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Nano Scale Neural Implants Developed

Nano Scale Neural Implants Developed | Knowmads, Infocology of the future | Scoop.it
 
Neural Implants
A new electrode developed at the University of Michigan can focus on the electrical signals of just one neuron. It may help researchers understand how electrical signals...
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Knowmads, Infocology of the future
Exploring the possible , the probable, the plausible
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Sea Level Rise Isn't Just Happening, It's Getting Faster

Sea Level Rise Isn't Just Happening, It's Getting Faster | Knowmads, Infocology of the future | Scoop.it
In at least the third such study published in the past year, scientists have confirmed seas are rising, and the rate of sea level rise is increasing as time passes - a sobering punchline for coastal communities that are only now beginning to prepare for a troubling future.

What was a 2.2 millimetre per year rise in 1993 was a 3.3 millimetre rise in 2014, based on estimates of the mass changes of a number of key components of sea level rise, such as the melting of the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets, the study in Nature Climate Change found.

That's the difference between 0.86 and 1.29 inches per decade - and the researchers suggest further sea level acceleration could be in store.

The chief cause of the acceleration was the melting of the Greenland ice sheet, which went from contributing less than 5 percent of all sea level rise in 1993 to contributing more than 25 percent in 2014, the study found. The loss of ice in Antarctica and smaller glaciers over the same time period also contributed to quicker sea level rise.

The increase in the rate of sea level rise "highlights the importance and urgency of mitigating climate change and formulating coastal adaptation plans to mitigate the impacts of ongoing sea level rise," write Xianyao Chen of the Ocean University of China and Qingdao National Laboratory of Marine Science and Technology, and colleagues. Chen's co-authors hailed from institutions in China, Australia and the United States.
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Tech firms want to detect your emotions and expressions, but people don't like it

Tech firms want to detect your emotions and expressions, but people don't like it | Knowmads, Infocology of the future | Scoop.it
As revealed in a patent filing, Facebook is interested in using webcams and smartphone cameras to read our emotions, and track expressions and reactions. The idea is that by understanding emotional behaviour, Facebook can show us more of what we react positively to in our Facebook news feeds and less of what we do not – whether that’s friends’ holiday photos, or advertisements.

This might appear innocuous, but consider some of the detail. In addition to smiles, joy, amazement, surprise, humour and excitement, the patent also lists negative emotions. Possibly being read for signs of disappointment, confusion, indifference, boredom, anger, pain and depression is neither innocent, nor fun.

In fact, Facebook is no stranger to using data about emotions. Some readers might remember the furore when Facebook secretly tweaked user’s news feeds to understand “emotional contagion”. This meant that when users logged into their Facebook pages, some were shown content in their news feeds with a greater number of positive words and others were shown content deemed as sadder than average. This changed the emotional behaviour of those users that were “infected”.

Given that Facebook has around two billion users, this patent to read emotions via cameras is important. But there is a bigger story, which is that the largest technology companies have been buying, researching and developing these applications for some time.
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The most forward-thinking college in America teaches every student the exact same stuff

The most forward-thinking college in America teaches every student the exact same stuff | Knowmads, Infocology of the future | Scoop.it
College is supposed to help young people prepare for the future. But as headlines warn that automation and technology may change—or end—work as we know it, parents, students, and universities are grappling with a new question: How do you educate a new generation for a world we can’t even imagine?

A recent Pew Research Center survey of 1,408 technology and education professionals suggested that the most valuable skills in the future will be those that machines can’t yet easily replicate, like creativity, critical thinking, emotional intelligence, adaptability and collaboration. In short, people need to learn how to learn, because the only hedge against a fast-changing world is the ability to think, adapt and collaborate well.

But many American college students may not be learning them at all. In the 2011 book Academically Adrift: Limited Learning on College Campuses, Richard Arum and Jarip Roksa chronicled how few American students really improved cognitively–and learned to learn–during their undergraduate education. Few bachelor’s programs require sufficient amounts of the reading, writing, and discourse needed to develop critical thinking skills. In fact, forty percent of American undergraduates now major in business and management-related subjects, reading mainly textbooks and short articles, and rarely writing a paper longer than three pages. Further, the social bonds and skills formed in college today often center on extracurriculars that have little connection to cognitive development and collaborative problem-solving.

But perhaps instead of reinventing higher education, we can give students what they need for the future by returning to the roots of liberal arts. Consider St. John’s College, America’s third-oldest institution of higher education, founded in 1696. With fewer than 700 students between two campuses in Annapolis and Santa Fe, St. John’s is a bit under the radar. But it’s emerged as one of the most distinctive colleges in the country by maintaining a strict focus on the classics of the Western canon.
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Is Universal Basic Income a Solution to Tech Unemployment?

