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Mark Bruce has been at 1 events

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NASA2,451,840The most advanced robot ever sent to another world is set to land on Aug. 5, 2012 (PDT). Will you be watching? Mars Science Laboratory will deliver the Curiosity rover to the surface of Mars at approximately 10:31 p.m. PDT on Aug. 5 (1:31 a.m. EDT and 5:31 a.m. UTC on Aug. 6). Curiosity, carrying laboratory instruments to analyze samples of rocks, soil and atmosphere, will investigate whether Mars has ever offered environmental conditions favorable for microbial life. NASA TV will broadcast live from mission control at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., during Curiosity’s critical entry, descent and landing phase. Two live feeds of video during key landing activities from mission control rooms at JPL will be carried on NASA TV, NASA TV online http://www.nasa.gov/multimedia/nasatv/index.html and Ustream http://www.ustream.tv/ between 8:30 and 11:00 p.m. PDT on Aug. 5 (11:30 p.m. Aug. 5 to 2:00 a.m. Aug. 6 EDT), and between 12:30 and 1:30 a.m. PDT on Aug. 6 (3:30 to 4:30 a.m. EDT). The NASA TV Public Channel and http://www.ustream.tv/nasajpl will carry a feed including commentary and interviews. The NASA TV Media Channel and http://www.ustream.tv/nasajpl2 will carry an uninterrupted, clean feed. Follow the mission on Facebook and on Twitter at http://www.facebook.com/marscuriosity and http://www.twitter.com/marscuriosity.NASA's Curiosity Mars Rover Landing2012-08-06 02:00:002192  

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Most comments: 47

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2015-05-25 12:04:54 (47 comments, 1 reshares, 55 +1s)Open 

Saw this movie yesterday.
Good. Hard. Sci-Fi. Loved it. Surprised me.
Did not end how I expected and another factor I was sure would be revealed, wasn't. 
Preface any spoiler comments with a warning!

Most reshares: 51

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2015-06-28 08:37:34 (13 comments, 51 reshares, 96 +1s)Open 

SciTech #ScienceSunday Digest - 26/2015.
Permalink here: http://www.scitechdigest.net/2015/06/functional-artificial-neuron-free-air.html 

Square bacterial division, Nanoscale geometric grids, Functional artificial neuron, Free-air holograms, Digital microfluidics, Memory in synapses, Heart powered pacemakers, Lithium battery fabrication, Nuclear spin computing, Ultra-high-res 3D prints. 

1. Squaring Bacteria: Mechanisms of Division
New techniques allow bacteria to be confined and grown into unusual shapes that they would never normally assume, including squares, triangles, and perfect circles, and related methods allow or force the bacteria to grow 30 times larger than normal http://www.tudelft.nl/en/current/latest-news/article/detail/vierkant-driehoek-cirkel-ongeacht-hun-vorm-weten-bacterien-waar-ze-moeten-delen-met-een-bee/. Such bacteria canst... more »

Most plusones: 126

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2015-06-14 13:01:42 (22 comments, 46 reshares, 126 +1s)Open 

Superintelligence

I’ve just finished reading Nick Bostrom’s Superintelligence: Paths, Dangers, Strategies. I have a strong interest in the development of artificially intelligent machines in general and follow the weekly advances and announcements in the field of artificial intelligence as our species inches towards the ability to birth artificial general intelligence. I’ve read quite a bit of the philosophy concerning the arrival of machines smarter than ourselves and am generally familiar with the profound opportunities and risks associated with the arrival of such entities for humanity. But I consider myself loosely informed, not well informed, on this topic and so it was only a matter of time before I sat down with Nick’s book. 

If you’re in a similar position to myself, have an interest in these topics, are curious about the rise of artificial intelligence,possess op... more »

Latest 50 posts

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2015-07-30 07:34:18 (38 comments, 15 reshares, 45 +1s)Open 

Rationally Considering Autonomous Weapons and Ethics

This article from IEEE Spectrum presents one of the more rational discussions and counterpoints to the whole banning autonomous weapons theme in recent weeks. We Should Not Ban ‘Killer Robots’ and Here’s Why http://spectrum.ieee.org/automaton/robotics/artificial-intelligence/we-should-not-ban-killer-robots. The article builds on and extends my own thoughts and feelings on the topic that I first described here https://plus.google.com/u/0/+MarkBruce/posts/dvsWMFLV9Vi, agreeing that autonomous weapons are a bad thing but there is no way of stopping their development and likely deployment. It asks whether autonomous weapons on the battlefield are in fact more ethical than the alternatives given they may lead to significantly reduced casualties, both combat and most importantly civilian, particularly with the hypothetical abilityof au... more »

Rationally Considering Autonomous Weapons and Ethics

This article from IEEE Spectrum presents one of the more rational discussions and counterpoints to the whole banning autonomous weapons theme in recent weeks. We Should Not Ban ‘Killer Robots’ and Here’s Why http://spectrum.ieee.org/automaton/robotics/artificial-intelligence/we-should-not-ban-killer-robots. The article builds on and extends my own thoughts and feelings on the topic that I first described here https://plus.google.com/u/0/+MarkBruce/posts/dvsWMFLV9Vi, agreeing that autonomous weapons are a bad thing but there is no way of stopping their development and likely deployment. It asks whether autonomous weapons on the battlefield are in fact more ethical than the alternatives given they may lead to significantly reduced casualties, both combat and most importantly civilian, particularly with the hypothetical ability of autonomous weapons to follow far stricter rules of engagement better than any human. 

A few quotes:

The barriers keeping people from developing this kind of system are just too low.

What we really need, then, is a way of making autonomous armed robots ethical, because we’re not going to be able to prevent them from existing.

If autonomous armed robots really do have at least the potential reduce casualties, aren’t we then ethically obligated to develop them?

Blaming technology for the decisions that we make involving it is at best counterproductive and at worst nonsensical. Any technology can be used for evil, and many technologies that were developed to kill people are now responsible for some of our greatest achievements, from harnessing nuclear power to riding a ballistic missile into space.

Perhaps the biggest surprise for me regarding this issue and the open letter that sparked this larger awareness and debate is how polarising it has been, and how many people seem incapable of rationally discussing the issues, instead preferring to assume an air of moral superiority while shouting down all who dare to question otherwise. 

Philosophy and Ethics in Autonomous Vehicles

In a closely related area concerning the behaviour of autonomous vehicles on our roads I was recently involved in a discussion thread where I mentioned that philosophical “Trolley Problems” (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trolley_problem) would have to be tackled at some point with regard to the operation of these vehicles. The most basic example is when you flick a switch that results in one person being killed in order to save many people from being killed.

And, of course, we see this week that a great many people are already working on this problem with this summary article How to Help Self-Driving Cars Make Ethical Decisions http://www.technologyreview.com/news/539731/how-to-help-self-driving-cars-make-ethical-decisions/. Again, as a simplistic example, if a young child runs onto the road in front of an autonomous passenger vehicle before it can stop, should the vehicle swerve into on-coming traffic to avoid the child? 

A few quotes:

Given the number of fatal traffic accidents that involve human error today, it could be considered unethical to introduce self-driving technology too slowly.

If you look at airbags, for example, inherent in that technology is the assumption that you’re going to save a lot of lives, and only kill a few.

As one of the commenters notes, the system becomes even better when all vehicles on the road are autonomous and able to communicate with each other: for example if a car swerves into on-coming traffic to miss a child then the on-coming traffic will know this and can react instantly and swerve to make room for the vehicle. 

#autonomous   #weapons   #vehicles  ___

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2015-07-26 14:44:30 (2 comments, 0 reshares, 29 +1s)Open 

Really nice little walk today.
10 minute drive from home. 
12⁰C - chilly but sunny and invigorating. 
Coffee and hummingbird cake afterwards at a nice little French cafe. 

Really nice little walk today.
10 minute drive from home. 
12⁰C - chilly but sunny and invigorating. 
Coffee and hummingbird cake afterwards at a nice little French cafe. ___

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2015-07-26 09:24:42 (5 comments, 36 reshares, 62 +1s)Open 

SciTech #ScienceSunday Digest - 30/2015.
Permalink here: http://www.scitechdigest.net/2015/07/brain-inspired-networking-scene.html 

Brain inspired networking, Scene description, Bacteria vs cancer, Deep learning genetics, Sophisticated DNA origami, Graphene on silicon, Viral immune aging, Stretchy conducting fibers, Biomimicking solar cells, Useful metal foams. 

1. Better Brain-Inspired Networking
New fundamental insights into how the growing brain develops neural networks through variable rates of synaptic pruning have led to the development of algorithms for building efficient computer networking architectures http://www.salk.edu/news/pressrelease_details.php?press_id=2096. Simulations of such networks suggest that they are more efficient than current computer networks, allowing more direct information flows, multiple paths to reachd... more »

SciTech #ScienceSunday Digest - 30/2015.
Permalink here: http://www.scitechdigest.net/2015/07/brain-inspired-networking-scene.html 

Brain inspired networking, Scene description, Bacteria vs cancer, Deep learning genetics, Sophisticated DNA origami, Graphene on silicon, Viral immune aging, Stretchy conducting fibers, Biomimicking solar cells, Useful metal foams. 

1. Better Brain-Inspired Networking
New fundamental insights into how the growing brain develops neural networks through variable rates of synaptic pruning have led to the development of algorithms for building efficient computer networking architectures http://www.salk.edu/news/pressrelease_details.php?press_id=2096. Simulations of such networks suggest that they are more efficient than current computer networks, allowing more direct information flows, multiple paths to reach destinations, and reduced risk of network failure. 

2. Image Recognition and Scene Description
Here’s an interesting and accessible update article on Stanford’s NeuralTalk algorithm that can analyse images, recognise objects in them, and describe the scene in natural language with regards to the relation between different objects and their number http://www.theverge.com/2015/7/17/8985699/stanford-neural-networks-image-recognition-google-study. This work continues to be developed and there are now far more examples of its use; it isn’t perfect and doesn’t yet work in all situations reliably but the results are impressive nonetheless and realtime relevant applications such as for autonomous vehicle operation are also being explored. In related news object recognition for robots takes a step forward http://newsoffice.mit.edu/2015/object-recognition-robots-0724. 

3. Bacteria that Kill Cancer Cells
An interesting twist on modern cancer immunotherapies involves the use of engineered bacterial strains that attack tumour cells by entering them and subsequently thrive and replicate in the low-oxygen environments that are usually present http://www.newsweek.com/programming-bacteria-kill-cancer-cells-355474. This whole field began with the observation that surgical tumour-removal patients were more likely to recover if they developed post-surgical infection. Engineered bacterial strains are designed to retain efficiency while reducing overall human toxicity. It’s also interesting to think about this in the sense of a lethal form of endosymbiosis. 

4. Deep Learning: Genetics and Sketching
A couple of interesting deep learning advances this week. First, Deep Genomics launches to offer advanced personalised medicine and genome analysis services to better predict the consequences of certain mutations on a person’s health http://www.deepgenomics.com/news/2015/7/22/meet-deep-genomics-a-start-up-bringing-the-power-of-deep-learning-to-genomics. Second, the Sketch-a-Net system demonstrated that it can correctly identify the subject of a line-drawn sketch better than a human can http://www.qmul.ac.uk/media/news/items/se/159633.html. In related news deep learning can recognise faces from just thermal images http://www.technologyreview.com/view/539656/deep-neural-nets-can-now-recognize-your-face-in-thermal-images/. 

5. Increasing Sophistication of DNA Origami
Improvements in computer aided design of 3D DNA origami structures now make it easier than ever to create custom, atomically-precise, 3D DNA origami materials http://www.theverge.com/2015/7/22/9013851/dna-nanotechnology-origami-3d-printing-automation-bunny. The algorithms will take an arbitrary 3D shape, optimise the interlocking DNA scaffolding to realise the shape at the nanoscale and determine the best DNA sequences that need to be produced in order to form the structures; in the example demonstration these included bunny rabbits, nanotubes, toruses, humanoids, icosahedra and other things. In the same week another group also pushed the boundaries with their 2D and 3D DNA origami patterns http://phys.org/news/2015-07-rare-built-dna-emerge.html.

6. Graphene-on-Silicon Innovations
A new wafer-scale ion-implantation synthesis method has demonstrated a simple and scalable way to produce uniform graphene sheets on silicon, potentially enabling integrated circuits that can more readily dissipate heat http://phys.org/news/2015-07-easy-scalable-method-graphene-silicon.html. In other work graphene on silicon creates a near frictionless surface in which two surfaces can slide past each other smoothly when separated by nanodiamond clusters that encase themselves in graphene nanoscrolls http://phys.org/news/2015-07-simulations-near-frictionless-material.html. 

7. Why Tackle a Virus that Causes No Symptoms
Infection and its recurrence by cytomegalovirus (CMV), which is prevalent throughout most of the population, causes few if any symptoms and so might be innocuous. But chronic life-long infection by this virus activates the immune system on an on-going basis and this leads to aging of the immune system, the accumulation of damage, and contributes to the reduction of immune efficiency with age https://www.fightaging.org/archives/2015/07/immune-profiling-the-contribution-of-cytomegalovirus-to-aging.php. So there are good reasons for developing therapies and interventions towards such a seemingly harmless virus. 

8. Stretchy, Electrically-Conducting Fibers
A new fiber material has been developed that can reversibly stretch to over 14 times its length while electrical conductivity increases by 200 times when fully stretched http://www.utdallas.edu/news/2015/7/23-31627_Scientists-Stretch-Electrically-Conducting-Fibers-_story-wide.html?WT.mc_id=NewsHomePageCenterColumn. The base fibers consist of a rubber core wrapped in carbon nanotube fibers, and these are engineered with a deliberate buckled structure that helps provide the beneficial properties. The group hope to develop applications in artificial muscles and machine actuators. 

9. Biomimicry Improves Solar Cells
A new solar cell design utilises a surface that mimics the texture and structure of the compound eyes of moths, albeit at much smaller feature sizes of 20nm, in order to exploit anti-reflective properties http://phys.org/news/2015-07-artificial-moth-eyes-silicon-solar.html. The surfaces are self-assembled from block copolymers and effectively reduce light reflections to less than 1% across all visible and near-infrared wavelengths of light. The self-assembly process appears scalable; hopefully this can be applied to commercial grade solar cells and other materials. 

10. Useful Properties for Metal Foams
Lightweight composite metal foam materials are effective at both blocking a range of radiation sources (x-rays, gamma rays, neutrons) and also absorbing high-impact collision energy https://news.ncsu.edu/2015/07/rabiei-foam-rays-2015/. Initial tests were very promising but the group believe further optimisation and improvements are possible, mainly with their lead candidate comprising stainless steel with small amounts of tungsten. Applications include nuclear safety and transportation, space exploration, and medical devices - particularly those that utilise radiation. 

Archive: http://www.scitechdigest.net/2015/07/brain-inspired-networking-scene.html___

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2015-07-23 10:42:26 (9 comments, 11 reshares, 62 +1s)Open 

Such a tiny, simple, geometric little piece of matter. 
Such a deleterious effect on energy levels and cognitive acuity :(

Such a tiny, simple, geometric little piece of matter. 
Such a deleterious effect on energy levels and cognitive acuity :(___

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2015-07-21 10:28:48 (18 comments, 12 reshares, 64 +1s)Open 

The First Autonomous Car Trial in the Southern Hemisphere Will Take Place in My Home City

This news took me completely by surprise today. I really had not expected an Australian trial of autonomous / self-driving vehicles so soon and I especially hadn't expected my home city of Adelaide in South Australia to be the first location in the southern hemisphere chosen for a trial of the future of transportation, to take place this November. Great news and very very happy to hear that it is taking place! 

Additional details and news article here: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-07-21/driverless-car-trials-held-in-adelaide/6636334 

To top it off I saw on the news my state's Premier (head of local government) say some encouraging things about trying to position the state for attracting and building new technology firms in this space, other politicians saying howmu... more »

The First Autonomous Car Trial in the Southern Hemisphere Will Take Place in My Home City

This news took me completely by surprise today. I really had not expected an Australian trial of autonomous / self-driving vehicles so soon and I especially hadn't expected my home city of Adelaide in South Australia to be the first location in the southern hemisphere chosen for a trial of the future of transportation, to take place this November. Great news and very very happy to hear that it is taking place! 

Additional details and news article here: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-07-21/driverless-car-trials-held-in-adelaide/6636334 

To top it off I saw on the news my state's Premier (head of local government) say some encouraging things about trying to position the state for attracting and building new technology firms in this space, other politicians saying how much safer these vehicles will be, the official announcement was made at a press conference outside of the building where I work, and the trial itself will take place on a stretch of road that is a 10 minute drive from where I live. Truly it is a wonder to see so many politicians so proactive with regards to the deployment of future-enabling technology! 

However, I couldn't help but note with some irony that South Australia (i) currently enjoys the highest unemployment rate of any state in Australia at 8.2% (http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-07-16/sa-records-almost-2000-job-losses-from-regional-areas/6625458) and (ii) looks to be one of the first jurisdictions in the country to proactively legislate for autonomous vehicles and encourage their introduction, which will have (IMO) a predictable impact on that official unemployment rate. We have lots and lots of taxi, truck, and bus drivers like everywhere else. 

Is it too much to hope that these same politicians might consider more radical government policies to position the state to support growing technological unemployment? 

#adelaide   #autonomous   #vehicle  ___

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2015-07-20 12:48:09 (2 comments, 3 reshares, 13 +1s)Open 

Alexander Bard: The Power of Creativity in an Ultra Connected World

For some reason the eccentric philosopher +Alexander Bard popped into my head recently and I decided to go binge-watch a playlist of some of his more recent talks. Ever engaging, ever challenging, and always out on the edge of current trends and social phenomena Alexander makes for intellectually stimulating entertainment whether you agree with him or not. 

The Power of Creativity in an Ultra Connected World is the talk that most stuck in my mind and the one that prompted this post: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-bZhJFBNvDw and a summary of choice excerpts and quotes follows:

The French revolution was really not a revolution, it was just people being able to read and write and spread information between themselves for the first time. People being able to read and write was historicallynew... more »

Alexander Bard: The Power of Creativity in an Ultra Connected World

For some reason the eccentric philosopher +Alexander Bard popped into my head recently and I decided to go binge-watch a playlist of some of his more recent talks. Ever engaging, ever challenging, and always out on the edge of current trends and social phenomena Alexander makes for intellectually stimulating entertainment whether you agree with him or not. 

The Power of Creativity in an Ultra Connected World is the talk that most stuck in my mind and the one that prompted this post: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-bZhJFBNvDw and a summary of choice excerpts and quotes follows:

The French revolution was really not a revolution, it was just people being able to read and write and spread information between themselves for the first time. People being able to read and write was historically new, something never seen before, and an extremely powerful force. 

Napoleon created the first army hierarchy powered by cannon fodder who could read and write. And this hierarchy was so successful that it was replicated to produce all modern institutions including nation states, bureaucracies, police forces, factories, corporations, schools, hospitals. 

All of our modern institutions are in crisis due to the Internet, which makes hierarchies irrelevant. 

Rene Descartes created the concept of the individual. Bettering yourself is the idea of being an individual. But individuality does not work online; it is the end of individualism. So the revolution began by Descartes and Napoleon over 200 years ago is going to happen all over again. 

The Internet is the revenge of the cannon fodder. The Internet is finally the chance of the cannon fodder to stand up to Napoleon and say “Screw you, we’re taking over.”

Kids today are not individuals; they have multiple online personas and identities . . . a human being is now essentially a smartphone with fat and muscle tissue wrapped around it. 

Creativity from now on is no longer something that a single male patriarch preaches to people. Creativity is the most wonderful fluid thing that occurs between very many people who decide and realise they are being creative together.

I first shared one of Alexander's talks about two and a half years ago here https://plus.google.com/u/0/+MarkBruce/posts/KmseE3VAhVx for the talk titled The Internet Revolution which was along similar themes and also very good. 

My binge also included What if the internet is God? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tXA7TewF53w and What if a free and open Internet is the only way to save the planet? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CLPAdYcqoK4. Both of these are also good in their own way but I found myself more disagreeable at first before I forced myself to relax, broaden my definitions of certain words and concepts, and just go with the flow to see what nice recombination of ideas might eventuate from Alexander's storytelling. To get the most out of these two talks I'd suggest doing the same. 

#philosophy   #internet   #society  ___

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2015-07-19 08:08:30 (12 comments, 29 reshares, 57 +1s)Open 

SciTech #ScienceSunday Digest - 29/2015.
Permalink here: http://www.scitechdigest.net/2015/07/gene-therapy-hearing-single-molecule.html 

Gene therapy hearing, Single molecule transistor, Better metamaterials, Crystal light traps, Optofluidic neural probe, Synthetic foods, New particle phenomena, New CRISPR tools, Memory tracking, Regenerating neuronal axons. 

1. Restoring Hearing with Gene Therapy
Deaf mice have had their hearing restored via a gene therapy that used a standard engineered adeno-associated virus to deliver a correct version of a single gene to sensory hair cells in the cochlea http://vector.childrenshospital.org/2015/07/gene-therapy-restores-hearing-in-deaf-mice/. The mechanistic insights into sound perception are equally nice to consider: the gene encodes a channel protein that sits on the microvilli of sensory hair cells whosed... more »

SciTech #ScienceSunday Digest - 29/2015.
Permalink here: http://www.scitechdigest.net/2015/07/gene-therapy-hearing-single-molecule.html 

Gene therapy hearing, Single molecule transistor, Better metamaterials, Crystal light traps, Optofluidic neural probe, Synthetic foods, New particle phenomena, New CRISPR tools, Memory tracking, Regenerating neuronal axons. 

1. Restoring Hearing with Gene Therapy
Deaf mice have had their hearing restored via a gene therapy that used a standard engineered adeno-associated virus to deliver a correct version of a single gene to sensory hair cells in the cochlea http://vector.childrenshospital.org/2015/07/gene-therapy-restores-hearing-in-deaf-mice/. The mechanistic insights into sound perception are equally nice to consider: the gene encodes a channel protein that sits on the microvilli of sensory hair cells whose deformation due to pressure waves causes the channels to open and allow calcium ions to enter the cell. There are a number of different genes that can cause deafness and this platform might be tailored to correct all of them as needed depending on the genetics of each patient. 

2. Single Molecule Transistor
A basic experimental transistor has been demonstrated that consists of a single phthalocyanine molecule surrounded by a hexagon of 12 indium atoms http://phys.org/news/2015-07-transistor-molecule-atoms.html. At this scale structures are hypersensitive to single electron hops and in this case fabricated with a scanning tunnelling microscope; it turns out that electron flow across the molecule is coupled to the orientation of the surface-bound molecule and is capable of generating large conductance gaps. 

3. Improvements in Metamaterial Designs
A few interesting new metamaterial designs this week. First, a new and incredibly thin carpet cloak has been designed to incorporate periodic teflon and ceramic dielectric structures that can effectively bend light to shield anything beneath the cloak to give the appearance of a flat surface http://spectrum.ieee.org/tech-talk/semiconductors/materials/a-slender-bright-invisbility-cloak. This is a two-dimensional metamaterial design and now they just need to make the thing to prove that it works. Second, a new metamaterial design is able to accurately preserve the phase of light while guiding it around sharp corners and abrupt bumps http://phys.org/news/2015-07-clever-cloaks-unique-metamaterials-phase.html. Third, progress towards lossless perfect lenses http://www.mtu.edu/news/stories/2015/july/bringing-back-magic-metamaterials.html. 

