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Remote-controlled cyborg moth ‘biobots’ to monitor emergency-response operations

Also a great spy device
August 21, 2014

Credit: Alper Bozkurt)

North Carolina State University researchers have developed methods for electronically manipulating the flight muscles of moths and for monitoring the electrical signals that moths use to control those muscles. The goal: remotely-controlled moths, or “biobots,” for use in emergency response, such as search and rescue operations.

“The idea would be to attach sensors to moths … to create a flexible, aerial sensor network that can identify survivors… read more

Delivery by drone: will it work?

MIT has two computational tricks to help
August 22, 2014

(Credit: Christine Daniloff/MIT - photograph of quadrotor courtesy of the researchers)

MIT researchers have devised computational solutions to reduce the chances that Amazon’s planned delivery drones will crash and burn — along with your stuff.

It’s complicated. Drones have to deal with iffy factors like high winds, low fuel/power level, component failures, and even possible shooters in some locations.

So with Boeing support, the researchers developed two fixes.

  • An algorithm enables a drone to monitor aspects of

… [ New algorithms do optimized routing and let drones monitor their own health during long package-delivery missions ] read more

Graphene rubber bands: flexible, low-cost body sensors

August 21, 2014

(E) Rubber band soaking in toluene. (F) An untreated<br />
rubber band. (G) a band section after soaking in toluene for<br />
3.5 hours. (H) A graphene-infused band prepared by swelling<br />
in toluene then soaking in an N-methyl-pyrrolidone-water-graphene mixture<br />
for 4 hours followed by washing and drying. (Credit: Conor S. Boland et al./ACS NANO)

Q: What do you get when you add graphene to a rubber band?

A: A flexible sensor sensitive enough for medical use that can be made cheaply.

So say researchers from the University of Surrey and Trinity College Dublin, who have done just that.

Once treated, the rubber bands remain highly pliable, the researchers report, and graphene can be used as a sensor to measure a patient’s… read more

Engineering new bone growth with coated tissue scaffolds

Help the body grow new bone to repair injuries or congenital defects
August 21, 2014

Pictured is a scanning electron micrograph of a porous, nanostructured poly(lactic-co-glycolic acid) (PLGA) membrane. The membrane is coated with a polyelectrolyte (PEM) multilayer coating that releases growth factors to promote bone repair. (Credit: Nasim Hyder and Nisarg J. Shah)

MIT chemical engineers have devised a new treatment for bone injuries or defects: an implantable tissue scaffold (structure) coated with bone-growth factors that can be released slowly over a few weeks to induce the body to rapidly form new bone that looks and behaves just like the original tissue.

On Monday this week, KurzweilAI described a shape-memory polymer that expands with warm salt water to… read more

‘Nanojuice’ could help diagnose gastrointestinal illnesses

August 20, 2014

The combination of "nanojuice" and photoacoustic tomography illuminates the intestine of a mouse (credit: Jonathan Lovell)

University at Buffalo researchers are developing a new imaging technique using nanoparticles suspended in liquid to form “nanojuice” that patients would drink to help diagnose irritable bowel syndrome, celiac disease, Crohn’s disease and other gastrointestinal illnesses.

Doctors would strike the nanoparticles, once they reach the small intestine, with a harmless laser light, providing an unparalleled, non-invasive, real-time view of the organ.

Described July 6 in the… read more

‘Normal’ bacteria vital for keeping intestinal lining intact, preventing disorders

August 20, 2014

Snapshot images show intestines of wild-type and knockout mice injected with dextran (red) and imaged using intravital two-photon microscopy from the intestine lumen. DAPI (blue) illustrates stained cells within the intestinal epithelium. Dye tracking (red) between DAPI (blue) labelled cells indicates a 'leaky' intestinal epithelium. (Credit: Kamal Khanna, Ph.D., University of Connecticut, Farmington)

Bacteria that aid in digestion keep the intestinal lining intact, scientists at Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University and associates have found.

The findings, reported online in the journal Immunity, could yield new therapies for inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and a wide range of other disorders.

The research involved the intestinal microbiome, which contains some 100 trillion bacteria. The role of these microorganisms in… read more

Do gut bacteria control your mind?