Is Universal Basic Income a Solution to Tech Unemployment? | Knowmads, Infocology of the future | Scoop.it
This spring, the Canadian province of Ontario announced that about 4,000 of its citizens will receive money as part of their “no strings attached” basic income experiment. The goal is to explore how universal basic income can improve both the lives of the individuals receiving it and the nation at large.

This isn’t the first time someone started giving away free money and studied its effects. Historically, many organizations and government bodies have run some sort of universal basic income experiment on a small scale, and their outcomes have been notably positive.

Over the next few decades, as technological automation takes over our jobs, governments may need to provide basic income to their citizens in order to ensure their well-being.
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Evidence of "tipping points" turning climate change from gradual to rapid

Evidence of "tipping points" turning climate change from gradual to rapid | Knowmads, Infocology of the future | Scoop.it
Anyone who has seen The Day After Tomorrow will be familiar with the concept of "tipping points" where slow and gradual changes in atmospheric CO2 levels can reach a point that triggers a sudden change in temperatures. While a lot of the aforementioned movie remains firmly in the realm of science fiction, a new study has found evidence of such tipping points occurring in the past, resulting in dramatic climate changes over a short period.

Ice core samples in Greenland have shown that during the last glacial period, temperatures periodically shot up by as much as 10° C (18° F) in a matter of decades, but it wasn't clear why that was the case. A study by researchers at the Alfred Wegener Institute and the University of Cardiff has shed some more light on this phenomena, known as Dansgaard-Oeschger events, using a computer model that simulates the relationship between the atmosphere, ocean currents and sea ice levels.

The team found that a high concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere was the likely suspect for these sudden warming events. The CO2 levels didn't have to rise quickly either: after a period of slow but constant growth, the climate can reach a crucial tipping point, setting off a chain reaction that results in temperature spikes.
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New Evidence Points to a Tenth Planet in Our Solar System

New Evidence Points to a Tenth Planet in Our Solar System | Knowmads, Infocology of the future | Scoop.it
The Solar System hasn't been the same since Pluto was downgraded from a planet to a dwarf planet, and all bets have been off since this monumental decision.

Case in point, last year, scientists at the California Institute of Technology proposed that there might be a true Planet Nine in our Solar System. The team asserted that it appears to be 10 times the mass of Earth and that it is hiding out in the remote recesses of our Solar System - well beyond the orbit of Pluto.

At the time of the discovery, Mike Brown, who was behind the work, noted that the existence of a 9th planet is extremely likely: "Hey Planet Nine fans, a new eccentric KBO was discovered. And it is exactly where Planet Nine says it should be," Brown tweeted.

Furthermore, he says, the new object "takes the probability of this being a statistical fluke down to ~.001 percent or so."

Similar discoveries have been made in relation to new dwarf planets. Located about 13.7 billion kilometres (8.5 billion miles) from the Sun, 2014 UZ224 measures about 530 kilometres (330 miles) in diameter and takes around 1,100 Earth years to complete its orbit.

And so, our little corner of the cosmos has been in quite the state of flux.

But it appears that there may be more surprises lying in wait at the edge of our Solar System.

Kathryn Volk and Renu Malhotra at the University of Arizona have noticed some strange movement out in the Kuiper belt…movement that they believe could suggest the existence of a tenth planet.
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prgnewshawaii's curator insight, June 23, 7:54 PM

Astronomers now believe there is a larger-than-Earth planet in our solar system far beyond the orbit of the dwarf planet Pluto.  Our solar system is more crowded than once thought.

Russell Roberts

Hawaii Intelligence Digest

yourogmore's comment, June 24, 3:32 AM
verry nice
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You Do Not Think Alone

You Do Not Think Alone | Knowmads, Infocology of the future | Scoop.it
“The Thinker,” Auguste Rodin’s bronze sculpture, has become a visual cliché, a common representation of deep thought — a figure, gazing down, chin on hand, completely alone. This is utterly misleading, according to the authors of “The Knowledge Illusion,” which carries the subtitle: “Why We Never Think Alone.” Steven Sloman, a professor at Brown University, and Philip Fernbach, a professor at the University of Colorado’s Leeds School of Business, argue that our intelligence depends on the people and things that surround us, and to a degree we rarely recognize. Knowledge, they say, is a community effort. Sloman answered questions from Mind Matters editor Gareth Cook.
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pradawood's comment, June 22, 4:46 AM
very nice
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Surgeons Want Robots - if They Know They Will Help Cut Down Their Human Errors

Surgeons Want Robots - if They Know They Will Help Cut Down Their Human Errors | Knowmads, Infocology of the future | Scoop.it
How good are humans at performing manual surgery? Major surgical errors must be reported and there has been research into the attitudes of surgeons in how they report such errors.

