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Intricate microdevices that can be safely implanted

Applications include a drug-delivery system to provide tailored drug doses for precision medicine, catheters, stents, cardiac pacemakers, and soft microbotics
January 13, 2017

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Columbia Engineering researchers have invented a technique for manufacturing complex microdevices with three-dimensional, freely moving parts made from biomaterials that can safely be implanted in the body. Potential applications include a drug-delivery system to provide tailored drug doses for precision medicine, catheters, stents, cardiac pacemakers, and soft microbotics.

Most current implantable microdevices have static components rather than moving parts and, because they require batteries or other toxic… read more

Compact new microscope chemically identifies micrometer-sized particles

Low-cost, ten-times-higher-resolution spectroscopy technique could allow for detection of microscopic amounts of chemicals for applications in security, law enforcement, and research
January 13, 2017

Multiple species of micron-sized particles are simultaneously illuminated by an infrared laser and a green laser beam. Absorption of the infrared laser light by the particles increases their temperatures, causing them to expand and slightly altering their optical properties. These changes are unique to the material composition of each particle and can be measured by examining the modulation of scattered green light from each particle. (credit: Ryan Sullenberger, MIT Lincoln Laboratory)

MIT researchers have developed a radical design for a low-cost, miniaturized microscope that can chemically identify individual micrometer-sized particles. It could one day be used in airports or other high-security venues as a highly sensitive and low-cost way to rapidly screen people for microscopic amounts of potentially dangerous materials. It could also be used for scientific analysis of very small samples or for measuring the optical properties of materials.… read more

Synthetic stem cells offer benefits of natural stem cells without the risks

Can be applied to multiple stem cell types and to repair of various organ systems
January 13, 2017

Synthetic cardiac stem cells could offer therapeutic benefits without associated risks. (credit: Alice Harvey, NC State University)

Scientists have created the first synthetic version of a cardiac stem cell, offering therapeutic benefits comparable to those from natural stem cells — but without the risks and limitations, according to researchers from North Carolina State University, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and First Affiliated Hospital of Zhengzhou University in China.

The newly created “synthetic stem cells” (not actual stem cells —… read more

A transparent, self-healing, highly stretchable conductive material

Can be electrically activated to power artificial muscles or used to improve batteries, electronic devices, and robots
January 6, 2017

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A team of scientists has developed a transparent, self-healing, highly stretchable conductive material that can be electrically activated to power artificial muscles or used to improve batteries, electronic devices, and robots.

The findings, published Dec. 23 in the journal Advanced Materials, combine the fields of self-healing materials and ionic conductors (a material that ions can flow through). Ionic conductors are a class of materials with key roles… read more

Nanowire ‘inks’ enable low-cost paper- or plastic-based printable electronics

Highly conductive ink-jet-printed silver films enable electronic circuits without requiring high heat; lower-cost solar cells, RFID chips, batteries, other devices now possible
January 6, 2017

Duke University chemists have found that silver nanowire films like these conduct electricity well enough to form functioning circuits without applying high temperatures, enabling printable electronics on heat-sensitive materials like paper or plastic. (credit: Ian Stewart and Benjamin Wiley)

By suspending tiny metal nanoparticles in liquids, Duke University scientists can use conductive ink-jet-printed conductive “inks” to print inexpensive, customizable RFID and other electronic circuit patterns on just about any surface — even on paper and plastics.

Printed electronics, which are already being used widely in devices such as the anti-theft radio frequency identification (RFID) tags you might find on the back of new DVDs, currently have… read more

MIT researchers design one of the strongest, lightest materials known

10 times as strong as steel but much lighter
January 6, 2017

3-D-printed gyroid models such as this one were used to test the strength and mechanical properties of a new lightweight material (credit: Melanie Gonick/MIT)

MIT scientists said today they’ve just created one the strongest materials known (ten times stronger than steel, but also one of the lightest, with a density of just 5 percent of that of steel) by compressing and fusing flakes of graphene, a two-dimensional form of carbon.

