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When the Large Hadron Collider Turns on, It May Trap Dark Matter

Scientists have a new plan to try and spot dark matter by searching for particular particles once the Large Hadron Collider's upgrades are complete.

Eyes Peeled

When the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) turns back on and starts smashing particles again sometime in 2021, it may also point us in the direction of dark matter.

For years, scientists have been trying and failing to spot the invisible stuff that makes up the majority of matter in the universe. But now researchers have a new target: a comparatively heavy and long-lived particle that may be produced by the high-energy collisions at the LHC.

The particle is thought by some physicists to occasionally interact with dark matter — giving scientists a new lead toward spotting the elusive material.

Dangling Particle

Research published this month in Physical Review Letters describes how systems that have already been put in place at the LHC could detect these long-lived particles, which are named as such because they travel slower and last longer than other particles generated by LHC experiments.

The time difference is on the scale of nanoseconds, according to a University of Chicago press release — something that the LHC was already able to detect and will be even better at once upgrades are completed.

“If the particle is there, we just have to find a way to dig it out,” University of Chicago physicist LianTao Wang said in the press release. “Usually, the key is finding the question to ask.”

READ MORE: Scientists invent way to trap mysterious ‘dark world’ particle at Large Hadron Collider [University of Chicago newsroom via Phys.org]

More on dark matter: An Oxford Scientist May Have Solved the Mystery of Dark Matter

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When the Large Hadron Collider Turns on, It May Trap Dark Matter

India Blew up a Satellite. Now A “Space Fence” Is Tracking Its Debris

When India blew up a satellite, it introduced a lot of debris into orbit. Lockheed Martin's experimental Space Fence is keeping an eye on it.

Explosive Demonstration

Last month, India demonstrated its capabilities as a spacefaring nation and drew international criticism when it used a missile to blew up one of its own satellites.

The launch happened to coincide with Lockheed Martin’s test run of a new space monitoring technology called the Space Fence, which can detect and track any unregistered objects orbiting the Earth. According to Space News, that was a stroke of luck that could mitigate damage to people and equipment in space.

Picket Fence

The satellite explosion essentially turned the satellite into a cloud of space debris, which could in the future collide with other satellites, scientific instruments, or astronauts in orbit around the Earth — remember “Gravity”?

“We happened to be up during an endurance test and we were very excited to see that the system performed nominally,” Matthew Hughes, Lockheed Martin business development manager, told Space News. “Space fence is all about the ability to identify break ups, maneuvers, closely spaced objects, proximity operations, new foreign launches.”

While Space Fence isn’t an actual blockade in space, it can at least help officials prepare for and plan around collisions.

READ MORE: Indian anti-satellite test proves early test for Space Fence [Space News]

More on India’s Satellite: NASA: When India Blew up a Satellite, it Endangered Astronauts

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India Blew up a Satellite. Now A “Space Fence” Is Tracking Its Debris

Expert: AI-Generated Music Is A “Total Legal Clusterf*ck”

The legal industry isn't ready for AI-generated music, leading to all sorts of new questions about copyrights in the age of creative machines.

AI-Generated Music

If you train a music-generating artificial intelligence exclusively on tracks by Beyoncé, do you owe the pop star a cut of any resulting songs’ profits? And is it even legal to use copyrighted songs to train an AI in the first place?

Those are just a couple of the questions The Verge poses in a fascinating new story about AI-generated music published Wednesday. And while the publication consulted numerous experts from the music, tech, and legal industries for the story, the input of one person in particular — Jonathan Bailey, CTO of audio tech company iZotope — seemed to most concisely sum up the issue.

“I won’t mince words,” he told The Verge. “This is a total legal clusterfuck.”

Imitation Game

Despite the U.S. Copyright Office bringing up the potential problems that could arise from computer songwriters way back in 1965, U.S. copyright law has yet to nail down exactly who owns what when a computer is involved in the creative process, according to The Verge.

As it stands, the Beyoncé-trained AI could crank out an entire album of “Lemonade”-esque tracks, and as long as none of them sounded too much like any specific Beyoncé song, the AI-generated music wouldn’t be infringing on her copyrights — and the AI’s creator wouldn’t legally owe the artist a penny, lawyer Meredith Rose told The Verge.

