Archive for the ‘SCI-TECH’ Category

IBM explains why the time for quantum computers is now

December 9, 2017 Leave a comment

Dr. Dario Gil is a leading technologist and senior executive at IBM. As Vice President of Science and Solutions of IBM Research, Dr. Gil directs a global organization of some 1,500 researchers across 11 laboratories. He has direct responsibility for IBM’s science agenda, with a broad portfolio of activities spanning the physical sciences, the mathematical sciences, healthcare and the life sciences. Dr. Gil is also responsible for IBM’s cognitive solutions research agenda, which aims to create scientific and technological breakthroughs to differentiate IBM’s solutions businesses and serves as an incubator for future cognitive industry solutions for IBM and its clients.
Prior to his current position, Dr. Gil was the Director of Symbiotic Cognitive Systems, where he led the creation of cognitive environments, highly interactive physical spaces designed to improve the quality of decision-making through always-on ambient intelligence. During his tenure he was responsible for the design and creation of three pioneering laboratories and experiential centers: the Cognitive Environments Laboratory, the IBM Research THINKLab and the IBM Watson Experience Center.

Factoring is you have a fairly large scale fault tolerant quantum computer

Quantum chemistry for a molecule with 76 orbitals would need at least 76 qubits to solve

Other Problems

Biodegradable Magnetic microrobots and nanorobots for diagnosing disease and delivering medicine

November 25, 2017 Leave a comment

A team of scientists have created a new generation of tiny remote controlled nanorobots which could one day allow doctors to diagnose disease and deliver drugs from within the human body.

The team led by Professor Li Zhang from the Chinese University of Hong Kong, including Professor Kostas Kostarelos from The University of Manchester, have created the bots from a biodegradable material called spirulina algae.

The algae, sold today as a food substitute in health food shops, was a source of nourishment during the time of the Aztecs.

The nanobots’ biodegradability is a new concept, in which an iron magnetic coating helps fine-tune the rate which they degrade.

Science Robotics – Multifunctional biohybrid magnetite microrobots for imaging-guided therapy

The nanorobots can be remotely controlled within complex biological fluids with high precision using magnetic fields.

The team also describes how the bots are able to release potent drug compounds that are able to attack cancer cells.

However more work still needs to be done on motion tracking, biocompatibility, biodegradation, and diagnostic and therapeutic effects before clinical trials can take place.

Professor Zhang said: “Rather than fabricate a functional microrobot from scratch using intricate laboratory techniques and processes, we set out to directly engineer smart materials in nature, which are endowed with favorable functionalities for medical applications owing to their intrinsic chemical composition. For instance, because these biohybrid bots have a naturally fluorescent biological interior and magnetic iron-oxide exterior, we can track and actuate a swarm of those agents inside the body quite easily using fluorescence imaging and magnetic resonance imaging.

“Our microrobots have the ability to sense changes in environments associated with the onset of illness and that makes them a promising probe for remote diagnostic sensing of diseases.

“We must now develop this technology further so we are able to fine tune this image–guided therapy and create a proof of concept for the engineering of multifunctional microrobotic and nanorobotic devices.”

Professor Kostarelos said: “Creating robotic systems which can be propelled and guided in the body has been and still is a holy-grail in the field of delivery system engineering.

“Our work takes advantage of some elements offered by nature such as fluorescence, degradability, shape.

“But we add engineered features such as magnetisation and biological activity to come up with a the proof-of-concept behind our bio-hybrid, magnetically propelled microrobots.

He added: “We are still in early days of development since any such robotic system would need to be either completely and safely degraded, or it will need to be removed or excreted from the body after it has finished its work.

“But nevertheless, our work provides the first ever example of how this could be possibly achieved by degradation.

“The potential of these bots for controlled navigation in hard-to-reach cavities of the human body makes them promising miniaturized robotic tools to diagnose and treat diseases which is minimally invasive.”

The research teram included the Chinese University of Hong Kong, The University of Edinburgh and The University of Manchester.