4. Trapping Light in Crystal Granules 
Tiny crystals of hexagonal boron nitride can effectively trap light within their structures http://phys.org/news/2015-07-orbits-intriguing-material.html. Incident light becomes trapped within the material in a form known as a phonon polariton, and at certain resonant frequencies the light adopts simple closed orbits and this produces hot spots of electric fields that form elaborate geometric patterns. The resonant frequencies depend on the physical shape of the crystal and this is an instance of storing light inside a tiny piece of material for extended periods. A nice, elegant new phenomena that we’ll have to wait to see applications for. 

5. Tiny Optofluidic Neural Probe
A tiny flexible neural probe has been developed, a tenth the diameter of a human hair, wirelessly controllable, and able to both deliver drugs to deep inside the brain and also turn on LED lights to switch on optogenetically activated neurons http://neurosciencenews.com/optogenetics-device-neurons-2253/. This new device causes far less damage and displacement compared to existing devices. In experiments it was able to effectively deliver multiple different drugs including gene delivery vectors to the brains of mice and was also able to influence and control behaviour via light activation. Seems to be a great new platform tool for pushing this space forward. 

6. Better “Synthetic” Foods
At some point we’re going to have to drop that “synthetic” label for these new food technologies. First this week was presentations about the ongoing development of 3D printing with foods and the economic and personalised sensation benefits that might accrue http://www.ift.org/newsroom/news-releases/2015/july/13/3d-printers-poised-to-have-major-implications-for-food-manufacturing.aspx. Second, the cost of cultured lab-grown burger meat continues to build on the advance announced in 2013 and is currently projected to decline from $300,000 down to $65 per kilogram http://phys.org/news/2015-07-scientist-texture-lab-produced-hamburger.html. 

7. Experimental Confirmation of Weyl Point Phenomena
In a nice reduction of theory to practice massless particles with a single point in their energy spectrum , called Weyl points, have been proven to exist experimentally with the aid of new photonic crystal designs http://newsoffice.mit.edu/2015/Weyl-points-detected-0716. This work was done with microwave light in order to simplify the crystal fabrication but there is no reason visible light couldn’t be used in future. Possible future applications include optical devices, high-power single-mode lasers, and bulk materials or lenses that only allow a certain angle and a certain frequency of light to pass through. 

8. CRISPR with Non-Homologous Insertions and Light Activation
A new CRISPR system can achieve targeted insertion of genetic sequences up to 5,000 base pairs long into mammalian cells via non-homologous end-joining, i.e. without the need to include lengthy homologous sequence arms on each side of the genetic sequence / gene of interest and DNA cut or insertion site http://nextbigfuture.com/2015/07/over-5000-base-pairs-were-inserted-into.html. Other benefits include simpler, cheaper plasmid vectors and while the efficiency of integration was not high there is scope to improve this if needed in future. Another newly engineered form of CRISPR now allows light-activation of the CRISPR machinery for applications such as regulating genes with light for example http://www.the-scientist.com/?articles.view/articleNo/43255/title/Optogenetics-Meets-CRISPR/. 

9. Measuring Memory, Improving Memory, and Altering Neuronal Firing
Electrodes implanted into rat brains and measuring activity from place cells in the hippocampus suggest that there are definite gaps in certain types of normal memory, far from the smooth flow that typically characterises memory http://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/news/media/releases/scientists_watch_rats_string_memories_together. A new type of transcranial direct current stimulation known as transcranial pulsed current stimulation appears to boost neuronal excitability and muscle skill acquisition while transcranial magnetic stimulation appears to show good results in dampening neuronal excitability and associated tinnitus symptoms http://www.kurzweilai.net/could-this-new-electrical-brain-zap-method-help-you-learn-muscle-skills-faster. 

10. Regenerating Neuronal Axons in Severed Spines
I missed this a couple of weeks ago but switching off or deleting one particular gene was sufficient to induce neuronal regeneration and axon growth in the spines of mice with severed spines http://neurosciencenews.com/corticospinal-axon-regeneration-paralysis-2189/. The neurons were able to bridge the site of injury regardless of whether gene inactivation happened immediately, four months post injury, or one year post injury and are able to form tentative synaptic connections. As a candidate treatment the gene inactivation might be targeted to certain neurons or the specific region of interest. 

Archive: http://www.scitechdigest.net/2015/07/gene-therapy-hearing-single-molecule.html___

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2015-07-15 14:45:55 (7 comments, 8 reshares, 20 +1s)Open 

Technology Ratchets and Technology Bans

A nice confluence of two pieces of media I was exposed to in the last 24 hours. 

First, a short thoughtful post The Technology Ratchet by the ever-thoughtful Seth Godin http://sethgodin.typepad.com/seths_blog/2015/07/the-technology-ratchet.html, with pithy insights on technological adoption, technological demand cycles, the shrinking gap between media consumption and production, and parallels to civil rights ratchets. 

Second, this YouTube video, You Can Ban Drugs, But You Can't Ban Chemistry by journalist Mike Power https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pJBCSUIpjcw. Mike discusses Drugs 2.0 and how easy it was to complete his challenge to cheaply outsource the design, manufacture, transport, and sales - anonymously - of a new legal drug not covered by any prohibition laws and mimicking the psychoactive effects of thesti... more »

Technology Ratchets and Technology Bans

A nice confluence of two pieces of media I was exposed to in the last 24 hours. 

First, a short thoughtful post The Technology Ratchet by the ever-thoughtful Seth Godin http://sethgodin.typepad.com/seths_blog/2015/07/the-technology-ratchet.html, with pithy insights on technological adoption, technological demand cycles, the shrinking gap between media consumption and production, and parallels to civil rights ratchets. 

Second, this YouTube video, You Can Ban Drugs, But You Can't Ban Chemistry by journalist Mike Power https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pJBCSUIpjcw. Mike discusses Drugs 2.0 and how easy it was to complete his challenge to cheaply outsource the design, manufacture, transport, and sales - anonymously - of a new legal drug not covered by any prohibition laws and mimicking the psychoactive effects of the stimulant drug phenmetrazine https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phenmetrazine. It's a wide-ranging talk presented in a story-teller style and covering a variety of areas around drug use, cultivation, production and the ineffectual insanity of prohibition in the face of basic human drives and chemistry technology. 

#technology   #technium   #ratchet  ___

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2015-07-13 14:54:13 (44 comments, 9 reshares, 38 +1s)Open 

Undoubtedly Well-Intentioned. Probably Ineffectual.

The Future of Life Institute has a very well-intentioned open letter out that is seeking a ban on autonomous offensive weapons, and is soliciting signatures from those active in the field of artificial intelligence and related fields: http://futureoflife.org/AI/open_letter_autonomous_weapons

I agree with all of the concerns, risks, and reasons that they list. That autonomous weapons will be possible in years, not decades and that they have the potential to transform warfare to an extent on par with or surpassing gun powder or nuclear weapons. That autonomous weapons will likely quickly filter through black markets and have significant destabilising potential. And that starting a military AI arms race is a bad idea. In addition, while Nick Bostrom hasn’t put his name to this letter I think he is correct in identifying a numbero... more »

Undoubtedly Well-Intentioned. Probably Ineffectual.

The Future of Life Institute has a very well-intentioned open letter out that is seeking a ban on autonomous offensive weapons, and is soliciting signatures from those active in the field of artificial intelligence and related fields: http://futureoflife.org/AI/open_letter_autonomous_weapons

I agree with all of the concerns, risks, and reasons that they list. That autonomous weapons will be possible in years, not decades and that they have the potential to transform warfare to an extent on par with or surpassing gun powder or nuclear weapons. That autonomous weapons will likely quickly filter through black markets and have significant destabilising potential. And that starting a military AI arms race is a bad idea. In addition, while Nick Bostrom hasn’t put his name to this letter I think he is correct in identifying a number of serious risks in developing advanced AIs, especially when combined with weapons technology. 

But I disagree that calling for a ban like this will in any way ameliorate or address those risks; +Kevin Kelly is right, autonomous weapons are inevitable and banning the inevitable sets you backwards https://plus.google.com/u/0/+KevinKelly/posts/ee2uPh2jTpP. I think banning the inevitable only makes things worse and seeking to ban, delay, or put the brakes on only results in giving up your equal footing with everyone else and ceding the advantage to other groups who will continue with it regardless. Banning drives it temporarily underground where you can’t see it and where it might take you by surprise. 

Technological prohibition only postpones the arrival of that technology. In a globally interconnected network of agents, ideas, information, and tools acting as the ecosystem on which the technium evolves, banning a technology in one part of the network will only serve to shift the fitness landscape; the local maxima representing that technology will still be there and it will still be climbed, still be sought out by other areas of the network selecting for it. 

This recent, relevant piece by Aaron Frank Can We Control Our Technological Destiny - Or Are We Just Along For the Ride? http://singularityhub.com/2015/07/12/can-we-control-our-technological-destiny-or-are-we-just-along-for-the-ride/ is also worth considering in this light. This piece reinforces the inherently evolutionary nature of technological development, references prominent thinkers in the field including Susan Blackmore and Kevin Kelly once again, and suggests we humans are not directors of - but merely vehicles for - the evolution and development of the technium via technological memes. If there is one thing evolution has shown time and again it is that it is smarter than we are. Better to co-opt and learn from it, rather than temporarily suppress it. 

Many countries tried to ban GMO crops; GMO crops are everywhere. The USA tried to ban embryonic stem cell research; ESC expertise developed elsewhere anyway before coming back to and being driven by the USA. Even look at simple psychoactive drug compounds, which are banned in most countries and yet available everywhere. And yet here we have a proposal seeking to ban an inherently digital technology, one that can be manipulated and transported much more easily than all of the above. It was John Gilmore who said The Internet interprets censorship as damage and routes around it. In a similar way we might say Evolution interprets an adaptive ceiling as pressure and flows around it. 

In addition to this the logic quickly follows cold war MAD-ness. Do we really expect China to trust that the USA military won’t work on developing autonomous weapons, and do we really expect the USA to trust that the Chinese military won’t do the same? It’s a silly question that begs whether a military arms race in autonomous weapons technology is already underway. Especially when, at some point in future, it will incur such trivial little effort to take state of the art AI technology and autonomous drone and robot technology, and recombine these with weapons technology. 

My main worry with such bans is that they risk leaving us worse off, more vulnerable, less protected, less able. I want to see the people on that list, many of whom I’ve heard of and respect, contribute to the evolution of this technology as best as they are able because I think we’re all better off by having those contributions than not. At the very least they would help develop a greater, more robust ecosystem of protective options, from autonomous anti-drone drones to kill switches and methods of evasion. Ultimately a ban seems to risk a very one-sided developmental process; like an animal birthed into a virgin ecosystem and finding itself with no natural predators and able to run ten times as fast as its prey. 

#evolution   #technium   #autonomous   #weapons  ___

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2015-07-12 08:34:15 (12 comments, 33 reshares, 64 +1s)Open 

SciTech #ScienceSunday Digest - 28/2015.
Permalink here: http://www.scitechdigest.net/2015/07/graphene-ultrasound-deepstereo-image.html

Graphene ultrasound, DeepStereo image synthesis, Collaborative smartphone photography, Quantum dot AFM, Gut bacteria computers, Aging repair signals, Multi-brain networking, Mitochondrial gene therapy, Implantable microfluidics, Wireless device charging. 

1. Wideband Ultrasound with Graphene
Tiny ultrasonic wideband microphones have been made with graphene  http://spectrum.ieee.org/nanoclast/semiconductors/materials/graphenebased-microphone-provides-rangefinding-capabilities-of-bats. The device represents the first good, scalble, economical, wideband ultrasound transmitter / receiver and was used to create an ultrasonic radio that can be used for wireless communications. Sensitivity is significant, from 20 Hzto... more »

SciTech #ScienceSunday Digest - 28/2015.
Permalink here: http://www.scitechdigest.net/2015/07/graphene-ultrasound-deepstereo-image.html

Graphene ultrasound, DeepStereo image synthesis, Collaborative smartphone photography, Quantum dot AFM, Gut bacteria computers, Aging repair signals, Multi-brain networking, Mitochondrial gene therapy, Implantable microfluidics, Wireless device charging. 

1. Wideband Ultrasound with Graphene
Tiny ultrasonic wideband microphones have been made with graphene  http://spectrum.ieee.org/nanoclast/semiconductors/materials/graphenebased-microphone-provides-rangefinding-capabilities-of-bats. The device represents the first good, scalble, economical, wideband ultrasound transmitter / receiver and was used to create an ultrasonic radio that can be used for wireless communications. Sensitivity is significant, from 20 Hz to 500 kHz (double what a bat can hear) and helped the group accurately record the sounds of bats. Expect applications in imaging, medical, communications, surveillance, remote sensing, drones and robotics. 

2. Google’s DeepStereo Deep Learning Image Synthesis
Google’s latest deep learning advance is an algorithm called DeepStereo that take two images of a scene and synthesise a third image from a different point of view http://www.technologyreview.com/view/539051/googles-deep-learning-machine-learns-to-synthesize-real-world-images/. The system was originally tested for Google Streetview, and worked to synthesise new images in between existing Streetview images in order to create additional frames so that a 25 fps video of Streetview images would run at an acceptable rate and not ridiculously quick; virtually any sequence of images can be turned into smooth running video and it produces images that are difficult to distinguish from originals. Very interesting for producing more complete virtual maps and environments. 

3. Collaborative Photography via Ad Hoc Collections of Smartphones
Possessing a lot of overlap with the DeepStereo item above but worthy of its own entry is the new CamSwarm and PanoSwarm collaborative computational photography software applications for smartphones http://www.technologyreview.com/view/539191/collaborative-photography-app-allows-smartphones-to-record-bullet-time/. This allows one smartphone to easily coordinate an array of other smartphones and their users as a collaborative array of cameras to synchronously capture images and video, for example to generate Matrix-style “bullet-time” videos on the fly. Tools like DeepStereo might help fill in gaps in these ad hoc arrays.

4. Quantum Dot Tips Boost AFM Sensitivity
Scanning Quantum Dot Microscopy is a new imaging technique enabled by attaching a single molecule quantum dot to the tip of an Atomic Force Microscope and allowing ultra-high-resolution sub-nanometer imaging of the electric fields around atoms and molecules http://www.fz-juelich.de/SharedDocs/Pressemitteilungen/UK/EN/2015/15-07-07prl-sqdm.html. The molecule itself, positioned at the tip, and comprising just 38 atoms, functions like another sensitive balance or cantilever whose tiny movements can be measured as it responds to the tiniest changes in electric field strength of the substrate below. 

5. Engineering Computing Elements into Bacterial Gut Populations
Bacteria have previously been engineered with genetic sensors, memory elements, and circuits but now these tools have been extended to include common gut bacterial species that are present at abundant levels in most people’s intestinal flora, and these have been tested in mice http://newsoffice.mit.edu/2015/basic-computing-for-bacteria-0709. The bacteria were engineered with an expanded toolkit able to respond to different signals to switch certain genes on and off and to alter specific regions of DNA to record triggered events; in mice the bacteria could be examined to determine what the mice ate. The group will expand to other species of bacteria to account for an even greater proportion of the gut population, aim for establishment of permanent engineered populations in the gut, and help build disease diagnostics and other tools.

6. Signalling Aging and Repair
While introducing new cells is an exciting prospect for repair and rejuvenation therapies, remotely signalling existing cells to do the same preferable in some cases. Examples this week of the latter include (i) isolating vesicles or exosomes secreted by stem cells and introducing these into mice with damaged hearts to significantly boost repair of the heart http://www.templehealth.org/content/newsroom.htm?page_id=11&minor=1&inCtx5pg=0&inCtx5news_id=1375, and (ii) strong evidence that a particular microglobulin molecule plays a major role in cognitive decline and that moving it from circulation in the body would boost neurogenesis and significantly improve cognitive function https://www.fightaging.org/archives/2015/07/more-on-beta-2-microglobulin-blood-levels-and-aging-resulting-from-parabiosis-research.php. 

7. Collaborative Networking of Brains
Three monkey brains were networked together as part of a demonstration for multiple brains able to cooperate and solve problems together http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn27869-animal-brains-connected-up-to-make-mindmelded-computer.html. The three monkeys, with electrodes implanted into their brains, were able to accurately control a robotic arm by synchronising their thoughts, even when each monkey was restricted to controlling a single linear dimension of the arm’s movement; the work was also replicated in a more complex fashion in rats. In related news a live neurofeedback art experiment has collected real-time EEG data from more than 500 adult humans all wearng BCI headbands https://www.baycrest.org/research-news/crowdsourcing-brain-data-overnight-experiment-creates-social-brain-lab-yields-new-insights-about-speed-of-learning-changes-in-the-brain/. 

8. Mitochondrial Gene Therapy
The company Gensight has developed a powerful mitochondrial gene therapy platform for delivering correct genes to defective mitochondria and looks set to pull in significant amounts of funding via an public listing https://www.fightaging.org/archives/2015/07/gensight-developing-a-mitochondrial-repair-therapy.php. This platform delivers correct genes to the cell nucleus but incorporates a specific tag sequence that causes the cell to transport the mRNA transcript to mitochondria (much like most other mitochondrial genes) for translation to functional protein. In addition to treating mitochondrial diseases this is a great platform for treating one of the seven key causes of aging. Regarding aged immune systems, restoring youthful immune function with the use of implanted engineered thymus organoids is showing promise https://www.fightaging.org/archives/2015/07/thymus-organoids-restore-immune-function-in-mice.php. 

9. Implantable Microfluidics for Drug Delivery
In conjunction with Teva Pharmaceuticals, Microchips Biotech has developed and will commercialise an implantable microfluidic wireless microchip device able to store and release drugs into the body over extended periods of time https://newsoffice.mit.edu/2015/implantable-drug-delivery-microchip-device-0629. The chip represents years of complex testing and development and can be programmed to deliver drugs or else activated by an external wireless device, improving patient compliance and convenience over time. I think the main promise is as a platform that others can develop and use, and I’d like to see it incorporate microfluidics able to sense items from blood and synthesise required drugs / compounds from simple feedstocks present in blood. 

10. Advances in Wireless Charging
A new wireless battery charging system can recharge devices up to half a meter away with an energy efficiency of up to 34% and regardless of the orientation of the device itself http://www.gizmag.com/new-wireless-power-tech-can-charge-multiple-devices-at-once-at-a-distance/38361/. The key innovation here is the agnostic orientation for the charged device. Applications aren’t limited to desks that easily charge phones and laptops, but rather this technology would be very useful for remote drones, robots, sensors, and even charging the implanted devices described above. 

Archive: http://www.scitechdigest.net/2015/07/graphene-ultrasound-deepstereo-image.html___

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2015-07-11 07:58:18 (0 comments, 1 reshares, 16 +1s)Open 

Parking this for secret future use. Need the post URL for now. 

Parking this for secret future use. Need the post URL for now. ___

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2015-07-10 12:23:15 (15 comments, 5 reshares, 45 +1s)Open 

Collections Update

I've noticed a few little things concerning follower counts with the new Collections feature and thought I'd share based on +Gideon Rosenblatt's related post a week or so ago. Quick breakdown as follows. 

Science | Nature
Same number of followers. Not surprising considering I don't post to here much. 

Transhumanism | Futurism | Technium
-3 followers. I post here semi-regularly mainly about technological paradigms and the topics in the title. Seems 3 people don't like these topics or at least don't like my transhumanist bent perhaps. Still, this is a pretty broad collection that encompasses a great many things that interest me. 

Society | Culture
-4 followers. I post here every now and then, but not since Collections were introduced I think. In any case 4 people seem to disliketh... more »

Collections Update

I've noticed a few little things concerning follower counts with the new Collections feature and thought I'd share based on +Gideon Rosenblatt's related post a week or so ago. Quick breakdown as follows. 

Science | Nature
Same number of followers. Not surprising considering I don't post to here much. 

Transhumanism | Futurism | Technium
-3 followers. I post here semi-regularly mainly about technological paradigms and the topics in the title. Seems 3 people don't like these topics or at least don't like my transhumanist bent perhaps. Still, this is a pretty broad collection that encompasses a great many things that interest me. 

Society | Culture
-4 followers. I post here every now and then, but not since Collections were introduced I think. In any case 4 people seem to dislike the content and opinions I have here; possibly related to my recent drugs and prohibition post? 

Books | Games
+2000 or so followers. This Collection seems to have been included by Google somewhere for new sign-ups I suspect. I get regular adds here and have had about half a dozen plus-f**ks so far by people going though the list of posts and the odd comment on necro-posts. 

Tech | Projects | Phones
+2700 or so followers. Again this Collection seems to have been included by Goolge somewhere for new sign-ups I suspect. Maybe 10 or so plus-f**ks so far by people going through the list. This is a pretty broad Collection for my personal usage of technology and personal projects I undertake. 

Consciousness | Mind | Philosophy
-1 follower. I post here every now and then. Seems one person dislikes my views and philosophy regarding these topics and doesn't want me polluting their filter-bubble. 

Personal
-17 followers. This is great and is exactly what Collections are for. I post personal stuff here, personal adventures and travels, and other personal items for my day-to-day life. I completely understand how this would be irrelevant and boring to many people who just want tech and science stuff from me. 

Physics | Universe
Same number of followers. Not surprising considering I only occasionally post here. 

SciTech Digest
+2 followers. A couple of people just want to see my weekly summaries, which is cool. ___

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2015-07-09 13:47:36 (17 comments, 1 reshares, 62 +1s)Open 

Just saw this unexpected little gem.
Most epically choreographed fight scene I've ever seen.
Unexpected humour in . . . unexpected places ;-)
Stupid stuff too, but generally lighthearted and fun among the violence. 

Just saw this unexpected little gem.
Most epically choreographed fight scene I've ever seen.
Unexpected humour in . . . unexpected places ;-)
Stupid stuff too, but generally lighthearted and fun among the violence. ___

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2015-07-05 12:58:49 (11 comments, 32 reshares, 64 +1s)Open 

SciTech #ScienceSunday Digest - 27/2015.
Permalink here: http://www.scitechdigest.net/2015/07/femtosecond-photodoping-liquiglide.html 

Femtosecond photodoping, LiquiGlide Coatings, Quantum dot spectrometer, Doubling fiber data, Microfluidics and colloids, Graphene flexoelectrics, Printable conductive inks, Prions and memory, Functional meshes, Antibodies and CFS. 

1. Femtosecond Semiconductor Photo-Doping
Following on the heels of femtosecond lasers being used for in-air holograms last week we have femtosecond lasers being used in ultrafast photo-doping experiments http://msutoday.msu.edu/news/2015/making-a-better-semiconductor/. In this case the femtosecond lasers are being used to controllably alter the electronic properties of semiconductors, using brief high-intensity laser light to mimic the chemical doping of bulk semiconductor materials,t... more »

SciTech #ScienceSunday Digest - 27/2015.
Permalink here: http://www.scitechdigest.net/2015/07/femtosecond-photodoping-liquiglide.html 

Femtosecond photodoping, LiquiGlide Coatings, Quantum dot spectrometer, Doubling fiber data, Microfluidics and colloids, Graphene flexoelectrics, Printable conductive inks, Prions and memory, Functional meshes, Antibodies and CFS. 

