Issue #376

This week - Hyundai launches Boston Dynamics AI Institute; a Russian robot-dog with a rocket launcher; robots exploring the depths of the sea; and more!

More Than A Human

A three-parent technique could help trans men have babies

A combination of two existing techniques can help generate embryos from trans men’s eggs in the lab—without the need for distressing IVF procedures. The process involves removing pieces of a transgender man’s ovary, extracting eggs from the ovary in the lab, and swapping in parts of an egg from another person before fertilizing them with sperm to create embryos.

This Sticker Looks Inside the Body

Researchers have shrunk the handheld ultrasound probe—which typically requires a highly trained technician to move over the skin—down to a flat chip that is the size of a postage stamp and sticks to the skin with a special bioadhesive. The new device can record high-resolution videos for two days at a stretch, capturing blood vessels and hearts laboring during exercise or stomachs expanding and shrinking as test subjects gulp juice and then digest it.

Artificial Intelligence

Boston Dynamics AI Institute Targets Basic Research

Hyundai Motor Group and Boston Dynamics announced the launch of the Boston Dynamics AI Institute, to “spearhead advancements in artificial intelligence and robotics.” BDAII will be located in Cambridge, Mass., with more than US $400 million of initial investment from Hyundai (Boston Dynamics’ parent company) and Boston Dynamics itself to get things started. If you are interested in more, IEEE Spectrum interviewed Marc Raibert, founder and chairman of Boston Dynamics, and asked about the institute and what people will work there.

Self-Taught AI Shows Similarities to How the Brain Works

Some computational neuroscientists have begun to explore neural networks that have been trained with little or no human-labeled data. These “self-supervised learning” algorithms have proved enormously successful at modeling human language and, more recently, image recognition. In recent work, computational models of the mammalian visual and auditory systems built using self-supervised learning models have shown a closer correspondence to brain function than their supervised-learning counterparts. To some neuroscientists, it seems as if the artificial networks are beginning to reveal some of the actual methods our brains use to learn.

How to Stop Robots From Becoming Racist

Researchers replicated an experiment from 1940s that later was used to argue in favour of the desegregation of US schools. Instead of children, robots were used as test subjects. This experiment has shown that the same racial biases that the AI community is dealing with are trickling down to robots.


Robot Dog With RPG Strapped to Its Back Demoed at Russian Arms Fair

At a Russian arms fair last week, a developer showed off their new creation, and the logical next step of the robot arms race: a Boston Dynamics-style dog robot with an RPG strapped to its back.

Stanford team develops humanoid robot for virtual deep-sea exploration

OceanOneK is an orange humanoid robot designed to explore the depths of the oceans. So far, the robots helped archaeologists explore shipwrecks and sunken airplanes, and reached a depth of 1km, opening new possibilities for underwater exploration.

Reverse-Engineering Insect Brains to Make Robots

There is a company in the UK that reverse-engineers insect brains in order to find new algorithms to control robots, an approach they call "natural intelligence".


Lab-made knee cartilage beats the real thing

A new gel-based knee cartilage substitute is stronger and more durable than the real thing, according to a new study. This new lab-made knee cartilage is 26% stronger than natural cartilage in tension, something like suspending seven grand pianos from a key ring, and 66% stronger in compression—which would be like parking a car on a postage stamp. Implants made of the material are currently being developed by Sparta Biomedical and tested in sheep. Researchers are gearing up to begin clinical trials in humans next year.

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