Hacker Leaks 'Orange Is the New Black' Episodes After Failing To Extort Netflix

Slashdot - Sun, 30/04/2017 - 10:34pm
An anonymous reader writes: "A hacker (or hacker group) known as The Dark Overlord (TDO) has leaked the first ten episodes of season 5 of the "Orange Is The New Black" show after two failed blackmail attempts, against Larson Studios and Netflix," reports BleepingComputer. The hacker said he stole hundreds of gigabytes of audio files from Larson Studios last December. "TDO claims the studio initially agreed to pay a ransom of 50 Bitcoin ($67,000) by January 31, and the two parties even signed a contract, albeit TDO signed it using the name 'Adolf Hitler.'" This might have been the reason why the company thought this was a joke and didn't pay the ransom as initially agreed. At this point, the hacker turned from the studio to Netflix, but the company didn't want to pay either. As a warning, the hacker leaked the first episode of season 5, but half a day later, he leaked 9 more. "According to Netflix's website, season 5 is supposed to have 13 episodes and is scheduled for release in June, this year." The hacker also claims he's in possession of shows and movies from other movie studios and television channels, such as FOX, IFC, NAT GEO, and ABC. Some of the titles include "Celebrity Apprentice," "NCIS Los Angeles," "New Girl," and "XXX The return of Xander Cage".

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Categories: Science

A transplant and a cure: Research team eradicates hepatitis C in 10 patients following lifesaving transplants from infected donors

Science Daily - Sun, 30/04/2017 - 10:11pm
Ten patients have been cured of the Hepatitis C virus (HCV) following lifesaving kidney transplants from deceased donors who were infected with the disease. The findings point to new strategies for increasing the supply of organs for the nation's more than 97,000 patients who are awaiting kidney transplants -- often for as many as five or more years.
Categories: Science

Massive Tinder Photo Scrape Has Users Upset

Slashdot - Sun, 30/04/2017 - 9:34pm
Images of Tinder users "were swept up in a massive grab of some 40,000 photos from the dating app by a dataset collector who plans to use the selfies in artificial intelligence training," writes Slashdot reader Frosty Piss, sharing this summary of a report in TechCrunch. Tinder said in a statement that the photo sweeper "violated the terms of our service" and "we are taking appropriate action and investigating further." The creator of the data set, Stuart Colianni, has released it under a CC0: Public Domain License and also uploaded his scraper script to GitHub. He describes it as a "simple script to scrape Tinder profile photos for the purpose of creating a facial dataset," saying his inspiration for creating the scraper was disappointment working with other facial data sets. He also describes Tinder as offering "near unlimited access to create a facial data set," and says scraping the app offers "an extremely efficient way to collect such data." The article notes that Tinder's API has already been used for other "weird, wacky, and creepy" projects, including "hacking it to automatically like every potential date to save on thumb-swipes; offering a paid look-up service for people to check up on whether a person they know is using Tinder; and even building a catfishing system to snare horny bros and make them unwittingly flirt with each other. "So you could argue that anyone creating a profile on Tinder should be prepared for their data to leech outside the community's porous walls in various different ways -- be it as a single screenshot, or via one of the aforementioned API hacks. But the mass harvesting of thousands of Tinder profile photos to act as fodder for feeding AI models does feel like another line is being crossed."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Categories: Science

Developer Hacks Together Object-Oriented HTML

Slashdot - Sun, 30/04/2017 - 8:34pm
An anonymous reader writes: Ever since I started coding, I have always loved object-oriented design patterns. I built an HTML preprocessor that adds inheritance, polymorphism, and public methods to this venerable language. It offers more freedom than a templating engine and has a wider variety of use cases. Pull requests appreciated!

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Categories: Science

New artificial photosynthesis process converts CO2 in air to fuel

Kurzweil AI - Sat, 29/04/2017 - 1:29am

Professor Fernando Uribe-Romo and his team of students created a way to use LED light and a porous synthetic metal-organic frameworks (MOF) material to break down carbon dioxide into fuel. (credit: Bernard Wilchusky/UCF)

A University of Central Florida (UCF) chemistry professor has invented a revolutionary way to remove carbon dioxide (CO2) from air by triggering artificial photosynthesis in a synthetic material — breaking down carbon dioxide while also producing fuel for energy.

UCF Assistant Professor Fernando Uribe-Romo and his students used a synthetic material called a metal–organic framework (MOF), which converts carbon dioxide into harmless organic materials — similar to how plants convert CO2 and sunlight into food.

Scientists have been pursuing this goal for years, but the challenge is finding an economical way for visible light to trigger the chemical transformation. Ultraviolet rays have enough energy to enable the reaction in common materials, but UVs make up only about 4% of the light Earth receives from the Sun. For the lower-energy visible range, there are only a few materials that work, such as platinum, rhenium and iridium, but these are scarce and expensive.

New material converts CO2 to fuel

The solution was to combine cost-effective titanium with a highly porous metal–organic framework (MOF) material for light harvesting. (MOFs are used in the MIT-UC Berkeley system for condensing water out of air, also using only sunlight, as described recently on KurzweilAI.) The light-harvesting molecules, called N-alkyl-2-aminoterephthalates, can be designed to absorb specific colors of light when incorporated in the MOF — in this case, the color blue.

CO2 removal process. Blue light combined with a metal–organic framework (MOF) material causes CO2 to convert to formate, a fuel. (credit: adapted from illustration by Matthew W. Logan et al./ Journal of Materials Chemistry A)

In an experiment, the research team assembled a blue LED photoreactor — a glowing blue cylinder that looks like a tanning bed, using strips of LED lights inside the chamber of the cylinder to mimic the sun’s blue wavelength — and fed in CO2. The CO2 was found to convert into two modified forms of carbon — formate and formamides (two kinds of solar fuel) — and in the process, cleaning the air.

Uribe-Romo plans to continue to fine-tune the approach to create greater amounts of modified CO2 so it is more efficient and to see if other wavelengths of visible light may also trigger the reaction, with adjustments to the MOF material. If the process works efficiently, it could be a significant way to help treat greenhouse gases, while also creating a clean way to produce energy, says Uribe-Romo.

