See on Scoop.itKnowmads, Infocology of the future

Wolfram gave me a glimpse under the hood in an hour-long conversation. And I have to say, what I saw was amazing.

Google wants to understand objects and things and their relationships so it can give answers, not just results. But Wolfram wants to make the world computable, so that our computers can answer questions like “where is the International Space Station right now.” That requires a level of machine intelligence that knows what the ISS is, that it’s in space, that it is orbiting the Earth, what its speed is, and where in its orbit it is right now.

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See on Scoop.itKnowmads, Infocology of the future

Microchips modeled on the brain may excel at tasks that baffle today’s computers.

Picture a person reading these words on a laptop in a coffee shop. The machine made of metal, plastic, and silicon consumes about 50 watts of power as it translates bits of information—a long string of 1s and 0s—into a pattern of dots on a screen. Meanwhile, inside that person’s skull, a gooey clump of proteins, salt, and water uses a fraction of that power not only to recognize those patterns as letters, words, and sentences but to recognize the song playing on the radio.

Computers are incredibly inefficient at lots of tasks that are easy for even the simplest brains, such as recognizing images and navigating in unfamiliar spaces. Machines found in research labs or vast data centers can perform such tasks, but they are huge and energy-hungry, and they need specialized programming. Google recently made headlines with software that can reliably recognize cats and human faces in video clips, but this achievement required no fewer than 16,000 powerful processors.

A new breed of computer chips that operate more like the brain may be about to narrow the gulf between artificial and natural computation—between circuits that crunch through logical operations at blistering speed and a mechanism honed by evolution to process and act on sensory input from the real world. Advances in neuroscience and chip technology have made it practical to build devices that, on a small scale at least, process data the way a mammalian brain does. These “neuromorphic” chips may be the missing piece of many promising but unfinished projects in artificial intelligence, such as cars that drive themselves reliably in all conditions, and smartphones that act as competent conversational assistants.

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See on Scoop.itThe future of medicine and health

If you have ever sat in a doctor’s waiting room, next to someone with a hacking cough and with only a pile of out-of-date Reader’s Digests for company, then you may have asked whether the system was fit for 21st Century living.

The NHS seems under increasing pressure, from GP surgeries to accident and emergency rooms. It feels as if the healthcare system is in desperate need of CPR – the question is will technology be the thing that brings it back to life?

Daniel Kraft is a trained doctor who heads up the medicine school at the Singularity University, a Silicon Valley-based organisation that runs graduate and business courses on how technology is going to disrupt the status quo in a variety of industries.

When I interview him he is carrying a device that looks suspiciously like a Tricorder, the scanners that were standard issue in Star Trek.

“This is a mock-up of a medical tricorder that can scan you and get information. I can hold it to my forehead and it will pick up my heart rate, my oxygen saturation, my temperature, my blood pressure and communicate it to my smartphone,” he explains.

In future, Dr Kraft predicts, such devices will be linked to artificial intelligence agents on smartphones, which in turn will be connected to super-computers such as IBM’s Watson, to give people instant and accurate diagnoses.

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See on Scoop.itThe future of medicine and health

(Medical Xpress)—University of Queensland researchers have made a major leap forward in treating renal disease, today announcing they have grown a kidney using stem cells.

University of Queensland researchers have made a major leap forward in treating renal disease, today announcing they have grown a kidney using stem cells.


The breakthrough paves the way for improved treatments for patients with kidney disease and bodes well for the future of the wider field of bioengineering organs.

Professor Melissa Little from UQ’s Institute for Molecular Bioscience (IMB), who led the study, said new treatments for kidney disease were urgently needed.

“One in three Australians is at risk of developing chronic kidney disease and the only therapies currently available are kidney transplant and dialysis,” Professor Little said.

“Only one in four patients will receive a donated organ, and dialysis is an ongoing and restrictive treatment regime.

“We need to improve outcomes for patients with this debilitating condition, which costs Australia $1.8 billion a year.”

The team designed a protocol that prompts stem cells to form all the required cell types to ‘self-organise’ into a mini-kidney in a dish.

“During self-organisation, different types of cells arrange themselves with respect to each other to create the complex structures that exist within an organ, in this case, the kidney,” Professor Little said.

“The fact that such stem cell populations can undergo self-organisation in the laboratory bodes well for the future of tissue bioengineering to replace damaged and diseased organs and tissues.”

