People have used them from 4000 BC when Mesopotamian farmers began to first saturate the soil with oxygen with the help of sharpened sticks. Since then we slowly improve them, but modern plows — the wonders of technology.
But what is the purpose of the plow in reality?".
Robots learn how to deal with the physical world.
Despite all the talk about the fact that the machines take work, industrial robots are still clumsy and flexible. The robot can repeatedly finding the component on the Assembly lines with amazing accuracy and never a dull moment, but move the object a fraction of an inch, or replace it with something slightly different, and the machine will clumsily fumble on a surface or enough air.
Although the robot was not yet programmed to understand how to grab any object, look at it as humans do, now he can learn to manage yourself through a virtual trial and error.
One of these projects — Dactyl, the robot that taught itself to turn the toy cube in his hand. Dactyl, which developed the nonprofit organization OpenAI, is a single robot arm, surrounded by an array of light sources and cameras. Using the so-called learning enhancement, software based on neural networks, the robot learned to grab and turn the cube in a simulated environment, before doing this trick myself. Experiments, random at first, further strengthen the ties in the network over time, bringing the robot to the goal.
Usually transfer this kind of virtual practice in the real world is impossible, because things like friction or different properties of different materials are hard to model. OpenAI team bypassed this by adding randomness in virtual learning and giving to the robot an example of the mess of reality.
A new wave of nuclear power
Advanced reactors nuclear fission and fusion closer to reality.
New nuclear designs that gathered momentum in the past year, promise to make this energy source safer and cheaper. Among them — the fission reactors of IV generation, an evolution of the traditional design; small modular reactors; reactors for synthesis, which has always been something unattainable. Engineers of the generation IV reactors, like the canadian Terrestrial Energy and the Washington TerraPower, has partnered with utilities, hoping to establish a supply into the grid by 2020.
Small modular reactors typically produce tens of megawatts of power (for comparison, the typical nuclear reactor produces about 1000 MW). Companies like NuScale Oregon claim that the miniature reactors will be able to save money and reduce environmental risks.
There was also an progress in the field of synthesis. Although no one expects deliveries up to 2030, companies such as General Fusion and Fusion Systems Commonwealth, an offshoot of MIT, has made some progress. Many believe that fusion is a pipe dream, but since the reactors will not be able to melt and create long-lived radioactive waste, a society more willing to go to their distribution, in contrast to conventional nuclear reactors. Bill gates has invested in TerraPower and the Commonwealth Fusion Systems, by the way.
Prediction of preterm infants
A simple blood test can predict whether there is a risk of preterm birth in a pregnant female.
Our genetic material lives mostly inside our cells. But a small number of "cell-free" DNA and RNA also swim in our blood, often standing out dying cells. In pregnant women this acellular material is an alphabetic soup of nucleic acids of the fetus, placenta and mother.
Stephen Quake, a bioengineer at Stanford, has found a way to use this broth for the solution of one of the most difficult problems of medicine: approximately every tenth child is born prematurely.
Free-floating DNA and RNA can provide information that previously required invasive ways of capturing cells, like tumor biopsy or puncture of the abdomen of a pregnant woman to perform amniocentesis. It is now easier to detect and to sequence a small amount of cell-free genetic material in the blood. In the last few years, scientists have begun to develop blood tests for cancer (for detection of DNA of tumor cells) and prenatal screening for conditions like down syndrome.
Tests for such conditions rely on finding genetic mutations in DNA. RNA, on the other hand, is a molecule that regulates gene expression — how much protein is a gene. Sequeira free-floating RNA in the mother's blood, Quake was able to detect variations in the expression of seven genes, which he associates with premature birth. This allowed him to identify the women with a certain probability to give birth prematurely. After the alarm doctors can prescribe precautions and control and give the child a greater chance of survival.
According to Quake, the technology underlying blood test quick, easy and costs less than $ 10 for measurement. Together with colleagues, he launched a startup Akna Dx to put the analysis on the stream.
The intestinal probe in the tablet
A small device that you can swallow, makes detailed images of the colon without anesthesia, even in infants and children.
Environmental enteric dysfunction caused by environmental (EED), could be one of the most costly diseases, many of which you've heard. Marked inflammation of the intestines, which transmits and poorly absorbs nutrients, it is widespread in poor countries and is one of the reasons why people suffer from malnutrition, are stunted and never reach normal growth. No one knows what exactly causes this disorder, how to prevent it or to treat it.
Practical screening for its detection would help practitioners to know when and how to intervene. Therapy is available for infants, but the diagnosis and study of disease in the gut of such young children often require anesthesia and the introduction of the endoscope in the throat. It is expensive, inconvenient and impractical in parts of the world where there is this bowel dysfunction.