Rooftop shingles to clean air and power homes

“The idea would be to set up stations that capture large amounts of CO2, like next to a power plant. The gas would be sucked into the station, go through the process and recycle the greenhouse gases while producing energy that would be put back into the power plant.”

He also speculates that someday, homeowners could purchase rooftop shingles made of the MOF material, which would clean the air in their neighborhood while producing energy that could be used to power their homes.

The research findings are published in the Journal of Materials Chemistry A. Researchers at Florida State University also helped interpret the results of the experiments.

Abstract of Systematic Variation of the Optical Bandgap in Titanium Based Isoreticular Metal-Organic Frameworks for Photocatalytic Reduction of CO2 under Blue Light

A series of metal-organic frameworks isoreticular to MIL-125-NH2 were prepared, where the 2-amino-terephthalate organic links feature N-alkyl groups of increasing chain length (from methyl to heptyl) and varying connectivity (primary and secondary). The prepared materials display reduced optical bandgaps correlated to the inductive donor ability of the alkyl substituent as well as high photocatalytic activity towards the reduction of carbon dioxide under blue illumination operating over 120 h. Secondary N-alkyl substitution (isopropyl, cyclopentyl and cyclohexyl) exhibit larger apparent quantum yields than the primary N-alkyl analogs directly related to their longer lived excited-state lifetime. In particular, MIL-125-NHCyp (Cyp = cyclopentyl) exhibits a small bandgap (Eg = 2.30 eV), a long-lived excited-state (τ = 68.8 ns) and the larger apparent quantum yield (Φapp = 1.80%) compared to the parent MIL-125-NH2 (Eg = 2.56 eV, Φapp = 0.31%, τ = 12.8 ns), making it a promising candidate for the next generation of photocatalysts for solar fuel production based on earth-abundant elements.

Categories: Science

In a neurotechnology future, human-rights laws will need to be revisited

Kurzweil AI - Fri, 28/04/2017 - 7:23am

New forms of brainwashing include transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) to neuromodulate the brain regions responsible for social prejudice and political and religious beliefs, say researchers. (credit: U.S. National Library of Medicine)

New human rights laws to prepare for rapid current advances in neurotechnology that may put “freedom of mind” at risk have been proposed in the open access journal Life Sciences, Society and Policy.

Four new human rights laws could emerge in the near future to protect against exploitation and loss of privacy, the authors of the study suggest: The right to cognitive liberty, the right to mental privacy, the right to mental integrity, and the right to psychological continuity.

Advances in neural engineering, brain imaging, and neurotechnology put freedom of the mind at risk, says Marcello Ienca, lead author and PhD student at the Institute for Biomedical Ethics at the University of Basel. “Our proposed laws would give people the right to refuse coercive and invasive neurotechnology, protect the privacy of data collected by neurotechnology, and protect the physical and psychological aspects of the mind from damage by the misuse of neurotechnology.”

Potential misuses

Sophisticated brain imaging and the development of brain-computer interfaces have moved away from a clinical setting into the consumer domain. There’s a risk that the technology could be misused and create unprecedented threats to personal freedom. For example:

  • Uses in criminal court as a tool for assessing criminal responsibility or even the risk of re-offending.*
  • Consumer companies using brain imaging for “neuromarketing” to understand consumer behavior and elicit desired responses from customers.
  • “Brain decoders” that can turn a person’s brain imaging data into images, text or sound.**
  • Hacking, allowing a third-party to eavesdrop on someone’s mind.***

International human rights laws currently make no specific mention of neuroscience. But as with the genetic revolution, the on-going neurorevolution will require consideration of human-rights laws and even the creation of new ones, the authors suggest.

* “A possibly game-changing use of neurotechnology in the legal field has been illustrated by Aharoni et al. (2013). In this study, researchers followed a group of 96 male prisoners at prison release. Using fMRI, prisoners’ brains were scanned during the performance of computer tasks in which they had to make quick decisions and inhibit impulsive reactions. The researchers followed the ex-convicts for 4 years to see how they behaved. The study results indicate that those individuals showing low activity in a brain region associated with decision-making and action (the Anterior Cingulate Cortex, ACC) are more likely to commit crimes again within 4 years of release (Aharoni et al. 2013). According to the study, the risk of recidivism is more than double in individuals showing low activity in that region of the brain than in individuals with high activity in that region. Their results suggest a “potential neurocognitive biomarker for persistent antisocial behavior”. In other words, brain scans can theoretically help determine whether certain convicted persons are at an increased risk of reoffending if released.” — Marcello Ienca and Roberto Andorno/Life Sciences, Society and Policy

** NASA and Jaguar are jointly developing a technology called Mind Sense, which will measure brainwaves to monitor the driver’s concentration in the car (Biondi and Skrypchuk 2017). If brain activity indicates poor concentration, then the steering wheel or pedals could vibrate to raise the driver’s awareness of the danger. This technology can contribute to reduce the number of accidents caused by drivers who are stressed or distracted. However, it also opens theoretically the possibility for third parties to use brain decoders to eavesdropping on people’s states of mind. — Marcello Ienca and Roberto Andorno/Life Sciences, Society and Policy

*** Criminally motivated actors could selectively erase memories from their victims’ brains to prevent being identified by them later on or simply to cause them harm. On the long term-scenario, they could be used by surveillance and security agencies with the purpose of selectively erasing dangerous, inconvenient from people’s brain as portrayed in the movie Men in Black with the so-called neuralyzer— Marcello Ienca and Roberto Andorno/Life Sciences, Society and Policy

Abstract of Towards new human rights in the age of neuroscience and neurotechnology

Rapid advancements in human neuroscience and neurotechnology open unprecedented possibilities for accessing, collecting, sharing and manipulating information from the human brain. Such applications raise important challenges to human rights principles that need to be addressed to prevent unintended consequences. This paper assesses the implications of emerging neurotechnology applications in the context of the human rights framework and suggests that existing human rights may not be sufficient to respond to these emerging issues. After analysing the relationship between neuroscience and human rights, we identify four new rights that may become of great relevance in the coming decades: the right to cognitive liberty, the right to mental privacy, the right to mental integrity, and the right to psychological continuity.

