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On August 28, Elon Musk showed the world a live demo from his company Neuralink that showed his quest to merge human consciousness with AI, which could bring massive technological advances and improve the world of animal testing.

Founded in 2017, Neuralink has been working on trying to make a computer chip that could be implanted in a person's brain. This may sound like a sci-fi plot for many, even more if we talk about Musk’s long term plans of enabling people to do things like "save and replay memories," or summon their car telepathically.

On the demo, the device was embedded in a lab pig’s skull, which was attached using wires with electrodes capable of detecting, recording, and theoretically even stimulating brain activity. This will allow animal researchers that currently use a lot of neural implants on animal test subjects involving wires poking out through the skin, will now have a completely wireless link covered by the skin that reduces the risk of infection.

Although Neuralink might bring many benefits to scientific research, for example by finding new treatments for Parkinson's disease, experts are also wary that this technology could one day be used to enhance human cognition, blending it with AI, or worse.

Therefore, it’s very important to regulate these new advancements in technology, as well as to remind ourselves how to use it for the benefit of our species and the environment - not for the greed and greed of a few.

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Neuralink

On September 15, Apple held its annual event where all their latest hardware and services are showcased to the whole wide world. Even though the new iPhone wasn’t part of the presentation, the company still showed off a range of gadgets that will keep users busy with in the meantime. These were the main features:

  • Apple Watch Series 6 & SE: The new Apple Watch models offer a similar design to the previous-generation ones, but add a few new colors and added a sensor to track blood oxygen saturation plus a new processor -- called the S6 chip, which is 20% faster. The SE, starting at $279 is the budget-priced version which includes many of the new Apple Watch features.

  • iPad & iPad Air: The new iPad features an edge-to-edge10.9-inch Liquid Retina display and the Apple A14 Bionic processor, which is the chip that’s expected to be featured in the iPhone 12. The entry level iPad gets the Apple A12 Bionic chip for improved performance and offers a 40% GPU boost over the last-generation model.

  • Apple One: The brand new Apple One subscription service allows users to bundle Apple’s services into one monthly payment, including iCloud, Apple Music, Apple Arcade, Apple Fitness+ and Apple News+. Subscriptions start at $14.95, an individual plan that includes Apple Music, Apple TV+, Apple Arcade, and 50GB of iCloud.

  • Apple Fitness+: This new fitness service will give users the possibility to do workouts such as yoga, cycling, aerobics and much more from their Apple Watch, while still showing information such as a user’s heart rate. The service will cost $9.99 per month or $79.99 per year, and is available for the iPhone, iPad, and Apple TV.

2021 is just round the corner. It will definitely be a year full of surprises on the Apple front, no doubt about it.

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Apple 2020

Scientists at the University of Sheffield are studying the way bees adapt to their environment in order to develop a software that could lead to drones being powered by artificial intelligence software. Is that cool or what? The idea is to reverse engineer bee brains to create the drone prototype by attaching a tiny radar to their back and analyzing their flightpaths.

Bees are incredible visual navigators and they can navigate complex 3D environments with minimal learning, as opposed to typical AI and machine learning systems designed by human engineers which can’t compute what they see as efficiently as a bee.

There is also research being done for inserting a small electrode into a tethered bee’s brain while it moves around a virtual reality environment in the lab. After it navigates the VR environments and recording its brain, scientists will then correlate the neural signs with the bee’s movements. Only around 25% of a bee’s brain has been modelled, but that has already been enough for scientists to have bee-like robots flying around their labs, learning information from their surroundings.

This development can be both beneficial or bring serious consequences to the way we live. If this technology ends up in the wrong hands, our physical and digital privacy could be compromised. Also, regulators will have to be confident that having drones flying around the city will be safe, and they don’t fall from the sky injuring people.

Sounds like science fiction, right? Let’s buzz off and let scientists do their job and continue being amazed at what the 21st century brings our way!

Drone Bees

It was just a couple of years ago since 5G networks began to go live, but research for 6G is quickly pacing up and Samsung is a perfect example of it. The Korean company is preparing to launch 6G two years ahead of the predicted 2030 timeframe, and would offer 50 times higher peak data rates than 5G. Plus,it promises to reduce air latency from 5G’s under 1 millisecond to under 100 microseconds.

Developers state that 6G technology will be needed to enable a truly immersive extended reality, allowing more powerful XR headsets to be released. 6G is also expected to allow holographic displays on future smartphone models, enabling people, objects, and places to be fully replicated digitally on it. It is also expected for AI to take a more significant role on smartphones with the use of 6G networks.

In short, with the coming of 6G networks we may be able to enjoy more powerful VR and XR systems, intelligent robotics at our fingertips, interconnected cities and much more. 6G will be able to deliver a speed of 1 terabyte per second - compared to 5G top of 10 Gigabytes per second!

It is possible to have international standardization of 6G to begin in 2021, with Samsung’s plans for the earliest commercialization to happen as early as 2028. With many of us still getting accustomed to 5G and its features, we may feel 6G and its promise for an even greater technological capability already upon us.

6G TECH

Nasa researchers are working on creating bricks from yard waste, wood chips and a fungi colony called mycelium to build lunar bases and Mars outposts in the future! This mass of nutrient-absorbing, widely branching underground threads that make up much of a fungus’s bulk might be key to grow habitats without having to carry expensive and heavy building materials on our backs.

Scientists plan to ship dormant fungus to a Moon base and there provide it with the right conditions to trigger growth. Once these mycelium colonies grow into the shape of a structure, it could be heat-treated to kill it and turn it into a compact brick.

Moon and Martian habitats will consist of three layers: the top will consist of water ice that can be sourced locally, that would shield human residents from harmful radiation. The middle layer will contain tiny photosynthesizing microbes called cyanobacteria that produce oxygen for humans and nutrients for the fungal mycelia.

The third layer will provide the main structure of the habitat and is made out of the mycelium bricks that would also be used to filter water and extract minerals from their sewage. Moreover, these bricks have a higher bend strength than reinforced concrete and a higher compression strength than lumber.

At the same time, researchers around the world are also investigating the potential of 3D printing to construct habitats in our future space colonies! Only time will tell if our generation will be able to have dinner inside a Martian crater.

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