"In the game of life and evolution there are three players at the table: human beings, nature, and machines. I am firmly on the side of nature. But nature, I suspect, is on the side of machines." George Dyson, Darwin Among the ...
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What if you could ask your smartphone for diet and exercise advice, the same way you ask Siri for driving directions?
What if you could ask your smartphone for diet and exercise advice, the same way you ask Siri for driving directions?
Biotechnology company Pathway Genomics will soon offer an app that promises to do just that. “It’s meant to allow patients to be the CEO of their own health,” says Pathway Genomics CEO Jim Plante. “It will provide genomic information. It will pull in the patients health records, connect to activity monitors like the Fitbit.”
It will also tap into IBM Watson, the machine learning system based on the supercomputer the company used to win at TV Jeopardy. The Watson online service contains a wealth of information from sources such as medical text books as well as the latest medical research journals, and IBM will use this to help power the Pathway Genomics app, after investing an undisclosed amount in the startup.
The app is just one of many—oh, so many—apps and devices aiming to improve our health through mobile and even wearable technology. Google and Apple are inviting developers to build health tools atop its wearable hardware, and various independent projects are moving in the same direction.
Though this is the first time Watson has ventured into consumer applications, it isn’t new to healthcare. One of the first uses outside of Jeopardy was at Cedars-Sinai Hospital’s Samuel Oschin Comprehensive Cancer Institute, where doctors were able to use the the supercomputer to help diagnose illnesses. But the Panorama app will be the first time patients—as opposed to doctors—will have the chance to ask questions of the Watson platform directly.
The idea is both horrifying and brilliant.
In a world where economy-class seats are getting thinner and lavatories are shrinking, any flight longer than an hour can feel like a traveling prison. Aircraft manufacturer Airbus is abetting the shift, but a recent patent filing shows it hasn’t forgotten about you, the passenger who actually has to sit in these miserable flying cells. It’s considering helmets that will let you forget you’re in an airplane at all.
Flying can be boring or stressful, which is why airlines provide music, movies and bad TV. The next step appears to be thoroughly immersing passengers in what they’re watching. “The helmet in which the passenger houses his/her head offers him/her sensorial isolation with regard to the external environment,” reads the patent filing.
The helmets feature headphones to provide music. You can watch movies (perhaps in 3D) on the “opto-electronic” screen or possibly through “image diffusion glasses.” If you want to get some work done, turn on the virtual keyboard, which appears on your tray, don a pair of motion capture gloves, and type away. The helmet could even pipe in different odors for an olfactory treat, and the whole thing would be nicely ventilated.
The MICA bracelet displays messages and calendar alerts.
If you love jewelry, Intel has unveiled a sparkling bracelet that’s also a stand-alone message display device.
Unveiled for New York Fashion Week, My Intelligent Communication Accessory, or MICA, has glamorous looks as well as 3G cellular connectivity, so it doesn’t need to be tethered to a smartphone.
Designed by Humberto Leon and Carol Lim of fashion house Opening Ceremony, MICA is a cuff-style accessory covered with snakeskin as well as semiprecious stones such as obsidian and lapis. It will be available in two styles, one with white snakeskin and the other with black snakeskin, each with different stones.
The 1.6-inch sapphire-glass touchscreen can display SMS messages relayed through the bracelet’s Intel XMM6321 3G cellular radio. It can also display calendar alerts.
The bracelet will be sold as an Opening Ceremony product. Its weight and price have not been revealed yet, but it will be sold through some Barneys and Opening Ceremony stores by the December holiday season.
The chipmaker has been emphasizing wearables sold through other companies as mobile technology has put PCs in the shadows in the recent years.
Intel announced the collaboration with Opening Ceremony at CES 2014, where it also showed off smart earbuds that can measure a runner’s heart rate.
In August, SMS Audio announced biometric headphones based on Intel’s technology.
The MICA bracelet also follows Intel’s acquisition of health-tracking wristband maker Basis Science in March.
Bozkurt, with Amit Lal, PhD, of Cornell University, previously developed a method for attaching electrodes to a moth during its pupal stage, when the caterpillar is in a cocoon undergoing metamorphosis. Now, Bozkurt’s research team wants to find out precisely how a moth coordinates its muscles during flight.
Patients are more willing to disclose personal information to virtual humans, likely because they don't have the capacity to judge.
The findings show promise for people suffering from post-traumatic stress and other mental anguish, says Gale Lucas, a social psychologist at University of Southern California’s Institute for Creative Technologies.
