Facebook Is Finally Fighting Its Pseudoscience “Miracle Cure” Content Problem

Facebooks is changing how it ranks

There’s an entire spectrum of lies on social media. On one side, there’s the generally inane: Pokémon was designed for Satanists or FCC Chairman Ajit Pai tried to date a porn star.

And then there are lies that have the potential to literally kill.

Falling into this latter category are the spammy “miracle cures” for everything from cancer to autism that spread like wildfire on sites like Facebook. These “treatments” are ineffective at best and deadly at worst. Now, Facebook is finally trying to do something about them.

On Tuesday, Facebook published a blog post regarding the bogus health content that is now pervasive on the site.

“People come together on Facebook to talk about, advocate for, and connect around things like nutrition, fitness, and health issues,” Facebook Product Manager Travis Yeh wrote in the post. “But in order to help people get accurate health information and the support they need, it’s imperative that we minimize health content that is sensational or misleading.”

To that end, the company updated its ranking algorithms to place two kinds of content lower in people’s News Feeds:

– Sensationalist health posts that make misleading claims or tout “miracle cures,” and

– Posts that use health-related claims to promote products or services, such as weight-loss pills.

As far as sensationalist health posts go, ones hawking bogus weight-loss pills fall on the relatively benign end of the spectrum. But Facebook’s also rife with posts encouraging people to forgo proven cancer treatments in favor of worthless home remedies. Incredibly dangerous “autism cures” advising parents to force their children to drink chlorine dioxide, which is essentially industrial bleach, are also popular with Facebook’s users.

[Yeah, you read that correctly: Drinking bleach.]

And do we really need to mention the countless anti-vaccine posts and groups that are contributing to outbreaks of diseases like measles worldwide?

Given the far-reaching implications of this shady health content, Facebook is now under increasing pressure to do something about it — meaning if its newly announced ranking changes can’t effectively stem the medical misinformation tide, it’s going to need to find something else (or someone else) that can.

READ MORE: Facebook, YouTube Overrun With Bogus Cancer-Treatment Claims [The Wall Street Journal]

More on Facebook: Congress Is Deciding Whether to Break up Facebook, Google

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Facebook Is Finally Fighting Its Pseudoscience “Miracle Cure” Content Problem

This AI Gives Other AIs Names Like “Ass Federation” And “Hot Pie” Because Robots Can Be Weird Too

Research scientist Janelle Shane trained a naming AI to conjure up new monikers for self-aware spaceships like those in author Iain M. Banks' Culture books.

Ship Shape

Scottish author Iain M. Banks populated his sci-fi Culture book series with humanoid robots, alien races, and artificially intelligent spaceships that chose their own names.

So: Research scientist Janelle Shane thought it would be fun to use those ship names to train a real neural network to — what else? — conjure up new names for self-aware spaceships. The results? Hilarious. Puzzling. Generally? Great.

Name Game

Shane is the same scientist responsible for creating the neural network that bestowed awesome names like “Peanutbutterjiggles” and “Bones of the Master” upon shelter kittens.

This new naming AI is a variation on that one, but instead of training the base neural network, OpenAI’s GPT-2, on cat names, she used a list of 236 spaceship names from Banks’ Culture series.

Ass Federation

Shane lists dozens of the names churned out by the AI on her website, so you’ll have to head there to check them all out, but some of our favorites:

– Friendly Head Crusher
– Mini Cactus Cake Fight
– Happy to Groom Any Animals You Want

But if we’re naming a self-aware spaceship, it’d be hard to pass up the opportunity to go with the complete head-scratcher that is Someone Did Save Your Best Cookie By Post-Apocalyptic Means.

READ MORE: This AI is so goddamn smart, it can name other AIs [The Next Web]

More on naming AI: This Neural Network Gives Kittens A+ Names Like “Mr Sinister”

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This AI Gives Other AIs Names Like “Ass Federation” And “Hot Pie” Because Robots Can Be Weird Too

Here’s How You Can Watch Today’s Total Solar Eclipse

California's Exploratorium has teamed up with NASA to broadcast a livestream of the total solar eclipse over parts of South America.

Heads up: For approximately four minutes this afternoon, the Moon will block out the Sun over parts of South America — but you don’t need to be in Chile or Argentina to see the stunning spectacle.

California’s Exploratorium has teamed up with NASA to broadcast a livestream of the eclipse via the video linked below. The coverage will begin at 3 p.m. ET, with the eclipse expected to take place between 4:38 p.m. and 4:44 p.m. ET.

If you happen to live within the eclipse’s path, make sure you fight the urge to look directly at the Sun during it as doing so could permanently damage your eyes. Which, yes, happens to people. Quite a bit.

Instead, you’ll want to use your lunch break today to procure a pair of special eclipse glasses. But if that’s not possible, a sheet of paper with a pinhole poked through it is, of course, an acceptable DIY alternative.

