A Brain-computer Interface To Combat The Rise of AI

Elon Musk is attempting to combat the rise of artificial intelligence (AI) with the launch of his latest venture, brain-computer interface company NeuralinkLittle is known about the startup, aside from what has been revealed in a Wall Street Journal report, but says sources have described it as “neural lace” technology that is being engineered by the company to allow humans to seamlessly communicate with technology without the need for an actual, physical interface. The company has also been registered in California as a medical research entity because Neuralink’s initial focus will be on using the described interface to help with the symptoms of chronic conditions, from epilepsy to depression. This is said to be similar to how deep brain stimulation controlled by an implant helps  Matt Eagles, who has Parkinson’s, manage his symptoms effectively. This is far from the first time Musk has shown an interest in merging man and machine. At a Tesla launch in Dubai earlier this year, the billionaire spoke about the need for humans to become cyborgs if we are to survive the rise of artificial intelligence.

cyborg woman

Over time I think we will probably see a closer merger of biological intelligence and digital intelligence,”CNBC reported him as saying at the time. “It’s mostly about the bandwidth, the speed of the connection between your brain and the digital version of yourself, particularly output.” Transhumanism, the enhancement of humanity’s capabilities through science and technology, is already a living reality for many people, to varying degrees. Documentary-maker Rob Spence replaced one of his own eyes with a video camera in 2008; amputees are using prosthetics connected to their own nerves and controlled using electrical signals from the brain; implants are helping tetraplegics regain independence through the BrainGate project.

Former director of the United States Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), Arati Prabhakar, comments: “From my perspective, which embraces a wide swathe of research disciplines, it seems clear that we humans are on a path to a more symbiotic union with our machines.

Source: http://www.wired.co.uk/

Implanted Neural Nanocomputers To Boost Failing Human Brains

As neural implants become more and more advanced, researchers think humans may be able to overcome diseases and defects like strokes and dementia with the help of nanocomputers in our brains.

With the forecasted inevitable rise of the machines — be they robots or artificial intelligences — humans are beginning to realize that they should work to maintain superiority. There are a few ideas about how we should do it, but perhaps the most promising option is to go full cyborg. (What could possibly go wrong?) On Monday, a company called Kernel, announced that it would be leading the charge.

Active_brain

The idea is something straight out of dorm room pot-smoking sessions. What if, the exhaling sophomore muses, we put computers inside our brains? Unfortunately for prospective stoner-scientists, the actual creation of such a device — a functioning, cognitive-enhancing neural implant — has long evaded bioengineers and neuroscientists alike.

Kernel thinks it’s past time to make real progress. Theodore Berger runs the Univerity of Southern California’s Center for Neural Engineering, and he caught the eye of Bryan Johnson, a self-made multimillionaire who’s obsessed with augmenting human intelligence. With Johnson’s entrepreneurial money and Berger’s scientific brain, the two launched Kernel.
For now, Berger and Johnson are focusing on achievable goals with immediate impacts. They are creating an analogous human neural implant that can mitigate cognitive decline in those who suffer from Alzheimer’s and the aftereffects of strokes, concussions, and other brain injuries or neurological diseases. If Kernel is able to replicate even the 10 percent cognitive improvement that Berger demonstrated in monkeys, those who suffer from these cognitive disorders will be that much more capable of forming memories and living out enjoyable lives.

Source: https://www.inverse.com/

In 2029 Immortality May Be Possible

Scientist Ray Kurzweil (Google‘s Director of Engineering) reckons man could become immortal in just a few years’ time. The 61-year-old American – dubbed the smartest futurist on Earth by Microsoft founder Bill Gates – has consistently predicted new technologies many years before they arrived. Here, Ray explains why he believes today’s 60-year-olds could go on to live forever. We are living through the most exciting period of human historyComputer technology and our understanding of genes — our body’s software programs — are accelerating at an incredible rate. He and many other scientists now believe that in around 20 years we will have the means to reprogramme our bodies’ stone-age software so we can halt, then reverse, ageing. Then nano-technology will let us live for ever.

Already, blood cell-sized submarines cnanorobotsalled nanobots are being tested in animals. These will soon be used to destroy tumours, unblock clots and perform operations without scars.

