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Edd Gent

Edd Gent

I am a freelance science and technology writer based in Bangalore, India. My main areas of interest are engineering, computing and biology, with a particular focus on the intersections between the three.

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From This Author


A Student Took Down One of Quantum Computing’s Top Applications—Now What?

The possibility that quantum computing could turbocharge machine learning is one of the most tantalizing applications for the emerging technology. But an 18-year-old student just put that vision in doubt after finding a classical...

Successfully Transplanted Lab-Grown Pig Lungs Take Us Closer to Custom Organs

Being able to grow new organs from a patient's own cells could revolutionize both the safety and availability of transplants. Scientists have now overcome major hurdles in the realization of the technology—but in pigs. Someone...

MIT Study Shows Off Chemical-Detecting Machines the Size of a Human Egg Cell

Robots are excellent tools for gathering information from areas humans can't reach. And now new speck-sized machines from MIT could extend that capability to carrying out diagnostics inside the human body, wafting through the...

New Study Sounds a Note of Caution in the Development of CRISPR Gene Therapies

The discovery of CRISPR gene editing technology led many to believe we may soon be able to tweak our DNA with ultra-high accuracy. But a new study has found it can cause more unintended...

Pulling Water, Fuel, and Power From Thin Air Is Getting Practical

Pulling things from thin air is generally considered a magic trick. But several recent research papers suggest we could soon be extracting valuable resources like water, fuel, and power from the atmosphere. Startup Carbon Engineering...

This New Chip Design Could Make Neural Nets More Efficient and a Lot Faster

Neural networks running on GPUs have achieved some amazing advances in artificial intelligence, but the two are accidental bedfellows. IBM researchers hope a new chip design tailored specifically to run neural nets could provide...

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...

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...

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...

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...

New Tech Marries the Best of Photonics and Electronics on the Same Silicon Chip

Optical communication has revolutionized long-distance data transfer, but scaling it down to microchips is tougher. Now, though, a new technique means optical components can be integrated into general purpose chips using standard manufacturing processes...

This Startup Is Training AI to Gobble Up the News and Rewrite It Free of Bias

Bias in journalism is nothing new, but there are growing concerns technology is pushing us into echo chambers where we only hear one side of the story. Now a startup says it’s using AI...

How Big Is the Gap Between ‘Ready Player One’ and Current VR Tech?

Steven Spielberg's blockbuster Ready Player One depicts a future where VR technology can transport people into a completely realistic alternate universe. But how close is real-life tech to that vision? Much of the coverage of...

Can We Recycle CO2 Emissions to Make Carbon-Neutral Fuel?

Our failure to curb our carbon emissions is threatening to cause catastrophic climate change within our lifetimes. But what if we could recycle CO2 emitted by power stations and turn it into fuels and...

IBM’s New Computer Is the Size of a Grain of Salt and Costs Less Than 10 Cents

The miniaturization of electronics has been progressing steadily for decades, but IBM just took a major leap. The company has created what it's calling the world's smallest computer, and it’s the size of a grain...

$10 million XPRIZE Aims for Robot Avatars That Let You See, Hear, and Feel by 2021

Ever wished you could be in two places at the same time? The XPRIZE Foundation wants to make that a reality with a $10 million competition to build robot avatars that can be controlled...

Hyperloop and Flying Cars Are Battling It Out for the Future of Transportation

Tech titans are eager to reimagine how we will travel in the coming decades, but whose vision will win out? Last week Elon Musk and Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi got in a back-and-forth on Twitter...

Putting AI in Your Pocket: MIT Chip Cuts Neural Network Power Consumption by 95%

Neural networks are powerful things, but they need a lot of juice. Engineers at MIT have now developed a new chip that cuts neural nets’ power consumption by up to 95 percent, potentially allowing...

The Democratization of AI Is Putting Powerful Tools in the Hands of Non-Experts

The shortage of qualified data scientists is often highlighted as one of the major handbrakes on the adoption of big data and AI. But a growing number of tools are putting these capabilities in...

Why Google DeepMind Is Putting AI on the Psychologist’s Couch

Artificial intelligence can now carry out many of the same cognitive tasks humans can, but we still don’t really understand how AIs think. Google DeepMind plans to train long-standing tests of human cognitive skills...

The 10 Grand Challenges Facing Robotics in the Next Decade

Robotics research has been making great strides in recent years, but there are still many hurdles to the machines becoming a ubiquitous presence in our lives. The journal Science Robotics has now identified 10...

This Awesome Robot Is the Size of a Penny and Precise Enough to Aid Eye Surgery

They say size isn’t everything, but when it comes to delta robots it seems like it’s pretty important. The speed and precision of these machines sees them employed in delicate pick-and-place tasks in all kinds...

If We Could Engineer Animals to Be as Smart as Humans—Should We?

Advances in neural implants and genetic engineering suggest that in the not-too-distant future we may be able to boost human intelligence. If that’s true, could we—and should we—bring our animal cousins along for the...

Low-Cost Soft Robot Muscles Can Lift 200 Times Their Weight and Self-Heal

Jerky mechanical robots are staples of science fiction, but to seamlessly integrate into everyday life they’ll need the precise yet powerful motor control of humans. Now scientists have created a new class of artificial...

There’s Healing Power in the Secret Electrical Language of Our Cells

Why can we heal a wound, but not grow back a severed limb? Michael Levin thinks the key lies in the secret electrical language our cells use to talk to one another, and he...

The Hidden Human Workforce Powering Machine Intelligence

The tech industry touts its ability to automate tasks and remove slow and expensive humans from the equation. But in the background, a lot of the legwork training machine learning systems, solving problems software...