But there is no requirement or legislation in place to report minor unintentional damage, and how that is even defined is a grey area.

Very little research exists into the frequency of unintentional surgical damage, the challenges that cause this damage, or understanding of the long-term effects.

We are developing semi-autonomous robotic tools to help surgeons, especially for knee surgery. It's estimated that around 4 million knee arthroscopies are performed each year worldwide.

In our recent study, some surgeons said they found that such knee procedures could be physically challenging and could cause unintentional damage to their patients.

But a majority said they would be prepared to use robotic tools if they could be shown to help in the surgery and reduce the risks of injury to patients.
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pradawood's comment, June 22, 4:46 AM
really good
prgnewshawaii's curator insight, June 22, 8:12 PM

Robotic assistants in the operating room could reduce human mistakes and save more lives.

Russell Roberts

Hawaii Intelligence Digest

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Stephen Hawking: "I Am Convinced That Humans Need to Leave Earth"

Stephen Hawking: "I Am Convinced That Humans Need to Leave Earth" | Knowmads, Infocology of the future | Scoop.it
Back in May, renowned physicist Stephen Hawking made yet another doomsday prediction. He said that humanity has 100 years left on Earth, which knocked 900 years off the prediction he made in November 2016, which had given humanity 1,000 years left.

With his new estimate, Hawking suggested the only way to prolong humanity's existence is for us to find a new home, on another planet.

Speaking at the Starmus Festival in Trondheim, Norway on Tuesday, Hawking reiterated his point: "If humanity is to continue for another million years, our future lies in boldly going where no one else has gone before," he explained, according to the BBC.

Specifically, Hawking said that we should aim for another Moon landing by 2020, and work to build a lunar base in the next 30 years - projects that could help prepare us to send human beings to Mars by 2025.
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pradawood's comment, June 22, 4:46 AM
really great
prgnewshawaii's curator insight, June 22, 8:24 PM

A sober warning from astrophysicist Stephen Hawking.  We have less than a century to get our act together before wars, politics, over population, famine, and climate change doom our species. Hawking believes we must leave planet Earth to preserve our species.

Russell Roberts

Hawaii Intelligence Digest

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Engineers and Ethicists Must Work Together on Brain-Computer Interface Technology

Engineers and Ethicists Must Work Together on Brain-Computer Interface Technology | Knowmads, Infocology of the future | Scoop.it
In the 1995 film “Batman Forever,” the Riddler used 3-D television to secretly access viewers’ most personal thoughts in his hunt for Batman’s true identity. By 2011, the metrics company Nielsen had acquired Neurofocus and had created a “consumer neuroscience” division that uses integrated conscious and unconscious data to track customer decision-making habits. What was once a nefarious scheme in a Hollywood blockbuster seems poised to become a reality.

Recent announcements by Elon Musk and Facebook about brain-computer interface (BCI) technology are just the latest headlines in an ongoing science-fiction-becomes-reality story.

BCIs use brain signals to control objects in the outside world. They’re a potentially world-changing innovation – imagine being paralyzed but able to “reach” for something with a prosthetic arm just by thinking about it. But the revolutionary technology also raises concerns. Here at the University of Washington’s Center for Sensorimotor Neural Engineering (CSNE) we and our colleagues are researching BCI technology – and a crucial part of that includes working on issues such as neuroethics and neural security. Ethicists and engineers are working together to understand and quantify risks and develop ways to protect the public now.
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cometmardy's comment, June 20, 3:29 AM
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Baby genome sequencing is now for sale in China

Baby genome sequencing is now for sale in China | Knowmads, Infocology of the future | Scoop.it
Boston-based DNA sequencing company is offering to decode the complete genomes of newborns in China, leading some to ask how much parents should know about their children’s genes at birth.

Veritas Genetics says the test, ordered by a doctor, will report back on 950 serious early- and later-life disease risks, 200 genes connected to drug reactions, and more than 100 physical traits a child is likely to have.

Called myBabyGenome, the service costs $1,500 and could help identify serious hidden problems in newborns, the company says.

