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Jason Dorrier

Jason Dorrier

Jason is managing editor of Singularity Hub. He did research and wrote about finance and economics before moving on to science, technology, and the future. He is curious about pretty much everything, and sad he'll only ever know a tiny fraction of it all.

From This Author


Musk Tests Oculus Rift, Leap Motion Controller to Design 3D Printed Rocket Parts

It’s been said Iron Man’s Tony Stark (the movie version) was modeled after Elon Musk. Apparently, the admiration's mutual. Musk is now modeling his space exploration firm, SpaceX, after Iron Man. Or Minority Report. Or name the sci-fi film or show with gesture-based 3D computer systems. (There are more.)

Will Peek’s Mobile Eye Exam System Take a Bite Out of Developing World Blindness?

Mobile computing and miniaturized sensors are threatening to transform medicine. Peek, a mobile eye exam system, is a great example of the power of mobile. In tandem with a phone camera, flash, and external clip on device (?), Peek can perform simple vision tests, check for cataracts, and even scan the retina for disease.

Sarah Murnaghan’s Two Double Lung Transplants Inspiring and Sobering

Sarah Murnaghan just turned eleven years old. She wouldn’t be here but for two lung donors, a crack team of surgeons, and a last-minute suspension of the rules.

The More Participants Used Facebook in a Michigan Study, the Worse They Felt

Social networking makes it easier than ever to compare yourself with others—but forget about vanity. It’s not uncommon to hear Facebookers complain many of their social contacts appear to be living vastly more interesting and fulfilling lives than they are. So, has social networking created a billion bitter Facebookers? A team of University of Michigan researchers decided to move past the anecdotal and apply the scientific method to this bit of common wisdom.

MakerBot’s New Desktop 3D Scanner Ships in October

The new MakerBot Digitizer—a $1,400 desktop 3D scanner that ships in October—can make a digital copy of real objects. The new digital model will be a standard file type that you can print, share, or manipulate. The Digitizer scans objects on a turntable and constructs a digital 3D model using a camera and two lasers. The 3D model is watertight (i.e., no digital holes), within 2 mm the size of the original object, and captures detail down to 0.5 mm.

Turkish Scientists Genetically Modify Bunnies to Glow Green

Two bunnies were recently born glowing green. They’re not radioactive—they carry jellyfish genes. If you’ve never read about animals genetically modified to glow, this may sound bizarre, edgy, sci-fi. It’s not. Scientists have been genetically programming animals to glow for years. The story here is that genetically modified glowing organisms aren’t news. That’s amazing.

Bezos-Backed 10,000 Year Clock Site Preparation and Fabrication Underway

If you were worth a million dollars, you might buy a fine watch. Rolex, Breitling, Seiko, this watch might run a couple thousand dollars. If you’re Jeff Bezos, you fund a 200-foot clock inside a mountain, engineered to withstand Armageddon and tick for 10,000 years. Bezos, the man behind Amazon and the new owner of the Washington Post, is worth a cool $25.2 billion, and he’s contributed $42 million to the Long Now Foundation’s 10,000 Year Clock project. That sounds like a lot of money, but to scale, it’s akin to our millionaire buying a single Rolex. No big deal for a Bezos.

Korean Road Wirelessly Charges New Electric Buses

Electric vehicles still have limited range, expensive batteries, and few charging stations. While mainstream manufacturers seek to improve battery tech, the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) has a different idea. Who needs big batteries and stations when the road itself can charge vehicles? In July, two new buses began public service in the South Korean city, Gumi. The buses, or online electric vehicles (OLEVs), travel a road like a wireless cellphone charging mat—only, this particular mat is 7.5 miles long and cost $4 million to build.

Americans Polled on Radical Life Extension—56% Wouldn’t Undergo Treatments to Live Longer

Printed in bold, no-nonsense lettering across the cover, a recent issue of National Geographic proclaimed, “This Baby Will Live to Be 120.” No question mark. The notion that impending medical discoveries may add years to our lives, with wits and vitality largely intact, is gaining credence and mainstream attention. But if research delivers radical life extension, would humans undergo medical treatments to attain it? In a Pew Research poll, 56% of those surveyed said no. For a culture obsessed with youth, that's an interesting result.

