Elon Musk unveils Neuralink’s plans for brain-reading ‘threads’ and a robot to insert them

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Not for humans yet

The proposed future technology Neuralink intends to make, a module that sits outside the head and wirelessly receives information from threads embedded in the brain. Photo: Neuralink

Elon Musk’s Neuralink, the secretive company developing brain-machine interfaces, showed off some of the technology it has been developing to the public for the first time. The goal is to eventually begin implanting devices in paralyzed humans, allowing them to control phones or computers.

The first big advance is flexible “threads,” which are less likely to damage the brain than the materials currently used in brain-machine interfaces. These threads also create the possibility of transferring a higher volume of data, according to a white paper credited to “Elon Musk & Neuralink.” The abstract notes that the system could include “as many as 3,072 electrodes per array distributed across 96 threads.”

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South Korean tech breakthrough could change biofuels forever

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Researchers in South Korea have made a major breakthrough in using bacteria to sustainably and efficiently produce biofuels. The team of scientists from the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) report that they have developed a new kind of engineered microorganisms that are capable of producing greater volumes of the fatty acids that make up biodiesel than ever before.

A team of researchers from KAIST released a study detailing their discovery last month in the scientific journal Nature Chemical Biology. The paper, titled “Engineering of an oleaginous bacterium for the production of fatty acids and fuels” details the development of these record-breaking microorganisms which could prove to be a key breakthrough in the effort to develop sustainable, bio-based energy sources to replace dirtier, finite fossil fuels.

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New mind-controlled robot arm first to work without brain implant

 

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Just strap on the EEG cap and start thinking.

If you want to control a robot with your mind — and really, who doesn’t? — you currently have two options.

You can get a brain implant, in which case your control over the robot will be smooth and continuous. Or you can skip the risky, expensive surgery in favor of a device that senses your brainwaves from outside your skull — but your control over the bot will be jerky and not nearly as precise.

Now, a team from Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) is narrowing the gap between those two options, creating the first noninvasive mind-controlled robot arm that exhibits the kind of smooth, continuous motion previously reserved only for systems involving brain implants — putting us one step closer to a future in which we can all use our minds to control the tech around us.

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The Pentagon has a laser that can identify people from a distance—by their heartbeat

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The Jetson prototype can pick up on a unique cardiac signature from 200 meters away, even through clothes.

Everyone’s heart is different. Like the iris or fingerprint, our unique cardiac signature can be used as a way to tell us apart. Crucially, it can be done from a distance.

It’s that last point that has intrigued US Special Forces. Other long-range biometric techniques include gait analysis, which identifies someone by the way he or she walks. This method was supposedly used to identify an infamous ISIS terrorist before a drone strike. But gaits, like faces, are not necessarily distinctive. An individual’s cardiac signature is unique, though, and unlike faces or gait, it remains constant and cannot be altered or disguised.

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Scientists created bacteria with a synthetic genome. Is this artificial life?

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A colored scanning electron micrograph of the bacteria E. coli. Scientists in Britain created bacteria with “recoded” DNA.

In a milestone for synthetic biology, colonies of E. coli thrive with DNA constructed from scratch by humans, not nature.

Scientists have created a living organism whose DNA is entirely human-made — perhaps a new form of life, experts said, and a milestone in the field of synthetic biology.

Researchers at the Medical Research Council Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Britain reported on Wednesday that they had rewritten the DNA of the bacteria Escherichia coli, fashioning a synthetic genome four times larger and far more complex than any previously created.

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This DIY biohacker is under investigation

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Josiah Zayner rose to internet fame after performing various biohacking stunts on himself — including a livestreamed attempt to edit his own genes using CRISPR.

Those antics are coming to haunt Zayner. Now, the California Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) is investigating a “complaint of unlicensed practice of medicine” filed against him — a strange development that could have implications for the future of biohacking.

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New video shows 3D printed lung “breathing”

 

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First Breaths

Scientists just took a major step forward towards 3D printed organs — with a new lung-like system full of air sacs can expand and contract, filling the same biological role as our lungs do by pumping oxygen into blood.

