: Deep Learning Lets Amputee Control Prosthetic Hand

Researchers took a prosthetic arm and boosted it with a small computer running a deep learning-based program that can pick up electrical signals from the patient's arm and translate it into a fine movement of the robotic arm.

Robotics

Germany says ‘JA!’ to fully autonomous vehicles hitting public roads in 2022

German lawmakers have voted for a bill that will allow highly automated vehicles (Level 4 of autonomous driving) to be used in regular operation by 2022. According to the law, vehicles with the required autonomous driving function will no longer need a human driver to operate them. But in order to comply with current international regulations, a “technical supervisor” will be necessary. The supervisor won’t drive the vehicle, but will be responsible for ensuring that the obligations under road traffic law are met.

Biotechnology

Scientists Partially Restored a Blind Man’s Sight With New Gene Therapy

This is amazing. A team of scientists announced they had partially restored the sight of a blind man by building light-catching proteins in one of his eyes. They used gene therapy to turn ganglion cells into new photoreceptor cells, even though they don’t normally capture light. Scientists took advantage of proteins derived from algae and other microbes that can make any nerve cell sensitive to light. There is still a long way towards fully rebuilding sight for bling patients but the initial results are promising.

Limit on Lab-grown Human Embryos Dropped by Stem Cell Body

The International Society for Stem Cell Research (ISSCR) is relaxing the famous 14-days rule. The rule said that human embryos used for experiments should be cultured for no more than two weeks after fertilization. From 26th May 2021, the ISSCR now suggests that studies proposing to grow human embryos beyond the two-week mark be considered on a case-by-case basis, and be subjected to several phases of review to determine at what point the experiments must be stopped.

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