Engineers put tens of thousands of artificial brain synapses on a single chip

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A new MIT-fabricated “brain-on-a-chip” reprocessed an image of MIT’s Killian Court, including sharpening and blurring the image, more reliably than existing neuromorphic designs.

MIT engineers have designed a “brain-on-a-chip,” smaller than a piece of confetti, that is made from tens of thousands of artificial brain synapses known as memristors—silicon-based components that mimic the information-transmitting synapses in the human brain.

The researchers borrowed from principles of metallurgy to fabricate each memristor from alloys of silver and copper, along with silicon. When they ran the chip through several visual tasks, the chip was able to “remember” stored images and reproduce them many times over, in versions that were crisper and cleaner compared with existing memristor designs made with unalloyed elements.

Their results, published today in the journal Nature Nanotechnology, demonstrate a promising new memristor design for neuromorphic devices—electronics that are based on a new type of circuit that processes information in a way that mimics the brain’s neural architecture. Such brain-inspired circuits could be built into small, portable devices, and would carry out complex computational tasks that only today’s supercomputers can handle.

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Honeywell claims to have world’s highest performing quantum computer according to IBM’s benchmark

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The chamber housing the ion trap in Honeywell’s quantum computer system.

Honeywell said JP Morgan Chase and other customers are using its quantum computer in production, which it claims is the most powerful currently in use based on a benchmark established last year by IBM.

Industrial giant Honeywell on Thursday said it is now live with a quantum computer running client jobs that uses six effective quantum bits, or qubits, and a resulting “volume” of compute that it claims makes the system the most powerful quantum machine currently in production.

The announcement fulfills a vow the company made in March to offer a machine with a quantum volume of 64, as related on March 3rd by ZDNet’s Lawrence Dignan in a conversation with Honeywell’s head of quantum, Tony Uttley, who is president of the division Honeywell Quantum Solutions.

“In March we said within the next three months we’re going to be releasing the world’s highest-performing quantum computer, and so this is a case of Honeywell did what it said it was going to do,” Uttley told ZDNet in a telephone call.

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Eye, robot: Artificial intelligence dramatically improves accuracy of classic eye exam

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The classic eye exam may be about to get an upgrade. Researchers have developed an online vision test—fueled by artificial intelligence (AI)—that produces much more accurate diagnoses than the sheet of capital letters we’ve been staring at since the 19th century. If perfected, the test could also help patients with eye diseases track their vision at home.

“It’s an intriguing idea” that reveals just how antiquated the classic eye test is, says Laura Green, an ophthalmologist at the Krieger Eye Institute. Green was not involved with the work, but she studies ways to use technology to improve access to health care.

The classic eye exam, known as the Snellen chart, has been around since 1862. The farther down the sheet a person can read, the better their vision. The test is quick and easy to administer, but it has problems, says Chris Piech, a computer scientist at Stanford University. Patients start to guess at letters when they become blurry, he says, which means they can get different scores each time they take the test.

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New technology enables fast protein synthesis

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MIT chemists have developed a protocol to rapidly produce protein chains up to 164 amino acids long. The flow-based technology could speed up drug development and allow scientists to design novel protein variants incorporating amino acids that don’t occur naturally in cells. The automatic tabletop machine, pictured here, is nicknamed the “Amidator” by the research team. Credit: MIT

Many proteins are useful as drugs for disorders such as diabetes, cancer, and arthritis. Synthesizing artificial versions of these proteins is a time-consuming process that requires genetically engineering microbes or other cells to produce the desired protein.

MIT chemists have devised a protocol to dramatically reduce the amount of time required to generate synthetic proteins. Their tabletop automated flow synthesis machine can string together hundreds of amino acids, the building blocks of proteins, within hours. The researchers believe their new technology could speed up the manufacturing of on-demand therapies and the development of new drugs, and allow scientists to design artificial proteins by incorporating amino acids that don’t exist in cells.

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The US successfully tested a laser weapon that can destroy aircraft mid-flight

Hong Kong (CNN)A US Navy warship has successfully tested a new high-energy laser weapon that can destroy aircraft mid-flight, the Navy’s Pacific Fleet said in a statement Friday.

Images and videos provided by the Navy show the amphibious transport dock ship USS Portland executing “the first system-level implementation of a high-energy class solid-state laser” to disable an aerial drone aircraft, the statement said.

The images show the laser emanating from the deck of the warship. Short video clips show what appears to be the drone burning.

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New diving era : The hi-tech Aquabreather Hydroid for diving

This is the new Aquabreather Hydroid. Rebreather? No. Scuba diving? Yeah, but not the way you’ve ever seen it!

The Hydroid aquabreather was unveiled at the 2019 DEMA exhibition. This was without a doubt the one scuba diving product which generated the most buzz.

Part HALO, part NASA, part Darth Vader, the Hydroid Aquabreather uses proprietary canisters of a chemical mixture that gives off oxygen once popped. This is then cycled by your mask, and you will be able to dive to a depth of 42 metres. (138 feet) and stay underwater for 1 hour.

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Pulse eVTOL concept drops its cabin onto an autonomous car chassis

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The EmbraerX Pulse features a stylish glassed-over cabin that slots into both electric car and eVTOL bodies for seamless multi-mode end-to-end transport

Here’s one we missed from several months ago: Brazilian eVTOL innovator EmbraerX put forth a fun video showing how a multi-mode 3D transport system might work, with an eVTOL air taxi carrying a detachable glassed-over cabin that it delivers straight onto a self-driving car chassis.

The coming new breed of eVTOL air taxis are nearly all, at this stage, designed to work as part of a multi-mode transport scheme. The flying taxis themselves will travel from skyport to skyport, meaning you’ll need other means to get yourself to the takeoff point and something else again at the other end for the last mile. It’s simply not practical to expect eVTOLs to drop you off right at your destination.

