Technology

  • An adaptive deep reinforcement learning framework enables curling robots with human-like performance in real-world conditions
    The game of curling can be considered a good test bed for studying the interaction between artificial intelligence systems and the real world. In curling, the environmental characteristics change at every moment, and every throw has an impact on the outcome of the match. Furthermore, there is no time for relearning during a curling match … Read More
  • Preparing to adapt is key for Olympic curling robots
    Continued advances in machine learning could enable robots to solve tasks on a human level and adapt to changing conditions. Source: Science Mag: Preparing to adapt is key for Olympic curling robots
  • A more human prosthetic hand
    Co-creation leads the way for bioinspired prosthetics with improved design and performance. Source: Science Mag: A more human prosthetic hand
  • The Hannes hand prosthesis replicates the key biological properties of the human hand
    Replacing the human hand with artificial devices of equal capability and effectiveness is a long-standing challenge. Even the most advanced hand prostheses, which have several active degrees of freedom controlled by the electrical signals of the stump’s residual muscles, do not achieve the complexity, dexterity, and adaptability of the human hand. Thus, prosthesis abandonment rate … Read More
  • Routine: less is often more when it comes to children’s development
    Many children have busy and rigid schedules. VGstockstudio/Shutterstock As a mother of three grown-up children, I vividly recall the panic I felt when the annual six-week summer school holidays approached. Weeks of potential chaos loomed ahead as the regular routines were disrupted. My psychological knowledge just added to the stress. Research consistently pointed to the … Read More
  • Facebook suspends environmental groups despite vow to fight misinformation
    Facebook blames mistake in system for restrictions on groups including Greenpeace USAFacebook has suspended the accounts of several environmental organizations less than a week after launching an initiative it said would counter a tide of misinformation over climate science on the platform.Groups such as Greenpeace USA, Climate Hawks Vote and Rainforest Action Network were among … Read More
  • Just like Australia, disinformation is thriving during the US fire crisis | Jason Wilson
    In both countries, fake news about arson proliferated while the role of climate change was obscuredDisinformation successfully obscured the real causes of Australia’s catastrophic bushfire season. Now the same thing is happening around me, as I report on a disastrous wildfire season in the American west.In both countries, the response to a pandemic is also … Read More
  • Prehistoric desert footprints are earliest evidence for Homo sapiens on Arabian Peninsula
    © Paul Breeze, Author provided Humanity originated on the African continent at least 300,000 years ago. We know from fossil evidence in southern Greece and the Levant (modern-day Israel) that some early members of our species expanded beyond Africa around 200,000 years ago, and again between 120,000 to 90,000 years ago. They likely travelled through … Read More
  • The four most promising worlds for alien life in the solar system
    NASA's Curiosity Rover takes a selfie on Mars in June, 2018. NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS, CC BY-SA The Earth’s biosphere contains all the known ingredients necessary for life as we know it. Broadly speaking these are: liquid water, at least one source of energy, and an inventory of biologically useful elements and molecules. But the recent discovery of … Read More
  • Don’t write off government algorithms – responsible AI can produce real benefits
    Metamorworks/Shutterstock Algorithms have taken a lot of flak recently, particularly those being used by the government and other public bodies in the UK. The controversial algorithm used to award student grades caused a huge public outcry, but national and local governments and several police forces have been withdrawing other algorithms and artificial intelligence tools from … Read More
  • AI called GPT-3 can now write like a human without thinking like one
    Bas Nastassia/Shutterstock Since it was unveiled earlier this year, the new AI-based language generating software GPT-3 has attracted much attention for its ability to produce passages of writing that are convincingly human-like. Some have even suggested that the program, created by Elon Musk’s OpenAI, may be considered or appears to exhibit, something like artificial general … Read More
  • Newly discovered mass extinction event triggered the dawn of the dinosaurs
    D. Bonadonna/ MUSE, Trento, Author provided Huge volcanic eruptions 233 million years ago pumped carbon dioxide, methane and water vapour into the atmosphere. This series of violent explosions, on what we now know as the west coast of Canada, led to massive global warming. Our new research has revealed that this was a planet-changing mass … Read More
  • Coronavirus and conspiracies: how the far right is exploiting the pandemic
    Just as the global death toll from COVID-19 reached 250,000 at the start of May this year, a short film emerged that has since been called “the first true hit conspiracy video of the COVID-19 era”. Titled “Plandemic”, it featured a lengthy interview with the discredited scientist Judy Mikovits, who falsely argued that the COVID … Read More
  • Venus: could it really harbour life? New study springs a surprise
    Composite image of Venus from data from NASA's Magellan spacecraft and Pioneer Venus Orbiter. NASA/JPL-Caltech Earth’s sister planet, Venus, has not been regarded as a high priority in the search for life. Its surface temperature of around 450°C is thought to be hostile to even the hardiest of micro-organisms, and its thick, sulphurous and acidic … Read More
  • The fourth agricultural revolution is coming – but who will really benefit?