Categories: Science

AI will upload and access our memories, predicts Siri co-inventor

Kurzweil AI - Thu, 27/04/2017 - 3:16am

“Hey Siri, what’s the name of that person I met yesterday?” (credit: Apple Inc.)

Instead of replacing humans with robots, artificial intelligence should be used more for augmenting human memory and other human weaknesses, Apple Inc. executive Tom Gruber suggested at the TED 2017 conference yesterday (April 25, 2017).

Thanks to the internet and our smartphones, much of our  personal data is already being captured, notes Gruber, who was one the inventors of voice-controlled intelligent-assistant Siri. Future AI memory enhancement could be especially life-changing for those with Alzheimer’s or dementia, he suggested.


“Superintelligence should give us super-human abilities,” he said. “As machines get smarter, so do we. Artificial intelligence can enable partnerships where each human on the team is doing what they do best. Instead of asking how smart we can make our machines, let’s ask how smart our machines can make us.

“I can’t say when or what form factors are involved, but I think it is inevitable,” he said. “What if you could have a memory that was as good as computer memory and is about your life? What if you could remember every person you ever met? How to pronounce their name? Their family details? Their favorite sports? The last conversation you had with them?”

Gruber’s ideas mesh with a prediction by Ray Kurzweil: “Once we have achieved complete models of human intelligence, machines will be capable of combining the flexible, subtle human levels of pattern recognition with the natural advantages of machine intelligence, in speed, memory capacity, and, most importantly, the ability to quickly share knowledge and skills.”

Two projects announced last week aim in that direction: Facebook’s plan to develop a non-invasive brain-computer interface that will let you type at 100 words per minute and Elon Musks’ proposal that we become superhuman cyborgs to deal with superintelligent AI.

But trusting machines also raises security concerns, Gruber warned. “We get to choose what is and is not recalled,” he said. “It’s absolutely essential that this be kept very secure.”





Categories: Science

Quadriplegia patient uses brain-computer interface to move his arm by just thinking

Kurzweil AI - Wed, 26/04/2017 - 7:40am

Bill Kochevar, who was paralyzed below his shoulders in a bicycling accident eight years ago, is the first person with quadriplegia to have arm and hand movements restored without robot help (credit: Case Western Reserve University/Cleveland FES Center)

A research team led by Case Western Reserve University has developed the first implanted brain-recording and muscle-stimulating system to restore arm and hand movements for quadriplegic patients.*

In a proof-of-concept experiment, the system included a brain-computer interface with recording electrodes implanted under his skull and a functional electrical stimulation (FES) system that activated his arm and hand — reconnecting his brain to paralyzed muscles.

The research was part of the ongoing BrainGate2 pilot clinical trial being conducted by a consortium of academic and other institutions to assess the safety and feasibility of the implanted brain-computer interface (BCI) system in people with paralysis. Previous Braingate designs required a robot arm.

In 2012 research, Jan Scheuermann, who has quadriplegia, was able to feed herself using a brain-machine interface and a computer-driven robot arm (credit: UPMC)

Kochevar’s eight years of muscle atrophy first required rehabilitation. The researchers exercised Kochevar’s arm and hand with cyclical electrical stimulation patterns. Over 45 weeks, his strength, range of motion. and endurance improved. As he practiced movements, the researchers adjusted stimulation patterns to further his abilities.

To prepare him to use his arm again, Kochevar learned how to use his own brain signals to move a virtual-reality arm on a computer screen. The team then implanted the FES systems’ 36 electrodes that animate muscles in the upper and lower arm, allowing him to move the actual arm.

Kochevar can now make each joint in his right arm move individually. Or, just by thinking about a task such as feeding himself or getting a drink, the muscles are activated in a coordinated fashion.

Neural activity (generated when Kochevar imagines movement of his arm and hand) is recorded from two 96-channel microelectrode arrays implanted in the motor cortex, on the surface of the brain. The implanted brain-computer interface translates the recorded brain signals into specific command signals that determine the amount of stimulation to be applied to each functional electrical stimulation (FES) electrode in the hand, wrist, arm, elbow and shoulder, and to a mobile arm support. (credit: A Bolu Ajiboye et al./The Lancet)

“Our research is at an early stage, but we believe that this neuro-prosthesis could offer individuals with paralysis the possibility of regaining arm and hand functions to perform day-to-day activities, offering them greater independence,” said lead author Dr Bolu Ajiboye, Case Western Reserve University. “So far, it has helped a man with tetraplegia to reach and grasp, meaning he could feed himself and drink. With further development, we believe the technology could give more accurate control, allowing a wider range of actions, which could begin to transform the lives of people living with paralysis.”

Work is underway to make the brain implant wireless, and the investigators are improving decoding and stimulation patterns needed to make movements more precise. Fully implantable FES systems have already been developed and are also being tested in separate clinical research.

A study of the work was published in the The Lancet March 28, 2017.

Writing in a linked Comment to The Lancet, Steve Perlmutter, M.D., University of Washington, said: “The goal is futuristic: a paralysed individual thinks about moving her arm as if her brain and muscles were not disconnected, and implanted technology seamlessly executes the desired movement… This study is groundbreaking as the first report of a person executing functional, multi-joint movements of a paralysed limb with a motor neuro-prosthesis. However, this treatment is not nearly ready for use outside the lab. The movements were rough and slow and required continuous visual feedback, as is the case for most available brain-machine interfaces, and had restricted range due to the use of a motorised device to assist shoulder movements… Thus, the study is a proof-of-principle demonstration of what is possible, rather than a fundamental advance in neuro-prosthetic concepts or technology. But it is an exciting demonstration nonetheless, and the future of motor neuro-prosthetics to overcome paralysis is brighter.”

