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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


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...

Neural Implant Tech Raises the Specter of Brainjacking

The human mind is already pretty open to manipulation—just ask anyone who works in advertising. But neural implant technology could potentially open up a direct digital link to our innermost thoughts that could be...

What Happens When Cyborg Tech Goes Beyond Medicine?

The age of the cyborg may be closer than we think. Rapidly improving medical robotics, wearables, and implants means many humans are already part machine, and this trend is only likely to continue. It is...

Google’s AI-Building AI Is a Step Toward Self-Improving AI

Reaching the technological singularity is almost certainly going to involve AI that is able to improve itself. Google may have now taken a small step along this path by creating AI that can build...

These Robots Can Teach Other Robots How to Do New Things

One advantage humans have over robots is that we’re good at quickly passing on our knowledge to each other. A new system developed at MIT now allows anyone to coach robots through simple tasks...

3D Printed Medical Implants That Fit the Body Perfectly Are on the Way

Bioprinting new organs and tissues could make transplants available and affordable for all, but is still decades away. In the meantime, scientists have re-purposed the technology to 3D print biocompatible high-precision silicone implants instead. Soft...

Quantum Computing Demands a Whole New Kind of Programmer

Quantum computers finally seem to be coming of age with promises of “quantum supremacy” by the end of the year. But there’s a problem—very few people know how to work them. The bold claim of achieving...

4 New Human Rights for When Our Brains Are Hooked Up to Computers

The human-machine mind meld is just around the corner if you believe the buzz coming out of Silicon Valley these days. But neuroethicists worry the technology poses a threat to the last bastion of...

Google Says Machine Learning Chips Make AI Faster and More Efficient

Google recently bared the inner workings of its dedicated machine learning chip, the TPU, marking the latest skirmish in the arms race for AI hardware supremacy. Shorthand for Tensor Processing Unit, the chip has been...

Gene Editing Might Change What Being Human Actually Means

Attempts to distill the essence of “selfhood” have occupied philosophers for centuries. Consensus has been fleeting at best, but is likely to get even harder as genetic tools allow us to tweak our bodies...

Canada Hopes to Energize Homegrown AI With Big New Investment

Much of the groundbreaking AI research of recent decades originated in Canada, but it’s largely Silicon Valley that’s brought it into the real world. Now Canada is looking to take back its lead with...

OpenAI Just Beat Google DeepMind at Atari With an Algorithm From the 80s

AI research has a long history of repurposing old ideas that have gone out of style. Now researchers at Elon Musk’s open source AI project have revisited “neuroevolution,” a field that has been around...

How to Feed 9.7 Billion People? CRISPR Gene Editing For Crops

It’s no secret that we’re going to struggle to feed the rapidly expanding global population. New genome editing technologies could hold the answer, according to scientists. The number of humans on this planet is expected...

The Weird World of Cyborg Animals Is Here

Roboticists frequently turn to nature for inspiration for their inventions, reverse engineering the traits that evolution has developed over millennia. Others are taking a shortcut by simply integrating modern technology with living animals. The idea...

How Fully Synthetic Complex Life Just Got a Lot Closer

From domestication to selective breeding and right up to DNA editing, humans have long sought to bend the genetic makeup of animals and plants to our needs. Now an international team has taken a...

4 Ways Scientists Hope Nanobots Will Make You Healthier

For most people the phrase “medical robot” probably brings to mind the ground-breaking da Vinci surgical system that has revolutionized minimally-invasive surgery. Either that or the 2-1B droid from Star Wars: the Empire Strikes...

This Neural Probe Is So Thin, The Brain Doesn’t Know It’s There

Wiring our brains up to computers could have a host of exciting applications – from controlling robotic prosthetics with our minds to restoring sight by feeding camera feeds directly into the vision center...

Our Health Data Can Save Lives, But We Have to Be Willing to Share

Organ donation has saved countless lives, but could donating our personal data have an even more transformative impact on healthcare? The potential impact of Big Data and machine learning on healthcare is only just beginning...

