Archive for the ‘information science’ category

Oct 9, 2015

Brain simulation breakthrough reveals clues about sleep, memory

Posted by in categories: information science, neuroscience, supercomputing

The Blue Brain Project is a vast effort by 82 scientists worldwide to digitally recreate the human brain. While still far from that goal, the team revealed a breakthrough that has already provided insight into sleep, memory and neurological disorders. They created a simulation of a third of a cubic millimeter of a rat’s brain. While that might not sound like much, it involves 30,000 neurons and 37 million synapses. In addition, the simulated level of biological accuracy is far beyond anything so far. It allowed them to reproduce known brain activities — such as how neurons respond to touch — and has already yielded discoveries about the brain that were impossible to get biologically.

To create the simulation, researchers did thousands of experiments on rat brains over a 20 year period, logging each type of synapse and neuron discovered. That led to a set of fundamental rules describing how neurons connect to synapses and form microcircuits. Using the data, they developed an algorithm to pinpoint the synapse locations, simulating the circuitry of a rat’s brain. All of that data was then run through a supercomputer: “It was only with this kind of infrastructure that we could solve the billions of equations needed,” said software lead Felix Schurmann.

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Oct 8, 2015

Watch Adobe’s Monument Mode erase tourists from photos in real time

Posted by in categories: information science, mobile phones

Adobe engineer Ashutosh Jagdish Sharma demonstrated the technology on stage, enlisting the help of host Kim Chambers and Parks and Rec star Nick Offerman to act as stand-in tourists who were getting in the way of the desired shot. When the smartphone was held in place, Monument Mode was able to slowly erase the “tourists” from the image, building up a clear version of the photo slowly as human obstructions moved around. Even though Chambers and Offerman remained inside the frame, the final result showed the background only, the feature able to create a clear image from multiple shots.

Traditionally photographers have been able to remove tourists and other obstructions after their photos are taken with clever Photoshop work, by taking multiple shots, or by taking them from various angles. But Monument Mode works in real-time, cutting down on legwork, and requiring fewer photo-editing skills. The company says it the feature ”uses a new algorithm to distinguish moving objects from fixed ones,” but notes that it’s still only a tech preview, and that it may not come to fruition. That said, the company has a history of swiftly incorporating technology shown off at its MAX conferences. Adobe first detailed its “dehaze” feature during the same segment at last year’s show — it now comes as standard in Lightroom.

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Oct 5, 2015

This Startup Wants To Plant One Billion Trees a Year Using Drones

Posted by in categories: drones, engineering, food, information science, robotics/AI

The future of Eco conservation?

Deforestation downs 10 billion trees around the globe annually. Replanting trees by hand is slow, expensive, and barely puts a dent in reversing the damage. But one startup wants to use drones that can reforest our increasingly tree-strapped Earth, on a big enough scale to replace slow and expensive hired humans.

The small company, called BioCarbon Engineering, says unmanned aerial vehicles are a great way of covering ravaged woodlands with seedlings that can repopulate the area’s tree population. Around the world, forests and jungles are still being leveled due to lumber overproduction, strip surface mining, urban expansion, and land use for agriculture.

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Oct 5, 2015

This Prosthetic Could Restore Memory In Dementia Victims

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, cyborgs, electronics, information science, neuroscience

Memory loss is a truly devastating part of dementia, but this invention aims to fix that by bypassing the damage, and repairing long term memory.

Alzheimer’s and dementia are complex diseases, and there’s currently no effective treatment. Given the unpleasant nature of the disease, there’s an urgent need for results. Instead of taking the usual biological route, one team has constructed a prosthetic made up of a small electrode array — which can help re-encode short term memory into long term.

Built using decades of research, the device operates using a new algorithm based on accumulated neural data. New sensory information is normally translated into a quick memory and transported as an electrical signal through the hippocampus, potentially for long term storage. If this region is damaged then the process is disturbed, and new experiences fail to be encoded. Alzheimer’s patients can often remember childhood events, but struggle with recent experiences; specifically because of this hippocampal damage.

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Oct 5, 2015

Computer algorithm created to encode human memories

Posted by in categories: computing, information science, neuroscience

Researchers have developed a computer algorithm that mimics the brain’s electrical signalling and helps memory. The FT reports.

