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How permanent stress may lead to mental disorders

November 24, 2014

Microglia cells from rat cortex before (left) and after (right) traumatic brain injury (credit: Wikimedia Commons)

Activated through permanent stress, immune cells in the brain can cause changes to the brain, resulting in mental disorders, a research team headed by professor Georg Juckel, Medical Director of the Ruhr-Universität Bochum (RUB) LWL university clinic, has found. The research was based on psychoneuroimmunology, the study of the interaction between psychological processes and the nervous and immune systems of the human body.

The team focused mainly on … read more

A wearable to help measure stress, epileptic seizures, activity, and sleep

November 24, 2014

Embrace (credit: Empatica)

MIT spinoff Empatica, which is developing a medical-quality wearable device to monitor epileptic seizures* and alert caregivers, has launched an Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign to fund its development.

“When people that have epilepsy wear Embrace, they will get an alert when an unusual event happens, like a convulsive seizure,” the Indiegogo site says. “It will go via their smartphone to parents, roommates or caregivers, so somebody can check… read more

Low-cost 2D-printed ‘paper electronics’

Could make health care and other uses more accessible
November 21, 2014

Paper-baaed touch pad functioning on a curved surface (credit: Ruo-Zhou Li et al./ ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces)

An international team of scientists has developed a fast, low-cost way of making low-cost medical electronic touch sensors by printing conductive silver nanowire inks directly on paper, using a 2D programmed printing machine.

Anming Hu of the University of Tennessee Department of Mechanical, Aerospace and Biomedical Engineering and colleagues point out that paper, which is available worldwide at low cost, makes an excellent surface for lightweight, foldable “paper electronics: that… read more

Spooky alignment of quasar axes across billions of light-years with large-scale structure

November 21, 2014

This artist's impression shows schematically the mysterious alignments between the spin axes of quasars and the large-scale structures that they inhabit that observations with ESO’s Very Large Telescope have revealed. These alignments are over billions of light-years and are the largest known in the Universe. The large-scale structure is shown in blue and quasars are marked in white with the rotation axes of their black holes indicated with a line around them. This picture is for illustration only and does not depict the real distribution of galaxies and quasars. (Credit: ESO/M. Kornmesser)

New observations with ESO’s Very Large Telescope (VLT) in Chile have revealed alignments over the largest structures ever discovered in the Universe. A European research team has found that the rotation axes of the central supermassive black holes in a sample of quasars are parallel to each other over distances of billions of light-years. The team has also found that the rotation axes of these quasars tend to… read more

Robotic walker helps patients regain natural gait and increases productivity of physiotherapists

November 21, 2014

Robotic walker (credit: NUS)

A novel robotic walker that helps patients carry out therapy sessions to regain their leg movements and natural gait has been invented by a team of researchers led by assistant professor Yu Haoyong from the National University of Singapore Department of Biomedical Engineering.

Survivors of stroke or other neurological conditions such as spinal cord injuries, traumatic brain injuries and Parkinson’s disease often struggle with mobility. To regain… read more

China and ‘one or two others’ can shut US electric grids and other critical infrastructure, says NSA director

November 21, 2014

(Credit: Achim Hering/Wikimedia Commons)

China and “one or two others” can shut down the U.S. electric grids and other critical infrastructure and is performing electronic reconnaissance on a regular basis, said NSA director Admiral Michael Rogers, testifying Thursday (Nov. 20) at a House Select Intelligence Committee hearing on U.S. efforts to combat cybersecurity.

“All of that leads me to believe it is only a matter of when, not if, we are going to… read more

Georgia Tech professor proposes another alternative to the Turing test

The Lovelace 2.0 Test of Artificial Creativity and Intelligence assesses a computer's capacity for human-level intelligence by its ability to create, rather than to converse or deceive
November 20, 2014

But would mathematician-programmer Countess Lady Lovelace have approved?

Georgia Tech associate professor Mark Ried has developed a new kind of “Turing test” — a test proposed in 1950 by computing pioneer Alan Turing to determine whether a machine or computer program exhibits human-level intelligence.Most Turing test designs require a machine to engage in dialogue and convince (trick) a human judge that it is an actual person. But creating certain types of art also requires intelligence, leading Reid to consider… read more

First genetic-based tool to detect circulating cancer cells in blood — lights up cancer cells

Method may detect trouble long before a cancerous tumor could form; live cells can be collected, cultured and studied for personalized treatment
November 20, 2014

NanoFlare ft

Northwestern University scientists have demonstrated a simple but powerful tool called NanoFlare that can detect live cancer cells in the bloodstream, potentially long before settling somewhere in the body and forming a dangerous tumor.

The NanoFlare technology is the first genetic-based approach that is able to detect live circulating tumor cells out of the complex matrix that is human blood — no easy feat. The NanoFlares are tiny spherical nucleic… read more

A computer-vision algorithm that can describe photos

Machine-learning takes computer vision to the next level with a system that can describe objects and put them into context. Coming soon, better visual search?
November 19, 2014

images with scenes ft

Computer software only recently became smart enough to recognize objects in photographs. Now, Stanford researchers using machine learning have created a system that takes the next step, writing a simple story of what’s actually happening in any digital image.

“The system can analyze an unknown image and explain it in words and phrases that make sense,” said  Fei-Fei Li, a professor of computer science and director of the… read more

How neurons multitask

November 19, 2014

(Credit: Cell)

University of Michigan scientists have come up with a possible explanation for the impressive ability of neurons to perform a wide range of functions.