Less clear is the use of copyrighted songs to train an AI. Several of The Verge’s sources said there isn’t a straightforward answer as to whether buying a song grants a person the right to then use it to train a machine learning system.

Clock’s Ticking

Of course, programmers have yet to come anywhere near creating AIs capable of autonomously churning out hit songs in the key of Bey — or anyone else for that matter — but that doesn’t mean they won’t be able to one day.

“It’s like the future of self-driving cars,” media-focused venture capitalist Leonard Brody told Fortune in October. “Level 1 is an artist using a machine to assist them. Level 2 is where the music is crafted by a machine but performed by a human. Level 3 is where the whole thing is machines.”

We’ve already seen several examples of those first two levels — tech-forward songstress Taryn Southern shared songwriting credits with AI on her “I AM AI” album, released in September, and that same month, Iranian composer Ash Koosha released an album on which he sang songs composed by AI-powered software.

If Brody’s prediction is correct, the next step will be AIs creating music by themselves — and if we’re already in the midst of a “legal clusterfuck,” who knows what sort of legislative nightmare that will be?

READ MORE: WE’VE BEEN WARNED ABOUT AI AND MUSIC FOR OVER 50 YEARS, BUT NO ONE’S PREPARED [The Verge]

More on AI songwriters: This Musician Created an AI to Write Songs for Him, and They’re Pretty Strange

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Expert: AI-Generated Music Is A “Total Legal Clusterf*ck”

The Mueller Report Confirms We’re Living in a Cyberpunk Dystopia

The Mueller Report, heavily redacted, describes a number of high-tech Russian operations designed to undermine and sway the 2016 Presidential election.

Harm to Ongoing Matter

When the Justice Department released a heavily-redacted version of the Mueller Report Thursday, the conversation quickly devolved into partisan bickering.

Only time will tell what the report means for the Trump administration. But what’s immediately clear is that concepts that were once restricted to fictional cyberpunk dystopias — from government hackers to botnet propaganda networks — are now mainstream enough to influence international politics.

Black Boxes

The readable text of the report details how Russia used social media, hackers, and other sophisticated techniques to try and sway the 2016 U.S. Presidential election in favor of Trump — efforts that reached millions of Americans and recruited others to actively spread their propaganda before and after the election.

Russians working for an organization called the Internet Research Agency created accounts on Twitter and Facebook, through which they reached millions — including many members of the Trump Administration, Trump’s sons, and Trump himself — while sharing pro-Trump and anti-Clinton messages, memes, and images.

Personal Privacy

Meanwhile, other Russian operatives were taking a more direct approach — by hacking into Democratic Party servers, releasing sensitive information though sock puppet personas like “DCLeaks” and “Guccifer” and giving stolen data to WikiLeaks. Just to make the whole thing a little more “Shadowrun,” they funded the operation by mining Bitcoin.

In the long view, the report might be less memorable for its specific claims than as a blueprint for the future of information warfare — and the strange ways technology can be used to manipulate and control populations.

READ MORE: Report On The Investigation Into Russian Interference In The 2016 Presidential Election [CNN]

More on Mueller: Everything You Need to Know From Mark Zuckerberg’s Congressional Testimony: Day 1

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The Mueller Report Confirms We’re Living in a Cyberpunk Dystopia

This Space Roomba Could Clean the ISS While Astronauts Sleep

GermFalcon, a company specializing in airplane sanitizing tech, developed a kind of space Roomba that can blast sterilising UV rays at the walls of the ISS.

Worst Job Ever

Wiping down the inside of the International Space Station is an arduous task.

But luckily, thanks to a private company specializing in airplane sanitizing tech called GermFalcon, astronauts aboard the ISS might be able to skip that chore in the future: an autonomous, Roomba-style space cleaner called GermRover could one day blast the walls with powerful sterilizing UV rays to kill any harmful microbes.

“UV disinfection has been shown to decrease hospital infection rates, so we expect to replicate those results in space,” Elliot Kreitenberg, developer of the robot, told New Scientist.

Filthy Space Station

Futurism has previously reported on how conditions can get nasty on board the ISS.

Research published earlier this month suggests that the ISS is teeming with bacterial and fungal colonies. Some of these bacteria were even found to be antibiotic-resistant as well, compounding the problem.

NASA is currently looking into trialing the GermRover. GermFalcon is working on a prototype it will reveal at the Aerospace Medicine Association conference in Las Vegas next month, according to the New Scientist.

