News

Microscopic Robots Ready to Patrol Your Body

Posted by Peter Rudin on 18. September 2020 in News No Comments

Tiny robots have long captured our imagination, especially for their promise in medicine. Famed physicist Dr. Richard Feynman imagined teams of “swallowable surgeons” that roam the body and perform surgeries on demand.

Last week researchers at Cornell University tackled one of the most pressing problems in micro-robotics: getting those robots to move in a controllable manner. 

At just 40 μm wide and 70 μm long – smaller than single-celled algae – the width of the average human hair and on par with a grain of salt, the robots are the smallest micro-robots with onboard electronics in existence so far developed. Their small size makes it easy for them to get sucked into the narrowest needles without damage.

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Elon Musk’s Neuralink is Neuroscience Theater

Posted by Peter Rudin on 4. September 2020 in News No Comments

Discover the nature of consciousness, cure blindness, paralysis, deafness, and mental illness – those are just a few of the applications that Elon Musk and his 4-year old company Neuralink believe electronic brain-computer interfaces will one day bring about.

However, in a widely publicised event last month, Neuralink has provided no evidence that it can (or has even tried to) treat depression, insomnia, or a dozen other diseases. It is unclear how serious the company is about treating disease at all.

Musk continually drifted away from medicine and back to a much more futuristic “general population device,” which he called the company’s “overall” aim. He believes that people should connect directly to computers to keep pace with artificial intelligence.

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Facebook and other tech giants ‘too big to fail’?

Posted by Peter Rudin on 21. August 2020 in News No Comments

Like banks in the 2008 financial crisis, Facebook and other tech giants are “too big to fail”, according to research from Oxford University that calls for new regulations to protect users, and society, in the event of a possible collapse.

In their paper, Carl Öhman and Nikita Aggarwal argue that the world’s biggest technology companies are unlikely to suddenly go out of business – but the world is unprepared for what would happen if they did.

For users, the collapse of Facebook could have wide-ranging ramifications. Most immediately, losing use of the site itself. That, notes Aggarwal, is a particularly acute problem in many developing countries, “where Facebook is the main way people communicate”.

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AI to Make Drug Discovery Fast and Personalized

Posted by Peter Rudin on 7. August 2020 in News No Comments

The sobering truth is that 90 percent of all drug possibilities fail. The few that do succeed take an average of 10 years to reach the market and cost anywhere from $2.5 billion to $12 billion to get there.

Covid-19 is uniting the global scientific community with its urgency, prompting scientists to cast aside nation-specific territorialism, research secrecy, and academic publishing politics in favour of expedited therapeutic and vaccine development efforts.

Riding the convergence of massive datasets, skyrocketing computational power and remarkable innovations in AI, we are not far from a world in which personalized drugs, delivered directly to specified targets, will graduate to the standard of care.

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Inside a Cyber-Ransomware Attack

Posted by Peter Rudin on 24. July 2020 in News No Comments

Security researchers have revealed the anatomy of a cyber-attack, showing how cyber criminals gained access to a network and deployed ransomware.

The network was initially infected with the Trickbot malware before the hackers started to hunt around to find out how to make money out of it.

From the initial Trickbot infection, through profiling the network, to finally initiating the Ryuk malware attack took around two weeks.

According to the FBI, Ryuk is an extremely lucrative project for its criminal developers, generating roughly USD 61 Mio. in ransom between February 2018 and October 2019. More sophisticated extortion attempts are expected to follow.

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Artificial Brains May Need Sleep Too!

Posted by Peter Rudin on 10. July 2020 in News No Comments

“We study spiking neural networks, which are systems that learn much as living brains do,” says Los Alamos National Laboratory computer scientist Yijing Watkins. “We are fascinated by the prospect of training a neuromorphic processor in a manner analogous to how humans and other biological systems learn from their environment during childhood development.”

Watkins and her research team found that the network simulations became unstable after continuous periods of unsupervised learning. When they exposed the networks to states that are analogous to the waves that living brains experience during sleep, stability was restored. “It was as though we were giving the neural networks the equivalent of a good night’s rest,” said Watkins.

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MIT Wants to Put AI in Your Pocket

Posted by Peter Rudin on 26. June 2020 in News No Comments

The human brain operates on roughly 20 watts of power in a space defined by the volume of the human skull. The biggest machine learning algorithms use closer to a nuclear power plant’s  worth of electricity and racks of processors to learn.

There is a branch of computer chip design mimicking the brain with super-efficient neuromorphic chips, aiming to take AI off the cloud and put it in your pocket.

Whereas computers use separate digital components for processing and memory—the MIT chip uses analogue components, called memristors, that process and store information in the same place with tens of thousands of artificial synapses modelling the functionality of the  human brain.

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Microsoft replaces dozens of journalists with AI

Posted by Peter Rudin on 12. June 2020 in News No Comments

Microsoft is replacing dozens of contract journalists with AI systems, in a move to save money and streamline content curation.

The tech giant currently employs full-time staff as well as contract news producers to help curate and edit homepage news on its Microsoft News platform and Microsoft Edge browser.

According to some analysts, AI is not advanced enough yet to handle the duties of human employees at the same skill level, and Microsoft is making a risky move by replacing so many employees.

Using AI for content curation is not new. Many social media, video and news platforms have been using AI to recommend content or remove inappropriate content for years.

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AI-Powered Biotech to Deploy Vaccines in Record Time

Posted by Peter Rudin on 29. May 2020 in News No Comments

The impact of the Covid-19 pandemic will largely depend on how quickly safe and effective vaccines can be developed and tested. Some believe that it will take 12- to 18-months. The best bet to reduce that record-breaking timeline is by using artificial intelligence.

AI simulations have the potential to test all the trillions of possibilities with tens of thousands of (simulated) patients for a (simulated) period of many years and do all of this in a matter of hours or days.

Amplifying progress in creating new medications for diseases is among the most profound near-term objectives of AI, but it will also be enormously valuable when the next pandemic strikes. Deploying an effective cure in weeks could save millions of lives.

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DeepMind Compares the Way Children and AI Explore

Posted by Peter Rudin on 15. May 2020 in News No Comments

In a preprint paper, researchers at Alphabet’s DeepMind and the University of California, Berkeley propose a framework for comparing the ways children and AI learn about the world.

Exploration is a key feature of human behavior, and recent evidence suggests children explore their surroundings more often than adults. This is thought to translate to more learning that enables powerful, abstract task generalization — a type of generalization AI agents could tangibly benefit from.

The work could help close the gap between AI and humans when it comes to acquiring new abilities. For instance, it might lead to robots that can pick and pack millions of different kinds of products while avoiding various obstacles.

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