“Today there’s no legislation regarding how much intelligence a machine can have, how interconnected it can be. If that continues, look at the exponential trend. We will reach the singularity in the timeframe most experts predict. From that point on you’re going to see that the top species will no longer be humans, but machines.”
Users often freely offer their data to the internet, to be used in ways that, frequently, they would never expect. For example a tweet on a local event will time-stamp where a person was at a given time. It may reveal information around their movements and even perhaps who they had contact with along the way.
Access is then granted to anyone who demonstrates recognition of the faces across images, and denied to anyone who does not.
Google and Microsoft will add a "kill-switch" feature to their Android and Windows phone operating systems.
The feature is a method of making a handset completely useless if it is stolen, rendering a theft pointless.
Authorities have been urging tech firms to take steps to help curb phone theft and argued that a kill-switch feature can help resolve the problem.
Apple and Samsung, two of the biggest phone makers, offer a similar feature on some of their devices.
The move by Google and Microsoft means that kill switches will now be a part of the three most popular phone operating systems in the world.
In a recently released video, KAIST shows Raptor running the treadmill at a leg-blurring top speed of 46 kph (28.5 mph). That’s faster than the fastest human sprinter (Usain Bolt), and matches Boston Dynamics’ fleet-footed robot Cheetah. (Raptor has momentarily achieved even higher speeds of 48 kph, or 29.8 mph.)
These materials are more than 100 times stronger than steel, can conduct heat and electricity much better than copper, and can withstand high temperatures, he noted.
Any mention of cyborgs or superpowers evokes fantastical images from the realms of science fiction and comic books. Our visions of humans with enhanced capabilities are borne of our imaginations and the stories we tell. In reality, though, enhanced humans already exist ... and they don't look like Marvel characters. As different human enhancement technologies advance at different rates, they bleed into society gradually and without fanfare. What's more, they will increasingly necessitate discussion about areas that are often overlooked – what are the logistics and ethics of being superhuman? Gizmag spoke to a number of experts to find out.
"People tend to imagine the current state of human enhancement as either much more advanced or retarded than it really is," Steve Fuller, Auguste Comte Chair in Social Epistemology in the Department of Sociology at the University of Warwick, tells Gizmag. "I realize that this sounds paradoxical, but generally speaking it helps to explain the curious blend of impatience and disappointment that surrounds the topic. This simply reflects the fact that people know more about human enhancement from its own hype and science-fictional representations – which can be positive or negative – than from what's actually available on the ground."
There are plans to introduce speech recognition and synthesis technology for natural communication, with development continuing towards introducing a welfare and healthcare service robot for the elderly and folks suffering dementia by 2020, allowing carers or family members to keep watch on loved ones.
Benjamin Wittes and Jane Chong examine how the law will respond as we become more cyborg-like, and the divide between human and machine becomes ever-more unstable. In particular, they consider how the law of surveillance will shift as we develop from humans who use machines into humans who partially are machines or, at least, who depend on machines pervasively for our most human-like activities.
Implant attached to bone in pioneering technique that helps prevent infection and discomfort
Revolutionary technology at a north London hospital has transformed the lives of amputees taking part in a trial by allowing artificial limbs to be attached directly to their skeleton, giving them feeling and mobility far beyond that experienced by people with traditional prosthetics.
Unlike traditional ball-and-socket joints where a socket is placed over the soft tissue of the stump, Itap (intraosseous transcutaneous amputation prosthesis) involves insertion of a metal implant that forms a direct interface with the bone and sticks out through the skin for the prosthetic to be attached.
If the trial conducted at the Royal National Orthopaedic hospital (RNOH) and the Royal Orthopaedic hospital in Birmingham, which ended in June, is deemed a success, Itap could be rolled out across the UK and internationally through specialist clinics.
Mark O'Leary, 40, from south London, was one of the first of 20 above-the-knee amputees to take part in the trial. He described the change it had made to his life. "Just knowing where my foot is, my ability to know where it is improved dramatically because you can feel it through the bone. A textured road crossing, I can feel that. You essentially had no sensation with a socket and with Itap you can feel everything," he said.
"It's like they've given me my leg back. I know that sounds a bit trite. With this thing I just click the stump on in the morning and I can walk as far as I like, do anything I want within reason. There's no limit."
Using an Android tablet and the video game Angry Birds, children can program a robot to learn new skills.
Because end users can easily program the robot to learn tasks, researchers envision the robot-smart tablet system as a future rehabilitation tool for children with cognitive and motor-skill disabilities.
