Breaking science & technology news

Top story

AI beats top U.S. Air Force tactical air combat experts in combat simulation

"Genetic fuzzy tree” software enables Unmanned Combat Aerial Vehicles to function 250 times faster than humans
June 28, 2016

Retired United States Air Force Colonel Gene Lee, in a flight simulator, takes part in simulated air combat versus artificial intelligence technology developed by a team comprised of industry, US Air Force and University of Cincinnati representatives. (credit: Lisa Ventre, University of Cincinnati Distribution A: Approved for public release; distribution unlimited. 88ABW Cleared 05/02/2016; 88ABW-2016-2270)

The U.S. Air Force got a wakeup call recently when AI software called ALPHA — running on a tiny $35 Raspberry Pi computer — repeatedly defeated retired U.S. Air Force Colonel Gene Lee, a top aerial combat instructor and Air Battle Manager, and other expert air-combat tacticians at the U.S. Air Force Research Lab (AFRL) in Dayton, Ohio. The contest was conducted in a high-fidelity air combat simulator.

According to… read more

First self-driving vehicle death

"Neither Autopilot nor the driver noticed the white side of the tractor trailer against a brightly lit sky"
June 30, 2016

Tesla Model S (credit: Tesla)

A Tesla Model S car was involved in a fatal crash yesterday, Tesla Motors announced today, June 30, on its blog.

“Joshua Brown, a 40-year-old Ohio owner of a Tesla Model S, died when his electric car drove under the trailer of an 18-wheel truck on a highway in Williston, Fla.,” The Wall Street Journal reports, based on local news reports.

“The vehicle was on… read more

A smarter ‘bionic’ cardiac patch that doubles as advanced pacemaker/arrhythmia detector

"Cardiac patches might one day simply be delivered by injection" --- Charles Lieber
June 28, 2016

nanoelectronic scaffold - cardiac tissue ft

Harvard researchers have designed nanoscale electronic scaffolds (support structures) that can be seeded with cardiac cells to produce a new “bionic” cardiac patch (for replacing damaged cardiac tissue with pre-formed tissue patches). It also functions as a more sophisticated pacemaker: In addition to electrically stimulating the heart, the new design can change the pacemaker stimulation frequency and direction of signal propagation.

In addition, because because its electronic components are… read more

This remarkable fish has no cortex but intelligently switches between electrical and vision senses

Is the cortex overrated?
June 27, 2016

The elephantnose fish (Gnathonemus petersii) explores objects in its surroundings by using its eyes or its electrical sense. (credit: © Photo: Timo Moritz)

With its tiny brain (and no cortex), the elephantnose fish (Gnathonemus petersii)* achieves performance comparable to that of humans or other mammals in certain tasks, according to zoologists at the University of Bonn and a colleague from Oxford.

To perceive objects in the water, the fish uses electrolocation (similar to the echolocation of bats) to perceive objects in the water, aided by an electrical organ in… read more

Artificial synapse said to rival biological synapses in energy consumption and function

June 27, 2016

neuronal network & ONW ST

An artificial synapse that emulates a biological synapse while requiring less energy has been developed by Pohang University Of Science & Technology (POSTECH) researchers* in Korea.

A human synapse consumes an extremely small amount of energy (~10 fJ or femtojoules** per synaptic event).

The researchers have fabricated an organic nanofiber (ONF), or organic nanowire (ONW), electronic device that emulates the important working principles and… read more

Are you ready for mood-altering drugs precisely inserted into your brain?

June 24, 2016

PFC-directed oscillatory interactions ft

Imagine if doctors could precisely insert a tiny amount of a custom drug into a specific circuit in your brain and improve your depression (or other mood problems) — instead of treating the entire brain.

That’s exactly what Duke University researchers have explored in mice. Stress-susceptible animals that appeared depressed or anxious were restored to relatively normal behavior this way, according to a study appearing in the… read more

How exercise improves memory

The hippocampus in the brain switches to fat as an energy source after glucose is depleted from exercise), leading to release of BDNF, associated with cognitive improvement. Researchers have found out how.
June 24, 2016

Exercise induces synthesis of a chemical called DBHB in the liver. In the hippocampus, DBHB induces Bdnf expression, which in turn has positive effects on memory, cognition and synaptic transmission. (credit: Sama F. Sleiman et al./eLife)

Physical exercise after learning improves memory and memory traces if the exercise is done four hours later, and not immediately after learning, according to findings recently reported (open-access) in the Cell Press journal Current Biology.

