Elon Musk on Mission to Link Human Brains With Computers in Four Years: Report

MSN/Reuters, 4/22/2017

Neuralink Corporation hopes to develop a micron-sized device that could connect the human brain and a machine interface. The initial goal is to help those with severe brain injuries, then to explore use by people without disabilities. For example, if each person had a device, then two people could (theoretically) communicate concepts brain-to-brain. The long-term goal is to integrate human brains and artificial intelligence (AI), so humans will not be left behind (see Alternative Article below).

Dive With a Blue Whale in New Virtual-Reality Experience

Live Science, 3/16/2017

The Natural History Museum of Los Angeles (NHMLA) collaborated with designers from Wevr to develop an oceanic underwater virtual reality (VR) experience for visitors. The VR gives visitors an opportunity to explore and interact with marine animals in their natural habitat, with the further goal of raising awareness about environmental issues that threaten ocean wildlife.

Using Virtual Reality to Catch a Real Ball

EurekAlert!, 3/20/2017

Disney researchers are developing ways to improve virtual-reality interactions with physical objects. Specifically, they are seeking to make it easier to catch a real physical object like a ball while using a VR system. Possible applications include enhancing interactive gaming systems, and even potentially helping people train their hand-eye coordination.

DACC and Virgin Galactic Team Up to Explore Virtual Reality

Las Cruces Sun-News, 2/10/2017

Doña Ana Community College (DACC) and Virgin Galactic are teaming up to create a new educational outreach program. The partnership focuses on new virtual reality (VR) technologies and explores how they might be used in various settings and applications. It will begin with students using a VR simulation to learn concepts in aerospace technology.

From Jingles to Pop Hits, A.I. Is Music to Some Ears

New York Times, 1/22/2017

A number of companies are beginning to use artificial intelligence to compose music. For example, music can be generated using artificial neural networks that learn the structure of human-generated music, then produce new instances. This article focuses on the start-up Jukedeck, but also covers several other companies, including Google and IBM, that are creating their own music-generation AIs — each with different approaches. These developments have the potential to create a new dynamic in the music industry.

A String Quartet Concert, With an A.I. Assist

New York Times, 1/13/2017

“Sight Machine”, a performance piece by artist Trevor Paglen, uses AI to generate a live image mapping of musicians as they play. The algorithm involves movement-analysis techniques common in automated surveillance. By showing how machines see movement, Paglen hopes to highlight the distinct divide between how AIs and humans perceive things — and how that might affect computer-aided decision-making.

Microsoft, Code.org Target Beginner Coders With Minecraft Programme

The Guardian, 12/9/2016

Mojang, Microsoft, and Code.org are teaming up to inspire a new generation of coders. The latest version of Code.org’s Hour of Code is a tutorial that allows beginner coders to create and share their own Minecraft game. Code.org’s goal is to provide “every student in every school…the opportunity to learn computer science” — in this case, through the highly popular Minecraft game.

It’s No Christmas No. 1, but AI-Generated Song Brings Festive Cheer to Researchers

The Guardian, 11/29/2016

Researchers at the University of Toronto are working on a program that analyzes an image and then produces music based on the contents of that image. In an early demonstration of the capabilities of the AI, it produced a holiday-themed song based on a picture of a Christmas tree. This demonstrates that computers have the potential to create music could be in many ways similar to what humans would produce when given the same theme.

How Virtual Reality is Being Used to Deliver Mental Health Care

Australian Broadcasting Corporation, 10/11/2016

Through the use of VR (Virtual Reality), scientists seek to lower the cost and increase the availability of mental health care. They use VR technologies to help patients overcome their fears in a safe environment, by creating simulated situations that reproduce their fears. The availability of this treatment is increasing due to the lower costs of VR devices. The success of the VR experiments might potentially lead to higher quality and more accessible mental health care.