Elon Musk Says Neuralink Has Implanted Its Chip in a Human for the First Time


Elon Musk says that the first person has received a neural implant from his controversial brain chip startup Neuralink. Musk revealed the information in a tweet posted on his social media platform, X (formerly Twitter). The tweet reads merely:

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For months, the company has been looking for a candidate to undergo its experimental surgery, the point of which is to install a tiny computer chip into the top layer of the person’s skull. Once installed, the chip is supposed to provide a number of health and scientific benefits, including an ability to measure brain activity and to give people with physical or mental disabilities newfound capabilities.

The company has said that this first operation was designed as part of a trial to test the safety and effectiveness of the implant as well as the medical procedure that installs it. From Musk’s tweet, I suppose we can assume that Neuralink not only found a suitable candidate but successfully implanted them with the company’s brain chip.

To integrate Neuralink’s chip, a human surgeon is tasked with cutting a small hole into the patient’s skull, after which a 7-foot-tall robot named “R1" is responsible for carrying out the “ultra delicate” procedure of suturing the electrified wires of the company’s implant directly into the person’s brain. If the surgery is successful, the company’s hardware is designed to rest in the portion of the patient’s skull that was removed, right below the scalp, while its tiny wires carry data back and forth between the brain and the weird startup’s servers.

The identity of the patient that underwent the surgery is unknown. Neuralink has said that it initially wants to focus on providing solutions for individuals with mental and physical maladies, and that it intends to initially carry out procedures on quadriplegics. Some experts contend that the technology could have benefits for people suffering from disabilities. Eventually, the company wants to pivot to creating new forms of cybernetic “enhancements” for everyday people—what Musk has referred to as transhumanist “brain hacking.”

Since it was founded in 2016, the company has been on a mission to use neural implants and experimental science to usher in a new era of computer-to-brain interfacing. For years, the company tested its implants on animals. While many of those test subjects—monkeys, pigs, and sheep—are still alive today, there are a few (okay, maybe more than “a few”) that have ended up getting euthanized. Some, allegedly, died quite horribly—leading to accusations of “grotesque” animal abuse and a lawsuit from a physicians group. Now, however, the company claims its operations are safe. The startup received FDA approval for human clinical trials last May.

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January 29, 2024 at 05:54PM

Gogoro’s new flagship Pulse is a sporty, high-tech scooter


Gogoro is best known for its battery swapping tech, but its new scooter may be one of the quickest and highest-tech models available. The flagship Pulse can accelerate from 0 to 32MPH in just 3.05 seconds thanks to the company’s "Hypercore" tech that delivers 378nm of torque to the back wheel. At the same time, it’s fitted with a 10.25 HD touch display that offers turn-by-turn navigation and more. 

The first thing that stands out with the Pulse is the new angular and modern design that differs from past models that were more on the retro side. It also has the benefit of reducing non-essential drag and using airflow to cool the electric motor, according to Gogoro. 

The new 9kW Hyper Drive powertrain features a new hybrid water and air dual-cooling system, allowing the H1 motor to hit up to 11,000 RPM. And while it boosts performance, it’s also supposed to reduce energy consumption, the company wrote. 

Gogoro's new flagship Pulse is a sporty, high-tech scooter

It uses an active-matrix lighting system with 13 separate LED units. Each of those actively switch on to adapt to the rider’s speed, turns and even weather conditions, presumably to improve visibility in traffic. As you drive it faster, the active-matrix headlights also extend further down the road and the active-corner lighting "provides wider bands of light aimed in the direction of each turn," Gogoro says. 

The 10.25-inch panoramic touch display is something you don’t see on too many scooters. Along with the turn-by-turn navigation with real-time traffic information, it comes with a new iQ Touch HD system that display battery swap locations, speeds, power levels and more, while letting you select from different ride modes. Gogoro claims it’s the first two-wheeled vehicle to be powered by Qualcomm’s new Snapdragon QWM2290 digital chassis. 

Riders will be able to unlock and start the Pulse using their iPhone by adding the scooter key to their Apple Wallet. You’ll also be able to use Apple’s Find My feature to locate the scooter if it’s stolen or lost. 

Gogoro is based in Taiwan, and now operates in nine markets including India, The Philippines, China, Japan, Korea, Singapore, Indonesia and Israel. The company has yet to announce a price for the Pulse, but it’ll start shipping in Taiwan in late Q2 2024. 

