ROBOTICS: Seek-and-destroy robot to stop starfish killing the Great Barrier Reef
Michelle Starr | CNET
“Called the COTSbot (Crown-of-Thorns Starfish robot), it’s designed to autonomously patrol and monitor the reefs without a tether, using robotic vision to find the starfish. When it locates a Crown-of-Thorns starfish, it will administer a lethal injection of bile salts from a pneumatic arm. This is not a pleasant death for the starfish. It breaks out in blisters that burst open, exposing the internal organs. This condition is infectious and can be passed to other Crown-of-Thorns starfish. Infected starfish die within 24 hours, with a 100 percent mortality rate.”

ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE: We’re on the Brink of a Revolution in Crazy-Smart Digital Assistants
David Pierce | WIRED
“If you’re already steeped in today’s technology, these new tools will extend the reach of your digital life into places and situations where the graphical user interface cannot safely, pleasantly, or politely go. And the increasingly conversational nature of your back-and-forth with your devices will make your relationship to technology even more intimate, more loyal, more personal.”

COMPUTING: A computer taught itself to play chess at master level in just three days
Daniela Hernandez | Fusion
“‘“Unlike most chess engines in existence today, Giraffe derives its playing strength…from being able to evaluate tricky positions accurately, and understanding complicated positional concepts that are intuitive to humans, but have been elusive to chess engines for a long time.’”

BITCOIN: Why IBM Thinks Bitcoin Technology Will Change Banking, Household Appliances
Steven Melendez | Fast Company
“The company says blockchains future blockchain-based systems could make it significantly easier to share records and execute all kinds of transactions, including those based on more traditional currency.”

TRENDS: Have we reached a tipping point for technology?
James Moody | World Economic Forum
“All of these trends have something in common. They are all based on the rise of software as a platform for business, society and the economy. This will require us to have a new set of skills and competencies: in the future, all companies will be software companies and all of us will be systems integrators. From harnessing effort to harnessing intellect, it might not sound like much but the implications are enormous.”

CULTURE: Barbie Wants to Get to Know Your Child
James Vlahos | The New York Times
“In developing the technology to make such feats possible, ToyTalk is chasing one of the most prized goals in Silicon Valley today, which is to create artificial-intelligence-powered companions that are personality-rich and conversationally capable. ToyTalk’s approach, however, focuses on quality of conversation instead of quantity.”

WELLBEING: What Technology Can’t Change About Happiness
Adam Piore | Nautilus
“Neuroscientists are also studying a gene variant that leads to higher levels of a brain chemical called anandamide, which contributes to a sense of calm. Individuals with mutations that cause them to make less of an enzyme that metabolizes anandamide are less prone to trudge through life with the weight of the world on their shoulders.”


SECURITY is the Global Grand Challenge
for the Month of September

“Safety of all people from physical and psychological harm;
and protection of physical, financial, and digital systems.”
from Singularity University’s 2015 Impact Report


CYBERWARFARE: Security News This Week: US Homeland Security Is Vulnerable to Hacks, Too
Yael Grauer | WIRED
It’s been quite an eventful week for hacks.”

PRIVACY: The internet hasn’t killed privacy – but it has changed it forever
Jose Such | The Conversation
“Privacy will keep changing forms in the future – particularly as new technologies are created, existing ones mature and users’ perceptions of privacy evolve. The biggest challenge will be to make sure that users have the tools they need to keep up with these changes, and protect their privacy as they see fit.”

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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