August 20, 2014

gut to mind

Bacteria within you — which outnumber your own cells about 100 times — may be affecting both your cravings and moods to get you to eat what they want, and may be driving you toward obesity.

That’s the conclusion of an article published this week in the journal BioEssays by researchers from UC San Francisco, Arizona State University and University of New Mexicoread more

Targeted brain stimulation aids stroke recovery in mice

Works even when initiated five days after stroke occurred
August 19, 2014

Optogenetic treatment (Credit: Deisseroth Laboratory)

Stanford University School of Medicine have found that light-driven stimulation technology called optogenetics enhances stroke* recovery in mice — even when initiated five days after stroke occurred.

The mice showed significantly greater recovery in motor ability than mice that had experienced strokes but whose brains weren’t stimulated.

“In this study, we found that direct stimulation of a particular set of nerve cells in the brain —… read more

Artificial cells mimic natural protein synthesis

Another barrier between artificial and natural falls
August 19, 2014

Fluorescent image of DNA (white squares) patterned in circular compartments connected by capillary tubes to the cell-free extract flowing in the channel at bottom. Compartments are 100 micrometers in diameter. (Credit: Weizmann Institute)

Weizmann Institute scientists have created an artificial network-like cell system that is capable of reproducing the dynamic behavior of protein synthesis.

This achievement could help gain a deeper understanding of basic biological processes and pave the way toward controlling the synthesis of naturally occurring and synthetic proteins for many uses.

The system was designed by PhD students Eyal Karzbrun and Alexandra Tayar in the lab of… read more

Neuromorphic ‘atomic-switch’ networks function like synapses in the brain

August 19, 2014

atomic-switch network

Researchers in the U.S. and Japan have developed a self-assembled neuromorphic (brain-like) device comprising more than a billion interconnected “atomic-switch” inorganic synapses embedded in a complex network of silver nanowires.

The researchers are located at the California NanoSystems Institute (CNSI) at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) and the International Center for Materials Nanoarchitectonics (MANA) at the National Institute forread more

Scientists able to zoom in and out as the brain processes sound

Mouse research could lead to better treatments for hearing loss
August 18, 2014

A two-photon microscopy image showing a calcium sensor (green), the nuclei of neurons (red) and supporting cells called astrocytes (magenta). (Credit: John Issa/Johns Hopkins Medicine)

Researchers at Johns Hopkins have mapped a new technique for watching auditory processing in the brains of mice as brain cells lit up when the mice listened to tones and one another’s calls.

The results, which represent a step toward better understanding how our own brains process language, appear online July 31 in the journal Neuron.

In the past, researchers often studied sound processing… read more

Scientists bypass spinal column non-invasively to trigger walking

Could allow paraplegics to walk some day
August 18, 2014

An artificial connection from brain to locomotion circuit (credit: Yukio Nishimura)

Japanese researchers have created an “artificial neural connection” (ANC) from the brain directly to the spinal locomotion center in the lower thoracic and lumbar regions of the spine, potentially one day allowing patients with spinal-cord damage, such as paraplegics, to walk.

The study led by Shusaku Sasada, research fellow, and Yukio Nishimura, associate professor, both of the National Institutes of Natural Sciences (NINS), was published… read more

‘Shape-memory polymer’ material could help reconstruct faces

New material molds itself precisely to the shape of the bone defect without being brittle and also supports the growth of new bone tissue
August 18, 2014

A new material that changes shape upon heating could help heal bone lesions caused by injuries, tumor removal or birth defects, such as cleft palates. (The white bar is 1 cm, or less than half an inch long.) (Credit: Melissa Grunlan, Ph.D.)

Texas A&M University researchers have developed a “self-fitting” material that expands with warm salt water to precisely fill bone defects and also acts as a scaffold for new bone growth, as they reported last week at the 248th National Meeting and Exposition of the American Chemical Society.

Currently, the most common method for filling bone defects in the head, face or jaw (known as the cranio-maxillofacial… read more

A self-organizing thousand-robot swarm

August 15, 2014

The Kilobots, a swarm of one thousand simple but collaborative robots. (Credit: Mike Rubenstein and Science/AAAS.)