Physicists Unveil Blueprint for a Quantum Computer the Size of a Soccer Field

Quantum computers promise to crack some of the world’s most intractable problems by super-charging processing power. But the technical challenges involved in building these machines mean they’ve still achieved just a fraction of what...

Could Predictive Policing Lead to a Real-Life Minority Report?

Everyone knows prevention is better than a cure, and that’s as true for law enforcement as it is for medicine. But there’s little evidence that a growing trend towards “predictive policing” is the answer,...

The Ethics of Organoids: Scientists Weigh in on New Mini-Organs

Growing organs in the lab is an enduring sci-fi trope, but as stem cell technology brings it ever closer to reality, scientists are beginning to contemplate the ethics governing disembodied human tissue. So-called organoids have...

Designer Babies Dilemma in Sharp Focus With Fast Moving Fertility Tech

Moral panic around “designer babies” is nothing new, but rapid advances in technology that allows adult cells to be reprogrammed into sperm and egg cells could bring the issue into sharp focus. Since the 90s...

Cellular Reprogramming Rejuvenates Old Mice and Boosts Lifespans 30%

The quest for the fountain of youth is as ancient as humanity itself. Now, it appears scientists may have found the source. Using a process designed to “reprogram” normal adult cells into pluripotent stem cells—cells...

Post-Truth: Technology Is a Big Part of the Problem, But It’s Also a Solution

"Post-truth" was chosen as the 2016 word of the year by Oxford Dictionaries, a catch-all term describing a perception of growing distrust of “the facts” and increasing reliance on emotion in public discourse. It is frequently used...

The Octobot Is Just the Beginning for Soft Robotics

Roboticists have long turned to nature for inspiration, but their creations have generally been conspicuously un-lifelike. Now, breakthroughs in the design and manipulation of soft materials have allowed them to start replicating the remarkable...

Can Virtual Reality Sidestep the Paradox of Time Travel?

Most physicists agree that time travel into the past is impossible, but what if virtual reality (VR) could provide a workaround? Doron Friedman is the director of the Advanced Virtuality Lab (AVL) at the Interdisciplinary...

Evolution’s Brutally Simple Rules Can Make Machines More Creative

Despite nature’s bewildering complexity, the driving force behind it is incredibly simple. ‘Survival of the fittest’ is an uncomplicated but brutally effective optimization strategy that has allowed life to solve complex problems, like vision...

Quantum Computers Could Crush Today’s Top Encryption in 15 Years

Quantum computers could bring about a quantum leap in processing power, with countless benefits for fields like data science and AI. But there’s also a dark side: this extra power will make it simple...

Is Choosing Your Own Reality All It’s Cracked Up to Be?

As rapid improvements in virtual reality technology make it possible to create and live in worlds perfectly tailored to our needs, are humans nearing utopia? The idea of a VR utopia was introduced to the...

Battle of the Bots: How AI Is Taking Over the World of Cybersecurity

Google has built machine learning systems that can create their own cryptographic algorithms — the latest success for AI’s use in cybersecurity. But what are the implications of our digital security increasingly being handed...

The AI Conversation Has Exploded This Decade With Big Advances

Discussion of artificial intelligence has skyrocketed since the end of the last decade, according to a new analysis looking at public perception of the technology. The paper by Stanford computer science PhD Ethan Fast and...

8 Ways AI Will Profoundly Change City Life 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...

Hacking Our Senses Will Transform How We Experience the World

For millennia the human experience has been governed by five senses, but advances in neuroscience and technology may soon give us a far broader perspective. What counts as a sense in the first place is...

Is Evolution Over? Synthetic Biology Anticipates Nature’s Next Steps

Some biological processes are so central to life as we know it that it’s tempting to assume all the key innovations in biochemistry have already happened. Processes like photosynthesis and glycolysis have existed for millennia...

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