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May 17, 2024

This AI Just Designed a More Precise CRISPR Gene Editor for Human Cells From Scratch

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, genetics, robotics/AI

CRISPR was first discovered in bacteria as a defense mechanism, suggesting that nature hides a bounty of CRISPR components. For the past decade, scientists have screened different natural environments—for example, pond scum—to find other versions of the tool that could potentially increase its efficacy and precision. While successful, this strategy depends on what nature has to offer. Some benefits, such as a smaller size or greater longevity in the body, often come with trade-offs like lower activity or precision.

Rather than relying on evolution, can we fast-track better CRISPR tools with AI?

This week, Profluent, a startup based in California, outlined a strategy that uses AI to dream up a new universe of CRISPR gene editors. Based on large language models—the technology behind the popular ChatGPT—the AI designed several new gene-editing components.

May 17, 2024

Scientists Find a Surprising Way to Transform A and B Blood Types Into Universal Blood

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, chemistry, finance

Blood transfusions save lives. In the US alone, people receive around 10 million units each year. But blood banks are always short in supply—especially when it comes to the “universal donor” type O.

Surprisingly, the gut microbiome may hold a solution for boosting universal blood supplies by chemically converting other blood types into the universal O.

Infusing the wrong blood type—say, type A to type B—triggers deadly immune reactions. Type O blood, however, is compatible with nearly everyone. It’s in especially high demand following hurricanes, earthquakes, wildfires, and other crises because doctors have to rapidly treat as many people as possible.

May 17, 2024

IBM’s Brain-Inspired Analog Chip Aims to Make AI More Sustainable

Posted by in categories: robotics/AI, sustainability

Data shuttling can increase energy consumption anywhere from 3 to 10,000 times above what’s required for the actual computation, said Wang.

The chip was highly efficient when challenged with two speech recognition tasks. One, Google Speech Commands, is small but practical. Here, speed is key. The other, Librispeech, is a mammoth system that helps transcribe speech to text, taxing the chip’s ability to process massive amounts of data.

When pitted against conventional computers, the chip performed equally as accurately but finished the job faster and with far less energy, using less than a tenth of what’s normally required for some tasks.

May 17, 2024

3 Body Problem: Is the Universe Really a ‘Dark Forest’ Full of Hostile Aliens in Hiding?

Posted by in categories: alien life, existential risks

This is an issue that the character Ye Wenjie wrestles with in the first episode of Netflix’s 3 Body Problem. Working at a radio observatory, she does finally receive a message from a member of an alien civilization—telling her they are a pacifist and urging her not to respond to the message or Earth will be attacked.

The series will ultimately offer a detailed, elegant solution to the Fermi Paradox, but we will have to wait until the second season.

Or you can read the second book in Cixin Liu’s series, The Dark Forest. Without spoilers, the explanation set out in the books runs as follows: “The universe is a dark forest. Every civilization is an armed hunter stalking through the trees like a ghost, gently pushing aside branches that block the path and trying to tread without sound.”

May 17, 2024

Where Is Everyone? 4 Possible Explanations for the Fermi Paradox

Posted by in categories: alien life, existential risks

As we go on with our everyday lives, it’s very easy to forget about the sheer size of the universe.

The Earth may seem like a mighty place, but it’s practically a grain within a grain of sand in a universe that is estimated to contain over 200 billion galaxies. That’s something to think about the next time you take life too seriously.

So when we gaze up into the starry night sky, we have every reason to be awestruck—and overwhelmed with curiosity. With the sheer size of the universe and the number of galaxies, stars, and planets in it, surely there are other sentient beings out there. But how come we haven’t heard from them?

May 17, 2024

The Transcension Hypothesis, John M. Smart, 2011

Posted by in categories: alien life, engineering

Keywords: With sufficiently advanced SETI, we might discover brief broadcasts or occasional episodes of minor galactic engineering occurring in small portions of a very few galaxies. But because of the acceleration of complexification and the vast distances between civilizations, it seems impossible that even an earliest-to-emerge civilization, however oligarchic, could prevent multi-local transcensions in any galaxy. In theory, one can imagine a contrarian civilization releasing interstellar probes, carefully designed not to increase their intelligence (and so, never be able to transcend) as they replicate. But what could such probes do besides extinguish primitive life? They certainly couldn’t prevent multilocal transcensions. There seems no game theoretic value to such a strategy, in a universe dominated by accelerating transcension. Finally, if constrained transcension is the overwhelming norm, we should have much greater success searching for the norm, not the rare exception. As Cirkovic (2008) and Shostak (2010) have recently argued, we need SETI strategies that focus on places where advanced postbiological civilizations are likely to live. In the transcension hypothesis, this injunction would include using optical SETI to discover the galactic transcension zone, and define its outward-growing edge. We should look for rapid and artificial processes of formation of planet-mass black holes, for leakage signals and early METI emanating from life-supporting planets, and for the regular cessation of these signals as or soon after these civilizations enter into their technological singularities.


May 17, 2024

This Week’s Awesome Tech Stories From Around the Web (Through May 11)

Posted by in categories: internet, robotics/AI

From a new AI challenger to Google search to an nearly indestructible robot hand, check out this week’s awesome tech stories from around the web.

May 17, 2024

This maternal health startup is donating $10 million to help close the healthcare research gap

Posted by in categories: business, health

The founders of Perelel, which sells prenatal vitamins, say charitable giving is baked into their business model. Today they’re making good on that promise.

May 17, 2024

DNA origami guides precise nanoparticle patterning for tunable metasurfaces

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, nanotechnology

Researchers develop a precise method for patterning gold nanoparticles on surfaces using DNA origami and electron beam lithography, enabling tunable plasmonic metasurfaces.

May 17, 2024

Bottom-up Nanotechnology Explained

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, nanotechnology

Discover bottom-up nanotechnology: precision construction of nanostructures for breakthroughs in medicine, electronics, and beyond.

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