* The study was funded by the US National Institutes of Health and the US Department of Veterans Affairs. It was conducted by scientists from Case Western Reserve University, Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center, University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center, MetroHealth Medical Center, Brown University, Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Wyss Center for Bio and Neuroengineering. The investigational BrainGate technology was initially developed in the Brown University laboratory of John Donoghue, now the founding director of the Wyss Center for Bio and Neuroengineering in Geneva, Switzerland. The implanted recording electrodes are known as the Utah array, originally designed by Richard Normann, Emeritus Distinguished Professor of Bioengineering at the University of Utah. The report in Lancet is the result of a long-running collaboration between Kirsch, Ajiboye and the multi-institutional BrainGate consortium. Leigh Hochberg, a neurologist and neuroengineer at Massachusetts General Hospital, Brown University and the VA RR&D Center for Neurorestoration and Neurotechnology in Providence, Rhode Island, directs the pilot clinical trial of the BrainGate system and is a study co-author.

Case | Man with quadriplegia employs injury bridging technologies to move again – just by thinking

Abstract of Restoration of reaching and grasping movements through brain-controlled muscle stimulation in a person with tetraplegia: a proof-of-concept demonstration

Background: People with chronic tetraplegia, due to high-cervical spinal cord injury, can regain limb movements through coordinated electrical stimulation of peripheral muscles and nerves, known as functional electrical stimulation (FES). Users typically command FES systems through other preserved, but unrelated and limited in number, volitional movements (eg, facial muscle activity, head movements, shoulder shrugs). We report the findings of an individual with traumatic high-cervical spinal cord injury who coordinated reaching and grasping movements using his own paralysed arm and hand, reanimated through implanted FES, and commanded using his own cortical signals through an intracortical brain–computer interface (iBCI).

Methods: We recruited a participant into the BrainGate2 clinical trial, an ongoing study that obtains safety information regarding an intracortical neural interface device, and investigates the feasibility of people with tetraplegia controlling assistive devices using their cortical signals. Surgical procedures were performed at University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center (Cleveland, OH, USA). Study procedures and data analyses were performed at Case Western Reserve University (Cleveland, OH, USA) and the US Department of Veterans Affairs, Louis Stokes Cleveland Veterans Affairs Medical Center (Cleveland, OH, USA). The study participant was a 53-year-old man with a spinal cord injury (cervical level 4, American Spinal Injury Association Impairment Scale category A). He received two intracortical microelectrode arrays in the hand area of his motor cortex, and 4 months and 9 months later received a total of 36 implanted percutaneous electrodes in his right upper and lower arm to electrically stimulate his hand, elbow, and shoulder muscles. The participant used a motorised mobile arm support for gravitational assistance and to provide humeral abduction and adduction under cortical control. We assessed the participant’s ability to cortically command his paralysed arm to perform simple single-joint arm and hand movements and functionally meaningful multi-joint movements. We compared iBCI control of his paralysed arm with that of a virtual three-dimensional arm. This study is registered with ClinicalTrials.gov, number NCT00912041.

Findings: The intracortical implant occurred on Dec 1, 2014, and we are continuing to study the participant. The last session included in this report was Nov 7, 2016. The point-to-point target acquisition sessions began on Oct 8, 2015 (311 days after implant). The participant successfully cortically commanded single-joint and coordinated multi-joint arm movements for point-to-point target acquisitions (80–100% accuracy), using first a virtual arm and second his own arm animated by FES. Using his paralysed arm, the participant volitionally performed self-paced reaches to drink a mug of coffee (successfully completing 11 of 12 attempts within a single session 463 days after implant) and feed himself (717 days after implant).

Interpretation: To our knowledge, this is the first report of a combined implanted FES+iBCI neuroprosthesis for restoring both reaching and grasping movements to people with chronic tetraplegia due to spinal cord injury, and represents a major advance, with a clear translational path, for clinically viable neuroprostheses for restoration of reaching and grasping after paralysis.

Funding: National Institutes of Health, Department of Veterans Affairs.

Categories: Science

The first 2D microprocessor — based on a layer of just 3 atoms

Kurzweil AI - Tue, 25/04/2017 - 2:51am

Overview of the entire chip. AC = Accumulator, internal buffer; PC = Program Counter, points at the next instruction to be executed; IR = Instruction Register, used to buffer data- and instruction-bits received from the external memory; CU = Control Unit, orchestrates the other units according to the instruction to be executed; OR = Output Register, memory used to buffer output-data; ALU = Arithmetic Logic Unit, does the actual calculations. (credit: TU Wien)

Researchers at Vienna University of Technology (known as TU Wien) in Vienna, Austria, have developed the world’s first two-dimensional microprocessor — the most complex 2D circuitry so far. Microprocessors based on atomically thin 2D materials promise to one day replace traditional microprocessors as well as open up new applications in flexible electronics.

Consisting of 115 transistors, the microprocessor can run, simple user-defined programs stored in an external memory, perform logical operations, and communicate with peripheral devices. The microprocessor is based on molybdenum disulphide (MoS2), a three-atoms-thick 2D semiconductor transistor layer consisting of molybdenum and sulphur atoms, with a surface area of around 0.6 square millimeters.

Schematic drawing of an inverter (“NOT” logic) circuit (top) and an individual MoS2 transistor (bottom) (credit: Stefan Wachter et al./Nature Communications)

For demonstration purposes, the microprocessor is currently a 1-bit design, but it’s scalable to a multi-bit design using industrial fabrication methods, says Thomas Mueller, PhD., team leader and senior author of an open-access paper on the research published in Nature Communications.*

New sensors and flexible displays

Two-dimensional materials are flexible, making future 2D microprocessors and other integrated circuits ideal for uses such as medical sensors and flexible displays. They promise to extend computing to the atomic level, as silicon reaches its physical limits.

However, to date, it has only been possible to produce individual 2D digital components using a few transistors. The first 2D MoS2 transistor with a working 1-nanometer (nm) gate was created in October 2016 by a team led by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) scientists, as KurzweilAI reported.