Musk: To be a Multi-Planetary Species, We Need To Develop Reusable Rockets

To be a multi-planetary species, Musk believes we have to develop fully reusable rockets. If every rocket launched 1,000 times, instead of just once, capital costs would plummet from $50 million to $50,000 per launch (not counting operational expenses) and could drive per pound launch costs down 100-fold.

Musk Estimates Hyperloop Could Shoot Travelers from SF to LA at 760 Miles Per Hour

Elon Musk has long been hinting about a high-speed form of transportation enigmatically named the Hyperloop. Earlier this summer, he promised to reveal his Hyperloop plans in August. After a round of media hype and an all-nighter, Musk recently posted the 57-page Hyperloop Alpha plan online.

DARPA, IBM Neurosynaptic Chip and Programming Language Mimic the Brain

Engineering is often inspired by nature—the hooks in velcro or dermal denticles in sharkskin swimsuits. Then there’s Darpa’s SyNAPSE, a collaboration of researchers at IBM, XX, and XX universities. Not content with current computer architecture, SyNAPSE takes its cues from the human brain.

‘Doom’ Developer John Carmack Joins Oculus to Take Virtual Reality Mainstream

Over the last year, the Oculus Rift, a virtual reality headset, has flown from duct-taped prototype to massively anticipated gaming system. The firm has raised $2.4 million in a Kickstarter, oversubscribed ten to one, and $16 million in venture capital. They've got the funds, a working prototype—and if they didn't have enough talent before, they most certainly do now. The firm recently announced John Carmack will join up as Chief Technology Officer. For those who’ve followed Carmack’s career and are itching to get their hands on a consumer-ready Rift—that’s huge news.

Researchers ‘Paint’ A Copy of the Mona Lisa 1/3 the Width of a Human Hair

Georgia Tech researchers recently unveiled a reproduction of Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa that would likely make the Renaissance master’s jaw drop. At just 30 microns across, the image is 100,000 times smaller than the real thing—or roughly 1/3rd the width of a human hair.

Panel Tastes Lab-Grown Burger Made of Cultured Beef and Backed by Sergey Brin

“If you were a hotdog, would ya eat yourself?” That’s Will Ferrell as Harry Caray contemplating some of life’s deeper ethical questions. Here’s another more realistic one, “If your ballpark burger were grown in a petri dish, would you eat it?” A food writer, a food researcher, and a scientist attempted to answer that question Monday when they tasted a lab-made burger at a press event in London. The burger itself was grown in about three months, but the technology behind it took $XX and about five years to develop.

More Common Overseas, Automated Parking Garages Are Popping Up in the US

There’s a new perk in high-end apartment buildings—fully robotic parking lots. No more careless valet dinging the Rolls at 1706 Rittenhouse, Philadelphia. Tenants pull their car onto a lift and the system takes it from there. When a tenant wants to leave, they swipe a special fob, and the system locates and retrieves their car.

Crabster Robot to Walk Along the Ocean Floor, Investigate Shipwrecks

As six-legged robots go, other than its nifty red and yellow paint job, the Crabster robot has a pretty standard look, not unlike the impressive two-ton Mantis. While the Crabster isn’t two tons and lacks a cockpit for a human operator, it will boldly go where no other six-legged robot has gone before—the seafloor.

Leap Motion “Minority Report” Controller Ships, First Reviews a Mixed Bag

Remember watching Tony Stark design his Iron Man suit with a few flicks of his hands, rearranging digital parts and pieces projected in midair? It’ll be like that. Or even better, it’ll be like Tom Cruise in Minority Report. The air was thick with pop sci-fi references as folks awaited the touchless Leap controller over the last year, and we were (are) right there in the thick of it. (And I suppose we just added another one. Shoot.) After a few delays, the Leap was finally released in July, and you can almost feel the air being let out of the balloon. It was probably inevitable. The bar was set pretty high by the press and Leap alike. But we might add, a little deflation doesn’t invalidate the surge of interest the concept kicked up. People love this idea.

Is Cisco’s Forecast of 50 Billion Internet-Connected Things by 2020 Too Conservative?

As a tech memes go, the Internet of Things is getting a bit long in tooth. The idea of internet-connected smart stuff has been heralded for years now. But where exactly are we in the quest to connect all things? Networking titan Cisco decided to put a number on it.

