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The world’s tiniest, most powerful nanoengine

Could lead to nanorobots small enough to enter living cells to fight disease
May 3, 2016

Expanding polymer-coated gold nanoparticles (credit: Yi Ju/University of Cambridge NanoPhotonics)

University of Cambridge researchers have developed the world’s tiniest engine, capable of a force per unit-weight nearly 100 times higher* than any motor or muscle.

The new nano-engines could lead to nanorobots small enough to enter living cells to fight disease, the researchers say.

Professor Jeremy Baumberg from the Cavendish Laboratory, who led the research, has named the devices “actuating nanotransducers” (ANTs). “Like real ants, they produce large… read more

Astronomers discover potentially habitable planets just 40 light years from Earth

Best targets so far for search for extraterrestrial life
May 3, 2016

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Astronomers have detected three exoplanets just 40 light years from Earth whose sizes and temperatures are comparable to those of Earth. The planets may be the best targets found so far for the search for life outside the solar system.

The results were published Monday (May 2) in the journal Nature.

Because the system is relatively close to Earth, co-author Julien de Wit, a postdoc at MIT, says scientists… read more

IBM makes quantum computing available free on IBM Cloud

You can run real or simulated experiments on an IBM quantum processor
May 3, 2016

Layout of IBM's five superconducting quantum bit device. In 2015, IBM scientists demonstrated critical breakthroughs to detect quantum errors by combining superconducting qubits in latticed arrangements, and whose quantum circuit design is the only physical architecture that can scale to larger dimensions. Now, IBM scientists have achieved a further advance by combining five qubits in the lattice architecture, which demonstrates a key operation known as a parity measurement – the basis of many quantum error correction protocols. (credit: IBM Research)

IBM Research has announced that effective Wednesday May 4, it is making quantum computing available free to members of the public, who can access and run experiments on IBM’s quantum processor, via the IBM Cloud, from any desktop or mobile device.

IBM believes quantum computing is the future of computing and has the potential to solve certain problems that are impossible to solve on today’s supercomputers.

The… read more

Harold Cohen: in memoriam

Artist and pioneer in the field of computer-generated art
May 2, 2016

By Paul Cohen

Harold Cohen, artist and pioneer in the field of computer-generated art, died on April 27, 2016 at the age of 87. Cohen is the author of AARON, perhaps the longest-lived and certainly the most creative artificial intelligence program in daily use.

Cohen viewed AARON as his collaborator. At times during their decades-long relationship, AARON was quite autonomous, responsible for the composition, coloring and other aspects… read more

Skull echoes could become the new passwords for augmented-reality glasses

May 2, 2016

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German researchers have developed a biometric system called SkullConduct that uses bone conduction of sound through the user’s skull for secure user identification and authentication on augmented-reality glasses, such as Google Glass, Meta 2, and HoloLens.

SkullConduct uses the microphone already built into many of these devices and adds electronics (such as a chip) to analyze the frequency response of sound after it travels through the user’s skull. The… read more

Deep neural networks that identify shapes nearly as well as humans

You're in your self-driving car, with heavy rain and poor visibility. All of a sudden, a blurred shape appears on the road. What should the car do?
April 29, 2016

(credit: Google)

Deep neural networks (DNNs) are capable of learning to identify shapes, so “we’re on the right track in developing machines with a visual system and vocabulary as flexible and versatile as ours,” say KU Leuven researchers.

“For the first time, a dramatic increase in performance has been observed on object and scene categorization tasks, quickly reaching performance levels rivaling humans,” they note in an open-access paper in… read more

Scientists turn skin cells into heart and brain cells using only drugs — no stem cells required

Closer to the natural regeneration that happens in animals like newts and salamanders and no medical-safety and embryo concerns
April 29, 2016

Neurons created from chemically-induced neural stem cells. The cells were created from skin cells that were reprogrammed into neural stem cells using a cocktail of only nine chemicals. This is the first time cellular reprogramming has been accomplished without adding external genes to the cells. (credit: Mingliang Zhang, PhD, Gladstone Institutes)

Scientists at the Gladstone Institutes have used chemicals to transform skin cells into heart cells and brain cells, instead of adding external genes — making this accomplishment a breakthrough, according to the scientists.