In its two-dimensional form, graphene is thought to be the strongest of all known materials. But researchers until now have had a hard… read more

Tesla Autopilot predicts collision ahead seconds before it happens

Before visible signs of trouble
December 30, 2016

Tesla autopilot predicts

Hans Noordsij, a Dutch Tesla driver, uploaded a Dec. 27 dashcam video that dramatically shows the new radar processing capacity of Tesla’s Autopilot and resulting auto-breaking, DarkVision Hardware reports. The system’s radar saw ahead of the car in front and tracked two cars ahead on the road. Note the audible warning a second or so before the accident.

pic.twitter.com/70MySRiHGR

December 27, 2016

How to form the world’s smallest self-assembling nanowires — just 3 atoms wide

December 30, 2016

This animation shows molecular building blocks joining the tip of a growing nanowire. Each block consists of a diamondoid – the smallest possible bit of diamond – attached to sulfur and copper atoms (yellow and brown spheres). Like LEGO blocks, they only fit together in certain ways that are determined by their size and shape. The copper and sulfur atoms form a conductive wire in the middle, and the diamondoids form an insulating outer shell. (credit: SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory)

Scientists at Stanford University and the Department of Energy’s SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory have discovered a way to use diamondoids* — the smallest possible bits of diamond — to self-assemble atoms, LEGO-style, into the thinnest possible electrical wires, just three atoms wide.

The new technique could potentially be used to build tiny wires for a wide range of applications, including fabrics that generate electricity, optoelectronic devices… read more

MRI breakthroughs include ultra-sensitive MRI magnetic field sensing, more-sensitive monitoring without chemical or radioactive labels

Heart mechanical contractions recorded in MRI machine for first time; hope to monitor neurotransmitters at 100 times lower levels
December 30, 2016

Highly sensitive magnetic field sensor (credit: ETH Zurich / Peter Rüegg)

Swiss researchers have succeeded in measuring changes in strong magnetic fields with unprecedented precision, they report in the open-access journal Nature Communications. The finding may find widespread use in medicine and other areas.

In their experiments, the researchers at the Institute for Biomedical Engineering, which is operated jointly by ETH Zurich and the University of Zurich, magnetized a water droplet inside a magnetic resonance imaging… read more

Apple’s first AI paper focuses on creating ‘superrealistic’ image recognition

December 28, 2016

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Apple’s first paper on artificial intelligence, published Dec. 22 on arXiv (open access), describes a method for improving the ability of a deep neural network to recognize images.

To train neural networks to recognize images, AI researchers have typically labeled (identified or described) each image in a dataset. For example, last year, Georgia Institute of Technology researchers developed a deep-learning method to recognize images taken at regular… read more

Immune cells in covering of brain discovered; may play critical role in battling neurological diseases

December 28, 2016

A composite image showing the immune cells. In addition to being important defenders of the brain, the cells may also may be the missing link connecting the brain's immune response to the microbiome in the gut. That relationship already has been shown important in Parkinson's disease. (credit: Sachin Gadani | University of Virginia School of Medicine)

University of Virginia School of Medicine researchers have discovered a rare and powerful type of immune cell in the meninges (protective covering) of the brain that are activated in response to central nervous system injury — suggesting that these cells may play a critical role in battling Alzheimer’s, multiple sclerosis, meningitis, and other neurological diseases, and in supporting healthy mental functioning.

By harnessing the power of the cells, known as… read more

Nanoarray sniffs out and distinguishes ‘breathprints’ of multiple diseases

December 23, 2016

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An international team of 63 scientists in 14 clinical departments have identified a unique “breathprint” for 17 diseases with 86% accuracy and have designed a noninvasive, inexpensive, and miniaturized portable device that screens breath samples to classify and diagnose several types of diseases, they report in an open-access paper in the journal ACS Nano.

As far back as around 400 B.C., doctors diagnosed some diseases by smelling a patient’s exhaled… read more

Method discovered to remove damaging amyloid plaques found in Alzheimer’s disease

December 23, 2016

Illustration of formation of beta-amyloid plaques. Enzymes act on the APP (amyloid precursor protein) and cut it into fragments. The beta-amyloid fragment is crucial in the formation of senile plaques in Alzheimer’s disease. (credit: National Institute on Aging/NIH)

German scientists have discovered a strategy for removing amyloid plaques — newly forming clumps in a brain with Alzheimer’s disease that are created by misfolded proteins that clump together and damage nerve cells.