READ MORE: Watch Today’s Total Solar Eclipse Right Here [Gizmodo]

More on eclipses: Watch: What Happened to Solar Power in the US During the Eclipse

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World’s Smallest MRI Machine Means We Can Now Scan Individual Atoms

Researchers have created a version of an MRI machine that's so scaled down, it can capture detailed images of individual atoms.

MRI for Ants Atoms

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) machines are great for creating detailed images of a person’s internal organs and tissues.

Using magnets and radio waves, the machines temporarily change how the billions of protons in the person’s body spin. Then they measure and image energy released by these protons once they return to their normal state.

Now, researchers have created a version of an MRI machine that’s so scaled down, it images individual atoms — and the device could help usher in the era of quantum computing.

Honey, I Shrunk the MRI

For their study, which was published on Monday in the journal Nature Physics, researchers from the United States and South Korea attached magnetized iron atoms to the tip of a scanning tunneling microscope, a device used to image and probe individual atoms.

They then swept the microscope’s tip over iron and titanium atoms they’d placed on a magnesium oxide surface. This subjected the atoms to a magnetic field that disrupted their electrons. The team then hit the atoms with a radio wave pulse, and the system imaged the energy the electrons subsequently released.

Unprecedented View

The researchers believe this new nanoscale imaging technique could lead to the development of new materials and drugs, as well as the creation of better quantum computing systems.

“We can now see something that we couldn’t see before,” researcher Christopher Lutz told The New York Times. “So our imagination can go to a whole bunch of new ideas that we can test out with this technology.”

READ MORE: World’s smallest MRI performed on single atoms [Institute for Basic Science]

More on quantum computing: Russian Scientists Used a Quantum Computer to Turn Back Time

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NASA’s Orion Crew Capsule Aced Its Abort System Test

NASA tested its Orion spacecraft's Launch Abort System (LAS) on Tuesday — and it seems the astronaut escape plan worked exactly as hoped.

Orion Exit Strategy

Before NASA can attempt to send astronauts back to the Moon, it needs to know they have a way to GTFO of harm’s way if something goes wrong during the trip.

To that end, the space agency tested its Orion spacecraft’s Launch Abort System (LAS) on Tuesday — and it seems NASA’s astronaut escape plan works exactly as hoped.

Mission Aborted

To start the three-minute-long Ascent Abort-2 test, NASA launched an Orion crew module on a modified Peacekeeper missile built by Northrop Grumman.

Once the pair reached an altitude of about 9.6 kilometers (6 miles), the abort sequence triggered. This sent the crew module blasting away from the rocket and on its journey to splash down in the Atlantic Ocean.

Moving Forward

NASA’s now rounding up the 12 data recorders the crew capsule ejected during its descent so it can analyze the data to confirm that everything went as planned.

At first glance, however, it appears we’re now one step closer to returning humans to the Moon.

“It was a very smooth liftoff,” Orion Program Manager Mark Kirasich said in a press release. “By all first accounts, it was magnificent.”

READ MORE: NASA performs successful test of Orion spacecraft launch abort crew escape system [TechCrunch]

More on Orion: Congress Denies NASA Request for More Moon Mission Money

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The Pentagon Wants Its Own Orbital Space Station, Like a Death Star, But Not, Okay?

The Pentagon wants its own dedicated space station in orbit around the Earth for both scientific research and military operations.

Reaching Out

The U.S. military is in the early stages of sending a self-supporting, autonomous space station into orbit around the Earth.

In its earliest stages, the space station will be small and (literally) inhospitable — the Pentagon’s Defense Innovation Unit (DIU) wants a dedicated orbital platform from which to conduct scientific experiments, reports Breaking Defense. But in the long run, the DIU has tentative plans to upgrade the station so it can support life, which would give the government the unsettling ability to keep militarized crews operating in space.

Building Blocks

According to the DIU’s call for contractors to design the space station, the orbital outpost needs to be entirely self-sufficient, and employ artificial intelligence to operate and steer itself in space.

But the solicitation also calls for a minimum internal volume of one cubic meter and the capability to endure zero to one atmospheres of pressure — not exactly the specs of the Death Star.


The director of DIU’s Space Portfolio, Col. Steve Butow, told Breaking Defense that the organization is more interested in laying out the basic groundwork of a dedicated orbital platform for the Pentagon — upgrades for specific military applications can always come later.

“In short, we are casting a wide net for commercial solutions that can meet the basic needs described in the first part of the solicitation (autonomous/robotic, etc),” Butow emailed to Breaking Defense. Here’s hoping whichever contractor gets the job remembers to cover up those pesky exhaust ports.