But some doctors say the plan is a huge overstep. “I think it’s vastly premature to peddle a completely unproven set of data, especially to a vulnerable population like neonates,” says Jim Evans, a professor of genetics at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill.

The problem is that the risk posed by many disease genes remains uncertain. Even if a child has a mutation in a gene, he or she may never be affected, prompting debate among doctors about whether it’s useful to inform parents.
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prgnewshawaii's curator insight, June 19, 4:18 PM

Be careful of this technology. There are many legal, cultural, privacy, and social issues involved in decoding of genomes, be they adult or newborns.  

Russell Roberts

Hawaii Intelligence Digest

Vanessa Ong Li Wen's curator insight, June 26, 5:11 AM
DNA sequencing with the ability to decode the complete genomes of newborns has now become a reality, albeit a scary one. While this idea must have come into existence from an attitude of generosity and altruism – it can indeed help parents identify serious hidden problems in newborns, this raises a question of whether there is a need to implement baby genome sequencing. Do parents really need to know whether their child will have these unforeseen problems in the future? Even if they did know about it, how then is it possible for them to carry out an act of prevention against it? Considering the answers of these 2 questions, we will find ourselves doubting the necessity of baby genome sequencing. Adding on to this, Jim Evans, Professor at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, also believes that genome sequencing is “vastly premature”, seeing as it “peddles a completely unproven set of data” and is presented to real life parents who will definitely feel anxious over it. In addition, making predictions of children’s traits is stepping into uncharted territory. Genetic factors are unstable and very much volatile – to predict a child’s traits and imply that it is absolute can become very dangerous in this context. It can not only bring about much emotional damage to the parents, but also potentially destroy the life of the newborn, who, under pressurised circumstances from the parents, is unable to grow and mature as it should. In addition, since the results of baby genome sequencing is definitely not an absolute, this may potentially bring about unnecessary stress and damage onto the parents, who, under the fear that their child may end up growing with an incurable disease or disorder, invariably descends into a never-ending abyss of depression and sadness. This may even lead up to the starting point of a very real and vicious cycle – the mother feels stressed and worried about her newborn, in turn affecting its development inside her stomach and creating conditions for these diseases to develop. I feel that this technology is volatile and unreliable, at best. Venturing into the unknown will more than likely spell out trouble for those of us who are foolish enough to think that doing so fulfils the lesson of the adage, “Knowledge is power”. Sometimes it is better to wait for nature to take its course, albeit its consequences.
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The latest threat to Antarctica: an insect and plant invasion

The latest threat to Antarctica: an insect and plant invasion | Knowmads, Infocology of the future | Scoop.it
Antarctica’s pristine ice-white environment is going green and facing an unexpected threat – from the common house fly. Scientists say that as temperatures soar in the polar region, invading plants and insects, including the fly, pose a major conservation threat.

More and more of these invaders, in the form of larvae or seeds, are surviving in coastal areas around the south pole, where temperatures have risen by more than 3C over the past three decades. Glaciers have retreated, exposing more land which has been colonised by mosses that have been found to be growing more quickly and thickly than ever before – providing potential homes for invaders. The process is particularly noticeable in the Antarctic peninsula, which has been shown to be the region of the continent that is most vulnerable to global warming.

“The common house fly is a perfect example of the problem the Antarctic now faces from invading species,” said Dominic Hodgson of the British Antarctic Survey. “It comes in on ships, where it thrives in kitchens and then at bases on the continent. It now has an increasing chance of surviving in the Antarctic as it warms up, and that is a worry. Insects like the fly carry pathogens that could have a devastating effect on indigenous lifeforms.”

The Antarctic has several native species of insects. Together with its indigenous mosses and lichens, these are now coming under increased threat from three major sources: visiting scientists; swelling numbers of tourists; and global warming.

In 2015-6, more than 38,000 tourists visited Antarctica while around 43,000 were expected for the following season. “These tourists are often very scrupulous about not leaving waste or having mud – which could carry seeds or bugs from other areas – on their boots when they set foot on the Antarctic peninsula,” said Hodgson.
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This $130 Million 'Hyperloop Hotel' Would Let You Travel Between Cities in Luxury Rooms

This $130 Million 'Hyperloop Hotel' Would Let You Travel Between Cities in Luxury Rooms | Knowmads, Infocology of the future | Scoop.it
When you go out of town, you usually need to buy a few nights at a hotel in addition to a plane, train, or bus ticket. Brandan Siebrecht, a graduate architecture student at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, wants to combine these components into one experience.