READ MORE: Zero-gravity robot cleaner could automatically sterilise the ISS [New Scientist]

More on germs on the ISS: The International Space Station is Teeming With Germs

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This Space Roomba Could Clean the ISS While Astronauts Sleep

John McAfee Vows to Reveal Bitcoin’s Creator

Infamous tech entrepreneur John McAfee says he's going unmask Bitcoin's creator, but the clues he's shared so far do little to narrow the field.

Maker Unmasked

Infamous tech entrepreneur John McAfee says he’s going to tell the world who created Bitcoin — and if he keeps his word, he’ll be answering perhaps the biggest lingering question in cryptocurrency.

On Wednesday, McAfee took to Twitter to announce his plan to continue sharing clues about the true identity of “Satoshi Nakamoto,” the pseudonymous handle used by the creator of Bitcoin, until either the creator reveals himself or McAfee reveals him.

“I protected the identity of Satoshi,” McAfee tweeted. “It’s time, though, that this be put to bed. Imposters claim to be him, we are spending time and energy in search of him — It’s a waste.”

We’re Waiting

Whether McAfee actually knows the true identity of Bitcoin’s creator is anyone’s guess. But so far, he’s taken to Twitter to claim that Satoshi is male and lives in the United States. He’s also not the CIA, a government agency, computer scientist Nick Szabo, tech entrepreneur Elon Musk, or a brunette.

Oh, and yeah, he’s also alive.

My Name Is

So, to pull some rough numbers, the U.S. is home to about 156.1 million males and about 1 million of those work for the nation’s government. Say about 50 percent are brunettes — that leaves us with ~77.5 million potential Satoshi Nakamotos.

If McAfee wants anyone to believe he actually knows who created Bitcoin — or he wants to pressure the real Satoshi into revealing himself — he’s going to have to narrow the field down a bit more than that.

“Yes, I drink, use drugs, chase women, run from the law — which I have done since I was 19,” he tweeted, in defense of his ability to name the elusive programmer. “But it does not obviate the fact that I created a great company whose focus was stopping hackers. I had to know hacking. I am still John Fucking McAfee.”

READ MORE: John McAfee Triggers Countdown to Unmask Bitcoin Creator Satoshi Nakamoto [CCN]

More on John McAfee: A Real Whodunnit: Tech Eccentric John McAfee Claims Enemies Poisoned Him

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John McAfee Vows to Reveal Bitcoin’s Creator

Astronomers Finally Found the Universe’s First Type of Molecule

Scientists finally detect helium hydride, a combination of helium and hydrogen, thought to be the first molecule to form in the universe.

Happy Hunting

Based on scientists’ calculations, the first molecule to ever form from stray atoms in the universe was likely helium hydride, a combination of helium and hydrogen.

For decades, physicists have hunted the universe for the elusive molecule. And now an international team of researchers say they’ve finally found it — thereby confirming the presumed first step in the universe’s chemistry.

No Doubt

In a study published in the journal Nature Wednesday, the researchers describe how they used NASA’s Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA), the world’s largest airborne observatory, to detect helium hydride in a planetary nebula about 3,000 light-years away from Earth.

“It was so exciting to be there, seeing helium hydride for the first time in the data,” researcher Rolf Guesten said in a news release. “This brings a long search to a happy ending and eliminates doubts about our understanding of the underlying chemistry of the early universe.”

READ MORE: The Universe’s First Type of Molecule Is Found at Last [NASA]

More on the early universe: Scientists Now Know When the First Stars Formed in the Universe

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Astronomers Finally Found the Universe’s First Type of Molecule

Amazing New Rocket Engine Sucks up Atmospheric Oxygen for Fuel

The European Space Agency just greenlit a UK aerospace manufacturer's tests of a novel air-breathing rocket engine that sucks up atmospheric oxygen.

Air-Breathing Rocket

U.K. aerospace manufacturer Reaction Engines is preparing a potentially revolutionary rocket engine for a real-world test within the next 18 months.

The Synergistic Air-Breathing Rocket Engine (SABRE) runs partially on oxygen collected from the atmosphere rather than relying on heavy fuel. That means serious weight savings, according to the European Space Agency — such that a payload could be delivered to orbit at “half the vehicle mass of current launchers.”