Companies like Uber are salivating at the thought of being able to offer the whole service as a single sale, co-ordinating a car at each end to minimize travel time, but that starts looking like a bit of an annoyance when you consider the hope is that people will use these things for the daily commute. Four taxis and two eVTOLs every day is a pain.

And so we get this concept from Embraer’s flying taxi division EmbraerX. The Pulse system has a single, shared, glassed-over luxury cabin that can click into an eVTOL airframe or clip onto a skateboard electric car chassis, something like what REE makes.

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New solar panels suck water from air to cool themselves down

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Intense summer sun can spike temperatures of solar panels, causing their electrical production to plummet.

Like humans, solar panels don’t work well when overheated. Now, researchers have found a way to make them “sweat”—allowing them to cool themselves and increase their power output.

It’s “a simple, elegant, and effective [way] to retrofit existing solar cell panels for an instant efficiency boost,” says Liangbing Hu, a materials scientist at the University of Maryland, College Park.

Today, more than 600 gigawatts of solar power capacity exists worldwide, providing 3% of global electricity demand. That capacity is expected to increase fivefold over the next decade. Most use silicon to convert sunlight to electricity. But typical silicon cells convert only 20% of the Sun’s energy that hits them into current. Much of the rest turns into heat, which can warm the panels by as much as 40°C. And with every degree of temperature above 25°C, the efficiency of the panel drops. In a field where engineers struggle for every 0.1% boost in power conversion efficiency, even a 1% gain would be an economic boon, says Jun Zhou, a materials scientist at Huazhong University of Science and Technology.

Decades ago, researchers showed that cooling solar panels with water can provide that benefit. Today, some companies even sell water-cooled systems. But those setups require abundant available water and storage tanks, pipes, and pumps. That’s of little use in arid regions and in developing countries with little infrastructure.

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Watch the world’s first AI robot capable of writing its own music collaboration alongside humans

Engineers at the Georgia Institute of Technology have designed the first robot capable of not only playing music, but creating music—and its name is Shimon.

The musical robot was trained on a vast data set of everything from progressive rock to jazz to rap. Shimon takes this knowledge of past music and uses algorithms to come up with unique robot music of his own.

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The future of movie theaters might look a lot like an apple store

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From the people who brought you the iPhone: a whole new theatrical experience.

It’s no big secret that the movie theater industry is facing an existential crisis, with serious challenges coming from streaming platforms developed by technology giants like Apple, Netflix, and Amazon, and now a pandemic that’s forced cinemas to shutter around the globe. Weighing the future of movie theaters has become a favorite guessing game for media analysts. Last Friday, the New York Times asked: “Movie Theaters Are on the Brink. Can Wine and Cheese Save Them?”

Maybe not. But there’s reason to believe that the very tech companies threatening the industry could breathe new life into movie theaters.

Last week, rumors circulated that Amazon is interested in acquiring AMC, the largest theater chain in the United States. The news caused a sharp spike in AMC’s stock price. The company has had a rough year: The chain lost money in 2019, despite multiple billion-dollar tentpole releases such as Avengers: Endgame, The Lion King, and Frozen 2. And that was before the coronavirus pandemic shut down theaters worldwide. Now, some analysts have speculated that the company might file for bankruptcy. While the theater chain denied the speculation, it raised $500 million in additional debt to weather the current crisis.

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INSIGHT: How Covid-19 Changed the Future of Litigation

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Covid-19 is proving to be the impetus the legal industry needed to embrace remote technologies, Merchant & Gould attorneys write. They look at how law firms are adjusting to new technologies now and how courts may adopt new technologies going forward.

In law firms, one might guess the graduation year of attorneys based only on the technologies employed in their practices.

Lawyers graduating in the last decade may have never even seen a dictaphone in person or have experienced paper cuts from thumbing through thousands of paper documents to prepare them for production in litigation. Only recently did a small number of litigators begin using tablets instead of paper documents in depositions. Nearly all litigators firmly believed it was not possible to effectively conduct a deposition or hearing remotely.

But the Covid-19 pandemic forced change in an age-old profession, nearly overnight. As courthouses around the country continue trials and hearings, and even close completely, courts and attorneys alike have been forced to adopt new technologies at every stage of proceedings.

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Top 10 technology trends for 2020

 

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Strategies and things that will change the way we think and work

Television shows of the 1960’s like The Jetsons predicted that the 21st century would be filled with flying cars, and airborne robots would be a part of our everyday lives. October 21st, 2015 marked the point in time in which Marty McFly (Michael J. Fox) traveled to in Back to the Future Part II, the 1989 sequel to the time-travelling classic. The future he found was one which had captured the imagination of millions — instead today, we live in a world dominated by live streaming, smartphones and social networks, not flying cars or hover boards (maybe, because is this really a hover board?).

Within the span of 10 short years, or perhaps even less, service apps like Uber, Lyft, DoorDash, AirBnB and others have spawned millions of users, and can be found on almost everyone’s smart phone. Personal assistants like Siri and Alexa have entered many of our lives. It would be terribly naive for anyone to say that the world hasn’t changed in the last 10 years. This technology growth and change is likely to continue for the next decade and beyond.

It’s the roaring 20’s baby! At the start of the millennium, Information Technology was deeply concerned about Y2K … “Oh no, the zeroes and the clocks!” When the clocks struck 12 in 2000, the iPhone, Twitter, Facebook, 4k, 5G, and all the other fun things we know today didn’t exist. So what’s in store as a new decade begins?

Are you more interested in what skills you need to learn to keep pace with the technology trends of 2020?

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