READ MORE: Pentagon Eyes Military Space Station [Breaking Defense]

More on space warfare: India Just Announced That It’s Developing Space Weapons

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Russian Sub That Caught Fire Possibly Sent to Cut Internet Cables

A Russian sub caught fire on Monday, killing 14 sailors — and Russia won't say what kind of sub it was or what it was doing near the ocean floor.

Fire Down Below

On Monday, a Russian submarine caught fire during a mission, killing 14 sailors on board.

But the public didn’t find out about the incident until the next day, when Russia finally released a statement about the accident — though two days after the event, the nation still wouldn’t say exactly what kind of sub caught fire or whether it was nuclear-powered.

A possible reason for Russia’s caginess? Multiple sources are now claiming the sub was an AS-12 “Losharik,” a nuclear-powered submarine some speculate was designed to cut the undersea cables that deliver internet to the world.

Spy Mission

Russian media outlets RBC and Novaya Gazeta have both cited anonymous sources who claim the submarine was a Losharik, and while the sub has been in operation since 2003, Russia has never come out and declared its official purpose.

That hasn’t stopped the U.S. and other Western officials from conjecturing about it, though.

For years, they’ve warned that Russia has been surveying undersea cables, and experts have called out the Losharik by name as possibly playing a role in future missions to disrupt those cables.

Radiation Situation

Of course, there’s another possible reason for Russia’s lack of openness about Monday’s incident: if the Russian sub was a Losharik, that means a nuclear-powered craft just caught fire.

On Tuesday, Norwegian authorities reported that they hadn’t detected any abnormal radiation in the area of the fire. But the fact that Russia itself hasn’t released a similar statement is cause for serious concern, according to Russian news site The Bell.

“Nearly a day without information about the accident in a nuclear facility and the need to look out for Norwegian statements about the level of radiation should have given a shudder to those who remember the Chernobyl nuclear power station,” the site wrote about the fire, according to Reuters.

READ MORE: Russia accused of cover-up over lethal submarine fire [Reuters]

More on undersea cables: Google’s Next Subsea Internet Cable to Connect Africa and Europe

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Russian Sub That Caught Fire Possibly Sent to Cut Internet Cables

What Do a Toy Store and a Tech Accelerator Have in Common? Cloud-Based Tech.

Your Clouds Can (YCC) 2019 was an immersive experience unlike any conference. Its purpose? To understand how seemingly traditional businesses can utilize data and cloud based technology to reimagine themselves and grow.

On June 5th, Futurism and IBM took attendees on a journey – but, unlike traditional conferences, they brought the audience members directly to the speakers’ headquarters. They immersed the attendees into the culture, attitudes, and atmospheres of these innovative companies to give them a deeper understanding of these tools, and how they can be applied to attendees’ businesses.

Attendees and hosts alike enjoyed conversations, not presentations, and dialogues, not monologues. On-site and hands-on, attendees went behind the curtain at each stop on this innovation tour to fully investigate and discover exactly how each of these companies are leveraging data and technology for growth.

YCC attendees were guided through experiences and discussions at four NYC companies actively innovating and changing the landscape of their industries. The first stop and breakfast was at CAMP, a brand new retail venture at the cross section of toy stores and playgrounds. CAMP uses technology and data to improve the speed and accuracy of merchandising decisions, allowing them to transform their retail environment three to four times a year based on the interests of their customers and cultural trends.

Next, guests toured BuzzFeed and learned how they leverage data-driven insights generated from their millions of readers to develop brand new products and campaigns for clients. Jake Bronstein, VP of Innovation at BuzzFeed, spoke about their unique sprint process with their editorial and data teams: “We have a big preference for test and learn, there’s no one model,” Bronstein said. “What does our audience need? How do we make that happen?”

Afterwards guests visited LivePerson, and learned how their AI-powered conversational platform is transforming customer engagement into a source of competitive advantage. As pioneers in live chat, LivePerson gave an inside look at how companies like GEICO and The Cosmopolitan are communicating with their customers using AI to create meaningful differentiated experiences.  

Finally, the day concluded at Betaworks, a tenacious tech company running accelerators and designing communities at their new membership club in NYC’s Meatpacking District.  Here a panel of start-up veterans and leaders discussed how to scale innovative ideas faster through cloud and other technologies. To close the day, Krissi Xenakis, Design Lead for the IBM Garage, explained how IBM teaches companies to iterate, experiment, build, and develop, using a design thinking approach that fosters the type of innovation seen at CAMP, BuzzFeed and LivePerson.  “What’s the smallest thing we can build that tests the greatest risk of our innovation? We need to test that the assumptions about our user are accurate and meaningful.” she said.

Through out the day, attendees were able to have breakout sessions in transit between locations to collectively digest and discuss what they had learned.. Make no mistake, this was not awkward attempts at networking. This was natural conversation, fun and insightful, made casual through the immersive, traveling nature of the conference itself.

