ROBOTICS: Mother Robots Build Children Robots to Experiment With Artificial Evolution
Evan Ackerman | IEEE Spectrum
“Overall, ‘a fitness increase of more than 40 percent over 10 generations was observed in all experiments,’ which is pretty good, but the impressive part is that it’s all physical: the robots have all been built and tested, so you know that your elite designs really are elite, and will behave well in whatever application you can find for a weird little robot made out of some cubes.”

ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE: Deep-Learning AI Is Taking Over Tech. What Is It?
Mark Bergen | Re/Code
“Google was the first to pull deep learning into its research arm, with the Brain team that came out of Google X. The technology now sits behind 100 different teams inside the behemoth. Machine learning is Google’s lifeblood. It flows behind so much of the company, from search to decisions about its massive data centers to its self-driving cars.”

GENETICS: New Letters Added to the Genetic Alphabet
Emily Singer | Quanta
“Benner has lofty goals for his synthetic molecules. He wants to create an alternative genetic system in which proteins — intricately folded molecules that perform essential biological functions — are unnecessary. Perhaps, Benner proposes, instead of our standard three-component system of DNA, RNA and proteins, life on other planets evolved with just two.”

VIRTUAL REALITY: Virtual reality not just for fun: VR will be used in automobiles, real estate and marketing
Mary-Ann Russon | International Business Times UK
“Advertising and marketing agencies have discovered a new way to reach out to their customers – create a virtual reality installation open to the public which sees tech fans queue up for hours to have a go, and it’s all come about because consumers have become greatly interested in the technology.”

NANOTECH: Harvard scientists develop method that creates nanowires with new useful properties
Peter Reuell | Harvard Gazette
“‘This is a powerful discovery because previously, if you wanted to use nanowires for photo-detection of green and blue light, you’d need two wires,’ Mankin said. ‘Now we can shrink the amount of space a device might take up by having multiple functions in a single wire.'”

3D PRINTING: A group of Harvard scientists have built a 3D printer that’s actually useful
Mike Murphy | Quartz
“‘3D printing fails when it’s asked to do the same thing that a traditional manufacturing process already does,’ co-founder Dan Oliver told Quartz…The company used its printer to build a working quadcopter drone in one sitting. Oliver said that it’s possible to print a computer’s motherboard with the Voxel8: ‘We’re there, we can do that.'”

ENERGY is the Global Grand Challenge for the Month of July

RENEWABLE ENERGY: The Environmentalist Case Against 100% Renewable Energy Plans
Julian Spector | CityLab
“Technical and political feasibility aside, it’s also unclear why a fully renewable grid would be more desirable than any other combination of zero-carbon energy sources. ‘[The 100% renewable roadmap] is not an optimization study,’ says Jenkins. ‘It’s not saying this is the best pathway forward in terms of any metric, particularly in terms of cost. They say, ‘How much can we push renewables and only renewables? And what will be necessary to try to decarbonize with that pathway alone?’ In other words, if the goal is to cut out carbon emissions, there are other ways to do it.”

BATTERY TECH: The First Energy Revolution — Tesla Energy Changes Everything
Ken Trough | CleanTechnica
“Our past energy paradigm was largely based on central power generation from large power plants, which often need to be situated far from our homes, businesses, and institutions…Tesla Energy’s stationary battery systems support a decentralized power generation architecture.”

Image Credit: Shutterstock

I've been writing for Singularity Hub since 2011 and have been Editor-in-Chief since 2014. My interests cover digital education, publishing, and media, but I'll always be a chemist at heart.

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