A collection of analytical articles and advanced research information spiced with mind blowing videos of excellent thinkers and amazing technologies. Explore the rapid advancement of science and technology and the long term impact on society and the future of humanity! Check the filters for the covered topics! Share if you like! Welcome!
Some engineers are dusting off an old idea for storing energy—using electricity to liquefy air by cooling it down to nearly 200 °C below zero. When power is needed, the liquefied air is allowed to warm up and expand to drive a steam turbine and generator. The concept is being evaluated by a handful of companies that produce liquefied nitrogen as a way to store energy from intermittent renewable energy sources. Liquefied air might also be used to drive pistons in the engines of low-emission vehicles.
Computers aren’t just getting better, they’re getting smarter. Sixteen years ago, a software program beat the reigning chess champion. IBM had spent seven years creating it, and it was time well spent. The victory got the world’s attention and proved that superior computation skills could at least sometimes add up to superior performance. Two years ago, IBM’s Watson software beat the world’s two best players in the television game show “Jeopardy!” Although “Jeopardy!” is a test of trivia, the victory was anything but trivial. It showed how well artificial intelligence researchers could process ordinary language and extract knowledge from unstructured databases. Since then, Watson has been put to work learning something a lot less trivial—medical diagnosis. But that’s still a very limited domain—in fact, it’s restricted to cancer diagnoses so far. But IBM is also looking to the long term. It has given one of the world’s leading AI researchers, at a leading university for AI, an open-ended three-year charter to make Watson smarter.
Robots began replacing human brawn long ago—now they’re poised to replace human brains. Moshe Vardi, a computer science professor at Rice University, thinks that by 2045 artificially intelligent machines may be capable of “if not any work that humans can do, then, at least, a very significant fraction of the work that humans can do.”
Some believe in a utopian future, in which humans can transcend their physical limitations with the aid of machines. But others think humans will eventually relinquish most of their abilities and gradually become absorbed into artificial intelligence (AI)-based organisms, much like the energy making machinery in our own cells.
Biologists have successfully extended the life spans of some mice by as much as 70%, leading many to believe that ongoing experimentation on our mammalian cousins will eventually lead to life-extending therapies in humans. But how reliable are these studies? And do they really apply to humans?
Amon Kalkin is a cognitive scientist, electronic artist and founder of Zero State. He is 40 years old, born in New Zealand and living in the UK, where he spends his time raising a young family and gardening when he isn’t working to create a sphere of influence for positive futurist values.
Danish scientists are hoping for results that will show that “finding a mass-distributable and affordable cure to HIV is possible”.
They are conducting a clinical trial to test a “novel strategy” in which the HIV virus is "reactivated" from its hiding place within human DNA and potentially destroyed permanently by the immune system.
The move would represent a step forward in the attempt to find a cure for the virus, which causes Aids.
The scientists are currently conducting human trials on their treatment, in the hope of proving that it is effective. It has already been found to work in laboratory tests.
The technique involves unmasking the “reservoirs” formed by the HIV virus inside resting immune cells, bringing it to the surface of the cells. Once it comes to the surface, the body’s natural immune system may be able to kill the virus.
The forecast for the future of rainfall on Earth is in: over the next hundred years, areas that receive lots of precipitation right now are only going to get wetter, and dry areas will go for longer periods without seeing a drop, according to a new NASA-led study on global warming. "We looked at rainfall of different types," said William Lau, NASA's deputy director of atmospheric studies and the lead author of the study, in a phone interview with The Verge. "The extreme heavy rain end the prolonged drought side both increase drastically and are also connected physically."
Professor Paul Newman discusses the present and future state of robotics: asking how the state of the discipline measures up to science fiction, and discussing how Robots can learn to navigate our world, with profound consequences for society
Australian scientists have developed a breakthrough technique to read information stored on single atoms that will significantly improve the accuracy of future quantum computers. The University of NSW-led team is the first in the world to use light combined with electrical signals to detect and read information stored on single atoms - the atomic structures that will form the basic storage and processing units of super-powerful quantum computers.
A group of researchers from the University of Duisburg Essen in Germany used fMRI (functional magnetic resonance imaging) to come to the finding, tracking blood flow in the brains of 14 study participants when they were shown videos of humans, robots and inanimate objects being treated either affectionately or harshly. The researchers, who will present their findings at the June International Communication Association conference in London, found that when participants were shown videos of a robot (a product called Pleo, which resembles a dinosaur) petted, tickled and fed, areas in their limbic structures—a region of the brain believed to be involved in emotional responses—activated. When they were shown videos of a human getting a massage, the same sorts of neural activity occurred. The same pattern also occurred when the participants were shown videos of the robots and humans being treated harshly—shaken, dropped or suffocated with a plastic bag—but with a twist. Interestingly, their fMRI results showed levels of limbic activity much greater when they saw humans treated poorly than when they saw the robots. This correlated with the responses on surveys that the participants took after watching the videos, on which they reported some empathy for the robots, but more for the humans.
Homes and buildings chilled without air conditioners. Car interiors that don't heat up in the summer sun. Tapping the frigid expanses of outer space to cool the planet. Science fiction, you say? Well, maybe not any more. A team of researchers at Stanford has designed an entirely new form of cooling structure that cools even when the sun is shining. Such a structure could vastly improve the daylight cooling of buildings, cars and other structures by reflecting sunlight back into the chilly vacuum of space.