    kung_tom/shutterstock Depending on who you listen to, artificial intelligence may either free us from monotonous labour and unleash huge productivity gains, or create a dystopia of mass unemployment and automated oppression. In the case of farming, some researchers, business people and politicians think the effects of AI and other advanced technologies are so great they … Read More
  • How tech billionaires’ visions of human nature shape our world
    In the 20th century, politicians’ views of human nature shaped societies. But now, creators of new technologies increasingly drive societal change. Their view of human nature may shape the 21st century. We must know what technologists see in humanity’s heart. The economist Thomas Sowell proposed two visions of human nature. The utopian vision sees people … Read More
  • Digital identity: new UK scheme risks running a repeat of ID card controversy
    Rawpixel/Shutterstock Is the UK government planning to revive identity cards for the internet age? The decision to scrap its national ID cards and database in 2010 means the UK is one of the few developed countries not to have such an identity scheme. While this was seen as a victory for civil liberties campaigners, some … Read More
  • Why our screens leave us hungry for more nutritious forms of social interaction
    Shutterstock/LukyToky COVID-19 has seen all the rules change when it comes to social engagement. Workplaces and schools have closed, gatherings have been banned, and the use of social media and other online tools has risen to bridge the gap. But as we continue to adapt to the various restrictions, we should remember that social media … Read More
  • Neuralink: brain hacking is exceptionally hard, no matter what Elon Musk says
    Elon Musk at Neuralink presentation with robot. Steve Jurvetson/Flickr, CC BY-SA If thoughts, feelings and other mental activities are nothing more than electrochemical signals flowing around a vast network of brain cells, will connecting these signals with digital electronics allow us to enhance the abilities of our brains? That’s what tech entrepreneur Elon Musk suggested … Read More
  • When did we become fully human? What fossils and DNA tell us about the evolution of modern intelligence
    Mariano/Wikipedia, CC BY-SA When did something like us first appear on the planet? It turns out there’s remarkably little agreement on this question. Fossils and DNA suggest people looking like us, anatomically modern Homo sapiens, evolved around 300,000 years ago. Surprisingly, archaeology – tools, artefacts, cave art – suggest that complex technology and cultures, “behavioural … Read More
  • Government algorithms are undermining democracy – let’s open up their design to the people
    StratfordProductions/Shutterstock Algorithms appear to be in retreat in the UK – for now. Not only did national governments recently U-turn over their use of algorithms to assign the grades of school leavers, but numerous local authorities have also scrapped similar technology used to make decisions on benefits and other welfare services. In many of these … Read More
  • Coronavirus nanoscience: the tiny technologies tackling a global pandemic
    Kateryna Kon/Shutterstock The world-altering coronavirus behind the COVID-19 pandemic is thought to be just 60 nanometres to 120 nanometres in size. This is so mind bogglingly small that you could fit more than 400 of these virus particles into the width of a single hair on your head. In fact, coronaviruses are so small that … Read More
  • Vaccines often degrade in the heat: here’s how our new chemical ‘casing’ could save lives
    Keeping vaccines stable. Shutterstock/Rohane Hamilton Amid unpredictable outbreaks, and fears of a second wave, the hunt is on for a vaccine against COVID-19. The reason for this is simple: vaccines work. They save lives and economies. For example, there were 11.6 million smallpox cases reported between 1920 and 1978, and an estimated 300 million deaths … Read More
  • Novichok: how are victims surviving poisoning?
    Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny is likely to survive a suspected poisoning with the nerve agent Novichok, according to the hospital treating him. There have now been at least six known cases of serious Novichok poisoning in the past two years. But only one victim tragically died from it. Why is that? Is the substance … Read More