The research lays the groundwork for one day being able to regenerate lost or damaged cells directly with pharmaceutical drugs — a more efficient and reliable method to reprogram cells and one that avoids medical concerns… read more

Ultrasound allows for transmitting HD video through animal tissues

Imagine a miniature remote-controlled HD video camera that streams live video from a patient's intestines to a physician
April 27, 2016

Beef liver and pork loin were used to represent the density and moisture content found in human tissue (credit: UIUC)

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign engineers have demonstrated real-time video-rate (>30Mbps) “meat comm” data transmission through tissue, which could mean in-body ultrasonic communications may be possible for implanted medical devices, including hi-def video.

For example, a patient could swallow a miniaturized HD video camera that could stream live to an external screen, with the orientation of the device controlled wirelessly and externally by a physician, according to Andrewread more

Just 1 minute of intense exercise produces health benefits similar to 50 minutes of moderate exercise

No time to exercise? Now you have no excuse.
April 27, 2016

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Researchers at McMaster University have found that a single minute of very intense exercise within a 10-minute session produces health benefits similar to those from 50 minutes of moderate-intensity continuous exercise.

Brief bursts of intense exercise are remarkably effective, a very time-efficient workout strategy, according to Martin Gibala, a professor of kinesiology at McMaster and lead author on the study, published online in an open-access paper in the… read more

Public beta of toolkit for developing machine learning for robots and games released

April 27, 2016

Make a three-dimensional bipedal robot walk forward as fast as possible, without falling over (credit: OpenAI Gym)

OpenAI (a non-profit AI research company sponsored by Elon Musk and others) has released the public beta of OpenAI Gym, a toolkit for developing and comparing algorithms for reinforcement learning (RL), a type of machine learning.

OpenAI Gym consists of a growing suite of environments (from simulated robots to Atari games), and a site for comparing and reproducing results. OpenAI Gym is compatible with algorithms written in any… read more

Artificial protein controls first self-assembly of C60 fullerenes

New discovery expected to lead to new materials with properties such as higher strength, lighter weight, and greater chemical reactivity, resulting in applications ranging from medicine to energy and electronics
April 26, 2016

Gevorg Grigoryan, an assistant professor of computer science at Dartmouth College, and his collaborators have created an artificial protein that self-organizes into a new material -- an atomically periodic lattice of buckminster fullerene molecules, or buckyball, a sphere-like molecule composed of 60 carbon atoms shaped like a soccer ball. (credit: St Stev via Foter.com / CC BY-NC-ND)

A Dartmouth College scientist and his collaborators* have created the first high-resolution co-assembly between a protein and buckminsterfullerene (C60), aka fullerene and buckyball (a sphere-like molecule composed of 60 carbon atoms and shaped like a soccer ball).

“This is a proof-of-principle study demonstrating that proteins can be used as effective vehicles for organizing nanomaterials by design,” says senior author Gevorg Grigoryan, an assistant professor of computer… read more

Do you trust robots?

What's missing is human-factors studies, say MIT Professor Emeritus Thomas B. Sheridan
April 26, 2016

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Trust in robots is a critical component in safety that requires study, says MIT Professor Emeritus Thomas B. Sheridan in an open-access study published in Human Factors journal.

For decades, he has studied humans and automation and in each case, he noted significant human factors challenges — particularly concerning safety. He looked at self-driving cars and highly automated transit systems; routine tasks such as the delivery of packages… read more

Micro-needle insertion into hippocampus stimulates brain regeneration in animal model of AD

Also improved performance on memory task and reduced beta-amyloid plaques (a hallmark of Alzheimer's disease)
April 25, 2016

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Sticking a needle into the hippocampus of mice modeled with Alzheimer’s disease (AD) improved performance on memory tasks, stimulated regenerative activity, and reduced β-amyloid plaques (a hallmark of AD). This area was chosen because the early and primary damage by AD appears to take place in the hippocampus.