It’s not yet clear exactly how or why delayed exercise has this effect on memory. However, earlier studies of laboratory animals suggest that naturally occurring chemical compounds in the body known as catecholamines, including… read more

The ‘ultimate discovery tool’ for nanoparticles

Similar to what gene chips offer biology; could test billions of different nanoparticles at one time
June 24, 2016

ultimate-discovery-tool ft

The discovery power of the gene chip is coming to nanotechnology, as a Northwestern University research team develops a  tool to rapidly test millions — and perhaps even billions — of different nanoparticles at one time to zero in on the best nanoparticle for a specific use.

When materials are miniaturized, their properties — optical, structural, electrical, mechanical and chemical — change, offering new possibilities. But determining what nanoparticle… read more

The top 10 emerging technologies of 2016

June 23, 2016

nanosensors

The World Economic Forum’s annual list of this year’s breakthrough technologies, published today, includes “socially aware” openAI, grid-scale energy storage, perovskite solar cells, and other technologies with the potential to “transform industries, improve lives, and safeguard the planet.” The WEF’s specific interest is to “close gaps in investment and regulation.”

“Horizon scanning for emerging technologies is crucial to staying abreast of developments that can radically transform our world,… read more

Unexpected discovery reveals secret of how cancer spreads in the body

Could help develop treatments to prevent metastasis (awesome animated video)
June 23, 2016

primary tumor (credit: Barts Cancer Institute, QMUL)

Metastasis (spread of cancer) is one of the biggest challenges in cancer treatment. It is often not the original tumor that kills, but secondary growths. But a key question in cancer research has been how vulnerable cancer cells are able to survive once they break away from a tumor to spread around the body.

“Metastasis is currently incurable and remains one of the key targets of cancer research,” said… read more

Brain markers of numeric, verbal, and spatial reasoning abilities found

June 23, 2016

A new study found that higher concentrations of NAA (N-acetyl aspartate) in the medial parietal and posterior cingulate cortices of the brain were associated with better performance on verbal and spatial tests. NAA is a byproduct of glucose metabolism and an indicator of brain health. (credit: Graphic by Julie McMahon and Erick Paul)

A new study helps explain how brain structure and chemistry relate to “fluid intelligence” — the ability to adapt to new situations and solve problems one has never encountered before.

The study, reported in an open-access paper in the journal NeuroImage, observed two facets of fluid intelligence*:

  • Verbal or spatial reasoning was linked to higher concentrations of a compound called NAA (N-acetyl aspartate) in the medial parietal

read more

Real-time robot-motion planning

New processor can plan an optimal, energy-efficient robot motion path up to 10,000 times faster
June 21, 2016

New computer processor allows for fast, energy-efficient robot motion planning (credit: Duke Robotics)

Duke University researchers have designed a new computer processor that’s optimized for robot motion planning (for example, for quickly picking up and accurately moving an object in a cluttered environment while evading obstacles). The new processor can plan an optimal motion path up to 10,000 times faster than existing systems while using a small fraction of the required power.

The new processor is fast enough to plan… read more

How to convert graphene into a semiconductor for scalable production

Breakthrough in growing scalable one-dimensional graphene nanoribbons directly on wafers
June 21, 2016

Progressively magnified images of graphene nanoribbons grown on germanium semiconductor wafers. The ribbons automatically align perpendicularly. Scale bars, left to right, are 400, 10, and 1 nanometer. (credit: Image courtesy of Michael Arnold, University of Wisconsin-Madison)

Graphene can be transformed in the lab from a semimetal into a semiconductor if it is confined into nanoribbons narrower than 10 nm (with controlled orientation and edges), but scaling it up for commercial use has not been possible. Until now.

University of Wisconsin-Madison scientists have discovered how to synthesize narrow, long “one-dimensional” (1-D) nanoribbons (sub-10 nanometers wide) directly on a conventional germanium semiconductor wafer.