Lab Grown Retinal Cells Implanted Into Blind Mice – And They Work

What if we could reverse degenerative forms of blindness with but an injection of new cells? Stem cell therapies—still promising, if not particularly speedy—may someday do just that. A recent paper in the journal Nature Biotechnology documents the successful implantation of photoreceptor cells, grown from embryonic stem cells, into the retinas of night-blind mice. The cells not only took root, but they remained present six weeks after implantation and formed the necessary neural connections to communicate visual data to the brain.

Canvas, Camera, Brush, and Algorithms Enable Robot Artist’s Beautiful Paintings

If there were a Turing test for artificial creativity (AC)—e-David might well be on its way to passing. The robotic system, created by researchers at the University of Konstantz in Germany, employs a variety of styles to produce paintings remarkably similar to their human counterparts.

DARPA’s Brain-controlled Prosthetic Arm and a Bionic Hand That Can Touch

The US Department of Defense has a good reason to fund research in advanced bionic limbs—in fact, it has a couple thousand good reasons. In the last thirteen years, 2,000 men and women have lost a limb in military service. And of course, military amputees aren’t the only amputees. Far from it.

Hype Builds Before Elon Musk’s August Alpha Plan for SF to LA Hyperloop

Elon Musk, the billionaire tech mogul behind PayPal, Tesla Motors, and SpaceX, the entrepreneur who wants to colonize Mars with a vertically landing, reusable rocket—that guy—recently announced he’s been busy thinking about a pneumatic tube for people called the Hyperloop. In a recent post on Twitter, Musk said he’ll publish the “Hyperloop alpha design by Aug 12."

Robot Fighter Jet X-47B Autonomously Lands on Aircraft Carrier

The Navy’s newest fighter is a high-tech batwing the size of an F/A 18 Super Hornet. The stealthy X-47B can carry 4,500 pounds of weapons at half mach speed, up to 40,000 feet, and over 2,400 miles. The aircraft lacks but one thing. A cockpit. The X-47B is a next-generation military drone. Unlike previous military drones, the X-47B is completely autonomous. And we’re not just talking the ability to fly simple missions from one airstrip to another. Recently, the X-47B landed on an aircraft carrier by algorithm alone. That’s something only elite fighter pilots have been able to do until now.

Two Boston Patients Free of HIV After Bone-Marrow Transplant

In June, at the 2013 International AIDS Society conference, medical researchers made an extraordinary announcement. Two HIV positive cancer patients are HIV-free after undergoing bone marrow transplants. The patients have been off anti-retroviral drugs for seven weeks and fifteen weeks respectively, but doctors are, as yet, hesitant to call them cured. The virus may yet reemerge at a later date.

Solar Powered Aircraft Flies From SF to NYC Under Solar Power (With a Few Pitstops)

A manned solar-powered plane, dubbed Solar Impulse, recently touched down at New York’s JFK after flying the final leg of its journey across the US. The trip, a decade in the making, was itself but another step on the Solar Impulse team’s quest to fly around the world on solar power alone.

Golf Robot Chips Balls Into Washing Machines, Talks Smack to Rory McIlroy

Is there anything humans can do that robots can't? First it was factory jobs, then chess, call centers, Jeopardy--and now, golf. In an ad for the European PGA Tour, professional golfer, Rory McIlroy, goes head to head with a golf robot to see who can chip more balls into washing machines down range. The bot shows off an flawlessly repeating swing, effortlessly knocks balls into machines, and talks trash like a pro. (Of course, McIlroy doesn't do too shabby himself. This is an ad for humans after all.)

Kickstarter Project to Send Thousands of Personal Spacecraft to the Moon

NASA's twin Voyager spacecraft famously carry a pair of golden records encoded with images and sounds from Earth. Now, a new project hopes to similarly send discs to space. Only these discs are slightly more advanced. In fact, they’re spacecraft in their own right; thousands will fit into a CubeSat; and each one carries "computing power comparable to that of the Voyager spacecraft and Apollo flight computers."

Realeyes Emotion Detection Software Knows How You’re Feeling About Their Clients’ Ads

While some firms are using computer vision to empower factory robots, others are turning digital eyes on you and me to perfect the art of advertising, and an increasingly data-hungry ad industry is buying in. One of the latest to jump onboard, AOL’s content subsidiary, Be On, recently announced a partnership with Realeyes, a provider of face and emotion detection software.

How Serious Is Virtual Reality Headset Oculus Rift? $16 Million ‘Series A’ Serious

A year and a half ago virtual reality was yet an elusive technodream. It may still be, even today. But the Oculus Rift, VR’s latest great hope, is winning over developers and newbies alike, accruing accolades, awards—and now cold cash.