The vibe of learning and discussion is palpably different when caravaning from location to location, company to company. Vlad Shenderovich, Director of Operations, LOLI Beauty agreed, saying, “it breaks the traditional format. I like that it’s interactive, focuses on the audience and not just the panelists so you’re able to see, interact, engage and ask questions.” 

That is what makes YCC unique and rewarding. Not everyone gets to enjoy lunch on BuzzFeed’s terrace or tour Betaworks Studios’ private membership club. It’s more than just access, it’s an insider’s peek into the technology, ideas and culture that drive the business innovation and success. 

Visit YourCloudsCan.com to see videos of what you missed and sign up to be the first to know about future events. Will you join us for the ride at the next YCC?

Futurism fans: To create this content, a non-editorial team worked with IBM, who sponsored this post. They help us keep the lights on. This post does not reflect the views or the endorsement of the Futurism.com editorial staff.

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What Do a Toy Store and a Tech Accelerator Have in Common? Cloud-Based Tech.

White Paper: These 12 Principles Are Shaping the Future of Autonomous Cars

Eleven companies have teamed up to create

As nice as it’d be to have the option of catching up on some reading — or sleep — while an autonomous vehicle drives you to work, the real draw of self-driving cars is the idea that they’ll be safer drivers than whoever just cut you off in the exit lane with inches to spare. After all, if the vast majority of traffic accidents are caused by human error, taking humans out of the equation should save lives, right?

In theory, sure. But in practice? Only if we can build autonomous vehicles safer than, well, the average driver. And right now, the entire auto industry is approaching that same goal from countless directions, and no one even knows what the measure of success is — or should — be.

To bring some orderliness to this currently chaotic situation, a group of 11 companies, including Intel, Audi, and Volkswagen, teamed up to publish a white paper titled “Safety First for Automated Driving,” an exhaustive guide to developing safe autonomous vehicles.

The 146-page-long document’s centerpiece are twelve guiding principles detailing the various capabilities a self-driving car must have before it can be considered “safe.” Here’s a quick primer on each of them.

Safe Operation: An autonomous vehicle must be able to cope with the loss of any of its critical components.

Safety Layer: The self-driving car must know its own limits and understand when it’s safe to return control to the human driver.

Operational Design Domain (ODD): The autonomous vehicle must be prepared to assess the risks of typical driving situations.

Behavior in Traffic: The car’s behavior needs to be predictable to other drivers on the road, and it needs to act according to traffic rules.

User Responsibility: The vehicle needs to be able to recognize a driver’s state of alertness and communicate to them any tasks for which they are responsible.

Vehicle-Initiated Handover: Autonomous vehicles must be able to let drivers know when they need to takeover and make it easy for them to do so. If a takeover request is ignored, the vehicle also needs to have a way to cope with the situation while minimizing risk.

Driver-Initiated Handover: The driver needs to have a way to explicitly ask to take over operation of the self-driving car.

Effects of Automation: An autonomous vehicle must consider how automation could affect the driver even directly after the period of automated driving is over.

Safety Assessment: There needs to be a consistent way to verify and validate the autonomous vehicle’s ability to meet safety goals.

Data Recording: If the self-driving car recognizes an event or incident, it needs to be able to record relevant data in a way that doesn’t violate applicable data privacy laws.

Security: Safe autonomous vehicles will need to have some protection against security threats.

Passive Safety: The self-driving car needs to be prepared for any crash scenarios that might be unique to vehicle automation.

This all sounds well and good. Accomplishing all — let alone most, or even a majority — of these goals is going to be another matter.

Notably, a few major companies and tech players are missing from the list of people who assembled this list (i.e., Tesla, Waymo, et al). Hard not to wonder why: Maybe these companies, all of whom are seemingly behind in the race for self-driving vehicles, are looking to assemble some common ground to edge their behemoth competition out of (or maybe they simply have other ideas about safety).

Whatever the case may be, the autonomous road race won’t be won by anybody who doesn’t adhere to these concepts if they become law — in other words, consider this just another in a long series of shots in the war to earn pole position.

READ MORE: 11 companies propose guiding principles for self-driving vehicles [VentureBeat]

More on autonomous vehicles: This Guide Could Dictate How Cops Handle Autonomous Car Crashes

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This Room-Sized Device Could Create Artificial Gravity in Space

Researchers built a device small room-sized device that spins willing participants on a giant platform to mimic the effect of Earth-like gravity in space.

Weight Gain

You’ve probably seen one featured in a science fiction movie, including “2001: A Space Odyssey” — massive centrifuge-like space stations that spin around a center point to create the sensation of artificial gravity for off-world travelers.

While we have yet to build such a large system in open space, researchers from University of Colorado at Boulder have decided to miniaturize the effect instead, with a device small enough to fit inside a room that spins participants to mimic the effect of Earth-like gravity.