1. Femtosecond Semiconductor Photo-Doping
Following on the heels of femtosecond lasers being used for in-air holograms last week we have femtosecond lasers being used in ultrafast photo-doping experiments http://msutoday.msu.edu/news/2015/making-a-better-semiconductor/. In this case the femtosecond lasers are being used to controllably alter the electronic properties of semiconductors, using brief high-intensity laser light to mimic the chemical doping of bulk semiconductor materials, temporarily - the electrical properties of a chip might be altered on the fly as needed. 

2. Commercial Launch of LiquiGlide Coatings
The commercial roll-out of LiquiGlide coatings is finally picking up, promising to come to a product near you after launching to some fanfare a number of years ago http://newsoffice.mit.edu/2015/liquiglide-condiments-0630. LiquiGlide typically coats the inner surface of a container for example, and is tailored to allow the contents (such as a viscous sauce) to glide out completely without leaving a residue. The coating is typically tailored to a particular application, which can include foods and condiments, oil and gas pipelines, catheters, de-icing situations, and in the case of foodstuffs is comprised of edible materials. 

3. Quantum Dot Spectrometer
A new spectrometer device is small enough to fit inside a cell phone camera module, and is powered by an array of quantum dots http://newsoffice.mit.edu/2015/quantum-dot-spectrometer-smartphone-0701. The prototype uses 200 different quantum dots, each tuned to absorb a different wavelength of light spanning a 300nm slice of spectrum, and was made with cost effective solution processing and thin film printing. More dots could be used to cover a wider spectral range, with applications comprising personal medical diagnostics, materials identification, and many others. 

4. Doubling Fiber Optic Data Transmission
Newly developed wideband frequency combs allow an effective doubling of the amount of data that can be carried by a fiber optic cable http://www.jacobsschool.ucsd.edu/news/news_releases/release.sfe?id=1768. The comb allows for signal distortions that inevitably occur when piping large amounts of data to be predictable and reversible, and so enables significantly increased power and longer distances for which optical signals can be sent through optical fibers. 

5. Confined Colloids Improve Lab-on-Chip Design
New models have been developed for better optimising the design of microfluidic chips with miniaturised features that hold fluids under superconfinement - where it is meaningful to discuss the size of fluid channels in reference to the size of the particles in the fluid. These models were generated by studying larger colloidal particles (instead of fluid molecules) in small fluid channels http://theconversation.com/how-oversized-atoms-could-help-shrink-lab-on-a-chip-devices-43791. The study used 200nm colloidal particles and altered the size of channels to determine and subsequently model behaviour. 

6. Graphene Flexoelectric Straintronics
“Straintronics” is a fascinating field that involves controllably stretching, compressing, and bending a material to induce different electrical properties. The latest work in this space involves stretching and bending graphene into new and novel shapes, particularly cones, with different properties and bandgaps, sometimes called the flexoelectric effect http://phys.org/news/2015-06-electrical-properties-carbon-cones.html. And swelling / shrinking graphene sheets can create a range of novel surfaces http://www.nanowerk.com/spotlight/spotid=40607.php. 

7. Advanced Printable Inks
Printable materials innovations continue to be a hot this week. First, the latest developments in printable silver inks continue to show promise for printable electronics http://oregonstate.edu/ua/ncs/archives/2015/jul/new-technology-using-silver-may-hold-key-electronics-advances. Second, new graphene polymer inks are being used to produce 3D prints of strong, flexible, biocompatible, and conductive scaffolds for tissue engineering and medical applications, and with base properties tunable by modifying the proportions of graphene and polymer http://www.mccormick.northwestern.edu/news/articles/2015/05/printing-3D-graphene-structures-for-tissue-engineering.html. Finally, we have a good overview of photopolymer inks and 3D printing advances http://www.technologyreview.com/photoessay/538326/speeding-up-3-d-printing/. 

8. Prions, Proteins, and Long Term Memory
In a series of new studies functional prion proteins have been found to be critical components underlying the mechanism of long term memory formation http://newsroom.cumc.columbia.edu/blog/2015/07/02/long-term-memories-and-prions/. When production of this particular protein was interrupted in mice recently formed long term memories were disrupted and lost. Like disease-causing prions, the memory “prion” proteins are made available as a soluble form in the cell and as new synapses are formed by neurons they are recruited to form aggregates that stabilise the synapses and are responsible for their long-term stability. 

9. Functional Mesh Materials
Silver nanowires have been formed into functional, flexible meshes that can securely encase different body parts and apply uniform heating and protection http://phys.org/news/2015-07-stretchy-mesh-heater-sore-muscles.html. Cheap to manufacture and sandwiched in insulation such meshes or functional textiles might form therapeutic heating bandages or elements in clothes, and applications could expand in future with additional features such as antennas and other electronic interfaces. 

10. Antibodies Linked to Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
Rituximab, a drug that wipes out most of the body’s B-cells and is used to treat certain blood cancers and arthritis, has been found to be very effective in treating chronic fatigue syndrome for many patients http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg22730284.000-antibody-wipeout-relieves-symptoms-of-chronic-fatigue-syndrome.html. This seems to be the second human clinical trial exploring this possibility and others are planned. The implication of the result is that CFS is most likely an autoimmune disorder in many cases, triggered by wayward antibodies, and further studies aimed at identifying the antibodies responsible might enable even better treatment options. 

Archive: http://www.scitechdigest.net/2015/07/femtosecond-photodoping-liquiglide.html ___

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2015-06-30 12:55:53 (10 comments, 3 reshares, 74 +1s)Open 

In my garden the other day. 

In my garden the other day. ___

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2015-06-28 08:37:34 (13 comments, 51 reshares, 96 +1s)Open 

SciTech #ScienceSunday Digest - 26/2015.
Permalink here: http://www.scitechdigest.net/2015/06/functional-artificial-neuron-free-air.html 

Square bacterial division, Nanoscale geometric grids, Functional artificial neuron, Free-air holograms, Digital microfluidics, Memory in synapses, Heart powered pacemakers, Lithium battery fabrication, Nuclear spin computing, Ultra-high-res 3D prints. 

1. Squaring Bacteria: Mechanisms of Division
New techniques allow bacteria to be confined and grown into unusual shapes that they would never normally assume, including squares, triangles, and perfect circles, and related methods allow or force the bacteria to grow 30 times larger than normal http://www.tudelft.nl/en/current/latest-news/article/detail/vierkant-driehoek-cirkel-ongeacht-hun-vorm-weten-bacterien-waar-ze-moeten-delen-met-een-bee/. Such bacteria canst... more »

SciTech #ScienceSunday Digest - 26/2015.
Permalink here: http://www.scitechdigest.net/2015/06/functional-artificial-neuron-free-air.html 

Square bacterial division, Nanoscale geometric grids, Functional artificial neuron, Free-air holograms, Digital microfluidics, Memory in synapses, Heart powered pacemakers, Lithium battery fabrication, Nuclear spin computing, Ultra-high-res 3D prints. 

1. Squaring Bacteria: Mechanisms of Division
New techniques allow bacteria to be confined and grown into unusual shapes that they would never normally assume, including squares, triangles, and perfect circles, and related methods allow or force the bacteria to grow 30 times larger than normal http://www.tudelft.nl/en/current/latest-news/article/detail/vierkant-driehoek-cirkel-ongeacht-hun-vorm-weten-bacterien-waar-ze-moeten-delen-met-een-bee/. Such bacteria can still find their midlines for cell division by using proteins that sense cell shape via a mechanism originally proposed by Alan Turing. This is important foundational work for understanding how cells organise their internal architectures. 

2. Multimaterial Nanoscale Geometric Grids
I like this new fabrication method involving sweeping lasers (laser zone annealing) to accelerate the self-assembly of multi-layered multi-material nanoscale geometric grids http://www0.bnl.gov/newsroom/news.php?a=11738. For example the team can form deep lattices comprised of nanowire arrays embedded with different functional properties to create a wide range of different functional materials for many different purposes. Applications include custom coatings, photovoltaics, touch surfaces and many others. 

3. Building a Functional Artificial Neuron
A new organic bioelectronic device made of conductive polymers is able to mimic the key function of natural mammalian neurons http://news.cision.com/karolinska-institutet/r/artifical-neuron-mimicks-function-of-human-cells,c9796303. The device can sense chemical changes from neurons in one area, convert this into an electrical signal that travels to the other end of the device, which then releases neurotransmitters that can stimulate subsequent neurons. Future work hopes to miniaturise and implant the device into animals. 

4. Free-Air Holograms from Femtosecond Lasers
Femtosecond high-intensity lasers can now be used to render in-air volumetric displays and graphics by inducing localised plasma production and the emission of light in arbitrary 3D positions http://digitalnature.slis.tsukuba.ac.jp/2015/06/fairy-lights-in-femtoseconds/. The proof-of-concept produces images within a cubic centimeter volume although there is a clear path to scale-up; the images can currently be rendered at between 4,000 and 200,000 dots per second. Be sure to check out the videos; this is magical technology and not something I ever expected to see. 

5. Powerful Digital Microfluidics
New digital microfluidics devices represent a powerful platform for investigating chemical synthesis and biological processes http://news.engineering.utoronto.ca/eavesdropping-on-the-body-new-device-tracks-chemical-signals-within-cells/. Digital microfluidics involves shuttling tiny droplets of liquid around a surface patterned with a checkerboard of small electrodes that provide the means for induced voltages to move multiple droplets around different intersecting paths - YouTube has lots of interesting videos. The demonstration in this case was to rapidly and sequentially expose cells to different chemicals and test their reactions. A related, powerful microfluidic chip design automates the process of constructing plasmids, transfecting cells, and testing / confirming genetic modifications http://cen.acs.org/articles/93/web/2015/06/Microfluidic-Device-Mixes-Matches-DNA.html. 

6. More Confirmation for the Synaptic Foundation of Memory
New microscopy techniques able to examine the spines and connections formed by deep neurons in the hippocampus of mice have allowed for the first time for confirming that (at least episodic) memory is founded on the synaptic connections between neurons http://news.stanford.edu/pr/2015/pr-memory-monitor-biox-061715.html. Imaging analysis confirmed that synapse-forming neuronal spines were turned over every 30 days or so, which is the same time that episodic memories are stored in the hippocampus of mice - if retained the memories have been moved to the neocortex by this time. 

7. Implanted Pacemakers Powered by the Heart
Two new pacemaker designs offer promise for implanted pacemakers that no longer need batteries and costly replacement surgeries but rather are able to use novel piezoelectric elements to directly harvest energy from the beating of the heart itself http://spectrum.ieee.org/tech-talk/biomedical/devices/nextgen-pacemakers-may-be-powered-by-the-beating-of-a-heart. The first concerns a conventional pacemaker that connects to the heart via leads, but the most promising is the newer, tinier, leadless pacemaker that nestles inside the heart itself; proof-of-concept studies confirm that both generate more than enough power to keep the heart properly beating. Human trials will be needed; I’ll be interested to see if other implanted medical devices might also be powered in this way. 

8. Halving the Cost of Lithium Ion Batteries
I rarely include battery technologies but any new manufacturing process promising to slash the cost of lithium ion batteries by half is worthy of note http://newsoffice.mit.edu/2015/manufacturing-lithium-ion-battery-half-cost-0623. This entailed a redesign of the basic battery to incorporate features of both flow and solid batteries, resulting in a  semisolid colloidal suspension of particles for the electrodes and a battery that uses fewer, thicker electrodes, reduces nonfunctional materials, and is flexible, robust, and cheaper to manufacture. 

9. Computing with Nuclear Spins
A new optical technique allows room temperature control over electron spins in certain crystals of silicon carbide to indirectly control the spins of certain atomic nuclei in silicon carbide, which can then be used to store and process information http://news.uchicago.edu/article/2015/06/24/spintronics-advance-brings-wafer-scale-quantum-devices-closer-reality. In tests 99% of targeted nuclear spins were controlled. Applications include ultra-sensitive magnetic resonance imaging, advanced gyroscopes, quantum computing, maybe even ultra-high density data storage one day. In related spintronics news we have a great overview of the development of magnetoelectric RAM http://spectrum.ieee.org/semiconductors/design/the-computer-chip-that-never-forgets. 

10. 3D Printing: High-Res and Glass Materials
A new 3D printing technique has been developed in the lab that can produce ultra-high-resolution 3D printed patterns with structures measuring one micron in size and forming features smaller than a blood cell http://news.unist.ac.kr/realizing-futuristic-3d-printing-technology/. Meanwhile company Micron3DP has demonstrated a new 3D printing method that can use glass as a feedstock material, melting glass filaments and depositing precise layered patterns http://www.3ders.org/articles/20150622-micron-3dp-announces-breakthrough-in-3d-printing-glass-materials.html. 

Archive: http://www.scitechdigest.net/2015/06/functional-artificial-neuron-free-air.html ___

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2015-06-25 12:38:12 (17 comments, 27 reshares, 41 +1s)Open 

On Reality and the Truth of Your Conscious Perception Thereof
This talk should be watched with the following passage from Nick Bostrom’s Superintelligence firmly in mind:

Normal human adults have a range of remarkable cognitive talents that are not simply a function of possessing a sufficient amount of general neural processing power or even a sufficient amount of general intelligence: specialized neural circuitry is also needed. This observation suggests the idea of possible but non-realized cognitive talents, talents that no actual human possesses even though other intelligent systems—ones with no more computing power than the human brain—that did have those talents would gain enormously in their ability to accomplish a wide range of strategically relevant tasks. were we to gain some new set of modules giving an advantage comparable to that of being able to form complexlingu... more »

On Reality and the Truth of Your Conscious Perception Thereof
This talk should be watched with the following passage from Nick Bostrom’s Superintelligence firmly in mind:

Normal human adults have a range of remarkable cognitive talents that are not simply a function of possessing a sufficient amount of general neural processing power or even a sufficient amount of general intelligence: specialized neural circuitry is also needed. This observation suggests the idea of possible but non-realized cognitive talents, talents that no actual human possesses even though other intelligent systems—ones with no more computing power than the human brain—that did have those talents would gain enormously in their ability to accomplish a wide range of strategically relevant tasks. were we to gain some new set of modules giving an advantage comparable to that of being able to form complex linguistic representations, we would become superintelligent.

And keep considering this passage when the talk delves into the perception of the beetle and contrasts that to the perception of us humans. 

In many ways this is a subtle talk that tries to delve into subtle but very profound points. Personally I swayed throughout the talk, with him then against him, agreeing then disagreeing. But this is understandable because Donald advocates abandonment of the concrete reality that I believe exists, and instead suggests consciousness as a primary causal entity in a deeper underlying reality; this may make some of you dismiss the talk as unworthy but trust me and give Donald 20 minutes of your time to try and sway you. At the end I’d tentatively stepped up onto the fence with one foot certainly dangling on his side, and mainly by considering the plausibility of the above passage from Superintelligence. 

The potential and importance of our ability to eventually create new cognitive modules (either for ourselves or our machine descendents) that are able to perceive the world in a more realistic way, able to strip away the previous illusory interface we take for granted and so peer deeper and more truly at the underlying reality that we inhabit. At times like this it seems as if our development and growth has only just begun and we have so very much farther to go. 

This metaphor paints superintelligent agents with superperception as comparable to us, as we are comparable to the beetle, and questions how different and how grand reality must appear from such an omnipresent viewpoint. There are also one or two places in the talk that paint the following passage from Superintelligence in an entirely different light:

We could thus imagine, as an extreme case, a technologically highly advanced society, containing many complex structures, some of them far more intricate and intelligent than anything that exists on the planet today—a society which nevertheless lacks any type of being that is conscious or whose welfare has moral significance. In a sense, this would be an uninhabited society. It would be a society of economic miracles and technological awesomeness, with nobody there to benefit. A Disneyland without children. 

I’m referring of course to the experiments on the evolution of fitness, always at the expense of accurate and truthful representations and perceptions of reality, and indeed driving to extinction accurate perceptions of reality. For if we are to a being with superperception as a beetle is to us, then is our cherished reality only a tiny bit better than a Disneyland without children in any case?

Donald Hoffman’s page at the University of California, Irvine http://www.cogsci.uci.edu/~ddhoff/ has a great list of related resources and media to access, from talks to accessible publications like this recent one http://journal.frontiersin.org/article/10.3389/fpsyg.2014.00577/full that delves into more academic detail the topics and themes covered in this talk. 

Key parts of the talk:

➜ Listen very carefully to what is said between 16:00 and 18:00. 

➜ There is something that exists when you don’t look at it, but it is not spacetime and physical objects.

➜ Perception is not about seeing truth, it’s about having kids. 

#consciousness   #reality   #perception  ___

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2015-06-24 12:25:37 (7 comments, 12 reshares, 35 +1s)Open 

George Church: The Powerhouse on the Latest Molecular Biology Technology
One hour talk plus Q&A. Main takeaway points include:

➜ Going from painstakingly aiming for 1x coverage of human genome sequencing to routinely doing 50x coverage of human genome sequencing and 1000x bacterial genome sequencing . . . just for kicks.

➜ Going from painstakingly aiming for 10^-1 to 10^-2 error rates in genome sequencing to routine 10^-9 error rates.

➜ Breaking genome sequencing monopolies with shifts in technology and aiming for MinION nanopore + protein motor sequencing architectures for the next disruption measuring pico-Amperes per base pair. 

➜ Going from 30x coverage of a human genome sequence taking up 9 Terabytes of data, down to 2.5 Megabytes of data per human genome sequence . . . as compared to the human reference genome. That'sright, t... more »

George Church: The Powerhouse on the Latest Molecular Biology Technology
One hour talk plus Q&A. Main takeaway points include:

➜ Going from painstakingly aiming for 1x coverage of human genome sequencing to routinely doing 50x coverage of human genome sequencing and 1000x bacterial genome sequencing . . . just for kicks.

➜ Going from painstakingly aiming for 10^-1 to 10^-2 error rates in genome sequencing to routine 10^-9 error rates.

➜ Breaking genome sequencing monopolies with shifts in technology and aiming for MinION nanopore + protein motor sequencing architectures for the next disruption measuring pico-Amperes per base pair. 

➜ Going from 30x coverage of a human genome sequence taking up 9 Terabytes of data, down to 2.5 Megabytes of data per human genome sequence . . . as compared to the human reference genome. That's right, the relative information content of your genome is 2.5MB. Our whole species population is 2 Petabytes. 

➜ Using CRIPSR in conjunction with human organoids on microfluidic chips and vastly exceeding the sophistication of conventional tissue culture models by including mechanical stressors for example. 

➜ Using CRISPR to quickly identify the single base pairs that are responsible for particular genetic disorders, and restoring the disease phenotype to healthy by adding correctly coded mRNAs.

➜ Sequencing entire genomes to identify off-target modifications caused by unintentional CRISPR edits, and trying to avoid any modification of tumour suppressor genes or activating oncogenes. 

➜ State of the art for CRISPR off-target modification is zero in 3x10^14 base pairs, possibly higher, and this only with off-the-shelf CRISPR: paired nickases etc are better CRISPRs that result in much better specificity, many orders of magnitude more specific. 

➜ Aging as the universal disease. Co-opting common alleles from supercentenarians. Co-opting parabiosis findings such as GDF11 that reverses many age-related problems. Influencing mitochondrial homeostasis with small molecules such as nicotinamide or using CRISPR to induce equivalently useful epigenetic changes. Dialing changes and gene expression up and down to 47 fold greater or less. 

➜ Out-of-date CRISPR technology is anything greater than 3 months old: innovating at a tremendous rate. 

➜ Multiple transcriptional activation domains bound to dead CRISPR (CRISPR that binds DNA but doesn't cleave DNA) can result in 20,000-fold upregulation of gene activity, e.g. for the human titan gene that is 100,000 base pairs long and almost impossible to deliver via gene therapy. 

➜ Examining asymmetric distribution of individual proteins and RNAs via subcellular localisation of these biomolecules using confocal multi-layer imaging and expansion microscopy and getting down to 10nm imaging resolution of 3D cells. 

#crispr   #syntheticbiology   #genomics  ___

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2015-06-21 13:33:34 (21 comments, 0 reshares, 42 +1s)Open 

Just completed all 10 hours of today's Game of Thrones Season 5 marathon. Marks the 5th consecutive year we've watched the whole season in a single day. Also 5th consecutive year we've managed to avoid all online spoilers. Pretty damn indulgent day!

Just completed all 10 hours of today's Game of Thrones Season 5 marathon. Marks the 5th consecutive year we've watched the whole season in a single day. Also 5th consecutive year we've managed to avoid all online spoilers. Pretty damn indulgent day!___

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2015-06-21 13:11:34 (11 comments, 33 reshares, 66 +1s)Open 

SciTech #ScienceSunday Digest - 25/2015.
Permalink here: http://www.scitechdigest.net/2015/06/cheap-genomic-sequencer-translating.html

Cheap genomic sequencer, Nuclear batteries, Translating brain signals, Machine learning, Powerful software, Genetic aging programs, Graphene collection, Cellulose 3D printing, Locks control GMOs, Robot hands & legs. 

1. MinION: Quick, Cheap Genome Sequencing
The palm-sized MinION DNA sequencer, which plugs in via USB to a PC and sequences DNA samples using a novel nanopore architecture, continues to make strides with both length and number of sequence reads http://phys.org/news/2015-06-full-genome-technology.html. The device has now passed low-accuracy concerns with better error correction and for the first time can produce complete bacterial genome sequences and should eventually be able to tackle mammaliang... more »

SciTech #ScienceSunday Digest - 25/2015.
Permalink here: http://www.scitechdigest.net/2015/06/cheap-genomic-sequencer-translating.html

Cheap genomic sequencer, Nuclear batteries, Translating brain signals, Machine learning, Powerful software, Genetic aging programs, Graphene collection, Cellulose 3D printing, Locks control GMOs, Robot hands & legs. 

1. MinION: Quick, Cheap Genome Sequencing
The palm-sized MinION DNA sequencer, which plugs in via USB to a PC and sequences DNA samples using a novel nanopore architecture, continues to make strides with both length and number of sequence reads http://phys.org/news/2015-06-full-genome-technology.html. The device has now passed low-accuracy concerns with better error correction and for the first time can produce complete bacterial genome sequences and should eventually be able to tackle mammalian genomes. 

2. Nuclear D Cell Battery
Some groups are trying to develop 5 watt nuclear-powered regular D-sized batteries that derive their energy from the decay of small amounts of radioisotopes contained within a tungsten casing that provides shielding and generates heat http://nextbigfuture.com/2015/06/developing-5-watt-nuclear-d-cell.html. Applications include power sources for mini-satellites and long-lived remote devices. Energy densities are typically 5 - 6 orders of magnitude bigger than for conventional chemical batteries. 

3. Translating Brain Activity to Speech
A new brain-to-text system has been demonstrated that captures the brain signals from an electrocorticography electrode array placed on the surface of the cortex and can decode these signals and reconstruct the basic phonemes, words, and complete sentences to generate corresponding text http://www.kit.edu/kit/english/pi_2015_063_speech-recognition-from-brain-activity.php. Error rates remain high but this is still a good proof-of-principle; the immediate hope is to develop the device as a means of communication for locked-in patients. Future possibilities include advanced brain-computer interfaces for people, parallels to DARPA’s neocortical modem project come to mind, and I also wonder if the reverse mechanism could be used in input speech as well. 

4. Trio of Machine Learning Developments
First, Google’s DeepMind has a deep learning system that learns to read and develop an “understanding” of the grammatical links and causal relationships between entities in the text and so summarise key points that aren’t explicitly stated by the text http://www.technologyreview.com/view/538616/google-deepmind-teaches-artificial-intelligence-machines-to-read/. Second, a deep learning system can now beat humans in the verbal reasoning component of IQ tests http://www.technologyreview.com/view/538431/deep-learning-machine-beats-humans-in-iq-test/. Third, IBM’s machine learning technology is being open sourced as part of its big push for the Spark cluster computing framework http://nextbigfuture.com/2015/06/ibm-calls-apache-spark-most-important.html. 

5. Duo of Powerful Software Tools
Leading on from the machine learning pieces I had to include these additional tools that look very promising. First, the demonstration of a fact-checking algorithm http://news.indiana.edu/releases/iu/2015/06/computational-fact-checker.shtml that was trained on Wikipedia data and automatically generated a knowledge graph complete with truth scores assigned to each factual relationship and was able to consistently match the performance of human fact checkers. Second, a new algorithm provides significant improvements in predicting which mutations in a given genome sequence are likely to have the largest effect on the activity of regulatory elements for genes, providing not just insights for disease but also design possibilities for targeted regulatory control via CRISPR for example http://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/news/media/releases/vulnerabilities_in_genomes_dimmer_switches_should_shed_light_on_hundreds_of_complex_diseases. 

6. Aging via Genetic Programming
The theory of aging being due to evolutionary selection and associated genetic programming has been getting a bit more coverage lately with a study looking at simple simulated organisms that consistently demonstrated the emergence of a built-in life expectancy that helped preserve species integrity over time under spatial and resource constrained conditions https://www.fightaging.org/archives/2015/06/yet-more-discussion-of-programmed-aging.php. The result is interesting but not definitive and has attracted critiques and rebuttals from other more mainstream groups such as aging as accumulation of damage. 

7. Graphene NEMS, Dots, & Lights
First up this week we have graphene being demonstrated in the thinnest visible on-chip light source ever http://engineering.columbia.edu/worlds-thinnest-light-bulb%E2%80%94graphene-gets-bright. Second, a graphene coating on the copper wires or traces that connect components on computer chips boosts transmission speed in these connectors by 17% now and possibly 30% in future http://phys.org/news/2015-06-simple-clever-boost-chip.html. Third, graphene electrodes provide significant improvements to piezoelectric MEMS and NEMS resonators http://www.nanowerk.com/spotlight/spotid=40427.php. Finally, graphene quantum dots can produce LED-type displays with brightness exceeding that of standard devices http://phys.org/news/2015-06-graphene-quantum-dot.html. 

8. 3D Printing Cellulose
A new technique allows cellulose (very strong polymer of linked glucose units) from wood to be mixed with a hydrogel and used as a 3D printing material for the first time; drying the final print to remove the water and leave behind the strong scaffold of cellulose is a key step http://phys.org/news/2015-06-cellulose-wood-d.html. This is interesting in the sense of not being a plastics / hydrocarbon based printing material, and mixing other components can produce cellulose inks with a range of properties such as electrical conductivity. In related news 3D printing in colour is set to get better http://www.technologyreview.com/view/538676/solving-the-last-great-3-d-printing-challenge-printing-in-color/, and 3D printing inflatable, flexible, stretchable structures is pretty promising https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qmuf_6h7Kl8. 

9. Controlling GMOs with Molecular Locks
 A better lock-and-key mechanism allows for better control of genetically modified organisms http://news.berkeley.edu/2015/06/16/molecular-lock-and-key-control-gmos/. In addition to the genetic modifications of interest one or more of a number of genes that are essential to the survival of cells are also engineered so as to produce proteins whose functional shape is dependent on the presence of a particular non-natural compound; without this compound as an easily available nutrient the cell reverts to its default state: death. This isn’t perfect or foolproof for a number of reasons but does build on similar mechanisms being employed by CRISPR for example to controllably induce the desired genetic activity. 

10. Better Robotic Hands and Legs
The bebionic small prosthetic hand for amputees was announced this week, billed as the “world’s most lifelike hand” and using miniaturised components to mimic the functions of a real hand http://rslsteeper.com/news/first_uk_user_receives_worlds_most_lifelike_bionic_hand. Meanwhile the new Durus robot has demonstrated ultra-efficient walking abilities after a large research project aimed at optimising the efficiency of every possible aspect of robotic walking, and ending up with a far more human-like gait that is 20x more efficient than ATLAS and currently allowing the 80kg robot to walk 10km with just the on-board 2.2 kWh battery http://spectrum.ieee.org/automaton/robotics/humanoids/durus-sri-ultra-efficient-humanoid-robot. 

Archive: http://www.scitechdigest.net/2015/06/cheap-genomic-sequencer-translating.html ___

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2015-06-19 12:25:32 (43 comments, 2 reshares, 55 +1s)Open 

I really enjoyed this movie . . . 

Very good if not perfect, a little rough around the edges, but still a little gem in my opinion. Could have explored the key issues in a subtler way but still, many an AI/ethical/moral/social/technological issue was explored. Heartbreaking at times; made Elise cry. The consciousness theme was a philosophical stretch but entirely forgivable and still enjoyable. Classic gritty Blomkamp setting, decent supporting characters for the wonderful protagonist, fantastic visuals, and beautifully captured robot movements and mannerisms. Another example of good, hard SciFi. Enjoyed as much as Ex Machina. I'm glad it didn't end how I thought it would end. 

Please preface spoiler comments for those who might not have seen it yet. 

I really enjoyed this movie . . . 

Very good if not perfect, a little rough around the edges, but still a little gem in my opinion. Could have explored the key issues in a subtler way but still, many an AI/ethical/moral/social/technological issue was explored. Heartbreaking at times; made Elise cry. The consciousness theme was a philosophical stretch but entirely forgivable and still enjoyable. Classic gritty Blomkamp setting, decent supporting characters for the wonderful protagonist, fantastic visuals, and beautifully captured robot movements and mannerisms. Another example of good, hard SciFi. Enjoyed as much as Ex Machina. I'm glad it didn't end how I thought it would end. 

Please preface spoiler comments for those who might not have seen it yet. ___

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2015-06-14 13:01:42 (22 comments, 46 reshares, 126 +1s)Open 

Superintelligence

I’ve just finished reading Nick Bostrom’s Superintelligence: Paths, Dangers, Strategies. I have a strong interest in the development of artificially intelligent machines in general and follow the weekly advances and announcements in the field of artificial intelligence as our species inches towards the ability to birth artificial general intelligence. I’ve read quite a bit of the philosophy concerning the arrival of machines smarter than ourselves and am generally familiar with the profound opportunities and risks associated with the arrival of such entities for humanity. But I consider myself loosely informed, not well informed, on this topic and so it was only a matter of time before I sat down with Nick’s book. 

If you’re in a similar position to myself, have an interest in these topics, are curious about the rise of artificial intelligence,possess op... more »

Superintelligence

I’ve just finished reading Nick Bostrom’s Superintelligence: Paths, Dangers, Strategies. I have a strong interest in the development of artificially intelligent machines in general and follow the weekly advances and announcements in the field of artificial intelligence as our species inches towards the ability to birth artificial general intelligence. I’ve read quite a bit of the philosophy concerning the arrival of machines smarter than ourselves and am generally familiar with the profound opportunities and risks associated with the arrival of such entities for humanity. But I consider myself loosely informed, not well informed, on this topic and so it was only a matter of time before I sat down with Nick’s book. 

If you’re in a similar position to myself, have an interest in these topics, are curious about the rise of artificial intelligence, possess opinions on the likelihood of such intelligences arising or the chances of existential risks, then Superintelligence should be relevant and of interest to you. If you’re a futurist or a transhumanist then Superintelligence should be required reading. 

Nick’s style of writing is, in a single word, thorough. Nick writes with a level of rigour, clarity, and thoroughness that I have rarely encountered. This can be tedious at times and a bit of a slog but fortunately he punctuates the flow with moments of dry, cutting wit. Nick is verbose and possesses a vocabulary that, I have no doubt, exceeds your own. I don’t care who you are or your level of education you will learn at least a dozen (give or take) new English words that you have never encountered before. I opened / read all of the footnotes because 95% of the time Nick’s footnotes are incredibly informative and worth digging into; you should do the same. Chapters are well organised and the arguments and innumerable examples within are well crafted; just when you think a line of thought and argument sounds familiar and other critical points come to your mind independently from your own readings and you think of something Nick hasn’t thought of, he yet again proves to be one step ahead of you by articulating the argument in more detail than you’d seen before. Then you come across gems like this memorable sentence:

Anthropics, the study of how to make inferences from indexical information in the presence of observation selection effects, is another area where the choice of epistemic axioms could prove pivotal. 

and if you’re like me you refuse to give in. Instead you parse it, chunk it up like you did to simple sentences as a young child learning to read, hit Google and Wikipedia repeatedly, and re-read the thing a half-dozen times before the meaning finally becomes clear. Another thing that is clear throughout is Nick’s strong stance on ethics and morality. 

Nick includes some two dozen notable luminaries in the acknowledgements that he consulted with in preparing this book, including superstars such as Demis Hassabis and Jurgen Schmidhuber to name just two. Also of note is Elon Musk, and I can’t help but wonder - given the timing - if this also influenced Elon’s recent comments on the perils and dangers of superintelligent machines. 

Superintelligence weaves through everything from the history of artificial intelligence research to developing strategic options for moving safely forward. We get exposed to the main paths leading to superintelligence that include classic artificial intelligence, whole brain emulation, biomolecular cognition enhancers, brain-computer-interfaces, and the collective intelligence of human networks and organisations. We learn about the main forms of different superintelligence including speed superintelligence, collective superintelligence, and most importantly quality superintelligence and the key sources of advantage that superintelligences can and will possess. The timing, optimisation, and explosivity - and factors affecting each - of the kinetics of an intelligence explosion are discussed, as well as the nature of paths leading towards a decisive strategic advantage and subsequent omnipotent singleton. We get a crash-course in superintelligent cognitive superpowers, superintelligent will, and the differences between intelligence and motivation. 

Nick devotes a lot of discussion to existential risk, catastrophes, malignant failure modes and key concepts such as perverse instantiation, infrastructure profusion, and mind crime. A key part of the book focuses on the control problem and the main considerations around capability control and motivation selection. We get an overview of the abilities, benefits, and risks of the four different superintelligences comprising oracles, genies, tools, and sovereigns and then delve into the effects on humans and human societies. One of the most important parts of the book concerns the value-loading problem, different methods to pre-load a superintelligence with appropriate human values and the hope for being able to offload this task to the superintelligence itself via indirect normativity and coherent extrapolated volition. 

Obviously I thought this was a very worthwhile book and one that needed to be written. To finish I’ll end with a selection of passages from the text if you needed any further prompting. 

Excerpts

The availability of the brain as template provides strong support for the claim that machine intelligence is ultimately feasible. The further into the future we look, the greater the likelihood that the secrets of the brain’s functionality will have been decoded sufficiently to enable the creation of machine intelligence in this manner.

With gene synthesis we could take the genome of an embryo and construct a version of that genome free from the genetic noise of accumulated mutations. If one wished to speak provocatively, one could say that individuals created from such proofread genomes might be “more human” than anybody currently alive, in that they would be less distorted expressions of human form.

Far from being the smartest possible biological species, we are probably better thought of as the stupidest possible biological species capable of starting a technological civilization—a niche we filled because we got there first, not because we are in any sense optimally adapted to it.

It seems fairly likely, however, that even if progress along the whole brain emulation path is swift, artificial intelligence will nevertheless be first to cross the finishing line: this is because of the possibility of neuromorphic AIs based on partial emulations.

The simplest example of speed superintelligence would be a whole brain emulation running on fast hardware. An emulation operating at a speed of ten thousand times that of a biological brain would be able to read a book in a few seconds and write a PhD thesis in an afternoon. With a speedup factor of a million, an emulation could accomplish an entire millennium of intellectual work in one working day.

Normal human adults have a range of remarkable cognitive talents that are not simply a function of possessing a sufficient amount of general neural processing power or even a sufficient amount of general intelligence: specialized neural circuitry is also needed. This observation suggests the idea of possible but non-realized cognitive talents, talents that no actual human possesses even though other intelligent systems—ones with no more computing power than the human brain—that did have those talents would gain enormously in their ability to accomplish a wide range of strategically relevant tasks. were we to gain some new set of modules giving an advantage comparable to that of being able to form complex linguistic representations, we would become superintelligent.

On this view, our most celebrated philosophers are like dogs walking on their hind legs—just barely attaining the threshold level of performance required for engaging in the activity at all.

The gap between a dumb and a clever person may appear large from an anthropocentric perspective, yet in a less parochial view the two have nearly indistinguishable minds. It will almost certainly prove harder and take longer to build a machine intelligence that has a general level of smartness comparable to that of a village idiot than to improve such a system so that it becomes much smarter than any human.

Superintelligent superpowers: Intelligence amplification, Strategizing, Social manipulation, Hacking, Technology research, Economic productivity. Superpowers are possessed by an agent as superpowers only if the agent’s capabilities in these areas substantially exceed the combined capabilities of the rest of the global civilization.

The AI develops a robust plan for achieving its long-term goals. (In particular, the AI does not adopt a plan so stupid that even we present-day humans can foresee how it would inevitably fail. This criterion rules out many science fiction scenarios that end in human triumph.)

In other words, assuming that the observable universe is void of extraterrestrial civilizations, then what hangs in the balance is at least 10,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 human lives (though the true number is probably larger). If we represent all the happiness experienced during one entire such life with a single teardrop of joy, then the happiness of these souls could fill and refill the Earth’s oceans every second, and keep doing so for a hundred billion billion millennia. It is really important that we make sure these truly are tears of joy.

The instrumental convergence thesis holds that superintelligent agents having any of a wide range of final goals will nevertheless pursue similar intermediary goals because they have common instrumental reasons to do so.

One feature of a malignant failure is that it eliminates the opportunity to try again. The number of malignant failures that will occur is therefore either zero or one.

Examples of perverse instantiation show that many final goals that might at first glance seem safe and sensible turn out, on closer inspection, to have radically unintended consequences. If a superintelligence with one of these final goals obtains a decisive strategic advantage, it is game over for humanity.

A small error in either the philosophical account or its translation into code could have catastrophic consequences. Consider an AI that has hedonism as its final goal, and which would therefore like to tile the universe with “hedonium” (matter organized in a configuration that is optimal for the generation of pleasurable experience). To this end, the AI might produce computronium (matter organized in a configuration that is optimal for computation) and use it to implement digital minds in states of euphoria.

Indirect normativity is a very important approach to motivation selection. Its promise lies in the fact that it could let us offload to the superintelligence much of the difficult cognitive work required to carry out a direct specification of an appropriate final goal.

It might be hard to ensure that a complex, evolved, kludgy, and poorly understood motivation system, like that of a human being, will not get corrupted when its cognitive engine blasts into the stratosphere.

While one might consider creating a physically confined genie, for instance one that can only construct objects inside a designated volume—a volume that might be sealed off by a hardened wall or a barrier loaded with explosive charges rigged to detonate if the containment is breached—it would be difficult to have much confidence in the security of any such physical containment method against a superintelligence equipped with versatile manipulators and construction materials.

Some emulations may prefer to retain most of their functionality and handle tasks themselves that could be done more efficiently by others. Those emulations would be like hobbyists who enjoy growing their own vegetables or knitting their own cardigans. Such hobbyist emulations would be less efficient; and if there is a net flow of resources from less to more efficient participants of the economy, the hobbyists would eventually lose out. The bouillon cubes of discrete human-like intellects thus melt into an algorithmic soup.

We could thus imagine, as an extreme case, a technologically highly advanced society, containing many complex structures, some of them far more intricate and intelligent than anything that exists on the planet today—a society which nevertheless lacks any type of being that is conscious or whose welfare has moral significance. In a sense, this would be an uninhabited society. It would be a society of economic miracles and technological awesomeness, with nobody there to benefit. A Disneyland without children.

Human nature, after all, is flawed and all too often reveals a proclivity to evil which would be intolerable in any system poised to attain a decisive strategic advantage.

No ethical theory commands majority support among philosophers, so most philosophers must be wrong. It is also reflected in the marked changes that the distribution of moral belief has undergone over time, many of which we like to think of as progress . . . Very likely, we are still laboring under one or more grave moral misconceptions.

Indirect normativity is a way to answer the challenge presented by the fact that we may not know what we truly want, what is in our interest, or what is morally right or ideal. Instead of making a guess based on our own current understanding (which is probably deeply flawed), we would delegate some of the cognitive work required for value selection to the superintelligence.

Our coherent extrapolated volition is our wish if we knew more, thought faster, were more the people we wished we were, had grown up farther together; where the extrapolation converges rather than diverges, where our wishes cohere rather than interfere; extrapolated as we wish that extrapolated, interpreted as we wish that interpreted.

The point of superintelligence is not to pander to human preconceptions but to make mincemeat out of our ignorance and folly.

Before the prospect of an intelligence explosion, we humans are like small children playing with a bomb. Such is the mismatch between the power of our plaything and the immaturity of our conduct.

#superintelligence   #artificialintelligence   #existentialrisk  ___

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2015-06-14 08:37:07 (4 comments, 25 reshares, 49 +1s)Open 

SciTech #ScienceSunday Digest - 24/2015.
Permalink here: http://www.scitechdigest.net/2015/06/advanced-brain-interfaces-seawater.html

Advanced brain interfaces, Seawater lithium mining, Better streaming gaming, Body on chip, Portable lab tests, Synthetic immune organoids, Quantum random numbers, Faster tissue regeneration, Pushing Moore’s Law, Vagus nerve stimulators.

1. Brain Interface via Injectable Nanoparticles & Meshes
Magnetoelectric nanoparticles can be injected into the brains of mice (each receiving 20 billion nanoparticle in the experiment) and when stimulated by an external magnetic field they induce an electric field that interacts with neuronal networks and the electric field they produce, as confirmed via EEG http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn27676-20-billion-nanoparticles-talk-to-the-brain-using-electricity.html. Veryin... more »

SciTech #ScienceSunday Digest - 24/2015.
Permalink here: http://www.scitechdigest.net/2015/06/advanced-brain-interfaces-seawater.html

Advanced brain interfaces, Seawater lithium mining, Better streaming gaming, Body on chip, Portable lab tests, Synthetic immune organoids, Quantum random numbers, Faster tissue regeneration, Pushing Moore’s Law, Vagus nerve stimulators.

1. Brain Interface via Injectable Nanoparticles & Meshes
Magnetoelectric nanoparticles can be injected into the brains of mice (each receiving 20 billion nanoparticle in the experiment) and when stimulated by an external magnetic field they induce an electric field that interacts with neuronal networks and the electric field they produce, as confirmed via EEG http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn27676-20-billion-nanoparticles-talk-to-the-brain-using-electricity.html. Very interesting platform for interfacing with the brain, especially if it can be shown to work in reverse to pick up discrete brain signals. In related news nanoscale electronic meshes can be injected into the body and brain as intimate sensors and interfaces able to connect to other devices http://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2015/06/injectable-electronics-promise-sharper-view-of-brain/. 

2. Mining Lithium from Seawater
A new, early prototype system is able to efficiently extract lithium from seawater using a dialysis-like system with a superconducting membrane that only lets lithium ions pass through http://www.technologyreview.com/news/538036/quest-to-mine-seawater-for-lithium-advances/. If it scales it could be timely given the projected demand for lithium batteries against current reserves. Interesting that this was from Japan, which has previously demonstrated a similar uranium-from-seawater system. 

3. Improving Streaming Gaming Bandwidth
A new collaborative rendering process called Kahawai shares rendering between the server and the user’s device to cut down the required network bandwidth by 83% http://www.techspot.com/news/60792-duke-university-microsoft-researchers-create-tool-reduces-online.html?google_editors_picks=true, and is mainly applicable to interactive game-streaming in which a remote server does most of the number-crunching and sends updated video to the user, which enables very “light” user device hardware but suffers with poor bandwidth. 

4. The Latest Body on a Chip
The latest human-on-a-chip or body-on-a-chip device comprises specific spherical micro-tissues loaded into microfluidic compartments that are connected by tiny tubes, allowing circulation of nutrients, drugs, and importantly drug metabolites throughout the system http://cordis.europa.eu/result/rcn/165278_en.html. It was tested with (i) liver and tumour tissue, (ii) liver, tumour, heart, nervous tissue, and (iii) developed an eight tissue system for future testing; such devices will transform drug development in future. 

5. Portable Handheld Lab Tests
The latest portable handheld laboratory testing device is the Sceptre from a company called Qloudlab, spun out of the EPFL and currently testing the device at a major hospital http://phys.org/news/2015-06-pocket-sized-medical-lab-chuv.html. The device will use interchangeable connectors to take small patient blood, urine, and saliva samples and will be able to run a battery of tests before sending the data to a mobile phone or cloud service; the first test application will be for certain lipids but if successful will expand to others. Once mature we’d all ideally have one of these devices at home. 

6. Synthetic Functional Immune Organs
A synthetic immune system organoid has been produced out of gelatin-based hydrogels reinforced with silica nanoparticles and seeded with immune cells; mimicking the microenvironment of lymphoid tissue the organoid and demonstrated the ability to proliferate and activate B cells and induce the production of antibodies against invaders http://www.news.cornell.edu/stories/2015/06/engineers-synthetic-immune-organ-produces-antibodies. Such organoids might be used in future to rescue a patient’s immune system or otherwise employed industrially to optimise production of therapeutic antibodies. 

7. Quantum Random Number Generator
The fastest quantum random number generator has been unveiled, able to generate 68 billion random numbers per second (compared to only 1 million per second with current systems) by creating a highly sensitive interferometer that that converts fluctuations in the phase of emitted photons into intensity changes and so allowing conventional faster photodetectors to be used http://www.technologyreview.com/view/538406/worlds-fastest-quantum-random-number-generator-unveiled-in-china/. Immediate applications include quantum cryptography. 

8. Triggering Faster Tissue Regeneration
A new drug shows promise in inducing latent tissue stem cells to repair damaged tissues more quickly and across many different tissues at once and hopes to soon enter human trials https://www.fightaging.org/archives/2015/06/a-drug-candidate-to-trigger-faster-regeneration.php. Animal models showed massively damaged livers healing twice as fast as normal, while a model of chronic ulcers was healed and further ulcerative symptoms prevented. We could all do with this at various points in our lives, even if just to heal scrapes and strains. 

9. Pushing Moore’s Law with Better Semiconductors
New work from IBM has successfully fabricated single crystal nanostructures and 3D stacked nanowires with III-V materials (indium, gallium, & arsenide alloys) and for the first time integrated these with silicon in an economically viable process compatible with standard chip fabrication technology http://www.aip.org/publishing/journal-highlights/futuristic-components-silicon-chips-fabricated-successfully. Such materials are considered important for enabling further Moore’s Law style performance gains from conventional silicon chips. 