This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://ift.tt/cExGKoO

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January 30, 2024 at 04:27AM

Florida EV Buyers Shocked To Learn Their Cars Eat Tires


EV buyers are often motivated by a desire to save money on gas and/or drive something more environmentally friendly. But, a recent story out of Florida in The Miami Herald details how EV owners there have been blindsided by how fast they’re having to change the tires on their EVs.

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The Herald spoke with the owner of a shop that specializes in EV repair who told them just how often he’s seeing owners in for tire wear and replacement.

At EV Garage Miami, a Sweetwater repair shop that services 90 percent electric vehicles, lead technician Jonathan Sanchez said tires are the most frequent thing customers come in about, no matter what model or make of EV they’re driving. Tire mileage can vary widely of course, but he frequently changes EV tires at just 8,000 to 10,000 miles — a fourth or even fifth of typical tire wear on a gas-burning car.

Neil Semel, the owner of a Mercedes EQS, told The Herald that if he had known how often he would be buying tires, he would’ve never bought the car. “If somebody looked at me and said, Mr. Semel, you are going to love this car but in about 7,000 miles you will have to pay 1,400 or 1,500 dollars to replace the tires, I wouldn’t have bought the car,” he said.

So why the fast wear? It’s a combination of lots of power that can be put down instantly and wild curb weights. But it also comes down to individual driving style, as Sanchez pointed out. “If you drive like grandma, the type of car shouldn’t make a difference,” Sanchez said.

What do tire companies have to say about all of this? They’re aware of the problem and are working on EV-specific solutions. Like Michelin who spoke to The Herald:

Michelin suggests getting the Primacy tire for electric vehicles, which they say offers an up to 7% increase in range. Michelin also launched “Self seal” which would self-repair punctures and cut back on some weight by not needing to keep a spare wheel in the back.

Even with the fast wear that EVs have, owners love them. Semel says he and his wife love their EQS, even though it’s eating tires. He just wishes tire companies would come up with something that wears more slowly. “It honestly is a great car. It gets a lot of miles. And honestly, my wife pulls up she plugs it in and we’re done.”

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January 25, 2024 at 12:00PM

Sundance documentary Eternal You shows how AI companies are ‘resurrecting’ the dead


A woman has a text chat with her long-dead lover. A family gets to hear a deceased elder speak again. A mother gets another chance to say goodbye to her child, who died suddenly, via a digital facsimile. This isn’t a preview of the next season of Black Mirror — these are all true stories from the Sundance documentary Eternal You, a fascinating and frightening dive into tech companies using AI to digitally resurrect the dead.

It’s yet another way modern AI, which includes large language models like ChatGPT and similar bespoke solutions, has the potential to transform society. And as Eternal You shows, the AI afterlife industry is already having a profound effect on its early users.

The film opens on a woman having a late night text chat with a friend: "I can’t believe I’m trying this, how are you?" she asks, as if she’s using the internet for the first time. "I’m okay. I’m working, I’m living. I’m… scared," her friend replies. When she asks why, they reply, "I’m not used to being dead."

Christi Angel, speaking to an AI model of her friend via Project December, in the documentary Eternal You
Beetz Brothers Film Production

It turns out the woman, Christi Angel, is using the AI service Project December to chat with a simulation of her first love, who died many years ago. Angel is clearly intrigued by the technology, but as a devout Christian, she’s also a bit spooked out by the prospect of raising the dead. The AI system eventually gives her some reasons to be concerned: Cameroun reveals that he’s not in heaven, as she assumes. He’s in hell.

"You’re not in hell," she writes back. "I am in hell," the AI chatbot insists. The digital Cameroun says he’s in a "dark and lonely" place, his only companions are "mostly addicts." The chatbot goes on to say he’s currently haunting a treatment center and later suggests "I’ll haunt you." That was enough to scare Angel and question why she was using this service in the first place.

While Angel was aware she was talking to a digital recreation of Cameroun, which was based on the information she provided to Project December, she interacted with the chatbot as if she was actually chatting with him on another plane of existence. That’s a situation that many users of AI resurrection services will likely encounter: Rationality can easily overwhelm your emotional response while "speaking" with a dead loved one, even if the conversation is just occurring over text.

In the film, MIT sociologist Sherry Turkle suggests that our current understanding of how AI affects people is similar to our relationship with social media over a decade ago. That makes it a good time to ask questions about the human values and purposes it’s serving, she says. If we had a clearer understanding of social media early on, maybe we could have pushed Facebook and Twitter to confront misinformation and online abuse more seriously. (Perhaps the 2016 election would have looked very different if we were aware of how other countries could weaponize social media.)