Spin Zone

Creating the illusion of gravity could be of great benefit to astronauts struggling with the not-yet-fully-understood effects of microgravity for months at a time.

“The point of our work is to try to get more people to think that maybe artificial gravity isn’t so crazy,” Kathrine Bretl, a graduate student involved in the project said according to a statement. “Maybe it has a place outside of science fiction.”

Vomit Comet

Unfortunately, motion sickness is still as much of a thing here on Earth as it is in space — one of the reasons why scientists have shied away from the idea in the past. The team decided to put that to the test and invite volunteers to spin on their centrifuge for 10 vomit-inducing sessions.

The results were promising: at 17 revolutions per minute, the effect became tolerable over time.

“As far as we can tell, essentially anyone can adapt to this stimulus,” aerospace engineer Torin Clark, who led the team said.

READ MORE: Artificial gravity breaks free from science fiction [University of Colorado at Boulder]

More on the effects of microgravity: Zero Gravity Causes Worrisome Changes In Astronauts’ Brains

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This Room-Sized Device Could Create Artificial Gravity in Space

AI Poised to Ruin Internet Using “Massive Tsunami” of Fake News

AI tools like GROVER are very good at flooding the internet with fake news and spam. The solution may come in the form of smarter Google filters.

Spam City

New tools can recreate a human’s face and or writer’s voice to frightening levels of accuracy.

Among the most concerning of these is the deceivingly-adorably-named GROVER a fake news-writing bot that people have used the tool to make blogs and even entire subreddits illustrate the problems AI-written news can pose to the world. Do not let the adorable blue namesake puppet on the first page of the white paper fool you — this thing is freaky.

And it could just be the beginning. Tools like GROVER could create “a massive tsunami of computer-generated content across every niche imaginable,” Kristin Tynski of the marketing agency Fractl told The Verge.

Cat, Meet Mouse

When Futurism first spotted “This Marketing Blog Doesn’t Exist,” a Fractl-owned website that used GROVER to churn out fake articles about things like search engine optimization and Instagram marketing, we urged readers to pay closer attention to the information they read online.

While GROVER isn’t perfect by any means, it’s definitely good enough to convince the casual reader who isn’t scrutinizing every word they read.


Google and other AI developers have their work cut out for them when faced with AI-written spam that’s likely to flood the internet as people chase down that sweet, sweet advertising revenue cash.

“Because [AI systems] enable content creation at essentially unlimited scale, and content that humans and search engines alike will have difficulty discerning… we feel it is an incredibly important topic with far too little discussion currently,” Tynski told The Verge.

READ MORE: Endless AI-generated spam risks clogging up Google’s search results [The Verge]

More on GROVER: New AI Generates Infinite Horrible Marketing Sites

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CRISPR Helps Scientists Cure HIV In Living Animals For First Time

Using a combination of CRISPR and antiretroviral therapy, researcher eliminated the HIV virus from the genomes of mice engineered to produce human T cells.

One-Two Combo

For the first time, researchers have eliminated HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, from the genomes of living animals — a major accomplishment along the path to freeing the world of this deadly disease.

For the study, published Tuesday in the journal Nature Communications, researchers from Temple University and the University of Nebraska Medical Center started by engineering mice to produce human T cells susceptible to HIV infection.

After they infected the mice, they used a therapeutic strategy known as long-acting slow-effective release antiretroviral therapy (LASER ART) to suppress HIV replication within the animals.

Finally, the researchers used CRISPR to remove HIV DNA from the infected cells.

From Mice to Humans

When the researchers later analyzed the mice, they found that about one-third of the animals showed no signs of HIV.

They are now eager to test their combination LASER ART/CRISPR therapy in non-human primates — and if those trials go well, human trials could kick off within the year, researcher Kamel Khalili said in a press release.

However, while the team is optimistic, it’s also aware that it has a lot of ground to cover between mice and humans.

“Things that work in mice, may not work in men,” researcher Howard Gendelman told CNBC. “The limitations of any mouse work have to do with the species, how the drug is administered, the distribution, which is a lot easier than a man or a woman.”

READ MORE: Researchers say they’re closer to finding cure for HIV after using CRISPR technology to eliminate disease in live mice for the first time [CNBC]

More on HIV: First-of-Its-Kind HIV Therapy Draws out the Virus, Then Kills It

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CRISPR Helps Scientists Cure HIV In Living Animals For First Time

Billionaires Are Dead Serious About Moving Factories to Space

To some, collecting resources from other planets or asteroids instead of using up the Earth could be the key to ensuring that we — and our planet — survive.

Space Industries

It sounds like science fiction, but the idea of moving heavy industries off Earth seems far less far-fetched ever before.

