13th January 2017

Issue #84

This week – Google unleashed AlphaGo into the internet, two Google Homes talked to each other, EU is discussing robot laws, a guy tests gene therapy on himself, open sourcing quantum computing and more! In other news, I wrote a 2016 – A Year in Review post on Medium. I looked back on all the links I shared with you in 2016 and try to write a summary of the year. I noticed many of them fall into one of two categories – either fear or hope, fueled by the uncertainty of the new technologies, such as advanced AI, self-driving cars, robotics and genetic engineering. And now, back to your regularly scheduled program!


More Than A Human

Meet the first humans to sense where north is

Sometime ago, I shared with you a link to Cyborg Nest and their first product – an implant telling you where is the north named North Sense. In this article, Guardian talks with Liviu Babitz, one of the founders of the company about the device, expanding our senses and human augmentation.

Transhumanism in Gaming: Cyborgs & Augments

This article explores the games that included transhumanism and human augmentation in their worlds, like the Deus Ex series, Metal Gear Solid series and Crisis, and shows how they used it and what kind of “better” humans they portrayed.

Artificial Intelligence

Google reveals secret test of AI bot to beat top Go players

DeepMind unleashed a better version of AlphaGo (the AI that beat the world champion in Go) onto unsuspecting anything Go players on the internet. You can guess what the result was.

One Third of Americans Prefer a Software Robot Over a Human Boss

Here are some results from a study conducted in US, UK and Denmark about robots in the workspace. Surprisingly, many people will not have a problem with working with or for the “unbiased computer programs”—defined as “a software robot that makes decisions or proposals for decisions based on data from HR, financial or market information. The software robot is unbiased, i.e. it is not affected by the personal, social and cultural bias that influence human decision making, but balances all input only based on the data.”

Watch two Google Homes discuss the meaning of life on Twitch

Some guys took two Google Homes, make them talk to each other and streamed the conversations on Twitch. At some point, they even expressed love to each other. The conversations are on Twitch, I highly recommend picking some and just listen.

Upping The Ante: Top Poker Pros Face Off Vs. Artificial Intelligence

Four of the world’s best professional poker players will compete against artificial intelligence developed by Carnegie Mellon University in an epic rematch to determine whether a computer can beat humans playing one of the world’s toughest poker games. I think AI will win. What’s your bet?

Predicting 2017: The Rise of Synthetic Intelligence

New year is a good time to make some prediction about the future. Here’s what guys from Futurism think waits for us in AI in 2017. As they wrote: “not a mystical singularity; not the sudden “awakening” of an inchoate machine mind—inhuman, alien, perhaps even malevolent or at least antipathetic to all we hold dear. That’s a fantasy—the reality will be far more prosaic.”

Peter Diamandis Thinks We’re Evolving Toward “Meta-Intelligence”

Peter Diamandis believes that artificial intelligence and brain-computer interfaces (BCI) will enable humans to be more connected with each other and with AIs in the cloud, creating a new global consciousness he calls the Meta- Intelligence.

Stephen Hawking’s Thoughts On Artificial Intelligence

This week Stephen Hawking celebrated his 75th birthday. Happy birthday!

Robotics

MEPs vote on robots’ legal status – and if a kill switch is required

Interesting things are coming out from EU parliament. The report includes such things as whether to give robots legal status as “electronic persons” and implementing “kill switch” to shut down a robot if necessary. The full report is available here if you are interested.

US military test flooded the sky with a swarm of surveillance drones

Last October, the US military tested a swarm of drones deployed from a jet fighter. The experiment was a part of testing new defense systems based on swarms of mini-drones sharing a distributed “brain”. The airborne devices communicate and collaborate with each other, the swarm has no leader which makes allows it to effectively adapt to various circumstances.

Robotics Expert Predicts Kids Born Today Will Never Drive A Car

Just like not all of us know how to ride horses, the kids of the future might not know how to drive a car because all cars will be autonomous or people won’t even own a car. Instead, we will be using Ubers or Lyfts of the future. Some experts predict this future is just 10-15 years away.

Lily Drone is dead despite $34 million in pre-orders

Remember Lily? That drone you just toss in the air and it starts following you and record whatever you do? Well, it’s not going to see the daylight. The founders of Lily Robotics said they run out of money. The R&D took so much of their resources that they didn’t have enough money to fund the production despite having working and tested device.

Biotechnology

One Man’s Quest to Hack His Own Genes

Meet Brian Hanley – a microbiologist who’s exploring the possibilities of gene editing on himself. He designed a gene therapy for himself and then injected the new genes into his body… in a plastic surgeon’s room. Fascinating story.

DARPA Has Huge Things Planned in Biotech

DARPA’s Biological Technologies Office has big plans. And with a budget of about $296 million they can do more research work on memory improvement, human-machine symbiosis, and how to speed up disease detection and response.

Prof. Jennifer Doudna – The Future of CRISPR Genetic Engineering

Interesting talk by Prof. Jennifer Doudna, one of the pioneers in CRISPR gene editing. In this not so long talk (just 11 minutes) she explains what the CRISPR is and how fast it is advancing. She also touches the problem of human enhancements.

Tiny nanoelectrodes record brain’s activity without damaging it

Researchers from Rice University in Houston, Texas, have found a way to put nanoelectrodes with a width of a thousandth of the diameter of regular wires into a brain without damaging it. The device was used to insert electrodes that record brain activity in mice, seemingly without causing any damage.

Other

Quantum Computing Is Real and D-Wave Just Open-Sourced It

I fully support open source and this news makes me happy. D-Wave, one of the companies on the forefront of quantum computing, released Qbsolv – an open source tool to help developers program D-Wave machines without needing a background in quantum physics.

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