That narrow width is… read more

‘Holy grail’ of breast-cancer prevention in high-risk women may be in sight

June 21, 2016

Breast cancer prevention (credit: Walter and Eliza Hall Institute)

Australian researchers have discovered that an existing medication could have promise in preventing breast cancer in women carrying a faulty BRCA1 gene, who are at high risk of developing aggressive breast cancer.

Currently, many women with this mutation choose surgical removal of breast tissue and ovaries to reduce their chance of developing breast and ovarian cancer. Notably, in May 2013,… read more

First self-driving ‘cognitive’ vehicle uses IBM Watson Internet of Things

June 20, 2016

Olli (credit: Local Motors)

Local Motors, creator of the world’s first 3D-printed cars, has developed the first self-driving “cognitive” vehicle, using IBM Watson Internet of Things (IoT) for Automotive.

The vehicle, dubbed “Olli,” can carry up to 12 people. It uses IBM Watson and other systems to improve the passenger experience and allow natural interaction with the vehicle. Olli will be used on public roads locally in Washington DC and later… read more

More news

Latest blog posts

The Laws of Mixed Reality — without the rose-colored glasses

June 3, 2016

Matric Revolution ft

By John Rousseau

The future of human consciousness will be a hybrid affair. We will live and work in a ubiquitous computing environment, where physical reality and a pervasive digital layer mix seamlessly according to the logic of software and the richness of highly contextual data. This is mixed reality (MR) — and it will soon simply be reality: projected onto our mind’s eye, always on, always connected, and… read more

The trillion dollar question nobody is asking the presidential candidates

May 24, 2016

nuclear inventories ft

By , /The Conversation

As it seeks to modernize its nuclear arsenal, the United States faces a big choice, one which Barack Obama should ponder before his upcoming Hiroshima speech.

Should we spend a trillion dollars to replace each of our thousands of nuclear warheads with a more sophisticated substitute attached to a more lethal delivery system? Or… read more

By the year 2040, embryo selection could replace sex as the way most of us make babies

May 9, 2016

Gattaca - embryos ft

By Jamie Metzl (@JamieMetzl)

(Gattaca 1997)

Human reproduction is about to undergo a radical shift. Embryo selection, in connection with in-vitro fertilization (IVF), will help our species eliminate many genetic diseases, extend healthy lifespans, and enhance people’s overall well-being. Within 20 years, I predict that it will supplant sex as the way large numbers of us conceive of our children.

But while the embryo… read more

Robert Scoble: Life and Tech #48: A New Life 

May 5, 2016

Scoble

By Robert Scoble May 5, 2016

What a month it’s been since I wrote to you last.

I’ve been on a world tour, doing my homework, meeting influencers at conferences and startups. Since I last wrote you I’ve been to Pittsburgh, Quebec City, Napa, London, Palm Springs, New York, Mumbai, New Delhi and New Orleans. Next week I’ll be in Paris. Whew.… read more

Garage Biotech: New drugs using only a computer, the internet and free online data

May 5, 2016

garage startup ft

By
Director of UWA Centre for Software Practice, University of Western Australia

Pharmaceutical companies typically develop new drugs with thousands of staff and budgets that run into the billions of dollars. One estimate puts the cost of bringing a new drug to market at $2.6 billion with others suggesting that it could be double that cost at $5 billion.

One man, Professor Atulread more

In memory of Marvin Minsky [updated]

Originally published Jan. 25, 2016 --- AAAI/Sentient video tribute Mar. 22, 2016 added
April 27, 2016

Marvin Minsky 2008 (Wikimedia Commons)

Ray Kurzweil, January 25, 2016

When I was fourteen I wrote Marvin Minsky a letter asking to meet with him. He invited me to visit him at MIT and he spent hours with me as if he had nothing else to do.

When my daughter Amy was about eleven and we went out for a meal at the Harvest Restaurant in Cambridge with my wife Sonya and his… read more

The Science of Consciousness: Final 2016 conference program

March 25, 2016

TSC2016hires ft

April 25–30, 2016, Loews Ventana Canyon Resort, Tucson, Arizona

“To have a glimpse of what consciousness is would be the scientific achievement before which all others would pale.” – William James

After 23 years, the seminal conference “Toward a Science of Consciousness” is now simply “The Science of Consciousness.” But as consciousness cannot be observed, scientifically explained, nor commonly defined, is there now truly a science of consciousness’? Are we… read more

The Problem of AI Consciousness

March 18, 2016

(credit: Susan Schneider)

Some things in life cannot be offset by a mere net gain in intelligence.

