Elon Musk, easily one of the most audacious business entrepreneurs and tech mavens in modern times, has promised self-driving, autonomous cars for years now. Earlier this year he even went so far as to predict the commercial release of a beta fleet of autonomous vehicles by the end of 2020.
It turns out that prediction may have had a substantial foundation behind it because last week Musk stunned Tesla enthusiasts with a demo of the company’s forthcoming “Full Self-Driving” (FSD) beta. The presentation confirmed a major upgrade to Tesla’s self-driving suite and shocked viewers with a video demo of the beta car’s futuristic dashboard in action.
The test demo featured a specially selected trained driver but the most jaw-dropping aspect undoubtedly involves the dashboard that represents what the car’s neural network is “seeing” as it drives. Multiple glowing modules and real-time data monitors depict a full spectrum of the road ahead, highlighting pedestrian movements, parked cars, and unmarked lane dividers.
Musk himself calls the upgrade a “quantum leap” in the autonomous vehicles race and his Tesla ‘bros’ seem to be just as sold.
One driver featured in the video commented on the car’s first turn, “It paused to look, dude!”
Later in the demo, that driver expanded on the almost creepy, human-like impulses demonstrated by the vehicle: “I almost felt like I was still driving, because I still looked [before making a turn], and the car felt like it was looking, so that was amazing and truly mind-blowing how it was working.”
The neural net used in the new software allows drivers to engage the Autopilot advanced driver-assist mode on local and non-highway streets. The company released terse warnings about the use of the beta car, saying that it still requires constant human oversight because “it may do the wrong thing at the worse time.”
Experts note the risk of a haphazard release, which could result in drivers performing experimental stunts for YouTube videos. In this vein, The Verge described the whole spectacle with succinct criticism:
“Frankly, this looks terrifying — not because it seems erratic or malfunctioning, but because of the way it will inevitably be misused.”
Ed Niedermeyer, communications director for Partners for Automated Vehicle Education, issued the following statement:
“Public road testing is a serious responsibility and using untrained consumers to validate beta-level software on public roads is dangerous and inconsistent with existing guidance and industry norms. Moreover, it is extremely important to clarify the line between driver assistance and autonomy. Systems requiring human driver oversight are not self-driving and should not be called self-driving.”
In its publicly released warning, Tesla acknowledges these risks and the probability that dangerous rule-breaking and stunts are inevitable. There have already been fatal crashes involving autonomous vehicles and there will likely be more. As a result, the company says the Autopilot feature should only be engaged by attentive drivers who have both hands on the wheel.
Despite these dangers, Musk continues to aim for a 2020 wide release.
“Full Self-Driving is in early limited access Beta and must be used with additional caution,” the company writes. “It may do the wrong thing at the worst time, so you must always keep your hands on the wheel and pay extra attention to the road. Do not become complacent.“
Although many critics are expressing an abundance of caution with regard to Tesla’s beta rollout, it is widely believed by automotive and industry experts that autonomous vehicles will one day dramatically improve traffic, reduce car accident injuries, and could save millions of lives. The industrial automation and robot revolution will also shake up the job market and society as a whole.
So, what’s the verdict from The Mind Unleashed readers? Will you buy a self-driving beta car in the first year of its release or will you wait to see the fatality statistics?
Humans May Have Found a Way To Not Only Stop Aging – But To Reverse It as Well
Humans have long to reverse the effects of aging and prolong their lives. Whether this was due to a love of power, a love of wealth or simple human anxiety about the loss of youth, tales about immortality can be found in the folk tales of countless cultures.
And while aging is a wholly natural process, humans have always struggled to fight against it – be it through science and medicine or through the search for supposed cures such as the mythical Fountain of Youth.
And now, Israeli scientists have claimed to have figured out a solution not only to the process of biological aging – but to reverse it as well, simply by administering pure oxygen in a pressurized chamber.
In a study published Nov. 18 in the peer-reviewed journal Aging, the scientists claim to have showed how aging could be reversed in two key biological clocks in humans related to aging and illness by administering high-pressure oxygen in a pressurized chamber.
When humans grow olders and their cells divide, the sequences of DNA at the end of chromosomes – known as telomeres – grow shorter with time. After the telomeres become too short, the cell is unable to replicate and eventually dies.
While telomere shortening can keep rogue cancerous cells from multiplying rapidly, this also results in genetic aging. As a result, geriatric cells that aren’t able to divide – also known as senescent cells – accumulate throughout our lives, and are one of the key causes of aging.
In the clinical study, 35 people aged 64 or older were given hyperbaric oxygen treatments (HBOT) for 90 minutes a day, five times a week over the course of three months. Blood samples were collected from subjects prior to the treatment, after after the first and second months of the trial, and two weeks after the trial ended.
The patients didn’t have any lifestyle, diet, or medication changes during the study. However, their blood revealed major increases in the telomere length of their cells and a decrease in the number of their senescent cells.
For the researchers, the results of the study offered proof that the process of aging is reversible.
“Researchers around the world are trying to develop pharmacological and environmental interventions that enable telomere elongation,” Prof. Shai Efrati of Tel Aviv University told the Jerusalem Post. “Our HBOT protocol was able to achieve this, proving that the aging process can in fact be reversed at the basic cellular-molecular level.”
