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Monthly Archives: May 2018

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MIT’s Leading the Pack With This Cool New Autonomous Drone Tech

Any Star Wars fan knows that the chances of successfully navigating an asteroid field are approximately 3,720 to 1. The odds are probably significantly higher against today’s autonomous drones, which fly quite a bit...

A Quarter Million Gamers Helped Build This Incredibly Detailed Map of the Brain

EyeWire, neuroscience’s most audacious experiment, just opened up a digital museum. Constructed with the help of a quarter million gamers, EyeWire Museum is one-of-a-kind: the 3D interactive playground showcases neurons in a mouse’s retina in...

Microbes in Space: Bioengineered Bugs Could Help Colonize New Planets

As humans spread out into the cosmos in search of life, the most alien organisms we encounter may be those we bring with us. Researchers at NASA and elsewhere are engineering microbes so they...

The Most Innovative Companies Thrive When People Disrupt Themselves

While the popular phrase “disrupt yourself before someone else disrupts you” is often meant for organizations, Whitney Johnson believes that people should be in the practice of disrupting themselves, too. After spending nearly a...

How Will Artificial Intelligence Affect the Risk of Nuclear War?

As technology has progressed, humans have become ever more powerful. With this power comes great opportunity and great risk. Nowhere is this clearer than in the potential of artificial intelligence. But a new report...

The Epic Project to Record the DNA of All Life on Earth

Advances in biotechnology over the past decade have brought rapid progress in the fields of medicine, food, ecology, and neuroscience, among others. With this progress comes ambition for even more progress—realizing we’re capable of, say,...

This Week’s Awesome Stories From Around the Web (Through May 26)

ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE How the Enlightenment Ends Henry A. Kissinger | The Atlantic “Paradoxically, as the world becomes more transparent, it will also become increasingly mysterious. What will distinguish that new world from the one we have known?...

The Standard Model of Particle Physics: The Absolutely Amazing Theory of Almost Everything

The Standard Model. What a dull name for the most accurate scientific theory known to human beings. More than a quarter of the Nobel Prizes in physics of the last century are direct inputs to...

Is It Moral to Seek Immortality? A Discussion at the Vatican

Earlier this month, I participated in a discussion/debate at the Vatican on the topic of “The Morality of Immortality.” The discussion was moderated by CNN medical anchor Dr. Sanjay Gupta, and included Rabbi Dr. Edward...

Living Neanderthal ‘Mini-Brains’ May Reveal What Makes Our Brains Special

He isolated DNA from Egyptian mummies. He discovered the Denisovans, an extinct ancient human species, by sequencing DNA from a tiny bone fragment. He led a massive study that reconstructed the Neanderthal genome—and found...

The Power of Unsafe Thinking to Bring Bold, World-Changing Ideas to Life

Jonah Sachs is a storyteller, entrepreneur, and “unsafe thinker.” Sachs is the founder and former CEO of Free Range studios, a pioneering creative firm that helped create some of the first viral marketing campaigns around...

Will Bitcoin Use as Much Electricity as All of Austria by the End of the Year?

Cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin were designed to be efficient, low-friction alternatives to traditional financial systems. But it seems their creators maybe didn’t think too hard about their sustainability. An analysis published in the journal Joule this...

5 Organizations Using Cool Tech Solutions and Research to Clean Up the Oceans

The Earth is an ocean world. From space, this fact is obvious, whether the planet appears as a bluish dust mote at the edge of the solar system, a bright sapphire star from our...

This Week’s Awesome Stories From Around the Web (Through May 19)

TRANSPORTATION Elon Musk Presents His Tunnel Vision to the People of LA Jack Stewart and Aarian Marshall | Wired “Now, Musk wants to build this new, 2.1-mile tunnel, near LA’s Sepulveda pass. It’s all part of his...

These 4 Tech Trends Are Driving Us Toward Food Abundance

From a first-principles perspective, the task of feeding eight billion people boils down to converting energy from the sun into chemical energy in our bodies. Traditionally, solar energy is converted by photosynthesis into carbohydrates in...

Chinese Port Goes Full Robot With Autonomous Trucks and Cranes

By the end of 2018, something will be very different about the harbor area in the northern Chinese city of Caofeidian. If you were to visit, the whirring cranes and tractors driving containers to...

Google’s Duplex Raises the Question: Should Robots Sound Robotic?

By now, you’ve probably seen Google’s new Duplex software, which promises to call people on your behalf to book appointments for haircuts and the like. As yet, it only exists in demo form, but...

An Innovator’s City Guide to Cairo, Egypt

One of Egypt's major assets in addition to its central location between Africa, Europe, and Asia is Cairo’s huge pool of youth and talent. The city has become a hub for tech leaders and...