10. Vagus Nerve Stimulator for Brain Health
A company called Microtransponder has developed an implanted vagus-nerve stimulator to induce targeted relearning in the brain, for example, to treat tinnitus and stroke by retraining the brain to route around damage that causes these diseases http://spectrum.ieee.org/tech-talk/biomedical/devices/implant-fights-stroke-tinnitus-by-retraining-the-brain. Future targets will include post-traumatic stress disorder and obsessive-compulsive disorder, while others are pursuing epilepsy and migraine. 

Archive: http://www.scitechdigest.net/2015/06/advanced-brain-interfaces-seawater.html___

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2015-06-13 06:26:45 (27 comments, 9 reshares, 108 +1s)Open 

Exercising Willpower: Going Hungry for Two Months
The strongest, fittest, healthiest I’ve been in my life. 

Today I completed the full 8 week Insanity Max 30 interval training and diet program for the first time. I’d consistently done the earlier Insanity interval training for a bit over 18 months prior to starting this new program, and while I always maintain a healthy diet I do have a sweet tooth that I love to satisfy with chocolate and other treats. This time it was different. While I didn’t need to lose weight, I wanted to, just to slim down a little and firm up in areas. And while I considered myself pretty fit from the old Insanity I wondered whether this new program would be able to further improve the fitness I had achieved and maintained. I wanted to write up and share my experience and the effect it had, especially on my mind. 

Insanity Max 30 IntervalTrainin... more »

Exercising Willpower: Going Hungry for Two Months
The strongest, fittest, healthiest I’ve been in my life. 

Today I completed the full 8 week Insanity Max 30 interval training and diet program for the first time. I’d consistently done the earlier Insanity interval training for a bit over 18 months prior to starting this new program, and while I always maintain a healthy diet I do have a sweet tooth that I love to satisfy with chocolate and other treats. This time it was different. While I didn’t need to lose weight, I wanted to, just to slim down a little and firm up in areas. And while I considered myself pretty fit from the old Insanity I wondered whether this new program would be able to further improve the fitness I had achieved and maintained. I wanted to write up and share my experience and the effect it had, especially on my mind. 

Insanity Max 30 Interval Training
As the name implies the exercise regime over this 8 week period consisted of intense interval training sessions lasting 30 minutes at least 5 nights per week. Interval training is where you jump around a lot, do lots of core and plank work, building up your heart rate before being given a short rest (~30 seconds) and repeating again with different exercises. The Max 30 sessions are much more intense than the old sessions I was doing: you move a lot quicker, get much fewer rests, and sweat more (if that was possible). On top of this the sessions in month 2 are significantly harder than month 1. My overall fitness has noticeably improved as a result. In addition, on two nights per week I added one of the included 10 minute abdominal workouts, and on another three nights per week I did additional upper-body weights.

Diet Plan
While reducing caloric intake was a key part of the diet plan, this was mainly accomplished via strict portion control. Depending on your weight or target weight you get allotted portion sizes and amounts of protein, carbohydrates, fats, fruit, and vegetables with 5 meals spread throughout the day: breakfast, mid-morning, lunch, late-afternoon, and dinner. Snacks included a handful of seeds or nuts. I consumed vegetable-based protein powder regularly for the first time and probably ate more eggs in the past two months than I did in the prior 18. The exercise was hard but the diet plan was harder because it left me hungry, despite always having plenty of energy to complete the workouts to their fullest. 

Going Hungry
For most of the past two months I have been ever-so-slightly hungry, and more frequently as time went on. This has been the most difficult thing. I have never gone hungry to such an extent before and it is something that I - like most - avoid at all cost. I was less strict early on regarding portion control and food intake and so was less hungry. But for most of the last two months very slight hunger has been a regular if not-quite-constant companion and this has had an interesting effect on my psychology. 

Building Discipline and Willpower
I have a huge sweet tooth and love of chocolate and in these two months I learned to say no. Saying no to chocolate, even when offered freely. Saying no to sugar in my coffee. Saying no to other treats on hand at the office or home. Saying no to entrees when eating out. Saying no to dessert. Saying no to larger portion sizes. Saying no to coke, and wine, and other beverages. Saying no to extra sauces and toppings. Resisting resisting resisting temptation. Failing at first but progressively exerting ever greater control over such base urges. Becoming more and more disciplined, more stronger willed, more able to delay gratification until ever-later future dates. My good habits of before have morphed into better habits today. 

Such a very difficult thing to do in today’s world with an abundance of cheap delicious treats available everywhere, able to satisfy hunger and cravings instantly, if temporarily. I was surprised when I started to welcome that slight but unpleasant feeling of hunger, another test of willpower, another step closer to a final goal. Even going to bed with that slight and sometimes strong feeling of hunger became tolerable and of little consequence. Caloric restriction has numerous health benefits and a day or three without food should be of little consequence to a body adapted and evolved to such conditions - let alone the 12 hours between dinner and breakfast. I will admit on the very worst days, with my energy levels affected, I became a little moody / snappy / emotional however. 

Meal portion sizes in the developed world are on average much bigger than they need to be; just because the food is cheap and plentiful doesn’t mean you have to slap a mountain of it on a plate, nor does it mean you have to finish everything that is on there either. 

Results
Overall I am much fitter, stronger, and healthier than before I started. I last much longer before I need a rest, I’m more flexible, I can lift more weight and do more reps before muscle fatigue sets in.

Weight: 74kg
The last time I weighed myself was probably 18+ months ago and I remember that reading was 84kg or so, higher than I thought reasonable given my 180cm height. Final weigh-in after these two months was 74kg (163 lbs), and that after building noticeable muscle. Body looks very different - Elise seems happy ;) I haven’t weighed 74kg in over 15 years since I was 20 years old or less. None of my pants fit properly now - they’re all a little loose. 

Resting Heart Rate: 47 - 53 bpm.
My heart rate monitor isn’t the most accurate or consistent but taking a bunch of averages suggests a reliable ballpark final resting heart rate of 47 - 53 bpm. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heart_rate#Resting_heart_rate. Made me call to mind the “heartbeat hypothesis.” 

Reward and Recovery
I just got back from the shops with 1/4 kg of my favourite chocolates, some wine, a bottle of whiskey and some coke. It is time to rest and indulge and enjoy my favourite comfort foods and become reacquainted with my Xbox. I’m sitting on my ass and taking a week off - absolutely no exercise for at least a week to allow full recovery of my body from any kinks and strains and also to build up reserves again. Healthy diet will be maintained but portion control will be flexible and hunger will be avoided. Later the following week I’ll decide what sort of regular exercise I want to start up again. I’m very glad I undertook this Insanity Max 30 challenge and lost the small amount of weight I wanted to lose. The physical results and effects on my body are great and the process taught me a lot and exposed me to aspects about myself in other ways that I never would have expected nor appreciated. It’s also good to prove to oneself what one is capable of: if I ever need to modify weight and fitness again in future I know I can do it. 

#insanitymax30   #discipline   #willpower  ___

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2015-06-07 08:04:46 (2 comments, 42 reshares, 59 +1s)Open 

SciTech #ScienceSunday Digest - 23/2015.
Permalink here: http://www.scitechdigest.net/2015/06/immune-system-discoveries-dna-click.html 

Immune system discoveries, DNA click-chemistry, Human reference genome, Metal plating prints, CRISPR vs viruses, Bioengineered limbs, Carbon nanotube RAM, WiFi powers sensors, Amazing robots, Crunching regulatory networks. 

1. Immune System Discoveries & Innovations
Decades of anatomy have been overturned with the discovery that the brain has subtle but direct lymphatic connections to the immune system, throwing up new questions and opportunities for the role this plays in diseases of the brain and therapies that might be developed http://news.virginia.edu/content/researchers-find-textbook-altering-link-between-brain-immune-system. Meanwhile a new blood test costing $25 called VirScan can determine everysi... more »

SciTech #ScienceSunday Digest - 23/2015.
Permalink here: http://www.scitechdigest.net/2015/06/immune-system-discoveries-dna-click.html 

Immune system discoveries, DNA click-chemistry, Human reference genome, Metal plating prints, CRISPR vs viruses, Bioengineered limbs, Carbon nanotube RAM, WiFi powers sensors, Amazing robots, Crunching regulatory networks. 

1. Immune System Discoveries & Innovations
Decades of anatomy have been overturned with the discovery that the brain has subtle but direct lymphatic connections to the immune system, throwing up new questions and opportunities for the role this plays in diseases of the brain and therapies that might be developed http://news.virginia.edu/content/researchers-find-textbook-altering-link-between-brain-immune-system. Meanwhile a new blood test costing $25 called VirScan can determine every single virus the person has ever been exposed to http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn27659-cheap-blood-test-reveals-every-virus-youve-ever-been-exposed-to.html. Finally, a new immunotherapy retrains the immune system to not attack specific proteins in the body that lead to rheumatoid arthritis and shows promise as a platform for treatment against autoimmune diseases http://www.gizmag.com/early-clinical-trial-success-rheumatoid-arthritis-treatment/37865/. 

2. Nanostructures from DNA Click-Chemistry
Continuing the strong DNA origami theme in recent weeks we have a modification of DNA building blocks that (i) form interlinked catenane chainmail ring structures and (ii) exploit functionalised oligonucleotides that undergo click-chemistry reactions to lock and stabilise the structure against high temperatures and further chemical / enzymatic modification; this comprises a structural platform for nanostructures with the possibility for non-enzymatic gene synthesis http://phys.org/news/2015-06-dna-bundles-stable-chain-armor-like-nanostructures.html. 

3. A More Sophisticated Human Reference Genome
The human reference genome is getting a significant and overdue boost with the help of graph theory that will combine many thousands of human genomes into a single, annotated reference source able to draw far more accurate and meaningful comparisons to the differences that individual genomes possess http://www.technologyreview.com/news/537916/rebooting-the-human-genome/. 

4. Metal Plating for 3D Prints
The Orbit1 is a tabletop electroplating device for 3D printed objects in which (i) the object is spray-coated with conductive paint, (ii) placed on a rack in the Orbit1, (iii) the device electroplates the object and applies a metallic (copper, nickel, palladium, or gold) coating 0.1mm - 0.2mm thick http://www.springwise.com/personal-electroplater-turns-3d-printed-objects-gold/. Make your own utensils, circuit boards, glasses frames, etc. 

5. CRISPR Suppresses Hepatitis B Virus
A construct comprising a number of distinct CRISPR gene therapy vectors against conserved regions across HepB viral genotypes has proven effective in enabling robust suppression of viral expression and replication in mice http://www.nature.com/srep/2015/150602/srep10833/full/srep10833.html. CRISPR is ideal for this purpose and I’ve been waiting to hear someone do this - I also expect this method to deliver effective cures for not only Hepatitis but HSV, HPV, and other genome-integrating viruses. 

6. Transplantable Bioengineered Limbs
The first transplanted bioartificial replacement limb has been demonstrated in a process that took a limb from a rat, decellularised it, incubated the matrix in a bioreactor, added vasculature & muscle progenitor cells, electrically stimulated muscle development, confirmed the development of limb vasculature and muscles, added a skin graft, and then transplanted the limb onto another rat in which blood flow was restored http://www.massgeneral.org/about/pressrelease.aspx?id=1815. Next step is to include bone and nerves. 3D printed hydrogel structures are also getting better and more sophisticated for tissue engineering applications http://newsoffice.mit.edu/2015/3-d-printing-tough-biogel-0601. 

7. Nantero’s Carbon Nanotube RAM Chips
Nantero claims to have installed its carbon nanotube memory NRAM process in multiple production fabs and promises to be 100s of times faster than NAND, very low power, low cost, scalable down below 5nm and hinting at a range of future device possibilities http://nantero.com/nantero-closes-30m-series-e-round-its-next-generation-memory-nram-now-installed-in-multiple-production-fabs-around-the-world/. Although apparently there are already microSD cards with 512GB of storage http://www.cnet.com/au/news/microdia-will-sell-a-1000-ish-512gb-microsd-come-july/. 

8. Camera Powered by Ambient WiFi
New chip design, signal-processing software, and updates to existing routers result in a system in which low-power sensors and devices can be powered remotely via WiFi http://www.technologyreview.com/view/538031/first-demonstration-of-a-surveillance-camera-powered-by-ordinary-wi-fi-broadcasts/. To prove the concept they wirelessly powered a small surveillance camera that captured images, and also wirelessly recharged a fitness tracker, however all devices currently have to be less than seven or so meters away from the router. 

9. The World’s Best Robots
As you all should know and should already be following, the DARPA Robotics Challenge is on this weekend where we get to see the most advanced robots in the world make their way through a tough obstacle and task course; CMU’s CHIMP robot performed well early on http://spectrum.ieee.org/automaton/robotics/humanoids/drc-finals-cmu-chimp-gets-up-after-fall-shows-how-awesome-robots-can-be but the final winner and best performer overall was the Korean Hubo team http://www.nytimes.com/2015/06/07/science/korean-robot-makers-walk-off-with-2-million-prize.html?_r=0. Also this week, robots are learning to push and pull heavy objects with their bodies http://spectrum.ieee.org/automaton/robotics/humanoids/robots-learn-to-push-heavy-objects-with-their-bodies-just-like-you, and Amazon has just run its Warehouse Challenge competition for robots http://www.theverge.com/2015/6/1/8698607/amazon-robot-picking-challenge-results. 

10. Regeneration Model Discovered by Smart Software
The regeneration mechanism of a type of small worm has been reverse engineered by a software system based on evolutionary algorithms http://now.tufts.edu/news-releases/planarian-regeneration-model-discovered-artificial-intelligence. Fed a dataset of 16 key regeneration experiments the algorithm discovered and returned the regulatory network that correctly predicted all 16 experiments and is the most comprehensive model of regeneration in this worm to date. I’m thinking systems like these could be a boon to unravelling the complex regulatory networks at play in many human diseases and phenotypes. 

Bonus
I couldn’t pass this one up: Bolt Threads emerges from stealth with a lot of cash to scale production of bacterial synthesised spider silk threads for a range of purposes http://techcrunch.com/2015/06/04/spiderpants/#.rbqzel:4pl6. 

Archive: http://www.scitechdigest.net/2015/06/immune-system-discoveries-dna-click.html ___

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2015-06-07 06:30:01 (10 comments, 3 reshares, 29 +1s)Open 

To Fellow Australian Transhumanists

The +Transhumanist Party Australia (TPAU) has recently launched as an Australian political organisation dedicated to putting science, health, and technology at the forefront of the Australian political agenda, and promoting values that all transhumanists will be familiar with. Partner organisations include The Future Party and the Life Extension, Science and Technology Party. Co-founders include Peter Xing and Tristan Mitchell. 

As a start-up political party the TPAU needs to reach 500 confirmed members before the Australian Electoral Commission will officially register the party. If you're an Australian transhumanist please consider helping out by (i) signing up with a vote pledge to help the party reach this initial milestone, (ii) tagging in the comments or sharing this information with any other Australian transhumanists you know ort... more »

To Fellow Australian Transhumanists

The +Transhumanist Party Australia (TPAU) has recently launched as an Australian political organisation dedicated to putting science, health, and technology at the forefront of the Australian political agenda, and promoting values that all transhumanists will be familiar with. Partner organisations include The Future Party and the Life Extension, Science and Technology Party. Co-founders include Peter Xing and Tristan Mitchell. 

As a start-up political party the TPAU needs to reach 500 confirmed members before the Australian Electoral Commission will officially register the party. If you're an Australian transhumanist please consider helping out by (i) signing up with a vote pledge to help the party reach this initial milestone, (ii) tagging in the comments or sharing this information with any other Australian transhumanists you know or think would be interested or able to assist. See the following links for additional detail:

Transhumanist Party Australia main site
http://www.transhumanism.com.au/

TPAU pledge your vote!
http://www.transhumanism.com.au/vote_pledge

loomio discussion boards have recently opened
https://www.loomio.org/g/k84CZawU/transhumanist-party-australia

Trello discussion boards have recently opened
https://trello.com/b/cskdrFGi/transhumanist-party-australia

You might also consider consenting to be listed as a contact for the party to answer questions from interested people, provide guidance, organise meetups, forward inquiries onto +Peter Xing and others, volunteer depending on your capacity, etc; really whatever you want or have time to do. As you can see http://www.transhumanism.com.au/contact_us I am listed as a contact for Adelaide, South Australia.

Hope you can help!

#australia   #politics   #transhumanism  ___

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2015-06-05 11:35:57 (23 comments, 5 reshares, 63 +1s)Open 

Just Two Complaints

I love +Google Photos. It's was an amazing application, tool, and web service that helped delight and make my life that little bit better. The recent update only saw it become even more amazing as you've all no doubt discovered. 

But I have just two little gripes. Well, really only one gripe, and one little request. 

1. Auto-Backup Destroys Home Internet Bandwidth.
Auto-backup is an invaluable tool that I've been using with Google Photos ever since it launched; get back home from an outing, phone connects to WiFi, photos start uploading and backing up. But whenever this happens it utterly and completely destroys my home Internet bandwidth - loading a simple basic webpage on my PC takes ages, scrolling media-dense pages like Google+ stream take forever to load, streaming video becomes impossible. Lots of people experiencet... more »

Just Two Complaints

I love +Google Photos. It's was an amazing application, tool, and web service that helped delight and make my life that little bit better. The recent update only saw it become even more amazing as you've all no doubt discovered. 

But I have just two little gripes. Well, really only one gripe, and one little request. 

1. Auto-Backup Destroys Home Internet Bandwidth.
Auto-backup is an invaluable tool that I've been using with Google Photos ever since it launched; get back home from an outing, phone connects to WiFi, photos start uploading and backing up. But whenever this happens it utterly and completely destroys my home Internet bandwidth - loading a simple basic webpage on my PC takes ages, scrolling media-dense pages like Google+ stream take forever to load, streaming video becomes impossible. Lots of people experience this apparently - you can find technical reasons on forums with a quick search. 

This took a while to isolate and even involved angry calls to the ISP. But it is consistent across both mine and Elise' devices and if we've taken a lot of photos / videos then Auto-Backup has to be disabled until we go to bed. This is just annoying now because it is manageable - but it was rage-inducing at times before I figured out what was causing the problems. It'd be really really great if this could be sorted out in a future update. 

2. Better Google Drive Filtering.
The Google Photos integration into Google Drive is nice, convenient, and well done. But the reverse, Google Drive integration into Google Photos, has quite a bit of room for improvement.

First, I've found that flicking the switch to integrate photos from Google Drive into Google Photos results in a small bunch of videos somehow being time-stamped as taken in the year 2040. I've gone back to the originals, I've gone back to the uploaded copies in Google Drive, and there are no identifiable date errors on those files, they are indeed all from 2012, 2013, or 2014. Given the initial Google Photos view is chronological this means that these erroneously-dated files will always be at the top of my initial feed, or at least until 2041. This is annoying and would be nice to fix. 

Second, and most importantly, Google Drive seems like a far more private and personal file locker, whereas Google Photos is more interpersonal, shareable, and even though private-by-default the media can be public-by-accident for example when you open Google Photos on your phone to show someone a particular image and they might glimpse others you'd rather they hadn't. THIS IS TRUTH http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-jmlGVc_T1Ok/UsZ3_dwC7EI/AAAAAAAAWy0/vq_8mLAMxjs/s1600/look.jpg. Instead of integrting ALL THE PHOTOS from Google Drive, it'd be great to be able to specify which folders to incorporate. 

Anyway, just a few minor things, still easily the best personal photos tools and infrastructure available.

#googlephotos   #googledrive   #featurerequest  ___

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2015-05-31 13:45:21 (31 comments, 2 reshares, 44 +1s)Open 

An utter pain in the . . . 
My Gear Live is useless as far as I can tell.
UPDATE June 11: Turns out it was not a watch issue, rather, it was an application or settings issue on my Nexus 6.

My Gear Live became almost useless least night, continuously flashing up error messages like those on the left - gapps stopped working, Google Play Services stopped working, etc. Within seconds of tapping "OK" to dismiss another would appear, continually, repeatedly. Eventually managed to perform a Factory Reset and, instead, the "smart"watch refused to pair with my phone via Android Wear: every time the connection was attempted the PIN would flash for the briefest of instants on the watch, and the PIN would be identified by the phone along with an error message of not being able to pair.

Knowing that Android Wear 5.1.1 had recently been released I thought this... more »

An utter pain in the . . . 
My Gear Live is useless as far as I can tell.
UPDATE June 11: Turns out it was not a watch issue, rather, it was an application or settings issue on my Nexus 6.

My Gear Live became almost useless least night, continuously flashing up error messages like those on the left - gapps stopped working, Google Play Services stopped working, etc. Within seconds of tapping "OK" to dismiss another would appear, continually, repeatedly. Eventually managed to perform a Factory Reset and, instead, the "smart"watch refused to pair with my phone via Android Wear: every time the connection was attempted the PIN would flash for the briefest of instants on the watch, and the PIN would be identified by the phone along with an error message of not being able to pair.

Knowing that Android Wear 5.1.1 had recently been released I thought this might be fixed if I updated the OS. So I unlock developer options on the watch for the first time and learned for the first time how to flash the updated 5.1.1 OS to a smartwatch via manual ADB commands - this took much much longer than originally expected but was ultimately successful.

Reboot the watch and . . . exactly the same issue occurred. During the initial setup and Android Wear pairing procedure with the phone the watch would flash for the briefest instant a pairing code while staying on the same initial setup screen and the phone would recognise that pairing code but return the error message after the attempt that it could not pair with the Gear Live. 

With mild desperation I wondered if updating my Nexus 6 to the latest 5.1.1 version of Android (recently released with OTA slowly rolling out) would help. So I manually unrooted, flashed the stock 5.1 build, sideloaded the 5.1.1 update, and rerooted. Nope, same issue as before. 

I've trawled many forums and xda threads and other sites and can't find what the issue might be - for now the Gear Live will be collecting dust. Does anyone have any ideas? This wasted hours of my weekend :(

PS - the rubber band on the right is what I have to use to hold the charging cradle to the watch after the poorly-designed connector clips broke off. 

#gearlive   #androidwear   #fail  ___

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2015-05-31 10:33:17 (9 comments, 31 reshares, 69 +1s)Open 

SciTech #ScienceSunday Digest - 22/2015.
Permalink here: http://www.scitechdigest.net/2015/05/single-molecule-electronics-engineering.html

Single molecule electronics, Engineering DNA origami, Origami robots, Better robot interactions, Implantable active sensors, Base-6 DNA code, Probiotic cancer diagnosis, Automotive deep learning, Mitochondrial aging damage, Greaseless bearings. 

1. Single Molecule Components for Molecular Electronics
New techniques allow the creation of single molecule diodes that perform 50 times better than all other previous designs, with a high rectification >250 and a high “on” current of 100 nAmps http://engineering.columbia.edu/one-step-closer-single-molecule-device-1. The key innovation was to design asymmetric properties around not just the molecule itself but also the immediate electrical environment. Inrelat... more »

SciTech #ScienceSunday Digest - 22/2015.
Permalink here: http://www.scitechdigest.net/2015/05/single-molecule-electronics-engineering.html

Single molecule electronics, Engineering DNA origami, Origami robots, Better robot interactions, Implantable active sensors, Base-6 DNA code, Probiotic cancer diagnosis, Automotive deep learning, Mitochondrial aging damage, Greaseless bearings. 

