Reforms to commercial and academic research systems still needed despite reaching spending milestone, say scientists.
By pouring cash into science and technology faster than its economy has expanded, China has for the first time overtaken Europe on a key measure of innovation: the share of its economy devoted to research and development (R&D).
In 2012, China invested 1.98% of its gross domestic product (GDP) into R&D — just edging out the 28 member states of the European Union (EU), which together managed 1.96%, according to the latest estimates of research intensity, to be released this month by the Paris-based Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).
If the human brain is considered a computer, what does that mean for science and our lives? Could we repair damaged areas, replace damaged parts, or even upgrade our own minds? It might sound like little more than the stuff of science fiction, but with current advances in brain-machine interfaces, science fiction is fast becoming science fact.
Jessica Feldman is a neuroscientist and PHD student at Brown University who is working with, among other projects, the BrainGate Group. BrainGate is a team of neurologists, neuroscientists, and other researchers all working towards a single goal: developing technologies that will restore the communication, mobility, and independence of people with neurological disease, injury, or limb loss.
The common term for this type of emerging technology is “brain-computer interfaces” (BCI), and it has the potential to change how we all interact with technology and the world around us at the most basic levels. Research into BCI began in the 1970s at UCLA under a grant from the National Science Foundation, and later DARPA. While research was initially limited to animals, the first human neuroprosthetic devices were implanted in the mid 1990s.
The human hand is a wonder of strength, sensitivity and discrimination — not only because of those four fingers and the opposable thumb, but also because of the human brain that controls it. No wonder, then, that for those who design hand prostheses, re-creating the natural dexterity of the brain-powered hand is a daunting challenge.
But a new study demonstrates that, with the aid of some artificial sensors and electrodes sunk into a user’s arm, a prosthetic hand can be made to detect the need for a firm grasp or a light touch, to make fine distinctions between an object’s texture, weight and size, and to respond accordingly with no detectable delay.
On the grand scale of things, we know so very little about the brain. Our thick-headedness isn’t quite cosmological in scale — we really do know almost nothing about the universe beyond Earth — but, when it comes down to it, the brain is virtually a black box. We know that stimuli goes in, usually through one of our senses, and motor neurons come out, but that’s about it. One thing you can do with a black box, however, is derive some semblance of a working model through brute force testing.
Take prosthetic arms, for example: We don’t have a clue about the calculations that occur in the brain to trigger arm muscle motor neurons, but that doesn’t stop us from slapping some electrodes onto a subject’s bicep muscles and measuring the electric pulses that occur when you tell him to “think about moving your arm.” By the same logic, a brain-computer interface can measure what our general cranial activity looks like when we’re thinking something and react accordingly, but it can only do this through training; it can’t actually understand our thoughts. Taking this one step further, though, Sheila Nirenberg of Cornell University has been trying to work out how the retina in your eye communicates with your brain — and judging by a recent talk at TEDMED (embedded below), it seems like she’s actually cracked it.
Technology has had a dramatic impact in healthcare. With the advancements of smartphones and tablets, and the number of medical devices, apps and peripherals being devised for them continues to grow everyday.
Recently, a Stanford engineer, Ada Poon, lead a project which has created tiny robotic medical devices that are powered by wireless technology.
According to Stanford University, the implantable machines are small enough to easily move through veins. These injectable nanobots can carry out medical tasks, gather diagnostics and even deliver drugs into the bloodstream.
A collaborative team of scientists and ethicists raised serious concerns about the trend of augmenting humans with technology.
The Royal Society, along with the Academy of Medical Sciences, British Academy, and Royal Academy of Engineering, recently concluded a workshop called Human Enhancement and the Future of Work in which they considered the growing impact and potential risks of augmentation technologies.
In their final report, the collaborative team of scientists and ethicists raised serious concerns about the burgeoning trend, and how humanity is moving from a model of therapy to one in which human capacities are greatly improved. The implications, they concluded, should be part of a much wider public discussion.