Bioprinted organs could someday help people who are waiting and sometimes dying on the organ transplant waitlist. In research published in the journal Science last week, the team behind the new printing technique made a similar device and successfully grafted it into mice with injured livers.

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Should athletes be allowed to enhance their genes?

 

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So-called gene doping is banned in sports, but some philosophers argue that it’s the way of the future

Scientists first developed gene therapy techniques in the 1990s, exploring ways to treat disease by modifying malfunctioning cells. In 1997, a team at John Hopkins University edited genes to create what the media called “Schwarzenegger mice,” which had twice the normal amount of muscle.

The researchers’ goal was to develop treatments for muscle-wasting conditions, including old age, but the same technique could theoretically be used to add muscle bulk to athletes, a concept called gene doping. Doctors could, theoretically, inject cells with enhanced genes into the relevant body part or use a benign virus to deliver modified cells. These superhumans could be the elite athletes of the future — athletes who perform faster, higher, and stronger than any “natural” human ever could.

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Cause of cancer is written into DNA of tumors, scientists find, creating a ‘black box’ for origin of disease

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Cancer causes the genetic code of DNA to change and the alterations can now be read

The cause of cancer is written into the DNA of tumors, scientists have discovered, in a breakthrough which could finally show how much disease is attributable to factors like air pollution or pesticides.

Until now the roots of many cancers have proved elusive, with doctors unable to tease out the impact of a myriad of carcinogenic causes which people encounter everyday.

Even with lung cancer, it is not known just how much can be attributed to smoking and how much could be linked to other factors, such as living by a busy road, or inhaling pollutants at work.

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‘Smart’ pajamas could monitor and help improve sleep

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Ordinary-looking pajamas are transformed into “smart” ones with five strategically placed sensors that measure heartbeat, respiration and posture.

If you’ve ever dreamed about getting a good night’s sleep, your answer may someday lie in data generated by your sleepwear. Researchers have developed pajamas embedded with self-powered sensors that provide unobtrusive and continuous monitoring of heartbeat, breathing and sleep posture — all factors that play a role in how well a person slumbers.

If you’ve ever dreamed about getting a good night’s sleep, your answer may someday lie in data generated by your sleepwear. Researchers have developed pajamas embedded with self-powered sensors that provide unobtrusive and continuous monitoring of heartbeat, breathing and sleep posture — all factors that play a role in how well a person slumbers. The “smart” garments could give ordinary people, as well as clinicians, useful information to help improve sleep patterns.

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Pharma company hacks tequila bacteria to produce THC

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Farmako, a pharmaceutical cannabis company based in Frankfurt, Germany recently registered a patent for a gene-editing process that turns tequila bacteria into cannabinoids, Futurism reports.

The genetically modified bacterium is called Zymomonas cannabinoidis, a gene-edited version of Zymomonas mobilis, which is used to produce tequila. By feeding on sugar, the bacterium produces biosynthetic cannabinoids such as tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), and “more than 180 known cannabinoids,” according to a press release. The process could make producing cannabinoids “a thousand times cheaper,” Futurism reports.

As VinePair reported in February, several organizations are working to engineer more cost-effective ways to produce THC, CBD, and other cannabinoids. For example, scientists revealed a process in which turning a sugar found in brewers yeast can be converted into cannabinoid compounds.

Via Vinepair.com

 

Top 10 technology trends transforming Humanity beyond cyberspace, Geospace and Space

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Human interest in exploring the unknowns has always been universal and enduring. While, over the years, the nature of exploration has changed fundamentally, humans have always been keen to explore the unknown and discover new worlds: be it beyond our geographical boundaries, new trade routes, lands, or opportunities in cyberspace, geospace, and space (CGS). In pursuit of unknowns, it is our imagination, ideas, innovations, and inventions that are helping us push the boundaries of our exploration limits beyond CGS. It is the never-ending human drive that pushes us further to discover new worlds. Imagination has always been an indicator of human intelligence, and each new idea and innovation is helping us push the boundaries of human exploration further. Technology, which gives us the foundation on which we can define and design the human ecosystem beyond cyberspace, geospace, and space, is pushing these boundaries. Where would it take us in the coming years?

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