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Oct 1, 2015

Machine learning used to predict crimes before they happen — Memory Report style

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, information science, robotics/AI

The word on every tech executive’s mouth today is data. Curse or blessing, there’s so much data lying around – with about 2.5 quintillion bytes of data added each day – that it’s become increasingly difficult to make sense of it in a meaningful way. There’s a solution to the big data problem, though: machine learning algorithms that get fed countless variables and spot patterns otherwise oblivious to humans. Researchers have already made use of machine learning to solve challenges in medicine, cosmology and, most recently, crime. Tech giant Hitachi, for instance, developed a machine learning interface reminiscent of Philip K. Dick’s Minority Report that can predict when, where and possibly who might commit a crime before it happens.

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Sep 26, 2015

Turing Tests in the Creative Arts

Posted by in categories: information science, media & arts

Turing Test-style competitions in writing stories, music & poetry.

HT: @Grady_Booch

DigiLit is a competition that encourages the creation of algorithms able to produce a “human-level” short story of the kind that might be intended for a short story collection produced in a well-regarded MfA program or a piece for The New Yorker. The prize seeks to reward algorithms that could, for example, write stories for a creative writing class in which students are asked to submit a new short story each day. (Artwork by Annelise Capo

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Sep 24, 2015

Brain-computer link enables paralyzed California man to walk

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, computing, engineering, information science, neuroscience, robotics/AI

By Steve Gorman LOS ANGELES (Reuters) — A brain-to-computer technology that can translate thoughts into leg movements has enabled a man paralyzed from the waist down by a spinal cord injury to become the first such patient to walk without the use of robotics, doctors in Southern California reported on Wednesday. The slow, halting first steps of the 28-year-old paraplegic were documented in a preliminary study published in the British-based Journal of NeuroEngineering and Rehabilitation, along with a YouTube video. The feat was accomplished using a system allowing the brain to bypass the injured spinal cord and instead send messages through a computer algorithm to electrodes placed around the patient’s knees to trigger controlled leg muscle movements.

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Sep 22, 2015

Watch two drones build a bridge strong enough for humans

Posted by in categories: drones, information science

Two quadrocopters construct a rope bridge strong enough to carry the weight of a human in the hypnotic video (above), uploaded to YouTube this week by researcher Federico Augugliaro. The impressive feat wasn’t a one-person operation. It’s the latest accomplishment from many researches and contributors at the Institute for Dynamic Systems and Control and Gramazio Kohler Research, and incorporates lessons learned from other tests at the Flying Machine Arena in Zurich, Switzerland.

The 10-by-10-by-10-meter portable space doubles as the setting of the footage and the lab in which many of the researchers, including Augugliaro, perform drone experiments and exercises. According to the Flying Machine Arena’s website, the room “consists of a high-precision motion capture system, a wireless communication network, and custom software executing sophisticated algorithms for estimation and control.”

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Sep 20, 2015

The Search for Extraterrestrial Life and Encrypted Space Communication

Posted by in categories: alien life, encryption, existential risks, information science

Neil deGrasse Tyson and Edward Snowden recently discussed the idea that encryption mechanisms with advanced extraterrestrial species and humans could theoretically render communication as indistinguishable from cosmic background radiation. With only a short period of time in a species growth where open communication is broadcast to the stars (through the sluggish and primitive nature of radio broadcasts), this could prevent us (or other species) from making contact with one another.

With the Drake Equation stating a high probability of communicative extraterrestrial civilizations and the contrasting Fermi Paradox citing lacking evidence of such, it begs the question of whether outlying reasons have an impact. In my opinion, the Drake Equation rings true in the sense that hundreds of billions of stars exist in our galaxy alone (many with their own diverse planetary bodies), setting the stage for extraterrestrial life to disavow itself as insatiable ramblings. Unlike that which is eminent in the Fermi Paradox, I believe, in this case, a conclusion based off of inductive reasoning seems to hold more water than an evidence-only approach.

Keeping in mind the discussion in The Guardian article, a flaw of the Fermi Paradox’s evidence-based perspective should become apparent: secure, encrypted communication (cloaked by design) would render the existence of extraterrestrial intelligence invisible to the prying ear. If intentional, there could be many reasons for withholding this whereabouts of a species location. An abstract theory from science fiction may itself hold a degree of truth. An example of which, is the video game series ‘Mass Effect,’ where an advanced, sentient machine-race cleanse the galaxy of advanced life every 40,000 years. The reasoning for doing so is to “bring order to chaos” and for reasons “unfathomable.” Be it for an abstract reason such as this or simply for secure communication, the encryption of the resultant transmission’s presence wouldn’t register as noticeable to any observers. As nearly all signs of outside life would be mute, it then lays in the other senses that hold the most promise of enlightenment.

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