- World Conference on Computers in Education 2017
- An ultra-low-power artificial synapse for neural-network computing
- Why you should eat 10 portions of fruit or vegetables a day
- Instant Expert: The Quantum World
- Brain-computer interface advance allows paralyzed people to type almost as fast as some smartphone users
- Virgin | Richard Branson’s blog: The pace of innovation
- NASA announces Wed. news conference on ‘discovery beyond our solar system’
- Talks at Google | Amy Kurzweil shares her new book Flying Couch: a graphic memoir — video
- Manipulating silicon atoms to create future ultra-fast, ultra-low-power chip technology
- How to build your own bio-bot
- Terahertz wireless could lead to fiber-optics speed in-flight and mobile metropolitan internet
- Anti-aging Drugs: From Basic Research to Clinical Practice (Drug Discovery)
- Scientists create first 3-D synchronized-beating heart tissue
- Moogfest 2017
- Heart of the Machine: Our Future in a World of Artificial Emotional Intelligence
- Interop ITX 2017
- Vivid Sydney 2017
- Intel | 500 drone light show setting new world record
- New machine-learning algorithms may revolutionize drug discovery — and our understanding of life
- Future of Life Institute | Ray Kurzweil speaks at Beneficial AI event
- GTC Silicon Valley
- First stable semisynthetic organism created
- HUMANS returns
- Beneficial AI conference develops ‘Asilomar AI principles’ to guide future AI research
- Brain-computer interface enables completely locked-in patients to communicate for the first time
- Carnegie Mellon AI beats top poker pros — a first
- International Longevity & Cryopreservation Summit
- Mayo Clinic researchers find mentally stimulating activities after age 70 associated with lower new cognitive-impairment risk
- An immersion course in exponential thinking at Singularity University lures executives wary of disruption
- Soft robotic sleeve developed to aid failing hearts
- Scientists use stem cells to create human/pig chimera embryos
- These may be the last glasses you will ever need to buy
- Scientists discover precise DNA sequence code critical for turning genes on
- AAAI-17 San Francisco
- Smart Data Conference
- Gigaom AI Now
- Developer Week Conference + Festival 2017
- Deep Learning in Finance Summit
- Forecasting with Massive Data in Real Time
- AI in Practice
- A deep learning algorithm outperforms some board-certified dermatologists in diagnosis of skin cancer
- A 3D bioprinter that prints fully functional human skin
- Evolution of the City by BestReviews
- AI system performs better than 75 percent of American adults on standard visual intelligence test
- Magnetic brain stimulation improves a precise type of memory
- Self-driving cars are the future
- Launch Festival 2017
- EmTech Digital 2017
- Microbiologists make big leap in developing ‘green’ electronics
The conference is open for everyone involved in developing and using technology and computing in education and training, including those involved in computer science education. Who Should Attend? * Researchers Doctoral, post-graduate and under-graduate students Curriculum designers Professional experts in computer science education (CSE) and information and communication technologies (ICT) Professional experts Information and communication experts Teachers * Learners Teacher educators School managers Educational resource developers Producers of learning materials and tools Policy makers IT Vendors Broadcasters and broadcast developers Why Attend? The conference will focus on the latest uses of technologies, on computing and technology learning resources, highlighted educational practice, thought-leadership for the future and cutting edge educational research. This event will bring together professionals and novices, experienced teachers and learners, to dream about and discuss future learning environments. _-- Event Producer_
(Left) Illustration of a synapse in the brain connecting two neurons. (Right) Schematic of artificial synapse (ENODe), which functions as a transistor. It consists of two thin, flexible polymer films (black) with source, drain, and gate terminals, connected by an electrolyte of salty water that permits ions to cross. A voltage pulse applied to the “presynaptic” layer (top) alters the level of oxidation in the "postsynaptic layer" (bottom), triggering current flow between source and drain. (credit: Thomas Splettstoesser/CC and Yoeri van de Burgt et al./Nature Materials)Stanford University and Sandia National Laboratories researchers have developed an organic artificial synapse based on a new memristor (resistive memory device) design that mimics the way synapses in the brain learn. The new artificial synapse could lead to computers that better recreate the way the human brain processes information. It could also one day directly interface with the human brain. The new artificial synapse is an electrochemical neuromorphic organic device (dubbed "ENODe") -- a mixed ionic/electronic design that is fundamentally different from existing and other proposed resistive memory devices, which are limited by noise, required high write voltage, and other factors*, the researchers note in a paper published online Feb. 20 in _Nature Materials_. Like a neural path in a brain being reinforced through learning, the artificial synapse is programmed by discharging and recharging it repeatedly. Through this training, the researhers have been able to predict within 1 percent of uncertainly what voltage will be required to get the synapse to a specific electrical state and, once there, remain at that state. "The working mechanism of ENODEs is reminiscent of that of natural synapses, where neurotransmitters diffuse through the cleft, inducing depolarization due to ion penetration in the postsynaptic neuron," the researchers explain in the paper. "In contrast, other memristive devices switch by melting materials at relatively high temperatures (PCMs) or by voltage-induced breakdown/filament formation and ion diffusion in dense oxide layers (FFMOs)." The ENODe achieves significant energy savings** in two ways: * Unlike a conventional computer, where you save your work to the hard drive before you turn it off, the artificial synapse can recall its programming without any additional actions or parts. Traditional computing requires separately processing information and then storing it into memory. Here, the processing creates the memory. * When we learn, electrical signals are sent between neurons in our brain. The most energy is needed the first time a synapse is traversed. Every time afterward, the connection requires less energy. This is how synapses efficiently facilitate both learning something new and remembering what we’ve learned. The artificial synapse, unlike most other versions of brain-like computing, also fulfills these two tasks simultaneously, and does so with substantial energy savings. “More and more, the kinds of tasks that we expect our computing devices to do require computing that mimics the brain because using traditional computing to perform these tasks is becoming really power hungry,” said A. Alec Talin, distinguished member of technical staff at Sandia National Laboratories in Livermore, California, and co-senior author of the paper. “We’ve demonstrated a device that’s ideal for running these type of algorithms and that consumes a lot less power.” A future brain-like computer with 500 states Only one artificial synapse has been produced so far, but researchers at Sandia used 15,000 measurements to simulate how an array of them would work in a neural network. They tested the simulated network’s ability to recognize handwriting of digits 0 through 9. Tested on three datasets, the simulated array was able to identify the handwritten digits with an accuracy between 93 to 97 percent. This artificial synapse may one day be part of a brain-like computer, which could be especially useful for processing visual and auditory signals, as in voice-controlled interfaces and driverless cars, but without energy-consuming computer hardware. This device is also well suited for the kind of signal identification and classification that traditional computers struggle to perform. Whereas digital transistors can be in only two states, such as 0 and 1, the researchers successfully programmed 500 states in the artificial synapse, which is useful for neuron-type computation models. In switching from one state to another they used about one-tenth as much energy as a state-of-the-art computing system needs to move data from the processing unit to the memory. However, this is still about 10,000 times as much energy as the minimum a biological synapse needs in order to fire**. The researchers hope to attain neuron-level energy efficiency once they test the artificial synapse in smaller devices. Linking to live organic neurons This new artificial synapse may one day be part of a brain-like computer, which could be especially beneficial for computing that works with visual and auditory signals. Examples of this are seen in voice-controlled interfaces and driverless cars. Past efforts in this field have produced high-performance neural networks supported by artificially intelligent algorithms but these depend on energy-consuming traditional computer hardware. Every part of the device is made of inexpensive organic materials. These aren’t found in nature but they are largely composed of hydrogen and carbon and are compatible with the brain’s chemistry. Cells have been grown on these materials and they have even been used to make artificial pumps for neural transmitters. The switching voltages applied to train the artificial synapse (about 0.5 mV) are also the same as those that move through human neurons -- about 1,000 times lower than the "write" voltage for a typical memristor. That means it’s possible that the artificial synapse could communicate with live neurons, leading to improved brain-machine interfaces. The softness and flexibility of the device also lends itself to being used in biological environments. This research was funded by the National Science Foundation, the Keck Faculty Scholar Funds, the Neurofab at Stanford, the Stanford Graduate Fellowship, Sandia’s Laboratory-Directed Research and Development Program, the U.S. Department of Energy, the Holland Scholarship, the University of Groningen Scholarship for Excellent Students, the Hendrik Muller National Fund, the Schuurman Schimmel-van Outeren Foundation, the Foundation of Renswoude (The Hague and Delft), the Marco Polo Fund, the Instituto Nacional de Ciência e Tecnologia/Instituto Nacional de Eletrônica Orgânica in Brazil, the Fundação de Amparo à Pesquisa do Estado de São Paulo and the Brazilian National Council. * _"A resistive memory device has not yet been demonstrated with adequate electrical characteristics to fully realize the efficiency and performance gains of a neural architecture. State-of-the-art memristors suffer from excessive write noise, write non-linearities, and high write voltages and currents. Reducing the noise and lowering the switching voltage significantly below 0.3 V (~10 kT) in a two-terminal device without compromising long-term data retention has proven difficult." … Organic memristive devices have been recently proposed, but are limited by "the slow kinetics of ion diffusion through a polymer to retain their states or on charge storage in metal nanoparticles, which inherently limits performance and stability." -- Yoeri van de Burgt et al., _Nature Materials _** _ENODe switches at low voltage and energy (< 10 pJ for 1000-square-micrometer devices), compared to an estimated_ ∼ 1–100 fJ per synaptic event for the human brain._ ------------------------- ABSTRACT OF _A NON-VOLATILE ORGANIC ELECTROCHEMICAL DEVICE AS A LOW-VOLTAGE ARTIFICIAL SYNAPSE FOR NEUROMORPHIC COMPUTING_ The brain is capable of massively parallel information processing while consuming only ~1–100 fJ per synaptic event. Inspired by the efficiency of the brain, CMOS-based neural architectures and memristors are being developed for pattern recognition and machine learning. However, the volatility, design complexity and high supply voltages for CMOS architectures, and the stochastic and energy-costly switching of memristors complicate the path to achieve the interconnectivity, information density, and energy efficiency of the brain using either approach. Here we describe an electrochemical neuromorphic organic device (ENODe) operating with a fundamentally different mechanism from existing memristors. ENODe switches at low voltage and energy (<10 pJ for 103 μm2 devices), displays >500 distinct, non-volatile conductance states within a ~1 V range, and achieves high classification accuracy when implemented in neural network simulations. Plastic ENODes are also fabricated on flexible substrates enabling the integration of neuromorphic functionality in stretchable electronic systems. Mechanical flexibility makes ENODes compatible with three-dimensional architectures, opening a path towards extreme interconnectivity comparable to the human brain.
image credit | iStockEating 800 grams a day (about ten portions*) of fruit or vegetables could reduce your chance of heart attack, stroke, cancer, and early death, scientists from Imperial College London conclude from a meta-analysis of 95 studies on fruit and vegetable intake. The study, published in an open-access paper in the _International Journal of Epidemiology_, included 2 million people worldwide and assessed up to 43,000 cases of heart disease, 47,000 cases of stroke, 81,000 cases of cardiovascular disease, 112,000 cancer cases and 94,000 deaths. About 7.8 million premature deaths worldwide could be potentially prevented yearly if people followed this protocol, the researchers say. Compared to not eating any fruits and vegetables, a daily intake of 200 grams (two and a half portions) was associated with a 16% reduced risk of heart disease, an 18% reduced risk of stroke, a 13% reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, a 4% reduced risk in cancer risk, and a 15% reduction in the risk of premature death. However, a higher intake of fruits and vegetables of 800 grams a day was associated with 24% reduced risk of heart disease, a 33% reduced risk of stroke, a 28% reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, a 13% reduced risk of total cancer** and a 31% reduction in dying prematurely.*** The current UK guidelines suggest you eat at least five portions or 400 grams per day, but fewer than one in three UK adults are thought to even meet this target. The U.S. Health and Human Services/USDA guidelines use a different metric: "The recommended amount of vegetables in the Healthy U.S.-Style Eating Pattern at the 2,000-calorie level is 2½ cup-equivalents of vegetables per day and 2 cup-equivalents of fruit per day. ------------------------- Foods that are best at disease prevention, according to the study TO PREVENT HEART DISEASE, STROKE, CARDIOVASCULAR DISEASE, AND EARLY DEATH: apples, pears, citrus fruits, salads, and green leafy vegetables such as spinach, lettuce and chicory, and cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower. TO REDUCE CANCER RISK: green vegetables, such as spinach or green beans, yellow vegetables, such as peppers and carrots, and cruciferous vegetables. ------------------------- REASONS FOR HEALTH BENEFITS So why do fruit and vegetables have such profound health benefits? According to Dagfinn Aune, PhD, lead author of the research, from the School of Public Health at Imperial: "Fruit and vegetables have been shown to reduce cholesterol levels, blood pressure, and to boost the health of our blood vessels and immune system. This may be due to the complex network of nutrients they hold. For instance they contain many antioxidants, which may reduce DNA damage, and lead to a reduction in cancer risk." He also noted that compounds called glucosinolates in cruciferous vegetables, such as broccoli, activate enzymes that may help prevent cancer. And fruit and vegetables may also have a beneficial effect on the naturally-occurring bacteria in our gut.
image credit | iStockMost beneficial compounds can't be easily replicated in a pill, he said: "Most likely it is the whole package of beneficial nutrients you obtain by eating fruits and vegetables that is crucial is health. "This is why it is important to eat whole plant foods to get the benefit, instead of taking antioxidant or vitamin supplements, which have not been shown to reduce disease risk." In the paper, the researchers qualify these statements, noting that they assume the observed associations are causal (there could be other causes of improved health). The team, however, took into account some other factors, such as a person's weight, smoking, physical activity levels, and overall diet. "We need further research into the effects of specific types of fruits and vegetables and preparation methods of fruit and vegetables," Aune suggested. "We also need more research on the relationship between fruit and vegetable intake with causes of death other than cancer and cardiovascular disease. However, it is clear from this work that a high intake of fruit and vegetables hold tremendous health benefits, and we should try to increase their intake in our diet." This project was funded by Olav og Gerd Meidel Raagholt’s Stiftelse for Medisinsk Forskning, the Liaison Committee between the Central Norway Regional Health Authority (RHA) and the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU), and the Imperial College National Institute of Health Research (NIHR) Biomedical Research Centre (BRC). _* A portion (80 grams) of fruit equals approximately one small banana, apple, pear or large mandarin; three heaped tablespoons of cooked vegetables such as spinach, peas, broccoli or cauliflower count as one portion._ *_* For cancer, no further reductions in risk were observed above 600 grams per day._ _*** The team was not able to investigate intakes greater than 800 g a day. The team also did not find significant differences between raw and cooked vegetables in relation to early death, and they noted that that other specific fruits and vegetables as well as preparation methods may also play a role._ -------------------------
image credit | iStockABSTRACT OF _FRUIT AND VEGETABLE INTAKE AND THE RISK OF CARDIOVASCULAR DISEASE, TOTAL CANCER AND ALL-CAUSE MORTALITY–A SYSTEMATIC REVIEW AND DOSE-RESPONSE META-ANALYSIS OF PROSPECTIVE STUDIES_ BACKGROUND: Questions remain about the strength and shape of the dose-response relationship between fruit and vegetable intake and risk of cardiovascular disease, cancer and mortality, and the effects of specific types of fruit and vegetables. We conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis to clarify these associations. METHODS: PubMed and Embase were searched up to 29 September 2016. Prospective studies of fruit and vegetable intake and cardiovascular disease, total cancer and all-cause mortality were included. Summary relative risks (RRs) were calculated using a random effects model, and the mortality burden globally was estimated; 95 studies (142 publications) were included. RESULTS: For fruits and vegetables combined, the summary RR per 200 g/day was 0.92 [95% confidence interval (CI): 0.90–0.94, I2 = 0%, _n_ = 15] for coronary heart disease, 0.84 (95% CI: 0.76–0.92, I2 = 73%, _n_ = 10) for stroke, 0.92 (95% CI: 0.90–0.95, I2 = 31%, _n_ = 13) for cardiovascular disease, 0.97 (95% CI: 0.95–0.99, I2 = 49%, _n_ = 12) for total cancer and 0.90 (95% CI: 0.87–0.93, I2 = 83%, _n_ = 15) for all-cause mortality. Similar associations were observed for fruits and vegetables separately. Reductions in risk were observed up to 800 g/day for all outcomes except cancer (600 g/day). Inverse associations were observed between the intake of apples and pears, citrus fruits, green leafy vegetables, cruciferous vegetables, and salads and cardiovascular disease and all-cause mortality, and between the intake of green-yellow vegetables and cruciferous vegetables and total cancer risk. An estimated 5.6 and 7.8 million premature deaths worldwide in 2013 may be attributable to a fruit and vegetable intake below 500 and 800 g/day, respectively, if the observed associations are causal. CONCLUSIONS: Fruit and vegetable intakes were associated with reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, cancer and all-cause mortality. These results support public health recommendations to increase fruit and vegetable intake for the prevention of cardiovascular disease, cancer, and premature mortality.
We are very excited to announce the full speaker line-up for INSTANT EXPERT: THE QUANTUM WORLD in Boston, MA on Saturday March 11. See the full list of who's speaking below. _Special Offer_ tickets that save you $30 on the standard price ticket will only be available for a few more days – BUY YOURS NOW. WHO WILL BE SPEAKING? * ARAM HARROW Assistant professor of physics, Centre for Theoretical Physics at MIT * DAVID KAISER Physicist and historian of science at MIT, author of _How the Hippies Saved Physics_ * JANET CONRAD Professor of physics at MIT * TULIKA BOSE Associate professor at Boston University * VLADAN VULETIC Professor of physics at MIT * SETH LLOYD Professor of mechanical engineering at MIT * Hosted by LISA GROSSMAN, _New Scientist_ physics news editor WHAT TOPICS WILL BE COVERED? Whether you're a scientist, student or are only casually interested in the quantum world, INSTANT EXPERT: THE QUANTUM WORLD offers the chance to learn directly from leading experts in this fascinating field who will be talking about these topics: Why is the world quantum? Quantum computing, quantum technology and much more. WHEN AND WHERE? SATURDAY MARCH 11, 2017, 10am - 5pm Suffolk University Law School, 73 Tremont Street, Boston, MA 02108 Ticket includes a continental breakfast, lunch, plus morning and afternoon refreshments. _--Event Producer_
Typing with your mind. You are paralyzed. But now, tiny electrodes have been surgically implanted in your brain to record signals from your motor cortex, the brain region controlling muscle movement. As you think of mousing over to a letter (or clicking to choose it), those electrical brain signals are transmitted via a cable to a computer (replacing your spinal cord and muscles). There, advanced algorithms decode the complex electrical brain signals, converting them instantly into screen actions. (credit: Chethan Pandarinath et al./eLife)Stanford University researchers have developed a brain-computer interface (BCI) system that can enable people with paralysis* to type (using an on-screen cursor) at speeds and accuracy levels of about three times faster than reported to date. Simply by imagining their own hand movements, one participant was able to type 39 correct characters per minute (about eight words per minute); the other two participants averaged 6.3 and 2.7 words per minute, respectively -- all without auto-complete assistance (so it could be much faster). Those are communication rates that people with arm and hand paralysis would also find useful, the researchers suggest. "We’re approaching the speed at which you can type text on your cellphone,” said Krishna Shenoy, PhD, professor of electrical engineering, a co-senior author of the study, which was published in an open-access paper online Feb. 21 in _eLife_. Braingate and beyond The three study participants used a brain-computer interface called the “BrainGate Neural Interface System.” On KurzweilAI, we first discussed Braingate in 2011, followed by a 2012 clinical trial that allowed a paralyzed patient to control a robot.
