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Why Athletes Are Geniuses

May 12, 2010

Neuroscientists have begun to catalog some fascinating differences between average brains and the brains of great athletes, who need to make complicated decisions in a flash.

The qualities that set a great athlete apart from the rest of us is that they learn how to make sense of a new situation sooner and are able to rewire their brains according to certain rules. As neuroscientists decipher those rules, they… read more

Why artificial general intelligence has failed and how to fix it

October 4, 2012

(Credit: iStockphoto)

The field of “artificial general intelligence” or AGI has made no progress whatever during the entire six decades of its existence, says Oxford University physicist David Deutsch in this abridged version of an essay in aeon magazine. — Ed.

It is uncontroversial that the human brain has capabilities that are, in some respects, far superior to those of all other known objects in the cosmos. It is the… read more

Why AI is a dangerous dream

September 1, 2009

AI is a dangerous myth that could lead to a dystopian future of unintelligent, unfeeling robot carers and soldiers, but there is no evidence that machines will ever overtake us or gain sentience, says Noel Sharkey, professor of artificial intelligence and robotics at the University of Sheffield.

Why aging reduces immune system function

December 7, 2004

Oregon Health & Science University scientists have found that human T cell diversity fades with age, potentially resulting in a higher susceptibility to disease.

In old age the population of CD8 T cells — cells that recognize and destroy abnormal or infected cells and suppress the activity of other white blood cells to protect normal tissue — is dominated by less effective T cells. This results in an immune… read more

Why A.I. Is Brain-Dead

July 16, 2003

“There is no computer that has common sense,” says Marvin Minsky. “We’re only getting the kinds of things that are capable of making an airline reservation. No computer can look around a room and tell you about it.”

AI’s biggest deficiency right now: “The lack of people with an interest in commonsense reasoning for computers…it’s hard to get 10 capable people.”

Asked to “Pick one: Bill Joy or… read more

Why a hydrogen economy doesn’t make sense

December 12, 2006

In a recent study, fuel cell expert Ulf Bossel explains that a hydrogen economy is a wasteful economy. In contrast, in an efficient “electron economy” most energy would be distributed with highest efficiency by electricity and the shortest route in an existing infrastructure.

The large amount of energy required to isolate hydrogen from natural compounds (water, natural gas, biomass), package the light gas by compression or liquefaction, transfer the… read more

Why 6-Legged Bots Rule

November 1, 2002

UC Berkeley biologist Robert J. Full is developing a new generation of highly mobile legged robots using the self-stabilizing sprawled posture found in a cockroach.

The devices embed control algorithms in the limbs themselves, allowing for more rapid response and increased speed and stability while freeing up the central processor for higher-level operations.

Why 3D printing will go the way of virtual reality

January 26, 2012

A 3D-printed object. (credit: Carter West Engineering, Inc.)

The notion that 3D printing will on any reasonable time scale become a “mature” technology that can reproduce all the goods on which we rely is to engage in a complete denial of the complexities of modern manufacturing, unless you’d like everything made out of plastic, says Technology Review | Mim’s Bits blog.

Who’s Minding the Mind?

July 31, 2007

New studies reveal a subconscious brain that is far more active, purposeful and independent than previously known.

Goals are like neural software programs that can only be run one at a time, and the unconscious is perfectly capable of running the program it chooses.

In several studies, researchers have also shown that, once covertly activated, an unconscious goal persists with the same determination that is evident in our… read more

Who’s in Charge?

June 26, 2003

“A good illustration of why the scientist needs the philosopher can be found in Daniel C. Dennett’s new book, Freedom Evolves, in a fine discussion of the experimental data of Benjamin Libet … which show that the neural activity that begins an action starts up around a third of a second before the agent’s conscious decision to act.

“Neuroscientists have frequently interpreted this as showing that decisions are somehow… read more

Who’s afraid of nanotechnology?

September 18, 2003

Some worry that nanotechnology will backfire, threatening human health and unleashing new forms of pollution.

Who’s Afraid of Nanotechnology

October 8, 2003

The ability to construct molecule-size objects holds both promise and peril. Some nanotech scientists and business people fear a backlash such as the one that has stalled acceptance of genetically modified foods.

Whole-Grain Cereals Reduce Heart Risks: Study

March 5, 2007

Eating whole-grain breakfast cereals seven or more times per week was associated with a lower (28 percent) risk of heart failure, according to an analysis of the observational Physicians’ Health Study.

Researchers presented findings of the study at the American Heart Association’s 47th Annual Conference on Cardiovascular Disease Epidemiology and Prevention. The study is supported by grants from the National Cancer Institute and the National Heart, Lung,… read more

Whole-genome sequences of supercentenarians reveal longevity clues

April 11, 2012

genome_supercentenarians

A team of researchers has analyzed the complete genomic sequences of male and female supercentenarians, both over 114 years old.

Surprisingly, the researchers showed that the DNA sequences are largely comparable to existing non-supercentenarian genomes, and the two individuals do not appear to carry most of the well-established human longevity-enabling variants already reported in the literature.

In fact, the supercentenarians have a comparable number of known disease-associated variants relative to… read more

Whole-genome sequences of 17 of the world’s oldest living people published

Researchers unable to find genes significantly associated with extreme longevity
November 13, 2014

Misao Okawa, the world's oldest living person

Using 17 genomes, researchers were unable to find rare protein-altering variants significantly associated with extreme longevity, according to a study published November 12, 2014 in the open-access journal PLOS ONE by Hinco Gierman from Stanford University and colleagues.

Supercentenarians are the world’s oldest people, living beyond 110 years of age. Seventy-four are alive worldwide; 22 live in the U.S. The authors of this study performed whole-genome sequencing on 17 supercentenarians to… read more

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