The last few years have seen the widespread recognition that sophisticated AI is under development. Bill Gates, Stephen Hawking, and others warn of the rise of “superintelligent” machines: AIs that outthink the smartest humans in every domain, including common sense reasoning and social skills. Superintelligence could destroy us, they caution. In contrast, Ray Kurzweil, a… read more

Will this new ‘socially assistive robot’ from MIT Media Lab (or its progeny) replace teachers?

This impressive research raises troubling questions about possible future effects on children (and society) when combined with deep learning and immersive media
March 15, 2016 by Amara D. Angelica

Tega ft

Researchers in the Personal Robots Group at the MIT Media Lab, led by Cynthia Breazeal, PhD, have developed a powerful new “socially assistive” robot called Tega that senses the affective (emotional/feeling) state of a learner, and based on those cues, creates a personalized motivational strategy.

But what are the implications for the future of education … and society? (To be addressed in questions below.)

A… read more

Ray Kurzweil talks with host Neal deGrasse Tyson, PhD: on invention & immortality

part of the week long event series 7 Days of Genius at 92 Street Y
March 9, 2016

92 Street Y - A4

92 Street Y | 7 Days of Genius
Conversation on stage during the week long event series, held at the historic community center.

featured talk | Ray Kurzweil with host Neil DeGrasse Tyson, PhD — on Invention & Immortality

Inventor, author and futurist Ray Kurzweil is joined by astrophysicist and science communicator Neil deGrasse Tyson, PhD for a discussion of some of the biggest topics of our time. They explore… read more

Here’s how we could build a colony on an alien world

March 2, 2016

colony ft

By /The Conversation

If the human race is to survive in the long-run, we will probably have to colonise other planets. Whether we make the Earth uninhabitable ourselves or it simply reaches the natural end of its ability to support life, one day we will have to look for a new home.

Hollywood films such as The Martian and Interstellar give us a… read more

Ask Ray | Ethan Kurzweil debates the role of tech firms in personal privacy

business news report from C • NBC
February 27, 2016

privacy - A1

Dear readers,

My son Ethan Kurzweil — who is a partner at Bessemer Ventures Partners — tracks the future of web innovation, social and legal concerns about privacy, and start-ups who have an edge with their business or consumer applications, like team sourcing or software-as-a-service.

He appeared on C • NBC business affairs show Power Lunch. Episode debated the recent news about the US government and law enforcement… read more

Robert Scoble: Life and Tech #42: Learning from Blab.im’s Founder and CEO

February 26, 2016

Scoble

By Robert Scoble Feb. 25, 2016

“Focus beats resources every day of the week.” That’s what Shaan Puri told me when I met with him this week. He’s the founder and CEO of Blab.im, a video chat service that has gotten fairly popular quickly. For instance, he says that every big Google+ Hangout show has already moved to Blab.

Check… read more

Something mechanical in something living

The mechanical comic vs. BigDog
February 22, 2016

venus bot

By Gregg Murray

Why do people find Army robot BigDog creepy but C-3PO funny? It’s not just because BigDog lugs around equipment for killing people and C-3PO delivers whimsical one-liners. Okay, that may be part of it.

In the 1970s, roboticist Masahiro Mori, building upon a fascinating essay of Sigmund Freud, suggested that as robots become more human-like they induce an increasingly eerie response from human… read more

Robert Scoble: Internet of Things Comes to the Masses

February 12, 2016

Scoble

By Robert Scoble Feb. 4, 2016

Internet of Things, aka “IoT” is all the rage. You know, all these new connected things like Nest thermostats, Hue lights, digital door locks and other devices that have lights, sensors, motors or switches, along with a small computer and are connected to the Internet.

On Monday (Feb. 8), building IoT-based devices is going to get a lot easier… read more

More blog posts

@KurzweilAINews

close and return to Home