The researchers paired a small humanoid robot with an Android tablet. Kids teach it how to play Angry Birds by dragging their finger on the tablet to whiz the bird across the screen. The robot watches what happens and records “snapshots” in its memory.
The machine notices where fingers start and stop, and how the objects on the screen move according to each other, while constantly keeping an eye on the score to check for signs of success.
When it’s the robot’s turn, it mimics the child’s movements and plays the game. If the bird is a dud and doesn’t cause any damage, the robot shakes its head in disappointment. If the building topples and points increase, the eyes light up and the machine celebrates with a happy sound and dance.
Nasa plans to send Google's 3D smartphones into space to function as the "eyes and brains" of free-flying robots inside the Space Station.
The robots, known as Spheres (Synchronised Position Hold, Engage, Reorient, Experimental satellites), currently have limited capabilities.
It is hoped the smartphones, powered by Google's Project Tango, will equip the robots with more functionality.
The robots have been described by experts as "incredibly clever".
When Nasa's robots first arrived at the International Space Station in 2006, they were only capable of precise movements using small jets of CO2, which propelled the devices forwards at around an inch per second.
"We wanted to add communication, a camera, increase the processing capability, accelerometers and other sensors," Spheres project manager Chris Provencher told Reuters.
"As we were scratching our heads thinking about what to do, we realised the answer was in our hands. Let's just use smartphones."
In an attempt to make the robots smarter and of more use to astronauts, engineers at Nasa's Ames Research Centre sent cheap smartphones to the space station, which they had purchased from Best Buy, an American electronics shop.
Astronauts then attached the phones to the Spheres, giving them more visual and sensing capabilities.
IBM's cloud-computing system is making its first foray into food
Watson, a cognitive computing system that can learn and process natural human language, has been one of IBM's most exciting projects of the last decade. Over the past few years, Watson has learned a variety of tasks, from defeating contestants on "Jeopardy" to diagnosing life-threatening diseases. Now the cloud-based system is making its first foray into an industry we can all enjoy: food.
IBM calls it "cognitive cooking," a collaboration with New York's Institute of Culinary Education that uses data to create the best-tasting food possible.
IBM engineers carefully examined flavor compounds in thousands of ingredients, going down to the molecular level to measure the pleasantness of each. Then, using nutritional data from the FDA, they had the chefs at ICE try out the combinations Watson had determined would make for a delicious meal.
My children live in the digital world as much as they live in the real one.
Whether they are chatting to their friends on Xbox Live or FaceTime or viewing their profiles on Instagram, these days it seems that there is always a virtual guest in our house.
Their expectations of life are fundamentally different to mine at their ages - eight and 10. They were among the first generation to swipe a dumb screen and wonder why nothing happened; the first to say when a toy was broken: "Don't worry, we can just download a new one"; and the first to be aware that the real world runs seamlessly into the digital one.
These digital natives understand the etiquette of the digital world - how to text, how to email, how to get wi-fi and how to watch whatever they want, whenever they want. And homework is a whole lot easier now that they have the virtual font of all knowledge at the their fingertips - Google.
As the author of the book Growing Up Digital, Don Tapscott has spent a lot of time looking at how the generation born in the age of computing will differ from those before.
"Generation M [mobile] are growing up bathed in bits," he says. "Their brains are actually different."
For him, the way the brain is wired is dictated by how you spend your time.
"My generation grew up watching TV - we were passive recipients. Today children come home and turn on their mobile devices, they are listening to MP3s, chatting to their friends, playing video games - managing all these things at the same time."
Larger multi-center trials are now planned to take place soon.
“We found that user mental fatigue decreases significantly and the level of learning by the system increases substantially."
Farms in upstate New York and elsewhere are using automatic milkers that scan and map the underbellies of cows, extract the milk, and monitor its quality, without the use of human hands.
The cows seem to like it, too.
Robots allow the cows to set their own hours, lining up for automated milking five or six times a day — turning the predawn and late-afternoon sessions around which dairy farmers long built their lives into a thing of the past.
With transponders around their necks, the cows get individualized service. Lasers scan and map their underbellies, and a computer charts each animal’s “milking speed,” a critical factor in a 24-hour-a-day operation.
The robots also monitor the amount and quality of milk produced, the frequency of visits to the machine, how much each cow has eaten, and even the number of steps each cow has taken per day, which can indicate when she is in heat.
“The animals just walk through,” said Jay Skellie, a dairyman from Salem, N.Y., after watching a demonstration. “I think we’ve got to look real hard at robots.”
Many of those running small farms said the choice of a computerized milker came down to a bigger question: whether to upgrade or just give up.