Issue #350

This week - what happens when your implants become obsolete and unsupported; DeepMind makes its AIs solve real-life problems; the quest for strawberry picking robot; and more!


More Than A Human

Bionic eye tech aims to help blind people see

Some Australian sheeps spent three months last year with bionic, artificial eyes, surgically implanted behind their retinas. The specific aim of the sheep test was to see if the device in question, the Phoenix 99, caused any adverse physical reactions - the bionic eye was said to have been well tolerated by the animals. As a result, an application has now been made to start testing in human patients.

Their Bionic Eyes Are Now Obsolete and Unsupported

What happens when the company behind the implants collapses or the chips inside the body become obsolete and unsupported? Hundreds of people who were able to see again thanks to Second Sight's implants are learning this the hard way as the company had abandoned the technology and was on the verge of going bankrupt.

If they could turn back time: how tech billionaires are trying to reverse the ageing process

After billionaires like Jeff Bezos or Peter Thiel poured large sums of money into anti-ageing research, the idea of reversing ageing entered the public consciousness. This article explains the not-so-far-fetch science behind it and the current state of the rejuvenation industry.

Does the human lifespan have a limit?

Recent studies and empirical data suggest that the human lifespan maxes somewhere around 120 years. Nature takes a closer look at the science of super-centenarians and asks if 120 years is the limit or can we live beyond that.

Neuralink admits monkeys died during its projects but not due to cruelty

Neuralink has been recently accused of animal cruelty. The animal rights group has alleged that Neuralink has conducted "highly invasive head implants" which led to "extreme suffering" in the monkeys who did not receive adequate care. Neuralink issued a long post explaining their approach to animal welfare and explained how the company is committed to working with animals in the most humane and ethical way possible.

Artificial Intelligence

"it may be that today's large neural networks are slightly conscious"

Tweets Ilya Sutskever, lead AI researchers at OpenAI.

DeepMind’s AI can control superheated plasma inside a fusion reactor

DeepMind’s streak of applying its world-class AI to hard science problems continues. In collaboration with the Swiss Plasma Center at EPFL—a university in Lausanne, Switzerland—the UK-based AI firm has now trained a deep reinforcement learning algorithm to control the superheated soup of matter inside a nuclear fusion reactor. The breakthrough, published in the journal Nature, could help physicists better understand how fusion works, and potentially speed up the arrival of an unlimited source of clean energy.

MuZero’s first step from research into the real world

In this blog post, researchers from DeepMind describe how MuZero - their AI that mastered chess, go, shogi and Atari games without needing to be told the rules - has been used to optimise video compression at YouTube.

Robotics

The Elusive Hunt for a Robot That Can Pick a Ripe Strawberry

Picking up ripe strawberries seems like an easy task. But it is an extremely hard task for robots. This article describes the efforts of many robotics startups to solve this problem but so far none of them provided a solution that is better than hiring people.

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