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Scientists track amazing restoration of communication in ‘minimally conscious’ patient

A severely brain-injured woman shocks doctors when she starts to communicate using her left eye. Encouraged by her mother and doctors, who believe she is "there," over time, Margaret learns to communicate --- even producing paintings with her mother’s hand guiding her and attending a class reunion.
December 10, 2016

Nancy Worthen is doing art therapy with her daughter, Maggie, who was minimally conscious. (credit: Nancy Worthen)

In a three-year study of a severely brain-injured woman’s remarkable recovery, doctors measured aspects of brain structure and function before and after recovering communication, a first — raising the question: could other minimally responsive or unresponsive chronic-care patients also regain organized, higher-level brain function?

Challenging what neurologists thought was possible, the pioneering study by Weill Cornell Medicine scientists was published Dec. 7 in Science Translational Medicine.

It… read more

Trump considering libertarian reformer to head FDA

Peter Thiel associate advocates anti-aging medicine and patient freedom to use new drugs found safe, at their own risk
December 10, 2016

(credit: Seasteading Institute)

President-elect Donald Trump’s transition team is considering libertarian Silicon Valley investor Jim O’Neill, a Peter Thiel associate, to head the Food and Drug Administration, Bloomberg Politics has reported.

O’Neill, the Managing Director of Mithril Capital Management LLC, doesn’t have a medical background, but served in the George W. Bush administration as principal associate deputy secretary at the Department of Health and Human Services.… read more

A machine-learning system that trains itself by surfing the web

And so it begins ...
December 8, 2016

newspaper

MIT researchers have designed a new machine-learning system that can learn by itself to extract text information for statistical analysis when available data is scarce.

This new “information extraction” system turns machine learning on its head. It works like humans do. When we run out of data in a study (say, differentiating between fake and real news), we simply search the Internet for more data, and then… read more

Implantable device targets cancer, other illnesses with controlled long-term drug delivery

5000 nanochannels control release; can deliver medicinal doses for several days or a few weeks, also effective for HIV and damaged joints
December 2, 2016

This diagram describes how the device Dr. Hood helped to develop is implanted into a cancerous tumor. (credit: Lyle Hood/UTSA)

A new drug-delivery system based on an tiny implantable capsule could “revolutionize” the delivery of medicine to treat cancer and a host of other diseases and ailments, according to researchers at The University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA).

“The problem with most drug-delivery systems is that you have a specific minimum dosage of medicine that you need to take for it to be effective,” said… read more

Disney Research wants to make VR haptics as immersive as visuals

Adding the missing dimension in VR: body sensations
December 2, 2016

VR haptics ft

Disney Research has developed a 360-degree virtual-reality app that enables users to enhance their experience by adding customized haptic (body sensations) effects that can be triggered by user movements, biofeedback, or timelines.

A team led by Ali Israr, senior research engineer at Disney Research, has demonstrated the haptic plugin using a unique chair to provide full body sensations and a library of “feel… read more

Triggered by ultrasound, microbubbles open the blood-brain barrier to administer drugs without harming other areas of the body

December 2, 2016

Microbubbles with the fluorescent substance in their lipid coating, from which the effect of the ultrasound causes them to be released into the desired area of the brain. (credit: UEIL, C. Sierra et al.)

Using ultrasound to bypass the blood-brain barrier (BBB), Columbia University researchers have succeeded in releasing drugs only in the specific area of the brain where they are needed — not in the rest of the body. The goal is to help treat Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, and other neurodegenerative diseases without collateral damage.

The BBB is an impassable obstacle for 98% of drugs, which it treats as pathogens and… read more

Tracking large neural networks in the brain by making neurons glow

November 30, 2016

Individual neuron glowing with bioluminescent light produced by a new genetically engineered sensor. (credit: Johnson Lab, Vanderbilt University)

A new kind of bioluminescent sensor developed by Vanderbilt scientists causes individual brain cells to glow in the dark, giving neuroscientists a new tool to track what’s happening in large neural networks in the brain.

The sensor is a genetically modified form of luciferase, the enzyme that fireflies and other species use to produce light.

Traditional electrical techniques for recording the activity of neurons are limited… read more

Electric current and antiobiotic kill multidrug-resistant bacteria in biofilms

November 30, 2016

e-scaffold-treated biofilm cells ft

A Washington State University research team has successfully used a mild electric current combined with an antibiotic to kill multidrug-resistant pseudomonas aeruginosa PAO1 bacteria in a lab-cultured biofilm.