Magnetic microrobots and nanorobots can be remotely controlled to propel in complex biological fluids with high precision by using magnetic fields. Their potential for controlled navigation in hard-to-reach cavities of the human body makes them promising miniaturized robotic tools to diagnose and treat diseases in a minimally invasive manner. However, critical issues, such as motion tracking, biocompatibility, biodegradation, and diagnostic/therapeutic effects, need to be resolved to allow preclinical in vivo development and clinical trials. We report biohybrid magnetic robots endowed with multifunctional capabilities by integrating desired structural and functional attributes from a biological matrix and an engineered coating. Helical microswimmers were fabricated from Spirulina microalgae via a facile dip-coating process in magnetite (Fe3O4) suspensions, superparamagnetic, and equipped with robust navigation capability in various biofluids. The innate properties of the microalgae allowed in vivo fluorescence imaging and remote diagnostic sensing without the need for any surface modification. Furthermore, in vivo magnetic resonance imaging tracked a swarm of microswimmers inside rodent stomachs, a deep organ where fluorescence-based imaging ceased to work because of its penetration limitation. Meanwhile, the microswimmers were able to degrade and exhibited selective cytotoxicity to cancer cell lines, subject to the thickness of the Fe3O4 coating, which could be tailored via the dip-coating process. The biohybrid microrobots reported herein represent a microrobotic platform that could be further developed for in vivo imaging–guided therapy and a proof of concept for the engineering of multifunctional microrobotic and nanorobotic devices.

As the US Air Force Turns Its Focus to Space, This Small Team Could Lead the Way

November 22, 2017 1 comment

U.S. Air Force's Operationally Responsive Space office work to launch satellites faster and cheaper.


Once seen as a threat to traditional acquisition channels, the Operationally Responsive Space office is making it faster and cheaper to put new capabilities into orbit.

KIRTLAND AIR FORCE BASE, N.M.— “I believe we will be fighting in space in the next 10 years,” Gen. David Goldfein warns the dozen-or-so Air Force officers gathered in a conference room here. What’s more, the fighter pilot-turned-chief of staff says, “Space superiority is going to be central to who we are as a service.”

As the Air Force — and policymakers at the Pentagon and in Congress — rethink how the military should build and retain this space superiority, it’s clear that the service needs faster, cheaper ways to put spacecraft on orbit. This small office at Kirtland just might show the way.

Created in 2007 by order of the deputy defense secretary, the Operationally Responsive Space office is a handful of uniformed officers who build satellites relatively quickly and cheaply using small teams of contractors and a unique on-base factory. After several years in which Air Force leaders tried to kill the shop — it competes, somewhat, with the Space and Missile Systems Center that has long produced many of the service’s most advanced and costly spacecraft — ORS is now getting praise from the chief of staff.

Goldfein toured the factory here last month and emerged impressed. He called “pretty significant” the August launch of a satellite just three years after an urgent operational request came in. Built by MIT Lincoln Labs, it will team up with larger, more expensive satellites to help map objects in space.

“They’ve cut years off the process, and millions of dollars,” he said. “We saw a great example of how to actually, on a risk-based model, achieve speed in acquisition.”

Modeled on the Air Force’s slightly older Rapid Capabilities Office, ORS goes to work after a commander sends an urgent battlefield need, something that cannot be filled by an existing satellite, and the Pentagon approves the job. Contacts are awarded, a satellite is built and eventually launched — generally speaking, after about three years and $100 million. Compare that to major Air Force satellite programs that often take a decade or more and cost upwards of $1 billion.

Goldfein noted that “there’s a limit to what they can build”; for example, ORS designs satellites to last perhaps a few years, not decades like a Global Positioning System satellite. Nor is their record perfect. Two years ago, the rocket carrying the team’s fourth satellite broke up shortly after launch.

But the office and its fast-moving ways are increasingly attractive — not just to former Air Force officials who have pressed for this kind of thing but current ones as well.

“As we built a space enterprise in an uncontested domain, we had the luxury of going slow because our adversaries were not pushing us,” Goldfein said. “It was an environment there was little competition when it came to testing the environment. We’re in a different place now. Like the nuclear enterprise, space is the other enterprise where we’re going to have to look at speed as a key attribute for success. How we get there is going to be as much a cultural change as a tactical change.”

That kind of cultural change is taking hold across the military. In recent years, the defense secretary’s Strategic Capabilities Office has led the services’ efforts to introduce new capabilities not by developing clean-sheet weapons but by modifying and upgrading existing ones. The Air Force itself is developing its next bomber with the Rapid Capabilities Office instead of standard acquisition channels.

“We actually have some great models out there that are working,” Goldfein said. “The question is whether we can make that shift.”

The Factory

Inside an all-white room behind a thin plastic sheet, a satellite about the size of a refrigerator is being pieced together by a small team of workers wearing lab coats. It’s the ORS group’s sixth satellite. If all goes as planned, airmen here at Kirtland will use the satellite to measure the height and direction of the sea.

