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Growing new brains with infrared light [exclusive]

May 24, 2013

Illustration of the "neuronal beacon" for guiding axon growth direction (credit: B. Black et al./Optics Letters)

University of Texas, Arlington, scientists have discovered a way to control the growth or repair of neurons and neuron circuits, using a non-invasive “neuronal beacon” (near-IR laser beam) — essentially rewiring brains, or even creating new ones.

This major discovery, just published today in Optics Letters, promises to enable several new applications, UT Arlington assistant professor of physics Samarendra Mohanty said in an exclusive interview with KurzweilAI:

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    Vicarious announces $15 million funding for AI software based on the brain

    August 24, 2012


    Vicarious FPC Inc, an artificial intelligence company that uses the computational principles of the brain to build software that can think and learn like a human, has announced a $15M Series A round of financing for development of machine learning software based on the computational principles of the human brain.

    The research at Vicarious is expected to have broad implications for robotics, medical image analysis, image and video… read more

    Another augmented-reality glasses design emerges

    October 1, 2012


    EPFL scientists in the Laboratory of Photonic Devices are developing a prototype of a pair of augmented-reality glasses that are similar to Google Glass.

    A mini-projector on the frames projects a holographic image on the lens.

    One technical challenges is to allow the user to simultaneously see the information displayed on the lenses — which are too close to the eye for… read more

    The future of online vs. residential education

    October 8, 2012

    In this correspondence (posted with permission), Ray Kurzweil and MIT president L. Rafael Reif discuss the future of online education and its impacts on residential education. Also see the three related posts today (below). — Ed.

    Hi Rafael,

    I enjoyed your insightful piece in today’s WSJ on the emergence and future of online education. It eloquently makes the point that online teaching is here to stay. But I… read more

    Piggy-backing proteins ride white blood cells to destroy metastasizing cancer

    “Unnatural killer cells" zap circulating tumor cells in the bloodstream
    January 8, 2014


    Cornell biomedical engineers have discovered a new way to destroy metastasizing cancer cells traveling through the bloodstream by hitching cancer-killing proteins along for a ride on life-saving white blood cells.

    “These circulating cancer cells are doomed,” said Michael King, Cornell professor of biomedical engineering and the study’s senior author.

    “About 90 percent of cancer deaths are related to metastases, but now we’ve found a way to… read more

    The brain-computer interface goes wireless

    March 3, 2013

    Neural interface implanted in pig (credit: David A Borton et al./J. Neural Eng.)

    A team of neuroengineers at Brown University has developed a fully implantable and rechargeable wireless brain sensor capable of relaying real-time broadband signals from up to 100 neurons in freely moving subjects.

    Several copies of the novel low-power device, described in the open-access Journal of Neural Engineering, have been performing well in animal models for more than year, a first in the brain-computer interface field.… read more

    Computer modeling: brain in a box

    February 23, 2012

    Neocortical column (credit: EPFL)

    Henry Markram’s controversial proposal for the Human Brain Project (HBP) — an effort to build a supercomputer simulation that integrates everything known about the human brain, from the structures of ion channels in neural cell membranes up to mechanisms behind conscious decision-making — may soon fulfill his ambition.

    The project is one of six finalists vying to win €1 billion (US$1.3 billion) as one of the European Union’s two new… read more

    Ford predicts self-driving, traffic-reducing cars by 2017

    July 4, 2012


    According to Ford, the self-driving car will be here within five years, using technologies available today.

    The technology concept, known as Traffic Jam Assist, uses adaptive cruise control, lane keep assist, and the sensors from its active park assist.

    While driver safety is the primary benefit, the environment wins as well. If one in four cars has Traffic Jam Assist or similar self-driving technologies, travel times are reduced… read more

    Artificial robot muscles that could lift loads 80 times their weight

    A future Iron Man technology?
    September 4, 2013

    An artificial muscle (the transparent strip with thin black lines running down its length) being pre-stretched

    National University of Singapore’s (NUS) engineers have created efficient artificial muscles that could one day carry 80 times their own weight and extend to five times their original length when carrying the load.

    The team’s invention could lead to life-like robots with superhuman strength and ability and convert and store energy, which could help the robots quickly charge themselves.

    Powerful human-like muscles for robotsread more

    How to prevent diseases of aging

    July 24, 2014

    By 2050, the number of people aged over 60 years is projected to be five times that in 1950 (credit: Luigi Fontana, Brian K. Kennedy, and and Valter D. Longo/Nature)

    By 2050, the number of people over the age of 80 will triple globally, which could come at great cost to individuals and economies.

    Unfortunately, medicine focuses almost entirely on fighting chronic diseases in a piecemeal fashion as symptoms develop, researchers writing in the journal Nature say. Instead, more efforts should be directed to promoting interventions that have the potential to prevent multiple chronic diseases and extend healthy lifespans.… read more

    Recording and replaying human touch: the next user-interface revolution?

    September 9, 2013

    haptic output

    University of California, San Diego researchers have demonstrated a new user interface technology: electronic recording and replay of human touch.

    “Touch was largely bypassed by the digital revolution, except for touch-screen displays, because it seemed too difficult to replicate what analog haptic [touch] devices can produce,” said Deli Wang, a professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) in UC San Diego’s… read more

    National Ignition Facility makes history with record 500 terawatt shot

    July 18, 2012


    Fifteen years of work by the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory‘s National Ignition Facility (NIF) team paid off on July 5 with a historic record-breaking laser shot. The NIF laser system of 192 beams delivered more than 500 trillion watts (terawatts or TW) of peak power and 1.85 megajoules (MJ) of ultraviolet laser light to its target.

    Five hundred terawatts is 1,000 times more power than… read more

    The future of medicine is now

    December 31, 2012


    Six medical innovations are poised to transform the way we fight disease, The Wall Street Journal reports.

    • Surgeons at Boston Children’s Hospital have developed a way to help children born with half a heart to essentially grow a whole one — by marshaling the body’s natural capacity to heal and develop.
    • Oxford Nanopore Technologies has unveiled the first of a generation of tiny DNA sequencing devices that

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    The drone threat — in the US

    March 27, 2012


    Drone proliferation raises an issue that has received too little attention: the threat that they could be used to carry out terrorist attacks.

    President Obama signed a sweeping aviation bill in February that will open American airspace to “unmanned aircraft systems,” a.k.a.  drones.

    The technology exists to build drones that fit into a backpack and are equipped with a video camera and a warhead so they can be… read more

    Humanoid robot learns language like a baby [updated 6/15/2012]

    Uncanny valley warning: video with slightly creepy talking robot baby
    June 14, 2012


    With the help of human instructors, a robot has learned to talk like a human infant, learning the names of simple shapes and colors, reports Wired Science.

    “Our work focuses on early stages analogous to some characteristics of a human child of about 6 to 14 months, the transition from babbling to first word forms,” wrote computer scientists led by Caroline Lyon of the University of Hertfordshire.… read more

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