Braingate in 2012 (credit: Brown University)The new research, led by Stanford, takes the Braingate technology way further**. Participants can now move a cursor (by just thinking about a hand movement) on a computer screen that displays the letters of the alphabet, and they can “point and click” on letters, computer-mouse-style, to type letters and sentences. The new BCI uses a tiny silicon chip, just over one-sixth of an inch square, with 100 electrodes that penetrate the brain to about the thickness of a quarter and tap into the electrical activity of individual nerve cells in the motor cortex. As the participant thinks of a specific hand-to-mouse movement (pointing at or clicking on a letter), neural electrical activity is recorded using 96-channel silicon microelectrode arrays implanted in the hand area of the motor cortex. These signals are then filtered to extract multiunit spiking activity and high-frequency field potentials, then decoded (using two algorithms) to provide “point-and-click” control of a computer cursor. WHAT'S NEXT The team next plans is to adapt the system so that brain-computer interfaces can control commercial computers, phones and tablets -- perhaps extending out to the internet. Beyond that, Shenoy predicted that a self-calibrating, fully implanted wireless BCI system with no required caregiver assistance and no "cosmetic impact" would be available in five to 10 years from now ("closer to five"). Perhaps a future wireless, noninvasive version could let anyone simply think to select letters, words, ideas, and images -- replacing the mouse and finger touch -- along the lines of Elon Musk's neural lace concept? _* Millions of people with paralysis reside in the U.S._ _** The study’s results are the culmination of the long-running multi-institutional BrainGate consortium, which includes scientists at Massachusetts General Hospital, Brown University, Case Western University, and the VA Rehabilitation Research and Development Center for Neurorestoration and Neurotechnology in Providence, Rhode Island. The study was funded by the National Institutes of Health, the Stanford Office of Postdoctoral Affairs, the Craig H. Neilsen Foundation, the Stanford Medical Scientist Training Program, Stanford BioX-NeuroVentures, the Stanford Institute for Neuro-Innovation and Translational Neuroscience, the Stanford Neuroscience Institute, Larry and Pamela Garlick, Samuel and Betsy Reeves, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, the MGH-Dean Institute for Integrated Research on Atrial Fibrillation and Stroke and Massachusetts General Hospital._ _Stanford | Stanford researchers develop brain-controlled typing for people with paralysis_ ------------------------- ABSTRACT OF _HIGH PERFORMANCE COMMUNICATION BY PEOPLE WITH PARALYSIS USING AN INTRACORTICAL BRAIN-COMPUTER INTERFACE_ Brain-computer interfaces (BCIs) have the potential to restore communication for people with tetraplegia and anarthria by translating neural activity into control signals for assistive communication devices. While previous pre-clinical and clinical studies have demonstrated promising proofs-of-concept (Serruya et al., 2002; Simeral et al., 2011; Bacher et al., 2015; Nuyujukian et al., 2015; Aflalo et al., 2015; Gilja et al., 2015; Jarosiewicz et al., 2015; Wolpaw et al., 1998; Hwang et al., 2012; Spüler et al., 2012; Leuthardt et al., 2004; Taylor et al., 2002; Schalk et al., 2008; Moran, 2010; Brunner et al., 2011; Wang et al., 2013; Townsend and Platsko, 2016; Vansteensel et al., 2016; Nuyujukian et al., 2016; Carmena et al., 2003; Musallam et al., 2004; Santhanam et al., 2006; Hochberg et al., 2006; Ganguly et al., 2011; O’Doherty et al., 2011; Gilja et al., 2012), the performance of human clinical BCI systems is not yet high enough to support widespread adoption by people with physical limitations of speech. Here we report a high-performance intracortical BCI (iBCI) for communication, which was tested by three clinical trial participants with paralysis. The system leveraged advances in decoder design developed in prior pre-clinical and clinical studies (Gilja et al., 2015; Kao et al., 2016; Gilja et al., 2012). For all three participants, performance exceeded previous iBCIs (Bacher et al., 2015; Jarosiewicz et al., 2015) as measured by typing rate (by a factor of 1.4–4.2) and information throughput (by a factor of 2.2–4.0). This high level of performance demonstrates the potential utility of iBCIs as powerful assistive communication devices for people with limited motor function.
Dear readers, Renowned innovator, entrepreneur & billionaire philanthropist Richard Branson -- known for founding the Virgin family of companies -- recently posted enthusiastically about Singularity University on his official blog. His thoughts are below. He describes his deep interest in understanding the power of rapidly accelerating technologies -- he mentions my ideas on singularity and my world view that knowledge can solve humanity's biggest challenges. He gives some background on how I and Peter Diamandis, MD co-founded Singularity University. Richard Branson met with Singularity University leader Gabriel Baldinucci, who headed up a group of top minds -- meeting at Virgin's think-tank island resort & conference center. The team gave Richard Branson a whirlwind tour of profound, emerging tech shaping our future landscape. Branson has thoughts below on world impact. His own, heroic innovation efforts -- through Virgin and beyond -- aim to bring world equality, peace, safety, health, resource & energy abundance, global literacy, nature conservancy, and a new age of human prosperity. Like myself, he believes in the power of entrepreneurship. Branson talks about his adventurous projects at Virgin Galactic, a space age marvel. I hope you enjoy! -- _Ray Kurzweil_ ------------------------- ------------------------- originally published in | Virgin : Richard Branson's blog post title | The pace of innovation written by | Richard Branson post date | February 6, 2017 One of the things I love is inviting fascinating people to listen and learn from. We recently welcomed a group of leading thinkers on cutting edge tech, the pace of innovation, the power of the individual, and growing risks and opportunities for humanity. The group was led by Dione Spiteri and my friend Gabriel Baldinucci, who worked with me for 5 years, and is now growing Singularity University. They explained how we are at a unique point in history, with tech accelerating at exponential rates. This isn’t random, they argued, but accelerating according to predictable curves. These speeds increase once they become digitized, which is why your laptop, TV and phone get smaller, faster and better every year. Ray Kurzweil, co-founder of Singularity University, explains this fully in his book, _The Singularity Is Near_. Peter Diamandis, the other co-founder of Singularity University, also founded the X-Prize, which led to the creation of Virgin Galactic. He sees tech as a resource liberating force. It makes what was scarce abundant -- internet, water, energy & cheaper, smarter phones. Peter Diamandis believes tech breakthroughs will solve humanity’s biggest challenges. He sees advances in areas like food, water, energy, health, education, prosperity, security, governance -- helping billions of people. We were talking about everything: computing, solar and other energy tech, biotech & synthetic biology, 3D printing & materials, medical, virtual reality & augmented reality, robotics, artificial intelligence and satellites. Not only are all of these advancing at an exponential rate every year, they are converging, enabling breakthroughs. For example, start-ups are building smaller, more powerful satellites -- and they can't afford to launch them on existing big rockets. So we're building the small satellite launch service Launcher One to enable them to access space. ------------------------- VIDEO | Virgin Galactic _Innovation in private space flight & satellite launch. _ web notes Virgin Galactic | main Virgin Galactic | YouTube channel ------------------------- VIDEO | Virgin _A graphic history of Richard Branson entrepreneurship & Virgin's success. _ "I always prefer looking forward than looking back -- but sometimes a quick spin down memory lane can be a lot of fun. With that in mind, we put together this animation." -- _Richard Branson_ web notes Virgin | welcome: the Virgin group Virgin | our story: the history of Virgin ------------------------- Improved solar & battery tech will drive energy cost so low that it's abundant -- giving people clean water and food. Artificial intelligence and robots will be ubiquitous, providing health care and driving. Genetic engineering will make great strides. But it’s not all a rosy picture. There are risks, unintended side effects. They can be used by criminals. Cyber-crime and cyber-warfare between countries are increasing risks, as are long-term concerns about jobs, as AI and robotics accelerate. While tech helps humanity, those benefits are not always distributed evenly. Many people will be displaced along the way. What good is a bunch of cheap technology and self-driving cars, if you can’t find a job? With our global challenges, we are in a race for our lives. Disease resistant bacteria and climate change are two threats we are currently losing the battle against, potentially threatening humanity. What we learned and discussed needs to be understood around the world, especially by global leaders of government and business, and individual entrepreneurs. How can governments and businesses organize against threats and turn them into opportunities? How can individuals access tech to create solutions that impact billions of people, and thrive in a world of disruption? These are some questions the Singularity University community is discussing. Entrepreneurs can and should, strive for moon-shot solutions, versus just another derivative app. That takes a different kind of thinking that we all need to promote. There's never been a better time to be an entrepreneur, never a more important time to use business as a force for good. For those who have companies already, it means steering your resources and innovation to tackle big, pressing problems. This is what Singularity University is about -- people using business as a force for good, using tech to solve the world’s biggest problems. To learn more about exponential technologies, and join the community, head over to Singularity University. There is a path to a better world in front of us, but there will be many pitfalls and challenges along the way. We need as many people as possible building the future we want for our children. The stakes are high, but you've never had so much power to participate. What will you do? _Richard Branson's blog_ ------------------------- image | Richard Branson of Virgin web notes _Wikipedia_ | Richard Branson _Wikipedia_ | Virgin group ------------------------- on the web | background _The Virgin family of companies & projects._ Virgin | main Virgin | unite Virgin | in focus Virgin | disruptors Virgin | entrepreneurs Virgin | Richard Branson's blog Richard Branson | YouTube channel ------------------------- about | Singularity University was founded in 2008 by Ray Kurzweil, chancellor & Peter Diamandis, MD, chairman. We educate, inspire & empower leaders to use exponential technologies — to tackle the world’s biggest challenges. Our learning & innovation platform supplies the skills and network to build breakthrough solutions, so you can leverage emerging tech. With our community of entrepreneurs, corporations, development groups, governments, investors and institutions, we have the ingredients to create an abundant future. Singularity University serves individuals & organizations with a range of products to let them understand rapidly accelerating technologies that can improve life for billions of people, globally. Our products include custom educational experiences, conferences, plus labs to incubate corporate innovation & social impact projects. on the web | background _Essential links on Singularity University._ Singularity University | Ray Kurzweil Singularity University | Peter Diamandis, MD Singularity University | main Singularity University | YouTube channel -------------------------
Artist's concept of exoplanet Kepler-452b, the first near-Earth-size world to be found in the habitable zone of a star similar to our Sun. (credit: NASA Ames/JPL-Caltech/T. Pyle)NASA will hold a news conference at 1 p.m. EST Wednesday, Feb. 22, to present new findings on exoplanets -- planets that orbit stars other than our sun. As of Feb. 21, NASA has discovered and confirmed 3,440 exoplanets. The briefing participants are Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator of the Science Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters in Washington; Michael Gillon, astronomer at the University of Liege in Belgium; Sean Carey, manager of NASA's Spitzer Science Center at Caltech/IPAC, Pasadena, California; Nikole Lewis, astronomer at the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore; and Sara Seager, professor of planetary science and physics at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge. Details of the findings are embargoed by the journal _Nature_ until 1 p.m. Interestingly, Seager, who studies bio signatures in exoplanet atmospheres, has suggested that two inhabited planets could reasonably turn up during the next decade, based on her modified version of the Drake equation, Space.com notes. Her equation focuses on the search for planets with biosignature gases -- gases produced by life that can accumulate in a planet atmosphere to levels that can be detected with remote space telescopes. "If we can identify another Earth-like planet, it comes full circle, from thinking that everything revolves around our planet to knowing that there are lots of other Earths out there,” she has stated. The event will air live on NASA Television and will be live-streamed. The public may ask questions during the briefing on Twitter using the hashtag #askNASA. A Reddit AMA (Ask Me Anything) about exoplanets will be held following the briefing at 3 p.m., with scientists available to answer questions in English and Spanish. _NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory_
video | GOOGLE _Interview with Ray & Amy Kurzweil, author of book Flying Couch: a graphic memoir._ summary from Google | Ray Kurzweil, best selling author and a director of engineering at Google, in conversation with his daughter Amy Kurzweil, _New Yorker_ cartoonist and author of the critically acclaimed graphic memoir, _Flying Couch_. Ray & Amy Kurzweil discuss their creative work, inspirations, and collaborations -- while thinking about the future of storytelling, the arts & technology. ------------------------- book awards | AMY KURZWEIL'S GRAPHIC NOVEL FEATURED _Special recognition for Flying Couch: a graphic memoir, listed in these top picks._ 1. link | _New York Times_ • The 2016 Season’s Best New Graphic Novels 2. link | _New York Times_ • 10 New Books We Recommend This Week 3. link | Kirkus Reviews • The Best Memoirs of 2016 4. link | Junior Library Guild • Fall 2016 Selection 5. link | Young Adult Library Services Association • 2017’s Great Graphic Novels for Teens ------------------------- on the web | BOOK BY AMY KURZWEIL _See details on her graphic novel Flying Couch & where to get it._ Amy Kurzweil | _Flying Couch: a graphic memoir_ -- book details & video trailer Amy Kurzweil | _Flying Couch: a graphic memoir_ -- book tour Amazon | _Flying Couch: a graphic memoir_ -- by Amy Kurzweil Catapult Books | _Flying Couch: a graphic memoir_ -- by Amy Kurzweil Indie Bound | _Flying Couch: a graphic memoir_ -- by Amy Kurzweil Kirkus Reviews | _Flying Couch: a graphic memoir_ - book review _The New York Times_ | Flying Couch a graphic memoir -- book review ------------------------- BOOK TOUR | events from author Amy Kurzweil _Calendar for Flying Couch: a graphic memoir._ NOTE: click [+] button in image upper right corner, to expand full size ------------------------- video | GOOGLE _About the influential series Talks at Google._ summary from Google | The world’s most influential thinkers, creators, makers and doers all in one place. Talks at Google is where great minds meet. on the web: Talks at Google | main Talks at Google | YouTube channel VIDEO SET | Talks at Google with Ray Kurzweil 1. video | Ray Kurzweil explores how to create a mind 2. video | Ray Kurzweil explores the web within us, when minds & machines become one
Model showing interactions between atomic-force microscope tip (top) and silicon surface (hydrogen: white; silicon: tan and red), using a new technique for coating the tip with hydrogen -- part of a study to create future electronic circuits at the atomic level. (credit: Wolkow Lab)Imagine a hybrid silicon-molecular computer that uses one thousand times less energy or a cell phone battery that lasts weeks at a time. University of Alberta scientists, headed by University of Alberta physics professor Robert Wolkow, have taken a major step in that direction by visualizing and geometrically patterning silicon at the atomic level -- using an innovative atomic-force microscopy* (AFM) technique. The goal: chip technology that performs dramatically better than today's CMOS architecture.
(Left) Ball-and-stick theoretical model of the pentacene molecule. (Right) AFM image of pentacene molecule showing the pattern of the bonds in the model. The five hexagonal carbon rings are resolved clearly and even the carbon-hydrogen bonds (white in the model) are imaged. Scale bar: 5 angstroms (0.5 nanometer) (credit: IBM Zurich)Visualizing bonds in atoms at atomic resolution was first achieved by IBM Zurich scientists in 2009, when they imaged the pentacene molecule on copper. But imaging silicon is a problem: the sharp tip damages the fragile silicon molecules, the researchers note in an open-access paper published in the February 13, 2017 issue of _Nature Communications_. To avoid damaging the silicon surface, the researchers created the first hydrogen-covered AFM tip, making it possible to manipulate silicon atoms. It was "a bit like Goldilocks," PhD student and co-author Taleana Huff explained to _KurzweilAI_. "There is a sweet-spot region where you are probing the surface without interacting with it. Getting close enough to the surface with just the right parameters allows you to see these bonds materialize.
Bob Wolkow and Taleana Huff patterning and imaging electronic circuits at the atomic level (credit: Wolkow Lab)"If you get too close though, you end up transferring atoms to the surface or, conversely, to the tip, ruining the experiment. A lot of tech and knowledge goes into getting all these settings just right, including a powerful new computational approach that analyzes and verifies the identity of the atoms and bonds." HYDROGEN-TERMINATED SILICON FOR ULTRA-FAST, ULTRA-LOW-POWER TECHNOLOGY "We see hydrogen-terminated silicon as the platform for a whole new paradigm of efficient and fast silicon-based electronics," Huff said. "Now that we understand the surface intimately and have these powerful tools and the experience, the next step is to start using the AFM to look at computational elements made using quantum dots [nanoscale semiconductor particles], which we create by removing hydrogen atoms from the silicon surface. When we cleverly pattern them geometrically, these atomic silicon quantum dots can be used to make very fast and incredibly low-power computational patterns." The long-term goal is making ultra-fast and ultra-low-power silicon-based circuits that potentially consume one thousand times less power than what is currently on the market, according to the researchers, along with novel quantum applications. _* Typical atomic force microscope (AFM) setup_
To image a surface, an AFM sharp tip scans across the sample to detect irregularities in the surface, which cause deflection of the tip and the connected cantilever and generating a topological map of the sample surface. The deflection is measured by reflecting a laser beam off the backside of the cantilever. (credit: CC/Opensource Handbook of Nanoscience and Nanotechnology)_Wolkow Lab | An animation illustrating patterning and imagining electronic circuits at the atomic level. It shows the tip and surface atoms' relaxation during calculations of a part of the image simulation at small tip-surface distance. The bending and rotation of bonds is visible, giving a sense of the interactions and atomic relaxations involved. _ _UAlbertaScience | Less is more for atomic-scale manufacturing_ _This animation represents an electrical current being switched on and off. Remarkably, the current is confined to a channel that is just one atom wide. Also, the switch is made of just one atom. When the atom in the center feels an electric field tugging at it, it loses its electron. Once that electron is lost, the many electrons in the body of the silicon (to the left) have a clear passage to flow through. When the electric field is removed, an electron gets trapped in the central atom, switching the current off. This represents the latest work out of Robert Wolkow's lab at the University of Alberta._ ------------------------- Abstract Of _Indications Of Chemical Bond Contrast In AFM Images Of A Hydrogen-terminated Silicon Surface_ The origin of bond-resolved atomic force microscope images remains controversial. Moreover, most work to date has involved planar, conjugated hydrocarbon molecules on a metal substrate thereby limiting knowledge of the generality of findings made about the imaging mechanism. Here we report the study of a very different sample; a hydrogen-terminated silicon surface. A procedure to obtain a passivated hydrogen-functionalized tip is defined and evolution of atomic force microscopy images at different tip elevations are shown. At relatively large tip-sample distances, the topmost atoms appear as distinct protrusions. However, on decreasing the tip-sample distance, features consistent with the silicon covalent bonds of the surface emerge. Using a density functional tight-binding-based method to simulate atomic force microscopy images, we reproduce the experimental results. The role of the tip flexibility and the nature of bonds and false bond-like features are discussed.
