Issue #74

Bionic artist and bionic humans. Google created AIs that can communicate secretly and how to understand AIs. Human-like robots from China and self- assembling origami robots. And more robots, drones, AIs and more!


More Than A Human

New Bionic Eye That Connects to The Brain Successfully Restores a Woman’s Sight

The Orion is a wireless visual cortical stimulator designed to restore sight to the blind. The bionic eye directly stimulates the visual cortex. It was tested on a 30-year-old patient and the tests showed that the patient was able to perceive spots of light without any significant side effects.

Bionic Artist Viktoria Modesta Transcends the Human Body

Meet Viktoria Modesta, a bionic artist. She doesn’t have a left leg from knee down, which she replaces with a variety of prosthetics that best suit the performance.

Living With Future Prosthetics

Nicky Ashwell was born without a right hand. She became the first woman in the UK to receive an advanced bionic prosthetics and in this video she shares her experiences of having a new arm and what it is to be a “cyborg” for her.

Genetically engineered humans will arrive sooner than you think. And we’re not ready.

A conversation with historian Michael Bess about our genetically modified future, a future as terrifying as it is promising.

Artificial Intelligence

Google AI invents its own cryptographic algorithm; no one knows how it works

Google Brain has created two AIs that evolved their own cryptographic algorithm to protect their messages from a third AI, which was trying to evolve its own method to crack the AI-generated crypto. The study was a success: the first two AIs learned how to communicate securely from scratch.

Sure, AI Is Powerful—But Can We Make It Accountable?

Machine learning algorithms are good at giving the answer, but they fail at explaining why they generated such answer. Some people believe that making AI systems that can explain their answer is a key to acceptance of AI by the society. Early results of their research are promising, but we still need more work to make AIs transparent.

How Would AI Cover an AI Conference?

John Horgan has a dream. A dream of an AI assistant that would cover the AI conference for him. So he steps into shoes of an AI and tries to imagine how would an AI cover an AI conference.

Why Watson and Siri Are Not Real AI

Douglas Hofstadter is a cognitive scientist at Indiana University and the Pulitzer Prize-winning writer. While the face of the artificial intelligence field today is IBM’s Watson or Apple’s Siri, Hofstadter says these have nothing to do with thinking machines. Hofstadter tells PopMech why we’re off the path of programming real AI and how we lost our way.

How AI Is Shaking Up the Chip Market

The advancements in AI are not only because we learn how to write better software. More and more it becomes a hardware problem, which causes big players to invest in chips designed for deep learning and machine learning in mind.

Robotics

China Just Showed Us the Most Human-Like Robots Yet

Meet Jia Jia, a super realistic robot capable of micro facial expressions and basic conversation with humans built by China’s University of Science and Technology. Jia Jia can recognize faces, identify your gender and age, and detect your facial expressions. They also presented a male robot which looks like an old Chinese man, able to paint calligraphy. Despite these advancements, these robots still are creepy and haven’t left the uncanny valley.

Your Next Pilot Could Be A Robot

DARPA and Aurora Flight Sciences are developing a new robot autopilot system. It is a robotic arm that takes control over the steers of the aircraft allowing the human pilot to do more important things.

Swarm of Origami Robots Can Self-Assemble Out of a Single Sheet

Researchers from Harvard have shown how you can make a swarm of small robots that came folded on a sheet and when they are needed they just rip themselves out and assemble like an origami. Right now they just do only that, but the idea is that a similar approach can be used for future swarm robots.

How Many Drones Does It Take to Change a Light Bulb?

The answer – one drone. But it requires multiple tries and many spare bulbs.

The Newest Evolution of Drones: The Umbrella Drone

A student artist at MIT has created an umbrella drone that flies through the air like jellyfish. Here’s a video of these flying umbrellas in action. These drones were created as an artistic research project, but I’d like to see a real umbrella drone following you in the rain and making sure you don’t get wet.

Biotechnology

There’s No Need To Fear Gene-edited Food

In April, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said that it would not regulate the CRISPR-altered mushroom. To organic purists and eco-watchdogs, a genetically modified organism (GMO) had been given a green light to go to market without oversight: no warnings about what was in our food and no investigations into its environmental impact. The outcry from food warriors was swift: How had a genetically tweaked food evaded regulation?

CRISPR identifies genes that might be targeted to hobble HIV infection

Scientists announced that they had used CRISPR to test gene after gene after gene in human immune system cells — 45 genes in all, sometimes simultaneously and sometimes individually — to identify those that have anything to do with infection by the HIV virus, which causes AIDS when it infiltrates those T cells.

Other Stuff

The Future of Nanotechnology with Ray Kurzweil & Robert Freitas

Ray Kurzweil interviews Robert Freitas and asks about nanotechnology – where it is now, its history, what it is and what to expect in the future. The focus of the talk is on biomedical applications of nanotechnology.

Experts Assert That “Mind-Reading” Computers Are Just a Decade Away

Frances Van Scoy believes that, once human thought can communicate directly with computers, a new world will open before us.

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