Collecting resources from other planets or asteroids instead of using up what little we have left on Earth could be the key to ensuring that human beings survive, Discover Magazine reports.

“The solar system can support a billion times greater industry than we have on Earth,” Phil Metzger, a planetary scientist at the University of Central Florida, told Discover. “When you go to vastly larger scales of civilization, beyond the scale that a planet can support, then the types of things that civilization can do are incomprehensible to us.”

Investing in Space

As Earth-based resources dwindle, the population increases — and something has to give. At least, that’s the argument behind a new school of companies that have cropped up over the last decade or so, trying to become pioneers of space resource gathering.

For instance, Planetary Resources Inc. has collected tens of millions in funding to develop asteroid mining technologies. But financial troubles meant that the company had to delay its first asteroid prospecting mission indefinitely.

Billionaire Blue Origin and Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos is all-in as well.

“The reason we’ve got to go to space, in my view, is to save the Earth,” Bezos said during the announcement of his space company’s lunar lander last month.

“A very fundamental long-range problem is that we will run out of energy on Earth,” Bezos said at the event. “This is just arithmetic. It will happen.”

Even NASA has recently chosen to invest millions of dollars in tech concepts that could help us explore lunar crates and mining asteroids.

Not only physical resources could become the solution for an overburdened planet. Solar power stations in space could beam near-limitless energy back to Earth — a plan that China is already working to put into action.

Greenpeace 2.0

But not everybody is of the same mind: a group of scientists came together to sign a proposal calling for more than 85 percent of the solar system to be protected from human development.

“If we don’t think about this now, we will go ahead as we always have, and in a few hundred years we will face an extreme crisis, much worse than we have on Earth now,” Martin Elvis, senior astrophysicist at the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory and lead author of the proposal told The Guardian. “Once you’ve exploited the solar system, there’s nowhere left to go.”

Baby Steps

Before space manufacturing and mining become reality, there’s still a lot of work to be done as scientists have only made incremental steps towards that future so far. Just five years ago, California-based startup Made In Space became the first company to 3D print an object in zero gravity.

The same company scored a major contract with NASA in 2018 to develop a “hybrid metal manufacturing system for space exploration.” The idea is to print parts using aerospace-grade metals like titanium and aluminum.

And Japanese space agency JAXA recently managed to land its Hayabusa2 spacecraft on a tiny asteroid, even shooting a bulletand dropping a bomb — at its surface to collect samples.

These efforts however are still a far cry from a future in which asteroid mining could support human civilizations in deep space. We haven’t even figured out which nation will get to call those resources their own — an issue that’s bound to conjure up some political uneasiness.

But time is running out — climate change and rapidly-depleting resources are forcing us to look beyond our home planet. Hopefully we can make the transition before it’s too late.

READ MORE: Made in Space: Why Earth’s Industries Might One Day Leave Our Planet [Discover Magazine]

More on space mining: NASA Funds $2M Study to See if We Could Live in Moon Pits

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Billionaires Are Dead Serious About Moving Factories to Space

Possible Alien Radio Signals Way More Common Than Believed

Astronomers have detected over ten radio bursts from distant galaxies in the last week. The sudden frequency could help us figure out what's causing them.

Spam Calls

Last week, astronomers managed to trace a mysterious, fleeting radio signal back to a distant galaxy. Since then, teams from around the world have tracked down ten more.

The latest was spotted by a team at CalTech’s Owens Valley Radio Observatory on Tuesday, according to CNET. Astronomers aren’t positive what’s causing these so-called “Fast Radio Bursts” — there are several plausible non-extraterrestrial-life-related explanations. But these recent signals are a sign that intergalactic radio broadcasts are far more common than scientists previously thought.

Roaming Charges

The radio burst detected at CalTech originated from a galaxy 8 billion light-years away from our own according to research published in the journal Nature — that’s twice the distance that the first radio burst detected last week traveled.

That means that whatever gave off the signal, whether it was activity within a neutron star or potentially some sort of alien life, did so billions of years before our planet even formed. But because these signals are popping up more frequently than ever, astronomers believe they could finally find the culprit.

“Astronomers have been chasing FRBs for a decade now, and we’re finally drawing a bead on them,” CalTech astronomer Vikram Ravi told CNET. “Now we have a chance of figuring out just what these exotic objects might be.”

READ MORE: Another mysterious deep space signal traced to the other side of the universe [CNET]

More on galactic signals: Astronomers Traced a Mysterious Radio Burst to a Distant Galaxy

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We May Never Know When That Third CRISPR Baby Is Born

A third CRISPR baby was expected to be due in late June or early July, but the Chinese government is keeping quiet about the gene-hacking controversy.

Save The Date

In November, Chinese scientist He Jiankui shocked the world when he announced that he had brought CRISPR-edited human babies into the world. But the Chinese government has kept quiet in the face of news that a third CRISPR birth is expected soon, according to MIT Technology Review.