Bio-bot design inspired by the muscle-tendon-bone complex found in the human body, with 3D-printed flexible skeleton. Optical stimulation of the muscle tissue (orange), which is genetically engineered to contract in response to blue light, makes the bio-bot walk across a surface in the direction of the light. (credit: Ritu Raman et al./Nature Protocols)For the past several years, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have reverse-engineered native biological tissues and organs -- creating tiny walking "bio-bots" powered by muscle cells and controlled with electrical and optical pulses. Now, in an open-access cover paper in _Nature Protocols_, the researchers are sharing a protocol with engineering details for their current generation of millimeter-scale soft robotic bio-bots*. Using 3D-printed skeletons, these devices would be coupled to tissue-engineered skeletal muscle actuators to drive locomotion across 2D surfaces, and could one day be used for studies of muscle development and disease, high-throughput drug testing, and dynamic implants, among other applications.
In a new design, the researchers worked with MIT optogenetics experts to genetically engineer a light-responsive skeletal muscle cell line that could be stimulated to contract by pulses of blue light. (credit: Ritu Raman et al./Nature Protocols)THE FUTURE OF BIO-BOTS The researchers envision future generations of bio-bots as biological building blocks that lead to the machines of the future. The bio-bots would integrate multiple cell and tissue types, including neuronal networks for sensing and processing, and vascular networks for delivery of nutrients and other biochemical factors. They might also have some of the higher-order properties of biological materials, such as self-organization and self-healing. "These next iterations of biohybrid machines could, for example, be designed to sense chemical toxins, locomote toward them, and neutralize them through cell-secreted factors. Such a functionality could have broad relevance in medical diagnostics and targeted therapeutics _in vivo_, or even be extended to environmental use as a method of cleaning pathogens from public water supplies," the research note in the paper. "This protocol is essentially intended to be a one-stop reference for any scientist around the world who wants to replicate the results we showed in our PNAS 2016 and PNAS 2014 papers, and give them a framework for building their own bio-bots for a variety of applications,” said Bioengineering Professor Rashid Bashir**, who heads the bio-bots research group. Bashir's group has been a pioneer in designing and building bio-bots, less than a centimeter in size, made of flexible 3D printed hydrogels and living cells. In 2012, the group demonstrated bio-bots that could "walk" on their own, powered by beating heart cells from rats. In 2014, they switched to muscle cells controlled with electrical pulses, giving researchers unprecedented command over their function. _* Not to be confused with __swimming biobots_ and rescue biobots using remotely controlled cockroaches. _** Bashir is also Grainger Distinguished Chair in Engineering and head of the Department of Bioengineering. Work on the bio-bots was conducted at the Micro + Nanotechnology Lab at Illinois._ _NewsAtIllinois | Light illuminates the way for bio-bots_ ------------------------- Abstract Of _A Modular Approach To The Design, Fabrication, And Characterization Of Muscle-powered Biological Machines_ Biological machines consisting of cells and biomaterials have the potential to dynamically sense, process, respond, and adapt to environmental signals in real time. As a first step toward the realization of such machines, which will require biological actuators that can generate force and perform mechanical work, we have developed a method of manufacturing modular skeletal muscle actuators that can generate up to 1.7 mN (3.2 kPa) of passive tension force and 300 μN (0.56 kPa) of active tension force in response to external stimulation. Such millimeter-scale biological actuators can be coupled to a wide variety of 3D-printed skeletons to power complex output behaviors such as controllable locomotion. This article provides a comprehensive protocol for forward engineering of biological actuators and 3D-printed skeletons for any design application. 3D printing of the injection molds and skeletons requires 3 h, seeding the muscle actuators takes 2 h, and differentiating the muscle takes 7 d.
Terahertz wireless links to spaceborne satellites could one day make gigabit-per-second connection speeds available to anyone, anytime, anywhere on the face of the earth, on the ground or in flight (credit: Fujishima et al./Hiroshima University)Hiroshima University researchers and associates have developed a terahertz* (THz) transmitter capable of transmitting digital data over a single channel at a speed of 105 gigabits per second (Gbps), and demonstrated the technology at the International Solid-State Circuits Conference (ISSCC) 2017 conference last week. For perspective, that's more than 100 times faster than the fastest (1 Gbps) internet connection in the U.S. or more than 3,000 times faster than the 31 Mbps available to the average U.S. household in 2014, according to an FCC report. It's also ten times or more faster than the fastest rate expected to be offered by fifth-generation mobile networks (5G) for metropolitan areas around 2020. MAJOR USES: FASTER IN-FLIGHT AND METROPOLITAN INTERNET, HIGH-FREQUENCY TRADING Applications of this forthcoming THz technology include higher-speed in-flight network connection speeds via satellite, fast download of videos and other large files for mobile devices, and ultrafast wireless links between base stations, according to Hiroshima University professor Minoru Fujishima. An important business application is faster high-frequency trading, which requires minimal latency (delay). Recently, the time it takes to execute these trades has gone from milliseconds (thousandths of a second) to microseconds (millionths of a second), as KurzweilAI has explained. However, long-distance fiber optics connections (currently used for long-distance trading) have significant latency because light (as radio waves) travels 50% faster in a vacuum than through glass fiber, while microwaves traveling in air have a less than a 1% speed reduction. The National Institute of Information and Communications Technology and Panasonic Corporation are also partners in this research. _* Terahertz, a frequency range that is 1,000 times higher than gigahertz, or 1012 Hz, actually starts at 100 GHz or .1 THz. The researchers transmitted in this unregulated THz band -- a vast new frequency resource expected to be used for future ultrahigh-speed wireless communications -- using the frequency range from 290 GHz to 315 GHz. The full range of frequencies in __the THz band _(_275 GHz to 450 GHz) _a_re currently unallocated, but are expected to be discussed at the World Radiocommunication Conference 2019._ ------------------------- ABSTRACT OF _A 105GB/S 300GHZ CMOS TRANSMITTER_ “High speed” in communications often means “high data-rate” and fiber-optic technologies have long been ahead of wireless technologies in that regard. However, an often overlooked definite advantage of wireless links over fiber-optic links is that waves travel at the speed of light c, which is about 50% faster than in optical fibers as shown in Fig. 17.9.1 (top left). This “minimum latency” is crucial for applications requiring real-time responses over a long distance, including high-frequency trading . Further opportunities and new applications might be created if the absolute minimum latency and fiber-optic data-rates are put together. (Sub-)THz frequencies have an extremely broad atmospheric transmission window with manageable losses as shown in Fig. 17.9.1 (top right) and will be ideal for building light-speed links supporting fiber-optic data-rates. This paper presents a 105Gb/s 300GHz transmitter (TX) fabricated using a 40nm CMOS process. ------------------------- ABSTRACT OF _A 300GHZ 40NM CMOS TRANSMITTER WITH 32-QAM 17.5GB/S/CH CAPABILITY OVER 6 CHANNELS_ The vast unallocated frequency band lying above 275GHz offers enormous potential for ultrahigh-speed wireless communication. An overall bandwidth that could be allocated for multi-channel communication can easily be several times the 60GHz unlicensed bandwidth of 9GHz. We present a 300GHz transmitter (TX) in 40nm CMOS, capable of 32-quadrature amplitude modulation (QAM) 17.5Gb/s/ch signal transmission. It can cover the frequency range from 275 to 305GHz with 6 channels as shown at the top of Fig. 20.1.1. Figure 20.1.1 also lists possible THz TX architectures, based on recently reported above-200GHz TXs. The choice of architecture depends very much on the transistor unity-power-gain frequency fmax. If the fmax is sufficiently higher than the carrier frequency, the ordinary power amplifier (PA)-last architecture (Fig. 20.1.1, top row of the table) is possible and preferable [1-3], although the presence of a PA is, of course, not a requirement [4,5]. If, on the other hand, the fmax is comparable to or lower than the carrier frequency as in our case, a PA-less architecture must be adopted. A typical such architecture is the frequency multiplier-last architecture (Fig. 20.1.1, middle row of the table). For example, a 260GHz quadrupler-last on-off keying (OOK) TX  and a 434GHz tripler-last amplitude-shift keying (ASK) TX  were reported. A drawback of this architecture is the inefficient bandwidth utilization due to signal bandwidth spreading. Another drawback is that the use of multibit digital modulation is very difficult, if not impossible. An exception to this is the combination of quadrature phase-shift keying (QPSK) and frequency tripling. When a QPSK-modulated intermediate frequency (IF) signal undergoes frequency tripling, the resulting signal constellation remains that of QPSK with some symbol permutation. Such a tripler-last 240GHz QPSK TX was reported . However, a 16-QAM constellation, for example, would suffer severe distortion by frequency tripling. If the 300GHz band is to be seriously considered for a platform for ultrahigh-speed wireless communication, QAM-capability will be a requisite.
Aging is a natural phenomenon that is peculiar to all living things. However, accumulating findings indicate that senescence could be postponed or prevented by certain approaches. Substantial evidence has emerged supporting the possibility of radical human health and lifespan extension, in particular through pharmacological modulation of aging. A number of natural dietary ingredients and synthetic drugs have been assumed to have geroprotective potential. In the development of anti-aging therapeutics, several cell, insect, and animal models may provide useful starting points prior to human studies. This book provides an overview of current research aimed to search for life-extending medications and describes pharmacological aspects of anti-aging medicine. Readers are introduced to the fascinating historical background of geroprotection in the first chapter. In-depth information on models for investigating geroprotective drugs precedes a section covering anti-aging properties of pharmaceutical compounds, such as calorie restriction mimetics, autophagy inducers, senolytics and mitochondrial antioxidants. Finally, strategies to translate discoveries from aging research into drugs and healthcare policy perspectives on anti-ageing medicine are provided to give a complete picture of the field. A timely and carefully edited collection of chapters by leading researchers in the field, this book will be a fascinating and useful resource for pharmacologists, gerontologists and any scientifically interested person wishing to know more about the current status of research into anti-aging remedies, challenges and opportunities. _--Publisher_
3-D fluorescent image of 3-D tissue with many cells laid down sequentially to create attached layers of alternating cell types, like membranes in the human body (credit: York University)York University scientists have created the first in vitro (lab) 3D heart tissue made from three different types of cardiac cells that beat in synchronized harmony. It may lead to better understanding of cardiac health and improved treatments.* The researchers constructed the heart tissue from three free-beating rat cell types: contractile cardiac muscle cells, connective tissue cells, and vascular cells. No external scaffold was used and the cells were the only building blocks of the generated cardiac tissue. The researchers believe this is the first 3D _in vitro_ cardiac tissue with three cell types that can beat together as one entity, rather than at different intervals, with high cell density and efficient cell contacts, and without the requirement of external electrical stimulation. The substance used to stick the cells together (ViaGlue) may also provide researchers with tools to create and test 3D _in vitro_ cardiac tissue in their own labs to study heart disease and issues with transplantation. “This breakthrough will allow better and earlier drug testing, and potentially eliminate harmful or toxic medications sooner,” said York U chemistry Professor Muhammad Yousaf. For 2D or 3D cardiac tissue to be functional it needs the same high cellular density and the cells must be in contact to facilitate synchronized beating, according to the researchers. The 3D cardiac tissue was created at a millimeter scale, but larger versions could be made, said Yousaf, who has created a start-up company, OrganoLinX, to commercialize the ViaGlue reagent and to provide custom 3D tissues on demand. "Production of 3-dimensional artificial cardiac tissues for fundamental studies of heart disease, transplantation, and evaluation of drug toxicity is an important and intense area of research," the researchers note in a paper in open-access _Nature Scientific Reports_. _* Cardiovascular-associated diseases are the leading cause of death globally and are responsible for 40 per cent of deaths in North America, according to a 2011 report from the American Heart Association._ _York University | York U makes a 3D heart beat as one_ ------------------------- Abstract Of _Scaffold Free Bio-orthogonal Assembly Of 3-Dimensional Cardiac Tissue Via Cell Surface Engineering_ There has been tremendous interest in constructing _in vitro_ cardiac tissue for a range of fundamental studies of cardiac development and disease and as a commercial system to evaluate therapeutic drug discovery prioritization and toxicity. Although there has been progress towards studying 2-dimensional cardiac function _in vitro_, there remain challenging obstacles to generate rapid and efficient scaffold-free 3-dimensional multiple cell type co-culture cardiac tissue models. Herein, we develop a programmed rapid self-assembly strategy to induce specific and stable cell-cell contacts among multiple cell types found in heart tissue to generate 3D tissues through cell-surface engineering based on liposome delivery and fusion to display bio-orthogonal functional groups from cell membranes. We generate, for the first time, a scaffold free and stable self assembled 3 cell line co-culture 3D cardiac tissue model by assembling cardiomyocytes, endothelial cells and cardiac fibroblast cells via a rapid inter-cell click ligation process. We compare and analyze the function of the 3D cardiac tissue chips with 2D co-culture monolayers by assessing cardiac specific markers, electromechanical cell coupling, beating rates and evaluating drug toxicity.
MOOGFEST is an annual, multi-day music, art and technology festival. The event was previously held in Asheville, North Carolina, where the late Robert Arthur "Bob" Moog, the inventor of the Moog synthesizer and founding father of electronic music, spent the last 30 years of his life. The event is now held in Durham, North Carolina. Past performers who have played at the festival include Kraftwerk, Devo and Brian Eno. Hailed as “the most adventurous and cutting edge” festival of 2016, Moogfest returns with a commitment to futurist conversations and performances that wrestle with our historic moment, and reflect on the festival’s home in North Carolina. In celebration of its 11th iteration, Moogfest will unveil its lineup over the next 11 weeks through their weekly “Future Thought Future Sound” e-mail newsletter, inviting the Moogfest community to explore program themes like Transhumanism, Techno-shamanism and Protest. For this year’s festival, one-time-only presentations are being developed by artists like: Wearable tech maven Nona Hendryx, Activist and Soundscape designer Moor Mother, Prolific Guitarist and Composer Nick Zinner of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Grammy-nominated ‘Stranger Things’ Composers Kyle Dixon and Michael Stein of S U R V I V E, Experimental multi-instrumentalist The Haxan Cloak, Esteemed Producer Jas Shaw of Simian Mobile Disco, Notorious Noise Band Wolf Eyes Co-presented by Trip Metal Fest, Ambient Pioneer Laraaji Co-presented by Stones Throw/Leaving, Visible Cloaks and Syrinx Co-presented by RVNG Intl., and more. The independent, annual, four-day festival will take place in Durham, North Carolina from May 18-21, 2017. _-- Event Producer_
Imagine a robotic stuffed animal that can read and respond to a child’s emotional state, a commercial that can recognize and change based on a customer’s facial expression, or a company that can actually create feelings as though a person were experiencing them naturally. _Heart of the Machine_ explores the next giant step in the relationship between humans and technology: the ability of computers to recognize, respond to, and even replicate emotions. Computers have long been integral to our lives, and their advances continue at an exponential rate. Many believe that artificial intelligence equal or superior to human intelligence will happen in the not-too-distance future; some even think machine consciousness will follow. Futurist Richard Yonck argues that emotion, the first, most basic, and most natural form of communication, is at the heart of how we will soon work with and use computers. Instilling emotions into computers is the next leap in our centuries-old obsession with creating machines that replicate humans. But for every benefit this progress may bring to our lives, there is a possible pitfall. Emotion recognition could lead to advanced surveillance, and the same technology that can manipulate our feelings could become a method of mass control. And, as shown in movies like _Her_ and _Ex Machina_, our society already holds a deep-seated anxiety about what might happen if machines could actually feel and break free from our control. _Heart of the Machine_ is an exploration of the new and inevitable ways in which mankind and technology will interact. _--Publisher_
The Interop ITX Conference offers five days of world-class education, compelling speakers, and unlimited networking opportunities to help technology leaders keep up with the challenges and drive their businesses forward. Check out our agenda here.
