DeepMind Technologies Limited – Embracing an Artificial Intelligence Mastermind

DeepMind Technologies Limited was founded in London in 2010, and acquired by Google for $500 million in 2014. The company is now a part of the Alphabet group, and continues to work towards creating artificial intelligence that can effectively accomplish any task it is given. Researchers initially began training the system using an arcade gaming platform from the 1970s. While the computer was playing video games, scientists observed that it learnt in a similar way to humans. The main goal of DeepMind Technologies is to ‘solve intelligence,’ using AI to delve deeper into the intricacies of the human mind.

As the artificial intelligence advances, it will be able to solve any problem without being given detailed instructions. This will accommodate breakthroughs in many areas which have proven difficult for scientists to understand. DeepMind has already made advancements in several fields, including healthcare and conserving the environment. The artificial intelligence has been used to decrease the amount of energy consumption in Google’s data centers, creating algorithms to make its cooling centers more efficient. Many people suffer from poor health and DeepMind is working with the NHS to provide better care for a number of conditions that affect millions of people worldwide.

The company combines an approach of long term discipline, with an enthusiastic team that is determined to make a difference. The team has published more than 200 peer reviewed papers, including in Nature and Science, detailing the work they are doing and the advancements that have been made. The company works closely with academic and research communities, aiming to maintain a high standard of commitment, while including the broader society. DeepMind operates on the premise that artificial intelligence is ultimately for the people, and makes every effort for their work to reflect this.

The firm also focuses on creating an ethical environment for their artificial intelligence, especially as advancements occur. Google has set up an AI ethics board, in accordance with their acquisition terms, but the members remain confidential. Despite the fears associated with creating computers more intelligent than mankind, Google maintains that their artificial intelligence will be for the benefit of humans. If the technology is focused in the right direction, artificial intelligence will facilitate extreme growth instead of becoming a threat. The technology’s creators have begun with basic necessities, showing where AI can help towards providing those in extreme poverty with food and water. This would result in growth and development worldwide, in addition to the advanced technological societies that are currently thriving.


Hyperloop Travel – Commuting at Super Speed

A significant effort is being made to create functioning Hyperloop systems that will increase the speed at which we can travel. The system would go around in a loop and work similarly to high speed railways, with pods to transport passengers via tubes. The pods would be propelled along air skis, or magnetic tracks, through tunnels which have had most of the air removed. This will reduce friction and allow them to travel at up to 750 miles per hour. There have been several potential routes sketched out worldwide, including in parts of the United States and India, and it is expected that the first Hyperloop system should be functional by 2021.

Hyperloop travel is being proposed as an alternative to short plane journeys, as well as a means of daily commute. Although the idea of travelling at super speed via tubes has been introduced before, public interest began to peak after Elon Musk published his Hyperloop Alpha paper in 2013. It detailed his plan to create the system, with new technology that would make it possible. Musk also invited other teams worldwide to provide input, in an effort to increase the project’s success. The first route Musk intends to set up would be a 350 mile network from Los Angeles to San Francisco, which would transport passengers along at 760 mph. The entrepreneur estimates the cost of putting up the system at between US$ 6 and 7.5 billion, allowing passengers to pay as little as US $20 per journey.

Image Credit: Delft University

The advantages of a Hyperloop system are significant, and would include:

  • The possibility of travelling up to two times faster than a commercial airplane.
  • Travel would be unaffected by weather conditions.
  • Lower operating costs due to autonomous systems.
  • No possibility of a collision, due to the system operating on a loop.
  • Low power consumption, as well as energy storage for 24 hour emergency operation.

Musk’s company, SpaceX, built a track to test pod designs, with a team from MIT designing the first prototype. Their invention uses electrodynamic suspension for levitating the pod, and eddy current braking. To date, the top speed in the Hyperloop Pod Competitions has been achieved by the design from The Technical University of Munich. Their pod accelerated to a maximum speed of 201 mph. Critics have expressed concern that the speed at which the system operates would make it uncomfortable for passengers, but Musk has guaranteed that the acceleration and deceleration process will be specialized to ensure maximum safety and comfort for commuters.

