28th October 2016

Issue #73

This week – a massive investment in the world’s first neural prosthetic for human intelligence enhancement, Chinese version of DARPA’s Grand Challenge, MIT is ready for Halloween with a horror AI, the self-driving truck delivered a precious cargo of 50 000 beers and more!


More Than A Human

Kernel’s Quest to Enhance Human Intelligence

Bryan Johnson announced he’s investing $100M dollars into Kernel, a company that built the world’s first neural prosthetic for human intelligence enhancement. Bryan said he did it “in an effort to enhance human intelligence and reimagine our future. Unlocking our brain is the most significant and consequential opportunity in history — and it’s time sensitive.”

Meet the Competitors Who Dominated the First Cyborg Olympics

Wired takes a closer look at three teams that were competing at the first Cyborg Olympics – one from exoskeleton race, one from arm prosthetic competition and one that was stimulating paralyzed muscles in a cycling race.

Artificial Intelligence

Nightmare Machine

MIT is ready for Halloween! They have trained a neural network to take a normal picture and make it scary by applying smart filters that learned what “scary” means by looking at a lot of horror pictures.

AI can learn from data without ever having access to it

New research from OpenAI and Google shows a way to build AI that never sees personal data, but is able to function as if it had. The approach they proposed has a “teacher algorithm” and a “student algorithm”. The student algorithm tries to mimic the outcome of the teacher algorithm through millions of simulated decisions, but doesn’t have any of the underlying information used to inform the teacher algorithms, making the whole system much more secure.

AI predicts outcomes of human rights trials

I’m not surprised that someone did such a program which can predict with 79% accuracy outcomes of a major international court by automatically analyzing case text using a machine learning algorithm. The researchers claim that AI will not replace judges or lawyers, but who knows?

Advancements in artificial intelligence should be kept in the public eye

In response to AIs rapid developments, more than 8,000 leading researchers and scientists — including Elon Musk and Stephen Hawking — have signed an open letter alluding to AI’s potential pitfalls and possible detriment to humanity. Their main concern is that an existential risk faces humanity: an AI in control of autonomous weapons. Solution for this problem – keep AI research public.

AI Is Not out to Get Us

Scientific American interviewed Oren Etzioni, CEO of Allen Institute for Artificial Intelligence (AI2), an organization that Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen formed in 2014 to focus on AI’s potential benefits—and to counter messages perpetuated by Hollywood and even other researchers that AI could menace the human race.

Robotics

Could driverless cars own themselves?

The title is a bit clickbaity, but it’s worth reading because it is an interesting concept about transportation system full of self-driving cars. Mike Hearn proposed a system where each car in the network “own” itself and constantly improves itself and makes itself more attractive for the customer and therefore not become obsolete.They would pay for itself and even club together to buy new ones from the factory to meet the demand.

Uber’s Self-Driving Truck Makes Its First Delivery: 50,000 Beers

Otto, a self-driving system for truck bought by Uber, made its first delivery! It delivered a precious cargo of 50 000 beers and it’s pretty close to be used commercially.

China’s Army Hosts An Autonomous Robot Contest

DARPA is not the only agency that has robotics grand challenges. In China, teams were competing in a month-long contest supported by the Chinese army in five categories, ranging from building all-terrain autonomous vehicles to legged robots to robotic cargo trucks.

Why Robots Must Learn to Tell Us “No”

Because humans make mistakes and sometimes someone has to be the voice of reason and say “no”.

Twitch Plays Baxter (the robot)

Another installment of “Twitch Plays …”. This time, Twitch users got a real robot to play with.

Biotechnology

Is Google’s Biotech Division The Next Theranos?

According to health and medicine publication Stat, one of Verily’s signature products, a glucose-detecting smart contact lens for diabetics, is a long way from becoming a reality, and former employees aren’t sure it will ever see the light of day.

An Era of Super Crops: How CRISPR Could Help Fight Famine

Scientists are looking into plants’ genes to make them more resilient against viruses and diseases or to make them yield more crops.

By 2017, Gene Therapy Could Allow Us to Reverse Blindness

The first gene therapy to cure blindness from hereditary retinal dystrophies has been developed, and it’s expected to hit the market as early as next year. If the FDA accepts the therapy.

Can DNA Hard Drives Solve Our Looming Data Storage Crisis?

As we produce more and more data, we are going to need bigger and bigger hard disks. Some people and companies are looking how we can use DNA for data storage. Some experts estimate that all the world’s data could be stored in one kilogram of DNA. It looks promising, but the technology is still in its infancy and needs more time and research to mature.

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