The groundbreak study, he added, “gives hope and opens the door for a lot of young scientists to target aging as a reversible disease.”
The oxygen treatment also improved subjects’ attention, ability to process information, as well as subjects’ executive functions, the researchers said.
While attempts to halt aging through modifying one’s lifestyle or intensively exercising can provide “some inhibiting effect on telomere shortening”, the hyperbaric oxygen treatment is more effective, said Efrati’s partner at the Shamir Medical Center, Chief Medical Research Officer Amir Hadanny.
“In our study, only three months of HBOT were able to elongate telomeres at rates far beyond any currently available interventions or lifestyle modifications,” Hadanny said.
The study could open the door to a radical new approach to medical problems and medicine in general.
“Today telomere shortening is considered the ‘Holy Grail’ of the biology of aging,” Prof. Shai Efrati of Tel Aviv University told the Jerusalem Post. “We are not [just] slowing the decline – we are going backwards in time.”
Scientists: The Human Brain And the Entire Universe Have Odd Similarities
An astrophysicist at the University of Bologna and a neurosurgeon at the University of Verona have claimed that the brain resembles the universe. The two Italian researchers came up with the galaxy-brain theory that is out of this world: The structures of the perceptible universe, they say, are astonishingly comparable to the neuronal networks of the human brain.
University of Bologna astrophysicist Franco Vazza and University of Verona neurosurgeon Alberto Feletti document the extraordinary similarities between the cosmic network of galaxies and the complex web of neurons in the human brain. The detailed study was published in the journal Frontiers in Physics showcasing the human brain has roughly 27 orders of magnitude separated in scale, while similarly, the composition of the cosmic web shows comparable levels of complexity and self-organization, according to the researchers.
The brain itself contains an estimated 69 billion neurons, while the visible universe is comprised of at least 100 billion galaxies, strung together like a mesh network. Even more intriguing both galaxies and neurons only account for about 30 percent of the total masses of the universe and brain. Further, both galaxies and neurons arrange themselves like pearls on a long string.
Beginning from the shared features of the two systems, the two researchers examined a simulation of the network of galaxies in comparison to sections of the cerebral cortex and the cerebellum. Their purpose was to inspect how matter variations propagate.
In the case of galaxies, the remaining 70 percent of mass is dark energy. The equivalent in the human brain, the pair said was water.
“We calculated the spectral density of both systems,” Vazza said in a statement about the experiment. “This is a technique often employed in cosmology for studying the spatial distribution of galaxies. Our analysis showed that the distribution of the fluctuation within the cerebellum neuronal network on a scale from 1 micrometer to 0.1 millimeters follows the same progression of the distribution of matter in the cosmic web,” he added, “but, of course, on a larger scale that goes from 5 million to 500 million light-years.”
The amount of interwoven connections originating from each node also were strangely alike sparking further interest to the researchers.
“Once again, structural parameters have identified unexpected agreement levels,” Feletti said in the statement. “Probably, the connectivity within the two networks evolves following similar physical principles, despite the striking and obvious difference between the physical powers regulating galaxies and neurons.”
The team is anticipating that their preliminary research could lead to new analysis procedures advancing knowledge about both cosmology and neurosurgery. Which would enable scientists to better comprehend how these compositions have developed over time.
Scientists Splice Monkey Brains With Human Genes to Make Them Smarter in Bizarre Experiment
Scientists have spliced monkey brains with human genes in a bizarre “Planet of the Apes” experiment.
The experiments were conducted by the Planck Institute of Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics in Germany and the Central Institute for Experimental Animals in Japan. Japanese and German researchers jointly injected a gene called ARHGAP11B — which directs stem cells in the human brain — into the dark matter of marmoset fetuses, according to a release about the historic research.
After the process, the scientists discovered that the primates’ brains had become more human-like by developing larger, more advanced neocortexes in the area that controls cognition and language, according to the study published in the journal Science earlier this year in June.
According to pictures published by the team, the modified monkey brains almost doubled in size at around 100-days into development.
“We found indeed that the neocortex of the common marmoset brain was enlarged and the brain surface folded,” said study author Michael Heide.
The neocortex is the newest part of the brain to develop a potential sign that ARHGAP11B may have been what caused brain maturity during human evolution, the researchers expressed.
Eventually, the scientists decided to abort the monkey fetuses due to “unforeseeable consequences,” according to the study.
Surprisingly, this isn’t the first time that scientists have injected monkeys with human genes. Previously last year researchers in southern China and U.S. scientists jointly reported similar experiments creating 11 transgenic rhesus monkeys (eight first-generation and three second-generation) with extra copies of another human gene MCPH1 suspected of playing a role in shaping human intelligence. Except during the prior experiment they allowed them to fully develop.
The researchers in that study found that the transgenic monkeys carrying the human gene were important for brain development, and the monkeys showed human-like brain development as well.
Further, they discovered transgenic monkeys exhibited better short-term memory and shorter reaction time compared to wild rhesus monkeys in the control group.
That means that both studies observed that when different human genes were inserted into monkeys brains, the organs began to develop similar to a human. That’s a massive discovery for the history of evolution of man kind!
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