Big Savings

Futurism has previously reported on Reaction Engine’s ambitious plans. Earlier this year, the company told the BBC its future hypersonic engines could be used to cut the journey from London to Sydney to just four hours.

The European Space Agency first got involved in 2010, testing the viability of the novel design and to see if the engine could withstand hypersonic speed. This week, the space agency gave the project the green light.

“The positive conclusion of our preliminary design review marks a major milestone in SABRE development,” Mark Ford, heading ESA’s Propulsion Engineering section, said in a statement. “It confirms the test version of this revolutionary new class of engine is ready for implementation.”

READ MORE: Air-Breathing Rocket Engine Gets Green Light for Major Tests [Space.com]

More on Reaction Engines: New Rocket Engine Could Whip You From London to Sydney in 4 Hours

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Amazing New Rocket Engine Sucks up Atmospheric Oxygen for Fuel

Climate Change Could Cause Fukushima-Style Meltdowns in the US

Almost every active nuclear reactor in the U.S. is unprepared for flooding and storm surge caused by climate change; industry groups chose not to act.

Unprepared

Most nuclear power plants in the United States are not prepared for the increase in flooding and severe weather that climate change will soon bring.

Of the roughly 60 operational plants in the U.S., 90 percent have at least one design flaw that will render them susceptible to flood damage and storm surge, according to Bloomberg. If preventative measures aren’t taken and upgrades made, then the U.S. may face radiation leaks like the 2011 disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant in Japan.

Meltdown

Speaking to Bloomberg, the Nuclear Energy Institute’s Matthew Wald argued that such a meltdown was incredibly unlikely in the U.S. thanks to emergency equipment installed in some reactors.

“There is a perennial problem in any high-tech industry deciding how safe is safe enough,” Wald said, “The civilian nuclear power industry exceeds the NRC-required safety margin by a substantial amount.”

But often, individual reactors and nuclear industry organizations are allowed to set those standards themselves. Bloomberg reports that these groups were allowed to estimate not only their own reactors’ resilience in the face of climate change, but also just how bad they expected the effects of climate change to get in their area.

Oversight

With that lack of regulation, it’s no surprise that the nuclear energy industry cleared the hurdles — the industry is basically bragging about how it slam-dunked on a children’s basketball hoop.

“Any work that was done following Fukushima is for naught because the commission rejected any binding requirement to use that work,” Gregory Jaczko, who was chairman of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission in 2011 during the Fukushima meltdown, told Bloomberg. “It’s like studying the safety of seat belts and then not making automakers put them in a car.”

READ MORE: U.S. Nuclear Power Plants Weren’t Built for Climate Change [Bloomberg]

More on nuclear power: See the Centaur-Like Robot Designed to Handle Nuclear Reactors

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Climate Change Could Cause Fukushima-Style Meltdowns in the US

Denver Is Voting on Whether to Decriminalize Psychedelic Mushrooms

Denver, Colorado, may soon decriminalize the personal use of psilocybin-containing mushrooms, making it the first place in the U.S. to consider doing so.

Trip to the Polls

Denver, Colorado may become the first city in the U.S. to decriminalize shrooms — if a new initiative gets voted through.

It’s only one city, but the vote suggests that Americans are coming around to a more progressive view on recreational — and potentially therapeutic — psychoactive drugs.

Changing Minds

If passed, Initiative 301 would decriminalize personal use and possession of mushrooms containing the psychoactive compound psilocybin. But wouldn’t legalize the growth or distribution of the shrooms, according to Vox — so it’d fall short of the full-throated legalization of marijuana that Colorado embraced in 2014.

Decriminalization of psychedelic shrooms could help Denver save time and money. Per Vox, other decriminalized areas like Portugal saw drops in drug use and drug-related deaths, suggesting that telling police to stop pursuing drug use could benefit society across the board.

READ MORE: Denver may become the first US city to decriminalize psychedelic mushrooms [Vox]

More on Psilocybin: Psychedelic Mushrooms Can Boost Creativity and Empathy For a Week

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Denver Is Voting on Whether to Decriminalize Psychedelic Mushrooms

Listen to Brutal Death Metal Made by a Neural Network

A neural network is grinding out the blast beats, super-distorted guitars and bellowing vocals of death metal — and livestreaming it.

Death Metal

In a project called “Relentless Doppelganger,” a neural network is grinding out the blast beats, super-distorted guitars, and bellowing vocals of death metal.

