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Medical ‘millirobots’ could replace invasive surgery

Using a “Gauss gun” principle, an MRI machine drives a “millirobot” through a hypodermic needle into your spinal cord and guides it into your brain to release life-threatening fluid buildup ...
May 28, 2015

Gauss gun Before After-ft

University of Houston researchers have developed a concept for MRI-powered millimeter-size “millirobots” that could one day perform unprecedented minimally invasive medical treatments.

This technology could be used to treat hydrocephalus, for example. Current treatments require drilling through the skull to implant pressure-relieving shunts, said Aaron T. Becker, assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering at the University of Houston.

But MRI scanners alone don’t produce enough force to… read more

Psychedelic drugs should be legally reclassified, says psychiatrist

Pre-1967 research showed "beneficial change in many psychiatric disorders"
May 28, 2015

(credit: Salvador Dali)

Psychedelic drugs such as LSD are much less harmful than claimed and should be legally reclassified to allow further research on their medical use, says James Rucker, a psychiatrist and honorary lecturer at the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience, King’s College London.

These substances “were extensively used and researched in clinical psychiatry” before their prohibition in 1967 and many trials of these drugs in the 1950s and 1960s… read more

New tech keeps your smart phone charged for 30 percent longer

Invention captures wasted cell phone energy, feeds it back to battery
May 27, 2015

(credit: iStock)

Engineers  at The Ohio State University have created a circuit that makes cell phone batteries last up to 30 percent longer on a single charge. The trick: it converts some of the radio signals emanating from a phone into direct current (DC) power, which then charges the phone’s battery.

This new technology can be built into a cell phone case, adding minimal bulk and weight.

“When we communicate… read more

Disney researchers develop 2-legged robot that walks like an animated character

May 27, 2015

Robot character mimic

Disney researchers have found a way for a robot to mimic an animated character’s walk, bringing a cartoon (or other) character to life in the real world.

Beginning with an animation of a diminutive, peanut-shaped character that walks with a rolling, somewhat bow-legged gait, Katsu Yamane and his team at Disney Research Pittsburgh analyzed the character’s motion to design a robotic frame that could duplicate the walking motion. using… read more

Intelligent handheld robots could make is easier for people to learn new skills

May 27, 2015

An intelligent handheld robot assisting a user in placing the correct colored tiles (credit: University of Bristol)

What if your handheld tools knew what needs to be done and were even able to guide and help you complete jobs that require skills? University of Bristol researchers are finding out by building and testing intelligent handheld robots.

Think of them as smart power tools that “know” what they’re doing — and could even help you use them.

The robot tools would have three levels of autonomy,… read more

A chip implanted under the skin allows for precise, real-time medical monitoring

May 27, 2015

Under-the-skin chip (credit: EPFL)

A tiny (one-centimeter-square) biosensor chip developed at EPFL is designed to be implanted under your skin to continuously monitor concentrations of pH, temperature, and metabolism-related molecules like glucose, lactate and cholesterol, as well as some drugs.

The chip would replace blood work, which may take  hours — or even days — for analysis and is a limited snapshot of conditions at the moment the blood is drawn.

Developer… read more

Dynamically reprogramming matter

Engineering switchable reconfigurations in DNA-controlled nanoparticle arrays could lead to dynamic energy-harvesting or responsive optical materials
May 26, 2015

phase change ft

Scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Brookhaven National Laboratory have developed the capability of creating dynamic nanomaterials — ones whose structure and associated properties can be switched, on-demand. In a paper appearing in Nature Materials, they describe a way to selectively rearrange nanoparticles in three-dimensional arrays to produce different configurations, or “phases,” from the same nano-components.

“One of the goals in nanoparticle self-assembly has been to create structures by… read more

Creating complex structures using DNA origami and nanoparticles

Could create new molecular structures to harvest solar energy, deliver biomolecules, or manipulate light for telecommunications
May 26, 2015

Cluster assembled from DNA-functionalized gold nanoparticles on vertices of a octahedral DNA origami structure (credit: Ye Tian et al./Nature Nanotechnology)

Scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Brookhaven National Laboratory and collaborators have developed a method using DNA for designing new customized materials with complex structures for applications in energy, optics, and medicine.