Scientists Kick Off Synthetic Biology Project to Make Virus-Resistant Super Cells

Recently, roughly 200 eminent scientists assembled in Boston. Their agenda? Creating “superhero” human cells impervious to all viral attacks and possibly other killers—radiation, freezing, aging, or even cancer. The trick isn’t super-soldier serum. Instead, the...

This DeepMind AI Spontaneously Developed Digital Navigation ‘Neurons’ Like Ours

When Google DeepMind researchers trained a neural network to tackle a virtual maze, it spontaneously developed digital equivalents to the specialized neurons called grid cells that mammals use to navigate. Not only did the...

Why the Discovery of Room-Temperature Superconductors Would Unleash Amazing Technologies

Superconductors are among the most bizarre and exciting materials yet discovered. Counterintuitive quantum-mechanical effects mean that, below a critical temperature, they have zero electrical resistance. This property alone is more than enough to spark...

This Week’s Awesome Stories From Around the Web (Through May 12)

ROBOTICS Boston Dynamics’ SpotMini Robot Dog Goes on Sale in 2019 Stephen Shankland | CNET “The company has 10 SpotMini prototypes now and will work with manufacturing partners to build 100 this year, said company co-founder and...

From Drone Swarms to Tree Batteries, New Tech Is Revolutionizing Ecology and Conservation

Understanding Earth’s species and ecosystems is a monumentally challenging scientific pursuit. But with the planet in the grip of its sixth mass extinction event, it has never been a more pressing priority. To unlock nature’s...

5 Space Companies Zeroing in on First Launch of Tourists Into Orbit and Beyond

It won’t be cheap, but your holiday plans could include a trip to the edge of Earth’s atmosphere or beyond—before the end of this year. Several space tourism companies are zeroing in on their...

How to Leverage the Power of Science Fiction for Exponential Innovation

“The only constant is change, and the rate of change is increasing.” –Peter Diamandis Many of today’s biggest companies will no longer exist in 10 years. Why? Because rapidly emerging new technologies will make the...

Holograms Can Now Program Brain Activity—Are Fake Experiences Next?

Optogenetics, neuroscience’s hottest mind-control tool, just got a major update. Projecting 3D-light holograms—yes, holograms!—directly onto a mouse’s cortex, engineers at UC Berkeley instantaneously gained control of dozens of neurons at once. That’s not the impressive part....

Will Europe’s Looming Tech Rules Prove to Be a Template for the World?

There was a time when people bought most of the software on their computer, but this is, of course, now ancient history. Some software you still buy, but much of today’s most-used software is...

Self-Driving Cars Navigate Unmapped Country Roads With New MIT System

Self-driving cars are now a regular fixture in some American cities, but they are heavily reliant on high-precision 3D maps of the roads. That means they can’t tackle the vast majority of the country...

This New Startup Will Use CRISPR as a Search Engine to Hunt Down Diseases

By now, you’ve heard of CRISPR—the bacterial self-defense mechanism that can be used to modify the genome. From “biohackers” building the hype by injecting themselves with CRISPR—and later regretting it—to the more measured, successful...

Leapfrogging Tech Is Changing Millions of Lives. Here’s How

Walking through any city in the US, you may not notice the evidence of centuries of technological progress around you. From the power lines snaking above to the people tapping away on their smartphones...

This Week’s Awesome Stories From Around the Web (Through May 5)

ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE How Can We Be Sure AI Will Behave? Perhaps by Watching It Argue with Itself. Will Knight | MIT Technology Review “Having AI programs argue with one another requires more sophisticated technology than exists currently....

Delivering VR in Perfect Focus With Nanostructure Meta-lenses

If wearing a virtual reality or augmented reality headset is ever to become commonplace, hardware manufacturers will need to figure out how to make the devices small and lightweight while ensuring their images are...

Is the Secret to Significantly Longer Life Hidden in Our Cells?

Once upon a time, a powerful Sumerian king named Gilgamesh went on a quest, as such characters often do in these stories of myth and legend. Gilgamesh had witnessed the death of his best...

CRISPR-on-a-Chip For Diagnosing Cancer May Soon Be a Thing

Oh CRISPR, how you’ve grown. From an obscure part of the bacterial immune defense system, you’re now on track to cure genetic diseases, thwart superbugs, boost global food production, and wipe out disease-carrying pests. And...

3 Major Shifts Are About to Transform Manufacturing as We Know It

We are on the verge of transforming one of society’s most fundamental building blocks: manufacturing. As new technologies enable manufacturers to customize everything, these same agents are quickly turning consumers into inventors. Following the agricultural revolution some 5,000 years ago,...

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