Ultimately, nanobots will replace blood cells and do their work thousands of times more effectively. Within 25 years we will be able to do an Olympic sprint for 15 minutes without taking a breath, or go scuba-diving for four hours without oxygen. Heart-attack victims — who haven’t taken advantage of widely available bionic hearts — will calmly drive to the doctors for a minor operation as their blood bots keep them alive. Nanotechnology will extend our mental capacities to such an extent we will be able to write books within minutes. If we want to go into virtual-reality mode, nanobots will shut down brain signals and take us wherever we want to go. Virtual sex will become commonplace. And in our daily lives, hologram-like figures will pop up in our brain to explain what is happening.

These technologies should not seem at all fanciful. Our phones now perform tasks we wouldn’t have dreamed possible 20 years ago. In 1965, an university’s only computer cost £7million and was huge. Today your mobile phone is a million times less expensive and a thousand times more powerful. That’s a billion times more capable for the same price.

According to Kurrzweil’s theory — the Law of Accelerating Returns — we will experience another billion-fold increase in technological capability for the same cost in the next 25 years. So we can look forward to a world where humans become cyborgs, with artificial limbs and organs. This might sound far-fetched, but remember, diabetics already have artificial pancreases and Parkinson’s patients have neural implants. As we approach the 21st Century’s second decade, stunning medical breakthroughs are a regular occurrence.

In 2008 we discovered skin cells can be transformed into the equivalent of embryonic cells. So organs will soon be repaired and eventually grown. In a few years most people will have their entire genetic sequences mapped. Before long, we will all know the diseases we are susceptible to and gene therapies will mean virtually no genetic problems that can’t be erased. It’s important to ensure we get to take advantage of the upcoming technologies by living well and not getting hit by a bus.

By the middle of this century we will have back-up copies of the information in our bodies and brains that make us who we are. Then we really will be immortal.

Source: https://www.theguardian.com
AND
http://www.thesun.co.uk/

Bionic Patch Could Replace Heart Transplantation

In this Lab at the University of Tel Aviv, the future of heart medicine is taking shape. Researchers have developed a bionic patch that can monitor and treat heart conditions in real time.

heartCLICK ON THE IMAGE TO ENJOY THE VIDEO

Well, this is the first time that engineered tissue, thick engineered tissue, functional tissues, are integrated with electronics to become cyborg tissues, meaning that there is integration of machine and living tissues“, says Professor Tal Dvir of Tel Aviv University (Department of Bio Technology and Center for Nano Technology).

That integration could potentially give doctors new options when treating a myriad of heart problems. The patch is comprised of live, lab-grown heart tissue and nano electronics embedded on a 3D printed scaffold. The team says the patch could offer an alternative to heart transplantation in the future by releasing medications as well as repopulating the defected area with cells that are capable of contraction. In the short term, the device could monitor and activate the entire organ as needed as well as alert a doctor to a potentially fatal problem in real time.

The patient is sitting in his house and not feeling well and the physician immediately sees the condition of the heart on his computer and can remotely activate the heart: can provide electrical stimulation, can release drugs. And if you really think about this technology, we don’t even need a physician because the cardiac patch can regulate its own function“, adds Tal Dvir.
As exciting as it may be, the bionic heart patch is still years from commercial viability. The next step is a series of animals trials that if successful could lead to clinical trials in humans.

The findings were published this month in the Journal ‘Nature Materials‘.

Source: https://english.tau.ac.il

Bionic Finger Feels Texture

An amputee was able to feel smoothness and roughness in real-time with an artificial fingertip that was surgically connected to nerves in his upper arm. Moreover, the nerves of non-amputees can also be stimulated to feel roughness, without the need of surgery, meaning that prosthetic touch for amputees can now be developed and safely tested on intact individuals.

The technology to deliver this sophisticated tactile information was developed by Silvestro Micera and his team at EPFL (Ecole polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne) and SSSA (Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna) together with Calogero Oddo and his team at SSSA. The results, published today in eLife, provide new and accelerated avenues for developing bionic prostheses, enhanced with sensory feedback.

BionicFingerCLICK ON THE IMAGE TO ENJOY THE VIDEO

“The stimulation felt almost like what I would feel with my hand,” says amputee Dennis Aabo Sørensen about the artificial fingertip connected to his stump. He continues, “I still feel my missing hand, it is always clenched in a fist. I felt the texture sensations at the tip of the index finger of my phantom hand.

Sørensen is the first person in the world to recognize texture using a bionic fingertip connected to electrodes that were surgically implanted above his stump.

Nerves in Sørensen’s arm were wired to an artificial fingertip equipped with sensors. A machine controlled the movement of the fingertip over different pieces of plastic engraved with different patterns, smooth or rough. As the fingertip moved across the textured plastic, the sensors generated an electrical signal. This signal was translated into a series of electrical spikes, imitating the language of the nervous system, then delivered to the nerves.