The technology landscape has dramatically changed, requiring new skills, platforms, and services to achieve technology excellence. Attendees will benefit from strategic insight, hands-on technical resources, and an inside look at the emerging technologies affecting today's IT organizations. Interop ITX provides independent content built by a Review Board of objective practitioners and content professionals. The Board ensures that attendees leave armed with the inspiration and insight they need to build their IT roadmap for today and the future, using the best technology available. Meet the Review Board. _--Event Producer_
Vivid Sydney is a 23-day festival of light, music and ideas. Vivid Sydney features many of the world's most important creative industry forums, a mesmerising free public exhibition of outdoor lighting sculptures and installations and a cutting-edge contemporary music program. Vivid Sydney is where art, technology and commerce intersect. Our 2017 session is on Friday 2nd June 2017, and this time we are presenting a discussion on the how AI is transforming the way people create. Vivid Ideas is held annually and attracts an audience of over 1.7 million visitors. It has been a sold-out keynote event at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Sydney as part of Vivid Ideas for the past 4 years. Last year we presented Georgia Frances King, then editor for Kinfolk now Deputy Ideas Editor at Quartz, and in 2015 presented Josh Rubin, the co-founder of CoolHunting.com. Vivid Sydney is a festival of light, music and ideas. Vivid Light transforms Sydney into a wonderland of 'light art' sculptures, innovative light installations and grand-scale projections for all to enjoy - for free. It is a magical celebration of light-design excellence and the world's largest outdoor 'art-gallery': a unique Vivid Sydney experience. Vivid Light engages lighting artists, designers and manufacturers from around Australia and the world to illuminate, interpret and transform Sydney’s urban spaces through their creative vision. Vivid Music presents a cutting-edge contemporary music program. From local and international acts performing at the iconic Sydney Opera House, to other large venues and small bars, Vivid Sydney hosts a lively and eclectic range of live performances and ground-breaking musical collaborations. At the heart of Vivid Music is Vivid LIVE, a program of cutting-edge music which takes place at the Sydney Opera House, Australia’s most famous building. Vivid Ideas is the Asia Pacific's annual celebration of innovation, creativity and community, building audiences and markets for the creative industries, and offering professional development opportunities across the sector. The program truly spans the innovation and imagination sector: from technology and start-up culture to design and architecture, film and screen content to visual arts and performance, advertising and marketing to animation, VFX, lighting and events. During the festival, Vivid Ideas brings together business and creative leaders for professional development, information updates on their industries, market opportunities and innovation: gathering all the conversations, conventions and big announcements in Sydney. --Event Producer
FROM INTEL | Intel put 100 drones in the sky in 2016 and broke a world record. For 2017 we set a new challenge: 500 drones. Watch our new world record performance in action. ON THE WEB: Intel IQ | main Intel IQ | 500 drones light night sky to set world record Intel IQ | Drone innovation trends to watch in 2017 Intel IQ | 100 dancing drones set world record ABOUT IQ BY INTEL | IQ by Intel is our tech culture magazine that brings you deeper into the lives of people and the technologies they are using to change the world. Well known and up-and-coming innovators, makers and experts inside Intel and from across the industry help us explore how technologies are conceived, how they work and how we can use them in our everyday lives. Each week, we dig into fashion, sports, gaming, health, lifestyle, the maker movement and much more. ABOUT INTEL | Intel, the world leader in computer silicon innovation, develops technologies, products and initiatives to continually advance how people work and live. Founded in 1968 to build semiconductor memory products, Intel introduced the world's first computer microprocessor in 1971. This decade, our mission is to create and extend computing technology to connect and enrich the lives of every person on earth. ON THE WEB: Intel | main Intel | YouTube channel ------------------------- ------------------------- VIDEO COLLECTION | airborne drone sky show _Films on the making of the drone 3D masterpiece._ VIDEO NO. 1. | Intel + Ars Electronica VIDEO NO. 2 | Intel + Ars Electronica FROM INTEL + ARS ELECTRONICA | Intel and Ars Electronica Future explain how they developed Drone 100, a 3D masterpiece and world record of art and airborne technology, using Intel technology to push the boundaries of what’s possible. ON THE WEB: Ars Electronica | main Ars Electronica | YouTube channel Ars Electronica | Drone 100 • 2016 Ars Electronica | Drone 100: a world record featuring 100 points Guiness Book of World Records | Drone display sets world record for most UAVs airborne simultaneously
A new set of machine-learning algorithms can generate 3D structures of complex nanoscale protein molecules like this complex proteasome map refined to 2.8 Angstroms (.28 nanometer) in 70 min with 49,954 particle images (credit: Structura Biotechnology Inc.)A new set of machine-learning algorithms developed by researchers at the University of Toronto Scarborough can generate 3D structures of nanoscale protein molecules that could not be achieved in the past. The algorithms may revolutionize the development of new drug therapies for a range of diseases and may even lead to better understand how life works at the atomic level, the researchers say. Drugs work by binding to a specific protein molecule and changing the protein's 3D shape, which alters the way the drug works once inside the body. The ideal drug is designed in a shape that will only bind to a specific protein or group of proteins that are involved in a disease, while eliminating side effects that occur when drugs bind to other proteins in the body. A SIGNIFICANT COMPUTATIONAL PROBLEM Since proteins are tiny -- about 1 to 100 nanometers -- even smaller than the shortest wavelength of visible light, they can’t be seen directly without using sophisticated techniques like electron cryomicroscopy (cryo-EM). Cryo-EM uses high-power microscopes to take tens of thousands of low-resolution images of a frozen protein sample from different positions. The computational problem is to then piece together the correct high-resolution 3D structure from these 2D images. Existing techniques take several days or even weeks to generate a 3D structure on a cluster of computers, requiring as much as 500,000 CPU hours, according to the researchers. Also, existing techniques often generate incorrect structures unless an expert user provides an accurate guess of the molecule being studied.
CryoSPARC machine learning algorithms can generate 3-D structures of nanoscale protein molecules (credit: Structura Biotechnology Inc)New high-speed, deep-learning algorithms That's where the new set of algorithms* comes in. It reconstructs 3D structures of protein molecules using these images. “Our approach solves some of the major problems in terms of speed and number of structures you can determine,” says Professor David Fleet, chair of the Computer and Mathematical Sciences Department at U of Toronto Scarborough. The algorithms could significantly aid in the development of new drugs because they provide a faster, more efficient means at arriving at the correct protein structure. The new approach, called cryoSPARC, developed by the team’s startup, Structura Biotechnology Inc., eliminates the need for that prior knowledge and can make the computations possible in minutes on a single computer, using a standalone graphics processing unit (GPU) accelerated software package, according to the researchers. The research was published in the current edition of the journal _Nature Methods_. It received funding from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC). The new cryo-EM platform is already being used in labs across North America, the researchers note. _* "We use an SGD [stochastic gradient descent] optimization scheme to quickly identify one or several low-resolution 3D structures that are consistent with a set of observed images. This algorithm allows for _ab initio_ heterogeneous structure determination with no prior model of the molecule's structure. Once approximate structures are determined, a branch-and-bound algorithm for image alignment helps rapidly refine structures to high resolution. The speed and robustness of these approaches allow structure determination in a matter of minutes or hours on a single inexpensive desktop workstation. … SGD was popularized as a key tool in deep learning for the optimization of nonconvex functions, and it results in near human-level performance in tasks like image and speech recognition." -- Ali Punjani et al./_Nature Methods _University of Toronto Scarborough | New algorithms may revolutionize drug discoveries and our understanding of life_ ------------------------- Abstract Of _cryoSPARC: Algorithms For Rapid Unsupervised Cryo-EM Structure Determination_ Single-particle electron cryomicroscopy (cryo-EM) is a powerful method for determining the structures of biological macromolecules. With automated microscopes, cryo-EM data can often be obtained in a few days. However, processing cryo-EM image data to reveal heterogeneity in the protein structure and to refine 3D maps to high resolution frequently becomes a severe bottleneck, requiring expert intervention, prior structural knowledge, and weeks of calculations on expensive computer clusters. Here we show that stochastic gradient descent (SGD) and branch-and-bound maximum likelihood optimization algorithms permit the major steps in cryo-EM structure determination to be performed in hours or minutes on an inexpensive desktop computer. Furthermore, SGD with Bayesian marginalization allows _ab initio_ 3D classification, enabling automated analysis and discovery of unexpected structures without bias from a reference map. These algorithms are combined in a user-friendly computer program named cryoSPARC
Dear readers, I participated in the well organized Future of Life Institute event called Beneficial Artificial Intelligence • 2017 -- exploring how we can develop advanced future tech to benefit humanity and avoid risks. The event gathered many top technologists, policy makers, and executives. I gave several talks, which you can view below. At the event, I also participated in forming the Asilomar AI Principles: 23 guidelines to make sure the ongoing development of artificial intelligence remains helpful to the world and safe. Many famous leaders at the Future of Life event drafted and signed the principles, engaging these deep ideas, including: * Stephen Hawking, PhD -- physicist at Cambridge University * Demis Hassabis, PhD -- co-founder & CEO of Deep Mind * Mustafa Suleyman -- co-founder of Deep Mind * Yann LeCun, PhD -- Director of AI at Facebook * Peter Norvig, PhD -- Director of Research at Google * Anthony Romero -- Executive Director of American Civil Liberties Union * Elon Musk -- CEO of Space X & Tesla So far, more than 2,700 people endorsed the principles we created by signing the report. Here is the full list of experts who signed. Much more background on this successful event, below. Videos of my keynote talk and panel on creating superintelligent, human level artificial intelligence, also posted below. Enjoy the conversation! -- _Ray Kurzweil_ ON THE WEB: Future of Life Institute | main Future of Life Institute | Beneficial Artificial Intelligence • 2017 Future of Life Institute | full list of event participants Future of Life Institute | Asilomar AI Principles • 2017 Future of Life Institute | full list of Asilomar AI Principles signatories Future of Life Institute | principled AI discussion in Asilomar Future of Life Institute | YouTube channel ------------------------- 1. Future of Life Institute | MISSION _Founding ideas & goals._ The Future of Life Institute was founded to catalyze and support research and projects for safe-guarding life and developing our optimistic future -- positive ways for humanity to steer new tech and challenges. With technology improving at an accelerating pace, the institute works to ensure tomorrow’s sciences are beneficial for humanity. With powerful capabilities like nuclear weapons, bio-technology and artificial intelligence, planning ahead is a better strategy than learning from mistakes. Future of Life Institute is focused on reducing risks. ON THE WEB: _Wikipedia_ | Future of Life Institute _Wikipedia_ | artificial intelligence _Wikipedia_ | existential risk from artificial intelligence ------------------------- 2. Future of Life Institute | BENEFICIAL ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE • 2017 _Event featuring top researchers & leaders._ Future of Life Institute's recent event Beneficial Artificial Intelligence • 2017 brought together top artificial intelligence (AI) researchers from academia & industry -- plus thought leaders in economics, law, ethics, and philosophy. Attendees from many AI fields hashed out opportunities and challenges related to the future of AI. They explored steps we can take to ensure that the technology is beneficial. ------------------------- 3. Future of Life Institute | ASILOMAR AI PRINCIPLES • 2017 _Guidelines written by the event attendees._ Artificial intelligence tools are used every day to power the world. Its continued development, guided by the Asilomar principles, offer a framework to keep AI safe in the centuries ahead. Event attendees created the principles during the conference and discuss the details in interviews available on the Future of Life's website. ------------------------- VIDEO COLLECTION | Future of Life Institute _Presentations from the event Beneficial Artificial Intelligence • 2017 -- _complete video set ------------------------- video | TALK BY RAY KURZWEIL _Creating human level AI, how and when._ ABOUT | Ray Kurzweil explores how and when we might create human level artificial intelligence at the Beneficial Artificial Intelligence conference organized by the Future of Life Institute. ------------------------- video | PANEL DISCUSSION _Ray Kurzweil & more thought leaders explore the topic of superintelligence, fact or fiction._ ABOUT | Panel discussion on what likely outcomes might be if technologists succeed in building human level artificial intelligence. What would we like to happen? At the Beneficial Artificial Intelligence conference organized by the Future of Life Institute. MODERATOR: Max Tegmark PANELISTS: Nick Bostrom David Chalmers Sam Harris Demis Hassabis Ray Kurzweil Elon Musk Stuart Russell Bart Selman Jaan Tallinn ------------------------- TALK | AI & the Economy -- by Eric Brynjolfsson, PhD 1. Ray Kurzweil comment at -- 20 minutes, 30 seconds TRANSCRIPT | comment from Ray Kurzweil -- 20 minutes, 30 seconds “So one thing you didn’t mention is the 50% deflation rate inherent in information technology. So when this middle worker whose wages are supposedly stagnant buys a $300 smartphone, she’s getting a trillion dollars of computation circa 1965 -- and you say well she can’t really benefit from all that computation directly, but she’s getting millions of dollars of free services, free encyclopedia, etc. "So then the challenge is ok it’s true for this really interesting world of information products, but you can’t eat information technology, you can’t live in it, you can’t wear it. The point I make is that all that’s going to change -- we’re going to print out clothing in the 2020s with 3D printers, manufacture modules you can snap together and build a house inexpensively, we’re going to have vertical agriculture which will automate food production, make it very inexpensive. "So the value of a dollar is actually going up. But we don’t see that because we take these gains in the numerator and the denominator, so some say where’s the productivity gains?” -- _RAY KURZWEIL_ ------------------------- TALK | Creating Human Level AI -- by Yoshua Bengio, PhD 2. Ray Kurzweil comment at -- 24 minutes, 40 seconds TRANSCRIPT | comment from Ray Kurzweil -- 24 minutes, 40 seconds “So my view, and I’ll talk more about this in my talk tomorrow, is that the neocortex is organized hierarchically, it’s actually a hierarchy of sequential models. And these sequential models are not LSTMs *. They don’t deal with long term dependencies, that’s dealt with by the hierarchy, and that deals with compositionality. "And also deals with this sort of intricate interactions at different levels of abstraction that we find that DNNs * can do that incidentally, to some extent. But I will talk about some of the work we’re doing where we can significantly outperform LSTMs in terms of this type of abstraction. But I think that ultimately a lot of the problems we’re seeing will be solved by using a hierarchy of sequential models.” -- _RAY KURZWEIL_ TRANSCRIPT | response from Yoshua Bengio, PhD “I agree. I think having a hierarchy in many different ways: so in space, in time, in abstraction — all of these things are important. And we’ve been pushing these boundaries for several years. And I think much more needs to be done still, thanks.” -- _YOSHUA BENGIO, PHD_ * LSTM is long short term memory * DNN is deep neural network _Wikipedia_ | long short term memory _Wikipedia_ | deep neural network ------------------------- PANEL | Implications of AI for the Economy & Society 3. Ray Kurzweil comment at -- 17 minutes, 55 seconds TRANSCRIPT | comment from Ray Kurzweil -- 17 minutes, 55 seconds “I have a comment on Jeff Sach's discussion on nastiness. So, we have a lot of people in the world, so even if a small number of nastiness it’s going to be a lot of nastiness -- I think you implied that it’s getting worse -- I have an observation, I’d be interested in your response. I think our information about nastiness is getting exponentially better so there’s some nastiness 10,000 miles away we not only hear about it, we experience it -- there could be a battle that wiped out the next village 100 years ago, and we wouldn’t even hear about it. All the measures of the opposite of nastiness are getting dramatically better. “Even Steven Pinker documents an exponential decline in violence. There was 1 democracy in the world 2 centuries ago, and 5 two centuries ago -- we can argue how many there are today, but it’s a lot more than 5. Poverty has been cut according to the World Bank, 50% world-wide in the last 20 years, education is up, etc. “Is it your view that nastiness is getting worse? My view is that, for example, social media is actually spreading a universal set of ethical beliefs, we hear very dramatically when there’s exceptions to that.” -- _RAY KURZWEIL_ TRANSCRIPT | response from Jeffrey Sachs, PhD “Thanks a lot. I didn’t say it’s getting worse, I just said it’s a nasty world -- and here comes a very powerful technology, extraordinary in what it can do. The lesson of every technology is it can be deployed for good or bad. And this is one of the most powerful imaginable. It can be deployed for cyberwar, creating mass surveillance of society. Or an improvement of quality of life. “I was advising don’t only make a list of desirables, understand how tough this world is, and how these technologies can be very badly deployed. Privacy has plummeted in our society, government surveillance has soared. Cyberwarfare is a reality -- we’re so blasé about this. My point was it only takes one war to change Steven Pinker’s trends. In 1913 all this techno-optimism was real and a war came, that 102 years later historians still can’t explain a deeper cause for, the first World War was mindless. We’re not out of that human nature. I’m only advising that it’s not just a list of goods and bads but a real advocacy by this community." -- _JEFFREY SACHS, PHD_ _Wikipedia_ | Steven Pinker, PhD ------------------------- PANEL | Policy & Governance 4. Ray Kurzweil comment at -- 25 minutes, 50 seconds video coming soon | link TRANSCRIPT | "I enjoyed your talk Heather, I appreciate and support your passion because I think it’s a passionately important issue. I’m also a fan of Hannah Arendt. I love her statement ‘banality of evil,’ which says a lot. "You addressed a lot of these issues, but I do want to return to the dual use issue. So, an Amazon drone that delivers medicine to a hospital in Africa could easily be re-deployed, or the underlying technology could be re-deployed to deliver a bomb in the same way. So, one of the arguments for banning it is we did that with chemical weapons, but we can get through the day without anthrax or small pox. These are dual use weapons. "I was actually on the U.S. Army’s science advisory group about 15 years ago, my issue was not artificial intelligence, it was protection against bio-terrorism, but they were developing autonomous weapons back then and, as you pointed out, the rationale was well, ok the humans are going to be in the loop, the humans will decide the strategy and the weapons will just do the tactics. "But that’s a very loose line, a tactic could be take this hill, or take this town. So one person’s or one AI’s tactics is another’s strategy. But my main question is the horse has been out of the barn on this issue for 15-20 years, so what is a reasonable goal at this point given that it’s already -- I mean, all the militaries in the world have been pursuing this for quite some time." -- _RAY KURZWEIL_ _Wikipedia_ | dual use technology _Wikipedia_ | Hannah Arendt ------------------------- ------------------------- FUTURE OF LIFE INSTITUTE | Beneficial Artificial Intelligence • 2017 _Full event agenda with presentation videos._ ------------------------- DAY 1 | all videos -- January 5, 2017 RECEPTION: welcome ------------------------- DAY 2 | all videos -- January 6, 2017 THEME | ECONOMICS _How we grow prosperity through automation without leaving people lacking income or purpose?_ OPENING: keynotes on AI, economics & law PANEL: How is AI automating & augmenting work? PANEL: What are the implications of AI for the economy & society? FIRESIDE CHAT: What makes people happy? ------------------------- DAY 3 | all videos -- January 7, 2017 THEME | CREATING HUMAN LEVEL AI Will it happen, when and how? What key remaining obstacles can be identified? How can we make future AI systems more robust than today’s, without crashing, malfunctioning or getting hacked? TALKS & PANEL: on topic THEME | SUPERINTELLIGENCE Science or fiction? If human level general AI is developed, then what are likely outcomes? What can we do now to maximize the probability of a positive outcome? * PANEL: If we build human level AI, what are likely outcomes? What would we like to happen? ------------------------- DAY 4 | all videos -- January 8, 2017 THEME | LAW, POLICY & ETHICS How can we update legal systems, international treaties and algorithms to be more fair, ethical & efficient? And to keep pace with AI? TALKS: on topic PANEL: policy & governance PANEL: AI & the law PANEL: AI & ethics ------------------------- ON THE WEB: United States White House | "Artificial Intelligence, Automation & The Economy" • report _Robotics Trends_ | "Asilomar AI Principles, 23 tips for making AI safe" _Geek Wire_ | "Should we be hooking up AI to our brains, new Asilomar principles urge caution" ------------------------- -------------------------
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DNA -- now with a new base pair! (credit: Romesberg Lab)Scientists at The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) have developed the first stable semisynthetic organism -- a bacterium with two new synthetic bases (called X and Y) added to the four natural bases (A, T, C, and G) that every living organism possesses. Adding two more letters to expand the genetic alphabet can be used to make novel proteins for new therapeutics, according to the researchers. All life as we currently know it contains just four bases that pair up to form two “base pairs” -- the rungs of the DNA ladder -- which are simply rearranged to create different organisms.