Until recently, many diseases of the central nervous system could not be treated by this method because of inaccessibility of the… read more

System predicts 85 percent of cyber attacks using input from human experts

Merging human and machine intelligence reduces false positives by factor of 5
April 25, 2016

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Researchers from MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) and the machine-learning startup PatternEx have developed an AI platform called AI2 that predicts cyber-attacks significantly better than existing systems by continuously incorporating input from human experts (AI2 refers to merging AI with “analyst intuition”:  rules created by living experts).

The team showed that AI2 can detect 85 percent of attacks —about three times better than previous benchmarks —… read more

Machine learning rivals human skills in cancer detection

April 22, 2016

Samsung Medison RS80A ultrasound system (credit: Samsung)

Two announcements yesterday (April 21) suggest that deep learning algorithms rival human skills in detecting cancer from ultrasound images and in identifying cancer in pathology reports.

Samsung Medison, a global medical equipment company and an affiliate of Samsung Electronics, has just updated its RS80A ultrasound imaging system with a deep learning algorithm for breast-lesion analysis.

The “S-Detect for Breast” feature uses big data collected… read more

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Homo Sapiens 2.0? We need a species-wide conversation about the future of human genetic enhancement

May 2, 2016

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By Jamie Metzl (@JamieMetzl)

McGovern Institute for Brain Research at MIT | Genome Editing with CRISPR-Cas9

After 4 billion years of evolution by one set of rules, our species is about to begin evolving by another.

Overlapping and mutually reinforcing revolutions in genetics, information technology, artificial intelligence, big data analytics, and other fields are providing the tools that will make it possible to genetically alter our future… read 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

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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

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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

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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

NPR | Marvin Minsky, who pioneered artificial intelligence research, dies at age 88

host Robert Siegel of All Things Considered speaks to Ray Kurzweil
February 5, 2016

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NPR’s Robert Siegel speaks to Ray Kurzweil, the inventor and futurist, and founder of Kurzweil Technologies, about Marvin Minsky, PhD.

Minsky, who was a founding father of artificial intelligence, has died at the age of 88. Kurzweil is a Director of Engineering at Google.

NPR | All Things Considered
episode title | Marvin Minsky who pioneered artificial intelligence research dies at the age of… read more

announcement | Special invitation to apply to Singularity University, featuring full tuition grant

letter from Ray Kurzweil + Peter Diamandis
February 2, 2016

Singularity University - B1

A special invitation from the founders of Singularity University.

Dear readers,

We’re putting out the call for brilliant entrepreneurs, age 21 and older, who want to enroll in Singularity University’s Global Solutions Program — called GSP.

The GSP is where you’ll take your existing start-up idea, or a new one you create, and build it into a Ten to the Ninth plus company that can positively impact… read more

Am I bot or not?

Deconstructing the "uncanny valley"
January 27, 2016

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By Gregg Murray

Before IBM’s Deep Blue made it cool, there was a chess-playing computer. In the late 18th century and into the 19th, it wowed incredulous audiences who couldn’t tell, though many suspected, that a human was somehow behind it. For these Western European spectators, the machine’s Turkish-inspired dress added to their perverse questioning of its humanness. History refers to this false automaton as the… read more

Ray Kurzweil keynote and panel at Nobel Week Dialog from the Nobel Prize

January 21, 2016

Nobel Prize - B3

Dear readers,

I had the honor of speaking on the future of technology at the Nobel Prize gatherings in Gothenburg, Sweden. Every year, the Nobel Prize picks a theme of interest to the world on the state of sciences in different arenas. This year’s theme was the future of intelligence, with a focus on different technologies that are changing our ability to see and understand large sets of information… read more

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