This week - lab-grown blood; a robot with a machete controlled by a plant; Google teaches a robot to play table tennis; and more!
More Than A Human
Is it possible to take two women or two men and combine their genomes to make a baby? Yes. Scientists have done it with two male mice and in theory, it should also work for humans. But factors outside of science, including ethical, legal, and political considerations will surely come into play.
Researchers from Google trained a robot that knew nothing about table tennis to be able to return the ball more than a hundred times without failure. The robot learned that by observing humans and then playing with itself in a simulation. Károly Zsolnai-Fehér from Two Minute Papers explains how they did that.
Collisions with birds are a serious problem for commercial aircraft, costing the industry billions of dollars and killing thousands of animals every year. New research shows that a robotic imitation of a peregrine falcon could be an effective way to keep them out of flight paths.
David Bowen put sensors detecting electric signals in leaves and used them to have a plant control an industrial robotic arm. And then gave a robot a machete.
Robots are taking jobs from humans but not at the rate most people think, a new study suggests. "Overall, our perceptions of robots taking over is greatly exaggerated," said Eric Dahlin, author of the study. "Those who hadn't lost jobs overestimated by about double, and those who had lost jobs overestimated by about three times". Dahlin says these findings are consistent with previous studies, which suggest that robots aren't displacing workers. Rather, workplaces are integrating both employees and robots in ways that generate more value for human labour.
Researchers in the UK have successfully grown blood in a lab and were able to give it to people in a clinical trial. Their aim is not to replace blood donations but to have a way to provide a way to manufacture vital, but ultra-rare, blood groups that are hard to get hold of.