Mueller said much more powerful and complex circuits with thousands or even millions of transistors will be required for this technology to have practical applications. Reproducibility continues to be one of the biggest challenges currently being faced within this field of research, along with the yield in the production of the transistors used, he explained.

* “We also gave careful consideration to the dimensions of the individual transistors,” explains Mueller. “The exact relationships between the transistor geometries within a basic circuit component are a critical factor in being able to create and cascade more complex units. … the major challenge that we faced during device fabrication is yield. Although the yield for subunits was high (for example, ∼80% of ALUs were fully functional), the sheer complexity of the full system, together with the non-fault tolerant design, resulted in an overall yield of only a few per cent of fully functional devices. Imperfections of the MoS2 film, mainly caused by the transfer from the growth to the target substrate, were identified as main source for device failure. However, as no metal catalyst is required for the synthesis of TMD films, direct growth on the target substrate is a promising route to improve yield.

Abstract of A microprocessor based on a two-dimensional semiconductor

The advent of microcomputers in the 1970s has dramatically changed our society. Since then, microprocessors have been made almost exclusively from silicon, but the ever-increasing demand for higher integration density and speed, lower power consumption and better integrability with everyday goods has prompted the search for alternatives. Germanium and III–V compound semiconductors are being considered promising candidates for future high-performance processor generations and chips based on thin-film plastic technology or carbon nanotubes could allow for embedding electronic intelligence into arbitrary objects for the Internet-of-Things. Here, we present a 1-bit implementation of a microprocessor using a two-dimensional semiconductor—molybdenum disulfide. The device can execute user-defined programs stored in an external memory, perform logical operations and communicate with its periphery. Our 1-bit design is readily scalable to multi-bit data. The device consists of 115 transistors and constitutes the most complex circuitry so far made from a two-dimensional material.

Categories: Science

‘Negative mass’ created at Washington State University

Kurzweil AI - Sat, 22/04/2017 - 3:36am

Experimental images of an expanding spin-orbit superfluid Bose-Einstein condensate at different expansion times (credit: M. A. Khamehchi et al./Physical Review Letters)

Washington State University (WSU) physicists have created a fluid with “negative mass,” which means that if you push it, it accelerates toward you instead of away, in apparent violation of Newton’s laws.

The phenomenon can be used to explore some of the more challenging concepts of the cosmos, said Michael Forbes, PhD, a WSU assistant professor of physics and astronomy and an affiliate assistant professor at the University of Washington. The research appeared Monday (April 17, 2017)  in the journal Physical Review Letters.

How to create negative mass

The researchers created the conditions for negative mass by cooling about 10,000 rubidium atoms to just above absolute zero, creating a Bose-Einstein condensate (in which individual atoms move as one object). In this state, particles move extremely slowly and, following the principles of quantum mechanics, behave like waves. They also synchronize and move in unison as a “superfluid” that flows without losing energy.

The lasers trapped the atoms as if they were in a bowl measuring less than a hundred micrometers across. At this point, the rubidium superfluid has regular mass. Breaking the bowl will allow the rubidium to rush out, expanding as the rubidium in the center pushes outward.

To create negative mass, the researchers applied a second set of lasers that kicked the atoms back and forth and changed the way they spin. Now when the rubidium rushes out fast enough, if behaves as if it has negative mass.

The technique used by the WSU researchers avoids some of the underlying defects encountered in previous attempts to create negative mass. It could hold clues to the behavior occurring in the heart of ultracold neutron stars, which also act as superfluids, and cosmological phenomena like black holes and dark energy, said Forbes.

The work was supported in part by a WSU New Faculty Seed Grant and the National Science Foundation.

Abstract of Negative-Mass Hydrodynamics in a Spin-Orbit–Coupled Bose-Einstein Condensate

A negative effective mass can be realized in quantum systems by engineering the dispersion relation. A powerful method is provided by spin-orbit coupling, which is currently at the center of intense research efforts. Here we measure an expanding spin-orbit coupled Bose-Einstein condensate whose dispersion features a region of negative effective mass. We observe a range of dynamical phenomena, including the breaking of parity and of Galilean covariance, dynamical instabilities, and self-trapping. The experimental findings are reproduced by a single-band Gross-Pitaevskii simulation, demonstrating that the emerging features—shock waves, soliton trains, self-trapping, etc.—originate from a modified dispersion. Our work also sheds new light on related phenomena in optical lattices, where the underlying periodic structure often complicates their interpretation.

Categories: Science

Elon Musk wants to enhance us as superhuman cyborgs to deal with superintelligent AI

Kurzweil AI - Fri, 21/04/2017 - 9:22pm

(credit: Neuralink Corp.)

It’s the year 2021. A quadriplegic patient has just had one million “neural lace” microparticles injected into her brain, the world’s first human with an internet communication system using a wireless implanted brain-mind interface — and empowering her as the first superhuman cyborg. …

No, this is not a science-fiction movie plot. It’s the actual first public step — just four years from now — in Tesla CEO Elon Musk’s business plan for his latest new venture, Neuralink. It’s now explained for the first time on Tim Urban’s WaitButWhy blog.

Dealing with the superintelligence existential risk

Such a system would allow for radically improved communication between people, Musk believes. But for Musk, the big concern is AI safety. “AI is obviously going to surpass human intelligence by a lot,” he says. “There’s some risk at that point that something bad happens, something that we can’t control, that humanity can’t control after that point — either a small group of people monopolize AI power, or the AI goes rogue, or something like that.”

“This is what keeps Elon up at night,” says Urban. “He sees it as only a matter of time before superintelligent AI rises up on this planet — and when that happens, he believes that it’s critical that we don’t end up as part of ‘everyone else.’ That’s why, in a future world made up of AI and everyone else, he thinks we have only one good option: To be AI.”