They explored this using the C. elegans* roundworm. They found that a single neuron in C. elegans regulates both the speed and direction in which the worm moves, shedding light on how the human brain works, say investigators in the lab of… read more

How brain cells persuade other cells to do ‘the wave’

November 19, 2014

Stadium crowd performing "the wave" at the Confederations Cup 2005 in Frankfurt (credit: Wikimedia Commons)

Neuroscientists have discovered mechanisms that enable certain brain cells to persuade others to create “the wave” (a wave of standing spectators that travels through a crowd*), which may help understand more about neurocognitive disorders such as dementia, the researchers say.

Inhibitory neurons** can persuade networks of other neurons to imitate their vibrations, setting off global synchronous oscillations in the brain. The neuroscientists, at Imperial College London and the… read more

Playing action video games can boost learning

November 18, 2014

Call of Duty 2 (credit: Activision)

A new study shows for the first time that playing action video games improves learning capabilities more generally, not just the skills taught in the game.

According to Daphne Bavelier, a research professor in brain and cognitive sciences at the University of Rochester, our brains keep predicting what will come next when listening to a conversation, driving, or even preforming surgery. “To sharpen its prediction skills, our brains constantly… read more

How to increase (or decrease) brain activity and memory

November 17, 2014

Limitless movie poster (credit: Virgin Produced)

Is it possible to rapidly increase (or decrease) the amount of information the brain can store?

A new international study led by the Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre (RI-MUHC) suggests is may be. Their research has identified a molecule that improves brain function and memory recall is improved. Published in the latest issue of Cell Reports, the study has implications for neurodevelopmental and neurodegenerative diseases, such as autism… read more

Magic tricks using artificial intelligence

November 17, 2014

Phoney app (credit: QApps Online)

Queen Mary University of London researchers have developed a Google Play app called Phoney based on a mind-reading card trick, part of a research exploration into what can be achieved when human intelligence is replaced or assisted by machine intelligence.

The app arranges a deck of playing cards in such a way that a specific card picked by an audience member can beread more

Lighter, cheaper radio-wave device could double the useful bandwidth in wireless communications

November 14, 2014

Researchers at the Cockrell School of Engineering have built a radio wave circulator that has the potential to double the useful bandwidth in wireless communications by enabling full-duplex functionality, meaning devices can transmit and receive signals on the same frequency band at the same time. (Credit: Illustrator Erik Zumalt, Cockrell School of Engineering at The University of Texas at Austin)

Researchers at the Cockrell School of Engineering at The University of Texas at Austin have developed a way to double the useful bandwidth in wireless communications by enabling full-duplex functionality in the same frequency band (channel).

“Full-duplex” refers to the ability to transmit and receive signals simultaneously, as in cell-phone conversations.

The new innovation is the creation of a magnetic-free radio wave “circulator” that could be… read more

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Latest blog posts

Ask Ray | Living in virtual worlds as an avatar

November 19, 2014

Second Life - 1

Dear Mr. Kurzweil,

I’m in seventh grade, taking a research class called Da Vinci. I have to produce a 10 page annotated paper. I will produce a multimedia presentation on my topic.

My topic is immortality through genetics, nanotechnology and robotics with a special emphasis on artificial intelligence, such as living in a virtual world as an avatar.

Our teacher encouraged us to reach out to experts.… read more

Ask Ray | Potential for elitization of the singularity

November 18, 2014 by Ray Kurzweil

(credit: stock image)

Dear Professor Kurzweil,

I was hoping for your views on the potential elitization of singularity that could lead to exacerbation of class, opportunity and economic division.

The ongoing quest for extending human life and artificially enhancing its quality testifies to our instincts for permanence and survival at all cost.

Technologically acquired supremacy breaks the well accepted paradigm that improved life span, physical and cognitive performance is possible only with practice, studious effort… read more

Who blew up the rocket?

What happens when you mix space pork, greedy megacorporations, and recycled Russian rocket engines?
November 6, 2014 by Howard Bloom

Antares launch failure, (credit: NASA)

Exactly what exploded in a ball of flame over Wallops Island, Virginia, on Tuesday October 28 at 6:22 pm? And what brought down Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo over the Mojave Desert Friday morning just after ten am?

Was the vehicle that exploded above the launch pad in Virginia, as some headlines have proclaimed, a NASA rocket? Was it, as others have said, a commercial rocket? Or were both… read more

Private spaceflight will survive Virgin tragedy because we choose to dream big

November 4, 2014 by Fredrick Jenet

Spaceship Two (credit: Virgin Galactic)

This week, I can predict with a high degree of accuracy that more than 50,000 car accidents will occur in the U.S., over 500 of which will involve fatalities. Last week was no different. Is social media alive with discussions on the future of the automotive industry due to these incidents? Have the “Big Three” seen major losses in stock prices? Are people now afraid to get into their cars… read more

When parallel worlds collide, quantum mechanics is born

November 3, 2014 by Howard Wiseman

Many different worlds but a finite number (credit: Flickr/fdecomite, CC)

Parallel universes — worlds where the dinosaur-killing asteroid never hit, or where Australia was colonised by the Portuguese – are a staple of science fiction. But are they real?

In a radical paper published this week in Physical Review X [and available here in open-access arXiv  --- Ed.] we (Dr Michael Hall and I from Griffith University and Dr Dirk-André Deckert from the University of California) propose not only that parallel… read more

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 the media. Yet the story sets the table for more… read 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

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