Tag: brain

Samsung to release its own artifical intelligence helper

mybrainhurtsSamsung is to launch an artificial intelligence digital assistant service for its upcoming Galaxy S8 smartphone.

It had been expected. Samsung recently bought Viv Labs, a firm run by a co-creator of Apple Siri voice assistant. Samsung plans to integrate the outfit’s AI platform, called Viv, into the Galaxy smartphones and expand voice-assistant services to home appliances and wearable technology devices.

Samsung wants its Galaxy S8 to help revive smartphone momentum after scrapping the fire-prone Galaxy Note 7. Investors and analysts say the Galaxy S8 must be a strong device for Samsung to win back customers and revive earnings momentum.

Samsung did not comment on what types of services would be offered through the AI assistant that will be launched on the Galaxy S8, which is expected to go on sale early next year. It said the AI assistant would allow customers to easily use third-party services.

Samsung Executive Vice President Rhee Injong said that developers can attach and upload services to Samsung’s AI.

“Even if Samsung doesn’t do anything on its own, the more services that get attached the smarter this agent will get, learn more new services and provide them to end-users with ease,” he said.

Google is widely considered to be the leader in AI, but Amazon, Microsoft and Apple have offerings which are include voice-powered digital assistants.

Microsoft builds a new AI unit

mybrainhurtsSoftware King of the world, Microsoft has said that it has created a new artificial intelligence unit.

Vole is apparently diving into artificial intelligence (AI)and machine learning research world head first rather than dipping its toes in the water first.

Microsoft teamed up with four other big technology companies  including Amazon, Google, Facebook and IBM – to create a non-profit organisation to advance public understanding of AI technologies.

Vole’s new unit — Microsoft AI and Research Group — will be headed by Harry Shum, a company veteran who has held senior roles at the Microsoft Research and Bing engineering divisions.

“Microsoft has been working in artificial intelligence since the beginning of Microsoft Research, and yet we’ve only begun to scratch the surface of what’s possible,” Shum said in a statement.

Chief Executive Satya Nadella has previously said the company’s $26.2 billion deal for LinkedIn Corp is expected to help bolster its efforts in analytics, machine learning and AI.

Microsoft has also been acquiring companies to expand its AI tech. The company in February acquired SwiftKey, a maker of predictive keyboard app. And last month it bought Genee, an AI-based scheduling service.

 

ABC suspends hack over “wi-fi cooked my brain” story

img_3797The Aussie ABC science program Catalyst is under review after the second major breach of editorial standards in several years after the programme churned out another Facebook-style conspiracy story.

The Corporation’s independent Audience and Consumer Affairs unit has found a story on the safety of Wi-Fi was in breach of editorial policies on accuracy and impartiality.

The problem centres on a story Catalyst aired Wi-Fried about the safety of wireless devices such as mobile phones. Basically the item churned out the sort of conspiracy nonsense about wi-fi’s cooking your brain which you expect to see on Facebook, along with fantasies about Chem trails.

This is the second time Catalyst’s programming has dumbed itself down by ignoring science to push Facebook style conspiracy theories. The Audience and Consumer Affairs Unit found a story aired in October 2013 on statins and heart disease was not up to standards of impartiality.

The person responsible for both programmes was Dr Maryanne Demasi. She has been apparently suspended from on-air reporting until the review of Catalyst is completed in September.

Dr Demasi is making no comment but she did defend the broadcast in the Huffington Post http://www.huffingtonpost.com.au/maryanne-demasi/sometimes-asking-questions-provides-you-with-answers-that-may-be-uncomfortable_b_9267642.html claiming that sometimes you have to ask questions.

“Catalyst was accused of scaremongering. It’s an overused term. It’s routinely used in politics to dismiss opposition policies. Reporting on terrorist threats, the Zika virus and crime sprees could also be argued to cause anxiety among the general population. But it’s a price we’re all willing to pay for free and diverse speech,” she said.

 

Brainwaves are the new fingerprints

mind readingA team of boffins has worked out a way of telling who you are by reading your mind.

Researchers at Binghamton University in US  say their ‘brain prints’ are 100 percent accurate and might have a new life in ultra secure systems.

They looked at the brain activity of 50 people wearing an electroencephalogram (EEG) headset who were asked to looked at a series of 500 images designed specifically to elicit unique responses from person to person – for example a slice of pizza, a boat, or the word “conundrum”.

They found that participants’ brains reacted differently to each image, enough that a computer system was able to identify each volunteer’s ‘brainprint’ with 100 percent accuracy.

Assistant Professor Sarah Laszlo said that when you take hundreds of these images, where every person is going to feel differently about each individual one, then you can be really accurate in identifying which person it was who looked at them just by their brain activity.