The scientists from the German Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases (DZNE) in Munich and the Ludwig Maximilians University (LMU) Munich took aged microglia cells (the  scavenger cells of the brain’s… read more

Using graphene to detect brain cancer cells

December 20, 2016

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By interfacing brain cells with graphene, University of Illinois at Chicago researchers have differentiated a single hyperactive Glioblastoma Multiforme cancerous astrocyte cell from a normal cell in the lab — pointing the way to developing a simple, noninvasive tool for early cancer diagnosis.

In the study, reported in the journal ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces, the researchers looked at lab-cultured human brain astrocyte cells taken from a… read more

How to enable soft robots to better mimick biological motions

A future version of Star Wars Rogue One's K-2SO robot might look less dorky if Harvard engineers designed his joints and fingers
December 20, 2016

Researchers used mathematical modeling to optimize the design of an actuator to perform biologically inspired motions (credit: Harvard SEAS)

Harvard researchers have developed a method for automatically designing actuators that enable fingers and knees in a soft robot to move more organically, a robot arm to move more smoothly along a path, or a wearable robot or exoskeleton to help a patient move a limb more naturally.

Designing such actuators is currently a complex design challenge, requiring a sequence of actuator segments, each performing a different motion. “Rather… read more

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Why 2016 was actually a year of hope

January 6, 2017

(credit: iStock)

by Ariel Conn

Just about everyone found something to dislike about 2016, from wars to politics and celebrity deaths. But hidden within this year’s news feeds were some really exciting news stories. And some of them can even give us hope for the future.

Artificial Intelligence

Though concerns about the future of AI still loom, 2016 was a great reminder that, when harnessed for good, AI can… read more

Why connecting all the world’s robots will drive 2017’s top technology trends

December 28, 2016

A robotic dance troupe performed in unison to break the world record for simultaneous robot dancing. A robotic dance troupe performed in unison to break the world record for simultaneous robot dancing. (credit: Guinness World Records/YouTube)

By , Research Fellow, School of Creative Technologies, University of Portsmouth

If you want to make predictions for the future, you need to find the trajectory of events in the past. So to work out what shape digital technology will likely take next year, we should look back to the major developments of 2016.

And the past year’s developments point to a 2017 shaped by the… read more

It may not feel like anything to be an alien

December 23, 2016

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By Susan Schneider

Humans are probably not the greatest intelligences in the universe. Earth is a relatively young planet and the oldest civilizations could be billions of years older than us. But even on Earth, Homo sapiens may not be the most intelligent species for that much longer.

The world Go, chess, and Jeopardy champions are now all AIs. AI is projected to outmode many human professions within the next few decades.… read more

So you want to build a Death Star? Here’s how to get started

December 16, 2016

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By , Space Plasma Physicist, Queen Mary University of London

I’m very excited about seeing Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, which tells the tale summarised in the original Star Wars’ opening crawl. This is the story of how the rebels stole the plans to the original “Death Star” – a space station the size of a small moon with a weapon powerful enough to destroy… read more

Dear President Trump: Here’s How to Make Space Great Again

December 15, 2016

(Credit: NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts)

By Brent Ziarnick, Peter Garretson, Everett Dolman, and Coyote Smith

President-elect Donald Trump often says that Americans no longer dream and must do so again. Nowhere can dreams be more inspiring and profitable than in space. But today, expanding space enterprise is not foremost on the minds of Americans or military strategists. As a recent CNN special showed, defense thinkers feel embattled in space, focused on protecting our… read more

Star Wars: Rogue One highlights an uncomfortable fact — military robots can change sides

December 14, 2016

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By , Professor in Robotics, Queensland University of Technology

The latest Star Wars movie, Rogue One [opens Friday Dec. 16], introduces us to a new droid, K-2SO, the robotic lead of the story.

Without giving away too many spoilers, K-2SO is part of the Rebellion freedom fighter group that are tasked with stealing the plans to the first Death Star, the… read more

New York Times | Ray Kurzweil interview with top journalist Andrew Ross Sorkin

On stage presentation at Global Leaders Collective -- videos now live
November 22, 2016

New York Times - Global Leaders Collective - A1

about the event | The New York Times Global Leaders Collective
Leading thinkers gather to discuss the future of markets & tech impact.

The New York Times will host the Global Leaders Collective on November 28-29, 2016 — a group of CEOs, executives & innovators leading companies in the world luxury space.