DNA double helix with examples of base pairs (credit: National Human Genome Research Institute)Until now. TSRI Professor Floyd Romesberg and his colleagues have now shown that their new "more life-like" single-celled organism can hold on indefinitely to the new synthetic base pair as it divides. Their research was published January 23, 2017, online ahead of print in the journal _Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences_. SNIPPING TOGETHER A NEW SEMISYNTHETIC ORGANISM
Top: chemical structure of a normal DNA base pair, with C and G bases. Below: structures of the two new X and Y synthetic bases. (credit: Yorke Zhang et al./PNAS)To ensure the new semisynthetic organism retains the new synthetic base pair as it divides, the researchers used CRISPR-Cas9 (a sort of scissors for modifying DNA). They engineered the organism to react to a genetic sequence that doesn't have X and Y as a foreign invader (an immune response). So any new cell that dropped X and Y would be marked for destruction -- leaving the scientists with an organism that could hold on to the new bases. In their experiments, that enabled their semisynthetic organism to keep X and Y in its genome after dividing 60 times, leading the researchers to believe it can hold on to the new base pair indefinitely. “We can now get the light of life to stay on,” said Romesberg, senior author of the new study. “That suggests that all of life’s processes can be subject to manipulation.” Romesberg emphasized that this work is only in single cells and is not meant to be used in more complex organisms. So far, scientists can only get the organism to store genetic information. While applications for this kind of organism are still far in the future, the researchers say the work could be used to create new functions for single-celled organisms that play important roles in drug discovery and "much more." (Romesberg has created created a biotech company named Synthorx for discovering and developing novel protein therapeutics.) -------------------------
"ALL OF LIFE’S PROCESSES CAN BE SUBJECT TO MANIPULATION"------------------------- Next, the researchers plan to study how their new genetic code can be transcribed into RNA, the molecule in cells needed to translate DNA into useful proteins. Scientists at the University of Grenoble and Henan Normal University were also involved in the study, which was supported by grants from the National Institutes of Health, theNational Science Foundation, the National Natural Science Foundation of China, Labex ARCANE, NanoBio-ICMG platforms, and a postdoctoral fellowship from the American Cancer Society. ------------------------- ABSTRACT OF _A SEMISYNTHETIC ORGANISM ENGINEERED FOR THE STABLE EXPANSION OF THE GENETIC ALPHABET_ All natural organisms store genetic information in a four-letter, two-base-pair genetic alphabet. The expansion of the genetic alphabet with two synthetic unnatural nucleotides that selectively pair to form an unnatural base pair (UBP) would increase the information storage potential of DNA, and semisynthetic organisms (SSOs) that stably harbor this expanded alphabet would thereby have the potential to store and retrieve increased information. Toward this goal, we previously reported that _Escherichia coli_ grown in the presence of the unnatural nucleoside triphosphates dNaMTP and d5SICSTP, and provided with the means to import them via expression of a plasmid-borne nucleoside triphosphate transporter, replicates DNA containing a single dNaM-d5SICS UBP. Although this represented an important proof-of-concept, the nascent SSO grew poorly and, more problematically, required growth under controlled conditions and even then was unable to indefinitely store the unnatural information, which is clearly a prerequisite for true semisynthetic life. Here, to fortify and vivify the nascent SSO, we engineered the transporter, used a more chemically optimized UBP, and harnessed the power of the bacterial immune response by using Cas9 to eliminate DNA that had lost the UBP. The optimized SSO grows robustly, constitutively imports the unnatural triphosphates, and is able to indefinitely retain multiple UBPs in virtually any sequence context. This SSO is thus a form of life that can stably store genetic information using a six-letter, three-base-pair alphabet.
Can Dr. Athena Morrow (Carrie-Anne Moss) be convinced that synth consciousness is real? Do robots have the same right to protection that we do? Are synthetics becoming a threat? Season premiere of _Humans_ on Monday, February 13 at 10/9c on AMC. Update 2/14/2017: AMC made browser access to Season 2, Episode 1 free for 78 days.
Beneficial AI conference (credit: Future of Life Institute)At the Beneficial AI 2017 conference, January 5-8 held at a conference center in Asilomar, California -- a sequel to the 2015 AI Safety conference in Puerto Rico -- the Future of Life Institute (FLI) brought together more 100 AI researchers from academia and industry and thought leaders in economics, law, ethics, and philosophy to address and formulate principles of beneficial AI. FLI hosted a two-day workshop for its grant recipients, followed by a 2.5-day conference, in which people from various AI-related fields hashed out opportunities and challenges related to the future of AI and steps we can take to ensure that the resulting technology is beneficial.
Beneficial AI conference participants (credit: Future of Life Institute)The result was 23 Asilomar AI Principles, intended to suggest AI research guidelines, such as "The goal of AI research should be to create not undirected intelligence, but beneficial intelligence" and "An arms race in lethal autonomous weapons should be avoided"; identify ethics and values, such as safety and transparency; and address longer-term issues -- notably, " Superintelligence should only be developed in the service of widely shared ethical ideals, and for the benefit of all humanity rather than one state or organization." To date, 2515 AI researchers and others are signatories of the Principles. The process is described here. The conference location has historic significance. In 2009, the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence held the Asilomar Meeting on Long-Term AI Futures to address similar concerns. And in 1975, the Asilomar Conference on Recombinant DNA was held to discuss potential biohazards and regulation of emerging biotechnology. The non-profit Future of Life Institute was founded in March 2014 by MIT cosmologist Max Tegmark, Skype co-founder Jaan Tallinn, DeepMind research scientist Viktoriya Krakovna, Boston University Ph.D. candidate in Developmental Sciences Meia Chita-Tegmark, and UCSC physicist Anthony Aguirre. Its mission is "to catalyze and support research and initiatives for safeguarding life and developing optimistic visions of the future, including positive ways for humanity to steer its own course considering new technologies and challenges." FLI's scientific advisory board includes physicist Stephen Hawking, SpaceX CEO Elon Musk, Astronomer Royal Martin Rees, and UC Berkeley Professor of Computer Science/Smith-Zadeh Professor in Engineering Stuart Russell. _Future of Life Institute__ | Superintelligence: Science or Fiction? | Elon Musk & Other Great Minds_ _ Elon Musk, Stuart Russell, Ray Kurzweil, Demis Hassabis, Sam Harris, Nick Bostrom, David Chalmers, Bart Selman, and Jaan Tallinn discuss with Max Tegmark (moderator) what likely outcomes might be if we succeed in building human-level AGI [artificial general intelligence] (and beyond), and also what we would like to happen._
NIRS/EEG brain computer interface system applied to a model (credit: Wyss Center for Bio and Neuroengineering)Four advanced ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis) patients who were "completely locked in" (totally unable to communicate) for years have suddenly broken through in a lab at the Wyss Center for Bio and Neuroengineering in Geneva, Switzerland -- communicating a "yes" or "no" by simply thinking the answers. The brain–computer interface (BCI) system achieved this remarkable breakthrough by using functional near-infrared spectroscopy (_f_NIRS) to measure changes in blood oxygen levels in the frontal lobes of the brain. Patients suffering from ALS paralysis, but with preserved awareness, cognition, eye movements and blinking, are classified as having "locked-in syndrome" and can communicate via a BCI by looking at a computer screen, for example. But when the disorder progresses until the patient loses control of the last muscular response, usually the eye muscles, the condition is known as "completely locked-in state" (CLIS), with no possibility of communication. For most of us: a nightmare world. "ARE YOU HAPPY?" But surprisingly, when the researchers asked the question, "Are you happy?," the answer from all four was consistently "yes," repeated over weeks of questioning. In response to the researchers' statement, “I love to live,” three of the four replied yes. The researchers asked other personal questions that required "yes" or "no" answers, such as: "Your husband's name is Joachim?" They found the questions elicited correct responses in 70% of the trials. In one case, a family requested that the researchers asked the patient whether he would agree for his daughter to marry her boyfriend, Mario. The answer: "no" nine times out of ten. Overturning previous theories, the research was published in an open-access paper January 31 in _PLoS Biology_. It was conducted by a multinational team led by Professor Niels Birbaumer, affiliated with the University of Tübingen in Germany; Ospedale San Camillo, IRCCS, Venice, Italy; and the Wyss Center for Bio and Neuroengineering. "If we could make this technique widely clinically available, it could have a huge impact on the day-to-day life of people with completely locked-in syndrome," said Birbaumer. "Restoring communication for completely locked-in patients is a crucial first step in the challenge to regain movement," said Professor John Donoghue, Director of the Wyss Center. "The Wyss Center plans to build on the results of this study to develop clinically useful technology that will be available to people with paralysis resulting from ALS, stroke, or spinal cord injury. The technology used in the study also has broader applications that we believe could be further developed to treat and monitor people with a wide range of neuro-disorders." How _f_NIRS detected "yes" and "no"
One measurement on one channel of relative changes in oxygenated hemoglobin levels (vertical) vs. seconds (horizontal) for "yes" (left) and "no" (right) questions. (credit: Ujwal Chaudhary et al./PLos Biology)The brain-computer interface in the study was based on functional near-infrared spectroscopy (_f_NIRS), which measures blood oxygenation (O2Hb). While other brain-computer interfaces have previously enabled some paralyzed patients to communicate, near-infrared spectroscopy is, so far, the only successful approach to restore communication to patients suffering from completely locked-in syndrome, according to the researchers. After training a classifier separating “yes” from “no” answers for several days, the patients were given feedback of their affirmative or negative response to questions with known answers and open questions over a period of weeks. To measure relative change in oxygenated hemoglobin in the blood (indicating neural changes), the researchers used a NIRSport functional near-infrared spectroscopy system, which provides eight near-infrared sources and eight detectors, and placed these "optodes" over the frontocentral brain region. To measure changes in O2Hb, the _f_NIRS system shined two wavelengths (760 nm and 850 nm) of pulsed near-infrared light. The blood component hemoglobin scatters light, and the ratio of infrared light absorbed to light scattered depends on the amount of hemoglobin binding with oxygen. NIRS measures the change of this ratio and infers the change in O2Hb concentration from that change. The NIRS device can reach to about 3 centimeters in the brain, with a resolution on the order of 5-10 mm, according to NIRX. The work was supported by Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft; Stiftung Volkswagenwerk; German Ministry of Education and Research; Baden-Wuerttemberg Stiftung EMOIO from the Federal Ministry of Education and Research; Eva and Horst Koehler-Stiftung; National Natural Science Foundation of China; EU grant LUMINOUS; San Camillo hospital; and NINDS, NIH. _Brain-computer interface allows completely locked-in people to communicate_
"Brains vs Artificial Intelligence" competition at the Rivers Casino in Pittsburgh (credit: Carnegie Mellon University)Libratus, an AI developed by Carnegie Mellon University, has defeated four of the world’s best professional poker players in a marathon 120,000 hands of Heads-up, No-Limit Texas Hold’em poker played over 20 days, CMU announced today (Jan. 31) -- joining Deep Blue (for chess), Watson, and Alpha Go as major milestones in AI. Libratus led the pros by a collective $1,766,250 in chips.* The tournament was held at the Rivers Casino in Pittsburgh from 11-30 January in a competition called “Brains Vs. Artificial Intelligence: Upping the Ante.” The developers of Libratus -- Tuomas Sandholm, professor of computer science, and Noam Brown, a Ph.D. student in computer science -- said the sizable victory is statistically significant and not simply a matter of luck. “The best AI’s ability to do strategic reasoning with imperfect information has now surpassed that of the best humans,” Sandholm said. "This is the last frontier, at least in the foreseeable horizon, in game-solving in AI." This new AI milestone has implications for any realm in which information is incomplete and opponents sow misinformation, said Frank Pfenning, head of the Computer Science Department in CMU’s School of Computer Science. Business negotiation, military strategy, cybersecurity, and medical treatment planning could all benefit from automated decision-making using a Libratus-like AI. “The computer can’t win at poker if it can’t bluff,” Pfenning explained. “Developing an AI that can do that successfully is a tremendous step forward scientifically and has numerous applications. Imagine that your smartphone will someday be able to negotiate the best price on a new car for you. That’s just the beginning.” HOW THE PROS TAUGHT LIBRATUS ABOUT ITS WEAKNESSES
Brains vs AI scorecard (credit: Carnegie Mellon University)So how was Libratus was able to improve day to day during the competition? It turns out it was the pros themselves who taught Libratus about its weaknesses. “After play ended each day, a meta-algorithm analyzed what holes the pros had identified and exploited in Libratus’ strategy,” Sandholm explained. “It then prioritized the holes and algorithmically patched the top three using the supercomputer each night. "This is very different than how learning has been used in the past in poker. Typically researchers develop algorithms that try to exploit the opponent’s weaknesses. In contrast, here the daily improvement is about algorithmically fixing holes in our own strategy.” Sandholm also said that Libratus’ end-game strategy was a major advance. “The end-game solver has a perfect analysis of the cards,” he said. It was able to update its strategy for each hand in a way that ensured any late changes would only improve the strategy. Over the course of the competition, the pros responded by making more aggressive moves early in the hand, no doubt to avoid playing in the deep waters of the endgame where the AI had an advantage, he added. CONVERGING HIGH-PERFORMANCE COMPUTING AND AI
Professor Tuomas Sandholm, Carnegie Mellon School of Computer Science, with the Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center's Bridges supercomputer (credit: Carnegie Mellon University)Libratus’ victory was made possible by the Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center’s Bridges computer. Libratus recruited the raw power of approximately 600 of Bridges’ 846 compute nodes. Bridges' total speed is 1.35 petaflops, about 7,250 times as fast as a high-end laptop, and its memory is 274 terabytes, about 17,500 as much as you’d get in that laptop. This computing power gave Libratus the ability to play four of the best Texas Hold’em players in the world at once and beat them. “We designed Bridges to converge high-performance computing and artificial intelligence,” said Nick Nystrom, PSC’s senior director of research and principal investigator for the National Science Foundation-funded Bridges system. “Libratus’ win is an important milestone toward developing AIs to address complex, real-world problems. At the same time, Bridges is powering new discoveries in the physical sciences, biology, social science, business and even the humanities.” Sandholm said he will continue his research push on the core technologies involved in solving imperfect-information games and in applying these technologies to real-world problems. That includes his work with Optimized Markets, a company he founded to automate negotiations. “CMU played a pivotal role in developing both computer chess, which eventually beat the human world champion, and Watson, the AI that beat top human Jeopardy! competitors,” Pfenning said. “It has been very exciting to watch the progress of poker-playing programs that have finally surpassed the best human players. Each one of these accomplishments represents a major milestone in our understanding of intelligence. Head’s-Up No-Limit Texas Hold’em is a complex game, with 10160 (the number 1 followed by 160 zeroes) information sets -- each set being characterized by the path of play in the hand as perceived by the player whose turn it is. The AI must make decisions without knowing all of the cards in play, while trying to sniff out bluffing by its opponent. As “no-limit” suggests, players may bet or raise any amount up to all of their chips. Sandholm will be sharing Libratus’ secrets now that the competition is over, beginning with invited talks at the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence meeting Feb. 4-9 in San Francisco and in submissions to peer-reviewed scientific conferences and journals. _* The pros -- Dong Kim, Jimmy Chou, Daniel McAulay and Jason Les -- will split a $200,000 prize purse based on their respective performances during the event. McAulay, of Scotland, said Libratus was a tougher opponent than he expected, but it was exciting to play against it. “Whenever you play a top player at poker, you learn from it,” he said._ _Carnegie Mellon University | Brains Vs. AI Rematch: Why Poker?_
Spain will host the first International Longevity and Cryopreservation Summit during May 26-30, 2017. Fundacion VidaPlus will be the main organizer of this world congress, with the help of other leading associations and organizations working on longevity, indefinite lifespans, cryopreservation, and other biomedical areas. Longevity extension has been one of the dreams of humanity since the beginning of recorded history, when average lifespan was merely 20 years. Even starting the 20th Century average lifespans were just about 40 years in the first industrial nations, and starting the 21st Century average lifespans have doubled again to around 80 years in the most advanced countries. The possibility of doubling again lifespans is increasing rapidly again thanks to exponential technologies and new medical research and development. On a parallel front, cryopreservation has also advanced considerably since the first spermatozoids were frozen and successfully reanimated about half a century ago. Then followed eggs, embryos, many tissues and complete organs, in different kinds of animals, including some small mammalians. What will the future bring? Science and technology should lead the way! Several institutions have been advancing research on longevity extension, from governments to private companies. Institutions like the Life Extension Foundation and the SENS Research Foundation, to name just two, have been pioneers in promoting investigations and applications on human longevity extension. Additionally, the two major US cryopreservation institutions, Alcor Life Extension Foundation and Cryonics Institute, have been holding successful regular meetings for their members and other insterested audiences during the last four decades. In Europe, there was an initial regional meeting in Goslar (Germany) in 2010, followed by Dresden (Germany) in 2014, Utrecht (Netherlands) in 2015, and then Basel (Switzerland) in 2016. KrioRus has also been promoting cryopreservationin Russia and other countries. Now we are planning to host in Spain the first International Longevity and Cryopreservation Summit open to people from all continents, with participants coming from the United States to the United Kingdom, from Argentina to Australia, from Africa to China, from Russia to Venezuela. The topics considered will be very broad, ranging from recent medical advances to human cryopreservation. Spain will become the meeting point for this first International Longevity and Cryopreservation Summit, where the different groups from around the world will gather to connect and closely work together. The first part of the May events will be the international academic congress in English during May 26-27-28 in Madrid, followed by national events in Spanish on May 29 in Seville, and May 31 in Barcelona. The objective is to combine the international reunions with local audiences and to help promote longevity and cryopreservation research and development in Spain. In partnership with pioneering sponsors like Cursos.com, we will do our best in scientific dissemination to make society aware of the new economy and opportunities coming with Life Extension and Longevity advances. Abstracts from participants are welcome for posters, papers and oral presentations until March 1, 2017. People interested in participating should go to our website (http://internationalcryonicssummit.com/) and follow submission instructions. Organizations interested in sponsoring our summit, and other media and institutional partners and allies should also contact the organizing committe through our website. This year, 2017, will be a very important year for organ transplants and cryopreservation, since we will celebrate the 50th anniversary of the first heart transplant and also the 50th anniversary of the first full human cryopreservation. Major leading associations working on longevity, indefinite lifespans, cryopreservation, and other biomedical areas will be present in Madrid (May 26-27-28), Seville (May 29), and Barcelona (May 30). Fundacion VidaPlus, our sponsors and partners welcome you all to sunny Spain next May for the warmest cryopreservation meeting in history. Come and enjoy life extension in a country that never sleeps! Organizing Committee * Conference Chair: José Luis Cordeiro, MBA, PhD * Organizing Institution: Fundacion VidaPlus Scientific/Academic Committee * President: Javier Cabo, MD, PhD, Universidad Internacional de Andalucia * Felipe Debasa, PhD, Universidad Rey Juan Carlos * Rodolfo Goya, PhD, Universidad Nacional de La Plata * Aubrey de Grey, PhD, University of Cambridge * Joao Pedro de Magalhaes, PhD, University of Liverpool * Ralph Merkle, PhD, Stanford University * Max More, PhD, University of Southern California * Ramon Risco, PhD, Universidad de Sevilla * Anders Sandberg, PhD, University of Oxford * Natasha Vita-More, PhD, University of Advancing Technology * Javier Wrana, PhD, Universidad Rey Juan Carlos Technical/Administrative Committee * Felix Capell, BlueSwiss Capital * Noel Garcia Medel, PhD, Innovative Health Group * Txetxu Mazuelas, VidaPlus Celulas Madres * Carlos Rodriguez Sau, Expert in Technology and Cyberlaw * Alejandro Sacristan, Vector001 Madrid Committee * Luis Gonzalez-Blanch, Singularity University, Madrid Chapter * Gonzalo Ruiz, Civeta Investment Seville Committee * Luis Rey Goni, Singularity University, Seville Chapter * Manuel Bellido, Grupo Informaria Barcelona Committee * Joaquin Serra, Singularity University, Barcelona Chapter * Oriol Francas, Marketing Communication Other Partners and Allies * HumanityPlus * Life Extension Foundation * Lifeboat Foundation * Global Healthspan Policy Institute * Longevity Reporter * Millennium Project * Alcor Life Extension Foundation * Cursos.com * SingularityWebLog * London Futurists * Crionica.org * Sociedad Crionica * GiBiomed * Dutch Cryonics * CryoSuisse * KryoFin: Finnish Cryonics Society * Cryonics Germany * Svenska Kryonikföreningen International Longevity and Cryopreservation Summit: http://longevitycryopreservationsummit.com/ Fundacion VidaPlus: http://fundacionvidaplus.org/ _--Event Producer_