The best part of all: it’s streaming its brutal creations 24 hours a day on YouTube — an intriguing and public example of AI that’s now able to generate convincing imitations of human art.

Dadabots

The neural network is the work of Dadabots, a research duo that experiments with creating music using artificial intelligence tools.

The death metal project, which they trained using tracks by death metal band Archspire, is the first that they’ve livestreamed instead of releasing as an album, and the change in format had everything to do with the quality of the neural network’s output.

In Dadabots’ previous experiments, which dabbled in black metal and Beatles-inspired tracks, only about 5 percent of the AI-generated tracks were usable, co-creator CJ Carr told Futurism, and the programmers had to curate it.

“The remarkable part is the high quality-to-shit ratio,” Carr told Futurism of this new project. “Here, we livestream 100 percent of it,” he said. “Zero curation necessary.”

Black Metal

Part of the success of “Relentless Doppelganger,” Carr suspects, is the relentless speed of Archspire’s songs.

“It seems the faster the blast beats, the more stable the music,” he told Futurism. “Archspire is insanely fast.”

READ MORE: This YouTube Channel Streams AI-Generated Death Metal 24/7 [Motherboard]

More on AI-generated music: Expert: AI-Generated Music Is A “Total Legal Clusterf*ck”

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Listen to Brutal Death Metal Made by a Neural Network

Professor: Total Surveillance Is the Only Way to Save Humanity

Nick Bostrom, author of

Big Brother

The Oxford philosopher who posited 15 years ago that we might be living in a computer simulation has another far-out theory, this time about humanity’s future — and it’s not exactly optimistic.

On Wednesday, Nick Bostrom took the stage at a TED conference in Vancouver, Canada, to share some of the insights from his latest work, “The Vulnerable World Hypothesis.”

In the paper, Bostrom argues that mass government surveillance will be necessary to prevent a technology of our own creation from destroying humanity — a radically dystopian idea from one of this generation’s preeminent philosophers.

Black Balls

Bostrom frames his argument in terms of a giant urn filled with balls.  Each ball represents a different idea or possible technology, and they are different colors: white (beneficial), gray (moderately harmful), or black (civilization-destroying).

Humanity is constantly pulling balls from this urn, according to Bostom’s model — and thankfully, no one has pulled out a black ball yet. Big emphasis on “yet.”

“If scientific and technological research continues,” Bostrom writes, “we will eventually reach it and pull it out.”

Dystopian AF

To prevent this from happening, Bostrom says we need a more effective global government — one that could quickly outlaw any potential civilization-destroying technology.

He also suggests we lean into mass government surveillance, outfitting every person with necklace-like “freedom tags” that can hear and see what they’re doing at all times.

These tags would feed into “patriot monitoring stations,” or “freedom centers,” where artificial intelligences monitor the data, bringing human “freedom officers” into the loop if they detect signs of a black ball.

Two Evils

We’ve already seen people abuse mass surveillance systems, and those systems are far less exhaustive than the kind Bostrom is proposing.

Still, if it’s a choice between having someone watching our every move or, you know, the end of civilization, Bostrom seems to think the former is a better option than the latter.

“Obviously there are huge downsides and indeed massive risks to mass surveillance and global governance,” he told the crowd at the TED conference, according to Inverse. “I’m just pointing out that if we are lucky, the world could be such that these would be the only way you could survive a black ball.”

READ MORE: An Oxford philosopher who’s inspired Elon Musk thinks mass surveillance might be the only way to save humanity from doom [Business Insider]

More on Bostrom: Philosopher Hadn’t Seen “The Matrix” Before Publishing Simulation Hypothesis

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Professor: Total Surveillance Is the Only Way to Save Humanity

Puerto Rico Will Stop Burning Coal Next Year

The governor of Puerto Rico just signed a bill that will quickly move the island away from non-renewable energy sources within the next few decades.

Spring Cleaning

Puerto Rico has a plan in motion to shut down its coal-burning power plants by next year.

The Puerto Rico Energy Public Policy Act, recently signed by Puerto Rico’s governor Ricardo Roselló, puts the island on track to completely ditch non-renewable energy sources by 2050, according to The Rising — a heartening sign that Puerto Rico plans to rebuild its infrastructure to be as environmentally-friendly as possible in the wake of Hurricane Maria.

