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.

Quantum Computing Is Going Commercial With the Potential to Disrupt Everything

Newsweek, 4/9/2017

IBM recently announced the IBM Q, which would be the first ever commercially available quantum computer. This is important because, if they fulfill their promise, quantum computers could potentially solve certain problems that traditional computers are simply not equipped to handle, allowing rapid developments in fields like medicine, pharmaceuticals, and transportation.

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.

Scanners Can Be Hijacked to Perpetrate Cyberattacks

Ben-Gurion University, 3/28/2017

Researchers from Ben-Gurion University demonstrated the ability to communicate with and potentially activate malware on a computer by directing pulsing lights to a typical office scanner that was left open on the same network. These exploits exemplify how seemingly secure devices could be a potential security threat to other networked machines.

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.

Machine Learning Reveals Lack of Female Screen Time in Top Films

New Scientist, 3/8/2017

Shri Narayanan, from the University of Southern California, has developed a new program that runs facial recognition software and voice recognition software simultaneously to analyze gender bias in high-grossing box-office films. This program has analyzed 300 films, and the study shows that women are underrepresented on the big screen. Narayanan is also using machine learning and natural language processing to evaluate film scripts, to explore further biases.

Virtual Reality Training for “Safety-Critical” Jobs

University of Exeter, 3/6/2017

A virtual-reality training system currently in development by Exeter-based researchers and experts from the nuclear power industry could help prevent accidents in high-risk jobs. Employees using the system could gain experience with high-stress tasks in a safe environment, while employers could use the eye tracking and physiological sensor data to better understand how workers learn and how they react under pressure.

Scientists Reveal New Super-Fast Form of Computer That “Grows As It Computes”

University of Manchester, 3/1/2017

Researchers from the University of Manchester have demonstrated that it is possible to build a super-fast self-replicating computer. Because it is composed of DNA molecules rather than electrical circuitry, when presented with a choice, such a computer can replicate itself to simultaneously compute the solutions. Demonstrating that this (previously only theoretical) machine is physically possible opens up new possibilities in the future of scientific computing.

AI Predicts Autism From Infant Brain Scans

IEEE Spectrum, 2/15/2017

Researchers at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill have applied deep-learning algorithms to brain scans of children with a high risk of autism. Algorithms used three indicators, brain surface area, volume, and the gender of the child, to determine if 6- to 12-month-old infants were likely to develop autism. The results were 81% accurate at predicting later diagnosis. This improves over a 50% prediction rate from behavioral questionnaires.

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.

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