Mentally stimulating activities after age 70 found associated with decreased risk of new-onset mild cognitive impairment (credit: Mayo Clinic)Mayo Clinic researchers have found that engaging in mentally stimulating activities, even after age 70, was associated with decreased risk of new-onset mild cognitive impairment (the intermediate stage between normal cognitive aging and dementia)_ _over an average study period of 4 years. The study discovered that for cognitively normal people 70 or older, the risk of new-onset mild cognitive impairment decreased by 30 percent with computer use, 28 percent with craft activities, 23 percent with social activities, and 22 percent with playing games -- at least one to two times per week.* The researchers found that persons who performed these activities had less cognitive decline than those who engaged in the same activities only two to three times per month or less,” says Yonas Geda, M.D., psychiatrist and behavioral neurologist at Mayo Clinic’s Arizona campus and senior author of the study.** "Even for a person who is at genetic risk for cognitive decline***, engaging in some activities was beneficial," says Janina Krell-Roesch, Ph.D., the first author of the study and a postdoctoral researcher in Dr. Geda’s Translational Neuroscience and Aging Program (TAP). The results are published in an open-access article in the Jan. 30 edition of _JAMA Neurology_. Video. _* The researchers followed 1,929 cognitively normal participants of the population-based Mayo Clinic Study of Aging in Olmsted County, Minn., for an average duration of four years. __The researchers conducted a neurocognitive assessment at the time of enrollment in the study, with evaluations every 15 months. They adjusted for sex, age and educational level. Following the assessment, an independent expert consensus panel at the Alzheimer Disease Research Center at Mayo Clinic made the classification of normal cognition or mild cognitive impairment for each study participant, based on published criteria. _ _** The researchers note in the paper that a limitation of the study "pertains to potential recall bias that stems from the questionnaire on self-reported mentally stimulating activities. Also, we did not control for mentally stimulating activities performed in early life or mid-life. We can assume that individuals who engaged in mentally stimulating activities in early life or mid-life are more likely to engage in these activities in late life compared with persons who did not engage in these activities during the life span. Furthermore, an observational study like ours allows investigating associations but does not permit drawing conclusions about cause and effect, which can only be done by interventional (experimental) studies. Therefore, we cannot exclude a 'reverse causality' explanation (i.e., it is possible that participants who are at higher risk for MCI are less likely to engage in mentally stimulating activities)."_ _*** The benefits of being cognitively engaged were even seen among apolipoprotein E (APOE) ε4 carriers. APOE ε4 is a genetic risk factor for mild cognitive impairment and Alzheimer’s dementia. However, for APOE ε4 carriers, only computer use and social activities were associated with a decreased risk of mild cognitive impairment._ ------------------------- Abstract Of _Association Between Mentally Stimulating Activities In Late Life And The Outcome Of Incident Mild Cognitive Impairment, With An Analysis Of The APOE ε4 Genotype_ IMPORTANCE Cross-sectional associations between engagement in mentally stimulating activities and decreased odds of having mild cognitive impairment (MCI) or Alzheimer disease have been reported. However, little is known about the longitudinal outcome of incident MCI as predicted by late-life (aged ≥70 years) mentally stimulating activities. OBJECTIVES To test the hypothesis of an association between mentally stimulating activities in late life and the risk of incident MCI and to evaluate the influence of the apolipoprotein E (_APOE_) ε4 genotype. DESIGN, SETTING, AND PARTICIPANTS This investigation was a prospective, population-based cohort study of participants in the Mayo Clinic Study of Aging in Olmsted County, Minnesota. Participants 70 years or older who were cognitively normal at baseline were followed up to the outcome of incident MCI. The study dates were April 2006 to June 2016. MAIN OUTCOMES AND MEASURES At baseline, participants provided information about mentally stimulating activities within 1 year before enrollment into the study. Neurocognitive assessment was conducted at baseline, with evaluations at 15-month intervals. Cognitive diagnosis was made by an expert consensus panel based on published criteria. Hazard ratios (HRs) and 95% CIs were calculated using Cox proportional hazards regression models after adjusting for sex, age, and educational level. RESULTS The final cohort consisted of 1929 cognitively normal persons (median age at baseline, 77 years [interquartile range, 74-82 years]; 50.4% [n = 973] female) who were followed up to the outcome of incident MCI. During a median follow-up period of 4.0 years, it was observed that playing games (HR, 0.78; 95% CI, 0.65-0.95) and engaging in craft activities (HR, 0.72; 95% CI, 0.57-0.90), computer use (HR, 0.70; 95% CI, 0.57-0.85), and social activities (HR, 0.77; 95% CI, 0.63-0.94) were associated with a decreased risk of incident MCI. In a stratified analysis by _APOE_ ε4 carrier status, the data point toward the lowest risk of incident MCI for _APOE_ ɛ4 noncarriers who engage in mentally stimulating activities (eg, computer use: HR, 0.73; 95% CI, 0.58-0.92) and toward the highest risk of incident MCI for APOE ɛ4 carriers who do not engage in mentally stimulating activities (eg, no computer use: HR, 1.74; 95% CI, 1.33-2.27). CONCLUSIONS AND RELEVANCE Cognitively normal elderly individuals who engage in specific mentally stimulating activities even in late life have a decreased risk of incident MCI. The associations may vary by _APOE_ ε4 carrier status.
------------------------- Singularity University is a for-profit, non-accredited institution dedicated to the theories of futurist and inventor Ray Kurzweil. Several times a year it admits groups of executives for a $14,000, week course in exponential leadership. Singularity University was founded by Ray Kurzweil and space entrepreneur and X-Prize founder Peter Diamandis in 2009. It promulgates the philosophy of Kurzweil -- the futurist, now at Google -- who believes progress biotechnology and artificial intelligence is accelerating and will rapidly, radically change what it means to be human. Ray Kurzweil predicted that in the 2020s your life-span will increase by more than a year for every year that you live. Kurzweil sometimes meets the class via robot. WEB REFERENCES: Singularity University | main Singularity University | executive program Singularity University | YouTube channel Singularity University | Vimeo channel ------------------------- ------------------------- 1. video | SINGULARITY UNIVERSITY -- EXECUTIVE PROGRAM _Instructors explain how humanity has entered an era of rapidly accelerated change._ ------------------------- 2. video | SINGULARITY UNIVERSITY -- EXECUTIVE PROGRAM _Founder Peter Diamandis explores key & transformative aspects of session._
A soft robotic sleeve placed around the heart in a pig model of acute heart failure. The actuators embedded in the sleeve support heart function by mimicking the outer heart muscles that induce the heart to beat. (credit: Harvard SEAS)An international team of scientists has developed a soft robotic sleeve that can be implanted on the external surface of the heart to restore blood circulation in pigs (and possibly humans in the future) whose hearts have stopped beating. The device is a silicone-based system with two layers of actuators: one that squeezes circumferentially and one that squeezes diagonally, both designed to mimic the movement of healthy hearts when they beat. Heart failure affects 41 million people worldwide. The concept of an artificial pump that aids cardiac function is not new and has been employed clinically with ventricular assist devices (VADs). "I've been implanting VADs in patients for a long time," says Frank Pigula, MD, a former professor at Harvard and Boston Children’s Hospital who is co-corresponding author of an open-access paper published Jan. 18 in_ Science Translational Medicine_. Pigula is now chief of pediatric cardiac surgery at Norton Children's Hospital in Louisville, Kentucky. The current-generation VADs systems directly expose a patient's blood to artificial materials such as tubing and rotors. When blood touches a device’s components, it has a tendency to clot, which could lead to heart attacks, pulmonary embolism, strokes, or other complications, Pigula explained. To prevent clots from forming, it's necessary to use blood thinning and anticoagulatory medications such as heparin and warfarin, which are complication-prone. HOW TO MAKE A SOFT ROBOTIC SLEEVE FOR A HUMAN HEART That’s where the soft robotic sleeve developed by Pigula's team comes in.
In vitro demonstration of the pumping of the soft robotic sleeve (credit: Ellen Roche/Harvard University)The robotic sleeve can be implanted on the external surface of the heart, preventing circulating blood from ever coming in contact with the device’s components, possibly eliminating or decreasing the need for anticoagulatory drugs. In designing the soft robotic sleeve, the researchers were inspired by the structure and movement of the heart itself. The two actuators are formed in thin layers of silicone that are layered on each other in roughly the same orientation as the muscle fibers in the heart. The sleeve is about half a millimeter thick, which is about the width of 5-10 human hairs. To adhere the sleeve to pig hearts, the researchers used an FDA-approved adherent on the apex, or tip, of the heart. However, the researchers found this caused severe inflammation at the point of adherence, which could interfere with the ability to implant the sleeve for long periods of time. So the researchers employed a gel to adhere the sleeve to the heart, a technique that lessened the inflammation.
In vivo demonstration of cardiac assist in a porcine model of acute heart failure (credit: Ellen Rouche/Harvard SEAS)To test the sleeves, the scientists implanted them on the hearts of pigs and induced acute heart failure, resulting in a 50-60% drop in cardiac output. Turning on the sleeve restored 97% of the original cardiac output. "The soft robotic actuators are essentially artificial muscles," says Nikolay Vasilyev, MD, a staff scientist in cardiac surgery research at Boston Children's Hospital and co-author on the recent study. "In this sense, the robotic sleeve mimics both ventricles of the heart." The soft robotic heart sleeve also contains sophisticated sensing abilities that measure pressure at specific points on the heart's surface. “This work represents an exciting proof-of-concept result for this soft robot, demonstrating that it can safely interact with soft tissue and lead to improvements in cardiac function," said Conor Walsh, senior author of the paper and the John L. Loeb Associate Professor of Engineering and Applied Sciences at SEAS and Core Faculty Member at Harvard’s Wyss Institute. "We envision many other future applications where such devices can deliver mechanotherapy both inside and outside of the body." However, "the human body is remarkably good at detecting foreign materials and mounting immune responses to them, so it will be tricky business to find a biologically inert material that will not, over the long run, scar the tissues it's physically associated with," according to a physician who was not involved in the research. "This is less critical for non-vital organs like soft-tissue silicone implants, but a thin layer of scar tissue around the heart could have serious implications for the stiffness, structural integrity, and function of native heart tissue." The research was a collaboration between Harvard’s SEAS and Wyss Institute, Boston Children’s Hospital, National University of Ireland, Technische Universität München, Boston Children’s Hospital, University of Leeds, University of Central Florida, Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, Trinity College Dublin, UCLA, and University of Louisville. The work was supported by the Translational Research Program grant from Boston Children’s Hospital, a Director’s Challenge Cross-Platform grant from the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering, Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, and Science Foundation Ireland. ------------------------- Abstract Of _Soft Robotic Sleeve Supports Heart Function_ There is much interest in form-fitting, low-modulus, implantable devices or soft robots that can mimic or assist in complex biological functions such as the contraction of heart muscle. We present a soft robotic sleeve that is implanted around the heart and actively compresses and twists to act as a cardiac ventricular assist device. The sleeve does not contact blood, obviating the need for anticoagulation therapy or blood thinners, and reduces complications with current ventricular assist devices, such as clotting and infection. Our approach used a biologically inspired design to orient individual contracting elements or actuators in a layered helical and circumferential fashion, mimicking the orientation of the outer two muscle layers of the mammalian heart. The resulting implantable soft robot mimicked the form and function of the native heart, with a stiffness value of the same order of magnitude as that of the heart tissue. We demonstrated feasibility of this soft sleeve device for supporting heart function in a porcine model of acute heart failure. The soft robotic sleeve can be customized to patient-specific needs and may have the potential to act as a bridge to transplant for patients with heart failure. -------------------------
This photograph shows injection of human induced pluripotent stem* (iPS) cells into a pig blastocyst (pre-embryo). A laser beam (green circle with a red cross inside) was used to perforate an opening in the outer membrane (Zona Pellucida) of the pig blastocyst to allow easy access of an injection needle delivering human iPS cells. (credit: Courtesy of Juan Carlos Izpisua Belmonte)__In an open-access __paper published online January 26, 2017 in the journal _Cell_, Salk Institute researchers report breakthroughs on multiple fronts in the race to integrate stem cells from one species into the early-stage development of another species (or chimeras**). Scientists are still struggling to coax stem cells growing in Petri dishes to become fully functional specialized adult cells, the researchers report. "The ultimate goal is to grow functional and transplantable tissue or organs, but we are far away from that," says lead investigator Juan Carlos Izpisua Belmonte, a professor in the Salk Institute of Biological Studies' Gene Expression Laboratory. But their efforts to grow the first embryos containing cells from humans and pigs may someday provide a means of growing human cells, tissues, and organs for regenerative medicine. "This is an important first step." Meanwhile, the experiments are helping scientists understand how human stem cells grow and specialize, which may offer insights into disease onset or help establish new drug-testing platforms. HOW TO GROW A CHIMERA In previous research, Izpisua Belmonte and Salk Institute staff scientist Jun Wu created a rat/mouse chimera by introducing rat cells into mouse embryos and letting the cells mature. The purpose was to find out whether rat-derived cells could rescue severe developmental defects in mouse pancreas, heart or lung. To do that, they used CRISPR genome editing tools to delete critical developmental genes in mouse egg cells. Remarkably, rat cells populated those mouse organs, filling in for the defective mouse cells.
Here, cells derived from rat pluripotent stem cells were enriched in the developing heart of a genetically modified mouse embryo. (credit: Salk Institute)For instance, in a given cell, the researchers would delete a single gene critical for the development of an organ, such as the heart, pancreas, or eye. Then they introduced rat stem cells into the embryos to see if they would fill the open niche. "The rat cells have a functional copy of the missing mouse gene, so they can outcompete mouse cells in occupying the emptied developmental organ niches," says Wu. As the organism matured, the rat cells filled in where mouse cells could not, forming the functional tissues of the organism's heart, eye, or pancreas. Amazingly, in one experiment, rat cells also grew to form a gall bladder in the mouse, even though rats themselves stopped developing this organ over the 18 million years since rats and mice separated evolutionarily. "This suggests that the reason a rat does not generate a gall bladder is not because it cannot, but because the potential has been hidden by a rat-specific developmental program," says Wu. "The microenvironment has evolved through millions of years to choose a program that defines a rat." INTRODUCING HUMAN CELLS IN PIG EMBRYOS The team's next step was to introduce human cells into an organism. Experiments with cow embryos were difficult and costly. They decided to use pig embryos as hosts because the size of these animals' organs more closely resembles those of humans than those of mice. The effort required completing studies with 1,500 pig embryos and involved the contributions of more than 40 people, including pig farmers, over a four-year period. "We underestimated the effort involved," says Izpisua Belmonte. "This required a _tour de force_."
Salk scientists advance stem-cell and genome-editing technologies to help researchers study evolution and disease, test therapeutic drugs and possibly grow transplantable organs. Here, human iPS cells (green) contributed to a developing heart of 4-week-old pig embryo. (credit: Salk Institute)The human cells survived and formed a human/pig chimera embryo. Embryos were implanted in sows and allowed to develop for between three and four weeks. "This is long enough for us to try to understand how the human and pig cells mix together early on without raising ethical concerns about mature chimeric animals," says Izpisua Belmonte. To ensure that, the human cells did not become precursors of brain cells that can grow into the central nervous system. Rather, they were developing into muscle cells and precursors of other organs. "At this point, we wanted to know whether human cells can contribute at all to address the 'yes or no' question," he says. "Now that we know the answer is yes, our next challenge is to improve efficiency and guide the human cells into forming a particular organ in pigs." To do this, the researchers are using CRISPR to perform genome editing on the pig genome, as they did with mice, to open gaps that human cells can fill in. That work is in progress. “Of course, the ultimate goal of chimeric research is to learn whether we can use stem-cell and gene-editing technologies to generate genetically matched human tissues and organs, and we are very optimistic that continued work will lead to eventual success,” says Izpisua Belmonte. “But in the process we are gaining a better understanding of species evolution as well as human embryogenesis and disease that is difficult to get in other ways." Other authors included scientists at the University of Murcia Campus de Espinardo, the University of California, Davis; the Universidad Católica San Antonio de Murcia; Clinica Centro Fundación Pedro Guillén; and the Hospital Clinic of Barcelona. The work was funded by The Fundación Séneca; a University of California, Davis, Academic Senate New Research Grant; the Universidad Católica San Antonio de Murcia; Fundacion Dr. Pedro Guillen; the G. Harold and Leila Y. Mathers Charitable Foundation; and The Moxie Foundation. _* Induced pluripotent stem cells (also known as iPS cells or iPSCs) are a type of pluripotent stem cell that can be generated directly from adult cells. They have the capacity to mature into many different types of cells and therefore can contribute to the formation of multiple organs or distinct cell lineages, but not all possible lineages. This developmental capacity differs from naïve stem cells, which can develop into any given cell type._ _** An interspecies chimera is an organism containing cells from different species. The word “chimera” originally described mythological creatures or deities in polytheistic religions. In science, interspecies chimeras have emerged as valuable basic research tools with potential for future clinical applications._ _Salk Institute | New findings highlight promise of chimeric organisms for science and medicine_ ------------------------- Abstract Of _Interspecies Chimerism With Mammalian Pluripotent Stem Cells_ Interspecies blastocyst complementation enables organ-specific enrichment of xenogenic pluripotent stem cell (PSC) derivatives. Here, we establish a versatile blastocyst complementation platform based on CRISPR-Cas9-mediated zygote genome editing and show enrichment of rat PSC-derivatives in several tissues of gene-edited organogenesis-disabled mice. Besides gaining insights into species evolution, embryogenesis, and human disease, interspecies blastocyst complementation might allow human organ generation in animals whose organ size, anatomy, and physiology are closer to humans. To date, however, whether human PSCs (hPSCs) can contribute to chimera formation in non-rodent species remains unknown. We systematically evaluate the chimeric competency of several types of hPSCs using a more diversified clade of mammals, the ungulates. We find that naïve hPSCs robustly engraft in both pig and cattle pre-implantation blastocysts but show limited contribution to post-implantation pig embryos. Instead, an intermediate hPSC type exhibits higher degree of chimerism and is able to generate differentiated progenies in post-implantation pig embryos.