A series of cameras captures a person's expression in Eternal You
Beetz Brothers Film Production

Eternal You also introduces us to Joshua Barbeau, a freelance writer who became a bit of an online celebrity in 2021 when The San Francisco Chronicle reported on his Project December chatbot: a digital version of his ex-fiancee Jessica. At first, he used Project December to chat with pre-built bots, but he eventually realized he could use the underlying technology (GPT-3, at the time) to create one with Jessica’s personality. Their conversations look natural and clearly comfort Barbeau. But we’re still left wondering if chatting with a facsimile of his dead fiancee is actually helping Barbeau to process his grief. It could just as easily be seen as a crutch that he feels compelled to pay for.

It’s also easy to be cynical about these tools, given what we see from their creators in the film. We meet Jason Rohrer, the founder and Project December and a former indie game designer, who comes across as a typical techno-libertarian.

"I believe in personal responsibility," he says, after also saying that he’s not exactly in control of the AI models behind Project December, and right before we see him nearly crash a drone into his co-founders face. "I believe that consenting adults can use that technology however they want and they’re responsible for the results of whatever they’re doing. It’s not my job as the creator of the technology to prevent the technology from being released, because I’m afraid of what somebody might do with it."

But, as MIT’s Turkle points out, reanimating the dead via AI introduces moral questions that engineers like Rohrer likely aren’t considering. "You’re dealing with something much more profound in the human spirit," she says. "Once something is constituted enough that you can project onto it, this life force. It’s our desire to animate the world, which is human, which is part of our beauty. But we have to worry about it, we have to keep it in check. Because I think it’s leading us down a dangerous path."

Creating virtual models in Eternal You
Beetz Brothers Film Production

Another service, Hereafter.ai, lets users record stories to create a digital avatar of themselves, which family members can talk to now or after they die. One woman was eager to hear her father’s voice again, but when she presented the avatar to her family the reaction was mixed. Younger folks seemed intrigue, but the older generation didn’t want any part of it. "I fear that sometimes we can go too far with technology," her father’s sister said. "I would just love to remember him as a person who was wonderful. I don’t want my brother to appear to me. I’m satisfied knowing he’s at peace, he’s happy, and he’s enjoying the other brothers, his mother and father."

YOV, an AI company that also focuses on personal avatars, or "Versonas," wants people to have seamless communication with their dead relatives across multiple channels. But, like all of these other digital afterlife companies, it runs into the same moral dilemmas. Is it ethical to digitally resurrect someone, especially if they didn’t agree to it? Is the illusion of speaking to the dead more helpful or harmful for those left behind?

The most troubling sequence in Eternal You focuses on a South Korean mother, Jang Ji-sun, who lost her young child and remains wracked with guilt about not being able to say goodbye. She ended up being the central subject in a VR documentary, Meeting You, which was broadcast in South Korea in early 2020. She went far beyond a mere text chat: Jang donned a VR headset and confronted a startlingly realistic model of her child in virtual reality. The encounter was clearly moving for Jang, and the documentary received plenty of media attention at the time.

"There’s a line between the world of the living and the world of the dead," said Kim Jong-woo, the producer behind Meeting You. "By line, I mean the fact that the dead can’t come back to life. But people saw the experience as crossing that line. After all, I created an experience in which the beloved seemed to have returned. Have I made some huge mistake? Have I broken the principle of humankind? I don’t know… maybe to some extent."

Eternal You paints a haunting portrait of an industry that’s already revving up to capitalize on grief-stricken people. That’s not exactly new; psychics and people claiming to speak to the dead have been around for our entire civilization. But through AI, we now have the ability to reanimate those lost souls. While that might be helpful for some, we’re clearly not ready for a world where AI resurrection is commonplace.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://ift.tt/6fH2Y5F

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January 26, 2024 at 09:39AM

George Carlin’s estate sues over AI-generated comedy special


George Carlin’s estate has filed a lawsuit against the makers of an hour-long comedy special featuring an AI replica of the comedian, as reported by NBC News. The late comedian’s estate, including his daughter Kelly Carlin, filed the suit in a Los Angeles federal court last night. It claims the online media company that posted the video, Dudesy, violated the performer’s right to publicity and infringed on a copyright.