In January, Stanford bioethicist William Hurlbut announced that He had gene-hacked a third embryo and that the child would be born right around late June or early July. Late June’s come and gone, and now we find ourselves in early July. So either there’s no news to report, or the Chinese government is closely controlling the information surrounding the massive scientific controversy.

Closed Doors

Shortly after He’s work first became public knowledge, the Chinese government condemned the experiments and worked to expand its regulations for scientific research.

There’s little that can be done to stop people from using widely-accessible CRISPR technology to edit more humans, but governments and universities can work to prevent their scientists from doing so. To that end, the Chinese government’s secrecy around the gene-hacking controversy has become a point of contention among prominent scientists, according to MIT Tech Review.

“If you look at the big picture, there is a concerted effort by the Chinese government to change the regulatory framework. So why would they keep it secret?” University of Miami bioethicist Rosario Isasi told MIT Tech Review. “But they can if they want, and the world will never know. The Chinese government owes it to the international community to live up to the accountability they have promised.”

READ MORE: A third CRISPR baby may have already been born in China [MIT Technology Review]

More on gene-hacking: Third Gene-Hacked Baby’s Impending Birth Has Scientists Scrambling

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We May Never Know When That Third CRISPR Baby Is Born

The Era of Sex for Reproduction Is Coming to an End, Says Author

Once the cost of testing an embryo for genetic conditions drops, most parents will forgo traditional reproduction, according to author Henry T. Greely.

The Sex Talk

Henry T. Greely is the director of Stanford University’s Center for Law and the Biosciences, as well as its Program in Neuroscience and Society. Clearly, the guy knows a thing or two about technology and the role it plays in people’s lives — and he’s now predicting that technological advances will one day make sex for reproduction a thing of the past.

“My strongest prediction is in the future people will still have sex – but not as often for the purpose of making babies,” Greely, who published a book titled “The End of Sex and the Future of Human Reproduction,” told the BBC. “In 20 to 40 years, most people all over the world with good health coverage will choose to conceive in a lab.”

Test Tube Babies

In the four decades since the birth of the first “test tube baby,” more than 8 million people have been born via in vitro fertilization.

Today, parents producing some of those children are choosing to have their fertilized embryos undergo preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) prior to transfer into a uterus. This involves doctors removing cells from the embryos to see if a child would inherit any problematic genes from the parents.

Healthy Offspring

PGD gives parents the option of using only problem-free embryos for IVF, and according to Greely, once it’s more affordable and available, many parents will choose PGD over reproducing the old fashioned way.

“Like most things, there will be a fair amount of visceral negative reaction initially,” he told the BBC, before adding that public acceptance will come once parents realize that PGD children aren’t born with “two heads and a tail.”

READ MORE: Are we set for a new sexual revolution? [BBC]

More on the future of sex: Sex Researchers: For Many, Virtual Lovers Will Replace Humans

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The Era of Sex for Reproduction Is Coming to an End, Says Author

A Physicist and His Son Are 3D-Printing a Full-Scale Lamborghini

Physicist Sterling Backus is 3D printing a full-scale Lamborghini Aventador-inspired supercar in his own backyard with the help of his son.

Lambo 3D

Fifteen years ago, the Motion Picture Association of America released an anti-piracy public service announcement — that has since turned into a meme — aimed at those who illegally downloaded media online.

“You wouldn’t steal a car,” a message read during the opening credits of most commercial DVDs at the time.

Now, 3D printing could make the silly message a reality. Physicist Sterling Backus is 3D printing a full-scale Lamborghini Aventador-inspired supercar in his own backyard, as 3D Printing Media Network reports. He and his son have been working on the project for almost a year and a half. Sterling has already put about $20,000 into the project.

Print “Car”

The duo printed the body panels, taillights, headlights, and even air vents from a variety of plastics. To ensure the car was safe to drive, Backus wrapped some of the printed parts in carbon fiber.

The car is technically not made up of 3D printed parts in its entirety, though: the engine, chassis and other structural pieces were gathered separately.

“Our objective became showing the car off at the local schools as a STEAM project, to get kids interested in Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math,” Backus told 3D Printing Media Network.

Backyard Supercar

And no, it’s not piracy, according to Sterling.

“The parts’ design is based on the Lamborghini Aventador, but we have changed each panel significantly, to add our design flair,” Backus added. “In addition, no molds are made, and none are for sale. This is a one only project, and not for sale.”

READ MORE: You too could now 3D print a Lamborghini Aventador at home [3D Printing Media Network]

More on 3D printing: These Scientists Are 3D-Printing New Body Parts for Athletes

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A Physicist and His Son Are 3D-Printing a Full-Scale Lamborghini

We Asked an AI to Finish Real Elon Musk Tweets

We thought it would be fun to run some Elon Musk tweets through a neural network designed by OpenAI, the company he founded and quit.