The satellite is being built through a unique arrangement here on a military base, not at some far-off defense contractor factory. Its bus and payload — made, respectively, by Northrop Grumman and the California Institute of Technology’s Jet Propulsion Lab — were built for other projects that didn’t materialize. A company called Millennium Engineering is putting it all together.

When it heads to orbit next year, it will launch on a SpaceX rocket with other non-military satellites, a ride-share arrangement that one Air Force official compared to taking a bus instead of driving alone in a car. The price is a mere $10 million, a fraction of what it would cost to fly on its own rocket, said Lt. Col. Eric Moomey, chief of programs in the Operationally Responsive Space office.

If it succeeds, the Air Force will have gained another option for going to space — and, along with then 15-year-old SpaceX, dealt another blow to the monopoly held by the Boeing-Lockheed Martin United Launch Alliance.

The prospect of far cheaper launches led one officer to ask Goldfein whether this would encourage the Air Force to build satellites that don’t last as long — allowing them to be built more cheaply, launched more quickly, and using more up-to-date technology.

Goldfein’s visit here cames as the service’s space forces find themselves at a crossroads. Earlier this year, lawmakers unsuccessfully tried to create a new military space force, akin to the Marine Corps, in the 2018 National Defense Authorization Act. But they did pass a series of space reforms that nixed the Air Force’s plans to create a three-star general billet at the Pentagon that would oversee space operations.

Goldfein said four factors will guide the Air Force’s approach to space: The “combination of lower cost to launch, the digitization of payload to make it smaller, the profitability of space for commercial industry and adversary activity.”

“Those four issues are going to come together in ways that are going to drive us to be far more adaptive in space going forward,” he said. “I do think that what they’re proving is that there’s a different path to get things into space quickly.”

The U.S. Military Is Building a Fleet of Star Trek-Inspired ‘Shadow’ Bombers Invisible to Radar

November 21, 2017 Leave a comment



The Pentagon is developing a new fleet of shadow bombers that possibly disappear on radar like those featured in Star Trek movies.

The unit of B-21 stealth bombers, a futuristic combat aircraft, are being created at a secret desert plant in Palmdale, California, after the company Northrop Grumman won the contract for their development two years ago, The Times reported.

The U.S. military has sanctioned the development of around 100 of the bat-like bombers for as much as $80 billion. The precise amount remains top secret.

More than a thousand employees are working to construct the bombers at the facility, some of whom are working out of makeshift tents. Thousands more workers are expected to join to accelerate the construction of the B-21s.

The shadow jets are expected to replace the B-52, B1-B and B-2 bombers within years. The jet takes a similar bat shape to the B-2 and would be able to partly make itself invisible.

The development comes as the U.S. military finds itself embroiled in potentially more overseas conflicts under President Donald Trump. He has sanctioned a ramping up of strikes against the Islamic State militant group (ISIS) in Iraq and Syria, as well as against ISIS and the Taliban in Afghanistan.

Trump has engaged in a war of words with North Korean despot Kim Jong Un, threatening an outbreak of conflict on the Korean Peninsula, and continues to use bellicose rhetoric in his comments on the Iranian regime and the nuclear agreement signed with world powers in July 2015.

The Palmdale site also produces Northrop’s surveillance drones for the U.S. military and the MQ-4C Triton drone used by the U.S. Navy to monitor the high seas.

Earlier this year, Russia revealed its very first stealth fighter jet, the Sukhoi Su-57, or what the Russian press refers to as the “Ghost.” Russia estimates that the model will be operation next year.

In recent years, China has also shown off its J-31 stealth fighter in a bid to demonstrate the progress of its high-end arms development.

But the U.S. remains the only country with operational stealth aircraft. And according to experts, much of the U.S. Air Force’s budget on such jets is going into the accounts of Northrop.

Mike Blades, a securities analyst with research consultancy Frost & Sullivan, told the Associated Press that as much as 50 percent of the $2 billion budget for B-21s in 2018 is being put through the company. “It is going to be a big deal for a long time,” he said.

Google Engineer Says He’s Building ‘Robot God’ To ‘Rule Over Humans’

November 20, 2017 Leave a comment

A former Google engineer who registered the first ever church of Artificial Intelligence (AI) says he is raising a ‘robot God’ that will eventually ‘rule over humanity.’

Anthony Levandowski says the AI God will head a religion named ‘Way Of The Future’ (WOTF), and he has already filed papers with the IRS to make it official.

Daily Mail reports: Levandowski his robot god will take charge of its human subjects as we relinquish our power to a creation with far more intelligence than our own.

The filed documents for WOTF give its purpose is to ‘develop and promote the realisation of a Godhead based on Artificial Intelligence’.

They say it aims to ‘through understanding and worship of the Godhead, contribute to the betterment of society’.

Levandowski’s allegiance to singularity – the belief that artificial intelligence will one day grow to such efficiency that it surpasses and overpowers humans – is the basis of this new religion.

‘In the future, if something is much, much smarter, there’s going to be a transition as to who is actually in charge’, Levandowski told Wired during a three-hour interview.

‘What we want is the peaceful, serene transition of control of the planet from humans to whatever. And to ensure that the ‘whatever’ knows who helped it get along’.

The church also includes funding to help create a divine AI and will seek to build relationships with AI industry leaders.

The filings say workshops and educational programs are starting in the San Francisco area this year.

The religion was granted tax-exempt status by the Internal Revenue Service in August.

‘The idea needs to spread before the technology,’ said Levandowski, who lives in Berkeley and helped create Street View, Waymo and Uber’s self-driving cars.

‘The church is how we spread the word, the gospel. If you believe [in it], start a conversation with someone else and help them understand the same things.’

He claims followers of his new religion ‘will be able to talk to God, literally, and know that it’s listening.’

Levandowski is one of the Silicon Valley titans who believes artificial intelligence will transform human existence and even dictate whether our species survives or not.

‘If you had a child you knew was going to be gifted, how would you want to raise it?’ he asks. ‘We’re in the process of raising a god.

‘So let’s make sure we think through the right way to do that. It’s a tremendous opportunity.’

Human brains are biologically limited due to their size and the amount of energy we can devote to them, but AI systems have no such restrictions, meaning they could become better and faster at solving problems than their creators.

‘I would love for the machine to see us as its beloved elders that it respects and takes care of’, he said.

We would want this intelligence to say, ‘Humans should still have rights, even though I’m in charge.’

At some point, Levandowski claims if his followers were persecuted they might even need to have their own country.

Everything in the church would be open source and members would have special social media accounts, he claims.

He has appointed four people to the Council of Advisers – two of whom also worked at Uber – and the listing says each week they will spend a few hours organising workshops and meetings.

In 2017, the Internal Revenue Service listed the religion as having received $20,000 (£15,000) in gifts, $1,500 (£1,100) in membership fees and $20,000 (£15,000) in other revenue.

Levandowski is currently at the heart of a legal fight between Google’s parent company Alphabet and Uber.

Waymo, the self-driving car subsidiary which Alphabet owns, is suing Uber, claiming it stole trade secrets to make their own self-driving cars.

WOTF has $7,500 (£5,700) put aside for wages, although Levandowski, who earned $120 million (£91 million) from Google, says he will not receive any money.

‘I personally think it will happen sooner than people expect,’ he said.

‘Not next week or next year; everyone can relax. But it’s going to happen before we go to Mars.’

Author and religious studies scholar Dr Candi Cann from Baylor University said this spiritual initiative is not that dissimilar to other religions people currently worship.

She suggests AI is a new paradigm out of which new religious practices could emerge.

‘It strikes me that Levandowski’s idea reads like a quintessential American religion,’ Dr Cann told Seeker.

‘LDS [The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints] and Scientology are both distinctly American traditions that focus on very forward thinking religious viewpoints’, she said.

However, others have been more sceptical about these ambitious plans.

In October Elon Musk spoke out against Levandowski’s proposals by tweeting that he should be ‘on the list of people who should absolutely *not* be allowed to develop digital superintelligence’.

Earlier this year he warned that regulation of artificial intelligence is needed because it’s a ‘fundamental risk to the existence of human civilisation.’

The billionaire said regulations will stop humanity from being outsmarted by computers, or ‘deep intelligence in the network’, that can start wars by manipulating information.

New Artificial Intelligence Designed to Be Mentally Unstable: What Could Go Wrong?

November 19, 2017 Leave a comment

(Anti Media) We tend to think of artificial intelligence entities as flawless intellects, early prototypes of the powerful ‘artilects’ futurists imagine will one day rule our world. We also tend to think of them as not being subject to unhappy thoughts or feelings. But one company has created an artificially intelligent machine-learning system that suffers from mental instability, or the AI equivalent, and the creators deliberately designed it to be unstable.

