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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

New Algorithms by University of Toronto Researchers May Revolutionize Drug Discoveries

University of Toronto News, 2/6/2017

University of Toronto researchers have developed algorithms which can efficiently generate an accurate 3D image of a protein molecule from several 2D images in just a few minutes. This advance has far-reaching implications for the medical field. For example, drug researchers will be able to use these 3D protein models to analyze the structure of disease-specific proteins and predict the way experimental medications will bind to those proteins inside the body.

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.

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.