They used ropelike configurations of DNA to form a rigid geometrical framework and then added dangling pieces of single-stranded DNA to glue nanoparticles in place.

The method, described in the journal Nature Nanotechnology, produced predictable… read more

One step closer to a single-molecule device

One possible route after Moore's law expires
May 25, 2015

Molecular diode (credit: Columbia Engineering)

Columbia Engineering researchers have created the first single-molecule diode — the ultimate in miniaturization for electronic devices — with potential for real-world applications in electronic systems.

The diode that has a high (>250) rectification and a high “on” current (~ 0.1 microamps), says Latha Venkataraman, associate professor of applied physics. “Constructing a device where the active elements are only a single molecule … which has been… read more

Fly-catching robot speeds biomedical research

Good news for overworked graduate students and for researchers of human aging, cancer, diabetes, and other diseases
May 25, 2015

A fruit fly hangs unharmed at the end of the robot's suction tube. The robot uses machine vision to inspect and analyze the captured fly. (credit: Stanforf Bio-X)

Stanford Bio-X scientists have created a robot that speeds and extends biomedical research with a common laboratory organism — fruit flies (Drosophila).

The robot can visually inspect awake flies and carry out behavioral experiments that were impossible with anesthetized flies. The work is described today (May 25) in the journal Nature Methods.

“Robotic technology offers a new prospect for automated experiments and enables fly researchers to do… read more

Converting blood stem cells to sensory neural cells to predict and treat pain

Allows for discovering new pain drugs and predicting effects for individual patients
May 25, 2015

stem cell to neuron

Stem-cell scientists at McMaster University have developed a way to directly convert adult human blood cells to sensory neurons, providing the first objective measure of how patients may feel things like pain, temperature, and pressure, the researchers reveal in an open-access paper in the journal Cell Reports.

Currently, scientists and physicians have a limited understanding of the complex issue of pain and how to treat it. “The problem is that… read more

Combining light and sound to create nanoscale optical waveguides

Could lead to chips that combine optical and electronic components
May 24, 2015

Researchers have shown that a DC voltage applied to layers of graphene and boron nitride can be used to control light emission from a nearby atom. Here, graphene is represented by a maroon-colored top layer; boron nitride is represented by yellow-green lattices below the graphene; and the atom is represented by a grey circle. A low concentration of DC voltage (in blue) allows the light to propagate inside the boron nitride, forming a tightly confined waveguide for optical signals. (Credit: Anshuman Kumar Srivastava and Jose Luis Olivares/MIT)

In a new discovery that could lead to chips that combine optical and electronic components, researchers at MIT, IBM and two universities have found a way to combine light and sound with far lower losses than when such devices are made separately and then interconnected, they say.

Light’s interaction with graphene produces vibrating electron particles called plasmons, while light interacting with hexagonal boron nitride (hBN) produces phonons (sound “particles”).… read more

Light-emitting, transparent flexible paper developed in China

New environmentally safe paper could lead to light, flexible portable and wearable displays
May 24, 2015

A new, environmentally-friendly paper that glows could lead to sustainable, roll-up electronics (credit: American Chemical Society)

The first light-emitting, transparent, flexible paper made from environmentally friendly materialshas been developed by scientists at Sichuan University in China, the scientists report in the journal ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces.

Most current flexible electronics paper designs rely on petroleum-based plastics and toxic materials.

The researchers developed a thin, clear nanocellulose paper made from wood flour and infused it with biocompatible quantum dots — tiny semiconducting… read more

Printing low-cost, flexible radio-frequency antennas with graphene ink

Graphene can now be printed on materials like paper and plastic to create ubiquitous uses such as in RFID tags, wireless sensors, and wearable electronics
May 24, 2015

graphene antenna ft

The first low-cost, flexible, environmentally friendly radio-frequency antenna using compressed graphene ink has been printed by researchers from the University of Manchester and BGT Materials Limited. Potential uses of the new process include radio-frequency identification (RFID) tags, wireless sensors, wearable electronics, and printing on materials like paper and plastic.

