The next guest in our interview series is Dr. Rachel Armstrong, interdisciplinary practitioner and sustainability innovator. Armstrong’s work uses all manners of media to engage audiences and bring them into contact with the latest advances in science and their real potential through the inventive applications of technology, to address some of the biggest problems facing the world today. She designs solutions for the built and natural environment using advanced new technologies and smart chemistry.
You may know Armstrong from her essay Self-Repairing Architecture and her research in living architecture and protocell technology, a new material that possess some of the properties of living systems and can be manipulated to grow architecture.
We recently talked with Rachel Armstrong about living buildings, Venice’s foundations, millennial nature and how to improve our future.
The newest fad in transhumanist fashion are ear implants that let you listen to music – or record conversation – without anyone noticing. These imperceptible headphones are made of magnets directly implanted in the ears, which transmit sound by bone vibration.
Ever notice how ant colonies so successfully explore and exploit resources in the world … to find food at 4th of July picnics, for example? You may find it annoying. But as an ecologist who studies ants and collective behavior, I think it’s intriguing — especially the fact that it’s all done without any central control.
What’s especially remarkable: the close parallels between ant colonies’ networks and human-engineered ones. One example is “Anternet”, where we, a group of researchers at Stanford, found that the algorithm desert ants use to regulate foraging is like the Traffic Control Protocol (TCP) used to regulate data traffic on the internet. Both ant and human networks use positive feedback: either from acknowledgements that trigger the transmission of the next data packet, or from food-laden returning foragers that trigger the exit of another outgoing forager.
Chinese inventor Tao Xiangli manufactured a robot in the yard of his house in Beijing. He spent almost a year and about 150,000 Yuan, corresponding to $24,500 dollars, to build the robot. His “newborn” is 6.8 feet tall and around 529 pounds in weight. It is made out of recycled scrap metals and electric wires bought from a second-hand market. The question is: what is he going to do with it?
Source NBC News
By his own account Steve Mann, also known as “the father of wearable computing” and “the first cyborg,” was attacked by McDonald’s employees for wearing his “EyeTap” digital eye glass last July in Paris. Still far away from the intelligence gathering “gargoyles” described in Neal Stephenson’s cyberpunk novel “Snow Crash” the EyeTap allows Mann to improve sight and film his surroundings while projecting the captured image with an added layer of augmented reality to his eye.
Though not yet as functional as biological proteins, these artificial proteins created by physicists at the University of Vienna are the first versatile and modular examples of a fully artificial protein. Their method involves the self-assembly of simple particles into polymer chains. By controlling the interaction between the beginning and end of the polymer chain they are able to “lock” the folded end result.
Proteins are the molecular machines that form the building blocks of all living organisms, and underlie complex bio-molecular processes within our bodies. From muscle contraction to DNA replication, proteins are involved in uncountable biological activities. This research presents a foundation on which novel applications can be built, from material sciences to new forms of drug delivery. One day, these bionic proteins might very well be integrated into our own biology.
Computer games were originally designed to be fun for humans, not for algorithms. Programmer Tom Murphy challenged himself to create a computer algorithm that could learn to play (and beat) Super Mario Bros.
During a human-played session, the algorithm observes the player, mapping events to buttons used. This allows the algorithm to complete levels of the games which were not even ‘learned’ during the input session. This is different from normal artificial intelligence algorithms that are trained to do a specific task.
Murphy’s program teaches itself to play rather than it being programmed to take certain actions on specific events. Even though the algorithm was made for Super Mario bros, it works well with any older, side-scrolling game.
Although this information might not come as a surprise to you, it’s now scientifically proven that humans feel empathy for robots. Researchers from the University of Duisberg Essen in Germany compared the brain function of people viewing images of violence and affection being inflicted on humans and robots and found similar results.