This week - AI and music; DARPA SubT challenge results are in; how biology becomes engineering; Amazon shows a roaming robot for home; DeepMind predicts when and where it is going to rain; and more!
More Than A Human
A newly formed MIT research center is explicitly studying the fusion of the human body with advanced technology like robotic exoskeletons and brain-computer interfaces — with the ambitious goal of developing systems to restore function for people with physical and neurological disabilities.
Exoskeleton devices work, researchers say, for a variety of uses such as speeding up our walking or making running easier. Yet they don't know what exactly makes exoskeletons effective. What is the benefit of customization, for example? And how much does simply getting used to the exoskeleton matter? Researchers in the Stanford Biomechatronics Laboratory at Stanford University examined these questions and found that training plays a remarkably significant role in how well exoskeletons provide assistance.
Samsung published a paper describing research into creating neuromorphic chips by "copying" and "pasting" a brain. The idea is to copy the brain’s neuronal connection map using a breakthrough nanoelectrode array and then to paste this map onto a high-density three-dimensional network of solid-state memories.
With a help of AI, a group of researchers and musicians did what no one else has done before - they completed Beethoven's Tenth Symphony. Ahmed Elgammal, who led the AI side of the project, shares the story of how this feat came together.
The UK Court of Appeal has decided, by a two-to-one majority, that an inventor must be a real human person under UK law. "Only a person can have rights. A machine cannot," wrote Lady Justice Elisabeth Laing in her judgement. "A patent is a statutory right and it can only be granted to a person."
Working with the Met Office, the UK’s national weather service, DeepMind has developed a deep-learning tool called DGMR that can accurately predict the likelihood of rain in the next 90 minutes—one of weather forecasting’s toughest challenges. In a blind comparison with existing tools, several dozen experts judged DGMR’s forecasts to be the best across a range of factors—including its predictions of the location, extent, movement, and intensity of the rain—89% of the time.
Dagogo Altraide from Cold Fusion explores the interesting area at the intersection of technology and creativity - AI-generated music. He shows two different approaches - MIDI synthesis (adopted by Google Magenta) and raw audio synthesis (adopted by OpenAI Jukebox) and then jumps into a philosophical discussion about the nature of creativity.
And the results of DARPA SubT Challenge are in! The challenge was to build a robot (or use a team of robots) able to navigate in underground environments. The multinational team CERBERUS has proven to bring the best idea and won the competition. Congratulations!
Amazon showed its new product - a home robot named Astro. For a price tag of $1000, you'll get a small mobile robot with a screen for a face and controlled with commands thanks to built-in Alexa. It can check if you left the stove on while you're out or send an alert if someone enters the house it doesn't recognize. And cart snacks and drinks around the house, too.
Hank Green (with his signature excitement) explains how two new AIs capable of solving protein folding - AlphaFold2 and RoseTTAFold - work, what each method brings to the table and why it is such a big deal for bioengineering. These AIs can speed up the research and development in medicine from days to hours or even minutes and, in my opinion, can open a path towards new breakthroughs in nanotechnology.
Jorge Conde and Vijay Pande from Andreessen Horowitz discuss how biology, which is mostly science now, transforms into engineering and the impact of this transition for healthcare from a more entrepreneurial point of view.
In a new paper, researchers describe how they hijacked fatty blobs produced by cells and reprogrammed them to be living nanobioreactors. These bioreactors can be placed inside cells and mimic organelles. Researchers showed how they used bioreactors to produce ATP inside a cell, effectively creating artificial mitochondria. Potential uses are wide, such as saving tissues from aging or cancer.