So Guillermo Tierney, pathologist and engineer at the Massachusetts General hospital in Boston, is developing a small device that can be used to check the bowel for signs of EED or even obtaining a biopsy of tissues. In contrast to endoscopes, they are easy to use when rendering first aid.
Tierney capsules for swallowing contain miniature microscopes. They are attached to a flexible threadlike wire that provides power and coverage when sending images to the console monitor. This gives the health worker an opportunity to suspend the capsule in interesting places and get it at the end, and then to sterilize it and reuse. Although it sounds strange, team Tierney have developed a method that does not cause discomfort. It also allows you to capture the entire surface of the digestive tract with a resolution down to single cells or to capture three-dimensional cross-sections of a depth of a few millimeters.
The technology has several applications; it is used for screening of Barrett's esophagus, precursor to esophageal cancer. For EED team Tierney has developed a smaller version for children who cannot swallow a pill. It was tested on Teens from Pakistan, where the common EED, and the infant test is scheduled for 2019.
A small probe will help researchers to answer questions about the development of the EED, for example what cells it affects and what kind of bacteria is involved and to evaluate intervention and potential treatments.
Individual cancer vaccines
This treatment encourages the body's natural defenses to destroy cancer cells, identifying mutations unique to each tumor.
Scientists are on the verge of commercializing the first personalized anti-cancer vaccine. If it will work as planned, such a vaccine inducing the immune system to identify tumor in her unique mutations that can effectively disable certain types of cancer.
Using the body's natural defenses for the selective destruction of tumor cells, this vaccine, unlike traditional chemotherapies, limits the damage to healthy cells. The attacking immune cells will be alert to the appearance of any stray cancer cells after initial treatment.
The possibility of such vaccines began to take shape in 2008, five years after the completion of the Human Genome Project, human genome project, when geneticists published the first sequence of the cancer tumor cells.
Shortly thereafter, scientists began to compare the DNA of tumor cells with the DNA of healthy cells and other tumor cells. These studies confirmed that all cancer cells contain hundreds, if not thousands of specific mutations, most of which are unique to each tumor.
A few years later, the German startup BioNTech has provided compelling evidence that a vaccine containing copies of such mutations, can catalyze the immune system into production of T-cells, designed to find, attack and destroy all cancer cells.
In December 2017 BioNTech in conjunction with the biotechnology giant Genentech began a massive testing of the vaccine in cancer patients. Ongoing research is aimed at 10 cancer and plans to cover 560 patients around the globe.
Both companies are developing new production technology to cheaply and quickly produce thousands of individual vaccines. It will be difficult, because the vaccine includes a biopsy of the tumor, sequencing and analysis of its DNA and the transfer of this information to the production site. After the production of vaccine should be immediately taken to hospital; delay can be fatal.
A Burger without a cow
How lab-grown, and vegetable options are close to the same taste and nutrients of real meat, without causing damage to the environment.
The UN expects that by 2050, the world will be 9.8 billion people. And these people get richer. None of these trends does not Bode well for climate change, especially because when people leave from poverty, they begin to eat more meat.
To this date, according to predictions, people will consume 70% more meat than in 2005. And it turns out that raising animals for food is one of the worst of our actions towards the environment.
Depending on the animal, produce one kilogram of meat protein Western industrial methods requires 8 to 50 times more water in the 12 – 34 times more land and 12 to 40 times more fossil fuel than the production of a kilogram of vegetable protein.
The problem is that people are unlikely to stop to use the meat for food soon. This means that lab-grown meat and vegetable alternatives can be the best way to limit the destruction.
Meat production in the laboratory involves taking the muscle from the animal and cultivated in bioreactors. The final product looks like natural, however, scientists are still working on the taste. Scientists from Maastricht University in the Netherlands working on large-scale production of lab meat, I think that will grow a Burger in the lab next year. One of the drawbacks of laboratory grown meat is that in this case, the benefits to the environment are minimal — carbon emissions will be reduced at best by 7%.
As a variant — to make the meat plant-based, as is done Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods (bill gates, by the way, is an investor in both companies). They get their protein peas, soybeans, wheat, potatoes and vegetable oil to mimic the texture and flavor of animal meat.
Beyond Meat has 2400 square meters of land in California and have sold over 25 million burgers in 30,000 shops and restaurants. Chop Beyond Meat will probably generate 90% less greenhouse gas emissions than a normal Burger made from cows.
Trap carbon dioxide
Practical and affordable ways to capture carbon dioxide from the air could absorb the excess greenhouse gas emissions.