He designed what he calls the "Hyperloop Hotel," a system that would feature a transit system and 13 hotels in different cities throughout the United States.

Siebrecht is the student winner of this year's Radical Innovation Award, a competition for imaginative hotel designs. In June, a jury of seven hotel investors, developers, and architects selected Driftscape as the one of two finalists out of over 65 submissions from 24 countries.

The futuristic concept would eliminate the need to buy separate transit tickets for most of the largest cities in the US.

It calls for hotels in 13 locations - Seattle, Portland, San Francisco, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Denver, Sante Fe, Austin, Chicago, Nashville, Washington, DC, New York City, and Boston - which would all be connected by a "Hyperloop system".

The design was inspired by DevLoop, a real test track for Hyperloop One being developed north of Las Vegas.
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Calling all 'Time Ninjas': let's put a stop to ludicrous job titles

Calling all 'Time Ninjas': let's put a stop to ludicrous job titles | Knowmads, Infocology of the future | Scoop.it
Wacky job titles aren’t new. Google has employed a Captain of Moonshots since around 2010. Astro Teller – his real name – currently holds the post and heads up research and development. In another universe, he’d just be “head of research and development”.

It’s not just the Wild West of tech that’s in on it. Wall Street bellwether Berkshire Hathaway has had a Director of Chaos since before 2006. This person is in charge of organising the annual meeting for investor Warren Buffett’s famous conglomerate. Outside the corporate stratosphere, the people stuffing diced olives into warm baguettes in your high street Subway, are called “sandwich artists”.

Esoteric job titles began as a defining quirk of industry-leading companies. They were used to communicate something about their unique culture. There’s nothing inherently bad about the practice, in the right context.

For example, we can all forgive the Make-A-Wish Foundation, the charity which arranges dream-come-true experiences for kids with life-threatening illnesses. It sometimes lets its staff pick their own titles. PR Managers are “Magic Messengers” and the CEO is known as the “Fairy Godmother of Wishes”. These titles, which appear alongside the more traditional variation of the title, only work because of the context.
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'Woke' and 'post-truth' added to Oxford English Dictionary

'Woke' and 'post-truth' added to Oxford English Dictionary | Knowmads, Infocology of the future | Scoop.it
The Oxford English Dictionary is getting political in its latest update, with "woke" and "post-truth" now included.

The original meaning of woke is to awaken after sleep but the word now has other social connotations.

"By the mid-20th century," says the Oxford English Dictionary (OED), "woke had been extended figuratively to refer to being 'aware' or 'well informed' in a political or cultural sense."

Post-truth was 2016's word of the year.

It is defined as "relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping political debate or public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief".

These words are especially linked to recent events in the US, such as the last presidential campaign and issues around race and police shootings.
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Even Just Seeing Your Phone Nearby Can Mess With Your Brain Power

Even Just Seeing Your Phone Nearby Can Mess With Your Brain Power | Knowmads, Infocology of the future | Scoop.it
Just being near your smartphone can be enough to reduce your brain power, even when it's switched off, according to a new study – so you might want to give yourself and your mobile some alone time in the future.

The research shows the way our smartphones have become a constant source of distraction, whether or not we're actually using them, and could lead to a better understanding of the dangers of being always connected and available.

According to the team from the University of Texas at Austin, the study demonstrates how having phones within sight or within easy reach means some of our brainpower is inevitably used up as we try not to be distracted.

"We see a linear trend that suggests that as the smartphone becomes more noticeable, participants' available cognitive capacity decreases," says one of the researchers, Adrian Ward.

"Your conscious mind isn't thinking about your smartphone, but that process – the process of requiring yourself to not think about something – uses up some of your limited cognitive resources. It's a brain drain."

Those conclusions were reached after two experiments. In the first, 520 smartphone users were told to turn their phones to silent then either leave them in another room, place them face down on a desk, or put them in a pocket or a bag.

The volunteers were then asked to complete a series of computer tests that required serious concentration to score highly.

The participants who left their phones in another room "significantly outperformed" those with their phones on the desk, and "slightly outperformed" those with their phones in a pocket or a bag, report the researchers.
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Should robot artists be given copyright protection?

Should robot artists be given copyright protection? | Knowmads, Infocology of the future | Scoop.it
When a group of museums and researchers in the Netherlands unveiled a portrait entitled The Next Rembrandt, it was something of a tease to the art world. It wasn’t a long lost painting but a new artwork generated by a computer that had analysed thousands of works by the 17th-century Dutch artist Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn.

