The patient appeared to be dying. She had chronic lung disease, and she had been told she had little reserve left and had barely survived on home oxygen for the past few years. Each time she picked up a lung infection, the buzzards circled closer. Now she had tripped, fallen, broken a bone, had surgery, and her subsequent infection seemed to have pushed her past the point of no return. Still, I held off the palliative care/comfort care team for as long as I could, and she rallied.
Robots might be a little more appealing -- and more practical -- if they're not made of hard, cold metal or plastic, but of a softer material. Researcher at Brown University believe they've developed a new material that could be ideal for "soft robotics." It's already demonstrated that it can pick up small, delicate objects, and it could form customized microfluidic devices -- sometimes called "labs-on-a-chip" and used for things like spotting aggressive cancers and making life-saving drugs in the field. The 3D-printed hydrogel is a dual polymer that's capable of bending, twisting or sticking together when treated with certain chemicals. One polymer has covalent bonds, which provide strength and structural integrity.
Artificial intelligence raises exciting possibilities for healthcare, but are companies promising more than they can deliver? But artificial intelligence's potential also comes with an incredible level of hype. "AI has the most transformative potential of anything I've seen in my life, and I graduated medical school 40 years ago. It's the biggest thing I've ever seen by far," prominent cardiologist and author Dr. Eric Topol told Medical Design & Outsourcing. "But it's more in promise than it is in reality."
Our brains are incredibly good at processing faces, and even have specific regions specialized for this function. But what face dimensions are we observing? Do we observe general properties first, then look at the details? Or are dimensions such as gender or other identity details decoded interdependently? In a study published in Nature Communications, neuroscientists at the McGovern Institute for Brain Research measured the response of the brain to faces in real-time, and found that the brain first decodes properties such as gender and age before drilling down to the specific identity of the face itself.
Medical artificial intelligence breaks a little too easily. Although AI promises to improve healthcare by quickly analysing medical scans, there is increasing evidence that it trips up on seemingly innocuous changes. Sam Finlayson at Harvard Medical School and his colleagues fooled three AIs designed for scanning medical images into misclassifying them by simply altering a few pixels. In one example, the team ever so slightly altered a picture of a mole that was first classified as benign with 99 per cent confidence. The AI then classified the altered image as malignant with 100 per cent confidence, despite the two images being indistinguishable to the human eye.
Three years later Daniel Kreitman still chokes up when he talks about what he saw, and how it changed him. Kreitman, an upholsterer by trade, had taken psilocybin, a hallucinogen derived from mushrooms, in a trial at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine for nicotine addiction. He was 52, and he'd smoked between one and two packs a day for nearly 40 years. After his first psilocybin session, his urge to smoke was gone. During his third and final session, he had the vision that helped him quit for good. He saw lakes, roads, and mountains, and a broad-shouldered man at the helm of a ship, lassoing birds. Was it his dead father? But he remembers giggling and feeling good. Music was playing in his headphones.
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, the 18th-century poet and philosopher, believed life was hardwired with archetypes, or models, which instructed its development. Yet he was fascinated with how life could, at the same time, be so malleable. One day, while meditating on a leaf, the poet had what you might call a proto-evolutionary thought: Plants were never created "and then locked into the given form" but have instead been given, he later wrote, a "felicitous mobility and plasticity that allows them to grow and adapt themselves to many different conditions in many different places." A rediscovery of principles of genetic inheritance in the early 20th century showed that organisms could not learn or acquire heritable traits by interacting with their environment, but they did not yet explain how life could undergo such shapeshifting tricks--the plasticity that fascinated Goethe. A polymathic and pioneering British biologist proposed such a mechanism for how organisms could adapt to their environment, upending the early field of evolutionary biology.
Fei-Fei Li heard the crackle of a cat's brain cells a couple of decades ago and has never forgotten it. Researchers had inserted electrodes into the animal's brain and connected them to a loudspeaker, filling a lab at Princeton with the eerie sound of firing neurons. "They played the symphony of a mammalian visual system," she told an audience Monday at Stanford, where she is now a professor. The music of the brain helped convince Li to dedicate herself to studying intelligence--a path that led the physics undergraduate to specializing in artificial intelligence, and helping catalyze the recent flourishing of AI technology and use cases like self-driving cars. These days, though, Li is concerned that the technology she helped bring to prominence may not always make the world better.
The'world's first' AI-powered hearing aid connects to your smartphone and can translate speech into 27 different languages, say its creators. Experts claim to have mastered near-real time translation of Arabic, Japanese and French, among others, by listening for the foreign language and relaying it to the phone. The device is akin to the fictitious alien Babel fish that performs instant translations in comedy science fiction series The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. Creators Starkeys claim the technology reduces noisy environments by 50 per cent, while artificial intelligence optimises the hearing experience and its translation is compatible to Google Translate in terms of accuracy. The Livio AI, which is now on sale in the UK and costs £3,000 ($3,900), also has brain tracking technology and Alexa connectivity, and interfaces with the mobile app, Thrive Hearing.
As part of its continued mission to help build a better world, MIT is establishing the Alana Down Syndrome Center, an innovative new research endeavor, technology development initiative, and fellowship program launched with a $28.6 million gift from Alana Foundation, a nonprofit organization started by Ana Lucia Villela of São Paulo, Brazil. In addition to multidisciplinary research across neuroscience, biology, engineering, and computer science labs, the gift will fund a four-year program with MIT's Deshpande Center for Technological Innovation called "Technology to Improve Ability," in which creative minds around the Institute will be encouraged and supported in designing and developing technologies that can improve life for people with different intellectual abilities or other challenges. The Alana Down Syndrome Center, based out of MIT's Picower Institute for Learning and Memory, will engage the expertise of scientists and engineers in a research effort to increase understanding of the biology and neuroscience of Down syndrome. The center will also provide new training and educational opportunities for early career scientists and students to become involved in Down syndrome research. Together, the center and technology program will work to accelerate the generation, development, and clinical testing of novel interventions and technologies to improve the quality of life for people with Down syndrome.