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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

Blocking pain by turning off specific neurons with light

May be an effective alternative to pain medication, such as the opiate percocet taken by Prince
April 22, 2016

Optogenetic inhibition of neurons (credit: McGovern Institute for Brain Research/MIT)

McGill University researchers have discovered an effective alternative to pain medication (such as the opiate percocet that Prince was reportedly taking): optogenetics — using light to control cells (such as neurons) in living tissue.

The scientists bred mice that were genetically engineered, causing specific peripheral neurons responsible for pain transmission to express an opsin (light-sensitive protein). (See Optogenetics switch turns neurons on and off and… read more

How to make the world’s fastest flexible silicon transistor

Engineers fabricate high-performance transistors with wireless capabilities using a radical fabrication method based on huge rolls of flexible plastic. "We don’t want to make them the way the semiconductor industry does now."
April 21, 2016

World’s fastest silicon-based flexible transistors, shown here on a plastic substrate (credit: Jung-Hun Seo/UW–Madison)

A team headed by University of Wisconsin—Madison engineers has fabricated a flexible transistor that operates at a record 38 gigahertz, but may be able to operate at 110 gigahertz.

The process could allow manufacturers to easily and cheaply fabricate high-performance transistors with wireless capabilities, using a radical fabrication method based on huge rolls of flexible plastic.

The new transistor can also transmit data or transfer power wirelessly, which… read more

A battery you never have to replace

New nanowire-based battery material can be recharged hundreds of thousands of times
April 21, 2016

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University of California, Irvine researchers have invented a new nanowire-based battery material that can be recharged hundreds of thousands of times, moving us closer to a battery that would never require replacement.

It could lead to commercial batteries with greatly lengthened lifespans for computers, smartphones, appliances, cars, and spacecraft.

The design is based on nanowires, which are highly conductive and feature a large surface area for… read more

You can now be identified by your ‘brainprint’ with 100% accuracy

Could one day replace fingerprints; initial use likely to be high-security locations
April 21, 2016

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Binghamton University researchers have developed a biometric identification method called Cognitive Event-RElated Biometric REcognition (CEREBRE) for identifying an individual’s unique “brainprint.” They recorded the brain activity of 50 subjects wearing an electroencephalograph (EEG) headset while looking at selected images from a set of 500 images.

The researchers found that participants’ brains reacted uniquely to each image — enough so that a computer system that analyzed the different… read more

Scientists shoot anticancer drugs deep into tumors

Ultrasonic vibrations cause gas microbubbles to explode, releasing nanoparticles containing anticancer drugs
April 18, 2016

Schematic of magnetic microbubbles used in the study contain gas cores (blue) and shells of magnetic iron-oxide nanoparticles (red), forming a dense shell (center) around a drug-containing nanoparticles. When stimulated by ultrasound at resonant frequencies, the nanoparticles can travel hundreds of micrometers into tumor tissue.  (credit:  Yu Gao et al./NPG Asia Materials)

Scientists at Nanyang Technological University (NTU Singapore) have invented a new way to deliver cancer drugs deep into tumor cells.

They created micro-sized gas bubbles coated with anticancer drug particles embedded in iron oxide nanoparticles and used MRI or other magnetic sources to direct these microbubbles to gather around a specific tumor. Then they used ultrasound to vibrate the microbubbles, providing the energy to direct the drug particles into… read more

Super-stretchy, self-healing material could lead to artificial muscle

April 18, 2016

An extremely stretchable polymer film that can repair itself when punctured, suggesting potential applications in artificial muscle (credit: Bao Research Group)

Stanford researchers have developed a new material that can stretch to 100 times its original length by exposing it to an electric field, and even repair itself if punctured, making it potentially useful as an artificial muscle.

Artificial muscles currently have applications in some consumer technology and robotics, but small holes or defects in the materials currently used make them less resilient, and they can’t self-repair if punctured or scratched,… read more

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Latest blog posts

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

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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

Report by Robert Scoble from CES

January 15, 2016

Scoble

By Robert Scoble Jan. 14, 2016

CES wrapped up last week and I can say it was the best one I’ve seen in a decade. Three big stories jumped out this year:

1. VR.
2. Self driving cars.
3. AR.

Inc Magazine (er, Joel Comm) interviewed me after CES and I gave them the rundown.

For

read more

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