China’s Tianhe-2 Doubles World’s Top Supercomputing Speed Two Years Ahead Of Schedule

The name of China’s newest supercomputer, Tianhe-2, translates to Milky Way 2. It’s a fitting moniker, maybe even a modest one. There are an estimated 400 billion stars in our galaxy. The Tianhe-2 can run a million times as many calculations per second as there are stars in the Milky Way. Tianhe-2 is now the fastest computer on Earth, doubling the speed of its American rival, Titan—and it arrived two years ahead of schedule. Moore’s Law may not apply to chips anymore, but thanks to improving interconnects, evolving architecture, and ingenious software to exploit massively parallel processing, elite computing continues along an exponential trajectory.

Cyber-AJ Treats His Tremors With Targeted Electrical Shock to the Brain

Andrew Johnson, or Cyber-AJ, is one of the 10 million people suffering from Parkinson’s Disease (PD) worldwide. The disease is progressive, and it is devastating. Johnson recently described himself as a “39 year old trapped in a 89 year old body.” But earlier this year, his life was transformed by a technique increasingly prescribed to a subset of PD patients called deep brain stimulation (DBS).

PIP Biosensor Measures Stress and Gamifies the Art of Conscious Relaxation

Most of us know when we’re stressed. Physical cues like stomach butterflies, a flushed face, or muscle tension are hard to miss. Problem is, said symptoms can be very difficult to control. Once going—these things tend to snowball. The PIP biosensor Kickstarter aims to help folks mediate stress by objectively measuring symptoms, digitally visualizing the results, and then gamifying stress reduction. It’s the latest in an avalanche of sensors aiming to increase body awareness and health.

Cheetah-cub Robot Mimics the Real Thing, Stable Even at Top Speeds

Remember watching Boston Dynamics’ cheetah robot outrun Usain Bolt? Meet its little cousin, Cheetah-cub, built by EPFL’s Biorobotics Laboratory (Biorob). Being just a cub, it’s no Usain Bolt, but Biorob believes it’s the fastest robot of its kind.

Google Shares Details of Futuristic New Office Park at NASA

It’s no secret Google’s building a high-tech portfolio beyond search, from self-driving cars to artificial intelligence. Out of the limelight, however, they’re building something else entirely—a new campus at NASA Moffett Field. Though the firm has been rather secretive about their new Bayview campus, a panel of designers and architects in involved in the project recently gave a talk at NASA, a stone’s throw from Singularity University. Down for the afternoon, I popped in to hear the gospel.

Tiny CubeSat Satellites Spur Revolution In Space

Ever dream of seeing the horizon’s curve from orbit? Or maybe just sending your smartphone into the wild blue to snap a shot for Instagram? For most of us, that first one may be out of reach for a little while longer—but option two? Closer than you think. Thanks to years of microchip and sensor miniaturization, we are now making useful satellites shockingly tiny and affordable.

Will iRobot and Cisco’s New Robot Take a Bite Out of Business Travel?

If Cisco and iRobot have their way, robot CEOs may invade boardrooms from Tokyo to New York to London in 2014. iRobot and Cisco recently announced collaboration on the autonomous Ava 500 telepresence robot for business. The firms hope the Ava 500 will allow business people to attend daily meetings in person, across the planet—without ever changing a plane or time zone.

Amazon Jumps into 3D Printing With Online Shop

Last month, the office supply chain, Staples, joined the world of 3D printing. Adding to the momentum? Amazon is in too. Or at least that’s the story.vThe online retailer launched a new department offering 3D printers ($1,099 and up), 3D printing filament, parts and accessories (for those building their own machine), 3D printing books, and software, like CAD, to make 3D models.

US Supreme Court Says Synthetic Genes Are Patentable, Naturally Occurring Genes Are Not

Technology has always ridden far out ahead of the laws that govern it. As the pace accelerates, that gap may widen. The US Patent Office issued the first patent on a gene thirty years ago. Tens of thousands of patents later and amid growing uncertainty about the patentability of genes, the issue was heard by the US Supreme Court earlier this year. On June 13th, the court ruled against biotech firm, Myriad, saying the company may not patent isolation of naturally ocurring genes. However, the court upheld patents of synthetically created genes, known as complementary DNA or cDNA.