Neural dust: an ultrasonic, low power solution for chronic brain-machine interfaces (credit: Swarm Lab/UC Berkeley)

To achieve his, Neuralink CEO Musk has met with more than 1,000 people, narrowing it down initially to eight experts, such as Paul Merolla, who spent the last seven years as the lead chip designer at IBM on their DARPA-funded SyNAPSE program to design neuromorphic (brain-inspired) chips with 5.4 billion transistors (each with 1 million neurons and 256 million synapses), and Dongjin (DJ) Seo, who while at UC Berkeley designed an ultrasonic backscatter system for powering and communicating with implanted bioelectronics called neural dust for recording brain activity.*

Mesh electronics being injected through sub-100 micrometer inner diameter glass needle into aqueous solution (credit: Lieber Research Group, Harvard University)

Becoming one with AI — a good thing?

Neuralink’s goal its to create a “digital tertiary layer” to augment the brain’s current cortex and limbic layers — a radical high-bandwidth, long-lasting, biocompatible, bidirectional communicative, non-invasively implanted system made up of micron-size (millionth of a meter) particles communicating wirelessly via the cloud and internet to achieve super-fast communication speed and increased bandwidth (carrying more information).

“We’re going to have the choice of either being left behind and being effectively useless or like a pet — you know, like a house cat or something — or eventually figuring out some way to be symbiotic and merge with AI. … A house cat’s a good outcome, by the way.”

Thin, flexible electrodes mounted on top of a biodegradable silk substrate could provide a better brain-machine interface, as shown in this model. (credit: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign)

But machine intelligence is already vastly superior to human intelligence in specific areas (such as Google’s Alpha Go) and often inexplicable. So how do we know superintelligence has the best interests of humanity in mind?

“Just an engineering problem”

Musk’s answer: “If we achieve tight symbiosis, the AI wouldn’t be ‘other’  — it would be you and with a relationship to your cortex analogous to the relationship your cortex has with your limbic system.” OK, but then how does an inferior intelligence know when it’s achieved full symbiosis with a superior one — or when AI goes rogue?

Brain-to-brain (B2B) internet communication system: EEG signals representing two words were encoded into binary strings (left) by the sender (emitter) and sent via the internet to a receiver. The signal was then encoded as a series of transcranial magnetic stimulation-generated phosphenes detected by the visual occipital cortex, which the receiver then translated to words (credit: Carles Grau et al./PLoS ONE)

And what about experts in neuroethics, psychology, law? Musk says it’s just “an engineering problem. … If we can just use engineering to get neurons to talk to computers, we’ll have done our job, and machine learning can do much of the rest.”

However, it’s not clear how we could be assured our brains aren’t hacked, spied on, and controlled by a repressive government or by other humans — especially those with a more recently updated software version or covert cyborg hardware improvements.

NIRS/EEG brain-computer interface system using non-invasive near-infrared light for sensing “yes” or “no” thoughts, shown on a model (credit: Wyss Center for Bio and Neuroengineering)

In addition, the devices mentioned in WaitButWhy all require some form of neurosurgery, unlike Facebook’s research project to use non-invasive near-infrared light, as shown in this experiment, for example.** And getting implants for non-medical use approved by the FDA will be a challenge, to grossly understate it.

“I think we are about 8 to 10 years away from this being usable by people with no disability,” says Musk, optimistically. However, Musk does not lay out a technology roadmap for going further, as MIT Technology Review notes.

Nonetheless, Neuralink sounds awesome — it should lead to some exciting neuroscience breakthroughs. And Neuralink now has 16 San Francisco job listings here.

* Other experts: Vanessa Tolosa, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, one of the world’s foremost researchers on biocompatible materials; Max Hodak, who worked on the development of some groundbreaking BMI technology at Miguel Nicolelis’s lab at Duke University, Ben Rapoport, Neuralink’s neurosurgery expert, with a Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science from MIT; Tim Hanson, UC Berkeley post-doc and expert in flexible Electrodes for Stable, Minimally-Invasive Neural Recording; Flip Sabes, professor, UCSF School of Medicine expert in cortical physiology, computational and theoretical modeling, and human psychophysics and physiology; and Tim Gardner, Associate Professor of Biology at Boston University, whose lab works on implanting BMIs in birds, to study “how complex songs are assembled from elementary neural units” and learn about “the relationships between patterns of neural activity on different time scales.”

** This binary experiment and the binary Brain-to-brain (B2B) internet communication system mentioned above are the equivalents of the first binary (dot–dash) telegraph message, sent May 24, 1844: ”What hath God wrought?”

Categories: Science

What if you could type directly from your brain at 100 words per minute?

Kurzweil AI - Thu, 20/04/2017 - 2:10am

(credit: Facebook)

Regina Dugan, PhD, Facebook VP of Engineering, Building8, revealed today (April 19, 2017) at Facebook F8 conference 2017 a plan to develop a non-invasive brain-computer interface that will let you type at 100 wpm — by decoding neural activity devoted to speech.

Dugan previously headed Google’s Advanced Technology and Projects Group, and before that, was Director of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).

She explained in a Facebook post that over the next two years, her team will be building systems that demonstrate “a non-invasive system that could one day become a speech prosthetic for people with communication disorders or a new means for input to AR [augmented reality].”

Dugan said that “even something as simple as a ‘yes/no’ brain click … would be transformative.” That simple level has been achieved by using functional near-infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS) to measure changes in blood oxygen levels in the frontal lobes of the brain, as KurzweilAI recently reported. (Near-infrared light can penetrate the skull and partially into the brain.)

Dugan agrees that optical imaging is the best place to start, but her Building8 team team plans to go way beyond that research — sampling hundreds of times per second and precise to millimeters. The research team began working on the brain-typing project six months ago and she now has a team of more than 60 researchers who specialize in optical neural imaging systems that push the limits of spatial resolution and machine-learning methods for decoding speech and language.

The research is headed by Mark Chevillet, previously an adjunct professor of neuroscience at Johns Hopkins University.

Besides replacing smartphones, the system would be a powerful speech prosthetic, she noted — allowing paralyzed patients to “speak” at normal speed.

(credit: Facebook)

Dugan revealed one specific method the researchers are currently working on to achieve that: a ballistic filter for creating quasi ballistic photons (avoiding diffusion) — creating a narrow beam for precise targeting — combined with a new method of detecting blood-oxygen levels.