ANALYSIS: Immortality for Humans by 2045
Specifically, the report expressed concerns about drugs and digital technologies that will allow people to work harder, longer, and smarter. The resulting implications to work and human values, they argue, may not necessarily be a good thing. It's quite possible, they argue, that employers will start to demand (either implicitly or explicitly) that employees "augment" themselves with stimulants such as Aderall.
Similarly, the workshop considered the potential for other smart drugs that can enhance memory and attention, as well as physical and digital enhancements such as cybernetic implants and advanced machine-interfacing technologies.
How’s this for a crazy story, one of the employees at Valve (the makers of Half-Life and the Steam online games store) has detailed how he tested virtual reality contact lenses. PCGamesN.com has the scoop:
“The technician made me sit in a chair that reminded me uncomfortably of a dentist’s chair, and asked me if I had ever worn contact lenses; I hadn’t. “It’s OK,” she said, “it’ll just take a minute or two for your eyes to adjust.” Indeed, after a few eye drops, my eyes adjusted to the transparent lenses and I almost forgot they were there.”
Once Varoufakis had the lenses in he says that he was handed a small box with a silver dial. Turning this dial increased the visibility of the image that was to be projected onto the lenses.
The technician motioned and I started turning the dial. Suddenly, I saw him (an alien)! He was eight feet tall, and stood out behind the technician. The first thing I noticed was his expressive red eyes and the scales he was covered in. Faint steam emanated from his nostrils. With slow, steady steps, he moved to the right, revealing all of himself from behind the technician, who was obviously having fun with my expression. As prepared as I was, the sight of the alien took my breath away. Even though I knew it was just a projection from the contact lenses onto my optical nerve, logic was having trouble defeating my instincts, which screamed at me to run toward the nearest exit.”
Research on a new kind of carbon nanotube artificial muscle for Air Force aerospace and space applications, conceived and invented, at the University of Texas at Dallas (UTD) is receiving primary financial support from the Air Force Office of Scientific Research (AFOSR).
Dr. Ray Baughman, director of the NanoTech Institute at UTD, and his team of researchers have been working on artificial muscles for more than twenty years. The current phase of his pioneering work stems from an exploratory research program supported by AFOSR program manager, Dr. B-L "Les" Lee since 2006. The team invented many new types, including electrochemical carbon nanotube and conducting polymer muscles, as well fuel-powered muscles. The latter, powered chemically by alcohol or hydrogen, operate similarly to natural muscles. But they are limited in that they cannot function at extreme temperatures and have low efficiencies for energy conversion.
(Medical Xpress)—A team of researchers with the University of Texanderfful s has, for the first time, successfully grown a human lung in a lab. Project leads Dr. Joaquin Cortiella and Dr. Joan Nichols announced the landmark breakthrough to various members of the press this past week, describing the procedure and what was achieved.
Growing organs in the lab has become a reality in the past couple of years as scientists have learned more about stem cells and how they mature to become the cells that make up organs and other body parts. Windpipes, for example, have been successfully grown and implanted into human patients, and just last spring, a team of researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston successfully implanted lab grown kidneys into rats. In this new effort, the researchers have been focusing on growing one of the most complicated organs in the human body—the lungs.
There is no denying it any longer
we are just entering a great time of innovative technological advancement
reply to post by SLAYER69
I think these advances are wonderful.
But. . . .
I worry about the potential abuses. . . .
The fundamental ideas of transhumanism were first mooted in 1923 by the British geneticist J.B.S. Haldane in his essay Daedalus: Science and the Future, which predicted that great benefits would come from applications of advanced sciences to human biology — and that every such advance would first appear to someone as blasphemy or perversion, "indecent and unnatural". In particular, he was interested in the development of the science of eugenics, ectogenesis (creating and sustaining life in an artificial environment) and the application of genetics to improve human characteristics, such as health and intelligence.
I would be all over that, the ability to download knowledge right to the brain.
They just need to pour all their money into one augment,
The ability to increase the human brain to process and remember knowledge, ie through traditional means or "uploading" it to the brain. Say - learning theoretical physics in an hour.
I would be all over that, the ability to download knowledge right to the brain.