Week 1: Sep 29, 2018–Oct 6, 2018
Welcome to the Cool things this week series. Every week, I’ll share a few of papers or articles I’ve come across. The hope is that others will share some links in the comments section.
Category: Humans n.0 and/or World n.0 (n=1, 2,…)
This category will include breakthroughs that have the potential of enhancing humans or the world we live in.
BrainNet: A Multi-Person Brain-to-Brain Interface for Direct Collaboration Between Brains (Link)
The authors present BrainNet, the first “multi-person non-invasive direct brain-to-brain interface for collaborative problem solving…the interface allows three human subjects to collaborate and solve a task using direct brain-to-brain communication.” Researchers set up a three-way brain connection to allow three people to play a “Tetris-like” game.
It’s cool because they hope that (eventually) future brain-to-brain interfaces would enable people to collaboratively solve problems, by connecting a network of people using some kind of a “social network of connected brains”.
This Robotic Skin Makes Inanimate Objects Move (Link)
Why say anything when you can watch…
Category: How to think about…
This category will include formulations that helped me think about something a little differently.
Future of AI Technology (Link)
This 1992 article is by Marvin Minsky. I love the simplicity of his writing and the depth of his ideas. I didn’t discover it this week, but revisited it and had to include it. He talks about how our narrow AI is limited, i.e. a chess programs play chess well, but none of them can read (or understand) text. He then suggests a high level approach to attacking this problem problem; he suggests making “versatile AI machines only by using several different kinds of representations in the same system.” Yes it’s high-level, yes it’s conceptual, yes it’s old, but I think it’s great because of this image:
It sure makes me pause each time.
Category: All about AI
I’ll try to keep this category short, even though there are so many interesting things happening.
What’s the idea? We use something called episodic memories — link multiple memories — to arrive at innovative insights. But we don’t yet know how we do it. A team of neuroscientists from UK and Germany collaborated with DeepMind and found a neural circuit responsible for the way the human brain connects individual episodic memories to solve problems.
Episodic memories allow us to know whether we have met someone before or recall our life events. DeepMind wants to use the idea of episode memory to enable AI. “If we can understand the mechanisms that allow people to do this, the hope is that we can replicate them within our AI systems, providing them with a much greater capacity for rapidly solving novel problems,” said Martin Chadwick, a researcher at DeepMind.
The Elephant in the Room (Link)
In this study, the researchers showcase a “family of common failures of state-of-the art object detectors”. A state-of-the-art object detector detects multiple images in a living-room. Now when an object (image of an object = elephant) is transplanted in the original living room image, it remains undetected in many situations — it doesn’t notice the elephant! “If there is actually an elephant in the room, you as a human would likely notice it,” said Rosenfeld. “The system didn’t even detect its presence.”
And weirdly, in some cases, it also makes labeling errors it did not make in the image without the elephant — i.e. what was earlier a chair now becomes a couch.
David Patterson Says It’s Time for New Computer Architectures and Software Languages (Link)
Moore’s Law is over. David Patterson — University of California professor and Google engineer says, “We are now a factor of 15 behind where we should be if Moore’s Law were still operative. We are in the post–Moore’s Law era.”
“Revolutionary new hardware architectures and new software languages, tailored to dealing with specific kinds of computing problems, are just waiting to be developed,” he said. “There are Turing Awards waiting to be picked up if people would just work on these things.”
Category: Doing things with data
This category will include some interesting data related pieces.
The American Dream Is Harder To Find In Some Neighborhoods (Link)
The Opportunity Atlas attempts to answer this question: “Which neighborhoods in America offer children the best chance to rise out of poverty?” They answer this “using anonymous data following 20 million Americans from childhood to their mid-30s.”
Category: Exploring space
This category will have all things related to space: making sense, travel, colonization, etc.
NASA Voyager 2 Could Be Nearing Interstellar Space (Link)
Voyager 2 is a little less than 11 billion miles (about 17.7 billion kilometers) from Earth, or more than 118 times the distance from Earth to the Sun.
The Moon Is Open for Business (Link)
“A number of companies have set their sights on the moon, and they’re ramping up their plans to deliver spacecraft to its surface. They’re finalizing spacecraft designs and securing launch contracts, and they’ve set some fast-approaching deadlines. Only three nations — the United States, the Soviet Union, and China — have successfully soft-landed on the moon, and their missions were all carried about by national agencies. (Other nations have crash-landed, which is exactly what it sounds like.) No company has ever placed a spacecraft on the moon, but if a few key players have their way in the next decade, the lunar surface may soon be littered with them.”
“For these companies, the moon is not the nationalistic dream that it was during the Apollo era. It is a marketplace. Instead of leaving flagpoles in the regolith, they want customers, in the government and commercial sectors, who will pay them to deliver their hardware to the moon, or mine its crust for minerals. They want to help convert the ice on the moon into usable resources, such as fuel for a deep-space mission. And they want the work to produce revenue, just as rocket launches have for SpaceX.”
Category: Oh man!
This category will have things that upset me a little bit this week — things I wanted to be hopeful about, but reality turned out to be harsher.
Riemann hypothesis likely remains unsolved despite claimed proof (Link)
At a talk recently, Michael Atiyah (won the Fields Medal in 1996) claimed to have solved the Riemann hypothesis. It’s on the Clay Mathematics Institute’s list of seven Millennium Prize Problems and only one problem — the Poincaré Conjecture — is solved. It carries $1 million prize.
“Solve the Riemann hypothesis and you become famous. If you are famous already, you become infamous,” Atiyah said during his talk. “Nobody believes any proof of the Riemann hypothesis because it is so difficult. Nobody has proved it, so why should anybody prove it now? Unless, of course, you have a totally new idea.”
Most folks doubt that the problem is finally solved.
Category: I know, but I can’t help it
This is exactly what the category title says.
Piece of dried seaweed with one end stuck in sand drew concentric circles as it was rotated by the wind. (Link)
Why write when you can see…
Category: Special Edition
Once in a while, when something cool happens and it doesn’t fit in any of the above categories.
The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine 2018 (Link)
Monday, Oct. 1: The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine 2018 was awarded jointly to James P. Allison and Tasuku Honjo “for their discovery of cancer therapy by inhibition of negative immune regulation.”
The Nobel Prize in Physics (Link)
Tuesday, Oct. 2: The Nobel Prize in Physics 2018 was awarded “for groundbreaking inventions in the field of laser physics” with one half to Arthur Ashkin “for the optical tweezers and their application to biological systems”, the other half jointly to Gérard Mourou and Donna Strickland “for their method of generating high-intensity, ultra-short optical pulses.”
The Nobel Prize in Chemistry (Link)
Wednesday, Oct. 3: The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences has decided to award the Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2018 with one half to Frances H. Arnold ”for the directed evolution of enzymes” and the other half jointly to George P. Smith and Sir Gregory P. Winter ”for the phage display of peptides and antibodies”.
The Nobel Prize in Literature (Link)
The 2018 Nobel Prize in Literature has been postponed.
The Nobel Peace Prize (Link)
Friday, Oct. 5: The Norwegian Nobel Committee has decided to award the Nobel Peace Prize for 2018 to Denis Mukwege and Nadia Murad for their efforts to end the use of sexual violence as a weapon of war and armed conflict.
The Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences
Monday, Oct. 8: To be announced at 11.45am local time in Sweden (CEST)
If you liked what you read, be sure to comment or clap — as a new writer, it means a lot.
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