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How to build your own bio-bot

Building blocks for the biomachines of the future
February 14, 2017

Bio-bot design inspired by the muscle-tendon-bone complex found in the human body, with 3D-printed flexible skeleton. Optical stimulation of the muscle tissue (orange), which is genetically engineered to contract in response to blue light, makes the bio-bot walk across a surface in the direction of the light. (credit: Ritu Raman et al./Nature Protocols)

For the past several years, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have reverse-engineered native biological tissues and organs — creating tiny walking “bio-bots” powered by muscle cells and controlled with electrical and optical pulses.

Now, in an open-access cover paper in Nature Protocols, the researchers are sharing a protocol with engineering details for their current generation of millimeter-scale soft robotic bio-bots*.

Using 3D-printed skeletons, these… read more

Terahertz wireless could lead to fiber-optics speed in-flight and mobile metropolitan internet

February 14, 2017

Terahertz wireless links to spaceborne satellites could make gigabit-per-second connection speeds available to anyone anytime, anywhere on the face of the earth, on the ground or in flight (credit: Fujishima et al./Hiroshima University)

Hiroshima University researchers and associates have developed a terahertz* (THz) transmitter capable of transmitting digital data over a single channel at a speed of 105 gigabits per second (Gbps), and demonstrated the technology at the International Solid-State Circuits Conference (ISSCC) 2017 conference last week.

For perspective, that’s more than 100 times faster than the fastest (1 Gbps) internet connection in the U.S. or more than 3,000… read more

Scientists create first 3-D synchronized-beating heart tissue

February 8, 2017

3-D tissue imaged using 3-D fluorescent imaging, where many cells laid down sequentially to make attached layers of alternating cell types like membranes in the human body. (credit: York University)

York University scientists have created the first in vitro (lab) 3D heart tissue made from three different types of cardiac cells that beat in synchronized harmony. It may lead to better understanding of cardiac health and improved treatments.*

The researchers constructed the heart tissue from three free-beating rat cell types: contractile cardiac muscle cells, connective tissue cells, and vascular cells. No external scaffold was used and the… read more

New machine-learning algorithms may revolutionize drug discovery — and our understanding of life

February 8, 2017

A new set of machine learning algorithms developed at U of T Scarborough that can generate 3-D structures of tiny protein molecules may revolutionize the development of drug therapies for a range of diseases. (credit: Structura Biotechnology Inc)

A new set of machine-learning algorithms developed by researchers at the University of Toronto Scarborough can generate 3D structures of nanoscale protein molecules that could not be achieved in the past. The algorithms may revolutionize the development of new drug therapies for a range of diseases and may even lead to better understand how life works at the atomic level, the researchers say.

Drugs work by binding to a… read more

First stable semisynthetic organism created

Scientists hope to "impart life with new forms and functions"
February 3, 2017

DNA --- now with a new base pair! (credit: Romesberg Lab)

Scientists at The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) have developed the first stable semisynthetic organism — a bacterium with two new synthetic bases (called X and Y) added to the four natural bases (A, T, C, and G) that every living organism possesses. Adding two more letters to expand the genetic alphabet can be used to make novel proteins for new therapeutics, according to the researchers.

All life… read more

Beneficial AI conference develops ‘Asilomar AI principles’ to guide future AI research

February 3, 2017

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At the Beneficial AI 2017 conference, January 5–8 held at a conference center in Asilomar, California — a sequel to the 2015 AI Safety conference in Puerto Rico — the Future of Life Institute (FLI) brought together more 100 AI researchers from academia and industry and thought leaders in economics, law, ethics, and philosophy to… read more

Brain-computer interface enables completely locked-in patients to communicate for the first time

Reveal they are happy and want to live
February 2, 2017

NIRS/EEG brain computer interface system shown on a model (credit: Wyss Center for Bio and Neuroengineering)

Four advanced ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis) patients who were “completely locked in” (totally unable to communicate) for years have suddenly broken through in a lab at the Wyss Center for Bio and Neuroengineering in Geneva, Switzerland — communicating a “yes” or “no” by simply thinking the answers.

The brain–computer interface (BCI) system achieved this remarkable breakthrough by using functional near-infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS) to measure changes in blood… read more

Carnegie Mellon AI beats top poker pros — a first

Another major milestone in artificial intelligence
January 31, 2017

"Brains vs Artificial Intelligence" competition at the Rivers Casino in Pittsburgh (credit: Carnegie Mellon University)

Libratus, an AI developed by Carnegie Mellon University, has defeated four of the world’s best professional poker players in a marathon 120,000 hands of Heads-up, No-Limit Texas Hold’em poker played over 20 days, CMU announced today (Jan. 31) — joining Deep Blue (for chess), Watson, and Alpha Go as major milestones in AI.

