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The Independent - Tech


'Swapping bodies' changes a person's personality, study reveals

The Independent - Tech

Swapping bodies with another person would have a profound effect on the subject's behaviour and even their personality, a new study has revealed. Scientists at the Karolinska Institutet in Sweden discovered a way to allow people to experience the effect of swapping bodies, through a perceptual illusion, in order to understand the relationship between a person's psychological and physical sense of self. They found that when pairs of friends "switched bodies", each friend's personality became more like the other. "Body swapping is not a domain reserved for science fiction anymore," said Pawel Tacikowski, a postdoctoral researcher at the institute and lead author of the study. In order to create the illusion that the study's subjects had switched bodies, Dr Tacikowski and his team fitted them with virtual reality goggles showing live feeds of the other person's body from a first-person perspective.


Billion-dollar quantum computing and AI fund announced by US

The Independent - Tech

The US plans to invest $1 billion (£760 million) in quantum computing and artificial intelligence research, the White House has announced. The initiative will fund 12 hubs around the country and help the US in its bid to compete with China and Europe in two of the most promising next-generation technologies. US Chief Technology Officer Michael Kratsios described the investment as "unprecedented" and a "defining achievement" of the Trump administration. "Built upon the uniquely American free market approach to technological advancement, these institutes will be world-class hubs for accelerating American innovation and building the 21st century American workforce," he said in a statement. Governments around the world are investing heavily in the development of AI and quantum computers, as well as technology giants like Alphabet and Alibaba.


YouTube removes record number of videos as human moderators replaced by AI

The Independent - Tech

YouTube has removed more videos in the second quarter of 2020 than ever before. During the coronavirus pandemic, when the video sharing site could not rely on its human moderators as much as previously, YouTube increased its use of automated filters in order to take down videos that could potentially violate its policies. YouTube says that it usually relies on a combination of its employees and its algorithmic systems. Human reviews train the machine learning systems, which are capable of handling many more issues than people can. The company said that during the pandemic it has "cast a wider net" than usual in order to ensure that content is quickly removed, rather than choosing to "dial back our technology and limit our enforcement to only what could be handled with our diminished review capacity".


Scientists create 'army of tiny walking robots' in major breakthrough

The Independent - Tech

Scientists have been able to create an army of tiny, walking robots in a new breakthrough. The objects are the first microscopic robots that are made out of semiconductor components. That allows them to be controlled and forced to walk with standard electronic signals, allowing them to be integrated into more traditional circuits. The researchers behind the discovery now hope that they can be built into even more complex versions. That could allow for future robots to be able to be controlled by computer chips, produced en masse – and built in such a way that they could travel through human tissue and blood, acting like surgeons, the researchers say.


Algorithm finds 50 hidden planets missed by human scientists

The Independent - Tech

An artificial intelligence algorithm has discovered 50 new potential planets that were missed by humans. It analysed data from telescope missions such as Nasa's Kepler and TESS (Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite), which looks for signs of distant planets. As well as being trained to recognise real planets, the algorithm could also detect false positives. Once that was done, researchers from Warwick's Departments of Physics and Computer Science, ran the algorithm against unconfirmed potential planets from Kepler data, finding the new worlds. Previous machine learning tools have ranked planets' likelihood of being planets, but have never been able to determine the probability that they are exoplanets, the scientists said.


Neuralink: Elon Musk promises to show a working brain-computer chip for 'human-AI symbiosis'

The Independent - Tech

Elon Musk has said he will demonstrate a functional brain-computer interface this week during a live presentation from his mysterious Neuralink startup. The billionaire entrepreneur, who also heads SpaceX and Tesla, founded Neuralink in 2016 with the ultimate aim of merging artificial intelligence with the human brain. Until now, there has only been one public event showing off the startup's technology, during which Musk revealed a "sewing machine-like" device capable of stitching threads into a person's head. The procedure to implant the chip will eventually be similar in speed and efficiency to Lasik laser eye surgery, according to Musk, and will be performed by a robot. The robot and the working brain chip will be unveiled during a live webcast at 3pm PT (11pm BST) on Friday, Musk tweeted on Tuesday night.


Hundreds of astronomers warn Elon Musk's Starlink satellites could limit scientific discoveries

The Independent - Tech

Hundreds of astronomers have warned that satellite constellations like Elon Musk's Starlink network could prove "extremely impactful" to astronomy and scientific progress. A report by the Satellite Constellations 1 (Satcon1) workshop found that that constellations of bright satellites will fundamentally change ground-based optical and infrared astronomy and could impact the appearance of the night's sky for stargazers around the world. The research brought together more than 250 astronomers, satellite operators and dark-sky advocates to better understand the astronomical impact of large satellite constellations. "We find that the worst-case constellation designs prove extremely impactful to the most severely affected science programs," stated the report, which was published on Tuesday. Elon Musk's SpaceX plans to launch more than 30,000 Starlink satellites in order to beam high-speed internet down to Earth.


Nintendo Switch: New, premium version of games console planned with 4K graphics and more computing power, report claims

The Independent - Tech

Nintendo could be planning a new, premium version of the Switch with 4K graphics and better performance, according to new reports. The company is planning to release a version of the portable console with better specifications next year, according to a new Bloomberg report, which follows other similar leaks from the supply chain. The original Switch was released in 2017. While Nintendo has released other versions since – including upgrading its battery life as well as releasing a Lite version that did away with the option to plug into a television – the console has gone largely unchanged since that first release. The addition of 4K graphics and other upgraded features would come as rival console makers release new products with vastly upgraded hardware.


AI pilot thoroughly beats human in F-16 dogfight, marking major breakthrough for artificial intelligence

The Independent - Tech

An AI pilot has defeated a US Air Force pilot in a virtual F-16 dogfight in a "coming of age" moment for artificial intelligence. The US military's AlphaDogfight Trials was organised by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (Darpa) - a secretive branch of the US Department of Defense responsible for the development of futuristic technologies. It sought to demonstrate the "feasibility of developing effective, intelligent autonomous agents capable of defeating adversary aircraft in a dogfight." The winning AI pilot, developed by Heron Systems, defeated other AI adversaries before going on to beat a human pilot wearing a VR helmet by a score of 5 - 0 in the final. "We've gotten an opportunity to watch AI come of age [against] a very credible adversary in the human pilot," said Col. Dan Javorsek, program manager in Darpa's Strategic Technology Office.


Mummified animals from ancient Egypt 'digitally unwrapped' to unlock mysteries

The Independent - Tech

Researchers have "digitally unwrapped" mummified animals from ancient Egypt, revealing previously undiscovered details about ritualistic mummification. Analysis of the 2,000-year-old animals – which include a bird, a kitten and a snake – was done using a technique that achieves a resolution 100-times higher than a medical CT scan. "Using micro CT we can effectively carry out a post-mortem on these animals, more than 2,000 years after they died in ancient Egypt," said Professor Richard Johnston from Swansea University, who led the research. "We were able to piece together new evidence of how they lived and died, revealing the conditions they were kept in, and possible causes of death. "These are the very latest scientific imaging techniques.