Commercial RFID tags are currently made from metals like silver (very expensive) or aluminum or copper (both prone… read more

Robots master skills with ‘deep learning’ technique

UC Berkeley researchers' new algorithms enable robots to learn motor tasks by trial and error
May 22, 2015

Robot learns to put a cap on a bottle by trial and error (credit: UC Berkeley)

UC Berkeley researchers have developed new algorithms that enable robots to learn motor tasks by trial and error, using a process that more closely approximates the way humans learn.

They demonstrated their technique, a type of reinforcement learning, by having a robot complete various tasks — putting a clothes hanger on a rack, assembling a toy plane, screwing a cap on a water bottle, and more — without pre-programmed… read more

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Latest blog posts

Ask Ray | Health technologies to support snoring

May 8, 2015

snoring - A2

Dear Ray,

I just read in Der Spiegel about all the technology going on in Silicon Valley, and the brains of thinkers there.

Now I lay in bed beside a snoring beloved person, my husband, and I think about the possibility to invent a cushion or some technology that can interrupt snoring — but in a comfortable way.

Snoring is a serious health problem. Normally I give… read more

Ask Ray | Future artificial intelligence acceptance or fear

May 5, 2015

The future of the human experience connects people and data. -- credit | iStock

Dear Ray,

Take a look at this article in Russia Today. In our film The Singularity Is Near — that we produced and wrote together — the “Jerry Garcia” character is wailing about cyberconscious citizenship.

I’m not sure what part of “we are merging together” these people don’t get! To me it is as obvious as the nose on my face. Funny how well we predicted and depicted… read more

Internet radio without the internet

High quality music service on Kickstarter to offer 40 million songs, using caching instead of streaming
March 23, 2015 by Amara D. Angelica

AIVVY headset (credit: AIVVY)

I got this post today from Martine Rothblatt, PhD, CEO of United Therapeutics:

” I am very excited. March 24, 2015 is Kickstarter launch for AIVVY — CEO in pictures showing me smartphone control interface.  I’m in! It is best audio streaming interface I’ve ever experienced, and compatible with Sirius XM.

“Lets you run/bike and listen to great audio without getting RF power across your skin from cellular… read more

Transhumanist position on human germline genetic modification

March 22, 2015 by James Hughes

(credit: pixabay)

Recently a group of scientists and an industry group have issued statements calling for a moratorium on human heritable or germline genetic modifications (see herehere and here), now that we have the powerful CRISPR technique to pursue such modifications.

These statements have been greeted rapturously by bioconservatives, who want to see a global ban on germline and enhancement genetic therapies.

Of… read more

Ask Ray | Futurist Martine Rothblatt, PhD discusses cyber consciousness

March 19, 2015

brain - A1

Dear readers,

I want to recommend this article in USA Today profiling Martine Rothblatt, PhD’s keynote at South by Southwest.

USA Today | Sirius founder envisions world of cyber clones, tech med

Her talk featured a roundup of concepts about the future of the human brain and the potential for people to interact through virtual avatars and recreations of an individual.

USA Todayread more

Ray Kurzweil music technology breakthroughs – inside story

Background on Kurzweil's Technical Grammy Award
February 8, 2015 by Amara D. Angelica

Kurzweil 250 prototype boards (credit: Kurzweil Music Systems/Young Chang)

In Fall 1983, visitors crammed into a packed demo on the fifth floor of the New York Hilton Hotel during the New York AES convention and marveled at the Kurzweil K250, noted Electronic Musician magazine in its March 2015 issue.

“The first ROM-based sampling keyboard to successfully reproduce the full complexity of acoustic instruments, the 250 offered natural-sounding pianos, thick drums, lush strings, and more, and its… read more

Ray Kurzweil receives 2015 Technical Grammy Award for outstanding achievements in music technology

February 7, 2015

Grammy Awards - 57th - logo

Ray Kurzweil received the 2015 Technical Grammy Award on February 7, 2015 for his outstanding achievements in the field of music technology.

