Human Brain Robots

We have all seen countless movies in which robots take over the world and wipe out humanity, where robots behave like humans and form a whole force to fight against the beings that created them. Most of us didn’t really believe that one day, robots that behave like humans, would actually become real. Until now. Scientists have been able to make tiny human brains and hook them up to robots! For many, it is still unbelievable, but scientists are actually moving closer and closer to creating life in a laboratory.

The steps that have been taken are just the beginning and there is a very long way to go until scientists are able to completely replicate a human brain and successfully implant it into a metal body.

Scientists have been able to come up with ways to make robots behave like humans. They were able to produce organoids which generate brain waves that could show signs of consciousness, and reproduce qualities of the human brain like being capable of sentience (capacity to feel, perceive, or experience subjectively) and of feeling pain, agony and distress.

It all started at the University of California, San Diego lab, of biologist Alysson Muotri, where the scientists used stem cells to grow organoids. These are tiny, self-organized three-dimensional tissue cultures. These organoids were then packed into a box and shipped to space to see how they develop in a zero gravity environment. As said by Muotri, they are most likely ‘replicating like crazy’ in space. It was then observed that the organoids produced were giving off brain waves or complex designs of neural activities. As the organoids matured, it was observed that they showed changes in the brain waves, similar to the changes that take place in the developing brain of a premature baby. This peculiar finding is forcing the scientists to revisit the limitations of lab-grown mini-organs and the ethical issues surrounding them.

To proceed with the experiment, Dr. Muotri hooked the mini brains up onto a spider-shaped robot in order to study the neural activity. The results that he got from this could possibly prove that scientists are now able to generate partially conscious life in a laboratory.

Dr. Muotri emphasized the fact that these are just clusters of replicating brain cells, not actual brains. Another point to state is that the mini brains barely scratch the surface of a human brain’s capabilities. The human brain is immensely complex, whereas the mini-brains are just a simple ball of neurons. But, of course, creating these simple balls of neurons, somewhat similar to the human brain, was also once believed to be an impossible task.

As the scientists agree, there is a long way to go to make human brain robots a success in the world of science and technology. But, this is also a huge landmark and many scientist across the globe are experimenting with and are hopeful that this research will not stop here.

Airships

Traveling by air is the fastest and safest mode of traveling. Today, it has become the most frequently used mode of travel, but long before commercial airplanes flew, the skies were dominated by Airships. Airships, as the name suggests, were tremendous in size and flew passengers locally. In terms of design, they consisted of a huge balloon-like structure which received its lift through gasbags. The gasbags generally contained helium but since it wasn’t cheap and an excessive amount of gas was required to keep the airship in the sky, Helium was later replaced with a much cheaper alternative; hydrogen which was notoriously known for being flammable.

There are three types of Airships, classed by structure – they are rigid airships, semi-rigid airships and non-rigid airships. The non-rigid airships have no structural framework and retain their shape solely by internal pressure. The rigid airships have a structural framework in addition to the gasbags. While the semi-rigid airship combines the structural properties of both rigid and non-rigid airships. Rigid airships were the most frequently used and had a better safety record. First flown by the German General Count Zeppelin, the rigid airships soon received a new name and were all referred to as the Zeppelin.

Developed in 1893, Zeppelin wasn’t commercially flown until the 19th century when a German airline took off carrying passengers in 1910. 4 years later and the airline had already completed more than one thousand flights carrying over ten thousand passengers. By then airships were being used commercially as a mode of travel on a larger scale. Apart from commercial uses, Zeppelins played a crucial role for Germany in World War 1. Used as bombers and deployers, Airships had proved to be useful for both military and commercial travel. This all changed when a German airship carrying 97 onboard abruptly caught fire on May 6th, 1937 in New Jersey, killing almost 37 people. This, along with a number of other incidents, took away people’s faith and marked the end of airships and the beginning of commercial airplanes on a broad scale which were much safer and faster and could fly internationally.

