Monthly Archives: January 2011

Freezing without cryoprotectants

A solution for the cryopreservation of human internal organs could be at hand in the form of a technology used to preserve sushi that can instantly freeze water, meaning there is no time for cell damaging ice crystals to form. In fact, it’s already being used to preserve teeth.

A research group at Hiroshima University, borrowing super-cooling technology used to preserve sushi and high-end food delicacies, has proven it is possible to freeze cells without the use of toxic cryprotectants. As reported on Singularity Hub, the “Cells Alive System” (CAS) produced by Japanese company ABI prevents freezing at super-cool temperatures by vibrating the water using magnetic fields. This allows the water to be super-cooled so that when the magnetic field is turned off, the water freezes instantaneously – too fast for damaging ice crystals to form.

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Filed under Cryonics

Andrew Hessel on Singularity 1 on 1: How Synthetic Biology May Help Cure Cancer

I’ve recently come upon this Internet interview on the Singularity Webblog and would love to share it with you. Andrew Hessel is a very interesting personality: being both a geneticist and computer scientist, Andrew co-chairs the Bioinformatics and Biotechnology track at the Singularity University, abvocates Synthetic Biology and is a founder of the Pink Army Cooperative, an open source biotech company, which has a totally great goal – applying Synthetic Biology to create personalized anti-cancer drugs.

Andrew shares his thoughts about the main future goals and applications of Synthetic Biology. He gives a perspective on how exactly Pink Army Cooprerative is going work on creating the anti-cancer drugs and why he believes this open source cooperative approach is much more efficient than the common drug candidate search-testing-verification process.

Read more about Andrew Hessel and his work

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Filed under Drug design, genomics

Artificial retinas see well enough to balance a pencil

A team of researchers has built a neural information system that is good enough and fast enough to balance a pencil in real time. If you think it’s an easy task, try it.

Building a machine to balance a pencil on its point used to be a high-level research topic – if you aren’t into AI I’d better add that this isn’t a joke. Think for a moment about the task. You have to move the point of balance around so as to bring the point back under the center of gravity of the pencil. The problem is also dynamic because you have to take account of draughts and vibrations that disturb the equilibrium. As a classical control problem it is also difficult because the equilibrium is unstable.

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Filed under Transhumanism

The New AI: An interview with Juergen Schmidhuber

Here’s an interview with a very interesting individual Juergen Schmidhuber, a German artificial intelligence researcher who has worked on recurrent neural networks, Godel machines, universal learning algorithms, artificial evolution, robotics, and neural network based financial forecasting. From 2004 to 2009 he was professor of Cognitive Robotics at the Tech. University Munich. Since 1995 he has been co-director of the Swiss AI Lab IDSIA in Lugano, since 2009 also professor of Artificial Intelligence at the University of Lugano. In honor of his achievements he was elected to the European Academy of Sciences and Arts in 2008.

The interview was done by Sander Olson a correspondent for NextBigFuture.com:

Question: You have a plan to build an “optimal scientist”. What do you mean by that?

Answer: An optimal scientist excels at exploring and then better understanding the world and what can be done in it. Human scientists are suboptimal and limited in many ways. I’d like to build an artificial one smarter than myself (my colleagues claim that should be easy) who will then build an even smarter one, and so on. This seems to be the most efficient way of using and multiplying my own little bit of creativity.

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Filed under Artificial Intelligence

Charity Tillemann-Dick at TEDMED 2010: Opera singing after a double lung transplant

Exactly one year ago to the day of this TEDMED talk, Charity awoke from a coma after having a double lung transplant. Now she can sing arias. This is the type of miracle medicine can bring us. Biomedical science not only tremedously improves the quality of life, it saves and prolongs it.

Lung transplantantation is very complicated. There’s also a huge problem with donor organs. I do look forward to creating of the first bioengineed lungs from the patient’s stem cells. That would be a real breakthrough providing the opportunity to extend (=save) lives of many people, who are now dying being it the end of transplantation waiting lists.

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Filed under Conference, Life Extension

Transcendent Man: Movie about the Life and Ideas of Ray Kurzweil

Transcendent Man is a documentary film by director and producer Barry Ptolemy about the life of inventor, futurist and transhumanist Ray Kurzweil.

The film introduces the ideas of Kurzweil who journeys the world offering his vision of a future in which we will merge with the super-intelligent machines we have created and can live forever…all within the next thirty years!

Kurzweil predicts that with the ever-accelerating rate of technological change, humanity is fast approaching an era in which our intelligence will become increasingly non-biological and trillions of times more powerful than today. This will be the dawning of a new civilization that will enable us to transcend our biological limitations. In Kurzweil’s post-biological world, there will be no clear distinction between human and machine, real reality and virtual reality. Human aging and illness will be reversed, world hunger and poverty will be solved, and we will ultimately cure death.

Transcendent man is coming soon to theaters but here is the trailer. This will be a great documentary!

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Filed under Artificial Intelligence, Immortalism, Transhumanism

Japanese firm develops robotic exoskeleton suit that helps people walk

A company in Japan called ‘Cyberdyne’ may share its name with the company responsible for nuclear destruction and the killer robots of the “Terminator” movie series, but the similarities end there.

If the idea of a robot suit helping those with disabilities walk sounds like the stuff of science fiction, think again: the real-life Cyberdyne is in the business of revolutionizing lives.

The firm produces an exoskeleton robot device called the Hybrid Assistive Limb, or HAL, which in another sci-fi related coincidence shares its name with the devious computer in Stanley Kubrick’s “2001: A Space Odyssey”.

It gives power to its wearer by anticipating and supporting the user’s body movements using sensors monitoring electric signals sent from the brain to the muscles. Current options are for a single leg device or both legs.

HAL has many potential applications, from assisting caregivers lift people to helping construction workers or even firefighters.

In one case, three weeks of training with HAL enabled a man who had suffered brain injuries to stand on his own feet after nine years in a wheelchair, according to Cyberdyne CEO Yoshiyuki Sankai, professor at the University of Tsukuba.

The group is now gearing up for mass-production and started leasing the battery-powered suit to welfare facilities last year.

“Developing robots without utilizing them in society would just be an extension of a hobby,” Sankai, 52, said. “What I develop should be part of society and benefit people.”

Some 50 hospitals and homes for the elderly in Japan are currently using a lower-limb version of HAL to assist disabled people. Rental fees for both legs are 140,000-150,000 yen a month ($1,600-$1,800 US dollars).

Cyberdyne plans to start leasing a full-body version for caregivers next year, which assists both arms and legs and allows users to carry a load of up to 70 kilograms (154 pounds) with one arm!

It aims to begin sales to consumers from 2015.

Read more about this amazing invention at the Cyberdyne web site

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Filed under Artificial Intelligence, Life Extension