According to Laszlo, brain biometrics are appealing because they are cancellable and cannot be stolen by malicious means the way a finger or retina can.

“In the unlikely event that attackers were actually able to steal a brainprint from an authorised user, the authorised user could then ‘reset’ their brainprint,” Laszlo said.

Zhanpeng Jin, assistant professor at Binghamton University, does not see this as the kind of system that would be mass-produced for low security applications, but it could have important security applications.

“We tend to see the applications of this system as being more along the lines of high-security physical locations, like the Pentagon or Air Force Labs, where there aren’t that many users that are authorised to enter, and those users don’t need to constantly be authorising the way that a consumer might need to authorise into their phone or computer,” Jin said.

Graphene could create a computer brain

mybrainhurtsFlakes of graphene might be the the key to building computer chips that can processes information similar to human brain does – not your brain of course, or mine, but a better class of brain .

The technology is centred on neuromorphic chips which are made up of networks of transistors that interact the way human neurons do. This means that they can process analog input, such as visual information, quicker and more accurately than traditional chips.

Bhavin Shastri, a postdoctoral fellow in electrical engineering at Princeton University said that one way of building such transistors is to construct them of lasers that rely on an encoding approach called “spiking.”

Depending on the input, the laser can provide a brief spike in its output of photons or not respond at all. Instead of using the on or off state of the transistor to represent the 1s and 0s of digital data, these neural transistors rely on the time intervals between spikes.

Shastri said: “We’re essentially using time as a way of encoding information. Computation is based on the spatial and temporal positions of the pulses. This is sort of the fundamental way neurons communicate with other neurons.”

Shastris work with Lawrence Chen, a professor of electrical and computer engineering at McGill University, is trying to get the laser to spike at picosecond time scales which are one trillionth of a second.

They managed to do this by putting a tiny piece of graphene inside a semiconductor laser. The graphene acts as a “saturable absorber,” soaking up photons and then emitting them in a quick burst.

Graphene is a good saturable absorber because it can take up and release a lot of photons extremely fast, and it works at any wavelength.It also stands up very well to all the energy produced inside a laser.

 

Boffins cure brain computer headaches

mybrainhurtsUC San Diego scientists have constructed a new kind of computer that stores information and processes it in the same place and thus solved some of the bottlenecks of conventional computing.

The “memcomputer” can solve a problem involving a large dataset more quickly than conventional computers, while using far less energy.

The machine is currently in bits as a proof of concept, but can be improved into a general-purpose computer.

Researchers led by Massimiliano Di Ventra, a UCSD professor of physics said that memcomputers could equal or surpass the potential of quantum computers, they say, but because they don’t rely on exotic quantum effects are far more easily constructed.

Di Ventra said that besides solving extremely complex problems involving huge amounts of data, memcomputers can potentially teach us more about how the brain operates,. While the brain is often compared to a computer, the two are organized and operate much differently.

According to the journal Science Advances which we get for the draw in the quantum dot puzzles, conventional computers store data in one location designated for memory, and transfer it to processors located elsewhere to computer answers. But the human brain combines storage and processing in one place, treating these as one combined entity.

Memcomputers combine the storage and processing functions in a “collective state,” this complex signal actually contains the problem solution, which in theory can be easily extracted. The prototype demonstrates this can be done.

Studying this fault-tolerant property could teach us more about how brains work, and how they break down, Di Ventra said.

“From memcomputing we can learn for instance the ability of the network of interconnected memprocessors in bypassing broken connections, namely how robust is such a network to damage of its units while still able to compute specific tasks,” Di Ventra said. “This could possibly translate in our understanding of the maximum amount of damage to neurons done by degenerative diseases, like Alzheimer’s, before we lose specific functions.”

The study represents a significant advance in the field, said Yuriy V. Pershin, another researcher who has collaborated with Di Ventra and Traversa, but did not take part in this study.

There is still a long way to go, the prototype memcomputer is limited because it is analog, not digital. Analog computing is especially susceptible to interference from noise, which limits the ability to scale up the numbers of memprocessors in one computer.

Your brain can remember involved passwords

mybrainhurtsResearchers looking into people’s password habits have discovered that they can remember complex passwords if they are slowly trained.

Many people think they can’t remember secure passwords but the boffins found that they can, they just do not learn how to remember them correctly.

Joseph Bonneau, one of the two researchers who created the study got a group of volunteers to log into a website 90 times over the span of ten days, using whatever password they chose.

After entering their password, the website showed the volunteers a short security code, made of either four random letters or two random words, and asked them to type it. Throughout the ten-day experiment, the site added more letters and words to the code—up to 12 random letters or six random words—and the security code would take just a little longer to be displayed, prompting the participants to remember it themselves before it appeared.