Now, almost 80 years later, airships are almost unheard of. However, a team of Austrian scientists are currently proposing an airship ten times greater than the Hindenburg for the sole purpose of carrying cargo. This new and unique airship will be capable of lifting more than 20,000 tons of cargo across land and sea. Furthermore, wind speeds at high altitudes can easily cross 150+ kilometers. Using this airspeed could allow the airship to travel around the world in just 14 days. As well as carrying cargo much faster than ships on the same route. Of course, the incident of Hindenburg is the first thing that comes to mind when talking about airships and safety. In this in mind, scientists propose to use carbon fiber as a durable framework as well as automating them so even if an incident is met, there is no loss of life.

Neom – Future city

Neom is a future city that is being planned by the Saudi government and especially the crown prince of Saudi Arabia, Mohammad Bin Salman. He plans to create a city that will be out of a movie using all sorts of technology and advancements. Some of the features of the city were listed in a 2,300-page document that has been created by the Saudi government while planning for this mysterious and futuristic city.

The city will have many attractions that the tourists will love and will definitely want to see. They will have an artificial moon that will light up the night sky, every night. They plan to have Jurassic park inspired robotic dinosaurs that people interact and mingle with. They also will have robot maids, glow in the dark beaches and even flying cars! This ambitious city looks like something that will attract the whole world and will encourage people to visit Saudi Arabia, which hasn’t really been a hub for tourism, except the holy pilgrimage.

However, the downfall of this futuristic city is that it will force the local tribes to relocate that have existed in Saudi Arabia for centuries. It is also planned that a human gene-editing clinic will be placed within the city and the city will be under surveillance of the government 24 hours of the day. It seems that the city is more of a dystopian future in books rather than a futuristic, fun tourist spot.

The location that has been planned for this city is the North-west of Saudi Arabia, which at the moment is barren except for a few tribes that live there. The city is said to cost around 500 billion dollars and will need a lot of investment from very rich people and the crown prince himself, who will also be overseeing the construction of the city.

Right now the place where Neom is said to be created is barren and is a large desert, like most of Saudi Arabia. However, the crown prince plans on using the method of cloud seeding, which means that they engineer the clouds to produce rain and this will not only improve the climate of the city but also enable fresh produce to grow on a barren land.

According to the document, Neom plans to have more Michelin star restaurants in one city than anywhere around the world. The city also plans on having the best education provided to children who inhabit the city with holographic teachers. The crown prince wants to give people the best-paying jobs and wants to create a healthy economy where both parties are satisfied.

The chief executive of the city says that they plan on using the latest and most advanced technology; hence this is the reason why some of it is still theoretical and may take time to develop.

Facebook’s Mind Reading Headset

Have you ever imagined a world where you would just think things and they would happen? For example, you thought to send a happy birthday message to your grandmother and your phone does it automatically? Well, this concept seems to be coming closer to becoming reality very soon. In 2017, Facebook decided to create a device which would use your thoughts to type. So whatever you were thinking at that moment would be typed out by Facebook’s new brain-computer. Now Facebook has started to show how far they have come with this invention and how soon consumers can have it in their hands. It is something that will revolutionize technology as it will let the disabled speak and make our daily lives much easier.

Facebook says that they are in collaboration with scientists and researchers at the University of California to work on this new invention. They stated that they want to connect the world without any limitations whether they are geographical, physical or mental. They want to make the world instantly accessible and completely hands-free. So with collaboration from researchers, Facebook is trying to build a device that will let patients with neurological diseases have a voice again by examining their brain’s activity in real-time.

An experiment was conducted by the researchers where a neurological patient who had been surgically implanted with electrodes on the surface of his brain was asked to answer questions aloud. Around 61% of the time, the computer was able to comprehend and present the correct answer through brain signals alone. Researchers now believe that this could have a real impact on society as it would enable those who cannot speak to now have a voice and share their opinion with the world too.

However, there is much more work to be done. Right now the project is just at the beginning stage where it is starting to take form. What the researchers aim to achieve will take many years of trials and practice. The researchers want to decode around 100 words per minute with a vocabulary of 1000 words, and they want less than a 17% chance of error. This is a huge goal for the researchers and if this is achieved, it could transform the technological world.

However there are a few downfalls too, the procedure is surgically invasive, which in itself is a huge risk. This is a different model compared to the one aimed for normal consumers which will be manual headsets. Also in the initial trials, there was very limited vocabulary that was tested which means very limited answers could be provided. It leaves a great deal of scope for improvement. This device will take many years to be completed and to reach the consumers and patients, and will need much more money and effort to become a reality.