Even if we slow down carbon dioxide emissions, the warming effect of greenhouse gases can persist for thousands of years. To prevent a dangerous temperature rise, according to the UN, the world in this century will need to remove from the atmosphere 1 trillion tons of carbon dioxide.
Last summer, the Harvard climate scientist David Keith has calculated that theoretically the machine can handle it for less than $ 100 per ton if they use the method of direct air capture. It is much cheaper than earlier estimates that have forced many scientists to abandon the technology as too expensive, although it will take years that the costs have fallen to such a level.
But when you catch the carbon, you still have to figure out what to do with it.
Canadian startup Carbon Engineering, which Kate founded in 2009, plans to expand its pilot program and to increase the production of synthetic fuels using captured carbon dioxide as the key ingredient. (Bill gates has invested in Carbon Engineering).
Located in Zurich factory direct air capture Climeworks will produce methane from carbon dioxide and hydrogen, and a second plant in Switzerland to sell carbon dioxide for the soft drinks industry.
However, when used in a synthetic fuel or soda, the carbon dioxide will go back into the atmosphere. The ultimate goal is to permanently block the emission of greenhouse gases. Some of them can be docked in carbon fiber, polymers or concrete, but where it would be easier just to put them underground. Only in this case, this business model few support.
In fact, the removal of CO2 from the air, from an engineering point of view, is one of the most difficult and expensive ways of dealing with climate change. But given how slowly we are reducing emissions, good options are left.
ECG on your wrist
Regulatory approval and technological advances make it easier for people constant monitoring of the heart using wearable devices.
Fitness trackers — frivolous medical device. Intense exercise or loose strap can confuse the sensor that reads your pulse. But the EKG that doctors use to diagnose disorders before they cause a stroke or heart attack requires a visit to the clinic, and often people simply do not have time to take the test on time.
Smart watch with support for ECGs made possible thanks to the new rules and innovations in hardware and software, offer the convenience of a wearable device with an accuracy close to precision medical.
Strap for Apple Watch, developed by AliveCor that can detect atrial fibrillation, a frequent cause of blood clots and strokes, have received FDA approval in 2017. Last year, Apple released its own function of an ECG, integrated in the watch.
Shortly thereafter, the company Withings has also announced plans to purchase a watch with ECG.
In modern wearable devices are still used only one sensor, whereas in real ECG 12. And none of the wearable devices is not yet able to detect a heart attack when it comes.
But that may change soon.
Sanitation without sanitation
Energy-efficient toilets can work even without the sewage systems and to treat waste on site.
About 2.3 billion people lack access to sanitation. The lack of working toilets encourages people to dump fecal matter into nearby ponds and streams, spreading bacteria, viruses and parasites that can cause diarrhea and cholera. Diarrhea is the cause of the death of one of the nine children all over the world.
Scientists are working to develop a new kind of toilet that will be cheap enough for the developing world and can not only collect, but also to dispose of waste.
In 2011 bill gates has created a kind of X Prize in this area — competition "re-invent the toilet". Since launch, several teams presented their prototypes. All wastes are processed locally, so there is no need for a large amount of water to carry them into the sewer.
Also consider the options heated waste to produce the carbon-rich material to fertilize the soil.
"Smooth" speaking virtual assistants
New methods, able to capture semantic relationships between words, make machines better at understanding natural language.
We are accustomed to virtual assistants — Alexa plays music in the living room, Siri sets alarms on my phone — but they have not yet lived up to their expectations in terms of manifestations of intelligence. They were supposed to make our lives easier, but hardly scratched the soil. They recognize only a narrow range of commands and easily disrupted.
Some of the latest developments need to expand the repertoire digital assistants. In June 2018, researchers from the OpenAI developed a technique, which teaches the AI untagged text for you, avoiding spending money and time on the classification and labeling of all data manually. A few months later Google introduced the BERT system that learned to predict the missing words by studying millions of sentences. In the test with multiple choice he did as well as people in filling the gaps.
These improvements, combined with better speech synthesis allows us to move from simple instructions to assistants AI to talk with them. They will enable them to cope with simple tasks like jot notes about meetings, information search and online purchases.
Some are already ready. Google Duplex, surprisingly "human" Google update Assistant can take your calls from spammers and sellers from the TV. It can also make calls on your behalf to schedule your restaurant or buy tickets.
In China, users have become accustomed to AliMe from Alibaba, which coordinates the delivery of packages on the phone and traded on the prices of the items in chat.
But at least program the AI to better understand what you want, they still do not understand the proposal. Lines are compiled or generated by statistically demonstrating how difficult it is to give computers an understanding of the language. When we overcome this obstacle, we will see another revolution. Coordinator-logistics — to the nurse, teacher or even friend.
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