Nitty Gritty

According to the bill, coal-burning power plants will get the axe in 2020, and all other coal-burning in Puerto Rico will be eliminated in 2028 . Meanwhile, Puerto Rico, which in 2017 only got two percent of its energy from renewable sources, will reach 40 percent by 2025 and 100 percent by 2050.

“I’m pretty sure that this will be, by leaps and bounds, the quickest transition to renewables that’s ever happened anywhere on the planet” P.J. Wilson, President of the Solar and Energy Storage Association of Puerto Rico, told The Rising. “To go from [2] percent today to 40 percent by five years from now will be the biggest challenge the renewable energy industry has ever faced, on top of a very challenging political situation and a challenging financial situation.”

READ MORE: Puerto Rico to Adopt 100% Renewable Energy [The Rising]

More on Puerto Rico: When It Comes To Natural Disasters, Technology Has An Unavoidable Dark Side

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Puerto Rico Will Stop Burning Coal Next Year

China’s Military Built an Autonomous Amphibious Landing Vehicle

China has announced what local media is calling the

Marine Lizard

China has announced what local media is calling the “world’s first armed amphibious drone boat.”

The 39-foot-long Marine Lizard is designed to assist land assault operations and can form a web with other drone ships and airborne drones in order to act in tandem with them. It can reach a maximum of 50 knots (roughly 57 mph) in the water thanks to a diesel hydrojet engine — and on land it can reach only 12 mph (20 km/h) thanks to four track units mounted to its underbelly.

Autonomous Drone Ship

The Marine Lizard was built by the state-owned China Shipbuilding Industry Company (CSIC) to be truly autonomous: it can find its own way, maneuver around obstacles, or be remotely controlled via satellites with an impressive operating range of 7,450 miles (1,2000 km). When not in use, the vehicle can go into sleep mode for up to eight months while it’s not in operation, according to the Global Times.

The unusual amphibian drone is touted as a great way to assist recon missions from both aerial drones and other ships — and could do so very efficiently and with a low risk of casualties, according to the company.

READ MORE: China unveils the first autonomous amphibious military landing vehicle [The Verge]

More on unmanned ships: The U.S. Navy Wants to Roll out Autonomous Killer Robot Ships

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China’s Military Built an Autonomous Amphibious Landing Vehicle

Boston Dynamics Unveils SpotMini You’ll Actually Be Able to Buy

Boston Dynamics has debuted the version of its SpotMini robot dog that it plans to actually sell to consumers — but it has yet to announce a price tag.

New Best Friend

We’ve seen Boston Dynamics’ SpotMini climb stairs, pull heavy loads, and even dance like no one’s watching — and now, we’re finally getting a look at the version of the robo-dog that could one day do all those things on your command.

On Thursday, Boston Dynamics’ CEO Marc Raibert unveiled the production version of SpotMini at a TechCrunch-hosted startup showcase. He claims the company will produce about 100 of the robots this year, with production expected to begin in July or August — meaning it might not be long before we have bio-inspired robots navigating our homes.

A Better Bot

According to TechCrunch, the production version of SpotMini includes “redesigned components to make it more reliable, skins that work better to protect the robot if it falls and two sets of cameras on the front and one on each side and the back, so it can see in all directions.”

Raibert doesn’t think the production version of the robo-dog will be limited to the capabilities it ships with, either.

During the conference he said he hopes SpotMini will become the “Android of robots,” a reference to Google’s mobile operating system. In other words, he envisions software engineers writing their own apps to give the robot new capabilities.

As for the big question that remains — How much for that robo-dog in the video? — Raibert said Boston Dynamics will reveal pricing details this summer.

READ MORE: Boston Dynamics debuts production version of SpotMini [TechCrunch]

More on SpotMini: Watch a Pack of Boston Dynamics’ Creepy Robot Dogs Pull a Truck

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Boston Dynamics Unveils SpotMini You’ll Actually Be Able to Buy

IBM Pulls the Plug on Drug-Discovering Watson AI

IBM is halting development and sales of its Watson AI designed to find promising new medications, according to a new STAT story.

Bye, Watson

On Thursday, STAT published a story claiming that IBM is halting sales of Watson for Drug Discovery — a service that uses the company’s Watson AI to analyze connections between genes, drugs, and diseases on the hunt for useful new medications — citing as its source a person familiar with IBM’s internal decision-making.