Capturing CO2 from the Environment

CO2 is present in the air and is absorbed by trees and plants from the atmosphere, but to what extent? With all the trees that are being cut down through deforestation, which is credited to urbanization, the carbon dioxide in the air is increasing. Factories and transportation are releasing greenhouse gases into the environment and increasing the temperature of the planet and melting ice. All of this is due to excess carbon dioxide within the atmosphere. However, someone has found a way to use that to the advantage of the plant – by using the carbon dioxide in the air to create energy.  They plan to use CO2, equivalent to that absorbed by 40 million trees in a year.

Carbon Energy, which is backed by billions of dollars of support, has finally been able to gather enough money to start the design process for their negative emissions project. The purpose of the project is to suck the carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere and re-use it to create energy. This facility is based in Calgary, Canada at the moment. The company has been able to raise 68 billion dollars for its project of using carbon dioxide from the air to create energy and is to date the most money raised for technology.

Steve Oldham, the owner of the company believes that besides awareness of environmental change and money, we also need technology to play a part. And he believes technology can play a major role in trying to turn around the environmental disaster that stands ahead of us. Through technology, new and innovative ways can be discovered to fix a problem which seems to have no solution. Through one factory, if 40 million trees worth of carbon dioxide is being used, then with many different factories in different parts of the world, a big change can be brought about in the world.

What the company plans to do is to use the carbon dioxide in the air and create carbon out of the air. The carbon will then be stored under-ground in the 230-acre factory and used to create fuel for different cars. Many different companies, like Chevrolet, might be interested in the company as a way to decrease their carbon footprint.

If big companies start to invest in projects like this and also become their customers, the difference to the environmental crisis the world is facing could be huge. Not only does this open ways for new technology and new ways to help the environment but it is also creating jobs, an alternative way of acquiring fuel and also helping companies reduce their own carbon emissions.

AI Universe

Our universe is billions of years old, so old that sometimes it is hard to fathom. But the rate of change has steadily increased to the stage that we are now capable of giving intelligence to machines. However, a new artificial intelligence machine has been created which will also help the human race understand our own universe better. It will show it to us in a broader perspective and help deepen our understanding. For the first time in history, astrophysicists are using 3D technology and artificial intelligence to generate complex 3D simulations of our universe. The results are so fascinating that even the creators are baffled by them.

Shirley Ho, a group leader at the Flatiron Institute’s Center for Computational Astrophysics in New York City says that the simulations they have created can easily be run within a few milliseconds. However, other fast simulators take at least a couple of minutes to do the same thing. She also says that their simulations are much more accurate.

The project is called the “Deep Density Displacement model” or D3M for short. This is the name given to it because of the speed and accuracy of the project, which was not the biggest shock to researchers rather the fact that it could accurately predict how the universe would look after tweaking certain parameters. Shirley Ho says that it was like “teaching image recognition software with lots of pictures of cats and dogs, but then it’s able to recognize elephants.”

The predictions and model created by D3M have become a necessity for those working in the field of theoretical astrophysics. This is because scientists want to know how the cosmos might evolve or change under various scenarios and tweaks. It is also a way to test a few of their theories about the universe.

D3M is also able to show how gravity shapes and impacts on our universe. Gravity is the main focus of the model as gravity is the most important force with the greatest impact. These most accurate simulations are able to calculate effect on billions of particles over the entire age of the universe.

A deep neural network powers the D3M by feeding it 8000 different simulations from the highest accuracy model. The neural networks take training data and make calculations on the information, and then researchers compare the resulting outcomes with the expected outcomes. As time goes by, neural networks become faster and adapt.

After training the D3M, the researchers took it for a test run. They ran a simulation for a box shaped universe 600 million light years in size. Slower machines took hundreds of hours to compute the data, while the fastest previous model was a bit faster, but not as accurate. However, the D3M was able to compute it in 30 milliseconds.

The D3M is an amazing project that helps astrophysicists understand the universe better and make more accurate predictions and discoveries. It has made the universe a little more practical to explore.