Smart Roads – Technology Making Travel Easier and Safer

Roads have been exclusively a means of getting from point A to point B for centuries. Although starting out as mere pathways, their design has improved over the years. Technology is continuously adding to the way that we can improve many of our systems, including our roadways. To make the roads safer, Kansas City Tech has started a project called Integrated Roadways. The aim is to replace the asphalt paving now used in roadways with upgradable factory-made slabs, that can detect vehicles. Kansas City tech has collaborated with the Colorado Department of Transport, in a bid to get smart roads up and running in the shortest possible time.

There will be other technology embedded in the roads including a system to call emergency vehicles to the scene of an accident. Real-time data will also be transmitted to vehicles to allow them to choose the best route, which will co-ordinate well with the introduction of autonomous vehicles. Integrated Roadways will not collect personal data, from vehicles that use their roads, but will be able to identify car makes and models. The smart roads are also expected to be self-funded due to connected billboards, and other integrated advertisement methods.

Once these roadways have been installed, they are expected to be the foundation of a ‘nationwide 5G network.’ This is a scheduled wireless communication method that works by sending data over an integrated fibre-optic mesh.

In addition to the Integrated Roadways plans, there are other ways in which technology is already being incorporated into the design of roadways to make them ‘smarter.’ These include:

Alternate Lighting Methods – To decrease the costs for lighting roads, the Netherlands is experimenting with using paint that contains photo-luminescing powder. It charges up during the day and glows-in-the-dark for up to 10 hours, to light the way for drivers at night. Further research is being conducted to find ways of making the paint last longer, and glow evenly.

There are also several countries that are looking into the possibility of using motion sensor lights on roads that aren’t very busy. The light will come on when a car approaches that section of the road and slowly dim away after it has passed.

Glass is a renewable, environmentally friendly material that can be stronger than steel. Solar Roadways is a project that is expected to install solar panels on glass roads, which would contain microprocessors and LEDs. The roads would be able to melt snow during the winter and the energy generated could be harvested to provide them with their electrical needs. Although glass can be slippery, the roads’ surface would be specially engineered to allow vehicles to stop quickly and safely even when travelling at high speeds.

Electric Vehicle Charging – With many countries planning to make petrol vehicles obsolete, research is being conducted into installing an Electric Priority Lane on some highways. This will facilitate electric vehicles recharging while in transit, via magnetic fields which have been embedded within the roadways.

Our Body After Death – Special Ways to Rest in Peace

Most religious and spiritual groups believe that the body is occupied by a soul that lives on after death. For centuries humans have been using different methods to ensure that a body remains at peace, after the soul has departed. With the changes in the world, due to more advanced technology, the way we put our loved ones to rest is also changing and new methods of preserving our memory include:

  1. Becoming a Diamond

Cremated bodies can be made into synthetic diamonds, in a process which heats extracted carbons from a loved one’s remains to extreme temperatures. These are then placed into LifeGem’s diamond press, a 13,000-pound industrial machine. Once the diamond has been made it can be cut and polished, as well as have unique features engraved on its surface.

  1. Floating Island Burial

The Buddhist traditions observed in Hong Kong require proper respect to be shown to the bodies of those that have passed on. The country has been running out of space to store their ever-increasing number of dead. Burial plots in Hong Kong are now being reused and families often wait up to 56 months to get one. This means that most of the bodies of those that die are cremated and the country has also begun running out of space to store the urns.

To solve this problem Hong Kong has teamed up with British architectural firm, BREAD Studio, to create a floating island where the ashes of 370,000 people can now be housed. The island is called ‘Floating Eternity’ and is located alongside the harbor. Visitors can pull up by boat, place their urn in a designated niche or sprinkle the ashes overboard for a burial at sea. The circular walkway has also been designed to ensure that the view from any angle remains unobstructed.

  1. Coral Reef Burial

Eternal Reefs has revolutionized a way for deceased loved ones to become a part of the ocean’s ecosystem. Cremated remains are put inside reef balls, which are specially designed to repopulate the oceans reefs after their drastic decline in recent decades. The unique design encourages sea life to attach itself to the surface of the balls and grow outward. The reef ball can also store personal memorabilia, such as dog tags for navy veterans.

  1. An Atmospheric Release

Mesoloft is a company that takes cremated remains up in a balloon and releases them into the atmosphere, where they float around the Earth before drifting back to the planet’s surface to settle on various landforms. Other ashes will pass through clouds to become a part of rain or snow. The release is recorded and played for loved ones at the deceased’s funeral, or a special memorial service.