We’ve written previously about Talk to Transformer, a site by OpenAI that uses a sophisticated artificial intelligence to complete passages of text with surprisingly deft context.

Close news watchers will recall that Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla and SpaceX, co-founded OpenAI, but decided to part ways with the company earlier this year, pointing to disagreements with its direction — which is why we thought it would be fun to run some of the eccentric billionaire’s most iconic tweets through Talk to Transformer.

Neural Musk

Musk announced some exciting news about the Boring Company today — but Neural Musk had different ideas for the tunnel-digging venture:

Remember when Musk suggested adding dragon wings to SpaceX’s Starship? The AI has another plan:

Musk’s riff on a dirty Tesla video was also no match for Neural Musk:

This was the tweet that led to the Boring Company — until Neural Musk put a Trumpian spin on it:

Musk recently joked about changing the Tesla horn sound. But his vision was no match for Neural Musk’s galaxy-brain concept:

Recall that beautiful render of Starship on the Moon? Neural Musk has bad news for its passengers:

More on Elon Musk: Elon Musk’s New Goal: “Reach the Moon as Fast as Possible”

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We Asked an AI to Finish Real Elon Musk Tweets

Watch a Super-Strong Robot Dog Pull a Three-Ton Airplane

Researchers at Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia announced a new hydraulic, quadrupedal robot dog, and showed the bot pulling a three-ton airplane.

Go Fetch

Man’s best friend may be great at pulling a sled, but a manmade best friend can pull an entire airplane.

A little over a month has passed since we witnessed a pack of Boston Dynamics robot dogs pulling a truck. Now, researchers at Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia (IIT) have announced a new version of their hydraulic, quadrupedal robot, HyQReal — and what better way to show off the bot’s capabilities than by pulling a three-ton airplane.

Have a look! The new quadruped robot #HyQReal tested by pulling 3 tons airplane. Realized by Dynamic Legged Systems Lab @IITalk @Moog_Industrial @GenovAeroporto @PiaggioOfficial. #ICRA2019 #robot #robotics #technology #TechnologyNews #Engineering #futuretech #HighTech pic.twitter.com/QrF1JnlUWZ

— IIT (@IITalk) May 23, 2019

Big Boy

Though the same height as SpotMini, HyQReal is three times heavier than its nimble cousin. The former stands at 84cm and weighs 30kg (approx. 2.75ft and 66lbs) while HyQReal is 90 cm tall, and weighs 130kg (approx. 2.95ft and 286lbs.)

That’s because the beefy bot is being developed by IIT to aid in disaster scenarios like fires.

“We are not targeting the first response yet,” Claudio Semini, project leader at IIT’s Dynamic Legged Systems lab said in an email to CNET, “but support in the aftermath of a disaster. Bringing sensors into unsafe areas, manipulating and moving objects, opening doors, etc.”

Rolling Thunder

While pulling the immense weight of a three-ton plane is impressive, the capability depends more on the rolling resistance of the aircraft’s tires than its overall weight.

Still, it’s a testament to the capability of HyQReal to take on heavy-duty tasks. At the end of the day, if it takes a pack of robot dogs to pull a truck and one robot dog to pull an airplane, perhaps it’s time we started treating robots and AI more nicely before we end up regretting it.

READ MORE: The new quadruped robot HyQReal tested by pulling 3 tons airplane [EurekAlert]

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

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Watch a Super-Strong Robot Dog Pull a Three-Ton Airplane

Can You Tell Which of These Models Is CGI?

Imma, a CGI fashion model, just scored a make-up modeling gig for a Japanese cosmetics brand.

Imma Real

Spoiler: it’s only the one in the middle.

The model in question is Instagram influencer Imma, who has racked up over 50,000 followers.

Imma may be rendered entirely by a computer, but that hasn’t stopped her from picking up her first gig: modeling Japanese makeup brand Kate Cosmetics for the Vice owned site i-D. In the photos, she’s posing alongside real human models, adding to the effect.

Virtual Models

Surprisingly, Imma isn’t the only virtual Instagram model around. For instance, Lil Miquela has garnered a lot of attention for her posts on Instagram with 1.5 million followers, but is arguably less photorealistic and easier to spot.

Imma even took part in an advertorial interview with i-D. She had some insightful comments to offer up when asked about how beauty needs to change in the future:

“The idea that the pursuit of an ideal and something that is like one can coexist,” she said, as interpreted by Google Translate. “There is no need to choose one or the other.”

READ MORE: One of these models doesn’t exist [Engadget]

More on virtual people: Watch a Real Pastor Baptize an Anime Girl in Virtual Reality

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Can You Tell Which of These Models Is CGI?