futurism
Why Banning Killer AI Is Easier Said Than Done

As we head deeper into the 21st century, the prospect of getting robots to do the dirty business of killing gets closer with each passing day. In Max Tegmark’s new book, Life 3.0: Being Human in the Age of Artificial Intelligence, the MIT physicist and founder of the Future of Life Institute contemplates this seemingly sci-fi possibility, weighing the potential benefits of autonomous machines in warfare with the tremendous risks. The ultimate challenge, he says, will be convincing world powers to pass on this game-changing technology. Read More >>

science
How Scientifically Plausible Is the ‘Simian Flu’ in Planet of the Apes?

The Planet of the Apes prequels did much to explain how humans lost their status as the dominant species on the planet—a cataclysmic set of events fueled by a global pandemic known as the “Simian Flu.” This virus, the product of a medical experiment gone horribly wrong, wiped out the vast majority of humans, but it boosted the brains of apes. And in the latest installment of the franchise, the virus has mutated into an insidious new form, affecting humans in some disturbing new ways. That’s a lot for a single virus to do, prompting the inevitable question: How feasible is the Simian Flu from a scientific perspective? Read More >>

robotics
Incredible Self-Folding Robots Work Without Batteries or Wires

Inspired by the traditional Japanese art of origami, self-folding robots can go places and do things traditional robots cannot. A major drawback to these devices, however, has been the need to equip them with batteries or wires. Researchers from Harvard have found a new way to overcome this problem, by designing folding robots that can be controlled using a wireless magnetic field. Read More >>

science
This Controversial Doctor Wants to Use ‘Three-Parent’ Embryos to Treat Infertility

Last autumn, John Zhang made headlines after his fertility clinic announced that for the first time a baby had been born using a new technique requiring three genetic parents. The baby’s mother carried the genes for a fatal nervous system disorder called Leigh syndrome, but Zhang had been able to keep the disease from being inherited by her son by swapping in a donor’s mitochondrial DNA, the teeny bit of DNA where Leigh syndrome is housed. Since the technique is illegal in the US, the baby had been born in Mexico, where, as Zhang explained in a comment he might live to regret, “there are no rules.” Read More >>

robots
This Artificially Intelligent Robot Composes and Performs Its Own Music

Shimon — a four-armed marimba playing robot — has been around for years, but its developers at Georgia Tech have recently taken this futuristic musical machine to the next level. Using deep learning, the robot can now study large datasets from well-known musicians, and then produce and perform its own original compositions. Read More >>

ai
Microsoft’s AI Just Shattered the Ms. Pac-Man High Score

According to Twin Galaxies, the official high score for the arcade version of Ms. Pac-Man belongs to Abdner Ashman, with 933,580 points. Or at least it did, before an artificial intelligence developed by Microsoft achieved the maximum possible score for the game, 999,990. Read More >>

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These Freaky Robots Were Built From Drinking Straws and Inspired by Spiders

Emulating spiders and bugs, and using drinking straws as basic building blocks, a research team from Harvard University has developed a type of semi-soft robot capable of standing, walking, and even striding across a liquid surface. Say hello to the “arthrobots.” Read More >>

artificial intelligence
Would You Feel Safer If Your Self-Driving Car Could Explain Itself?

With each passing breakthrough in artificial intelligence, we’re asking our machines to make increasingly complex and weighty decisions. Trouble is, AIs are starting to act beyond our levels of comprehension. In high frequency stock trading, for example, this had led to so-called flash crashes, in which algorithms make lightning-quick decisions for reasons we can’t quite grasp. In an effort to bridge the growing gap between man and machine, the Pentagon is launching a new program to create machines that can explain their actions in a way we puny humans can understand. Read More >>

futurism
When Will Robots Deserve Human Rights?

Films and TV shows like Blade Runner, Humans, and Westworld, where highly advanced robots have no rights, trouble our conscience. They show us that our behaviours are not just harmful to robots—they also demean and diminish us as a species. We like to think we’re better than the characters on the screen, and that when the time comes, we’ll do the right thing, and treat our intelligent machines with a little more dignity and respect. Read More >>

science
If You Could Only Die in Sudden Accidents, How Long Would You Live?

Imagine a world in which the only possible way to die was through a sudden accident, such as a car crash, falling down the stairs, or getting struck by lighting. How long could we expect to live in such a world? According to an eye-opening simulation, a very, very, long time, indeed. Read More >>

science
This Tricorder-Like Device Can Tell if Your Brain Is Bleeding

Following a head injury, patients typically undergo a CT scan to rule out brain bleeding. A new head worn device that scans the brain’s electrical patterns has shown tremendous promise in clinical trials, presenting an inexpensive way for physicians to make a potentially life-saving diagnosis. Read More >>

science
Elon Musk Is Wrong to Think He Can Save the World By Boosting Our Brains

Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk has announced a new venture called Neuralink, a startup which aims to develop neural interface technologies that connect our brains to computers. Musk says it’s the best way to prevent an AI apocalypse, but it’s on this point that he’s gravely mistaken. Read More >>

science
Robots Are Already Replacing Human Workers at an Alarming Rate

We all know, or at least suspect, that robots are taking people’s jobs, but new research shows the dramatic degree to which industrial robots are replacing human workers and forcing down wages. Read More >>

artificial intelligence
These 23 Principles Could Help Us Avoid an AI Apocalypse

Science fiction author Isaac Asimov famously predicted that we’ll one day have to program robots with a set of laws that protect us from our mechanical creations. But before we get there, we need rules to ensure that, at the most fundamental level, we’re developing AI responsibly and safely. At a recent gathering, a group of experts did just that, coming up with 23 principles to steer the development of AI in a positive direction—and to ensure it doesn’t destroy us. Read More >>

robots
10 Incredible Robots That Are Inspiring Us to Build the First Artificial Human

We’re not yet capable of building humanoid robots that are indistinguishable from biological humans, but that doesn’t mean we’re not trying. Here are 10 real robots that are helping us achieve this futuristic milestone. Read More >>