Neural activity (in green) and associated blood oxygenation level dependent (BOLD) waveform (credit: Facebook)

Dugan also described a system that may one day allow hearing-impaired people to hear directly via vibrotactile sensors embedded in the skin. “In the 19th century, Braille taught us that we could interpret small bumps on a surface as language,” she said. “Since then, many techniques have emerged that illustrate our brain’s ability to reconstruct language from components.” Today, she demonstrated “an artificial cochlea of sorts and the beginnings of a new a ‘haptic vocabulary’.”

A Facebook engineer with acoustic sensors implanted in her arm has learned to feel the acoustic shapes corresponding to words (credit: Facebook)

Dugan’s presentation can be viewed in the F8 2017 Keynote Day 2 video (starting at 1:08:10).































(credit: Facebook)

Categories: Science

Neuron-recording nanowires could help screen drugs for neurological diseases

Kurzweil AI - Tue, 18/04/2017 - 5:56am

Colorized scanning electron microscopy (SEM) image of a neuron (orange) interfaced with the nanowire array (green). (credit: Integrated Electronics and Biointerfaces Laboratory, UC San Diego)

A research team* led by engineers at the University of California San Diego has developed nanowire technology that can non-destructively record the electrical activity of neurons in fine detail.

The new technology, published April 10, 2017 in Nano Letters, could one day serve as a platform to screen drugs for neurological diseases and help researchers better understand how single cells communicate in large neuronal networks.

A brain implant

The researchers currently create the neurons in vitro (in the lab) from human induced pluripotent stem cells. But the ultimate goal is to “translate this technology to a device that can be implanted in the brain,” said Shadi Dayeh, PhD, an electrical engineering professor at the UC San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering and the team’s lead investigator.

The technology can uncover details about a neuron’s health, activity, and response to drugs by measuring ion channel currents and changes in the neuron’s intracellular voltage (generated by the difference in ion concentration between the inside and outside of the cell).

The researchers cite five key innovations of this new nanowire-to-neuron technology:

  • It’s nondestructive (unlike current methods, which can break the cell membrane and eventually kill the cell).
  • It can simultaneously measure voltage changes in multiple neurons and in the future could bridge or repair neurons.**
  • It can isolate the electrical signal measured by each individual nanowire, with high sensitivity and high signal-to-noise ratios. Existing techniques are not scalable to 2D and 3D tissue-like structures cultured in vitro, according to Dayeh.
  • It can also be used for heart-on-chip drug screening for cardiac diseases.
  • The nanowires can integrate with CMOS (computer chip) electronics.***

A colorized scanning electron microscopy (SEM) image of the silicon-nickel-titanium nanowire array. The nanowires are densely packed on a small chip that is compatible with CMOS chips. The nanowires poke inside cells without damaging them, and are sensitive enough to measure small voltage changes (millivolt or less). (credit: Integrated Electronics and Biointerfaces Laboratory, UC San Diego)

* The project was a collaborative effort between researchers at UC San Diego, the Conrad Prebys Center for Chemical Genomics at the Sanford Burnham Medical Research Institute, Nanyang Technological University in Singapore, and Sandia National Laboratories. This work was supported by the National Science Foundation, the Center for Brain Activity Mapping at UC San Diego, Qualcomm Institute at UC San Diego, Los Alamos National Laboratory, the National Institutes of Health, the March of Dimes, and UC San Diego Frontiers of Innovation Scholar Program. Dayeh’s laboratory holds several pending patent applications for this technology.

** “Highly parallel in vitro drug screening experiments can be performed using the human-relevant iPSC cell line and without the need of the laborious patch-clamp … which is destructive and unscalable to large neuronal densities and to long recording times, or planar multielectrode arrays that enable long-term recordings but can just measure extracellular potentials and lack the sensitivity to subthreshold potentials. … In vivo targeted modulation of individual neural circuits or even single cells within a network becomes possible, and implications for bridging or repairing networks in neurologically affected regions become within reach.” — Ren Liu et al./Nanoletters

*** The researchers invented a new wafer bonding approach to fuse the silicon nanowires to the nickel electrodes. Their approach involved a process called silicidation, which is a reaction that binds two solids (silicon and another metal) together without melting either material. This process prevents the nickel electrodes from liquidizing, spreading out and shorting adjacent electrode leads. Silicidation is usually used to make contacts to transistors, but this is the first time it is being used to do patterned wafer bonding, Dayeh said. “And since this process is used in semiconductor device fabrication, we can integrate versions of these nanowires with CMOS electronics, but it still needs further optimization for brain-on-chip drug screening.”

Abstract of High Density Individually Addressable Nanowire Arrays Record Intracellular Activity from Primary Rodent and Human Stem Cell Derived Neurons

We report a new hybrid integration scheme that offers for the first time a nanowire-on-lead approach, which enables independent electrical addressability, is scalable, and has superior spatial resolution in vertical nanowire arrays. The fabrication of these nanowire arrays is demonstrated to be scalable down to submicrometer site-to-site spacing and can be combined with standard integrated circuit fabrication technologies. We utilize these arrays to perform electrophysiological recordings from mouse and rat primary neurons and human induced pluripotent stem cell (hiPSC)-derived neurons, which revealed high signal-to-noise ratios and sensitivity to subthreshold postsynaptic potentials (PSPs). We measured electrical activity from rodent neurons from 8 days in vitro (DIV) to 14 DIV and from hiPSC-derived neurons at 6 weeks in vitro post culture with signal amplitudes up to 99 mV. Overall, our platform paves the way for longitudinal electrophysiological experiments on synaptic activity in human iPSC based disease models of neuronal networks, critical for understanding the mechanisms of neurological diseases and for developing drugs to treat them.

Categories: Science

Could there be life below Saturn’s moon Enceladus and Jupiter’s moon Europa?

