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).

Machine Learning Shows Exactly When to Zap Brain to Boost Memory

New Scientist, 4/20/2017

Michael Kahana and other researchers at the University of Pennsylvania have used machine learning to analyze data on brain function and brain wave patterns. Electrodes implanted in the subjects’ brains measured brain activity while the subjects attempted to memorize and recall information. The electrodes could also transmit electric shocks to the brain. Results showed that carefully timed shocks made people 13 percent more likely to recall material.

Paralysed Man Moves Arm Using Power of Thought in World First

The Guardian, 3/29/2017

Lead author Dr. Bolu Ajiboye and a team at Case Western Reserve University developed an experimental procedure that re-enables motor function in a paralyzed patient’s arm. This procedure translates activity in the patient’s motor cortex into a signal that activates the arm muscles to perform the desired action, with help from a prosthetic. The research is still in the developmental phase, but they hope it can become a normal procedure to help people with paralysis.

Skin Powered by the Sun? Energy-Saving Prosthetic Limbs Get Better Feeling

Reuters, 3/22/2017

Researchers from the University of Glasgow, UK, have developed a prototype for solar-powered prosthetic skin. The prosthesis is wrapped in a thin layer of carbon, which allows light to pass through the skin and be collected as energy. Thus far, the prototype uses this energy to power additional sensors in the prosthetic, giving the skin a heightened sensitivity to pressure and texture as well as temperature.

Toyota Funds AI Research to Build Autonomous Cars

Network World, 2/7/2017

Toyota is investing 50 million dollars and partnering with Stanford University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) to develop artificial intelligence and robotics technology needed for advanced driver-assistance systems. While Toyota is not trying to develop a fully automated car, they note that incremental advances in such driver-aid systems could eventually lead to driverless smart cars.

Paralyzed ALS Patient Operates Speech Computer With Her Mind

UMC Utrecht, 11/13/2016

A patient suffering from ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis) at UMC Utrecht, a hospital in the Netherlands, recently received a brain implant that allows them to remotely operate a speech computer with their mind. The patient can use this computer to communicate with their friends and family at home. If initial trials prove successful, the implants could see larger, international trials which lead to the development of even more advanced implants.

Soft Robots That Mimic Human Muscles

EFPL News (École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne), 10/18/2016

An EFPL team is developing light robots called Soft Muscle, aiming to improve robot design. The EPFL team’s ultimate goal in developing Soft Muscle is to provide inexpensive exoskeleton designs that will assist in creating lighter, more flexible robots for any application.

Google Open-Sources Show and Tell, a Model for Producing Image Captions

Venture Beat, 9/22/2016

With the help of crowdsourced data, Google AI’s image recognition algorithms are achieving greater accuracy. Objects in photographs are now more accurately described, and are interrelated with other objects in auto-generated captions. With the increase in photo-captioning accuracy, more questions arise about privacy online and on social media.

Brain To Robot: Move, Please

ETH News/Globe Magazine, 9/17/2016

A new exoskeleton design seeks to lower the recovery time for stroke victims in rehabilitation. Researchers are investigating the exoskeleton design to observe whether patients can use their mind to perform basic actions with their numb limbs. The exoskeleton design provides a more natural path towards recovery through reintegrating the use of paralyzed limbs.

Paraplegics Take a Step to Regain Movement

Duke Today, 8/10/2016

Patients using brain-machine interfaces to control robotic prosthetics, along with virtual-reality devices that simulated moving their own limbs, were unexpectedly able to regain some actual control of their own limbs, apparently reengaging their spinal cord nerves. Includes a short description of computational modeling of how the brain controls movement.