The first thousand-robot flash mob has assembled at Harvard University.

“Form a sea star shape,” directs a computer scientist, sending the command to 1,024 little bots simultaneously via an infrared light. The robots begin to blink at one another and then gradually arrange themselves into a five-pointed star. “Now form the letter K.”

The ‘K’ stands for Kilobots, the name given to these extremely simple robots, each just… read more

Could ‘genetically edited’ fruits avoid the GMO backlash?

August 15, 2014

Genetically edited apples that don't brown when sliced could be possible (credit: iStock)

Recent advances in precise editing of genomes now raise the possibility that fruit and other crops might be genetically improved without the need to introduce foreign genes, as in  genetically modified organisms (GMOs), say researchers writing in the Cell Press publication Trends in Biotechnology on August 13.

The notion is that “genetically edited” fruits might be met with greater acceptance than GMOs. This could mean “super bananas” that produce more vitamin… read more

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Latest blog posts

Ask Ray | Article on integrating digital media into children’s lives by my wife Sonya Kurzweil, PhD

August 21, 2014

(credit: iStockphoto)

Dear readers,

I want to share some articles written by my wife, Sonya Kurzweil, PhD who is a psychologist in private practice and clinical instructor in Psychology at Harvard Medical School. Sonya’s medical expertise is women, children, parents and families.

She is interested in the way that digital media can be integrated into the lives of children and teens.

Her recent essays on parenting and digital technology… read more

Are copyrighted works only by and for humans?

The copyright Planet of the Apes and robots
August 20, 2014 by Mark A. Fischer

Macaca nigra self-portrait (credit: Wikimedia Commons)

Why should humans own all the world’s copyrights? The question is prompted by a photograph that’s made worldwide news. In Indonesia, a female crested black macaque monkey picked up a camera owned by photographer David Slater.

I won’t focus much on the story of the monkey and her selfie because that topic has already been well-discussed in theread more

‘The end of work’ with Ray Kurzweil, Andrew McAfee, Chris Lydon [UPDATE: podcast available]

July 31, 2014

Radio Open Source - The End of Work - one

The jobless economy: a fully automated, engineered, robotic system that doesn’t need you, or me either. Anything we can do, machines can do better — surgery, warfare, farming, finance. What’s to do? Shall we smash the machines, or go to the beach, or finally learn to play the piano?

Economists predict that 50% of US jobs could be automated in a decade or two. Big fun show with… read more

Ask Ray | Can technology help us find love?

July 29, 2014

(credit: iStock)

Ray,

The promises of accelerating technology are impressive, possibly eliminating disease, poverty, and even death.

But I wonder what hope there is for the lonely. Personally, I’m approaching middle age and have never been on a date. And I know I’m not the only one out there in this situation.

Is there anything technology can do in the near or far future to help people like me… read more

Ask Ray | The incredible unlikelihood of being

July 24, 2014

(credit: iStock)

Hello Ray,

The universe existed several billion years before humans were conscious, and will exist several billion years after we are conscious.

So, it is statistically improbable for the chronological timeline of the universe to be located at this precise moment, when we are conscious, that is, an 80 year lifespan within some 30 billion years.

Are you aware of any theories, besides survivorship bias from statistics, that… read more

Wait six years to buy your next car

July 23, 2014 by Randal O'Toole

A demonstrator car with two Lidar laser sensors hanging on the front bumper, five radar sensors hiding behind the fenders, and two optical sensors with 360-degree fields of view on the roof. Click image for a larger view. (Credit: Harbrick)

You’ll be able to buy a car that can drive itself under most conditions, with an option for override by a human driver, in 2020, according to the median estimate in a survey of 217 attendees of the 2014 Automated Vehicles Symposium. By 2030, the group estimated, you’ll be able to buy a car that is so fully automated it won’t even have the option for a human driver.… read more

Wild ride ahead: glimpse at humanity’s long range future

July 23, 2014 by Richard (Dick) Pelletier

A Type III civilization can harness all the energy of a galaxy (credit: ESA)

Imagine if you could take an exotic vacation billions of light years from Earth, peek in on the dinosaurs’ first-hand, or jump into a parallel universe where another you is living a more exciting life than yours — and you could swap places if you like.

