NASA is on the hunt for volunteers for a'social isolation' mission that simulates the psychological effects of confinement. In a nod to the current virus pandemic, the space agency is after healthy participants to live together in isolation for eight months in Moscow, Russia. The ground based'SIRIUS-20' mission will help NASA learn more about'the physiological and psychological effects of isolation and confinement on humans'. The chosen participants – who have to be'US citizens, between the ages of 30 to 55 and'highly motivated' – will experience'environmental aspects' similar to those astronauts will experience on future missions to the Moon and Mars. SIRIUS is an international mission conducted in the NEK, a ground-based analog facility in Moscow.
Babies know when you imitate them - and they perceive it as a sign of friendliness, according to a new study. Swedish research suggest the imitation game is an infant's favourite way of interacting with adults, making them more engaged and likely to approach an adult. In experiments, six-month-old babies looked and smiled longer, and tried to approach the adult more often during the close mirroring of their actions. Babies also responded to being imitated with'testing behaviour' – actions that encouraged the adult imitator to imitate in turn. Imitation on behalf of the adult helps nurture a baby's sensitivity to others and could be a driving force of driving early social cognition, the research team report.
'Portable coronavirus labs' built into shipping containers which can be moved about on a truck could provide a new low-cost way to process COVID-19 tests. The team say it is the first fully functional lab that can be'immediately deployed anywhere in the world' for coronavirus testing and can process 2,400 tests per day. The system uses low-cost liquid handling robots to detect the presence of the SARS-CoV-2 virus in samples submitted for testing by the public. 'Portable coronavirus labs' built into shipping containers which can be moved about on a truck could provide a new low-cost way to process COVID-19 tests. Called CONTAIN, it's an open source design using supplies and agents not owned by any one company - meaning it doesn't have the same supply chain constraints as other coronavirus testing services.
Gaming company Nvidia says that it's developed an artificial intelligence that can recreate playable games just by watching them. The AI is able to absorb visual inputs as well as whatever actions a player inputs into the game. It's then able to reproduce code that translates into a playable game. In a demonstration, Nvidia showed how its AI was able to re-construct a playable version of the game Pacman after just four days of watching gamers play it. The AI managed to recreate Pacman (pictured) by watching gameplay and looking at user inputs.
World record breaking broadband speeds have been recorded in Australia by scientists, who say they could download 1,000 HD movies in under a second. The team from Monash, Swinburne and RMIT universities recorded a speed of 44.2 terabits per second - the first time speeds like that have been recorded'in the wild'. This is a stark contrast to the average broadband speed in Australia - which is about 11 megabits per second, according to content delivery provider Akamai. For comparison there are a million megabits in a terabit - so the new 44.2 Tbps connection is 4 million times faster than the average 11Mbps speed.
Facial recognition technology can determine a person's personality by analysing an emotionless selfie, a study claims. Researchers built an artificial neural network that assessed 128 different factors of a person's face, such as the width of the mouth and the height of the lips or eyes. It used the data from these readings to categorise a person based on five personality traits: conscientiousness, neuroticism, extraversion, agreeableness, and openness. When compared to questionnaires filled in by the volunteers, the AI was accurate 58 per cent of the time. Researchers say pure chance would get this right 50 per cent of the time and humans are less consistent than the facial recognition method.
Facebook Messenger is getting an update designed to stop people being duped by scam artists on the app. Machine learning will detect telltale signs of nefarious activity and trigger in-app notifications which appear at the top of the conversation. These will prompt the user to consider the trustworthiness of the person approaching them and provide easy-to-access information on how to spot, and avoid, scams. Automatically generated in-app notifications have been slowly rolled out to Android Messenger users from March, Facebook claims. It is now also set to be distributed to worldwide iOS users next week.
Online dating giants are set to offer digital health passports to millions of UK singletons to prove they are free of coronavirus. Manchester-based cyber firm VST Enterprises (VSTE), is pioneering technology which it says can be used to safeguard daters when coronavirus restrictions are eased. The company says it has been approached for its digital health passports by several leading dating app companies. Tinder and Grindr are believed to be two of the dating apps that are waiting to launch them. The technology, called'VCode', would enable a doctor or nurse to upload the results of a government-approved Covid-19 test to the digital health passport.
Sphero, a toy manufacturer known for making simple, programmable robots for kids, has launched a new spinoff business to develop AI and robotics for law enforcement, first responders, and other government agencies. The new entity is called Company Six (CO6) and will build on technology Sphero had previously developed through its Public Safety Division. The company hasn't announced any clients or new projects, but promises to focus on'lightweight, yet highly advanced robotic solution that provides critical awareness for those we depend on the most, including police, fire, EMT, military, and others with dangerous jobs.' Sphero's Paul Berberian, who previously served in the US Air Force, will step down from his role as CEO and take a new title as Chairman of both companies, according to a report in CNet. 'This is an opportunity to continue to bring revolutionary robotics technology to new markets to improve the lives of more people, our future leaders, and people with essential and sometimes dangerous job functions,' he said in a prepared statement. Sphero says the company has sold more than four million robots since it was founded in 2010.
A bionic eye that is as sensitive as the human retina could give millions of people the chance to see again -- and will be available in just five years, a study reports. Named EC-EYE -- short for'ElectroChemical EYE' -- the eerie bio-mimetic device is around an inch wide and was built by researchers from Hong Kong and the US. The artificial eyeball creates images by means of an assortment of tiny sensors that mirror the light-detecting photoreceptor cells of its natural counterpart. These are packed into a membrane of aluminium and tungsten that is shaped into a half sphere -- mimicking a human retina. A bionic eye (pictured in this artist's impression) that is as sensitive as the human retina could give millions of people the chance to see again -- and will be available in just five years'Our "biomimetic" eye has a size comparable to a human eye -- a bit more than two cm in diameter,' said paper author and engineer Zhiyong Fan of Hong Kong University of Science and Technology.