1. Single Molecule Components for Molecular Electronics
New techniques allow the creation of single molecule diodes that perform 50 times better than all other previous designs, with a high rectification >250 and a high “on” current of 100 nAmps http://engineering.columbia.edu/one-step-closer-single-molecule-device-1. The key innovation was to design asymmetric properties around not just the molecule itself but also the immediate electrical environment. In related news single molecule rotaxane architectures (molecular ring around a molecular axle) are being scaled up to be incorporated into metal-organic-frameworks with a demonstrated ability to controllably switch the rotaxane from one state to another http://phys.org/news/2015-05-sold-state-molecular-circuitry-shuttle-metal-organic.html, although nothing on addressability yet. 

2. Dynamic Engineering of DNA Origami Structures
Self-assembled DNA origami technology continues to progress with the development of better DNA origami techniques able to assemble arrays of nanoparticles into controlled geometric configurations http://www.bnl.gov/newsroom/news.php?a=11728. In the proof of concept octahedral DNA cages bound to nanoparticles further assembled together to produce chains or uniform sheets as needed. In a further extension of DNA origami techniques, ordered arrays of nanoparticles produced by DNA origami assembly can be subsequently reprogrammed, altering the attraction and repulsion between particles and causing a phase change in the lattice structure of the material http://www.bnl.gov/newsroom/news.php?a=11729, allowing programmable switchable materials that alter their properties depending on the environment. New solvents are also improving DNA origami http://phys.org/news/2015-05-non-aqueous-solvent-dna-nanotechnology.html, and DNA origami rings have been made that self-replicate http://phys.org/news/2015-05-self-replicating-nanostructures-dna.html. 

3.  Self-Folding Origami Robot
On the topic of origami a miniature self-folding origami robot has been demonstrated that walks, swims, carries loads, and dissolves in a solvent http://spectrum.ieee.org/automaton/robotics/robotics-hardware/origami-robot-folds-itself-up-does-cool-stuff-dissolves-into-nothing. Placed on a heating element the device folds up around a magnet in about a minute and then can be moved around at 4 cm/s under the direction of four electromagnetic coils. The good little demonstration video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f0CluQiwLRg shows off a range of tasks and abilities. The end goal of course seems to be creating even smaller devices that might perform useful work inside the body. 

4. Robots Interacting Better with their Surroundings
In additional robotics news we had a couple of interesting announcements this week. First, a new algorithm significantly reduces the planning time incurred by groups of robots working together to optimally perform some task http://newsoffice.mit.edu/2015/assembly-algorithm-for-autonomous-robots-0527. The proof-of-concept was demonstrated by a team of three robots working together to assemble a chair, and is ultimately hoped to further increase and improve automation in complex manufacturing environments. Second, more advanced robotic manipulators are enabling robots to automate and enter areas of food production that were previously too complex and required humans http://www.technologyreview.com/news/537646/robots-start-to-grasp-food-processing/. 

5. Implantable Sensors and Active Devices
A newly developed biosensor chip measuring one square centimeter is designed to be implanted under the skin where it can be wirelessly charged, wirelessly communicate to your phone, and measure a range of different properties including pH, temperature, metabolic chemicals like glucose, lactate, and cholesterol and even drugs http://actu.epfl.ch/news/a-chip-placed-under-the-skin-for-more-precise-medi/; I’d be keen to know how long this can function before failing but a platform like this that could be modified to measure almost any molecule of interest would be fantastic. In related news artificial pancreas devices are becoming increasingly sophisticated http://spectrum.ieee.org/biomedical/bionics/diabetes-has-a-new-enemy-robopancreas. 

6. From Base-4 to Base-6 DNA Codes
In an interesting synthetic biology advance two new nucleotide base-pairs have been successfully introduced into DNA strands, so in addition to the usual sequences of As, Ts, Gs, and Cs, this new DNA has what they term Zs and Ps http://phys.org/news/2015-05-code-life-letters.html. Critically the new DNA retained the standard double helix of DNA, as well as other physical properties, and was apparently able to evolve new sequences. At this stage such a material might have immediate utility in DNA origami applications as mentioned above, by allowing more diverse and more specific binding structures. To be useful in a living biological cell the group would need to alter all of the proteins that interact with DNA and reengineer the genetic code itself to take account of 216 codons instead of the usual 64.

7. Probiotic Bacteria for Diagnosing Cancer
I admit to being surprised to learn that some types of harmless E. coli bacteria can and do at times colonise the liver without any deleterious effects to the animal. In recent work this property was exploited to develop a cancer diagnostic for tumours growing in the liver http://newsoffice.mit.edu/2015/diagnosing-cancer-with-bacteria-0527. Instead of being injected genetically engineered bacteria were delivered orally via a probiotic formulation, they found their way to the liver, colonised it, penetrated any tumours due to attractive microenvironments, and expressed an enzyme to metabolise a compound produced by tumour cells, one of the by-products of which was secreted and detected in urine to a sensitivity sufficient for tumours one cubic millimeter or more in size. 

8. Deep Learning, Automotive Apps, and Better GPUs
Google revealed details about its new pedestrian detection technology based on analysis of real time video footage by a new deep learning system that is currently designed to complement the other pedestrian-detecting sensors in its autonomous cars http://spectrum.ieee.org/cars-that-think/transportation/self-driving/new-pedestrian-detector-from-google-could-make-selfdriving-cars-cheaper. The system runs significantly faster than previous deep learning techniques and can accurately identify pedestrians in 0.25 seconds, however this is still slower than the 0.07 seconds required for real time use. So it is interesting to see Nvidia’s recent announcement of its Pascal range of GPU coming out next year that it claims will provide a 10x performance boost to deep learning applications and a big part of their push will be towards the automotive market http://nextbigfuture.com/2015/05/nvidias-pascal-is-ten-times-faster-than.html. 

9. Reversing Mitochondrial Damage in Aging
An intriguing result in cell lines suggests that age-associated mitochondrial respiration defects might not be due to somatic mutations in mitochondrial DNA at all, but rather dependent on nuclear mutations and epigenetic changes https://www.fightaging.org/archives/2015/05/another-example-of-induced-pluripotency-reversing-mitochondrial-damage-in-aging.php. Taking elderly cell lines, reprogramming them into induced pluripotent stem cells, and then differentiating them back into the cell type they used to be (fibroblasts) resulted in the restoration and rejuvenation of mitochondrial respiration defects; respiration defects were also absent in the presence of mitoDNA mutations or excessive reactive oxygen. Further study suggested that a key factor was reduced glycine production in mitochondria (regulated by nuclear genes), and glycine treatment was also effective in restoring and rejuvenating aged respiration defects. More work and animal studies are needed, probably too early to start supplementing megadoses of glycine, but still tantalising. 

10. Improved Bearing Design
Sometimes the best things are the simplest. Bearing designs and function haven’t been substantially improved for a very long time despite their ubiquity and importance in industrial society. A new bearing design working on quite simple principles is able to spin with 10x less friction compared to conventional designs while at the same time not requiring grease http://www.digitaltrends.com/cool-tech/greaseless-bearing-coo-space/. Such a simple thing might lead to substantial benefits for things like robotics, not to mention standard industrial equipment and machines in future. 

Archive: http://www.scitechdigest.net/2015/05/single-molecule-electronics-engineering.html___

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2015-05-30 13:30:48 (22 comments, 26 reshares, 48 +1s)Open 

Ethereum's Alternative Blockchain

This is a good, accessible, and informative blog post about the latest developments with Ethereum, its alternative blockchain protocol, and focus on smart contracts and decentralised applications, and of course its relation to Bitcoin. 

The Business Imperative Behind the Ethereum Vision: https://blog.ethereum.org/2015/05/24/the-business-imperative-behind-the-ethereum-vision/ 

The genius behind Ethereum is this magical network of computers that enables a new type of software applications: the truly decentralized ones, based on embedding the logic of trust inside small programs and distributing them to run on its blockchain. It is based on a 3-tier architecture, comprising an advanced browser as the client, the blockchain ledger as a shared resource, and a virtual network of computers that run smart business logic programs in adec... more »

Ethereum's Alternative Blockchain

This is a good, accessible, and informative blog post about the latest developments with Ethereum, its alternative blockchain protocol, and focus on smart contracts and decentralised applications, and of course its relation to Bitcoin. 

The Business Imperative Behind the Ethereum Vision: https://blog.ethereum.org/2015/05/24/the-business-imperative-behind-the-ethereum-vision/ 

The genius behind Ethereum is this magical network of computers that enables a new type of software applications: the truly decentralized ones, based on embedding the logic of trust inside small programs and distributing them to run on its blockchain. It is based on a 3-tier architecture, comprising an advanced browser as the client, the blockchain ledger as a shared resource, and a virtual network of computers that run smart business logic programs in a decentralized way.

The Ethereum transaction ledger can be used to securely execute a wide variety of services including: voting systems, domain name registries, financial exchanges, crowdfunding platforms, company governance, self-enforcing contracts and agreements, intellectual property, smart property, and distributed autonomous organisations.

The piece is passionate and outlines an expansive vision for Ethereum's promise and blockchain technology in general. Worth a read to keep up to date with the space and (re)consider future possibilities out of idle interest or direct engagement. The main blog itself has a number of good and useful entries. 

#ethereum   #blockchain   #bitcoin  ___

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2015-05-27 14:37:42 (28 comments, 10 reshares, 36 +1s)Open 

Updating Electromagnetic Theories of Consciousness.

John McFadden's update to CEMI Theory (Conscious ElectroMagetic Information) rests on the original basis that the electrochemical firing of neurons alters the surrounding electromagnetic field, but now includes a defense of the CEMI mechanisms as supported by recent experiments from Christof Koch's lab. 

Paper: http://epubs.surrey.ac.uk/763034/1/mcfadden_JCS_2013%28a%29.pdf 

CEMI further stipulates that the changing electromagnetic fields caused by the brain's many firing neurons combine, interact, and interfere, and the brain's whole electric field becomes more prominent when neurons fire in synchrony. CEMI posits that neurons fire and alter the electromagnetic field and the electromagnetic field in turn acts on and modulates the firing of neurons. The claim is that this dynamic electromagneticfi... more »

Updating Electromagnetic Theories of Consciousness.

John McFadden's update to CEMI Theory (Conscious ElectroMagetic Information) rests on the original basis that the electrochemical firing of neurons alters the surrounding electromagnetic field, but now includes a defense of the CEMI mechanisms as supported by recent experiments from Christof Koch's lab. 

Paper: http://epubs.surrey.ac.uk/763034/1/mcfadden_JCS_2013%28a%29.pdf 

CEMI further stipulates that the changing electromagnetic fields caused by the brain's many firing neurons combine, interact, and interfere, and the brain's whole electric field becomes more prominent when neurons fire in synchrony. CEMI posits that neurons fire and alter the electromagnetic field and the electromagnetic field in turn acts on and modulates the firing of neurons. The claim is that this dynamic electromagnetic field, embodying integrated neuronal information, and supported by and influencing neuronal firing is the thing that is consciousness and conscious sensation. 

In this way CEMI provides both a mechanism for consciousness to have a physical effect and also a way to solve the binding problem of consciousness by integrating parts into a unified whole. It also naturally integrates with Tononi's Integrated Information Theory of Consciousness. I must admit I'm partial to both theories and together they provide insight into the properties artificial substrates must have in order to host consciousness should they wind up being true. 

It is important to note that this hasn't solved the Hard Problem of consciousness; there is still no explanation or reason as to why some particular electromagnetic field pattern is the conscious sensation of the colour blue instead of the sound of C for example. And it is more important to note that there has been a long history of intense philosophical and academic criticism of the theory and its short-comings; jumping off points to these references and related material can be found in the Wikipedia link below. 

I stumbled upon McFadden's updated paper via this popular article http://www.learning-mind.com/quantum-theory-explains-what-consciousness-is/ that was shared on Google+ but can't remember by who - thank you, whoever it was!

Wiki: Electromagnetic Theories of Consciousness
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electromagnetic_theories_of_consciousness 

#consciousness   #cemi   #integratedinformationtheory  ___

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2015-05-26 13:44:17 (6 comments, 2 reshares, 29 +1s)Open 

Just Finished the Nexus Trilogy

Apex is the first book I've read in a while and one I read through very quickly, eager to reach the conclusion of the Nexus trilogy that included the books Nexus and Crux. My synopsis would be:

The ultimate nanotechnological brain-computer-interface cooked up by nanobiotechnology developers (protagonists) allows people to seamlessly enjoy mind-to-mind communication and experience sharing while running a full computer and mobile communications inside their head. This results in conflict with state authorities who treat it as a drug, abuses of power, global geopolitical tensions, arms-races, espionage, power-grabs, and the rise of powerful cognitive software and related abilities. Throw in clones, engineered and enhanced humans, superintelligent AIs, and secret quantum computing facilities and you have some compelling fiction that any... more »

Just Finished the Nexus Trilogy

Apex is the first book I've read in a while and one I read through very quickly, eager to reach the conclusion of the Nexus trilogy that included the books Nexus and Crux. My synopsis would be:

The ultimate nanotechnological brain-computer-interface cooked up by nanobiotechnology developers (protagonists) allows people to seamlessly enjoy mind-to-mind communication and experience sharing while running a full computer and mobile communications inside their head. This results in conflict with state authorities who treat it as a drug, abuses of power, global geopolitical tensions, arms-races, espionage, power-grabs, and the rise of powerful cognitive software and related abilities. Throw in clones, engineered and enhanced humans, superintelligent AIs, and secret quantum computing facilities and you have some compelling fiction that any transhumanist or sci-fi connoisseur would enjoy losing themselves in.

This was also the first book I've read on my phone; Goolge Play Books on Nexus 6 works a treat. ___

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2015-05-26 13:10:39 (0 comments, 1 reshares, 31 +1s)Open 

Ex Machina Image Processing

Continuing on from the Ex Machina post and with thanks to +Jen Spacey for linking to https://ava-sessions.com/ I uploaded my profile pic to Ava for processing and this was the result. Done in the "style" of the Ex Machina credit sequences it looks good as a static image but looks even better on the Ava site itself with dynamic, almost living network nodes subtly moving about constantly. 

Ex Machina Image Processing

Continuing on from the Ex Machina post and with thanks to +Jen Spacey for linking to https://ava-sessions.com/ I uploaded my profile pic to Ava for processing and this was the result. Done in the "style" of the Ex Machina credit sequences it looks good as a static image but looks even better on the Ava site itself with dynamic, almost living network nodes subtly moving about constantly. ___

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2015-05-25 12:04:54 (47 comments, 1 reshares, 55 +1s)Open 

Saw this movie yesterday.
Good. Hard. Sci-Fi. Loved it. Surprised me.
Did not end how I expected and another factor I was sure would be revealed, wasn't. 
Preface any spoiler comments with a warning!

Saw this movie yesterday.
Good. Hard. Sci-Fi. Loved it. Surprised me.
Did not end how I expected and another factor I was sure would be revealed, wasn't. 
Preface any spoiler comments with a warning!___

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2015-05-24 07:54:30 (14 comments, 46 reshares, 79 +1s)Open 

SciTech #ScienceSunday Digest - 21/2015.
Permalink here: http://www.scitechdigest.net/2015/05/yeast-opiate-production-crispr-gmo.html

Yeast opiate production, CRISPR GMO killswitch, Optical computation, Continuous roll graphene, Cell periodic table, Immune evading implants, Wearable muscle sensor, Molecular pumps, Learning robots, Laser scanner. 

1. Engineered Yeast for Opiate Production
After a number of years of effort by multiple groups the final enzymatic synthetic step in the pathway for opiate production (morphine, etc) has been completed and it is now possible to create strains of yeast that produce opiate drugs as part of normal metabolism http://www.nature.com/news/drugs-regulate-home-brew-opiates-1.17563. With such a strain and basic fermentation skills morphine-producing yeast could be grown in a home-brew beer kit, but the originald... more »

SciTech #ScienceSunday Digest - 21/2015.
Permalink here: http://www.scitechdigest.net/2015/05/yeast-opiate-production-crispr-gmo.html

Yeast opiate production, CRISPR GMO killswitch, Optical computation, Continuous roll graphene, Cell periodic table, Immune evading implants, Wearable muscle sensor, Molecular pumps, Learning robots, Laser scanner. 

1. Engineered Yeast for Opiate Production
After a number of years of effort by multiple groups the final enzymatic synthetic step in the pathway for opiate production (morphine, etc) has been completed and it is now possible to create strains of yeast that produce opiate drugs as part of normal metabolism http://www.nature.com/news/drugs-regulate-home-brew-opiates-1.17563. With such a strain and basic fermentation skills morphine-producing yeast could be grown in a home-brew beer kit, but the original development was intended for cheaper, simpler, production of opiates. I disagree strongly with the alarmist commentary and propaganda around this, including this quote from the linked article “All told, decentralized and localized production would almost certainly reduce the cost and increase the availability of illegal opiates — substantially worsening a worldwide problem.” which I consider myopic; I believe this would substantially improve a worldwide problem. 

2. CRISPR-Based GMO Kill-Switch
CRISPR has now been employed in a novel way to trigger the removal and destruction of modified genes from genetically modified organisms and leaving the original genes intact http://www.theverge.com/2015/5/19/8625623/gmo-crispr-kill-switch-self-destructing-dna. It seems the system can kill the cells directly, inactivate or delete just the modified or introduced genes, or do both. Triggers for activating the system could include light levels, the presence or absence of a particular molecule - useful for controlling crops for example - and others. This seems to be similar in application to Terminator gene technology that was developed to limit the spread of GMO crops by preventing the growth of new seed, but in this case you would still get seed that could only be grow in desired areas. 

3. Optical Computing Developments
We had a trio of advances in optical computing this week. First, the smallest-ever silicon photonic beam-splitter has been demonstrated, designed by novel algorithms, measuring just 2.4 microns on a side, and promising faster on-chip communication and processing http://unews.utah.edu/news_releases/silicon-photonics/. IBM announces new CMOS integrated silicon nanophotonics technology and new chips designed to work alongside electrical chips while transferring data at 100 Gbps (full HD movie in 2 seconds), first application in high end servers and data centers http://www-03.ibm.com/press/us/en/pressrelease/46839.wss. Layers of 2D graphene and boron nitride allow controlled propagation of confined light pulses (within the layered sheets) when a voltage is applied to the graphene http://newsoffice.mit.edu/2015/tuning-light-waves-with-2-d-materials-0520. 

4. Continuous Roll Production of Graphene
A new continuous roll-to-roll production method for manufacturing large sheets of graphene and possibly other 2D materials https://newsoffice.mit.edu/2015/manufacture-continuous-rolls-graphene-0521. At a rate of 2.5cm per minute the sheets are uniform and high-quality single-layer graphene; faster rates, up to 20x, still produce coated sheets but these are lower-quality with defects. While the process doesn’t yet produce sheets equal to the best batch-processing methods, different applications will have different quality requirements. Further improvements should result in improved quality and production speed. In related news a new 60% - 70% graphene ink formulation allows 3D printing of robust structures that retain many of graphene’s useful properties and used these as custom tissue scaffolds seeded with stem cells http://www.mccormick.northwestern.edu/news/articles/2015/05/printing-3D-graphene-structures-for-tissue-engineering.html. 

5. Towards a Periodic Table of Cells
New microfluidics technology can efficiently isolate single cells from a sample for analysis and when combined with new technology for single cell genomic analysis via cataloguing the mRNA expression profile of single cells is leading to an explosion in data and new knowledeg about different cell types in different tissues http://www.technologyreview.com/news/537416/single-cells-analyzed-at-unprecedented-scale/. This has resulted in identifying cells never seen before and recent studies such as a survey of 466 individual brain cells as a step towards a full cellular brain atlas, and mapping thousands of cells from a mouse brain to identify 47 different types. This is inching towards a periodic table of cells and a complete cellular map for the human body and their functions. In related news microfluidic techniques can now squeeze (immune) cells and force the introduction of desired antigens into them in order to create better and more effective vaccines out of the patient’s own cells http://newsoffice.mit.edu/2015/cell-squeezing-device-vaccines-0522. 

6. Better Implants that Evade the Immune System
New studies indicate that the geometry of implanted devices significantly affects how the body and immune system will tolerate their presence http://newsoffice.mit.edu/2015/designing-better-medical-implants-0518. While the material is important their results suggest that larger, spherical devices are better able to maintain their function and avoid the buildup of scar tissue. 0.5mm spheres loaded with pancreatic islet cells to treat diabetic mice failed within a month, whereas 1.5mm spheres continued to function past six months. Similar performance improvement were observed in many materials and also in primates. This is a very interesting platform for introducing novel living biosensors and living drug factories into people. 

7. Wearable Muscle Sensors with MyoWare
A new muscle sensor designed to be temporarily stuck on to your skin above the muscle group that you want to use can be used to trigger commands in various electronic devices and is currently available via kickstarter http://www.coolwearable.com/myoware-muscle/. This is related to the Myo gesture control armband that I’ve been keen to try out and I’d be tempted to back the kickstarter myself if the device came with bluetooth and could interface with my phone. I’m looking forward to further miniaturisation that allows these sensors and their wireless transmitters to be implanted and to take higher resolution readings. 

8. Designing a New Molecular Pump
The first entirely artificial molecular pump has been designed in which molecules pump other molecules http://www.northwestern.edu/newscenter/stories/2015/05/nature-inspires-first-artificial-molecular-pump-.html. The pump works via simple chemical reactions, driving molecules step by step up higher energy states and away from a natural equilibrium. The basic architecture involves a ring-shaped molecule that moves along a molecular thread or chain, storing energy as it does so by moving multiple rings towards one end. An interesting research novelty for now the ultimate goal is to have these little molecular machines power nanoscale devices, muscles, and perhaps perform computational operations. 

9. Learning Robots & Machines with Complex Goals
New deep learning algorithms enable some robots to learn new tasks via trial and error without pre-programmed details about the environment http://newscenter.berkeley.edu/2015/05/21/deep-learning-robot-masters-skills-via-trial-and-error/. A variety of tasks were successfully tested including putting a hanger on a rack, assembling a toy, screwing a cap on a bottle, and others, with learning times averaging 10 minutes to 3 hours depending on the level of complexity. In related news a reinforcement learning approach has demonstrated game-playing software that is capable of creating a hierarchy of goals while working towards a delayed reward http://nextbigfuture.com/2015/05/keen-software-house-makes-ai-that-can.html. 

10. Non-Mechanical Laser Scanner
DARPA has demonstrated its SWEEPER technology for enabling drastically improved LIDAR applications http://www.darpa.mil/NewsEvents/Releases/2015/05/21.aspx. Unlike conventional LIDAR devices SWEEPER does not require mechanical components and instead exploits silicon-based on-chip optical phased array technology that can sweep a laser beam back and forth 100,000 times per second. This is expected to enable LIDAR systems that are drastically miniaturised and extremely low-cost. Given LIDAR systems in autonomous vehicles are one of the most expensive components in an autonomous vehicle the benefits for a diverse array of applications are immense. A future version of Project Tango could even have one of these devices. 

Archive: http://www.scitechdigest.net/2015/05/yeast-opiate-production-crispr-gmo.html ___

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2015-05-22 12:01:31 (6 comments, 6 reshares, 36 +1s)Open 

Towards the Automated Production of Everything

This is one of those little news stories that pass through our feed every day and which we go hmm that's pretty cool. But I think this one represents a very powerful, if embryonic, early demonstration of what will be completely automated and reconfigurable production facilities capable of taking a bunch of raw material inputs and transforming them to manufacture . . . anything and everything. 