Early prototype of "smart glasses" with liquid-based lenses that can automatically adjust the focus on what a person is seeing, whether it's far away or close up. The battery-powered frames can automatically adjust the focal length. Researchers expect to have smaller, lighter frames and packaged technology within three years. (credit: Dan Hixson/University of Utah College of Engineering)Don't throw away your bifocals or multiple glasses yet, but those days might soon be over. A team led by University of Utah engineers has created “smart glasses” with liquid-based lenses that can automatically adjust the focus on what you're seeing, at any distance. They've created eyeglass lenses made of glycerin, a thick colorless liquid, enclosed by flexible rubber-like membranes in the front and back. The rear membrane in each lens is connected to a series of three mechanical actuators that push the membrane back and forth like a transparent piston, changing the curvature of the liquid lens and therefore the focal length between the lens and the eye.
Simplified schematic of soft-membrane liquid lens (excluding actuators). The lens optical power is adjusted by vertically displacing the fluid with a transparent piston, deflecting the top membrane and changing its curvature. (credit: Nazmul Hasan et al./Optics Express)In the bridge of the glasses is a distance meter that measures the distance from the glasses to an object via pulses of near-infrared light. When the wearer looks at an object, the meter instantly measures the distance and tells the actuators how to curve the lenses. If the user then sees another object that’s closer, the distance meter readjusts and tells the actuators to reshape the lens for farsightedness. The lenses can change focus from one object to another in 14 milliseconds (faster than human reaction time). A rechargeable battery in the frames could last more than 24 hours per charge, according to electrical and computer engineering professor Carlos Mastrangelo, senior author of an open-access paper in a special edition of the journal _Optics Express._ Before putting them on for the first time, users would input their eyeglasses prescription into an accompanying smartphone app, which then calibrates the lenses automatically via Bluetooth. Users only need to do that once, except for when their prescription changes over time. Theoretically, eyeglass wearers will never have to buy another pair again since these glasses would constantly adjust to their eyesight. A startup company, Sharpeyes LLC, has been created to commercialize the glasses. The project was funded with a grant from the National Institutes of Health and the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering. _University of Utah | Smart glasses that automatically focus on whatever you look at_ ------------------------- Abstract Of _Tunable-focus Lens For Adaptive Eyeglasses_ We demonstrate the implementation of a compact tunable-focus liquid lens suitable for adaptive eyeglass application. The lens has an aperture diameter of 32 mm, optical power range of 5.6 diopter, and electrical power consumption less than 20 mW. The lens inclusive of its piezoelectric actuation mechanism is 8.4 mm thick and weighs 14.4 gm. The measured lens RMS wavefront aberration error was between 0.73 µm and 0.956 µm.
DNA sequence signal for the activation of human genes. Each tiny human cell contains about six feet of DNA, a double-helical molecular chain containing four types of several billion chemical nucleotides -- adenine (A), cytosine (C), guanine (G) and thymine (T) -- arranged in a specific sequence, or code, that when transcribed guide the cell into producing specific proteins. (credit: University of California -- San Diego)Molecular biologists at the University of California, San Diego (UC San Diego) have discovered a short sequence of DNA that is essential for turning on (expressing proteins) more than half of all human genes -- an achievement that should provide scientists with a better understanding of how human genes are regulated. Knowing what turns on genes is important. Each human cell contains about six feet of DNA, a double-helical molecular chain containing several billion chemical nucleotides -- adenine (A), cytosine (C), guanine (G) and thymine (T) -- arranged in a specific sequence, or code. Active genes undergo a process called transcription, in which the nucleotide sequence in DNA is read and converted into a sister language called RNA for processing. The processed RNA sequence then guides the cell to produce specific proteins that are essential for normal cellular functions.
A depiction of the double helical structure of DNA. Its four nucleotide coding units (A, T, C, G) are color-coded in pink, orange, purple and yellow. (credit: NHGRI)“In these six feet of DNA, there are tens of thousands of genes, which are segments of DNA that direct specific functions, such as the production of a hormone or an enzyme,” explains James T. Kadonaga, PhD, a molecular biology professor at UC San Diego who headed the team of researchers. “It is essential for the cell to control the activity of each of its tens of thousands of genes, because the improper control of gene activity can lead to adverse outcomes such as cell death or the formation of a cancer cell.” THE "HUMAN INITIATOR" Enter the “Initiator." The initiation of gene expression often occurs at a critical DNA sequence code called the “human Initiator.” This small piece of DNA helps gene expression machinery locate exactly _where_ to begin transcribing. Although the concept of the Initiator has been known since the 1980s, the precise DNA sequence comprising the Initiator had eluded scientists.* “There are many sequence signals that control gene activity in human cells and the Initiator is the most commonly occurring sequence at the start sites of genes,” Kadonaga said. Kadonaga and his team employed emerging genomic techniques and devised novel computational strategies to unlock the exact DNA sequence code for the human Initiator. They also discovered that this sequence is located precisely at the start site of more than half of all human genes, underlining the importance of the human Initiator in the human genome. “The solution of the human Initiator code will enable us to explore new frontiers in gene regulation,” said Kadonaga. “In the future, it will be possible to use the code to identify other regulatory signals and in this way gain a more complete understanding of how human genes are turned on and off.” "The authors verified the Initiator sequence in multiple cell lines, which is an impressive finding," a scientist not involved in the studies told _KurzweilAI_. "However, none of these cell lines reflect normal human biology -- they are essentially cancer cells proliferating in a dish. I would have liked to see this Initiator sequence verified in normal human cells from healthy patients.” The research, now online and to be detailed in the February 10 print issue of the journal _Genes & Development,_ was supported by grants from the National Institutes of Health. * _First observed by Pierre Chambon and his colleagues in Strasbourg, France in 1980, the human Initiator and its role in gene activation were articulated in 1989 by two MIT biologists, Stephen Smale and David Baltimore at MIT, who later revealed the approximate sequence code of the Initiator. Since then, however, other scientists had proposed a number of different sequences for the human Initiator, but none of them were found to be consistently associated with the start sites of human genes. As a result, the true Initiator sequence code remained a mystery -- until now._ ------------------------- ABSTRACT OF _THE HUMAN INITIATOR IS A DISTINCT AND ABUNDANT ELEMENT THAT IS PRECISELY POSITIONED IN FOCUSED CORE PROMOTERS_ DNA sequence signals in the core promoter, such as the initiator (Inr), direct transcription initiation by RNA polymerase II. Here we show that the human Inr has the consensus of BBCA+1BW at focused promoters in which transcription initiates at a single site or a narrow cluster of sites. The analysis of 7678 focused transcription start sites revealed 40% with a perfect match to the Inr and 16% with a single mismatch outside of the CA+1 core. TATA-like sequences are underrepresented in Inr promoters. This consensus is a key component of the DNA sequence rules that specify transcription initiation in humans.
The Thirty-First AAAI Conference on Artificial Intelligence (AAAI-17) will be held February 4–9 at the Hilton San Francisco, San Francisco, California, USA. The workshop, tutorial, and doctoral consortium programs will be held Saturday and Sunday, February 4 and 5, followed by the technical program, Monday through Thursday, February 6–9. The chairs of AAAI-17 are Satinder Singh (University of Michigan) and Shaul Markovitch (Technion-Israel Institute of Technology). The purpose of the AAAI conference is to promote research in artificial intelligence (AI) and scientific exchange among AI researchers, practitioners, scientists, and engineers in affiliated disciplines. AAAI-17 will have a diverse technical track, student abstracts, poster sessions, invited speakers, tutorials, workshops, and exhibit and competition programs, all selected according to the highest reviewing standards. AAAI-17 welcomes submissions on mainstream AI topics as well as novel crosscutting work in related areas. _--Event Producer_
The Smart Data Conference is designed to accommodate all levels of technical understanding. It will bring together emerging disciplines that are focused on more intelligent information gathering and analysis, including: * Cognitive Computing * Deep Learning * Machine Learning * Artificial Intelligence * Predictive Analytics * Graph Databases * Object Recognition * Voice Processing * Semantic Technologies * Human Interfaces * Big Data * Neurocomputing * Internet of Things * Text Analysis * RDF * Knowledge Graphs * Big Content * Linked Data * Deep Reasoning * Ontologies * JSON-LD * Natural Logic * NLP * Semantic Search _--Event Producer_
The Graphorum Conference is designed to accommodate all levels of technical understanding. It will bring together emerging disciplines that are focused on more intelligent information gathering and analysis, including: * Graph Databases * Graph Analytics * Graph Models/types * Graph Performance and Scalability * Data Modeling for Graphs * Query and Search Languages * Graph APIs and Integration * Social Network Analysis * Visualizations * Semantic Graphs * Security * Graph Algorithms * Graph Metadata * Graphs for MDM * Graph Processing * Graph Theory * Graph Algorithms _--Event Producer_
The much anticipated era of artificial intelligence has arrived. Businesses in every industry are using this powerful technology to gain immense leads over their slower-moving competitors. At Gigaom AI Now, we will explore: * What enterprises can do over the next three years to make sure they stay ahead of the curve. * How companies not employing AI today can begin to do so. * How different business units will use AI differently. * The ways that IT and technology leaders enable the business without having a large data science team * Tactics for using AI for competitive advantage. * How can you use AI to drive revenue and create better customer experiences. * Ways to use your most valuable asset, your data, to stay relevant and move your business forward. THE TIME TO MOVE ON AI IS NOW. COME TO GIGAOM AI NOW TO GET A BLUEPRINT AND USE CASES TO HOW YOUR ORGANIZATION CAN IMPLEMENT AI IN YOUR INDUSTRY TODAY. _--Event Producer_
Discover advances in deep learning tools and techniques from the world's leading innovators across industry, research and the financial sector.
EXTRAORDINARY SPEAKERS Discover advances in deep learning tools and techniques from the world's leading innovators across industry, academia and the financial sector. Speakers will share insights into recent breakthroughs in technical advancements and fintech applications including financial forecasting & compliance.
DISCOVER EMERGING TRENDS Learn about deep learning applications in the financial sector from algorithms to forecast financial data, to tools used for data mining & pattern recognition in financial time series, to scaling predictive models, to stock market prediction, to using blockchain technology.
EXPAND YOUR NETWORK A unique opportunity to interact with industry leaders, influential technologists, data scientists & founders leading the deep learning revolution. Learn from & connect with 200+ industry innovators sharing best practices to improve regulations, security and risk in the financial sector.
WHO SHOULD ATTEND * Data Scientists * Data Engineers * Financial Regulators * CTOs * Founders * Directors of Innovation * Digital Finance Analysis Managers * Venture Capitalists * CFOs * CEOs
JOIN THE DISCUSSION * 20 speakers * 200 leading technologists & innovators * Group brainstorming sessions * Interactive workshops * 7 + hours of networking * Access to all the filmed presentations * Discover technology shaping the future _--Event Producer_
Objective The aim in this workshop is to display the efforts of industry and academia to cope with large amounts of data that have to be analyzed in real time. As many analytical solutions are specifically designed with an infrastructure in mind, it is the intention during the meetings to discuss not only the algorithms but also the underlying implementations and their suitability for specific applications. Topics * New (and future) infrastructures/languages/paradigms to tackle massive amounts of data * Forecasting techniques and related applications * Early Warning Systems * Pattern recognition * Anomaly detection * Event detection * Nowcasting * Applications performing as close to real-time as possible. * Accuracy-latency-size limitations * What will the future look like? How to prepare for that future? _--Event Producer_
AI in Practice will showcase invited presentations of visionary AI practitioners that will reflect on key successes of AI in the commercial world and crystalize emerging technologies and promising new directions. The event will include several keynotes and panels as well as demonstrations of AI software from multiple companies. AI in Practice is a special event of the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence (AAAI) conference February 4–9, 2017. Chairs Evgeniy Gabrilovich (Google Research) and Vanja Josifovski (Pinterest) Presenters * Invited keynote by Haifeng Wang (Baidu) * Invited talk by Deepak Agarwal (LinkedIn) * Invited talk by Michael Witbrock (IBM) * Dialog with Ray Kurzweil (Google) * Invited talk by Vincent Vanhouke (Google) * Invited talk by Alex Smola (Amazon) * Invited keynote by Gary Marcus, Uber and NYU * Invited talk by Joaquin Quinonero Candela (Facebook) * Invited talk by Xavier Amatriain (Quora) Tentative Schedule SUNDAY FEBRUARY 5, 2017 * 9:30 – 10:15 — Invited keynote by Haifeng Wang (Baidu) * 10:15 – 11:00 — Invited talk by Deepak Agarwal (LinkedIn) * 11:00 – 11:45 — Invited talk by Michael Witbrock (IBM) * 11:45 – 1:00 — Lunch * 1:00 – 1:45 — Dialog with Ray Kurzweil (Google) * 1:45 – 2:30 — Invited talk by Vincent Vanhouke (Google) * 2:30 – 3:15 — Invited talk by Alex Smola (Amazon) * 3:15 – 3:45 — Coffee break * 3:45 – 4:30 — Invited keynote by Gary Marcus (Uber and NYU) * 4:30 – 5:15 — Invited talk by Joaquin Quinonero Candela (Facebook) * 5:15 – 6:00 — Invited talk by Xavier Amatriain (Quora) AAAI is the premier membership organization in artificial intelligence (AI). With several thousand members, the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence (formerly the American Association for Artificial Intelligence) is a nonprofit scientific society founded in 1979 devoted to advancing the scientific understanding of the mechanisms underlying thought and intelligent behavior and their embodiment in machines. AAAI aims to promote research in, and responsible use of, artificial intelligence. AAAI also aims to increase public understanding of artificial intelligence, improve the teaching and training of AI practitioners, and provide guidance for research planners and funders concerning the importance and potential of current AI developments and future directions. Major AAAI activities include organizing and sponsoring conferences, symposia, and workshops, publishing a quarterly magazine for all members, publishing books, proceedings, and reports, and awarding grants, scholarships, and other honors.
A dermatologist uses a dermatoscope, a type of handheld microscope, to look at skin. Stanford AI scientists have created a deep convolutional neural network algorithm for skin cancer that matched the performance of board-certified dermatologists. (credit: Matt Young)Deep learning has been touted for its potential to enhance the diagnosis of diseases, and now a team of researchers at Stanford has developed a deep-learning algorithm that may make this vision a reality for skin cancer.* The researchers, led by Dr. Sebastian Thrun, an adjunct professor at the Stanford Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, reported in the January 25 issue of _Nature_ that their deep convolutional neural network (CNN) algorithm performed as well or better than 21 board-certified dermatologists at diagnosing skin cancer. (See "Skin cancer classification performance of the CNN (blue) and dermatologists (red)" figure below.) Diagnosing skin cancer begins with a visual examination. A dermatologist usually looks at the suspicious lesion with the naked eye and with the aid of a dermatoscope, which is a handheld microscope that provides low-level magnification of the skin. If these methods are inconclusive or lead the dermatologist to believe the lesion is cancerous, a biopsy is the next step. This deep learning algorithm may help dermatologists decide which skin lesions to biopsy. “My main eureka moment was when I realized just how ubiquitous smartphones will be,” said Stanford Department of Electrical Engineering's Andre Esteva, co-lead author of the study. “Everyone will have a supercomputer in their pockets with a number of sensors in it, including a camera. What if we could use it to visually screen for skin cancer? Or other ailments?” It is projected that there will be 6.3 billion smartphone subscriptionst by the year 2021, according to Ericsson Mobility Report (2016), which could potentially provide low-cost universal access to vital diagnostic care. CREATING THE DEEP CONVOLUTIONAL NEURAL NETWORK (CNN) ALGORITHM
Deep CNN classification technique. Data flow is from left to right: an image of a skin lesion (for example, melanoma) is sequentially warped into a probability distribution over clinical classes of skin disease using Google Inception v3 CNN architecture pretrained on the ImageNet dataset (1.28 million images over 1,000 generic object classes) and fine-tuned on the team's own dataset of 129,450 skin lesions comprising 2,032 different diseases. (credit: Andre Esteva et al./Nature)Rather than building an algorithm from scratch, the researchers began with an algorithm developed by Google that was already trained to identify 1.28 million images from 1,000 object categories. It was designed primarily to be able to differentiate cats from dogs, but the researchers needed it to differentiate benign and malignant lesions. So they collaborated with dermatologists at Stanford Medicine, as well as Helen M. Blau, professor of microbiology and immunology at Stanford and co-author of the paper. The algorithm was trained with nearly 130,000 images representing more than 2,000 different diseases with an associated disease label, allowing the system to overcome variations in angle, lighting, and zoom. The algorithm was then tested against 1,942 images of skin that were digitally annotated with biopsy-proven diagnoses of skin cancer. Overall, the algorithm identified the vast majority of cancer cases with accuracy rates that were similar to expert clinical dermatologists. However, during testing, the researchers used only high-quality, biopsy-confirmed images provided by the University of Edinburgh and the International Skin Imaging Collaboration Project that represented the most common and deadliest skin cancers -- malignant carcinomas and malignant melanomas.