Three days after the last login, 94 percent of the test subjects could remember their random code word or phrase, which were seemingly nonsensical strings of characters like “dkce2121sdd” or phrases like “fruit, bat klingon Yeats, snow, trousers.”

Bonneau said that there was a big dimension of human memory that hasn’t been explored with passwords,

Brain tech patents sore

mybrainhurtsThe number of patents for gear which gets into people’s brains is on the increase.

Market-research firm SharpBrains said that the patents cover ways to eavesdrop on brains and learn what advertisements excite consumers, to devices that alleviate depression, the number of U.S. patents awarded for “neurotechnology” has soared since 2010.

Patents have been awarded to inventors well beyond those at medical companies. The leader in neurotechnology patents is consumer-research outfit Nielsen.

SharpBrains Chief Executive Alvaro Fernandez, who presented the results at the NeuroGaming conference in San Francisco said it goes to show that we are at the dawn of “the pervasive neurotechnology age,” in which everyday technologies will be connected to brains.

“Neurotech has gone well beyond medicine, with non-medical corporations, often under the radar, developing neurotechnologies to enhance work and life,” he said.

Patents for neurotechnology bumped along at 300 to 400 a year in the 2000s, then soared to 800 in 2010 and 1,600 last year, SharpBrains reported.

Those awarded to medical device company Medtronic PLC, for instance, include ways to use electroencephalography (EEG) to measure the severity of a brain lesion. Several held by medical technology company St. Jude Medical Inc. describe ways to change brain activity to, say, improve vision.

But it is the explosion in non-medical uses, such as controlling video games with brain waves, that is driving neurotechnology.

SharpBrains measured “intellectual property (IP) strength” by number of neurotechnology patents as well as patent quality, reflected in how many other patents reference them, for instance.

Microsoft  holds patents that assess mental states, with the goal of determining the most effective way to present information. If software knows a user’s attention is wandering, it could hold back complicated material.

Another Microsoft patent describes a neuro-system that claims to discern whether a computer user is amenable to receiving advertisements.

Such patents reflect the enthusiasm for neuro-monitoring, something many scientists say has not been shown to be more effective than, say, asking people what they think about a product.

On a lighter note, an EEG patent awarded to San Jose-based biosensors company NeuroSky describes a design for a headset that could deliver music based on a user’s brainwaves, perhaps a ballad when the listener is feeling contemplative.

Rats’ brains look like the internet

funny-rat-pictures-6Boffins slicing and dicing rats’ brains for a living have come up with the startling discovery that the grey matter is wired in a similar way to the internet.

A team of scientists from USC constructed a database from 40 years of study of the rat brain, resulting in this database, a virtual ‘wiring diagram’ for the rat’s brain.

Then they conducted a network analysis on the connections, to try and understand the underlying structure. What appeared to be the case was that the neurons were built in a series of local networks, “layered like the shells in a Russian nesting doll”.

Two local networks — vision and learning, and organ function — make up the inner shell, with another two making up the outer shell.

That gives the cerebral cortex the structure of a “mini-Internet” — or any complex computer network, really. A series of increasingly larger local networks all connect together, working upwards until you end with the fibre-optic cables and data centres that make up the backbone of our Internet.

We will not really believe that a rat’s brain could be dedicated to that much sex, although we do accept that having a lots of pictures of cats would make a lot of sense.

 

 

Stanford bioengineers develop superfast energy efficient chips

Stanford bioengineers have developed a chip which is 9,000 times faster and uses significantly less power than a typical PC.

The Neurogrid circuit board can simulate more neurons and synapses than other brain mimics on the power it takes to run a tablet.

Kwabena Boahen, associate professor of bioengineering at Stanford, in an article for the Proceedings of the IEEE, said that the brain was a better model for computing.

Boahen and his team have developed Neurogrid, a circuit board consisting of 16 custom-designed “Neurocore” chips. Together these 16 chips can simulate one million neurons and billions of synaptic connections. The team designed these chips with power efficiency in mind. Their strategy was to enable certain synapses to share hardware circuits. The Neurogrid is the size of a tablet and will probably end up controlling a humanoid robot.

The downside is that you have to know how the brain works to program Neurocore, and the next stage is to create a neurocompiler so that you would not need to know anything about synapses and neurons to able to use one of these.

Million-neuron Neurogrid circuit boards cost about $40,000. Boahen believes dramatic cost reductions are possible. Neurogrid is based on 16 Neurocores, each of which supports 65,536 neurons. Those chips were made using 15-year-old fabrication technologies.

By switching to modern manufacturing processes and fabricating the chips in large volumes, he could cut a Neurocore’s cost 100-fold – which means you could have a million-neuron board for $400 a throw.