The computer used something called machine learning to analyse and reproduce technical and aesthetic elements in Rembrandt’s works, including lighting, colour, brush-strokes and geometric patterns. The result is a portrait produced based on the styles and motifs found in Rembrandt’s art but produced by algorithms.

This is just one example in a growing body of works generated by computers. A short novel written by a Japanese computer program in 2016 reached the second round of a national literary prize. The Google-owned artificial intelligence (AI) firm, Deep Mind, has created software that can generate music by listening to recordings. Other projects have seen computers write poems, edit photographs, and even compose a musical.

But who owns creative works generated by artificial intelligence? This isn’t just an academic question. AI is already being used to generate works in music, journalism and gaming, and these works could in theory be deemed free of copyright because they are not created by a human author.

This would mean they could be freely used and reused by anyone and that would be bad news for the companies selling them. Imagine you invest millions in a system that generates music for video games, only to find that music isn’t protected by law and can be used without payment by anyone in the world.

Unlike with earlier computer-generated works of art, machine learning software generates truly creative works without human input or intervention. AI is not just a tool. While humans program the algorithms, the decision making – the creative spark – comes almost entirely from the machine.
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Coffee under threat - BBC News

Coffee under threat - BBC News | Knowmads, Infocology of the future | Scoop.it
Coffee drinkers could face poorer-tasting, higher-priced brews, as a warming climate causes the amount of land suitable for coffee production to shrink, say scientists from London’s Kew Gardens.

Coffee production in Ethiopia, the birthplace of the high quality Arabica coffee bean and Africa’s largest exporter, could be in serious jeopardy over the next century unless action is taken, according to a report, published in Nature Plants today.

“In Ethiopia and all over the world really, if we do nothing there will be less coffee, it will probably taste worse and will cost more,” Dr Aaron Davis, coffee researcher at Kew and one of the report’s authors, told the BBC.

Consumption is forecast to outstrip production for the third consecutive year, according to figures from the intergovernmental body for coffee, the International Coffee Organization (ICO). So far, stockpiles accumulated in high production years have avoided any coffee shortages or price hikes.

But as exporters have been forced to tap into those supplies, their stock levels of coffee are currently low, the ICO says. Longer-term climate change worries aside, initial fears about this year’s weather in Brazil and Vietnam, the world’s two biggest coffee producers, have eased. Concerns remain though that any unforeseen weather events there in the next few months may mean a short-term bean shortage.

However, it is the longer-term outlook that is a greater cause for concern to farmers and coffee drinkers alike.

As Dr Tim Schilling, director of the World Coffee Research institute, an organisation funded by the global coffee industry, says: "The supply of high-quality coffee is severely threatened by climate change, diseases and pests, land pressure, and labour shortages - and demand for these coffees is rising every year". In some coffee areas, temperatures have already risen enough to begin having quality impacts, he adds.

“The logical result of that is that prices will need to rise, especially for the highest quality coffees, which are the most threatened,” he adds.
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TEF: everything you need to know about the new university rankings

TEF: everything you need to know about the new university rankings | Knowmads, Infocology of the future | Scoop.it
The results of the new Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) have now been announced. Universities across the UK have been ranked gold, silver or bronze based on the quality of their teaching, learning and student experience.

The results reveal that 59 higher education providers were rated gold, 116 silver and 56 bronze. Gold rated universities include Cambridge, Coventry, Huddersfield, Lancaster, Loughborough and Oxford.

Among the Russell Group universities – traditionally seen to be the best in the country – eight out of 21 institutions were awarded the gold rating, while 10 got silver. The world-renowned London School of Economics was awarded the lowest bronze rating, as was Liverpool, Southampton, Goldsmiths and the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS).

All of these universities were outperformed in the TEF by newer universities such as Liverpool Hope and Lincoln, along with small specialist institutions including The Royal Veterinary College and Royal Northern College of Music – which are among those awarded the gold standard.

While these new rankings present something of a mixed picture in comparison to traditional league tables, it’s hoped they will help students make informed choices about which degree course might be right for them. But many universities awarded with the lowest bronze level have criticised the system as unfair and unreliable.

Here’s how you can make sense of the new rankings.
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Why Humans Have Such Big Brains

Why Humans Have Such Big Brains | Knowmads, Infocology of the future | Scoop.it
Humans are the only ultrasocial creature on the planet. We have outcompeted, interbred or even killed off all other hominin species.

We cohabit in cities of tens of millions of people and, despite what the media tell us, violence between individuals is extremely rare. This is because we have an extremely large, flexible and complex "social brain".