IBM’s question-answering Watson supercomputer is building quite the résumé. First it won a much-publicized showdownagainst the two greatest Jeopardy! champions of all time, then it went to medical school and emerged as a budding oncologist. Now Watson has a new job–as a customer-service agent with the mostest. The help desk is a bit of a step down from fighting cancer, but IBM is nothing if not pragmatic. U.S. organizations spend $112 billion on call center labor and software, yet half of the 270 billion customer-service calls go unresolved each year, presenting a fairly sizable opening for an enhanced cognitive computer. Let’s face it: Rare is the occasion when you a) reach a live person and b) they know what they’re talking about. Why not give silicon a chance?
Against all probability, a device that purports to use cold fusion to generate vast amounts of power has been verified by a panel of independent scientists. The research paper, which hasn’t yet undergone peer review, seems to confirm both the existence of cold fusion, and its potency: The cold fusion device being tested has roughly 10,000 times the energy density and 1,000 times the power density of gasoline. Even allowing for a massively conservative margin of error, the scientists say that the cold fusion device they tested is 10 times more powerful than gasoline — which is currently the best fuel readily available to mankind. The device being tested, called by Energy Catalyzer (E-Cat for short), was created by Andrea Rossi. Rossi has been claiming for the past two years that he had finally cracked cold fusion, but much to the chagrin of the scientific community he hasn’t allowed anyone to independently analyze the device — until now. While it sounds like the scientists had a fairly free rein while testing the E-Cat, we should stress that they still don’t know exactly what’s going on inside the sealed steel cylinder reactor. Still, the seven scientists, all from good European universities, obviously felt confident enough with their findings to publish the research paper.
Though establishing a basic income was once at the forefront of politics, it has since become more of a Utopian, abstract project. But sometimes it is helpful to step back from the day-to-day wonk work and think Utopian.
As we begin to scratch at the basic workings of life, we’ll also inevitably come up against the mechanics of death. Real life extension science is on the horizon, and we should have a belief in place about how to approach these areas of science, because progress is not going to wait while we grapple with imponderables.
There’s a theory that human intelligence stems from a single algorithm. The idea arises from experiments suggesting that the portion of your brain dedicated to processing sound from your ears could also handle sight for your eyes. This is possible only while your brain is in the earliest stages of development, but it implies that the brain is — at its core — a general-purpose machine that can be tuned to specific tasks. About seven years ago, Stanford computer science professor Andrew Ng stumbled across this theory, and it changed the course of his career, reigniting a passion for artificial intelligence, or AI. “For the first time in my life,” Ng says, “it made me feel like it might be possible to make some progress on a small part of the AI dream within our lifetime.”
Rethink doesn't want to be just a robot maker. It wants to use Baxter as platform that anyone can use to improve on existing applications as well as develop completely new ones. To achieve that, Rethink needs to open up its technology, and last week, the company announced a major step in that direction: a version of Baxter designed for researchers.
It's not an accredited university, and it doesn't actually teach the singuarity, the supposed superintelligence that will result when man merges with machine, due (according to prolific inventor and author Ray Kurzweil) sometime around 2045. Still, the official welcome at Singularity University's (SU) opening executive-programme class this fresh December afternoon in Nasa's Ames research campus, at Moffett Federal Airfield, California, is delivered -- appropriately -- by a 60cm-tall NAO humanoid robot. "I am so excited to see you all here," the robot beams to about 80 investors, inventors, entrepreneurs, philanthropists and otherwise future-curious students who have committed up to $12,000 (£7,650) each to spend seven days here exploring advances in biotech, nanotech, AI, robotics, neuroscience, energy systems and other accelerating technologies. The week's takeaways, declares SU's CEO Rob Nail, will be the opportunities offered by abundance, disruptive convergence, "109 thinking", problem-solving and "exponential technological challenges". "It gets really interesting," Nail says, "at the borders of, say, robotics and medicine, or nanotech and neuroscience." Even the course Wi-Fi password is "12481632" -- chosen because "it's exponential".
While we can measure the degree to which technologies transcend physical and physiological boundaries, we can merely speculate about the ethical consequences of these developments and about their effect on human self-perception. The merging of human consciousness and technology changes not only the latter, but also the former. And the question is whether technology will become more human in the long run, or whether humans will become more technical.
An exciting new study published in the prestigious journal Nature shows for the first time that manipulation of a brain chemical in a single region influences lifespan.
The authors conclude:
"To summarize, our study using several mouse models demonstrates that the hypothalamus is important for systemic ageing and lifespan control. This hypothalamic role is significantly mediated by IKK-band NF-kB-directed hypothalamic innate immunity involving microglia–neuron crosstalk. The underlying basis includes integration between immunity and neuroendocrine of the hypothalamus, and immune inhibition and GnRH restoration in the hypothalamus or the brain represent two potential strategies for combating ageing-related health problems."
A group at Tokyo Institute of Technology, led by Dr. Osamu Hasegawa, has succeeded in making further advances with SOINN, their machine learning algorithm, which can now use the internet to learn how to perform new tasks. The system, which is under development as an artificial brain for autonomous mental development robots, is currently being used to learn about objects in photos using image searches on the internet. It can also take aspects of other known objects and combine them to make guesses about objects it doesn't yet recognize.
Google has always been an artificial intelligence company, so it really shouldn’t have been a surprise that Ray Kurzweil, one of the leading scientists in the field, joined the search giant late last year. Nonetheless, the hiring raised some eyebrows, since Kurzweil is perhaps the most prominent proselytizer of “hard AI,” which argues that it is possible to create consciousness in an artificial being. Add to this Google’s revelation that it is using techniques of deep learning to produce an artificial brain, and a subsequent hiring of the godfather of computer neural nets Geoffrey Hinton, and it would seem that Google is becoming the most daring developer of AI, a fact that some may consider thrilling and others deeply unsettling. Or both.