Kurzweil AI - Mon, 17/04/2017 - 1:34am

Illustration (not to scale) of the plume (white ejections) of Saturnian moon Enceladus, based on analysis of data from NASA’s Cassini spacecraft, which dived through the Enceladus plume in 2015. Scientists have now discovered hydrogen gas in the erupting material in the plume — providing further evidence for hydrothermal activity and making it more likely that the underground ocean of Enceladus could have conditions suitable for microbial life. (credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

Two NASA missions — Cassini and Hubble — have provided new evidence for life on icy, ocean-bearing moons of Saturn and Jupiter, NASA announced Friday, April 14, 2017.

Scientists from Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) have discovered hydrogen gas in the plume of material erupting from Saturn’s moon Enceladus — suggesting conditions suitable for microbial life in an underground ocean. The finding, published April 14, 2017 in the journal Science, was based on analysis of data from NASA’s Cassini spacecraft.

The researchers suggest that the hydrogen was most likely formed in chemical reactions between the moon’s rocky core and warm water from vents in the moon’s subsurface ocean floor. These vents could have features similar to hydrothermal vents on Earth, which emit hot, mineral-laden fluid containing hydrogen (in the form of hydrogen sulfide) and are thought to power microbe life on the seafloor.*

This infographic illustrates how scientists on NASA’s Cassini mission think water interacts with rock at the bottom of the ocean of Saturn’s icy moon Enceladus, producing hydrogen gas (H2). The graphic shows water from the ocean circulating through the seafloor, where it is heated and interacts chemically with the rock. This warm water, laden with minerals and dissolved gases (including hydrogen and possibly methane) then pours into the ocean, creating chimney-like vents through the ice. The scientists have determined that nearly 98 percent of the gas in the plume is water vapor, about 1 percent is hydrogen, and the rest is a mixture of other molecules including carbon dioxide, methane (CH4), and ammonia (NH3). (credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Southwest Research Institute)

“The amount of molecular hydrogen we detected is high enough to support microbes similar to those that live near hydrothermal vents on Earth,” said SwRI’s Christopher Glein, PhD, a co-author on the paper and a pioneer of extraterrestrial chemical oceanography. “If similar organisms are present in Enceladus, they could ‘burn’ the hydrogen to obtain energy for chemosynthesis, which could conceivably serve as a foundation for a larger ecosystem.”

New Hubble observations suggest where to look for signs of life on Europa

Best evidence yet for reoccurring water vapor plumes erupting from Jupiter’s Europa moon (credit: NASA, ESA W. Sparks (STScI), USGS Astrogeology Science Center)

NASA also announced new Hubble Space Telescope observations of Jupiter’s moon Europa, reported in a paper published in The Astrophysical Journal Letters. A newly discovered plume seen towering 62 miles above the surface in 2016 is at precisely the same location as a similar plume seen on the moon two years earlier by Hubble. The scientists suggest this offers a promising location for study of Europa’s internal water and ice — and for seeking evidence of Europa’s habitability.

Scientists hope to learn more with NASA’s Europa Clipper mission, planned for launch in the 2020s. It will feature a powerful ultraviolet camera that will make similar measurements to Hubble’s (but from thousands of times closer) and a next-generation version of the Cassini instrument.

* NASA astrobiologists suggest that bacteria living in and around the dark hydrothermal vents extract their energy from hydrogen sulfide (HS) and other molecules that billow out of the seafloor. Just like plants, the bacteria use their energy to build sugars out of carbon dioxide and water; sugars then provide fuel and raw material for the rest of the microbe’s activities. But  instead of photosynthesis, the microbes derive their energy from chemicals in a process called “chemosynthesis”: Hydrothermal vents extract their energy from hydrogen sulfide (HS) and other molecules that billow out of the seafloor. Recently, researchers have determined that fossilized evidence of bacteria from ancient seafloor hydrothermal vent-precipitates (found in the Nuvvuagittuq belt in Quebec, Canada) is at least 3.77 billion years old (or possibly as much as 4.28 billion years old). The minimum age of the fossils would make them the oldest indication of life on Earth so far.

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Abstract of Cassini finds molecular hydrogen in the Enceladus plume: Evidence for hydrothermal processes

Saturn’s moon Enceladus has an ice-covered ocean; a plume of material erupts from cracks in the ice. The plume contains chemical signatures of water-rock interaction between the ocean and a rocky core. We used the Ion Neutral Mass Spectrometer onboard the Cassini spacecraft to detect molecular hydrogen in the plume. By using the instrument’s open-source mode, background processes of hydrogen production in the instrument were minimized and quantified, enabling the identification of a statistically significant signal of hydrogen native to Enceladus. We find that the most plausible source of this hydrogen is ongoing hydrothermal reactions of rock containing reduced minerals and organic materials. The relatively high hydrogen abundance in the plume signals thermodynamic disequilibrium that favors the formation of methane from CO2 in Enceladus’ ocean.

Abstract of Active Cryovolcanism on Europa?

Evidence for plumes of water on Europa has previously been found using the Hubble Space Telescope using two different observing techniques. Roth et al. found line emission from the dissociation products of water. Sparks et al. found evidence for off-limb continuum absorption as Europa transited Jupiter. Here, we present a new transit observation of Europa that shows a second event at the same location as a previous plume candidate from Sparks et al., raising the possibility of a consistently active source of erupting material on Europa. This conclusion is bolstered by comparison with a nighttime thermal image from the Galileo Photopolarimeter-Radiometer that shows a thermal anomaly at the same location, within the uncertainties. The anomaly has the highest observed brightness temperature on the Europa nightside. If heat flow from a subsurface liquid water reservoir causes the thermal anomaly, its depth is ≈1.8–2 km, under simple modeling assumptions, consistent with scenarios in which a liquid water reservoir has formed within a thick ice shell. Models that favor thin regions within the ice shell that connect directly to the ocean, however, cannot be excluded, nor modifications to surface thermal inertia by subsurface activity. Alternatively, vapor deposition surrounding an active vent could increase the thermal inertia of the surface and cause the thermal anomaly. This candidate plume region may offer a promising location for an initial characterization of Europa’s internal water and ice and for seeking evidence of Europa’s habitability.

Categories: Science

Thu, 01/01/1970 - 12:00am