The summit brings together the best thinking from diverse industries, to navigate the dramatic… read more

Black Mirror Season 3

November 18, 2016 by Amara D. Angelica

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I just caught up with Season 3 of Black Mirror, the dystopian science-fiction British television series on Netflix. I found the six episodes riveting, but often sort of nightmarish. Think high-tech, R-rated Twilight Zone.

Spoiler alert: the following mentions some things that are not immediately revealed in the episodes, similar to the trailers below (but does not give away endings).

I found… read more

video | International Monetary Fund: New Economy Forum

Technology, Innovation and Inclusive Growth --- panel & talk by Ray Kurzweil
October 5, 2016

International Monetary Fund -- A2

Ray Kurzweil will be presenting along with key experts in a variety of fields at the International Monetary Fund’s New Economy Forum held in Washington, DC to discuss: the future of work & jobs, the impact of automation and rapidly advancing tech on the economy, plus other financial and exploratory issues. The first part of the event is a panel round table. Later, he gives a talk in part two.… read more

How feasible are Elon Musk’s plans to settle on Mars? A planetary scientist explains

September 30, 2016

The health of astronauts will be one of the main challenges for Musk. (credit: D Mitriy/wikimedia, CC BY-ND)

By , Lecturer in Environmental Science & Planetary Exploration, University of Stirling. Disclosure statement: Christian Schroeder is a NASA Mars Exploration Rover Athena Science Team collaborator. University of Stirling provides funding as a member of The Conversation UK.

Mars is the future. It’s after all NASA’s current overarching goal to send humans to the Red Planet. But even as early as the 1950s, aerospace engineer… read more

note from Ray | Short story and new book by my daughter, graphic novelist Amy Kurzweil, exploring human identity

September 27, 2016

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Dear readers,

Here for your enjoyment is the short story “The Greatest Story Ever Written,” written by my daughter, Amy Kurzweil. Her fiction here is influenced by Eugene Ionesco’s play Rhinoceros, although less ominous.

Amy starts her story with this quote from the play from Ionesco: “After all, perhaps it is we who need saving. Perhaps we are the abnormal ones.”

My daughter is a… read more

Lo And Behold, Reveries Of The Connected World

August 19, 2016 by Amara D. Angelica

LO AND BEHOLD

In the movie “Lo and Behold, Reveries Of The Connected World,” released today, legendary documentarian Werner Herzog discovers and explores the internet in a series of ten impressionistic vignettes.

These range from internet pioneers (Leonard Kleinrock, Robert Kahn,  Danny Hillis), AI/roboticists (Sebastian Thrun, Tom Mitchell, “Raj” Rajkumar, Joydeep Biswas), and Mars explorers (with Elon Musk — Herzog volunteered to go) to dystopians — how a solar flare could… read more

Clear and present danger to your life as of now from cyberblitzkrieg

August 18, 2016

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By Paul Werbos, PhD

This week (starting August 15), the immediate risk to our lives through cyberblitzkrieg has suddenly risen dramatically, due to new events in cyberspace. If a cyberblitzkrieg on electric power and other critical infrastructure does occur, the level of damage would be comparable in general to the kind of damage we feared at the height of the Cold War, when something like half the world could… read more

The First Church of the Singularity: Roko’s Basilik

A thought experiment at Burning Man. Hint: take the red pill.
August 17, 2016

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By Jodi Schiller

For those of us working in virtual and augmented reality, our days are spent thinking of better and better ways to create more lifelike virtual worlds. It’s easy for us to believe that one day we will be living in a sim indecipherable from “base” reality — or even more likely, that we’re already living in one.

This year at Burning Man, the… read more

Code of Ethics on Human Augmentation: the three ‘Laws’

Why? To protect us, future consumers and adopters, and society from machines of malice --- whether eventually by AI superintelligence, or right now by corrupt human intelligence. --- Steve Mann
July 5, 2016

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By Steve Mann, Brett Leonard, David Brin, Ana Serrano, Robin Ingle, Ken Nickerson, Caitlin Fisher, Samantha Mathews, Ryan Janzen, Mir Adnan Ali, Ken Yang, Pete Scourboutakos, Dan Braverman, Sarang Nerkar, Keram Malicki-Sanchez, Zack P. Harris, Zach A. Harris, Jesse Damiani, Edward Button

The Human Augmentation Code was presented at the VRTO Virtual & Augmented Reality World Conference + Expo, June 25–27, 2016 by Steve Mann,read more

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