I've been thinking about such facilities for a few years now and I refer to them in my idle ponderings as Everything Machines. This story looks like the experimental top-down creation of an early, limited machine of this nature. Whereas my thoughts often consider building one from a bottom-up beginning. 

A mature technology like this, in future, looks like an immense multi-level warehouse. Inside a multitude ofs... more »

___Towards the Automated Production of Everything

This is one of those little news stories that pass through our feed every day and which we go hmm that's pretty cool. But I think this one represents a very powerful, if embryonic, early demonstration of what will be completely automated and reconfigurable production facilities capable of taking a bunch of raw material inputs and transforming them to manufacture . . . anything and everything. 

I've been thinking about such facilities for a few years now and I refer to them in my idle ponderings as Everything Machines. This story looks like the experimental top-down creation of an early, limited machine of this nature. Whereas my thoughts often consider building one from a bottom-up beginning. 

A mature technology like this, in future, looks like an immense multi-level warehouse. Inside a multitude of specialised, modular, mobile production and technology units are coordinated and reconfigured by a central computer to come together as needed, each fulfilling a step in the production process of some desired object or test before passing it to the next unit in line to do its piece. 

This Everything Machine takes instructions from external and internal users, producing virtually any product, producing virtually any material, performing virtually any scientific experiment, performing its own maintenance, maintaining old and producing new modules for its own internal operational requirements.

Nearly all manufacturing outside of these machines ceases to exist. Nearly all scientific laboratories outside of these machines cease to exist. Customers and researchers submit orders for goods and experiments online. At least until the machine ships personal atomically-precise fabrication devices, because the machine is the robotically-automated equivalent of a personal fabricator that fails the user due to distance and centralisation and which represents a significant peak on the evolutionary fitness landscape that our Technium is rapidly climbing. 

#technium   #automated   #factory  

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2015-05-21 11:53:00 (4 comments, 14 reshares, 68 +1s)Open 

This is brilliant - a swarm of precise little nanomachines replicating as they attack a target and disassemble it so its molecules can be utilised elsewhere in the organism as needed. 
[Yes I know white blood cells are 10s of microns in size but they are powered by nanomechanical components]

Via +Addison Rennick 

Immune system Attack: white blood cells knockout strong worm.
#biology   #scienceeveryday  

Captured by Steven Rosen and his colleagues at UC San Francisco over a period of 80 minutes. It shows white blood cells from a mouse attacking a parasite known as Caenorhabditis elegans.

Their study aimed to determine whether a specific type of white blood cell, known as eosinophil granulocytes, would attack parasitic worms including the Caenorhabditis elegans (C. elegans).

The findings are published in the Journal of Experimental Medicine:

http://jem.rupress.org/content/211/7/1281.full___This is brilliant - a swarm of precise little nanomachines replicating as they attack a target and disassemble it so its molecules can be utilised elsewhere in the organism as needed. 
[Yes I know white blood cells are 10s of microns in size but they are powered by nanomechanical components]

Via +Addison Rennick 

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2015-05-20 12:12:53 (21 comments, 0 reshares, 44 +1s)Open 

Amateur Tile-Pointing. Very Amateur.

There I was on the weekend, up on my roof for 2.5 hours, doing some needed maintenance to the mortar / tile pointing around some ridge tiles. Me, a tech guy, little trowl in hand, bucket of pointing mortar nearby, getting rid of old cracked mortar in places and trowling and shaping fresh pointing mortar into the gaps and cracks. After watching a few YouTube videos of course. It's rough and amateur as hell but will keep the rain out and extend the time before I have to get it properly done by someone. 

Amateur Tile-Pointing. Very Amateur.

There I was on the weekend, up on my roof for 2.5 hours, doing some needed maintenance to the mortar / tile pointing around some ridge tiles. Me, a tech guy, little trowl in hand, bucket of pointing mortar nearby, getting rid of old cracked mortar in places and trowling and shaping fresh pointing mortar into the gaps and cracks. After watching a few YouTube videos of course. It's rough and amateur as hell but will keep the rain out and extend the time before I have to get it properly done by someone. ___

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2015-05-19 15:10:47 (3 comments, 0 reshares, 29 +1s)Open 

Every Capital City in Australia

I was somewhat absent from G+ last week due to busy travelling for work. This business trip took me to Darwin in Australia's Northern Territory - my first visit and the last Australian capital city that I had yet to see. While I only had a few hours to spare and take some photos like the one below of the newly redeveloped harbour / waterfront, I definitely want to head back at some stage to do more touristy stuff. 

Work-wise it went well; my presentation and discussion on Australian Venture Capital and other funding options for promising University research and spin-out companies seemed to be well-received. 

Every Capital City in Australia

I was somewhat absent from G+ last week due to busy travelling for work. This business trip took me to Darwin in Australia's Northern Territory - my first visit and the last Australian capital city that I had yet to see. While I only had a few hours to spare and take some photos like the one below of the newly redeveloped harbour / waterfront, I definitely want to head back at some stage to do more touristy stuff. 

Work-wise it went well; my presentation and discussion on Australian Venture Capital and other funding options for promising University research and spin-out companies seemed to be well-received. ___

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2015-05-19 01:05:44 (31 comments, 6 reshares, 39 +1s)Open 

Nickelback Concert Last Night

Nickelback put on a pretty damn good show last night with a good mix of old and new / soft and hard stuff. It’s been a while since I went to a concert – stage production seemed top-notch with great visuals and lighting to match the music, not to mention the confident presence of the band themselves. Band-audience engagement was really good. Great to see, even from the nose-bleed seats Elise chose for us :P

Bonus points for a good introduction by support band Monster Truck. 

Nickelback Concert Last Night

Nickelback put on a pretty damn good show last night with a good mix of old and new / soft and hard stuff. It’s been a while since I went to a concert – stage production seemed top-notch with great visuals and lighting to match the music, not to mention the confident presence of the band themselves. Band-audience engagement was really good. Great to see, even from the nose-bleed seats Elise chose for us :P

Bonus points for a good introduction by support band Monster Truck. ___

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2015-05-17 08:21:16 (5 comments, 32 reshares, 64 +1s)Open 

SciTech #ScienceSunday Digest - 20/2015.
Permalink here: http://www.scitechdigest.net/2015/05/crispr-cancer-targets-sensory-cortex.html

CRISPR cancer targets, Sensory cortex organisation, Implantable drug factories, Prosthetics with sensation, Atomic switch networks, Antiaging cellular interventions, Making graphene composites, 3D printed engine, Regeneration and senescent cells, Structural colour. 

1. Identifying Anticancer Drug Targets with CRISPR
A new technique uses CRISPR technology to quickly and comprehensively identify specific vulnerabilities in cancer cells, across cell types http://www.cshl.edu/news-and-features/using-crispr-biologists-find-a-way-to-comprehensively-identify-anti-cancer-drug-targets.html. The proof-of-concept surveyed 200 possible possible targets in leukemia, successfully identified the 6 previously-known targets and... more »

SciTech #ScienceSunday Digest - 20/2015.
Permalink here: http://www.scitechdigest.net/2015/05/crispr-cancer-targets-sensory-cortex.html

CRISPR cancer targets, Sensory cortex organisation, Implantable drug factories, Prosthetics with sensation, Atomic switch networks, Antiaging cellular interventions, Making graphene composites, 3D printed engine, Regeneration and senescent cells, Structural colour. 

1. Identifying Anticancer Drug Targets with CRISPR
A new technique uses CRISPR technology to quickly and comprehensively identify specific vulnerabilities in cancer cells, across cell types http://www.cshl.edu/news-and-features/using-crispr-biologists-find-a-way-to-comprehensively-identify-anti-cancer-drug-targets.html. The proof-of-concept surveyed 200 possible possible targets in leukemia, successfully identified the 6 previously-known targets and verified an additional 19 new targets. This works by specifically mutating key regions of genes, nucleotide by nucleotide, that are involved in encoding functional binding pockets in proteins; if modification of a particular pocket causes the cancer cell to die then it becomes a candidate site to design a new drug against. This should lead to many more viable drug targets the development of therapeutics that were never considered; but I’d also like to see the tool used to identify other targets for other cellular modifications, e.g. cell senescence, stem cell proliferation and differentiation etc. 

2. New Organisational Principles of the Sensory Cortex
Custom-designed high-resolution 3D reconstruction and modelling techniques have provided incredible new insights into the interconnectedness of neurons within and across the fundamental processing units called neocortical columns http://www.maxplanckflorida.org/news-and-media/news/3d-reconstruction-of-neuronal-networks-provides-unprecedented-insight-into-organizational-principles-of-sensory-cortex/. Previously, the neuronal networks within cortical columns were thought to be the most important structural feature. This work shows that, instead, the majority of neuronal circuitry actually interconnects neurons across multiple cortical columns by following very specific principles. The group extend the concept of cortical columns to intracortical units, and proposes that these higher-order units integrate information across multiple stimuli to anticipate future, related, stimuli. 

3. Implantable Cellular Drug Factories
Bacteria genetically modified to (i) produce and secrete an enzyme that converts a harmless prodrug into a cytotoxic chemotherapy drug and (ii) control this production subject to temperature-dependent regulatory control, have been encapsulated in magnetic nanoporous capsules that prevent the cells from coming into contact with the immune system while still allowing the passage proteins and nutrients, and which are then implanted into animal tumours where the application of an alternating magnetic field causes the capsules to heat up and for the bacteria to then induce the localised production of cancer-killing therapeutic drugs http://cancer.dartmouth.edu/about_us/newsdetail/73456/. I wonder what we might do with systems like this that allow the localised or systemic controlled production of any protein or biomolecule of choice?

4. Prosthetic Limbs with a Sense of Touch
A new circular electrode designed to encase and stimulate nerves in the upper arm is being tested in non-human primates to determine what touch sensations can be induced and “felt” on the primate’s hand, how best to induce these sensations, how many sensors can be packed onto a prosthetic hand to provide as much sensation as possible, and how much bandwidth the brain is capable of taking in from the electrode array http://news.wustl.edu/news/Pages/device-may-allow-sensation-in-prosthetics.aspx. The mechanical sophistication and thought-control via brain-computer interfaces of prosthetic limbs have come a long way; the key missing component of sensory feedback has remained elusive however. 

5. Self-Organised Atomic Switch Networks
A new type of chip called an atomic switch network is fabricated by growing silver nanowires atop a patterned seed network of copper posts; the chaotic pattern of silver nanowires connect points where the nanowires touch and form memristor connections http://phys.org/news/2015-05-scientists-atomic-scale-hardware-natural.html. The research team believes the device demonstrates emergent behaviour and patterns of electrical activity that can only be attributable to the network as a whole, with the memristive connections and switches constantly reconfiguring and adapting to inputs. Whether such an architecture might ever perform useful computations is yet to be seen, although I’d love to see them scale the chip further and add extra layers of interconnections, moving from 2 to 3 dimensions and so becoming more brain-like. 

6. Sophisticated Cellular Interventions for Anti-Aging
A few studies this week showed how old cells might be taught young tricks again. First, leading on from parabiosis studies we have targeted knock-down of Transforming Growth Factor Beta successfully renewing stem cell function in both brain and muscle tissue of old mice and also, specifically showed that hippocampal stem cells became more youthful http://newscenter.berkeley.edu/2015/05/13/drug-perks-up-old-muscles-and-aging-brains/. Second, specific proteins isolated from stem cells were shown, when introduced to mice, to be sufficient for stimulating the growth of new bone http://gladstoneinstitutes.org/pressrelease/2015-05-11/scientists-regenerate-bone-tissue-using-only-proteins-secreted-by-stem-cells. Four, targeted disablement of telomeres in cancer cells http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2015-05/cndi-csa051115.php. Finally, we had a good review article on new ways to specifically stimulate the rejuvenation of muscle stem cells in older animals https://www.fightaging.org/archives/2015/05/considering-the-rejuvenation-of-muscle-satellite-cells.php. 

7. Large-Scale Fabrication of Graphene Composites
A new chemical vapor deposition technique allows the fabrication of multi-layered polymer graphene composite materials that, in the proof of concept, contains 2 inch square sheets of graphene http://www.ornl.gov/ornl/news/news-releases/2015/ornl-demonstrates-first-large-scale-graphene-fabrication?. This is apparently the first time graphene composites have been manufactured at this scale and enabling graphene’s amazing mechanical and electrical properties to be evidenced at the macroscale. In related news 3D printed graphene aerogels have interesting properties and applications https://www.llnl.gov/news/3d-printed-aerogels-improve-energy-storage. 

8. The Latest 3D Printed Jet Engine
GE demonstrated its completely 3D printed mini jet engine this week http://www.gereports.com/post/118394013625/these-engineers-3d-printed-a-mini-jet-engine-then. Their promotional video is worth a watch if you haven’t seen it already https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W6A4-AKICQU. This functional little engine was successfully tested at 33,000 rpm after being printed via laser in a Direct Metal Laser Melting process built up from powdered metal and metal alloys. It’d be nice to see them test it in flight on a hobby aircraft, but there are no plans yet for a fully 3D printed commercial jet engine. 

9. Salamanders, Regeneration, and Senescent Cells
An interesting study exploring salamander limb regeneration reveals that this process involves a significant induction of cellular senescence followed by rapid and effective (immune) mechanisms for senescent cell clearance in both normal and regenerating tissues https://www.fightaging.org/archives/2015/05/an-intriguing-finding-on-senescent-cells-in-salamanders.php. Interfering with the immune system during regeneration results in defects in the process. The promise here is that further studies might reveal how the salamander immune system consistently targets and clears senescent cells and this mechanism might be replicated in humans as an anti-aging therapy to clear damaging senescent cells. 

10. Structural Nanomaterials for Structural Light
A new structural colour technology platform has been developed that involves the use of nanoparticles of polydopamine packed into solid layers on a thin film http://phys.org/news/2015-05-nanomaterials-bird-feathers.html. Inspired by the use of nanoparticles of melanin by some birds to produce colour, the thin films reflect pure colours of (so far) red, orange, yellow, and green light that are determined by the thickness and density of the film. Unlike colours or dyes based on pigments, materials exhibiting structural colour are not expected to fade with time. 

Archive: http://www.scitechdigest.net/2015/05/crispr-cancer-targets-sensory-cortex.html___

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2015-05-10 15:05:01 (11 comments, 23 reshares, 54 +1s)Open 

SciTech #ScienceSunday Digest - 19/2015.
Permalink here: http://www.scitechdigest.net/2015/05/custom-dna-scaffolds-eukaryotes-join.html

Custom DNA scaffolds, Eukaryotes join archaea, Autonomous trucks approved, Reading monkey minds, Chimeric virus therapies, Neuro-memristor chip, Centimeter-accurate GPS, Mitochondrial geometry features, Better IVF eggs, Blood drawing device. 

1. Building Customised DNA Scaffolds and Sensors
We kick off the week with a trio of recent examples of the increasing sophistication of structural DNA “origami” technology. First, a new technique to controllably produce custom supramolecular DNA strands and DNA nanotubes in larger volumes and at predetermined lengths and with enzymes used to add covalent bonds for greater stability https://www.mcgill.ca/newsroom/node/22523. Second, a stable DNA shell to protect anddeli... more »

SciTech #ScienceSunday Digest - 19/2015.
Permalink here: http://www.scitechdigest.net/2015/05/custom-dna-scaffolds-eukaryotes-join.html

Custom DNA scaffolds, Eukaryotes join archaea, Autonomous trucks approved, Reading monkey minds, Chimeric virus therapies, Neuro-memristor chip, Centimeter-accurate GPS, Mitochondrial geometry features, Better IVF eggs, Blood drawing device. 

1. Building Customised DNA Scaffolds and Sensors
We kick off the week with a trio of recent examples of the increasing sophistication of structural DNA “origami” technology. First, a new technique to controllably produce custom supramolecular DNA strands and DNA nanotubes in larger volumes and at predetermined lengths and with enzymes used to add covalent bonds for greater stability https://www.mcgill.ca/newsroom/node/22523. Second, a stable DNA shell to protect and deliver sequence-specific mRNA sensors to living cells http://www.nanowerk.com/spotlight/spotid=39981.php. Third, modifying DNA aptamers with a sugar molecule that is foreign to humans, to create alphamers that bind specific pathogentic bacteria and tag them for immune distruction http://ucsdnews.ucsd.edu/pressrelease/molecular_homing_beacon_redirects_human_antibodies_to_fight_pathogenic_bact. 

2. Rewriting The Ancient Evolutionary Tree of Life on Earth
A recent discovery seems to offer a fascinating modification to the ancient evolutionary tree of life on Earth http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/speaking-of-science/wp/2015/05/06/newly-discovered-missing-link-called-loki-ties-us-to-our-single-celled-ancestors/. A new archaea named Lokiarchaeota was discovered in Atlantic Ocean marine sediments; its DNA sequence revealed genes that were very similar to eukaryotic genes and suggested this organism had the potential to evolve into a more complex cell. The very base of the tree of life has for a long time had three main branches; prokaryotes, archaea, and eukaryotes. But Loki’s discovery provides evidence that the real divide is between prokaryotes and archaea, with complex eukaryotic cells and organisms descended from archaea after one lineage engulfed or assimilated bacterial prokaryote. 

3. Autonomous Trucks Get Their First Approval
An inevitable development that seems to have happened sooner rather than later: autonomous trucks built by Daimler have received regulatory approval in Nevada http://singularityhub.com/2015/05/07/daimlers-driverless-18-wheelers-approved-to-cruise-nevadas-highways/. While the trucks aren’t quite 100% autonomous with regulatory approval demanding a human driver in attendance and technical capabilities requiring human control in urban areas, they can and will perform 100% autonomous driving on highways and deliver a range of interim benefits. But these regulatory and technical limitations are only temporary; major disruption of our transportation industries is on the way. 

4. Reading a Monkey’s Mind and Decisions
Sophisticate new experiments on monkeys catch a glimpse of the brain in the process of making and changing decisions and record the moment-by-moment changes in brain activity associated with this behaviour http://engineering.stanford.edu/news/stanford-researchers-observe-moment-when-mind-changed. The setup involved monkeys with 192 electrodes implanted in the motor and premotor cortex that monitored brain activity as the monkey performed a decision-making task that they had previously been taught to do. A new algorithm developed to analyse these patterns of brain signals enabled the group to precisely track single decisions and essentially read the monkey’s mind during free choices; brain activity for free choices looked indistinguishable to that for forced choices although some free choice trials revealed indecisiveness. Possible applications include prosthetic devices that better interface with the brain.

5. Hybrid Virus versus Brain Tumours
A hybrid virus engineered by combining genes from both Lassa virus and VSV has shown promising results in completely destroying cancer cells in mice http://www.fromquarkstoquasars.com/scientists-discover-ebola-like-virus-safely-destroys-brain-tumors/. VSV is typically able to bypass the blood-brain-barrier and kill cancer cells, but also attacks healthy cells and causes serious neurological damage. Turning VSV into a chimeric virus by swapping out some genes and replacing with those from Lassa Virus resulted in a brain cancer cell killer that bypassed the blood-brain-barrier yet was safe for healthy cells.

6. Functional Brain-Like Memristor Chip
A simple 12x12 array of crossbar memristors makes up a prototype chip able to recognise simple black and white patterns http://www.technologyreview.com/news/537211/a-better-way-to-build-brain-inspired-chips/. As inherently analogue memory devices memristors share many parallels with neuronal synapses. While simulated neural networks have made huge gains for various areas of computing, reducing these neural networks to hardware is expected to result in significant performance gains for these applications. This is apparently the first time a hardware neural network chip has been created just with memristors, despite many other neuromorphic computing architectures already existing such as those from IBM but which are based on digital transistors. Now all they need to do is scale the chip.

7. Algorithms for Centimeter-Accurate GPS
A new centimeter-accurate GPS positioning system is set to give mobile and other devices significantly higher spatial positioning resolution http://news.utexas.edu/2015/05/05/texas-engineers-develop-centimeter-accurate-gps-system. While centimeter-accurate systems currently exist they possess larger, bulkier equipment and antennas. The key advance here is the development of a powerful and sensitive software-defined GPS receiver that can extract much greater accuracy from the small, cheap antennas in current mobile devices. A company called Radiosense was launched to commercialise the technology, while a partnership with Samsung should see basic devices made available soon. 

8. Proteins and Mitochondrial Structure
New insights into the properties of mitochondria reveal that a mitochondria’s respiratory proteins help create the complex inner membrane geometry that mitochondria are known for and, in turn, this geometry itself turns out to be crucial for the respiratory proteins to perform their key functions in the first place http://phys.org/news/2015-05-internal-mitochondria.html. I like this discovery because it is a reminder of the critical role that geometry plays in so many biological and technological processes, and might also serve as additional inspiration for the design and function of optimal nanomolecular machine processes in future, exploiting tricks that nature’s nanomachines discovered in the past.

9. Better IVF with Egg Stem Cells
Babies are now being born via a new and much improved IVF technique in which a type of egg-precursor stem cells (cells with stem cell properties only able to turn into eggs) are isolated from a woman, purified, and have their mitochondria extracted, which are then added to the woman’s existing adult egg cells http://time.com/3849127/baby-stem-cells-augment-ivf/. This makes the older eggs act young once again and results in dramatically improved IVF outcomes; perhaps genetically optimal or engineered mitochondrial might be used in future. 

10. Device for Easily Drawing Blood
The HemoLink is a seemingly trivial and simple device but I like the concept and support what the team are trying to do with it http://gizmodo.com/this-vampire-like-suction-device-lets-patients-draw-blo-1702269260. The device is pressed against a person’s arm where attaches, pricks the skin, and induces a slight negative pressure to draw a small sample of blood that is collected in a standard tube for testing. Cheap and accessible it doesn’t require conventional needles and it doesn’t require expert training to safely pierce veins in particular places - another good step towards affordable at-home and remote blood testing. 

Archive: http://www.scitechdigest.net/2015/05/custom-dna-scaffolds-eukaryotes-join.html___

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2015-05-10 01:24:08 (10 comments, 2 reshares, 45 +1s)Open 

Playing with Seene.

Seems I'm not the only one who's been playing with the new Seene app. Interesting capabilities in (pseudo?) 3D image capture but I'm still yet to capture a seene without at least a little distortion along one edge of a subject - visible in the GIF of my 3D printed bust that I made. 

The updates coming from Seene do look pretty impressive http://seene.co/labs/ and playing around with the app https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.obviousengine.seene.android.core&hl=en is worth a go if you're curious and want to make your own or view others' - the in-app viewing experience is much better than this GIF implies, with movement responding instantly to your subtle tilts and movement of your device. 

The promotional video for coming capabilities is worth a look: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gLMOpt5invA 

Playing with Seene.

Seems I'm not the only one who's been playing with the new Seene app. Interesting capabilities in (pseudo?) 3D image capture but I'm still yet to capture a seene without at least a little distortion along one edge of a subject - visible in the GIF of my 3D printed bust that I made. 

The updates coming from Seene do look pretty impressive http://seene.co/labs/ and playing around with the app https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.obviousengine.seene.android.core&hl=en is worth a go if you're curious and want to make your own or view others' - the in-app viewing experience is much better than this GIF implies, with movement responding instantly to your subtle tilts and movement of your device. 