Two Bit Circus Kickstarts Traveling Carnival of Robots, Fire, and Lasers

Two Bit Circus is producing the STEAM Carnival, a hands-on event featuring “robots, fire, and lasers to inspire young inventors in science, technology, engineering, art, and math.” Doesn’t that sound lovely?

Study Finds Random Electrical Current May Help Folks Learn Math

Mathemati-phobes rejoice. If a new study is right, you may one day get to swap coffee and cramming for a trusty set of head-mounted electrodes. According to a team of researchers, hailing from the UK and Austria, non-invasive electrical brain stimulation may improve math skills.

Jason Silva Discusses the Singularity in His New Web Series ‘Shots of Awe’

My favorite thing about Jason Silva? His ability to formulate, encapsulate, and prescribe, over the counter, the awe this particular epoch of human evolution can and should engender. Whatever pills he’s taking, I want some. A close second? His t-shirts. Check out his backlog here to see cosmological creation on cotton crewnecks.

AI Startup Anki Debuts At WWDC, Wows With Impressive Tech, $50 Million In Funding

You’ve probably never heard of Anki. Before this article, I’d never heard of Anki either. Nevertheless, the robotics and artificial intelligence startup took pole position at Apple's 2013 Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) keynote address—an event that sold out in less than a minute, was staged in front of a couple thousand journalists and developers, and was broadcast live to thousands more online. It’s the kind of exposure new companies dream about.

Oslo Burns So Much Trash for Energy They’re Importing Rubbish

The US throws out 250 million tons of garbage a year. Roughly a third is recycled, and the rest is landfill. You might think that’s a problem, but one man’s trash is another’s treasure. Oslo, Norway burns rubbish to power and heat homes, and they’ve run out. The city imports trash from Sweden, Ireland, England—and they wouldn’t mind taking on a few tons from the US.

‘Anti-Gravity’ 3D Printer Uses Strands to Sculpt Shapes on Any Surface

3D printers build objects by cross-section, one layer at a time from the ground up—gravity is the limiting factor. But what if it wasn’t? Using proprietary 3D printing materials, Petr Novikov and Saša Jokić’s Mataerial 3D printing system is gravity independent. The duo’s method allows a robotic arm to print objects on floors, walls, ceilings—smooth and uneven surfaces.

You’ll Be Able to Buy a 3D Printer at Staples by the End of June

Though industrial firms have used additive technologies in rapid prototyping for years, the tech is still fresh and growing in the consumer segment. The latest sign of the 3D printer home invasion? Retail office supply chain, Staples, says they’ll sell the 3D Systems Cube 3D Printer online and in retail stores by the end of June.

What’s in the Cube? Mystery Revealed, Prize Awarded to Young Man From Scotland

Bryan Henderson hails from Edinburgh Scotland. He’s 18 years old and recently became a god. Henderson won the collaborative, cube-destroying game Curiosity—What’s Inside the Cube, and he’s reportedly still a bit baffled as to how it happened.

Google Buys Quantum Computer for Artificial Intelligence Lab at NASA

To some of us, wicked fast quantum computers seem like the stuff of theory and some far off future. Not so if you work at Google or NASA. In a sign the technology is creeping closer to practical use, Google, NASA, and the non-profit Universities Space Research Association (USRA) recently announced formation of the Quantum Artificial Intelligence Lab and seeded it with a brand new D-Wave quantum computer.

Chinese Firm Gains Approval, Hype to Raise World’s Tallest Building in Only 90 Days

China has ten cities bigger than New York. Almost half of the world’s 20 tallest skyscrapers under construction today are in China. Naturally, China’s builders are chomping at the bit to get things done, like yesterday. But no one can erect the biggest skyscraper on the planet in three months…right? We may find out later this year. Broad Sustainable Building (BSB) says its Sky City scraper will hold the title by the end of 2013—and they haven’t even broken ground.

Oculus Rift Is Breathing New Life Into the Dream of Virtual Reality

Palmer Luckey wasn’t exactly a household name this time last year. He’s a young guy from Long Beach, California, smart as a whip, and obsessed with virtual reality. After building a massive collection of the day’s top virtual reality tech, he realized nothing came close to the experience he wanted. So, he decided to build it himself. Say hello to the Oculus Rift, the virtual reality headset causing quite a stir in the tech and gaming communities.

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