Ultrafast 3D Printing Alternative Makes Complete 3D Objects in Seconds

3D printing allows engineers to custom build intricate structures impossible with traditional manufacturing, but the layer-by-layer approach can be slow and limits the shapes that can be built. A new technique can now fabricate...

These Bacteria Use New DNA Bases to Make a Protein Not Found in Nature

All of nature’s bewildering complexity can be reduced to a four letter code—DNA’s four bases: A, T, C, and G. But now scientists have shown the language at the heart of life is not...

Robotic Materials Will Distribute Intelligence All Over a Robot’s Body

The classical view of a robot as a mechanical body with a central “brain” that controls its behavior could soon be on its way out. The authors of a recent article in Science Robotics...
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9 Robot Animals Built From Nature’s Best-Kept Secrets

Millions of years of evolution have allowed animals to develop some elegant and highly efficient solutions to problems like locomotion, flight, and dexterity. As Boston Dynamics unveils its latest mechanical animals, here’s a rundown...

8 Ways AI Will Transform Our Cities by 2030

How will AI shape the average North American city by 2030? A panel of experts assembled as part of a century-long study into the impact of AI thinks its effects will be profound. The One...

Scientists Call Out Ethical Concerns for the Future of Neurotechnology

For some die-hard tech evangelists, using neural interfaces to merge with AI is the inevitable next step in humankind's evolution. But a group of 27 neuroscientists, ethicists, and machine learning experts have highlighted the...

New Plasmonic Device to Help the Internet Keep Growing and Getting Faster

The volume of data shuttled around the internet is growing unchecked, placing ever greater burdens on our communication infrastructure. But a new device that takes advantage of the unusual properties of plasmons could tackle...

IBM Just Simulated the Biggest Quantum Computer to Date—What That Means for the Field

Google was in poll position to win the race for quantum supremacy, the point at which a quantum computer can do things a conventional one can't. But IBM seems to have pulled the rug...

The Huge Promise of Transparent Solar Cells—Turning the World’s Glass Surfaces Into Solar Panels

Sunlight is everywhere, but so far our efforts to harvest its energy have been restricted to solar farms and rooftop panels. A new analysis shows that transparent solar technologies that can be applied to...

DeepMind’s New AI Taught Itself to Be the World’s Greatest Go Player

The AlphaGo AI that grabbed headlines last year after beating a master of the board game Go has just been trounced 100-0 by an updated version. And unlike its predecessor, the new system taught...

AI Is Easy to Fool—Why That Needs to Change

Con artistry is one of the world’s oldest and most innovative professions, and it may soon have a new target. Research suggests artificial intelligence may be uniquely susceptible to tricksters, and as its influence...

New Photonic Synapses Mimic the Brain and Compute With Light

Computing with light and designing brain-inspired hardware are at the experimental fringes of technology research. But they both come with potentially enormous advantages, so a group of scientists has decided to combine them. Neuromorphic computing...

Intel Jumps Into Brain-Like Computing With New Self-Learning Chip

The brain has long inspired the design of computers and their software. Now Intel has become the latest tech company to decide that mimicking the brain’s hardware could be the next stage in the...

What It Will Take for Quantum Computers to Turbocharge Machine Learning

Quantum computers could give the machine learning algorithms at the heart of modern artificial intelligence a dramatic speed up, but how far off are we? An international group of researchers has outlined the barriers...

Machines Are Getting Smarter—Now They Should Explain Themselves

Neural networks’ powers of prediction have fueled the recent AI boom, but it can be hard to explain how they reach their decisions. A new technique aimed at uncovering the inner workings of language...

Controversial Study Predicts What People Look Like From Their DNA

As the cost of sequencing DNA goes down more and more, people's genome data is being collected for research and personalized medicine. This data is often anonymized by decoupling it from other identifying information,...

This Free Online Tool Helps Strip the Jargon Out of Science Writing

Science and technology have a profound impact on everyone’s life, but the dense jargon experts use to talk about them make it hard for laypeople to get a grip on these fields. Now a...

To Design the Perfect Drone, Follow Nature’s Lead

Nature has found some elegant solutions to complicated problems and engineers have long been inspired by its designs. But Adrian Thomas thinks translating the best of nature’s discoveries into man-made devices requires the ability...

When Will AI Be Better Than Humans at Everything? 352 AI Experts Answer

Predictions of when machines will make us obsolete seem to come either from AI evangelists or doom-mongers with little practical experience of the field. Now though, researchers have carried out the largest-ever survey of...

A Living Hard Drive: This GIF Was Stored in the DNA of Bacteria

DNA is a hugely promising medium for storing data. Consider that a cell nucleus can hold the instructions for an organism as complex as a human. So far efforts to store non-genetic data in...

Should Self-Driving Cars Make Ethical Decisions Like We Do?

An enduring problem with self-driving cars has been how to program them to make ethical decisions in unavoidable crashes. A new study has found it’s actually surprisingly easy to model how humans make them,...

Forget Flying Cars, the Future Is Driving Drones

Flying car concepts have been around nearly as long as their earthbound cousins, but no one has yet made them a commercial success. MIT engineers think we've been coming at the problem from the...

Is the Brain Augmentation Hype Justified? Here’s an Expert’s Take

Despite bold predictions from several tech firms about the future of neural interfaces, the science of brain augmentation is still in the early days. So, what do academics think of all the hype coming...

Deep Learning at the Speed of Light on Nanophotonic Chips

Deep learning has transformed the field of artificial intelligence, but the limitations of conventional computer hardware are already hindering progress. Researchers at MIT think their new “nanophotonic” processor could be the answer by carrying...

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