Issue #331

This week - a brain implant helps cure depression and other future implants; an inconvenient truth about AI; CRISPR family tree holds a multitude of untapped tools; and more!


More Than A Human

This woman’s brain implant zaps her with electricity when it senses she’s getting depressed

Sarah, a 36-year old woman suffering from chronic depression, had over a year ago an implant inserted into her skull that zaps the parts of her brain that cause her illness. This week, the researchers published the result of this experiment. The implant, which zaps Sarah's brain up to 300 times a day, massively improved Sarah's mental health and allows her to live a normal life. The remarkable results raise the prospect of personalized treatments for people with severe mental illnesses that don’t respond to therapy or medication.

The Big Idea: injectable, health-monitoring implants

DSRuptive is a Swedish startup working on making injectable health-monitoring implants a normal thing like wearing a smartwatch. The company recently published results of the first clinical study showing that implantable devices can effectively measure body temperature. “If you want to think of the world in 2030, I think having chip implants will be a normal thing”, said Hannes Sjoblad, cofounder of DSRuptive.

New Exoskeleton Transforms Into Motorized Scooter

Japanese Panasonic subsidiary Atoun has come up with a futuristic exoskeleton that can transform itself into a powered buggy. The suit, dubbed the Koma 1.5, is designed to allow its wearer to lift heavy items while also rolling across relatively smooth terrain.

Artificial Intelligence

For Tesla, Facebook and Others, AI’s Flaws Are Getting Harder to Ignore

"AI is not yet ready for prime time", argues Bloomberg in this article and cites setbacks in self-driving cars, social media and healthcare and calls to lower expectations and the hype around AI.

Ex-Google Exec: Artificial Intelligence is God as a Child — And We Must Love It

What I like in this response to Mo Gawdat - ex-Google exec who is preaching the vision that we will see superintelligent AI by 2029 - is the idea we are creating this superintelligent AI in our own image. The question is, whose image will it be created in?

An Inconvenient Truth About AI

"Regardless of what you might think about AI, the reality is that just about every successful deployment has either one of two expedients: It has a person somewhere in the loop, or the cost of failure, should the system blunder, is very low", writes Rodney Brooks.

Robotics

LEONARDO, the bipedal robot, can ride a skateboard and walk a slackline

LEONARDO (short for LEgs ONboARD drOne) is an interesting research robot that combines a bipedal robot with a drone. It mostly uses legs for walking and uses drone-like rotors to keep balance or to fly to avoid obstacles such as stairs.

Biotechnology

The CRISPR Family Tree Holds a Multitude of Untapped Gene Editing Tools

A recent study explored the evolutionary history of CRISPR to trace its origins and found an entire collection of CRISPR variants awaiting discovery. Named OMEGA, or Obligate Mobile Element Guided Activity, this new CRISPR family tree may hold new powerful tools to manipulate genes.

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