Libratus led the pros by a collective $1,766,250 in chips.* The tournament was held… read more

Mayo Clinic researchers find mentally stimulating activities after age 70 associated with lower new cognitive-impairment risk

January 31, 2017

Mentally stimulating activities in late life found associated with decreased risk of mild cognitive impairment (credit: Mayo Clinic)

Mayo Clinic researchers have found that engaging in mentally stimulating activities, even after age 70, was associated with decreased risk of new-onset mild cognitive impairment (the intermediate stage between normal cognitive aging and dementia) over an average study period of 4 years.

The study discovered that for cognitively normal people 70 or older, the risk of new-onset mild cognitive impairment decreased by 30 percent with computer use,… read more

Soft robotic sleeve developed to aid failing hearts

Could be implanted to restore blood circulation
January 27, 2017

A soft robotic sleeve placed around the heart in a pig model of acute heart failure. The actuators embedded in the sleeve support heart function by mimicking the outer heart muscles that induce the heart to beat. (credit: Harvard SEAS)

An international team of scientists has developed a soft robotic sleeve that can be implanted on the external surface of the heart to restore blood circulation in pigs (and possibly humans in the future) whose hearts have stopped beating.

The device is a silicone-based system with two layers of actuators: one that squeezes circumferentially and one that squeezes diagonally, both designed to mimic the movement of healthy hearts when… read more

Scientists use stem cells to create human/pig chimera embryos

Research promises to test therapeutic drugs, possibly grow transplantable organs
January 27, 2017

This photograph shows injection of human iPS cells into a pig blastocyst. A laser beam (green circle with a red cross inside) was used to perforate an opening to the outer membrane (Zona Pellucida) of the pig blastocyst to allow easy access of an injection needle delivering human iPS cells. (credit: Courtesy of Juan Carlos Izpisua Belmonte)

In an open-access paper published online January 26, 2017 in the journal CellSalk Institute researchers report breakthroughs on multiple fronts in the race to integrate stem cells from one species into the early-stage development of another species (or chimeras**).

Scientists are still struggling to coax stem cells growing in Petri dishes to become fully functional specialized adult cells, the researchers report. “The ultimate goal… read more

These may be the last glasses you will ever need to buy

January 27, 2017

Early prototype of 'smart glasses' with liquid-based lenses that can automatically adjust the focus on what a person is seeing, whether it is far away or close up. The lenses are placed in battery-powered frames that can automatically adjust the focal length of the lenses based on what the wearer is looking at. Researchers expect to have smaller, lighter frames with the technology in as early as three years. (credit: Dan Hixson/University of Utah College of Engineering)

Don’t throw away your bifocals or multiple glasses yet, but those days might soon be over. A team led by University of Utah engineers has created “smart glasses” with liquid-based lenses that can automatically adjust the focus on what you’re seeing, at any distance.

They’ve created eyeglass lenses made of glycerin, a thick colorless liquid, enclosed by flexible rubber-like membranes in the front and back. The rear… read more

Scientists discover precise DNA sequence code critical for turning genes on

Geneticists solve a decades-long puzzle about how genes are turned on to make cellular proteins
January 27, 2017

human Initiator ft

Molecular biologists at the University of California, San Diego (UC San Diego) have discovered a short sequence of DNA that is essential for turning on (expressing proteins) more than half of all human genes — an achievement that should provide scientists with a better understanding of how human genes are regulated.

Knowing what turns on genes is important. Each human cell contains about six feet of DNA, a double-helical molecular… read more

A deep learning algorithm outperforms some board-certified dermatologists in diagnosis of skin cancer

January 25, 2017

A dermatologist uses a dermatoscope, a type of handheld microscope, to look at skin. Computer scientists at Stanford have created an artificially intelligent diagnosis algorithm for skin cancer that matched the performance of board-certified dermatologists. (Image credit: Matt Young)

Deep learning has been touted for its potential to enhance the diagnosis of diseases, and now a team of researchers at Stanford has developed a deep-learning algorithm that may make this vision a reality for skin cancer.*

The researchers, led by Dr. Sebastian Thrun, an adjunct professor at the Stanford Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, reported in the January 25 issue of Nature that their deep convolutional neural network (CNN) algorithm… read more

A 3D bioprinter that prints fully functional human skin

January 24, 2017

3d skin bioprinter ft

A prototype 3D bioprinter that can create totally functional human skin has been developed by scientists from Universidad Carlos III de Madrid (UC3M) and BioDan Group in Spain. The skin has been used to treat burns as well as traumatic and surgical wounds in a large number of patients in Spain, according to the scientists.

The system provides two processes.

Autologous skin (from… read more

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Future of Life Institute | Ray Kurzweil speaks at Beneficial AI event

video presentations on artificial intelligence futures
February 8, 2017

Future of Life Institute - B1

Dear readers,

I participated in the well organized Future of Life Institute event called Beneficial Artificial Intelligence • 2017 — exploring how we can develop advanced future tech to benefit humanity and avoid risks.

The event gathered many top technologists, policy makers, and executives. I gave several talks, which you can view below. At the event, I also participated in forming the Asilomar AI Principles: 23 guidelines to… read more

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

Death Star ft

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

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

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