Science, Space, Health & Robotics News - Page 332
The European Southern Observatory's Council has announced that it has approved plans to start construction of the world's largest telescope, which will be built-in Chile, and completed by 2024.
Tim de Zeeuw, the Director General of the ESO said in a statement: "The decision taken by Council means that the telescope can now be built. Major industrial construction work for the E-ELT is now funded and can proceed according to plan". The ESO will build the massive telescope on top of a mountain in Chile called Cerro Armazones, in Chile's Atacama Desert.
Back in mid-2012, the telescope was approved, but construction could only start once 90% of the funding required had been secured. This has now obviously happened, with de Zeeuw adding: "the most powerful of all the extremely large telescope projects currently planned". How big will the telescope be? We should see it featuring a 39m aperture optical and infrared telescope, which means we should see scientists capable of seeing the details of Earth-sized exoplanets, and study star populations in nearby galaxies. de Zeeuw added: "the next few years will be very exciting".
Professor Stephen Hawking is concerned that artificial intelligence development will evolve to the point of AI being able to not only match - but surpass - human capabilities, opening up the door to potentially aid in the end of mankind.
"The development of full artificial intelligence could spell the end of the human race," Hawking recently told BBC. "It would take off on its own, and re-design itself at an ever increasing rate. Humans, who are limited by slow biological evolution, couldn't compete, and would be superseded."
Despite the concerns shown by Hawking, not everyone is worried about AI: "I believe we will remain in charge of the technology for a decently long time and the potential of it to solve many of the world problems will be realized," said Cleverbot creator Rollo Carpenter.
It seems more people are suffering from "Text Neck," a medical condition when people suffer from pain and damage due to the head and neck position of people texting on smartphones and using tablets. A mix of the angle - and gravity - is the equivalent of carrying 60 pounds, and with more people looking down, the problem only seems to be escalating.
"Everyone is heads down," said Kenneth Hansraj, chief of spine surgery at the New York Spine Surgery and Rehabilitation Medicine. "It's in every mall and in every city. It's my opinion that this kind of heads down position is the cause of pain and suffering on the planet and a contributor to spinal surgery."
Previous reports recommend users take breaks, let their eyes adjust on their natural environment, and stretch before continuing to use PCs, smartphones or tablets.
Robotics research has focused on factory automation, greeting customers in malls and shopping centers, but could one day soon have a new purpose: flying your meals and drinks to you while you dine at restaurants in Singapore. Infinium-Serve is the new fleet of autonomous flying robotic waiters that will be able to serve as waiters - and help reduce burden on labor problems in Singapore.
The robotic waiters could be deployed by the end of 2015, with Infinium Robotics currently trying to receive government grants to help pay for the project. Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong saw an in-person test of the Infinium-Serve earlier this year, however, it remains unknown where he stands on the research.
"Introducing this technology into restaurants would take away mundane tasks of serving food and drinks," said Woon Junyang, Infinium Robotics CEO, in a statement. "It will allow human waiters to focus on higher-value tasks such as getting feedback from customers. This will result in an enhanced dining experience, which will eventually lead to increased sales and revenue for the restaurants."
Using 3D printing technology to create replicas of the human heart presents the opportunity to save babies' lives, according to a new study submitted to the American Heart Association. Surgeons have the ability to better treat congenital heart defects, while also being able to strategize where they cut tissue and make other improvements.
The ability to 3D print hearts gives surgeons the opportunity to prepare prior to surgery, but it's unsure if heart replicas will help increase success from surgical outcomes. A clinical trial would give medical experts the chance to work on enough cases to see how 3D-printed hearts could help, especially among young children with complicated heart defects.
"From the first two cases straight out of the gate, we've had this dramatic impact," said Dr. Matthew Bramlet, pediatric cardiologist at the University of Illinois College of Medicine and Children's Hospital of Illinois and study co-author.
US soldiers in the field could be able to one day generate power using wearable technologies that also reduce the weight of their gear. The Maneuver Fires Integration Experiment (MFIX) project was conducted at Fort Benning earlier in the year, with researchers testing prototypes of energy-harvesting products.
The Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Center (NSRDEC) is leading the effort, with a focus on smaller, lightweight, and energy efficient batteries. Small amounts of energy can be harvested, and would have otherwise would have been wasted as heat, sound, vibration, movement or light, according to researchers.
"MFIX is looking at new concepts with energy-harvesting devices and how they fit in a tactical environment," said Noel Soto, NSRDEC Warfighter Directories' project engineer on the Power and Data Management Team.
In a comment made on an essay written by 'virtual godfather' Jaron Lanier, titled "The Myth of A.I." on Edge.org last week, SpaceX and Tesla founder Elon Musk the threats of AI might become real, and that he is worried that "the risk of something seriously dangerous happening is in the five year time frame. 10 years at most" according to CNET.
Musk posted his comments on the Edge.org, but they were quickly removed; not quick enough for some media outlets to pick it up, though. Musk talked about his involvement as an early investor in the British artificial intelligence company, DeepMind, which is now a cog in Google's ever-growing machine. He wrote: "The pace of progress in artificial intelligence (I'm not referring to narrow AI) is incredibly fast. Unless you have direct exposure to groups like DeepMind, you have no idea how fast-it is growing at a pace close to exponential".
The founder of SpaceX continued, saying that AI companies "recognize the danger" and are working toward controlling the "bad" superintelligences "from escaping the Internet". Well, that sounds safe enough.
Amazon is rolling out a fleet of robots that will help the company boost productivity and ensure timely deliveries ahead of what should be an extremely busy 2014 Christmas holiday shopping season. The robots can help locate and pick items, which are verified by a human picker before being boxed up and sent from the facility - the company will be able to save upwards of $900 million each year, with robotic assistance able to help save 20 percent to 40 percent per shipped order.
To help ensure it would have a robotics inventory it could call upon, Amazon purchased Robots maker Kiva Systems for $775 million in 2012 - and there have been more than 1,400 Kiva robots already working in Amazon's logistics chain.
Amazon tends to have successful shopping seasons, but as the US economy has recovered - and consumers have extra money to spend this Christmas - Amazon wants to ensure everything runs smoothly and customers will be happy.
YardArm is working with several police agencies in California and Texas, testing a mobile network-connected technology that sends signals when an officer unholsters and fires their weapon. The company originally developed a consumer technology that could monitor a weapon's location - but didn't find many interested customers. Instead, the company revamped and wanted to develop new solutions that could be used for potential police and military use.
"You have a social demand for smart gun technology, but not necessarily a market demand," said Jim Schaff, VP of marketing at YardArm. "As a consumer product, it's going to be a long road."
YardArm also is developing new methods to send wireless data of which direction a weapon is pointing, offering data that can be viewed via smartphone and fed to dispatch. If implemented, YardArm's technology could help prevent public outrage - and clear officers of wrongdoing - when officers use their weapons accordingly.
Silicon Valley startup Knightscope has developed the five-foot-tall, 300-pound K5 robot designed to serve as security robots for businesses wanting a new twist on traditional security patrols. The robots are currently being tested by Knightscope and will launch at a Silicon Valley company that can detect movement and behavior - and report back to a security center.
The K5 uses cameras, sensors and navigation equipment, giving the autonomous robot the ability to patrol while also avoiding obstacles. In addition to four high-definition cameras, the K5 has a license-plate recognition scanner, weather sensor, GPS, internal laser ranging instruments, four microphones, and Wi-Fi to communicate with operators.
"This takes away the monotonous and sometimes dangerous work, and leaves the strategic work to law enforcement or private security, depending on the application," said Stacy Stephens, Knightscope co-founder and VP of sales and marketing.