Tech News Review Week 15 – 22 March 2021, by Stelios Iordanis

Biotech

Researcher finds a better way to tap into the brain

https://news.miami.edu/stories/2021/03/researcher-finds-a-better-way-to-tap-into-the-brain.html

There could be important applications of this technology in drug delivery for the treatment of neurodegenerative diseases, the computer-brain interconnection, even mimicking the brain for novel computing and AI architectures.

 

‘Stem cells in hyperdrive’: Monash University researchers’ breakthrough in the hunt for a healing secret

https://amp.smh.com.au/national/stem-cells-in-hyperdrive-breakthrough-in-the-hunt-for-a-healing-secret-20210210-p5718o.html

Although healing a wound in a mouse is less complex than in the case of humans, there is a high possibility for healing even human hearts based on the resulting therapies from this discovery. It should be noted that there has been a lot of abuse and exploitation of patients with false stem cell therapies.

 

To produce more food, scientists look to get more mileage out of plant enzymes

https://phys.org/news/2021-03-food-scientists-mileage-enzymes.html

Taking advantage of plant enzyme mechanisms could end famine worldwide and malnutrition very cost-efficiently and drive down production cost for drugs, biofuel, fibre, and supplements.

 

Engineered microbe excels at ‘breathing rubber,’ could curb reliance on petroleum

https://phys.org/news/2021-03-microbe-excels-rubber-curb-reliance.html

Genetically engineered species of methanogen that can also produce high amounts of isoprene, the main chemical component of synthetic rubber could even further help drive down demand for oil that has damaged human societies during the last 120 years,

 

Scientists Created an Artificial Early Embryo From Human Skin Cells

https://singularityhub.com/2021/03/23/scientists-created-an-artificial-early-embryo-from-human-skin-cells/

What is more, another study also demonstrated the growth of a mouse fetus through half of its gestation in an artificial womb which is a record for mammals.

Therefore, cloning a human baby using someone’s skin cells, and subsequently growing it in an artificial womb without a typical male and female parents necessarily could become a possibility that may not be cancelled by draconian legislation in the EU or other Western societies with scientific taboos.

 

Neuralink Co-Founder: “We’re Gonna Need a Better Term Than ‘Video Game’”

https://futurism.com/the-byte/neuralink-cofounder-better-term-video-game

A new form of entertainment could thus emerge that could be much more addictive than classical games, because one could theoretically also control pleasure-reward centres in the brain, simultaneously, just as the most potent addictive substances can, or even cure addiction for these.

 

Machine Learning

 

Quantum Computing and Reinforcement Learning Are Joining Forces to Make Faster AI

https://singularityhub.com/2021/03/16/quantum-computing-and-reinforcement-learning-are-joining-forces-to-make-faster-ai/

This is one of the first successful experiments combining quantum computing to accelerate the learning process of a reinforcement learning algorithm, which is, as a rule, slow.

 

An AI Built to Tell Apart Pastries Was Great at Spotting Cancers

https://futurism.com/the-byte/ai-pastries-cancers

This is a classical use case of transfer learning in computer vision-based AI, where the resulting algorithm can zoom in on cancer cells and detect cancer cells in a microscope slide and revolutionize the human doctor performance, with the purchase cost of just $20,000 for the software.

 

Energy

Food Waste Could Power the Jet Engines We’re Currently Flying With, Scientists Say

https://futurism.com/the-byte/food-waste-power-jet-engines

At the moment biofuels can only make up 10% of jet fuel; this percentage can increase 3x using this technology, without compromising performance.

 

Robotics

Researchers’ algorithm designs soft-bodied robots that sense their own positions in space

https://techxplore.com/news/2021-03-algorithm-soft-bodied-robots-positions-space.html

Meet “Digit,” A Humanoid Robot Testing Package Delivery From Curb To Doorstep | ZeroHedge

https://www.zerohedge.com/technology/meet-digit-humanoid-robot-testing-package-delivery-curb-doorstep

Anticipating Robot Soldiers, Britain Is Downsizing Its Human Troops

https://futurism.com/the-byte/robot-soldiers-britain-downsizing-human-troops

All these developments are bound to drive unemployment rates very high, worldwide, in a diverse range of industries, from manufacturing and logistics to the military.

 

Space

Plans Unveiled for Grand Mars City

https://futurism.com/the-byte/plans-unveiled-grand-mars-city

A self-sustaining civilization on the surface of Mars without continuous need for supplies and shipments from Earth is a very distant vision, and it is paradoxical how humankind does not attempt to terraform the most inhospitable regions Antarctica, Sahara or Siberia, instead.