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Apr 14, 2018

New Trojan Malware Could Mind-Control Neural Networks

Posted by in categories: cybercrime/malcode, Elon Musk, robotics/AI, space

Each new technological breakthrough comes seemingly prepackaged with a new way for hackers to kill us all: self-driving cars, space-based weapons, and even nuclear security systems are vulnerable to someone with the right knowledge and a bit of code. Now, deep-learning artificial intelligence looks like the next big threat, and not because it will gain sentience to murder us with robots (as Elon Musk has warned): a group of computer scientists from the US and China recently published a paper proposing the first-ever trojan for a neural network.

Neural networks are the primary tool used in AI to accomplish “deep learning,” which has allowed AIs to master complex tasks like playing chess and Go. Neural networks function similar to a human brain, which is how they got the name. Information passes through layers of neuron-like connections, which then analyze the information and spit out a response. These networks can pull off difficult tasks like image recognition, including identifying faces and objects, which makes them useful for self-driving cars (to identify stop signs and pedestrians) and security (which may involve identifying an authorized user’s face). Neural networks are relatively novel pieces of tech and aren’t commonly used by the public yet but, as deep-learning AI becomes more prevalent, it will likely become an appealing target for hackers.

The trojan proposed in the paper, called “PoTrojan,” could be included in a neural network product either from the beginning or inserted later as a slight modification. Like a normal trojan, it looks like a normal piece of the software, doesn’t copy itself, and doesn’t do much of anything… Until the right triggers happen. Once the right inputs are activated in a neural network, this trojan hijacks the operation and injects its own train of “thought,” making sure the network spits out the answer it wants. This could take the form of rejecting the face of a genuine user and denying them access to their device, or purposefully failing to recognize a stop sign to create a car crash.

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Apr 14, 2018

China could become a major space power by 2050

Posted by in categories: robotics/AI, space

China’s comprehensive space plans—including launches, robotic moon bases, and interplanetary manned missions—will make the country a major space power by 2050.

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Apr 14, 2018

Digital Financial Services for the world’s poor can be accelerated with Blockchain

Posted by in categories: bitcoin, finance

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation have the Level One project to use Digital financial services (including blockchain for identification) for financial services for the world’s poor.

Digital financial services (DFS) are among the quickest and most effective ways of turning millions of unbanked citizens into formal financial customers. For the first time in history, digital and mobile technology make full financial inclusion not only possible but profitable.

At the heart of the Level One Project Guide is a national system, enabled by shared, open, standards-based components. The system is designed to accommodate variability in local rules, structures, and the existing regulatory framework. The system either provides or contracts for core shared operating components including the interoperability service for transfers (IST) and the fraud and risk management service (FRMS). Structured as a cost-recovery or not-for-profit model, the by-laws and operating rules for IST and FRMS commit to providing low-cost payments capabilities that can support the needs of the poor.

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Apr 14, 2018

Step into a fully robotic kitchen

Posted by in categories: food, robotics/AI

Fully robotic kitchens may become our chefs.

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Apr 14, 2018

China hopes to build the chips that will control millions of driverless cars

Posted by in categories: robotics/AI, transportation

The nation’s insatiable desire to build its own hardware naturally extends to the world of robo-taxis.

Backstory: China has made no secret of wanting to design and produce huge numbers of its own chips. It’s already gunning to build the processors that power an impending wave of artificial-intelligence hardware.

The news: Bloomberg reports that domestic firms are also expected to build the chips that will be the brains behind the nation’s robotic cars. Startups like Horizon Robotics, founded by the former chief of Baidu’s Institute of Deep Learning, are scrambling to build low-power devices that process data from sensors dotted around cars.

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Apr 14, 2018

CRISPR plants won’t be regulated

Posted by in categories: bioengineering, biotech/medical, genetics

In a big win for the biotech industry, the US Department of Agriculture says once and for all it won’t regulate plants whose genomes have been altered using gene-editing technology.

Why it’s a field day: The decision means that we could see a boom in newfangled plants from firms like Monsanto, universities, and startups like Calyxt, whose oil-altered soybeans featured in our cover story late last year.

Here’s the logic: The USDA says gene editing is just a (much) faster form of breeding. So long as a genetic alteration could have been bred into a plant, it won’t be regulated. That includes changes that create immunity to disease or natural resistance to crop chemicals, as well as edits to make seeds bigger and heavier. It doesn’t include transgenic plants (those with a gene from a distant species)—those will still be regulated.

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Apr 14, 2018

Crispr’d Food, Coming Soon to a Supermarket Near You

Posted by in categories: food, genetics

This week the USDA announced it has no plans to regulate gene-editing technologies like Crispr, opening the door to a boom in designer foods.

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Apr 14, 2018

If You Thought Quantum Mechanics Was Weird, Check Out Entangled Time

Posted by in categories: particle physics, quantum physics

In the summer of 1935, the physicists Albert Einstein and Erwin Schrödinger engaged in a rich, multifaceted and sometimes fretful correspondence about the implications of the new theory of quantum mechanics.

The focus of their worry was what Schrödinger later dubbed entanglement: the inability to describe two quantum systems or particles independently, after they have interacted.

Until his death, Einstein remained convinced that entanglement showed how quantum mechanics was incomplete. Schrödinger thought that entanglement was the defining feature of the new physics, but this didn’t mean that he accepted it lightly.

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Apr 14, 2018

NEXT-C electric propulsion engine poised for production

Posted by in categories: futurism, space travel

The NEXT-C ion propulsion engine has successfully completed a Critical Design Review conducted by NASA and is planned for use on the agency’s 2021 DART (Double Asteroid Redirection Test) mission. With the CDR finished, the next step in the process should be the production of actual flight units.

NEXT-C stands for NASA’s Evolutionary Xenon Thruster-Commercial and was developed by the space agency and commercialized by Aerojet Rocketdyne.

“Serving as the primary propulsion source for DART, NEXT-C will establish a precedent for future use of electric propulsion to enable ambitious future science missions,” said Eileen Drake, CEO and President of Aerojet Rocketdyne via a company-issued release. “Electric propulsion reduces overall mission cost without sacrificing reliability or mission success.”

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Apr 14, 2018

Google futurist and director of engineering: Basic income will spread worldwide by the 2030s

Posted by in categories: bioengineering, biotech/medical, economics, employment, Ray Kurzweil, robotics/AI

  • Basic income will be widespread by the 2030s, according to Google futurist and director of engineering Ray Kurzweil.
  • Kurzweil is known for making seemingly wild predictions. In 2016, he predicted that by 2029, medical technology will add an extra year to human life expectancies on an annual basis.
  • ” We’re going to have more and more powerful technology to keep our physical bodies going. We’ll think, ‘Wow, back in 2018, people only had one body, and they couldn’t back up their mind file,’” he said onstage at TED.

As it becomes apparent that artificial intelligence will replace ever-more jobs in the coming years, a growing number of politicians, nonprofits, and Silicon Valley entrepreneurs have started thinking about how we’ll cope with a world in which not everyone can — or needs to — work.

Basic income experiments, in which people are given a regular salary just to live, no strings attached, are popping up all over Europe, Africa, and North America.

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