To truly understand how the brain maintains our human intellect, we would need to know about the state of all 86 billion neurons and their 100 trillion interconnections, as well as the varying strengths with which they are connected, and the state of more than 1,000 proteins that exist at each connection point.

Neurobiologist Steven Rose suggests that even this is not enough – we would still need know how these connections have evolved over a person's lifetime and even the social context in which they had occurred. It may take centuries just to figure out basic neuronal connectivity.

Many people assume that our brain operates like a powerful computer. But Robert Epstein, a psychologist at the American Institute for Behavioural Research and Technology, says this is just shoddy thinking and is holding back our understanding of the human brain.

Because, while humans start with senses, reflexes and learning mechanisms, we are not born with any of the information, rules, algorithms or other key design elements that allow computers to behave somewhat intelligently.

For instance, computers store exact copies of data that persist for long periods of time, even when the power is switched off.

Our brains, meanwhile, are capable of creating false data or false memories, and they only maintain our intellect as long as we remain alive.
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rubdelete's comment, June 22, 2:20 AM
nice
prgnewshawaii's curator insight, June 22, 8:16 PM

The most intricate and complex computer around is the human brain.  Our so-called "social" brain and ability to make rapid changes helped us to become the top predator in the food chain. Let's hope we're clever and flexible enough to maintain our species without destroying ourselves.

Russell Roberts

Hawaii Intelligence Digest

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Is There a Multidimensional Mathematical World Hidden in the Brain’s Computation?

Is There a Multidimensional Mathematical World Hidden in the Brain’s Computation? | Knowmads, Infocology of the future | Scoop.it
Two thousand years ago, the ancient Greeks looked into the night sky and saw geometric shapes emerge among the stars: a hunter, a lion, a water vase.

In a way, they used these constellations to make sense of the random scattering of stars in the fabric of the universe. By translating astronomy into shapes, they found a way to seek order and meaning in a highly complex system.

As it turns out, the Greeks were wrong: most stars in a constellation don’t have much to do with one another. But their approach lives on.

This week, the Blue Brain Project proposed a fascinating idea that may explain the complexities of the human brain. Using algebraic topology, a type of mathematics that “projects” complex connections into graphs, they mapped out a path for complex functions to emerge from the structure of neural networks.

And get this: while the brain physically inhabits our three-dimensional world, its inner connections—mathematically speaking—operate on a much higher dimensional space. In human speak: the assembly and disassembly of neural connections are massively complex, more so than expected. But now we may have a language to describe them.

“We found a world that we had never imagined,” says Dr. Henry Markram, director of Blue Brain Project and professor at the EPFL in Lausanne, Switzerland who led the study.
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Here's How to Backup Life on Earth Ahead of Any Doomsday Event

Here's How to Backup Life on Earth Ahead of Any Doomsday Event | Knowmads, Infocology of the future | Scoop.it
There are ten asteroids that the space organisation NASA said last month have been classified as "potentially hazardous" based on their size and their orbits in our Solar system.

NASA has now identified 693 near-Earth objects thanks to the Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer spacecraft that's been looking for potential threats to Earth since 2013.

The organisation doesn't specify what kind of hazard these ten asteroids pose.

But Earth has been hit by objects in the past, with devastating effects. Scientists largely agree that it was an asteroid or comet impact that started the chain of events that wiped out the dinosaurs around 60 million years ago.

Every year several previously unseen asteroids whizz past Earth, sometimes with only with a few days' warning. This year two of these asteroids came very close to Earth, with one in May sailing past only 15,000km away.

On cosmic scales, that was a very close shave.

But impacts from objects in space are just one of several ways that humanity and most of life on Earth could suddenly disappear.

We are already observing that extinctions are happening now at an unprecedented rate. In 2014 it was estimated that the extinction rate is now 1,000 times greater than before humans were on the Earth.

The estimated number of extinctions ranges from 200 to 2,000 species per year.

From all of this very worrying data, it would not be a stretch to say that we are currently within a doomsday scenario. Of course, the "day" is longer than 24 hours but may be instead in the order of a century or two.

So what can we do about this potential prospect of impending doom? We can try to avoid some of the likely scenarios.

We should act to tackle climate change and we can develop new asteroid-tracking systems and put in place a means to deflect an asteroid on a collision course with Earth.
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feignedloutish's comment, June 21, 3:19 AM
Nice
prgnewshawaii's curator insight, June 22, 8:21 PM

It's only a matter of time before a big interstellar rock strikes Earth.  Most of our problems will then be over.  Hopefully, we can resolve our petty differences on this planet and focus more attention on our survival.  If weren't not careful, we will join the dinosaurs who were erased 65 million years ago.