One of his primary inventions paved the way for re-creating acoustic instruments with electronic equivalents.

The Technical Grammy Award is a Special Merit Award presented by vote of the National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences Trustees, for contributions of outstanding technical significance to the recording… read more

Machine Cognition and AI Ethics at AAAI 2015

February 4, 2015 by Melanie Swan

robot brain chip

The AAAI’s Twenty-Ninth Conference on Artificial Intelligence was held January 25–30, 2015 in Austin, Texas. Machine cognition was an important focal area covered in two workshops on AI and Ethics, and Beyond the Turing Test, and in a special track on Cognitive Systems.

Some of the most interesting emergent themes are discussed in this article.

Computational Ethicsread more

Ask Ray | Immortality via the singularity

February 3, 2015

(credit: iStock)

Dear Dr. Kurzweil,

Thank you so much for all your help, time, and encouragement throughout my paper and presentation. It was really exciting that you could be in my 7th grade presentation.

I realize as a Director of Engineering at Google you are very busy. I would love to visit Google. I really appreciate everything you have done and all the resources that you sent.

— Lucyread more

The future of the newsletter and e-mail

December 31, 2014 by Amara D. Angelica

Oculus Rift: millions sold in 2015? (credit: Samsung)

In “The return of the newsletter,” Wired notes today that with better spam filters and other tools, non-stop overload from Facebook and Twitter, and the death of RSS, newsletters are “making something of a comeback.”

The article mentions KurzweilAI News and nine other newsletters, including mini-AIR, the newsletter of the hilarious Annals of Improbable Research magazine, noted for its annual Ig Nobel Prizes (such as one earlier this… read more

Don’t fear artificial intelligence | by Ray Kurzweil

December 30, 2014 by Ray Kurzweil

Ray Kurzweil responds to concerns from Elon Musk and Stephen Hawking, Phd, on the future possibility of dangers from developments in artificial intelligence. This was also published in Time magazine’s Ideas section.

related reading:
Time | “Don’t fear artificial intelligence” by Ray Kurzweil

Don’t fear artificial intelligence
by Ray Kurzweil

Stephen Hawking, the pre-eminent physicist, recently warned that artificial intelligence… read more

We could get to the singularity in ten years

December 26, 2014 by Ben Goertzel

10 to Singuarlity

It would require a different way of thinking about the timing of the Singularity, says AGI pioneer Ben Goertzel, PhD. Rather than a predictive exercise, it would require thinking about it the way an athlete thinks about a game when going into it, or the way the Manhattan Project scientists thought at the start of the project.

This article, written in 2010, is excerpted with permission from Goertzel’s newread more

Explainer: what is 4D printing?

December 19, 2014 by Dan Raviv

Shapeshifting: 3D printed materials that change shape over time. (Credit: Dan Raviv/Scientific Reports)

Additive manufacturing — or 3D printing — is 30 years old this year. Today, it’s found not just in industry but in households, as the price of 3D printers has fallen below US$1,000. Knowing you can print almost anything, not just marks on paper, opens up unlimited opportunities for us to manufacture toys, household appliances and tools in our living rooms.

But there’s more that can be done with… read more

Ray Kurzweil receives IEEE Eta Kappa Nu honor society’s top honor

November 30, 2014

Saurabh Sinha, PhD, Chair of the IEEE Educational Activities Board; Ray Kurzweil, IEEE Eta Kappa Nu “Eminent Member” honoree; Karen Panetta, PhD, Chair of the IEEE Education Activities Board and Recognition Committee; John Orr, PhD, President of Eta Kappa Nu, the IEEE Honor Society. (credit: IEEE)

Ray Kurzweil was presented with the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Eta Kappa Nu honor society top honor, Eminent Member, at the 2014 IEEE Educational Activities Board Awards Ceremony. He received the honor for technical attainments and contributions to society through outstanding leadership in the profession of electrical and computer engineering.

The Induction and Awards presentation took place during the week of IEEE’s Meeting Series. Members of the… read more

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

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