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The Selling of Attention Deficit Disorder

Posted: December 16, 2013 by Wildcat in Uncategorized

See on Scoop.itThe future of medicine and health

Diagnoses have soared as makers of the drugs used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder have found success with a two-decade marketing campaign.

After more than 50 years leading the fight to legitimize attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, Keith Conners could be celebrating.

Severely hyperactive and impulsive children, once shunned as bad seeds, are now recognized as having a real neurological problem. Doctors and parents have largely accepted drugs like Adderall and Concerta to temper the traits of classic A.D.H.D., helping youngsters succeed in school and beyond.

But Dr. Conners did not feel triumphant this fall as he addressed a group of fellow A.D.H.D. specialists in Washington. He noted that recent data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that the diagnosis had been made in 15 percent of high school-age children, and that the number of children on medication for the disorder had soared to 3.5 million from 600,000 in 1990. He questioned the rising rates of diagnosis and called them “a national disaster of dangerous proportions.”

“The numbers make it look like an epidemic. Well, it’s not. It’s preposterous,” Dr. Conners, a psychologist and professor emeritus at Duke University, said in a subsequent interview. “This is a concoction to justify the giving out of medication at unprecedented and unjustifiable levels.”

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See on Scoop.itThe future of medicine and health

Sci­en­tists are hop­ing a new tech­nique will let them “see” pain in the bod­ies of hurt­ing peo­ple, so doc­tors won’t have to rely solely on pa­tients’ some­times un­clear ac­counts of their own pain.

Past re­search has shown a link be­tween pain and a cer­tain kind of mol­e­cule in the body, called a so­di­um chan­nel—a pro­tein that helps nerve cells trans­mit pain and oth­er sensa­t­ions to the brain. Cer­tain types of so­di­um chan­nel are over-pro­duced at the site of an in­ju­ry. So re­search­ers set out to de­vel­op a way to make the re­sult­ing over-concentra­t­ions of so­di­um chan­nels vis­i­ble in scan­ning im­ages.

Cur­rent ways to di­ag­nose pain bas­ic­ally in­volve ask­ing the pa­tient if some­thing hurts. This can lead doc­tors astray for a va­ri­e­ty of rea­sons, in­clud­ing if a pa­tient can’t com­mu­ni­cate well or does­n’t want to talk about the pain. It can al­so be hard to tell how well a treat­ment is really work­ing. 

No ex­ist­ing meth­od can meas­ure pain in­tens­ity ob­jec­tively or help physi­cians pin­point where the pain is, said Sandip Biswal of Stan­ford Uni­vers­ity in Cal­i­for­nia and col­leagues, who de­scribed their new tech­nique Nov. 21 on­line in the Jour­nal of the Amer­i­can Chem­i­cal So­ci­e­ty. 

Biswal and col­leagues tested the tech­nique in rats.

They used an ex­ist­ing scan­ning meth­od known as pos­i­tron emis­sion to­mog­ra­phy (PET) scan, which uses a harm­less ra­di­o­ac­t­ive sub­stance called a trac­er to look for dis­ease in the body. They al­so turned to a small mol­e­cule called sax­i­toxin, pro­duced nat­u­rally by cer­tain types of mi­cro­scop­ic ma­rine crea­tures, and at­tached a sig­nal to it so they could trace it by PET im­ag­ing.

When the re­search­ers in­jected the mol­e­cule in­to rats, of­ten a stand-in for hu­mans in lab tests, they saw that the mol­e­cule ac­cu­mu­lat­ed where the rats had nerve dam­age. The rats did­n’t show signs of tox­ic side ef­fects, the sci­en­tists said, adding that the work is one of the first at­tempts to mark these so­di­um chan­nels in a liv­ing an­i­mal.

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See on Scoop.itCyborg Lives

Recent news coming from The New York Times reports that Google has confirmed the acquisition of Boston Dynamics.

Recent news coming from The New York Times reports that Google has confirmed the acquisition of Boston Dynamics. Google revealed sometime last week that it already had plenty of robot projects underway, and they’re headed up by Andy Rubin the same man who made the company’s Android operating system. Boston Dynamics is the engineering company that built the DARPA projects like WildCat/ Cheetah, Atlas, Petman, and Big Dog. Adding Boston Dynamics to its arsenal of robotics company buy, is an indication that Google wants in on the action of “robots-are-our-future.” At the moment there are no specific products to expect, or how much Google paid for the acquisition, but we all know that Google+Robotics = kickass consumer robots. Check out the video of Petman robot from Boston Dynamics below.

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