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Oct 21, 2016

UK demos self-driving cars talking among themselves

Posted by in categories: robotics/AI, transportation

While self-driving vehicles will be revolutionary, having self-driving vehicles communicate with one another and with road infrastructure will take that revolution to the Nth degree. In a UK-first, a cross-company collaborative demonstration of these technologies working together has taken place.

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Oct 21, 2016

ESA’s Mars Lander May Have Exploded On Impact

Posted by in category: space

ESA’s Mars Test Lander likely exploded on impact after dropping from a height of four kilometers after its retrorockets prematurely switched off. Just another lesson in how difficult these missions actually are; a cautionary tale for new space entrepreneurs.


New NASA images of the Martian surface indicate that the European Space Agency’s (ESA) Schiaparelli ExoMars 2016 test lander likely crashed from a height of at least two to four kilometers as it made its way through the Red planet’s thin atmosphere.

Surface markings imaged by NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter and released via NASA JPL, identifies new markings believed to be related to ESA’s Schiaparelli Entry, Descent and Landing Demonstrator Module (EDM), which arrived at Mars on Oct. 19th. Schiaparelli may have exploded on impact after impacting at speeds greater than 300 kilometers per hour.

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Oct 21, 2016

Microsoft reaches ‘human parity’ with new speech recognition system

Posted by in category: robotics/AI

Researchers at Microsoft have published details of new speech recognition technology that they say transcribes conversational speech as well as a human does. “We’ve reached human parity,” says Microsoft’s chief speech scientist Xuedong Huang in a statement. “This is an historic achievement.”

The system’s word error rate is reported to be 5.9 percent, which Microsoft says is “about equal” to professional transcriptionists asked to work on speech taken from the same Switchboard corpus of conversations. It uses neural language models that group similar words together, allowing for efficient generalization. Microsoft plans to use the technology in Cortana, its personal voice assistant for Windows and the Xbox One, as well as speech-to-text transcription software.

Although the results are impressive, it’s far from an endgame for speech recognition. Microsoft still needs to tune the technology to work as well with conversations in a wider range of more challenging real-life situations and with a broader selection of voices. And for use cases such as Cortana, much of the difficulty comes from teaching the artificial intelligence to understand the meaning of words and act on them, not just accurately hear them.

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Oct 21, 2016

Autism study identifies defect in sufferers’ cells and existing medication could treat it

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

Scientists at Boston Children’s Hospital identified a defect that causes a genetic disorder in 50% of autism sufferers — and two existing classes of drugs that counter the defect.

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Oct 21, 2016

Scientists Accidentally Found a Great New Way to Convert CO2 into Ethanol

Posted by in category: sustainability

Some of the greatest discoveries in history were found by accident. This could be one of them.

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Oct 21, 2016

Caloric restriction can be beneficial to the brain, study shows

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, food, life extension, neuroscience

Studies of different animal species suggest a link between eating less and living longer, but the molecular mechanisms by which caloric restriction affords protection against disease and extends longevity are not well understood.

New clues to help solve the mystery are presented in an article published in the September issue of Aging Cell by scientists at the Center for Research on Redox Processes in Biomedicine (Redoxoma), one of the Research, Innovation and Dissemination Centers (RIDCs) funded by FAPESP.

The results of in vitro and in vivo experiments performed by the Redoxoma team included the finding that a 40% reduction in dietary caloric intake increases mitochondrial calcium retention in situations where intracellular calcium levels are pathologically high. In the brain, this can help avoid the death of neurons that is associated with Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, epilepsy and stroke, among other neurodegenerative conditions.

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Oct 20, 2016

“The best or worst thing to happen to humanity” — Stephen Hawking launches Centre for the Future of Intelligence

Posted by in category: robotics/AI

Artificial intelligence has the power to eradicate poverty and disease or hasten the end of human civilisation as we know it – according to a speech delivered by Professor Stephen Hawking this evening.

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Oct 20, 2016

Your Phone Company Might Buy Your Cable Company — By Abigail Tracy | Vanity Fair

Posted by in categories: big data, internet, media & arts, mobile phones, policy, satellites

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“AT&T and Time Warner are reportedly in talks about a potential merger.”

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Oct 20, 2016

Mining Asteroids? An Interview with the CEO of Planetary Resources

Posted by in categories: finance, law, space

Group metals, a lil history on aluminum, technology needed, space law and more. The one great idea presented here is that many folks think stuff will be brought back to Earth. Though there would be some of that the resources out there will be used out there.


As Humans venture out far away from the Earth into the solar system, they will need material resources to keep us going. Where do we get those from? One for-profit company, Planetary Resources, wants to be the one to make it happen.

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Oct 20, 2016

Move over, lasers: Scientists can now create holograms from neutrons, too

Posted by in category: holograms

For the first time, a team including scientists from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) have used neutron beams to create holograms of large solid objects, revealing details about their interiors in ways that ordinary laser light-based visual holograms cannot.

Holograms—flat images that change depending on the viewer’s perspective, giving the sense that they are three-dimensional objects—owe their striking capability to what’s called an interference pattern. All matter, such as neutrons and photons of light, has the ability to act like rippling waves with peaks and valleys. Like a water wave hitting a gap between the two rocks, a wave can split up and then re-combine to create information-rich interference patterns (link is external).

An optical hologram is made by shining a laser at an object. Instead of merely photographing the light reflected from the object, a hologram is formed by recording how the reflected laser light waves interfere with each other. The resulting patterns, based on the waves’ phase differences (link is external), or relative positions of their peaks and valleys, contain far more information about an object’s appearance than a simple photo does, though they don’t generally tell us much about its hidden interior.

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