Sørensen could distinguish between rough and smooth surfaces 96% of the time.

Source: https://actu.epfl.ch/

Brain: Graphene Interacts Safely With Neurons

Researchers from the University of Trieste (Italy) and the University of Cambridge have successfully demonstrated how it is possible to interface graphene – a two-dimensional form of carbon – with neurons, or nerve cells, while maintaining the integrity of these vital cells. The work may be used to build graphene-based electrodes that can safely be implanted in the brain, offering promise for the restoration of sensory functions for amputee or paralysed patients, or for individuals with motor disorders such as epilepsy or Parkinson’s disease. Previously, other groups had shown that it is possible to use treated graphene to interact with neurons. However the signal to noise ratio from this interface was very low. By developing methods of working with untreated graphene, the researchers retained the material’s electrical conductivity, making it a significantly better electrode.

graphene interacts in the brain

For the first time we interfaced graphene to neurons directly,” said Professor Laura Ballerini of the University of Trieste in Italy. “We then tested the ability of neurons to generate electrical signals known to represent brain activities, and found that the neurons retained their neuronal signalling properties unaltered. This is the first functional study of neuronal synaptic activity using uncoated graphene based materials.

The research, published in the journal ACS Nano, was an interdisciplinary collaboration coordinated by the University of Trieste in Italy and the Cambridge Graphene Centre.

Source: http://www.cam.ac.uk/

The Rise Of The NanoRobots

Nanomachines – including nano-sized motors, rockets and even cars – are many orders of magnitude smaller than a human cell, but they have huge promise. In the future, they could deliver drugs anywhere in the body, clean up oil spills and might even be used as artificial muscle cells. Find out more about these molecular machines (and the challenges that nanobot researchers still face) in Reactions’ latest video, produced in collaboration with the University of Nebraska‘s SciPop series.


nanorobots
CLICK ON THE IMAGE TO ENJOY THE VIDEO

Source: http://www.acs.org/

 

Bionic Eye Against Loss Of Vision

Surgeons in Manchester have performed the first bionic eye implant in a patient with the most common cause of sight loss in the developed world. Ray Flynn, 80, has dry age-related macular degeneration which has led to the total loss of his central vision. He is using a retinal implant which converts video images from a miniature video camera worn on his glasses.

central vision loss

He can now make out the direction of white lines on a computer screen using the retinal implant. Mr Flynn said he was “delighted” with the implant and hoped in time it would improve his vision sufficiently to help him with day-to-day tasks like gardening and shopping.

CLICK to enjoy the video

 

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The bionic eye implant receives its visual information from a miniature camera mounted on glasses worn by the patient. The images are converted into electrical pulses and transmitted wirelessly to an array of electrodes attached to the retina. The electrodes stimulate the remaining retina’s remaining cells which send the information to the brain.

 

Source: http://www.bbc.com/

A.I., Nanotechnology ‘threaten civilisation’

A report from the Global Challenges Foundation created the first list of global risks with impacts that for all practical purposes can be called infinite. It is also the first structured overview of key events related to such risks and has tried to provide initial rough quantifications for the probabilities of these impacts.
Besides the usual major risks such as extreme climate change, nuclear war, super volcanoes or asteroids impact there are 3 emerging new global risks: Synthetic Biology, Nanotechnology and Artificial Intelligence (A.I.).
terminator
The real focus is not on the almost unimaginable impacts of the risks the report outlines. Its fundamental purpose is to encourage global collaboration and to use this new category of risk as a driver for innovation.

In the case of AI, the report suggests that future machines and software with “human-level intelligence” could create new, dangerous challenges for humanity – although they could also help to combat many of the other risks cited in the report. “Such extreme intelligences could not easily be controlled (either by the groups creating them, or by some international regulatory regime), and would probably act to boost their own intelligence and acquire maximal resources for almost all initial AI motivations,” suggest authors Dennis Pamlin and Stuart Armstrong.
In the case of nanotechnology, the report notes that “atomically precise manufacturing” could have a range of benefits for humans. It could help to tackle challenges including depletion of natural resources, pollution and climate change. But it foresees risks too.
It could create new products – such as smart or extremely resilient materials – and would allow many different groups or even individuals to manufacture a wide range of things,” suggests the report. “This could lead to the easy construction of large arsenals of conventional or more novel weapons made possible by atomically precise manufacturing.”