The promotional video for coming capabilities is worth a look: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gLMOpt5invA ___

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2015-05-08 15:56:39 (18 comments, 2 reshares, 46 +1s)Open 

New Collections

Here's my first attempt at putting together individual collections:
https://plus.google.com/u/0/+MarkBruce/collections 

I've gone back through every single public post that I've ever made on Google+ and assigned them all to a relevant collection. Yep, all the way back to August 2011. 

This was an interesting exercise to say the least, for several reasons:

- Going back over the last 3 - 6 months initially helped me settle on this current set of collections. But the further back in time I went I'd find more posts that didn't quite fit these moulds; these were squeezed in as best I could, no point in having a collection with only one or two posts in it.

- Glimpsing old comments, remembered posts, old people I used to interact with regularly but who are no longer active here, different posting styles, andp... more »

New Collections

Here's my first attempt at putting together individual collections:
https://plus.google.com/u/0/+MarkBruce/collections 

I've gone back through every single public post that I've ever made on Google+ and assigned them all to a relevant collection. Yep, all the way back to August 2011. 

This was an interesting exercise to say the least, for several reasons:

- Going back over the last 3 - 6 months initially helped me settle on this current set of collections. But the further back in time I went I'd find more posts that didn't quite fit these moulds; these were squeezed in as best I could, no point in having a collection with only one or two posts in it.

- Glimpsing old comments, remembered posts, old people I used to interact with regularly but who are no longer active here, different posting styles, and posting methods was a fascinating experience that left me a little nostalgic.

- The humble unpopular beginnings of SciTech Digest and realising - with a shock - that outside of these dense science-packed posts I don't actually post that often (or as often as I thought I did) about science. I recall that being part of the reason for starting these posts, concerned I'd spam everyone's feed with lots and lots of science posts throughout the week and thinking a weekly summary might be more palatable.

- Rediscovering that I predominantly posted privately when I first started on Google+, which I had completely forgotten about. Also that I used to regularly reshare to a private "Bookmarks" circle for later viewing - something that I almost never do now. 

- Discovering some of the quirks of the new Collections feature: 

(i) Some old photos that had comments appeared in my feed as I scrolled towards then end so I assigned them to "Personal" and realised that I probably didn't need to do that; however when going to these newly-assigned photos / posts they did not have the option to un-assign them / remove from the Collection, unlike normal posts.

(ii) Finding four posts that for some weird reason were treated differently by Google+ compared to all the other posts; these refused to be moved into Collections like every other post I assigned and instead would behave by moving into the Collection via re-sharing and re-posting the post anew but minus my original commentary - their one common feature was that they were all reshares but other reshares were not treated this way. So I reposted these to complete the Collections: (1) https://plus.google.com/u/0/+MarkBruce/posts/8QiAYX7oTp2, (2) https://plus.google.com/u/0/+MarkBruce/posts/9VTzK8bUDP7, (3) https://plus.google.com/u/0/+MarkBruce/posts/aFTXkrujraS, (4) https://plus.google.com/u/0/+MarkBruce/posts/YmfWN3MAc5u

(iii) Private posts can't be assigned to public collections, which is a little annoying; these posts are still going to be hard to find in future if needed. Also worries that I wasn't seeing all of my posts (I've had this before with Google+ dropping the occasional post from the stream when scrolling through my recent history of posts) and so missed the chance to assign those I couldn't see; however a quick look through 18 months of the SciTech Digest Collection shows I didn't miss any. 

Overall seems like a good tool and a nice addition to the platform but I think I'll wait for a few months to pass final judgement after seeing how (if?) myself and others use it for a while and how it affects commenting and other factors. 

#googleplus   #collections   #posts  ___

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2015-05-08 15:34:12 (3 comments, 3 reshares, 10 +1s)Open 

4/4 Reposted to reassign to Collection. Original post here: https://plus.google.com/u/0/+MarkBruce/posts/YmfWN3MAc5u November 2014

Imagining a Visually Augmented Future.
Contribute any comments to the original thread started by +Samuel Holmes with the following thoughts:

Original thread here:
https://plus.google.com/u/0/+SamuelHolmes/posts/eohPA7tfd77  

I imagine the world of the not-too-distant future to allow this kind of personalization to one's appearance.

But perhaps it won't be solved by how to actually accomplish this effect in a real sense.

Instead, I imagine a degree of augmented reality, the end-goal of which will be quite seamless.

There will be people who have no visual assist/augmentation at all, and those people will continue to see the world and people as it is now.

But the world tot... more »

___4/4 Reposted to reassign to Collection. Original post here: https://plus.google.com/u/0/+MarkBruce/posts/YmfWN3MAc5u November 2014

Imagining a Visually Augmented Future.
Contribute any comments to the original thread started by +Samuel Holmes with the following thoughts:

Original thread here:
https://plus.google.com/u/0/+SamuelHolmes/posts/eohPA7tfd77  

I imagine the world of the not-too-distant future to allow this kind of personalization to one's appearance.

But perhaps it won't be solved by how to actually accomplish this effect in a real sense.

Instead, I imagine a degree of augmented reality, the end-goal of which will be quite seamless.

There will be people who have no visual assist/augmentation at all, and those people will continue to see the world and people as it is now.

But the world to those who embrace a visual (and aural) augmentation, will be able to embrace myriad layers in "reality" the same way we do now online. 

Consider Magic Leap, FaceRig, and a slew of projects that range from capturing 3d spatial data like Kinect and Tango to those that extrapolate more complete 3d spatial data from 2d or hybrid data...

You could walk down the street (or a concert, club, bar, market) and see everyone just how they wanted you to see them.

I could appear quite "normal" to those without any augmentation, but to G+ users (perhaps by circle) I could have a floating avatar image over my shoulder. Or my latest status update. Or some cool dynamics like seen in this gif. Which could be totally different to the image I choose to go out to my family circle, for instance.

I could appear as the Joseph Ducreux meme image to some, or surrounded by a band visualization to reveal what I'm listening to to others with a shared social music app.

And likewise, I could determine what I saw when I looked at both those that had these options, and those that didn't. 

A few sensors to detect their heart rate and pressure and more could exaggerate my chosen feature to indicate a likelihood of someone lying. 

A third person without such augmentation (or even with it, but without the approval of others) could see nothing special about two people standing facing each other, even as they have a sort of visual conversation just between themselves. 

It'd be nice to see various layers of communication emerge that could augment what we've been limited to up until now. Why be limited to current facial/body language cues when we can do so much more to remove ambiguity. Or increase it.

These layers of customizable interaction seem inevitable to me, it's just a question of when. 15 years, or 75.

Original thread here: https://plus.google.com/u/0/+SamuelHolmes/posts/eohPA7tfd77 

#visual   #augmentedreality   #future  

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2015-05-08 15:31:53 (0 comments, 3 reshares, 13 +1s)Open 

3/4 Reposted to reassign to Collection. Original post here: https://plus.google.com/u/0/+MarkBruce/posts/aFTXkrujraS 

Re-posting a Comment.

Hi +Evan Rapoport, here's a break-down of feedback for the new features so far. Having just returned from travels to Singapore and Hong Kong this morning I had a bunch of new PhotoSpheres to post and so had to jump right into the new interface. 

One
Congrats on continued development for the Google Maps Views platform and trying to introduce new features and capabilities! Really, I and many others find this to be such an amazing and valuable resource - I'm truly grateful and am thankful that this tool exists :)

Two
The new filtering / sorting menu options are quite useful e.g. public on Google maps / public with location info and most viewed / most recent. 

ThreeR... more »

Views Launch Announcement
By publishing your photos on Views (g.co/views), you can help people explore the world, whether they’re planning their next vacation, scouting out their next hiking trail, or just looking for a great neighborhood park.

Starting today, photos with locations that have been shared publicly from your Google+ account will appear in Views (g.co/views) in addition to your photo spheres. Some photos may also appear on +Google Maps, making the map more useful and comprehensive for everyone. You can also go to Views and directly upload or import new photos to expand your collection.

If you’re a photographer with a nice portfolio, Views and Maps give your photos new life because they’ll be seen by anyone interested in the places your photographed, such as travelers or residents. One of my favorite professional photographers is +Colby Brown who explores the world and leads photography expeditions. His Views profile (http://goo.gl/3ZtDV6) shows all his favorite spots based on the photos he’s shared in his Google+ posts. This really makes me want to plan a trip to Iceland!

If you’re an environmental or cultural non-profit, a travel destination, or anyone whose mission is to protect or celebrate a place, Views helps you bring your location to life for Google Maps users. For example, since I used to live in Hawaii, I’m closely following the Polynesian Voyaging Society as they sail around the world using traditional voyaging canoes and navigating without any modern equipment. Their +Hōkūleʻa Worldwide Voyage has been sharing photos and photo spheres from sea and from the remote Pacific islands they visit. You can follow their multi-year expedition on their Views profile (http://goo.gl/gDPUqH).

Finally, if you’re like me, then the photos you want to share are a mix of both travels and of subjects you find interesting in your everyday life, from the old tree in your neighborhood park to the cafe down the street. You can see my Views profile here: http://goo.gl/061Ui2

We hope you enjoy publishing your photos and exploring Views! g.co/views

#views   #photography   #androidphotography   #landscapephotography   #photosphere   #aloha  ___3/4 Reposted to reassign to Collection. Original post here: https://plus.google.com/u/0/+MarkBruce/posts/aFTXkrujraS 

Re-posting a Comment.

Hi +Evan Rapoport, here's a break-down of feedback for the new features so far. Having just returned from travels to Singapore and Hong Kong this morning I had a bunch of new PhotoSpheres to post and so had to jump right into the new interface. 

One
Congrats on continued development for the Google Maps Views platform and trying to introduce new features and capabilities! Really, I and many others find this to be such an amazing and valuable resource - I'm truly grateful and am thankful that this tool exists :)

Two
The new filtering / sorting menu options are quite useful e.g. public on Google maps / public with location info and most viewed / most recent. 

Three
Removing the default cycling preview pane from upper-left is something I'm ambivalent about; it was engaging for new users as interactive splash media content, but the expanded (expandable) map pane on the left has greater utility and exploration / engagement capacity overall I believe. 

Four
Total view count was always a welcome addition to the main information pane but I'd like to see a split between "PhotoSphere Views" and "Photos Views" - they are very different and distinct media and creators put different consideration, planning, and effort into each. I was happily surprised to see my total views jump significantly today but then realised it was not truly representative because it now included additional views from the photos option. 

Five
The preview map pane, for me, now shows red dots on (i) Adelaide surrounds, (ii) Melbourne, (iii) Singapore, and (iv) Hong Kong. When expanded the map also shows (v) Dubai, and (vi) Salzburg. Zooming in brings / shows more red dots of course (seems to take longer to load / display). 

The maps used to show these and every other distinct spot including Kuala Lumpur, Borneo, Switzerland, Prague, Germany, Vienna, Venice, Brisbane, and more of South Australia - i.e. it used to show distinct red dots where all of my photospheres had been taken. And zooming in used to expand and show more of these red dots. But it doesn't anymore unless you know they are there and zoom in to those locations. 

This used to be awesome Evan and used to just work - being able to see a world-wide overview of spots you'd captured PhotoSpheres where you could choose to zoom in to select a specific one for that area was a killer feature. Please look into this and see if you can rectify this behaviour. 

Six
The new photos tab does seem to have pulled in an awful lot of random photos including ones that I knew the location was tagged and others, part of Google+ posts, that I was so so sure I had removed the maps / location data e.g. for those images taken from inside my home and with maps data showing where I live - I thought I was very careful to remove this and not disclose this publicly but there are now multiple photos showing my home address. Possibly my error, possibly not; not cool either way. UPDATE: these images of concern appear to be of the type "public with location info" and not "public on google maps"

- I will leave these as is for the next 24 hours before editing to remove this public data. 

Seven
I create a Tiny Planet image for each PhotoSphere I take and upload these to a public Tiny Planet album (here: https://plus.google.com/photos/115624860057949518963/albums/5833644721656381185) and these now seem to be part of the Photos section of Google Maps views with GPS tags included. I love Tiny Planets and so don't mind at all. But, being an abstraction by definition of the scenery at that location some may believe such images to be "litter" and not relevant for access via Google Maps / Google Maps Views. 

Eight
Many of the images for my Google+ posts are pulled from the web and if they happen to have GPS tags (I don't bother checking) then they are now in the Photos section of Google Maps Views. Some examples include:

- I did a post about the Chittagong ship-breaking yards a year or two ago and post an album full of relevant imagery I found online. These images now appear attributable to me and tagged to the rough - although not exact - areas around Chittagong and other ship-breaking yards.

- I do a lot of science posts and include experimental / technical images and a couple (e.g. https://www.google.com/maps/views/view/115624860057949518963/gphoto/5822495013306150690?gl=au) seem to include GPS data that now shows up on Google Maps Views - not the sort of image that should be on Maps I'm thinking. 

- Then there is this image (https://www.google.com/maps/views/view/115624860057949518963/gphoto/5984640248754009410?gl=au) that I created from scratch, it being my own creation, and yet for some unknown / bizarre reason it seems to be tagged to company in Sacramento, and not something you'd want on Maps.  

- An image of a jigsaw puzzle that my wife and I did (https://www.google.com/maps/views/view/115624860057949518963/gphoto/6011636805150384642?gl=au) seems to be tagged to the maps location where the image for the jigsaw itself was taken - probably not the sort of thing you'd want on Maps. 

These are all of the type "Public on Google Maps."

In total I appear to have 973 photos auto-tagged / added to Maps Views and will need to go through all of them to manually remove the geotag from those that are not relevant (i.e. those above in Six and Eight). 

In closing
I support the auto-addition of photos to Google Maps / Google Maps Views in general as a good thing despite a few early issues as discussed. Good to have that data and meta-data out there to better enable smarter machine recognition and smarter machine services for users. 

My Google Maps Views Profile for anyone interested:
https://www.google.com/maps/views/profile/115624860057949518963?gl=au&pv=2&tab=1 

My PhotoSphere tutorial for anyone interested:
PhotoSphere Tutorial: Capture, Edit, Fix, & Upload 

#photosphere   #googlemaps   #googlemapsviews  

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2015-05-08 15:27:35 (6 comments, 1 reshares, 12 +1s)Open 

2/4 Reposted to reassign to Collection. Original post here: https://plus.google.com/u/0/+MarkBruce/posts/9VTzK8bUDP7 November 2013

When we weave poetry with technology as easily as we do with language.

I love the quote by +Kevin Kelly.

I've often thought of technology as an extension of our minds. Both are interwoven, and the memetic code from one mind can give rise to a technological creation that another mind can study and produce a copy of the same memetic code in itself. This process is currently slow but it will not always be so. I can see atomically precise manufacturing eventually creating technologies and objects whose constituent components embody their own code (like biological systems) a code that will jump from technological object to enhanced human mind and on again with the same fluidity as we currently process language. Our genomes birth us with... more »

"Clothes are people's extended skin, wheels extended feet, camera and telescope extended eyes. Out technological creations are extrapolations of the bodies that our genes build. In this way, we can think of technology as our extended body. If technology is an extension of humans, it is not an extension of our genes but our minds.
Technology is the exoskeleton of ideas."
- Kevin Kelly___2/4 Reposted to reassign to Collection. Original post here: https://plus.google.com/u/0/+MarkBruce/posts/9VTzK8bUDP7 November 2013

When we weave poetry with technology as easily as we do with language.

I love the quote by +Kevin Kelly.

I've often thought of technology as an extension of our minds. Both are interwoven, and the memetic code from one mind can give rise to a technological creation that another mind can study and produce a copy of the same memetic code in itself. This process is currently slow but it will not always be so. I can see atomically precise manufacturing eventually creating technologies and objects whose constituent components embody their own code (like biological systems) a code that will jump from technological object to enhanced human mind and on again with the same fluidity as we currently process language. Our genomes birth us with the ability, as a conduit or substrate, through which the evolution of a new replicator can take place. This substrate is an interwoven landscape of minds, memes, and technologies; competition is fierce, selection is swift, and the evolution of this technium is increasingly rapid. 

[Please excuse this lightly edited repost of a stream of consciousness comment.]

h/t and thanks +Matt Uebel 

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2015-05-08 15:24:02 (0 comments, 3 reshares, 6 +1s)Open 

1/4 Reposted to reassign to Collection. Original post here: https://plus.google.com/u/0/+MarkBruce/posts/8QiAYX7oTp2 August 2013

The Latest Musings from +Extropia DaSilva: Doing What She Does Best.

It is surely one of life's little pleasures, curling up on a cozy Saturday night with one of Extropia's characteristic essays at the convergence of advanced technology, computation, evolution, mind, matter, and society. This time with a welcome look into the Fermi Paradox. The breadth of scope and grand vision did not disappoint. 

If you enjoy such musings then do check out the archives; they're full of wonderful material around similar themes. 

(Just one thing, Extropia, if you read this, some paragraph spacings for readability and updating some of the examples / references - e.g. Markram example mentions "2010" - would be nice :) )

Anybody looking for a really long essay on the fermi paradox, robots and matrix universes need look no further than the essay just posted on me blog:) http://extropiadasilva.wordpress.com/2013/08/22/rise-of-the-robots-and-the-jessie-sim-universe/___1/4 Reposted to reassign to Collection. Original post here: https://plus.google.com/u/0/+MarkBruce/posts/8QiAYX7oTp2 August 2013

The Latest Musings from +Extropia DaSilva: Doing What She Does Best.

It is surely one of life's little pleasures, curling up on a cozy Saturday night with one of Extropia's characteristic essays at the convergence of advanced technology, computation, evolution, mind, matter, and society. This time with a welcome look into the Fermi Paradox. The breadth of scope and grand vision did not disappoint. 

If you enjoy such musings then do check out the archives; they're full of wonderful material around similar themes. 

(Just one thing, Extropia, if you read this, some paragraph spacings for readability and updating some of the examples / references - e.g. Markram example mentions "2010" - would be nice :) )

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2015-05-05 11:32:19 (2 comments, 0 reshares, 17 +1s)Open 

Uploading: Gradual Replacement VS Scan-and-Copy

For as long as I can remember I've always had a preference for the gradual mind-uploading scenario: replacing each individual neuron and its connections with an improved synthetic equivalent, neuron-by-neuron, region-by-region, while the brain continues to process information normally without missing a beat and so preserving continuity. 

At the same time I've always known, deep down, intellectually, logically, that there is no meaningful difference to the scan-and-copy mind uploading scenario: solidify the brain to preserve all relevant information, slice, scan, slice, repeat, stitch and replicate the information on a suitable substrate. And despite my emotional knee-jerk aversion to the scenario I think if it came to the crunch I could rationally convince myself to undertake it. Fear of loss of continuity here is little... more »

Here's a slightly shorter, less reference heavy, op-ed version of our recent mind uploading paper (currently under journal review), published by IEET. Both versions are coauthored by myself and Randal Koene.

http://ieet.org/index.php/IEET/more/wiley20150502___Uploading: Gradual Replacement VS Scan-and-Copy

For as long as I can remember I've always had a preference for the gradual mind-uploading scenario: replacing each individual neuron and its connections with an improved synthetic equivalent, neuron-by-neuron, region-by-region, while the brain continues to process information normally without missing a beat and so preserving continuity. 

At the same time I've always known, deep down, intellectually, logically, that there is no meaningful difference to the scan-and-copy mind uploading scenario: solidify the brain to preserve all relevant information, slice, scan, slice, repeat, stitch and replicate the information on a suitable substrate. And despite my emotional knee-jerk aversion to the scenario I think if it came to the crunch I could rationally convince myself to undertake it. Fear of loss of continuity here is little different to fearing your loss of continuity when you fall asleep and lose consciousness at night; except that in the latter you wake up with a slightly different connectome than what you fell asleep with. And if you believe in or advocate cryogenic preservation then any and all hypothetical differences evaporate. 

This is a good piece by +Keith Wiley and +Randal Koene that seeks to add a little more rigor to the equivalence of the gradual replacement VS scan-and-copy mind uploading scenarios and well worth anyone's time who is interested in these topics. 

#transhumanism   #mind   #uploading  

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2015-05-04 15:26:28 (17 comments, 9 reshares, 35 +1s)Open 

Trying to Ensure Benevolent Machine Superintelligence.
Would an evolutionary solution help?

I finally watched this recent TED talk by Nick Bostrom tonight and it's a good one, What happens when our computers get smarter than we are? Nick squeezes a lot into his 18 minutes and a number of parts include possibly the clearest exposition of the complex issues inherent in this topic. Issues like machine intelligence scales the the trivial IQ gap between the stupidest and smartest humans, intelligence as an optimisation process, the unboxable nature of superintelligence, and appropriate value-loading of seed superintelligences. 

The thing that stayed with me after the talk, the thing that I pondered the most, was the question of, basically, whether value-loading a superintelligence is the same as boxing a superintelligence? Nice in principle but impossible in practice? There... more »

A new TED talk by Nick Bostrom! "The potential for superintelligence kind of lies dormant in matter, much like the power of the atom lay dormant throughout human history — patiently waiting there until 1945."___Trying to Ensure Benevolent Machine Superintelligence.
Would an evolutionary solution help?

I finally watched this recent TED talk by Nick Bostrom tonight and it's a good one, What happens when our computers get smarter than we are? Nick squeezes a lot into his 18 minutes and a number of parts include possibly the clearest exposition of the complex issues inherent in this topic. Issues like machine intelligence scales the the trivial IQ gap between the stupidest and smartest humans, intelligence as an optimisation process, the unboxable nature of superintelligence, and appropriate value-loading of seed superintelligences. 

The thing that stayed with me after the talk, the thing that I pondered the most, was the question of, basically, whether value-loading a superintelligence is the same as boxing a superintelligence? Nice in principle but impossible in practice? There is quite a large body of work on value-loading seed AIs and superintelligences that I won't go into. 

If this is true - and I have no idea if it is or not and people smarter than me like Nick think it is not - but if it is then what alternatives are there? What other means to ensure a positive outcome for our species in future, both individually and collectively?

As is often the case in these situations my mind turns to evolution, a mindless process that nevertheless appears to produce superintelligent solutions to problems. If we can't box it indefinitely, and if we can't indefinitely imbue values that are always valid, then why not give our superintelligent heirs the best values we can manage and possibly house them in the best box we can manage, and knowing both efforts are bound to be inadequate . . . 

. . . also enforce a hard rule such that any expanding superintelligence emerging from these seeds will split in half - replicating - after a certain growth phase and with the copy being birthed with a set of altered parameters for how that superintelligence works, perhaps even different parameters for boxing and value-loading and a range of other measures. In this way there might quickly exist an ecosystem of evolving superintelligences, some cooperating, some competing, and differentiating to exploit different niches. Any one entity that emerged with values that were detrimental to humans, e.g. repurpose the Earth and destroy everything our species individually and collectively values, then this would also be detrimental to the ecosystem of AIs that would respond to restrict, blunt, and contain the offender. 

Like the evolution of life such a system wouldn't be perfect. There would still be disasters and suffering in places. But the ecosystem would survive and flourish. With niches in which we humans might even do the same, as symbionts or parasites on those larger hosts who were "willing."

The point is: might an enforced evolutionary process produce a superintelligent solution to the problem of superintelligence that we humans would, by definition, never be able to come up with? 

Possibly a stupid idea but worth throwing out there anyway. 

Via +Gideon Rosenblatt 

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