Russell Roberts

Hawaii Intelligence Digest

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DNA Replication Has Been Filmed For The First Time, And It's Not What We Expected

DNA Replication Has Been Filmed For The First Time, And It's Not What We Expected | Knowmads, Infocology of the future | Scoop.it
Here's proof of how far we've come in science - in a world-first, researchers have recorded up-close footage of a single DNA molecule replicating itself, and it's raising questions about how we assumed the process played out.

The real-time footage has revealed that this fundamental part of life incorporates an unexpected amount of 'randomness', and it could force a major rethink into how genetic replication occurs without mutations.

"It's a real paradigm shift, and undermines a great deal of what's in the textbooks," says one of the team, Stephen Kowalczykowski from the University of California, Davis.

"It's a different way of thinking about replication that raises new questions."

The DNA double helix consists of two intertwining strands of genetic material made up of four different bases - guanine, thymine, cytosine, and adenine (G, T, C and A).

Replication occurs when an enzyme called helicase unwinds and unzips the double helix into two single strands.

A second enzyme called primase attaches a 'primer' to each of these unravelled strands, and a third enzyme called DNA polymerase attaches at this primer, and adds additional bases to form a whole new double helix.
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Dogs have learnt to put up with unfairness from humans, study suggests

Dogs have learnt to put up with unfairness from humans, study suggests | Knowmads, Infocology of the future | Scoop.it
Dogs have their own innate sense of fairness and did not learn this from humans as previously believed, a new study has concluded.

In fact the research suggested the opposite may be true – that dogs have learned greater acceptance of inequitable treatment as a result of their close relationship with people.

In tests, wolves and dogs would both refuse to take part if they received no reward for pressing a buzzer while a partner animal got one for doing so. The same was true if they received a lower quality prize.

It was thought that dogs had learned the importance of equality – seen as a sophisticated trait found in humans and some primates – during the domestication process, but the study found the wolves displayed a greater reluctance to take part once they realised what was going on.
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prgnewshawaii's curator insight, June 19, 4:24 PM

Dogs are a lot smarter than we think. They've learned to put up with humans, while we can't even get along with our own species.

Russell Roberts

Hawaii Intelligence Digest

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This Machine Could Print Synthetic Life Forms on Demand, And Our Minds Are Reeling

This Machine Could Print Synthetic Life Forms on Demand, And Our Minds Are Reeling | Knowmads, Infocology of the future | Scoop.it
Back in 2016, biologist Craig Venter achieved something extraordinary. He built a new species of bacteria from scratch in the lab - the simplest genetic life form known to science, made entirely through chemical synthesis of a custom-made genome.

Now, he's unveiled a new machine that could print these synthetic life forms on demand - simply feed in a genome design, and let the 'ink' form the building blocks of life. The invention could see us colonise Mars with synthetic life without ever setting foot on the Red Planet, and Venter and Elon Musk have teamed up to make this happen.

Called 'biological teleportation', the technique could allow scientists to email the genome from Earth to a printer on Mars, theoretically allowing us to colonise the Red Planet from afar.

"I think biological teleportation is what is going to truly enable the colonisation of Mars," Venter told his biographer Ashlee Vance back in 2015.

"Elon and I have been talking about how this might play out."

The new tabletop prototype, called the digital-to-biological converter (DBC), is the first machine that can receive genetic sequences via the internet or radio waves.

That means it can print the four chemical bases of DNA - guanine, thymine, cytosine, and adenine (G, T, C and A) - via remote control to form various biological components.

"Just like a printer, it needs cassettes, but instead of colours, it's bottles of chemicals," Venter told Jordan Pearson at Motherboard.

"It's packaging complex biology that each of our tiny cells do remarkably well at a much, much smaller scale."

Venter has been working on this prototype for years now, but a new study describes how it's finally been able to produce biological compounds such as DNA templates, RNA molecules, proteins, and viral particles without any human intervention.

The printer has also made functional influenza viral particles (H1N1), and bacteriophages that can fight bacterial infections.
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Enerzeapowersolution's comment, June 17, 5:12 AM
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prgnewshawaii's curator insight, June 18, 11:15 AM

Be careful what you wish for.  Amazing as this technology is for improving health and well-being, it can be abused and used for nefarious purposes.  A wondrous technology with many ethical and social consequences.

Russell Roberts

Hawaii Intelligence Digest