Source: http://globalchallenges.org/

Bionic Arm At Low Price

Stella Azambullo lost her right arm in an industrial accident. Now after years of limited dexterity, she’s testing this low-cost bionic arm which helps her perform everyday tasks.

bionic arm 2The flexible claw-like hand has a thumb, index and middle finger. Covered in a skin-like glove, it looks indistinguishable from Stella’s real arm. Sensors in the bionic limb detect electric signals from moving muscles. The signal is relayed to a motor that opens and closes the hand. Project engineer Luciana Joliat teaches patients like Stella how to use the device

I work directly with the patient and the stump to look for the strongest myoelectric signals before voluntary contractions. I train the patient to activate two muscle groups to activate the opening and closing sensors, to direct the prosthetic and make open and close, says Luciana Joliat, bioengineer in charge of the patient. Stella can now perform tasks that were impossible with her clunkier mechanical prostheses.
I’m doing very well. I’m happy to be able to do lots of things again, mainly things around the house, and also I’m happy aesthetically. Being able to go back to work has really helped me. I feel good and can move forward and start doing what I used to do“, comments Stella.
Developers from the company Bioparx Health Technology (Argentina) underscore that it is Latin America’s first budget bionic arm with sensors that respond to nerve impulses. Bioparx director and enginneer, Ricardo Rodriguez says the device is more affordable than others on the market.”We’ve achieved a cost around 50 percent less compared to similar models that we’re competing with“.

Source: http://www.bioparx.com/
AND
http://www.reuters.com/

Smart Skin For Robots Simulating Sense Of Touch

It’s soft, warm, and can sense pressure, heat and humidity – just like human skin. This is ‘smartartificial skin and it’s the first to simulate the sense of touch. Its developers at South Korea’s Seoul National University say they aimed to create a material as close to human skin as possible.
prosthetic smart skin
We developed the synthetic skin which has the sense of feeling that exactly copies human skin. The skin can feel pressure, temperature, strain, humidity. Also it is soft, just like human skin, and embedded with heating elements that can make itself warm,” says Professor Kim Dae-Hong from the School of Chemical and Biological Engineering at Seoul National University. The warm prosthetic skin matches the temperature of the human body. And its layers give it its sense of touch.
The bottom layer of skin is rubbery material that can express the softness of human skin. Above the rubber layer, there is ultra thin polyimide and then silicon, which acts as sensors“, he adds. Researchers have combined their stretchy skin with a prosthetic hand and found it can be used for complex operations. Hand-shaking, keyboard-tapping and ball-grasping are all possible. And its humidity sensors mean it can even tell the difference between a dry diaper and a wet one. The researchers hope the ultra-thin skin will be able to send sensory signals to the brain. At the moment, this has only been demonstrated in small animals. But Professor Kim has high hopes for the future of his team’s prosthetic skin: “I hope a robotic limb with this synthetic skin can be used by disabled people. For industrial uses, it can be applied to various types of robots, like a humanoid robot“, he says. The developers envisage the synthetic skin being used by amputees. But a diaper-changing robot could also come in handy.
Source: http://www.reuters.com/

Hybrid Bio-Electronics

Scientists from the University of Leeds have taken a crucial step forward in bio-nanotechnology, a field that uses biology to develop new tools for science, technology and medicine. The study, published in the journal Nano Letters, demonstrates how stable ‘lipid membranes’ – the thin ‘skin’ that surrounds all biological cells – can be applied to synthetic surfaces. Importantly, the new technique can use these lipid membranes to ‘draw’ – akin to using them like a biological ink – with a resolution of 6 nanometres (6 billionths of a meter), which is much smaller than scientists had previously thought was possible.
bioelectronics-
This is smaller than the active elements of the most advanced silicon chips and promises the ability to position functional biological molecules – such as those involved in taste, smell, and other sensory roles – with high precision, to create novel hybrid bio-electronic devices,” said Professor Steve Evans, from the School of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Leeds and a co-author of the paper.
The ability to controllablywrite’ and ‘position’ lipid membrane fragments with such high precision was achieved by Mr George Heath, a PhD student from the School of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Leeds and the lead author of the research paper.
Mr Heath said: “The method is much like the inking of a pen. However, instead of writing with fluid ink, we allow the lipid molecules – the ink – to dry on the tip first. This allows us to then write underwater, which is the natural environment for lipid membranes. Previously, other research teams have focused on writing with lipids in air and they have only been able to achieve a resolution of microns, which is a thousand times larger than what we have demonstrated. “
source: http://www.leeds.ac.uk/