Skin cancer classification performance of the CNN (blue) and dermatologists (red).** (credit: Andre Esteva et al./Nature)The 21 dermatologists were asked whether, based on each image, they would proceed with biopsy or treatment, or reassure the patient. The researchers evaluated success by how well the dermatologists were able to correctly diagnose both cancerous and non-cancerous lesions in more than 370 images.*** However, Susan Swetter, professor of dermatology and director of the Pigmented Lesion and Melanoma Program at the Stanford Cancer Institute and co-author of the paper, notes that “rigorous prospective validation of the algorithm is necessary before it can be implemented in clinical practice, by practitioners and patients alike.” _* Every year there are about 5.4 million new cases of skin cancer in the United States, and while the five-year survival rate for melanoma detected in its earliest states is around 97 percent, that drops to approximately 14 percent if it’s detected in its latest stages._
_** "Skin cancer classification performance of the CNN and dermatologists. The deep learning CNN outperforms the average of the dermatologists at skin cancer classification using photographic and_
_dermoscopic images. Our CNN is tested against at least 21 dermatologists at keratinocyte carcinoma and melanoma recognition. For each test, previously unseen, biopsy-proven images of lesions are displayed, and dermatologists are asked if they would: biopsy/treat the lesion or reassure the patient. Sensitivity, the true positive rate, and specificity, the true negative rate, measure performance. A dermatologist outputs a single prediction per image and is thus represented by a single red point. The green points are the average of the dermatologists for each task, with error bars denoting one standard deviation." -- Andre Esteva et al./Nature__*** The algorithm’s performance was measured through the creation of a sensitivity-specificity curve, where sensitivity represented its ability to correctly identify malignant lesions and specificity represented its ability to correctly identify benign lesions. It was assessed through three key diagnostic tasks: keratinocyte carcinoma classification, melanoma classification, and melanoma classification when viewed using dermoscopy. In all three tasks, the algorithm matched the performance of the dermatologists with the area under the sensitivity-specificity curve amounting to at least 91 percent of the total area of the graph. An added advantage of the algorithm is that, unlike a person, the algorithm can be made more or less sensitive, allowing the researchers to tune its response depending on what they want it to assess. This ability to alter the sensitivity hints at the depth and complexity of this algorithm. The underlying architecture of seemingly irrelevant photos -- including cats and dogs -- helps it better evaluate the skin lesion images._ ------------------------- ABSTRACT OF _DERMATOLOGIST-LEVEL CLASSIFICATION OF SKIN CANCER WITH DEEP NEURAL NETWORKS_ Skin cancer, the most common human malignancy, is primarily diagnosed visually, beginning with an initial clinical screening and followed potentially by dermoscopic analysis, a biopsy and histopathological examination. Automated classification of skin lesions using images is a challenging task owing to the fine-grained variability in the appearance of skin lesions. Deep convolutional neural networks (CNNs) show potential for general and highly variable tasks across many fine-grained object categories. Here we demonstrate classification of skin lesions using a single CNN, trained end-to-end from images directly, using only pixels and disease labels as inputs. We train a CNN using a dataset of 129,450 clinical images—two orders of magnitude larger than previous datasets—consisting of 2,032 different diseases. We test its performance against 21 board-certified dermatologists on biopsy-proven clinical images with two critical binary classification use cases: keratinocyte carcinomas versus benign seborrheic keratoses; and malignant melanomas versus benign nevi. The first case represents the identification of the most common cancers, the second represents the identification of the deadliest skin cancer. The CNN achieves performance on par with all tested experts across both tasks, demonstrating an artificial intelligence capable of classifying skin cancer with a level of competence comparable to dermatologists. Outfitted with deep neural networks, mobile devices can potentially extend the reach of dermatologists outside of the clinic. It is projected that 6.3 billion smartphone subscriptions will exist by the year 2021 and can therefore potentially provide low-cost universal access to vital diagnostic care.
Skin-producing bioprinter (credit: Universidad Carlos III de Madrid)A prototype 3D bioprinter that can create totally functional human skin has been developed by scientists from Universidad Carlos III de Madrid (UC3M) and BioDan Group in Spain. The skin has been used to treat burns as well as traumatic and surgical wounds in a large number of patients in Spain, according to the scientists. The system provides two processes. AUTOLOGOUS SKIN (from the patient’s own cells to generate human collagen) for therapeutic use, such as in the treatment of severe burns, instead of the animal collagen used in other methods. The researchers have applied for approval by various European regulatory agencies to guarantee that the skin that is produced is adequate for use in transplants on burn patients and on those with other skin problems.
3D skin bioprinter in operation (credit: Universidad Carlos III de Madrid)The 3D-printed skin replicates human bilayered skin, using "bioinks" (biological components) containing human plasma as well as primary human fibroblasts and keratinocytes obtained from skin biopsies. These are controlled by a computer, which deposits them on a print bed in an orderly manner to then produce the skin. The researchers were able to generate 100 cm2 of printed skin in less than 35 minutes (including the 30 min required for fibrin gelation). ALLOGENEIC SKIN (from a stock of cells), done on a large scale for industrial processes. This skin can be used to test pharmaceutical products, cosmetics, and consumer chemical products where current regulations require testing that does not use animals. “This method of bioprinting allows skin to be generated in a standardized, automated way, and the process is less expensive than manual production,” says Alfredo Brisac, CEO of BioDan Group, the Spanish bioengineering firm specializing in regenerative medicine that is collaborating on this research and commercializing this technology. The research was published online in the journal _Biofabrication_. _UC3M | Científicos españoles crean una bioimpresora 3D de piel humana_ ------------------------- ABSTRACT OF _3D BIOPRINTING OF FUNCTIONAL HUMAN SKIN: PRODUCTION AND IN VIVO ANALYSIS_ Significant progress has been made over the past 25 years in the development of _in vitro_-engineered substitutes that mimic human skin, either to be used as grafts for the replacement of lost skin, or for the establishment of _in vitro_ human skin models. In this sense, laboratory-grown skin substitutes containing dermal and epidermal components offer a promising approach to skin engineering. In particular, a human plasma-based bilayered skin generated by our group, has been applied successfully to treat burns as well as traumatic and surgical wounds in a large number of patients in Spain. There are some aspects requiring improvements in the production process of this skin; for example, the relatively long time (three weeks) needed to produce the surface required to cover an extensive burn or a large wound, and the necessity to automatize and standardize a process currently performed manually. 3D bioprinting has emerged as a flexible tool in regenerative medicine and it provides a platform to address these challenges. In the present study, we have used this technique to print a human bilayered skin using bioinks containing human plasma as well as primary human fibroblasts and keratinocytes that were obtained from skin biopsies. We were able to generate 100 cm2, a standard P100 tissue culture plate, of printed skin in less than 35 min (including the 30 min required for fibrin gelation). We have analysed the structure and function of the printed skin using histological and immunohistochemical methods, both in 3D _in vitro_ cultures and after long-term transplantation to immunodeficient mice. In both cases, the generated skin was very similar to human skin and, furthermore, it was indistinguishable from bilayered dermo-epidermal equivalents, handmade in our laboratories. These results demonstrate that 3D bioprinting is a suitable technology to generate bioengineered skin for therapeutical and industrial applications in an automatized manner.
Visualizing the changes in today's city. _-- Best Reviews (H/T: spike)_
An example question from the Raven's Progressive Matrices standardized fluid-intelligence test.* (credit: Ken Forbus)A Northwestern University team has developed a new visual problem-solving computational model that performs in the 75th percentile for American adults on a standard intelligence test. The research is an important step toward making artificial-intelligence systems that see and understand the world as humans do, says Northwestern Engineering’s Ken Forbus, Walter P. Murphy Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at Northwestern’s McCormick School of Engineering. The research was published online in January 2017 in the journal _Psychological Review_. The new computational model** is built on CogSketch, an AI platform previously developed in Forbus’ laboratory. It can solve visual problems and understand sketches to give immediate, interactive feedback. CogSketch also incorporates a computational model of analogy, based on Northwestern psychology professor Dedre Gentner’s structure-mapping engine. The ability to solve complex visual problems is one of the hallmarks of human intelligence. Developing artificial intelligence systems that have this ability provides new evidence for the importance of symbolic representations and analogy in visual reasoning, and it could potentially shrink the gap between computer and human cognition, the researchers suggest. A NONVERBAL FLUID-INTELLIGENCE TEST The researchers tested the AI system on Raven’s Progressive Matrices, a nonverbal standardized test that measures abstract reasoning.*** All of the test’s problems consist of a matrix with one image missing. The test taker is given six to eight choices for completing the matrix. “The problems that are hard for people are also hard for the model, providing additional evidence that its operation is capturing some important properties of human cognition,” said Forbus. “The Raven’s test is the best existing predictor of what psychologists call ‘fluid intelligence,' or the general ability to think abstractly, reason, identify patterns, solve problems, and discern relationships,” said co-author Andrew Lovett, now a researcher at the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory. “Our results suggest that the ability to flexibly use relational representations, comparing and reinterpreting them, is important for fluid intelligence.” “Most artificial intelligence research today concerning vision focuses on recognition, or labeling what is in a scene rather than reasoning about it,” Forbus said. “But recognition is only useful if it supports subsequent reasoning. Our research provides an important step toward understanding visual reasoning more broadly.” _* The test taker should choose answer D because the relationships between it and the other elements in the bottom row are most similar to the relationships between the elements of the top rows._ _** "The reader may download (Windows) the computational model and run it on example problems," the authors note in their _Psychological Review_ paper._ ** _Raven’s Progressive Matrices (RPM) is an intelligence test that "requires that participants compare images in a (usually) 3×3 matrix, identify a pattern across the matrix, and solve for the missing image." … Designed to measure a subject’s fluid intelligence, "it has remained popular for decades because it is highly successful at predicting a subject’s performance on other ability tests — not just visual tests, but verbal and mathematical as well," the authors suggest in their _Psychological Review_ paper._ ------------------------- ABSTRACT OF _MODELING VISUAL PROBLEM SOLVING AS ANALOGICAL REASONING_ We present a computational model of visual problem solving, designed to solve problems from the Raven’s Progressive Matrices intelligence test. The model builds on the claim that analogical reasoning lies at the heart of visual problem solving, and intelligence more broadly. Images are compared via structure mapping, aligning the common relational structure in 2 images to identify commonalities and differences. These commonalities or differences can themselves be reified and used as the input for future comparisons. When images fail to align, the model dynamically rerepresents them to facilitate the comparison. In our analysis, we find that the model matches adult human performance on the Standard Progressive Matrices test, and that problems which are difficult for the model are also difficult for people. Furthermore, we show that model operations involving abstraction and rerepresentation are particularly difficult for people, suggesting that these operations may be critical for performing visual problem solving, and reasoning more generally, at the highest level. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2016 APA, all rights reserved)
An individual receiving noninvasive rTMS brain stimulation via electromagnetic coil (credit: Northwestern University)Non-invasive magnetic brain stimulation can be used to precisely improve a specific type of memory -- remembering highly precise contextual and spatial information -- Northwestern Medicine scientists shown for the first time. The new research could help in developing new treatments for people with brain injuries or dementia, said Joel Voss, assistant professor of medical social sciences at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, senior author of a paper published Jan. 19 in _Current Biology_.
Blue indicates where electromagnetic pulses were applied to modify the specific "core" (red) of a precise memory network in the hippocampus. (credit: Northwestern University)Precise memory (known as "recollection precision"), rather than general memory, is critical for knowing details such as the specific color, shape, and location of a building you are looking for, rather than simply knowing the part of town it’s in. This type of memory is crucial for normal functioning, and it is often lost in people with serious memory disorders. IMPROVING THE SPATIAL-PRECISION-MEMORY PART OF THE BRAIN “We show that it is possible to target the portion of the brain responsible for this type of memory and to improve it,” said Voss. “People with brain injuries have problems with precise memory as do individuals with dementia, and so our findings could be useful in for these conditions.” The scientists first used MRI to identify brain networks related to spatial precision memory. Then they stimulated the specific brain network responsible for spatial memory* with repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS), using powerful electromagnets. That allowed the scientists to improve the precision of people's memory for identifying locations. This benefit lasted a full 24 hours after receiving stimulation and corresponded to changes in brain activity. Most previous studies using noninvasive magnetic brain stimulation have found only very general and short-lived effects on thinking abilities, rather than highly specific and long-lasting effects on an ability such as precise memory. The scientists used detailed memory tests to show that this procedure actually improved spatial-precision memory; they used EEG to show that these memory improvements corresponded to indicators of improved brain network function. The research was supported by grants from the National Institute of Mental Health, the National Institute on Aging and the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, all of the National Institutes of Health. _* The "hippocampal posterior-medial (HPM) network" (for which evidence has previously been mostly indirect, derived from correlative measures such as EEG neural-activity recordings)._ ------------------------- ABSTRACT OF _STIMULATION OF THE POSTERIOR CORTICAL-HIPPOCAMPAL NETWORK ENHANCES PRECISION OF MEMORY RECOLLECTION_ Episodic memory is thought to critically depend on interaction of the hippocampus with distributed brain regions [ 1–3 ]. Specific contributions of distinct networks have been hypothesized, with the hippocampal posterior-medial (HPM) network implicated in the recollection of highly precise contextual and spatial information [ 3–6 ]. Current evidence for HPM specialization is mostly indirect, derived from correlative measures such as neural activity recordings. Here we tested the causal role of the HPM network in recollection using network-targeted noninvasive brain stimulation in humans, which has previously been shown to increase functional connectivity within the HPM network [ 7 ]. Effects of multiple-day electromagnetic stimulation were assessed using an object-location memory task that segregated recollection precision from general recollection success. HPM network-targeted stimulation produced lasting (∼24 hr) enhancement of recollection precision, without effects on general success. Canonical neural correlates of recollection [ 8–10 ] were also modulated by stimulation. Late-positive evoked potential amplitude and theta-alpha oscillatory power were reduced, suggesting that stimulation can improve memory through enhanced reactivation of detailed visuospatial information at retrieval. The HPM network was thus specifically implicated in the processing of fine-grained memory detail, supporting functional specialization of hippocampal-cortical networks. These findings demonstrate that brain networks can be causally linked to distinct and specific neurocognitive functions and suggest mechanisms for long-lasting changes in memory due to network-targeted stimulation.
Entrepreneurs are moving quicker and quicker as time goes on. Google’s futurist Ray Kurzweil calls this acceleration of tech over time speeding up the law of accelerating returns. Tech hubs that enable a more advanced society can progress at a faster rate than other societies. 19th century entrepreneurs knew more and had better tech than 15th century business owners, so society was far more advanced in the 19th century. This law of accelerating returns works on the small scale particularly in Silicon Valley, as self-driving cars become a reality. As we can see with self-driving cars, entrepreneurs are making the law of accelerated returns prominent. If the predictions are accurate and self-driving cars are a distinctive part of culture by 2021 then we are on the brink of advances we have never seen before in such a short period of time. -------------------------
The world's largest startup event, April 3-7, 2017 Supporting founders and inspiring innovation @ Innovation Hangar & Palace of Fine Arts Theater, San Francisco LAUNCH Main Festival April 6-7, 2017 12,000 founders from around the world attend as our guests, thanks to the support of IBM, WSGR and Microsoft. *Available to all ticket holders: Founders, Festival and VIP SCALE Stage April 6-7, 2017 Our top 30 investors, founders and growth experts will teach you how to scale your startup. *Available to all ticket holders: Founders, Festival and VIP Angel Summit Presented By Javelin Venture Partners April 5, 2017 25 angels and VCs share best practices in their portfolios, investment strategies, and what they're looking for in 2017. *Available to VIP ticket holders Founder & Investor Speed Dating Presented By Javelin Venture Partners April 5, 6 & 7, 2017 50 exceptional founders meet with 50 early-stage investors. *Available to select founders and investors who apply as a part of LAUNCH Festival Startup Summit Founder University Presented By WSGR April 3-4, 2017 A two day educational experience for founders* who have launched their product but haven't raised a Series A. *Available to 25 founders selected based on merit Opening Night Gala April 6, 2017 5:30PM-8PM *Available to VIP ticket holders Winners Dinner Co-hosted By IBM April 7, 2017 5:30PM-8PM *Available to VIP ticket holders _--Event Producer_
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An artist's rendition of Geobacter expressing electrically conductive nanowires. Microbiologists at UMass Amherst have discovered a new type of natural wire produced by bacteria that could greatly accelerate the development of sustainable "green" conducting materials for the electronics industry. (credit: UMass Amherst)UMass Amherst research finds microbe yields better electronic material Microbiologists at the University of Massachusetts Amherst report that they have discovered a new type of microbial nanowire produced by bacteria that could greatly accelerate the development of sustainable “green” conducting materials for the electronics industry. The study by Derek Lovley and colleagues appears this week in an open-access paper in _mBio_, the American Society of Microbiology’s premier journal. A bacterium known as _Geobacter sulfurreducens _uses the protein filaments naturally to make electrical connections with other microbes or minerals. As Lovley explains, “Microbial nanowires are a revolutionary electronic material with substantial advantages over man-made materials. Chemically synthesizing nanowires in the lab requires toxic chemicals, high temperatures and/or expensive metals. The energy requirements are enormous. By contrast, natural microbial nanowires can be mass-produced at room temperature from inexpensive renewable feedstocks in bioreactors with much lower energy inputs. And the final product is free of toxic components.”
Confocal scanning laser micrographs of G. sulfurreducens anode biofilms harvested on day 10. Bar, 25 µm. (credit: Yang Tan et al./mBio)The Microbial nanowires offer an unprecedented potential for developing novel electronic devices and sensors for diverse applications with a new environmentally friendly technology, Lovely says. “This is an important advance in microbial nanowire technology. The approach we outline in this paper demonstrates a rapid method for prospecting in nature to find better electronic materials.” When his lab began looking at the protein filaments of other _Geobacter _species, they were surprised to find a wide range in conductivities. For example, one species recovered from uranium-contaminated soil produced poorly conductive filaments. However, another species, _Geobacter metallireducens_ produced nanowires 5,000 times more conductive than the _G. sulfurreducens _wires. Lovley recalls, “I isolated _metallireducens _from mud in the Potomac River 30 years ago, and every couple of years it gives us a new surprise.” In their new study supported by the U.S. Office of Naval Research, they did not study the _G. metallireducens _strain directly. Instead, they took the gene for the protein that assembles into microbial nanowires from it and inserted this into _G. sulfurreducens_. The result is a genetically modified _G. sulfurreducens_ that expresses the _G. metallireducens _protein, making nanowires much more conductive than _G. sulfurreducens _would naturally produce. Further, Lovley says, “We have found that _G. sulfurreducens _will express filament genes from many different types of bacteria. This makes it simple to produce a diversity of filaments in the same microorganism and to study their properties under similar conditions.” The high conductivity of the _G. metallireducens _nanowires suggests that they may be an attractive material for the construction of conductive materials, electronic devices ,and sensors for medical or environmental applications. The authors say discovering more about the mechanisms of nanowire conductivity “provides important insight into how we might make even better wires with genes that we design ourselves.” ------------------------- Abstract Of _Expressing The Geobacter Metallireducens PilA In Geobacter Sulfurreducens Yields Pili With Exceptional Conductivity_ The electrically conductive pili (e-pili) of _Geobacter sulfurreducens_ serve as a model for a novel strategy for long-range extracellular electron transfer. e-pili are also a new class of bioelectronic materials. However, the only other _Geobacter_ pili previously studied, which were from _G. uraniireducens_, were poorly conductive. In order to obtain more information on the range of pili conductivities in _Geobacter_ species, the pili of _G. metallireducens_ were investigated. Heterologously expressing the PilA gene of _G. metallireducens_ in _G. sulfurreducens_ yielded a _G. sulfurreducens_ strain, designated strain MP, that produced abundant pili. Strain MP exhibited phenotypes consistent with the presence of e-pili, such as high rates of Fe(III) oxide reduction and high current densities on graphite anodes. Individual pili prepared at physiologically relevant pH 7 had conductivities of 277 ± 18.9 S/cm (mean ± standard deviation), which is 5,000-fold higher than the conductivity of _G. sulfurreducens_ pili at pH 7 and nearly 1 million-fold higher than the conductivity of _G. uraniireducens_ pili at the same pH. A potential explanation for the higher conductivity of the _G. metallireducens_ pili is their greater density of aromatic amino acids, which are known to be important components in electron transport along the length of the pilus. The _G. metallireducens_ pili represent the most highly conductive pili found to date and suggest strategies for designing synthetic pili with even higher conductivities.