For years, scientists have bandied about radical ideas that future humans will one day harness wormholes to zip across the universe at faster-than-light… read more

Ask Ray | Jewish scholar says robots will achieve human level intelligence

July 16, 2014

(credit: iStock)

Dear readers,

I recently saw this article by the Jewish Telegraphic Agency and wanted to share it with you.

I have an ongoing interest in the Turing test — a competition that gauges whether an artificial intelligence is capable of human level conversation.

There was a recent test of a chatbot named Eugene Goostman, and I’ve written my reaction to its test results.

This article is… read more

Ask Ray | There are already many cyborgs among us

July 15, 2014

(credit: iStock)

Dear readers,

Check out this article on NBC News. I discussed this topic at Time’s 2003 The Future of Life Summit, during the session “The next frontier.” My full dialog is below. My point was “there are already many cyborgs among us.”

Ray Kurzweil

NBC | “Cyborgs among us: human biohackers embed chips in their bodies”

related viewing from NBC:read more

Ask Ray | E.M. Forster’s 1909 story ‘The Machine Stops’ predicts the web, tablets and artificial intelligence

June 30, 2014

The Machine Stops - book cover front

Dear readers,

A remarkable foreshadowing of the internet, tablet computers and artificial intelligence from a century ago: E.M. Forster’s 1909 short story “The Machine Stops.”

Ray Kurzweil

Wikipedia | “The Machine Stops” is a science fiction short story by E. M. Forster. After initial publication in The Oxford and Cambridge Review in November 1909, the story was republished in Forster’s The Eternal Moment and Otherread more

Ask Ray | US Supreme Court acknowledges that personal space has merged with the digital world

June 28, 2014 by Ray Kurzweil

(credit: iStock)

Dear readers,

My friend — of 50 years! — Mark Bergmann, brought this recent quote from US Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts to my attention:

“Modern cell phones are such a pervasive and insistent part of daily life that the proverbial visitor from Mars might conclude they were an important feature of human anatomy,” said Roberts, commenting in the recent Supreme Court ruling on cell phones warrants.… read more

Google I/O 2014 | video: Ray Kurzweil presents “Biologically Inspired Models of Intelligence”

June 20, 2014

IO 2014

Google I/O 2014 | Ray Kurzweil: “Biologically Inspired Models of Intelligence,” filmed June 25, 2014

Google | For decades Ray Kurzweil has explored how artificial intelligence can enrich and expand human capabilities. In his latest book How to Create a Mind, he takes this exploration to the next step: reverse-engineering the brain to understand precisely how it works, then applying that knowledge to create intelligent machines.

In… read more

Ask Ray | Music videos on living forever ** updated **

June 19, 2014

(credit: Oasis)

Dear readers,

I enjoyed these two hit songs on the modern theme of living forever. I want to share these popular music videos, and their concepts.

Ultimately, their lyrics move toward a perspective that reflects my own optimistic, positive outlook on what is possible.

The choruses include the phrases “Move towards the future” and “I want to live forever, now’s the time to find out.” Both songs reiterate:… read more

Ask Ray | Response to announcement of chatbot Eugene Goostman passing the Turing test

June 10, 2014 by Ray Kurzweil

Eugene Goostman chatbot screenshot (credit:

On June 8, 2014, The University of Reading announced that a computer program “has passed the Turing test for the first time.”

University of Reading professor Kevin Warwick, PhD, described it this way:
“Some will claim that the test has already been passed. The words ‘Turing test’ have been applied to similar competitions around the world. However, this event involved more simultaneous comparison tests than ever before, was independently… read more

TED Talk 2014 | Ray Kurzweil: “Get ready for hybrid thinking” video now playing

June 4, 2014

TED 30 years logo

TED | Two hundred million years ago, our mammal ancestors developed a new brain feature: the neocortex. This stamp-sized piece of tissue, wrapped around a brain the size of a walnut, is the key to what humanity has become.

Now, futurist Ray Kurzweil suggests, we should get ready for the next big leap in brain power, as we tap into the computing power in the cloud.… read more

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