These bacteria are responsible for chronic and serious infections in people with lung diseases, such as cystic fibrosis, and in chronic wounds. They also often cause pneumonia for people who are on ventilators and infections in burn… read more

Smart skin patch releases blood thinners in closed-loop control system

Prevents both thrombosis and spontaneous hemorrhaging; no need for patients to test blood on a regular basis
November 30, 2016

The thrombin-responsive microneedle patch is made of heparin-modified hyaluronic acid. (credit: Yuqi Zhang)

North Carolina researchers have developed a smart skin patch designed to monitor a patient’s blood and release a blood-thinning drug, as needed, to prevent thrombosis (dangerous blood clots).

Thrombosis — one of the leading causes of cardiovascular mortalities and morbidities worldwide — occurs when blood clots disrupt the normal flow of blood in the body, which can cause severe health problems such as pulmonary embolism, heart attack, or stroke.… read more

Caltech scientists use bacterial protein to merge silicon and carbon and create new organosilicon compounds

Could lead to products that are more environmentally friendly and potentially much less expensive; raises questions about alien lifeforms
November 25, 2016

organosilicon-based life ft

Scientists at Caltech have “bred” a bacterial protein with the ability to make silicon-carbon bonds, with applications in several industries — something only chemists could do before. The research was published in the Nov. 24 issue of the journal Science.

Molecules with silicon-carbon (organosilicon) compounds are found in pharmaceuticals and many other products, including agricultural chemicals, paints, semiconductors, and computer and TV screens. Currently, these products are made… read more

Battery breakthrough charges in seconds, lasts for a week

November 25, 2016

Supercapacitor prototype showing flexible design (credit: ACS Nano)

University of Central Florida researchers have developed a radical new supercapacitor design that could one day replace lithium-ion batteries, allowing users to charge a mobile phone in a few seconds and with a charge that lasts a week, according to the researchers. The new battery would be flexible and a fraction of the size of a lithium-ion battery.

The proof-of-concept design is based on a hybrid supercapacitor composed of… read more

New neural-network algorithm learns directly from human instructions instead of examples

November 25, 2016

Conventional neural-network image-recognition algorithm trained to recognize human hair (left), compared to the more precise heuristically trained algorithm (right) (credit: Wenzhangzhi Guo and Parham Aarabi/IEEE Trans NN & LS)

A new machine learning algorithm designed by University of Toronto researchers Parham Aarabi and Wenzhi Guo learns directly from human instructions, rather than an existing set of examples, as in traditional neural networks. In tests, it outperformed existing neural networks by 160 per cent.

Their “heuristically trained neural networks” (HNN) algorithm also outperformed its own training by nine per cent — it learned to recognize hair in… read more

Google’s new multilingual Neural Machine Translation System can translate between language pairs even though it has never been taught to do so

Machine translation breakthrough has been implemented for 103 languages
November 25, 2016

Google Neural Machine Translation1

Google researchers have announced they have implemented a neural machine translation system in Google Translate that improves translation quality and enables “Zero-Shot Translation” — translation between language pairs never seen explicitly by the system.

For example, in the animation above, the system was trained to translate bidirectionally between English and Japanese and between English and Korean. But the new system can also translate between Japanese and… read more

New unique brain ‘fingerprint’ method can identify a person with nearly 100% accuracy

Could provide biomarkers to help researchers determine how factors such as disease, the environment, and different experiences impact the brain and change over time
November 18, 2016

local connectome fingerprint

Researchers have “fingerprinted” the white matter of the human brain using a new diffusion MRI method, mapping the brain’s connections (the connectome) at a more detailed level than ever before. They confirmed that structural connections in the brain are unique to each individual person and the connections were able to identify a person with nearly 100% accuracy.

The new method could provide biomarkers to help researchers… read more

This tiny electronic device applied to the skin can pick up heart and speech sounds

November 18, 2016

Researchers from the University of Colorado Boulder and Northwestern University have developed a tiny, soft, wearable acoustic sensor that measures vibrations in the human body and can be used to monitor human heart health and recognize spoken words.

The stretchable Band-aid-like device attaches to the skin on nearly any surface of the body, using “epidermal electronics” to capture sound signals from the body.

It’s… read more

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Latest blog posts

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

Black Mirror Twitter ft

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

short story - A1

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

switching-station transformers ft

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

Roko's Basilica ft

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

seeing radio waves ft

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

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

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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

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