ROBOTICS: Rethink Robotics’ Sawyer Goes on Sale, Rodney Brooks Says ‘There May Be More Robots’
Erico Guizzo | IEEE Spectrum
“Sawyer can perform tasks that require 0.1 millimeters of tolerance, much better than what Baxter can do. Both robots have 7 degrees of freedom, but Sawyer’s arm has a greater reach (1260 millimeters) and payload capacity (4 kilograms). It also has a Cognex camera on the wrist, making recognition and inspection of parts easier.”

ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE: Virtual assistants are the testbeds for tomorrow’s personal robots
Mark Stephen Meadows | Robohub
“Our mobile devices are becoming natural language interface hubs for life management and, as a result, having a gravitational pull on an increasingly complex buzz of connected services and APIs. This means that things like search will change…if trends in virtual assistants and intelligent helpers – software robots – continue, then knowledge-bases (such as Wolfram Alpha or IBM Watson) will continue to come peppered with a patina of natural language, allowing us to move through data faster, with less training, and in a more human manner.”

COMPUTING: The Programs That Become the Programmers
David Auerbach | Slate
“This, then, is the promise of machine learning: By turning over the hard labor of this endless fine-tuning to an automatic process of feedback-driven tweaking to a mutating algorithm, we can get results that would be impossible to code by hand.”

SPACE: Is Space Mining Legal?
Sarah Fecht | Popular Science
“Resources may be the only thing that can lure us from the comforts of Earth. Mining for lunar water could make it up to 90 percent cheaper to colonize the moon. And extracting platinum and other minerals from asteroids could propel mankind to travel beyond low Earth orbit.”

MEDIA: This New Platform Makes The Contents Of Videos As Searchable As Text
Rose Pastore | Fast Company
“‘For the first time, for every video, we can pick out not just what’s on screen, but also the sound and motion, and put it into one major model of what’s happening in the video,’ Luan said. ‘This takes away all of the need for human-generated metadata, which is incredibly noisy and not that indicative of what the content is.'”

MEDICINE: Brain-computer link enables paralyzed California man to walk
Steve Gorman | Reuters
“A brain-to-computer technology that can translate thoughts into leg movements has enabled a man paralyzed from the waist down by a spinal cord injury to become the first such patient to walk without the use of robotics, doctors in Southern California reported on Wednesday…The feat was accomplished using a system allowing the brain to bypass the injured spinal cord and instead send messages through a computer algorithm to electrodes placed around the patient’s knees to trigger controlled leg muscle movements.”

DIGITAL MANUFACTURING: 3D Printing Goes 4D with Smart Memory Materials That Self-Assemble
Scott J Grunewald | 3DPrint
“This technology could allow for the development of products that can be manufactured or 3D printed to be entirely flat or rolled up in a tube for shipment. Once ready to assemble a single source of stimulation can be applied, causing the flat object to respond with precisely timed movements that will create entirely new 3D structures.”

FUTURE: Why Brave New World is No Longer the Terrifying Dystopia it Used to Be
George Dvorsky | io9
“Set 600 years in the future, the novel anticipates a number of key advancements, including powerful reproductive technologies (such as in vitro fertilization, human engineering, and cloning), classical conditioning, neuropharmaceuticals, and psychological manipulation. Horrifyingly, these technological and scientific advancements are used by a quasi-totalitarian regime to keep its population subservient and under control.”


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


CYBERWARFAREReport Stresses Importance of Agreement to Avoid Cyber Conflict
Paul Mozar | The New York Times
“Many in the Chinese government believe ‘that the United States has the ability to corrupt or disrupt the functioning of any device with U.S.-made software. Their appetite for a full-fledged cyberwar may be proportionately limited, and their receptivity to U.S. hints that it could unleash such a cyberwar itself may be heightened,’ the report added.”

DISPLACEMENTThe Syrian refugees who built a city from nothing in no-man’s land
Megan Specia | Mashable
“Some have spent years in the corrugated metal caravans that make up the two square miles of this camp. They have limited access to electricity, running water or bathrooms in a place where temperatures in the summer regularly reach 105 degrees Fahrenheit in this exposed stretch of desert. At night, during winter, temperatures can be freezing.”

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.

Follow David: