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It's not unusual these days to find evidence of new world's hanging out beyond our solar-system. The original Kepler project found thousands of candidates that are still being confirmed as potential exo-planets. But finding nearly visible evidence of a planet being formed in the presence of the harsh conditions of a binary star system? That doesn't come along every day.
Just 450 light-years away, shining brightly in the constellation Taurus, the HD 132527 star system just birthed a new planet, and it's been caught in some stunning high-resolution photos from both the Hubble telescope in the past and now from the Atcama Large Millimeter/sub-millimeter Array (ALMA) by researchers at Rice University. This is the first time we've ever had clear evidence of what planet formation actually looks like.
There's a tremendous amount of detail being recorded right now by the ALMA array, and it shows dust and gases coming together to actually make a planet. In the photo above, the bright red is where there's the most dust and where carbon monoxide is appearing. That gas is freezing inside the dust, clumping together to form solid rock formations that seem to be sticking together, making an even larger object.
The threat of AI blowing up the world or keeping us in cages like animals might scare most people, but I think the prospects of AI could be truly transformative - and that we're bound by other things like society, religion, government and more - but according to one scientist, AI "could leave half the world unemployed".
According to Moshe Vardi, who told the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS): "We are approaching a time when machines will be able to outperform humans at almost any task. I believe that society needs to confront this question before it is upon us: if machines are capable of doing almost any work humans can do, what will humans do?".
Vardi is a professor at Rice University Guggenheim fellow, adding that technology is a bigger threat than UAVs that some fear, adding that AI could see unemployment numbers hitting 50%, taking away middle-class jobs, and making the wealth gap even bigger.
It might seem like fantasy, but scientists have found a way to delete bad memories from your head - forever. The news is coming from a new documentary being shown in the US this week called "Memory Hackers".
Memory Hackers is a NOVA documentary from PBS, which looks into the cutting edge research being done on the nature of memory, and how it might be used for the benefit of mankind. The filmmakers said: "For much of human history, memory has been seen as a tape recorder that faithfully registers information and replays it intact".
They continue: "But now, researchers are discovering that memory is far more malleable, always being written and rewritten, not just by us but by others. We are discovering the precise mechanisms that can explain and even control our memories".
North Korea set a major record over the weekend following the launch of their first satellite -carrying rocket. The problem, however, is that the Kwangmyŏngsŏng-4 satellite doesn't even work at all. And it's tumbling about in orbit, on a trajectory to burn-up in orbit. And smash into the Earth.
The US Department of Defense and other agencies around the world have analyzed the orbital object and have determined that it's in an unstable orbit, and absolutely incapable of functioning in any useful way. Other than as a proof of concept.
Of course officials from various countries and the U.N. Security Council are worried that this test is a display of their technological prowess and a secretive way to test technologies that could evolve into better intercontinental ballistic missiles, or even spy satellites.
NASA has announced that it will be providing MIT's Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) with one of its huge 6-foot, 290-pound humanoid robots. MIT will use it to test and develop for future space missions to Mars, and beyond.
CSAIL Principal Investigator Russ Tedrake will work on algorithms for the robot, which is known as "Valkyrie" or "R5". Tedrake's work will be part of NASA's upcoming Space Robotics Challenge, with its missions to create more dexterous autonomous robots that will help, or one day replace humans on "extreme space" missions.
NASA says that it's interested in humanoid robots because they can assist, or replace humans working in extreme space environments. For future missions, humanoid robots can do tasks that humans simply can't do - like out in space itself, where humans die with a lack of oxygen - and that little thing called gravity.
Associate Administrator for the Space Technology Mission DiDirectorateSTMD) at NASA HQ in Washington, Steve Jurczyk, said: "Advances in robotics, including human-robotic collaboration, are critical to developing the capabilities required for our journey to Mars. We are excited to engage these university research groups to help NASA with this next big step in robotics technology development".
Last week, Google's DeepMind AI beat the European champion of the board game Go. Following that, it promptly set its sights on world champion Lee Sedol. Happily, you'll be able to watch the upcoming match on YouTube, where it will be broadcast live.
A date has been set, too: March 9 through March 15 is when the $1 million match will go down.
Of the match, Sedol says, "I have heard that Google DeepMind's AI is surprisingly strong and getting stronger, but I am confident that I can win, at least this time," indicating he's taken note of the rapid progress Google has made and expects it will continue to make.
Fusion power is seen as the holy grail for renewable and clean energy sources. Harnessing the power of the stars would propel mankind to extraordinary heights, and instantly resolve our growing energy crises to boot. Now thanks to the nuclear fusion experiments conducted by the Max Planck Institute of Physics in Germany, we're one step closer to unlocking the secrets of fusion power.
The world's largest nuclear fusion stellarator, the Wendelstein 7-X, has just made history by being the first stellarator-type fusion device to produce hydrogen plasma. Hydrogen plasma is vital to re-creating and molding the specific conditions of our Sun, thus facilitating fusion reactions.
"It's a very clean source of power, the cleanest you could possibly wish for. We're not doing this for us, but for our children and grandchildren," Karlsruhe Institute of Technology physicist John Jelonnek said.
Normal silicon circuits that use electricity aren't fast enough for NASA and the future of laser communication. So now NASA is looking to test a true photonic based modem to ensure the fastest, and most reliable, form of communication between space and the ground.
Photonic based computers and chips can provide an incredible amount of bandwidth, which can be crucial when communicating data, like how a modem just needs to pass data through as fast as possible. And they'll be applying this to their new laser communication system, the Laser Communication Relay Demonstration (LCRD).
This is a huge step in researching realistic and usable fast communication methods that can be used in space to travel long distances. This is almost an evolution of NASA's own OPALs, which is another laser communications experiment that's on the ISS. Essentially, the shot a high-powered laser beam at a tiny target on Earth to transmit packets of data. This new solution should be far faster and show that photonics can be an actual viable solution.
One of Google's DeepMind AI software programs AlphaGo has beaten the European champion of the board game Go. More than that, it beat him -- Fan Hui -- soundly: 5-0. The fear marks a major AI breakthrough pros predicted wouldn't happen for another decade.
"The technical idea that underlies it is the idea of reinforcement learning - getting computers to learn to improve their behaviour to achieve goals," said Prof Zoubin Ghahramani, of the University of Cambridge. "That could be used for decision-making problems - to help doctors make treatment plans, for example, in businesses or anywhere where you'd like to have computers assist humans in decision making."
The future holds a lot of technological marvels, but what happens when perfect robots make humans redundant in the workforce? It's actually already happening, says Neil deGrasse Tyson, and as long as we're more "intellectually nimble" going forward, we don't have to worry about it.
"Yes, robots have already taken over our jobs. So what it means is...If all you think about is the jobs today, and you project forward, there might be a day when robots take over every job we have today," Dr. deGrasse Tyson said. "Is that the future that will come? No, because we have innovative people in society, and we invent new things all the time. These require new jobs to manage them, to invent them, to conceive them, to engineer them."
The World Economics Forum already predicts that 5 million existing jobs will be lost to robots by 2020. That's a pretty big economic disruption, and generally seen as a warning sign by most hard-working people. But deGrasse Tyson says that humanity will be okay, as long as we keep stimulating ourselves intellectually.