“We are focusing our resources within Watson Health to double down on the adjacent field of clinical development where we see an even greater market need for our data and AI capabilities,” an IBM spokesperson told STAT — a sign that eight years after launching Watson Health, IBM still isn’t quite sure how AI should factor into the future of healthcare.

Overpromised, Underdelivered

The STAT source cited a “lackluster financial performance” as IBM’s reason for no longer developing and selling Watson for Drug Discovery. That mirrors the “lack of demand” reasoning IBM gave for scaling back the part of Watson Health dedicated to helping hospitals manage certain contracts in June 2018.

It’s hard to imagine why the systems would be in high demand, though — several healthcare experts told IEEE Spectrum earlier in April that IBM had “overpromised and underdelivered” with Watson Health.

“Merely proving that you have powerful technology is not sufficient,” healthcare data strategist Martin Kohn told the publication. “Prove to me that it will actually do something useful — that it will make my life better, and my patients’ lives better.”

READ MORE: IBM halting sales of Watson AI tool for drug discovery amid sluggish growth [STAT]

More on Watson Health: Doctors Are Losing Faith in IBM Watson’s AI Doctor

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IBM Pulls the Plug on Drug-Discovering Watson AI

The Government Wants to Make an Example out of Mark Zuckerberg

The Federal Trade Commission is reportedly considering holding Mark Zuckerberg directly responsible for Facebook's privacy scandals.

Target Acquired

After seemingly countless privacy scandals rocked Facebook in recent years, federal regulators are considering taking a more aggressive approach — including potentially holding CEO Mark Zuckerberg responsible for the social media giant’s misconduct.

The news comes from anonymous sources close to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC)’s ongoing, confidential probe into Facebook’s business practices who spoke to The Washington Post. New governmental oversight for Zuckerberg would send a strong message to Facebook and other Silicon Valley data brokers — though probably not the one Zuckerberg hoped for when he requested new regulations for his industry earlier this month.

Big Stick

In the past, the FTC has considered fining Zuckerberg directly when his company mishandled user data, but never pulled the trigger. That regulators are returning to that option suggests that they’re fed up with Zuckerberg getting off scot-free when his company plays fast and loose with users’ privacy.

“The days of pretending this is an innocent platform are over, and citing Mark in a large scale enforcement action would drive that home in spades,” Facebook investor-turned-critic Roger McNamee told WaPo.

READ MORE: Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg under close scrutiny in federal privacy probe, sources say [The Washington Post]

More on Facebook: Facebook “Unintentionally” Uploaded 1.5 Million Email Contacts

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The Government Wants to Make an Example out of Mark Zuckerberg

From Coffee to Popcorn, Celebrate 420 With These Futuristic CBD Edibles

By now, you’re probably familiar with CBD, a cannabinoid found in cannabis plants that has exploded in popularity. The compound is thought to provide many of the benefits of marijuana, but because it lacks THC, it does not cause a mind-altering high. As such, the pot-alternative (or perhaps “pot companion” is a better description) can now be found in a variety of products, and is being used to treat everything from anxiety to chronic pain – although the scientific community is still divided on the accuracy of these claims.

Still, CBD is wildly popular. But rather than focus on the common CBD products such as oils and vapes, we’ve decided to celebrate 420 with a list of some futuristic novel CBD edibles. From popcorn, to coffee, to honey, these CBD edibles provide a unique way to experience the uber-popular cannabinoid. So take a look for yourself, and add a dose of fun to this year’s 420 celebration.

CBD Popcorn

CBD Edibles - Popcorn
DiamondCBD.com

BlackDiamondCBD offers delicious CBD infused popcorn in a variety flavors. From plain to caramel corn to ranch, there’s something for everyone. It makes a great snack, and it’s a perfect way to spice up your next movie night.

Chill CBD Coffee (4 pack)

CBD Edibles - Coffee
DiamondCBD.com

If you’re looking to add CBD to your morning routine, look no further than Chill CBD Coffee pods. It’s a convenient and delicious way to benefit from 25mg of high-quality CBD. And it’s also available for tea drinkers. You know who you are.