Uber Elevate – The Flying Taxi Service

Uber cabs have begun to dominate the local transportation market in many large countries. Like other big companies, Uber plans to expand its services, intending to provide their customers with the easiest ways of commuting. One of their ideas is to fly passengers to their destination. This would decrease the amount of time each journey takes and could be used to travel long distances quickly and easily. The project is known as Uber Elevate, and the company has revealed their plans and progress in their Second Annual Elevate Summit.

The vehicles would be Vertical Takeoff and Landing Vehicles (VTOL), which the company plan to make cheaper than taking a car. They are also expected to be autonomous, when this becomes possible. Uber has announced plans to begin testing prototypes within the next two years. The company has several obstacles that will need to be overcome before this can be attempted, however, and have put an extra effort into recruiting top aviation researchers to put the pieces together. Company officials are also hoping to collaborate with governments, vehicle developers, and other technologically advanced companies to bring the best product to the market.

The VTOLs would need take-off and landing locations and the company has proposed using the tops of parking garages, existing helipads and unused land close to highways. This would cost less than existing infrastructure for commute, such as roadways and trainlines. Unlike cars, which need to follow roads, or public vehicles, that make stops at certain places along the way, the VTOLs would have access to any required route. Uber has also pointed out that an increase in technology has facilitated the creation of several VTOL prototypes, and companies continue to maximize resources to get them up and running.

Other benefits include making use of electric propulsion so there are no operational emissions, as well as being relatively quiet transport vehicles. The inclusion of autonomous flying would significantly reduce accidents, caused by operational error. The company plans to begin by using the Uber Elevate services for daily long distances journeys in urban and suburban areas, and in places that are lacking current travelling infrastructure.

Uber has taken every step to prove that ‘flying’ will no longer need to be an expensive, and rare, form of travel and they plan to fulfill their customers requirements completely. Uber’s main aim in creating their flying taxis is to give commuters back some of the time it takes to get places. Time which can be spent with family or being more productive at work. Regardless of the circumstances and obstacles that will need to be overcome, it is guaranteed that there will be a built-in customer base as soon as their VTOLs are up and running.

Stem Cell Storage – Preparing to Combat Future Ailments

One of the major quests of the human species is finding a way to prolong our lives. Unfortunately, as we age our stem cells decrease and deteriorate, making us more susceptible to age-related illnesses. Scientists believe that many of these diseases can be slowed down, or stopped entirely, using our own stem cells. Although more research needs to be conducted into ways to use them to prolong our lives, and our healthy years, one study has already shown that mice injected with stem cells began aging more slowly. The best stem cells to be used in any medical process would be the ones that we have in our youth, before the deterioration process begins.

Forever Labs has developed a system to harvest and store these ideal stem cells for future use, where necessary. The company has partnered with doctors, predominantly plastic and orthopedic surgeons, to extract stem cells which their labs will keep for an annual fee. The extraction is a fifteen-minute process, and the company’s website provides those interested with a list of doctors that do the procedure. The process is virtually pain free, with little or no recovery period. This means that you could essentially be saving your own life, with an effortless procedure, conducted during your lunch break!

The stem cells are collected from the bone marrow, near the hip, which has the highest number in the body. The bone marrow produces most of our blood, supports the immune system and the connected tissue, as well as the vasculature and soft muscle systems. Scientists at Forever Labs believe that replacing the stem cells in the bone marrow (with younger ones) as we age, can help to prolong our lives and health. Most age-related diseases are caused by problems arising at the cellular level, which then extends to the tissues. If they can be addressed at this stage they can be controlled before they become debilitating, essentially prolonging a healthy life.

The procedure is straightforward, harmless and, for most patients, risk-free. Those that may face risks will be told beforehand. Scientists continue to research the possibilities that exist with stem cell treatment including: combating Alzheimer’s, osteoarthritis, heart disease and strokes. A study conducted with rats has shown where stem cell application may even be able to treat alcoholism. Regardless of the cures that will arise, most scientists believe that harvesting stem cells at a younger age will give individuals a higher fighting chance if they find themselves dealing with age-related diseases in the future.