A team from Facebook's Artificial Intelligence Research lab recently revealed that in an experiment designed to replicate human negotiations between two chatbots, the machines actually developed their own non-human language. While many animal species do show evidence of complex forms of communication, language remained firmly in humanity's realm until this development. What the machines' new ability will engender remains to be seen, but it's nonetheless a humbling reminder that machine learning offers unprecedented scientific and philosophical investigative opportunities.
At-Home HIV Testing Is Now a Reality
In 2017, HIV/AIDS claimed nearly one million lives, with an additional 36.9 million people living with the disease. HIV is a treatable illness if caught early, but once it becomes AIDS it is fatal. A new device developed by product designer Hans Ramzan gives people in the developing world, where the majority of new HIV/AIDs cases emerge, the power to test themselves at home for the virus, removing dependence on foreign aid.
From Fringe Idea to Mainstream Imperative: The Future of Design Depends on Biomimicry
Over the Earth's 3.8 billion-year history, plants and animals have come up with ingenious design solutions to keep them alive and thriving. Today, the idea of looking to nature to improve the functionality and sustainability of humanity’s creations is gaining steam in the architecture, design, and engineering industries. It's called biomimicry and it's here to stay.
Decades ago, nuclear power was at the forefront of clean, renewable energy. Today, however, it's plagued by all sorts of bad press and logistical nightmares. But nuclear energy looks like a promising alternative to fossil fuels once again with a bold new concept: floating power plants.
Monthly Subscription Service Comes for the Automobile Industry
Music and movies are available with just a press of a button thanks to modern technology. Now imagine that instantaneous convenience applied to cars. That's what a handful of car subscription services, which would allow customers country-wide to change automobiles as frequently as they skip songs, are angling to fully develop over the coming years.
Mexico Aims to Take the Lead in Latin American Solar Development
In the Mexican state of Coahuila, Italian energy firm Enel will install 2.3 million solar panels over nearly 3,000 acres, providing enough electricity to power 1.3 million homes by the end of 2018. By 2024, Mexico aims to generate up to 35% of its energy from renewables, a sizable portion of which will come directly from solar panels. Only a few years ago, Mexico's energy industry was driven by a crude-oil-based state monopoly, but the emerging realities of climate change provoked the government into exploring greener alternatives.
Sure, houseplants are good for our health and wellbeing from a holistic, biophilic point of view. But what if they could track our environment and alert us to dangers the way wearable tech monitors our internal workings? Scientists from the University of Tennessee think that with the possibility of genetic engineering we may be able to update the famous "canary in a coal mine" idiom for the 21st century.
Ford's Manufacturing Employees Get a Boost From Wearable Exoskeletons
Ford is slowly rolling out wearable exoskeletons for its manufacturing employees to reduce injuries on the job. A collaboration between Ford and Ekso Bionics, the vests help support workers' arms while performing overhead tasks that may pose potential danger. It's the latest development in Ford's ergonomics research, which seeks innovative ways to improve assembly and production.
The Best New HIV Defense May Exist in a Grain of Rice
An international team of scientists may have created the first wonder GMO. They developed a new strain of rice that could help prevent HIV. The creation could mean a cheap miracle for developing countries with high HIV rates.
Keeping succulents alive isn’t too demanding, but some of us just aren’t blessed with a green thumb. Thankfully, the robot ranks have expanded with HEXA, a mobile flowerpot that monitors its occupant’s solar needs and moves on its own into and out of
An Organic Solution to the Plastic Problem
A team of international scientists may have stumbled upon a solution to the global plastic waste problem. They mutated an enzyme that was first discovered inside a plastic-eating bacterium in Japan, initially just to understand how it evolved. What they actually ended up doing was making that enzyme even better at breaking down PET plastic, a promising development as the world grapples with the enormous quantity of plastic that amasses in landfills and pollutes the ocean.
More Efficient Air Conditioning Via the Sky
Air conditioning and refrigeration consume 17% of global electricity and are responsible for 10% of global greenhouse gas emissions—numbers that will multiply tenfold by 2050—but one California-based company may have found a way to keep things cool while reducing greenhouse-gas emissions. SkyCool Systems has developed a passive, zero-water-loss cooling system that harnesses a previously overlooked natural resource: the sky. By coating roof-mounted panels with an advanced material the team developed that radiates a small percent of infrared light back into outer space through the sky, the team was able to cool the panels to approximately five degrees Celsius below ambient air temperature.
A team of MIT researchers recently discovered that applying firefly enzymes to kale with gentle pressure causes the plant to glow in the dark. The plant only gives off one-thousandth of the light humans need to read by and the glow only lasts three-and-a-half hours, but there’s vast potential, says MIT professor and lead study author Michael Strano. With further development, glow-in-the-dark trees and plants could take pressure off energy infrastructure by providing free, earth-friendly lighting at night.
How to Grow a Baby Without a Human Womb
While popping out a baby by traditional methods is a feat in its own right, things get a lot more interesting if you consider this alternative to the womb. Students from Artez Product Design Arnhem have designed Par-tu-ri-ent, an external, womb-like incubation system that aims to bring a baby to term. Par-tu-ri-ent offers a communication device, a feeder, a portable bag that can be worn to simulate the baby’s kicks, and a completely transparent top so you can watch your offspring grow.
Construction of Jeff Bezos’s 10,000-Year Clock Begins
The countdown to completion of the 10,000-year clock, a project backed by Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos and spearheaded by tech entrepreneur Danny Hillis, has officially begun. The clock, which makes a contemplative statement on the long-term future of humanity and Planet Earth, measures 500 feet tall and is fully mechanical, relying on thermal cycles for power. Bezos invested $42 million to construct the clock, and it will live in a hollowed-out mountain in the Sierra Diablo range in Texas.