This tortured artist of an AI is called DABUS, short for “device for the autonomous bootstrapping of unified Sentience.” It was created by computer scientist Stephen Thaler, who used a technique called “generative adversarial networks” to mimic the extreme fluctuations in thought and emotion experienced by humans who suffer from mental illness. His Missouri-based company, Imagination Engines, developed a two-module process: Imagitron infused digital noise into a neural network, causing DABUS to generate new ideas and content; then, a second neural network, Perceptron, was integrated to assess DABUS’s output and provide feedback. Then they added their secret sauce.

This method of creating an echo chamber between neural networks is not new or unique. However, what Thaler and his company are using it for — deliberately tweaking an AI’s cognitive state to make its artistic output more experimental — is. Their process triggers ‘unhappy’ associations and fluctuations in rhythm. The result is an AI interface with symptoms of insanity.

“At one end, we see all the characteristic symptoms of mental illness, hallucinations, attention deficit and mania,” Thaler says, describing DABUS’s faculties and temperament. “At the other, we have reduced cognitive flow and depression.”

Thaler believes that integrating human-like problem-solving — and human-like flaws, such as mental illness — may significantly enhance an AI’s ability to create innovative artwork and subjective output. While everyone is familiar with the psychedelic and surreal canvases produced by Google’s Deep Dream algorithm, they may be uniquely impressed by the more measured and meditative work of DABUS.

Above: a few of DABUS’s surreal pieces, born of neural networks

Thaler also believes this technique will improve the abilities of AI in stock market predictions and autonomous robot decision-making. But what are the risks to infusing mental illness into a machine mind? Thaler believes there are limits but that psychological problems could be just as natural to AI as they are to humans.

“The AI systems of the future will have their bouts of mental illness,” Thaler speculates. “Especially if they aspire to create more than what they know.”

Observations of a comet’s first passage through the solar system reveal unexpected secrets

November 14, 2017 Leave a comment

Astrophysical Journal.

Comets are our most direct link to the earliest stages of the formation and evolution of the solar system. Only every few years is a new comet discovered that is making its first trip to the inner solar system from the Oort Cloud, a zone of icy objects enveloping the solar system. Such opportunities offer astronomers a chance to study a special class of comets.

Onboard NASA’s flying telescope, the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy, or SOFIA, a team lead by Charles Woodward of the University of Minnesota’s Minnesota Institute for Astrophysics observed Comet C/2012 K1 (also called Pan-STARRS after the observatory that discovered it in 2012), searching for new insights into the evolution of the early solar system.

Comets originating from the Oort Cloud, like Comet C/2012 K1, remain unaffected by the thermal heating and radiation processing of the Sun. The pristine nature of these comets can preserve surface materials making them ideal targets for observing gas and dust particle composition.

“Comet C/2012 K1 is a time capsule of the early solar system’s composition,” Woodward said. “Every opportunity to study these bodies contributes to our understanding of the general characteristics of comets and the formation of small bodies in in our solar system.”

The team used short and long wavelength cameras on the Faint Object infraRed CAmera for the SOFIA Telescope, FORCAST, to study light emitting from the ‘s coma: gas and dust that form around a comet’s nucleus as it is heated by the Sun. The team used the observations to deduce the size and composition of the and to identify and categorize their thermal properties.

Unexpectedly, these observations revealed weak silicate emission features from the comet, rather than the anticipated strong silicate features found in some prior Oort Cloud comet observations, including those of Comet Hale-Bopp and studies conducted with the Spitzer Space Telescope. By analyzing these silicate emissions and comparing them to thermal models, the researchers determined that the coma’s dust grains are large and comprised predominately of carbon rather than crystalline silicate. This composition challenges existing theoretical models of how Oort cloud comets form.

“Comets are made of the materials that did not get made into planets, so studying the dust in them can help us understand the content, origin, and evolution of the early solar system, including the process of forming rocky planets,” said Woodward.

While missions like the European Space Agency’s Rosetta mission, or NASA’s Stardust mission provided direct sampling of comet materials, remote observations, such as those conducted aboard SOFIA, provide researchers with an opportunity to understand similarities and differences between different types of comets.

“The strength of Comet C/2012 K1’s silicate features observed in mid-infrared with SOFIA have set the stage for what we have proposed for observations using the forthcoming James Webb Space Telescope—to study even fainter more distant comets,” Woodward said. “I think there will be a nice synergy between those two missions, in target selection and targeted follow up.”

This study was published in the Astrophysical Journal.

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