CBD Edibles – Infused Honey Pot – 250mg

CBD Edibles - Honey
DiamondCBD.com

This CBD-infused honey has 250mg CBD derived from industrial hemp oil (cannabidiol), so it’s free of THC. And as the name implies, it also features Grade A all-natural honey. It can be put in tea, added as a topping on food, or even used as an ingredient in your favorite dish. Or you can just pretend you’re a cartoon bear and guzzle this sweet treat all by itself. We won’t judge you… much.

Editor’s note: A non-editorial team at Futurism created this article, and we may receive a percentage of sales from this post. This supplement has not been evaluated by the FDA, and is not intended to cure or treat any ailments. Do not take CBD products if you are allergic to any of the ingredients in the product you are consuming. Tell your doctor about all medicines you may be on before consuming CBD to avoid negative reactions. Tell your doctor about all medical conditions. Tell your doctor about all the medicines you take, including prescription and nonprescription medicines, vitamins and herbal products. Other side effects of CBD include: dry mouth, cloudy thoughts, and wakefulness. You are encouraged to report negative side effects of any drugs to the FDA. Visit http://www.fda.gov/medwatch, or call 1-800-FDA-1088.

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From Coffee to Popcorn, Celebrate 420 With These Futuristic CBD Edibles

Scientists Create Material With “Artificial Metabolism”

A new biomaterial exhibits metabolism-like behaviors. It appears in some ways to act like a living thing, blurring the line between biology and machinery.

Slime Mold

Scientists just got one step closer to creating living machines — or at least machines that mimic biological life as we know it.

A new biomaterial built in a Cornell University bioengineering lab uses synthetic DNA to continuously and autonomously organize, assemble, and restructure itself in a process so similar to how biological cells and tissues grow that the researchers are calling “artificial metabolism,” according to research published in Science Robotics last week.

 We Can Regrow It

It’s clear that the scientists are dancing around the idea of creating lifelike machinery. They stop short of straight-up claiming that their metabolizing biomaterial is alive, but the research begins by coyly listing the characteristics of life that the material exhibits — self-assembly, organization, and metabolism.

“We are introducing a brand-new, lifelike material concept powered by its very own artificial metabolism,” Cornell engineer Dan Lui said in a university-published press release. “We are not making something that’s alive, but we are creating materials that are much more lifelike than have ever been seen before.”

Worming Along

The biomaterial mimics a biological organism’s endless metabolic cycle of taking in energy and replacing old cells. When placed in a nutrient-rich environment, the material grew in the direction of the raw materials and food it needed to thrive — not unlike how a developing brain’s neurons grow out in the direction of specific molecules.

Meanwhile, the material also let its tail end die off and decay, giving the appearance of a constantly-regrowing slime mold traveling around toward food.

While the little bio-blob isn’t alive, it does appear to move and grow like a living thing, suggesting that scientists are blurring the line between life and machine more and more.

READ MORE: FORGET ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE; THINK ARTIFICIAL LIFE [Hackaday]

More on biomaterials: Scientists Manipulated a Material for Robots That Grows Like Human Skin

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Scientists Create Material With “Artificial Metabolism”

Scientists Find Genetic Variants That Prevent Obesity, Diabetes

Researchers from the University of Cambridge have discovered genetic variants that protect people from obesity and its symptoms.

Drug Discovery

Researchers from the University of Cambridge have discovered genetic variants, or mutations, that protect people from obesity and its symptoms — and they think the discovery could lead to new weight-loss medications.

“A powerful emerging concept is that genetic variants that protect against disease can be used as models for the development of medicines that are more effective and safer,” researcher Luca Lotta said in a news release.

The Weight Gene

In a study published on Thursday in the journal Cell, the team details how it analyzed the MC4R gene in half a million volunteers who participated in the U.K. Biobank study.

They already knew the gene played a role in regulating weight, but through their new research they discovered 61 distinct variants of it, some of which help people avoid becoming obese. Others provided protection against obesity symptoms, including type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

Understanding Obesity

The study does more than just illuminate a path toward new weight-loss medications — it also shines a light on the very nature of obesity.

“This study drives home the fact that genetics plays a major role in why some people are obese,” researcher Sadaf Farooqi said in the news release, “and that some people are fortunate enough to have genes that protect them from obesity.”

READ MORE: Discovery of genetic variants that protect against obesity and type 2 diabetes could lead to new weight loss medicines [University of Cambridge]

More on MC4R: Mutated Animals Show Why Gene Editing Isn’t Ready for Human Trials 

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