by Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Phys.org
Spider silk, already known as one of the strongest materials for its weight, turns out to have another unusual property that might lead to new kinds of artificial muscles or robotic actuators, researchers have found.
The resilient fibers, the team discovered, respond very strongly to changes in humidity. Above a certain level of relative humidity in the air, they suddenly contract and twist, exerting enough force to potentially be competitive with other materials being explored as actuators—devices that move to perform some activity such as controlling a valve.
Continue reading Spider silk could be used as robotic muscle
by Jon Fingas, engadget
It could be useful for tiny parts in robotics, medicine and beyond.
It’s difficult to create nanoscale 3D objects. The techniques either tend to be slow (such as stacking layers of 2D etchings) or are limited to specific materials and shapes. MIT researchers might have a better way — they’ve devised a technique for making nanoscale versions of 3D objects using a wide variety of materials and shapes. The team ultimately reversed a process for imaging brain tissue, whittling a relatively large object down to a creation one thousandth its original size.
Continue reading MIT can shrink 3D objects down to nanoscale versions
by Rachel England, engadget
This will all be fine.
Despite our best intentions, keeping a houseplant alive can be a struggle for a lot of us. But that vague wave of sadness you feel when you end up unceremoniously dumping your potted pal in the bin is about to reach a new and slightly disturbing level, as researchers from MIT have found a way to use robotics to tap into plants’ human-like characteristics.
Continue reading MIT researchers create a robot houseplant that moves on its own
by Tom Simonite, MIT Technology Review
A startup uses algorithms that understand the anatomy of cells to discover new uses for existing drugs
Web users searching for photos and cops looking for suspects in video already benefit from software that understands the content of images. Chris Gibson says it can also make it easier to find treatments for diseases not targeted by existing drugs.
“By combining robotics and machine vision, we can work at large scale on hundreds of diseases simultaneously, using a small number of people,” says Gibson, who is CEO and co-founder of the 40-person startup Recursion Pharmaceuticals. Continue reading Machine Vision Helps Spot New Drug Treatments
by James Manyika, Michael Chui, Mehdi Miremadi, Jacques Bughin, Katy George, Paul Willmott, and Martin Dewhurst, McKinsey & Company
Automation is happening, and it will bring substantial benefits to businesses and economies worldwide, but it won’t arrive overnight. A new McKinsey Global Institute report finds realizing automation’s full potential requires people and technology to work hand in hand. Continue reading Harnessing automation for a future that works
by Sarah Pearce, HGM Legal
For the last decade or so, most of the ‘new’ legal challenges facing the IT industry have been driven by the Internet, mobile and cloud computing technologies that have altered almost every aspect of society. One of the key areas is in the field of privacy and data security. For larger technology companies, securing and protecting data are key competitive advantages, and privacy and data security are now commonplace on the corporate risk agenda. Another area is in the field of intellectual property (particularly, copyright and file sharing). These issues have created friction with existing laws and regulations, and have highlighted the fact that many laws/regulations have not kept pace with technological development. Continue reading Man or machine? Legal and ethical conundrums associated with robotics and AI
by David Nield, Science Alert
The generation after is anyone’s guess
A team of artificial intelligence (AI) experts has found no evidence that AI poses an imminent threat to humanity, which should come as good news if you’re feeling uneasy about the rapid advancements being made in robotics.
In fact, their report is pretty positive about everything AI-related, saying that within the next 15 years, the technology should be making all our lives better, particularly in the fields of transport, healthcare, education, and security. Continue reading The next generation of robots probably won’t want to kill us, say experts
by Natasha Lomas, TechCrunch
A UK parliamentary committee has urged the government to act proactively — and to act now — to tackle “a host of social, ethical and legal questions” arising from growing usage of autonomous technologies such as artificial intelligence. Continue reading AI accountability needs action now, say UK MPs