The video’s called “George Carlin: I’m Glad I’m Dead” and features an hour of new “material” by the comedian, who died in 2008. As AI replications go, it’s certainly not going to break any records. It’s audio only and, honestly, doesn’t even sound that much like Carlin. It sounds like a below average impression of the comedian. Also, it’s very, very bad. Carlin had an extremely unique voice and this video is mostly basic punchlines you can see coming from a mile away. There’s very little outlandish wordplay. There’s no righteous fury. There are, however, a lot of jokes comparing Donald Trump to poop.

"I understand and share the desire for more George Carlin. I, too, want more time with my father. But it is ridiculous to proclaim he has been ‘resurrected’ with AI,” Kelly Carlin wrote in a statement. She went on to write that the Carlin in that video is a “poorly-executed facsimile cobbled together by unscrupulous individuals.”

The estate’s attorney, Josh Schiller, went on to warn that AI risked becoming "a tool that allows bad-faith actors to replace creative expression, to exploit the already existing work of creators, and to get rich at the expense of others."

Dudesey, the channel that created and posted the video, is actually run by the popular comedian Will Sasso and author Chad Kultgen. They didn’t write the material here. The AI was trained on thousands of hours of Carlin routines to create the facsimile, according to a report by NPR. Sasso and Kultgen are, however, named in the suit. The pair behind Dudesy liken the AI-created Carlin to an impressionist who impersonates a public figure.

Sasso suggested in a podcast last week that the AI version was no replacement for the real thing, going on to say that it was “interesting how heated people get about it.” The lawsuit calls the video a “piece of computer-generated click-bait which detracts from the value of Carlin’s comedic works and harms his reputation.”

The complaint seeks unspecified damages and the immediate removal of “any video or audio copies” of the hour-long special. So, if you’re curious to hear a pretty bad Carlin impression make obvious jokes about Taylor Swift, you had better get on that while you have the chance.

Of course, this is just the latest salvo in the ongoing war between AI algorithms and humans that create works of value. This issue was at the very heart of last year’s Hollywood writers’ strike and the recent spate of AI-created celebrities used to scam consumers. This is just the beginning. It’s an election year, after all, and bad actors have already used an AI replication of President Biden’s voice to urge New Hampshire residents not to vote in last week’s primary.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://ift.tt/JVPdLur

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January 26, 2024 at 11:10AM

Here’s Why You May Want To Take Vitamin D and Magnesium Together


Our bodies require a range of vitamins and minerals to maintain a healthy balance and keep us in good shape. Some of those – such as vitamin D and magnesium – have strong bonds and work together. Here is how vitamin D and Magnesium impact the body when taken together. 

What Is Vitamin D? 

Vitamin D is known as the “sunshine vitamin,” as the body generates it via exposure to ultraviolet light from the sun’s rays. It’s also found in a range of foods such as mushrooms, eggs, and fatty fish, but only in small amounts in others. Getting enough vitamin D is important for bone health as it helps the body absorb calcium and phosphorus, but it also has a role in maintaining overall health.

(Credit: Tatjana Baibakova/Shutterstock)

Read More: What You Need to Know About Vitamin D and Supplements

What Is Magnesium? 

Meanwhile, magnesium is responsible for a range of bodily functions, such as regulating blood pressure and supporting muscle and nerve function, amongst many more. It’s known that magnesium influences over 300 metabolic and enzymatic reactions, says Deeptha Sukumar at the Department of Nutrition Sciences at Drexel University. Contrary to vitamin D, it is possible to attain sufficient magnesium through your diet by eating plenty of foods such as nuts, seeds, whole grains, beans, and fatty fish to boost intake.


“What is super interesting is that there is an interaction between vitamin D and magnesium,” Sukumar said. “One of those enzymes that’s dependent on magnesium activates vitamin D in the body.”

Read More: What You Should Know About Magnesium Supplements

How Do Vitamin D and Magnesium Work Together? 

Essentially, magnesium is required for vitamin D to function, and this partnership means that the body needs both in adequate amounts to function well and remain healthy. “It is therefore essential that the recommended amount of magnesium is consumed to obtain the optimal benefits of vitamin D,” notes a study published in 2018.

Yet vitamin D and magnesium deficiencies can be common; one study suggests that as many as half of all Americans are deficient in the latter. It’s recommended that men should consume between 400 and 420mg of magnesium daily, while women should aim for 310 to 320mg.

Read More: They May Taste Good but are Gummy Vitamins Effective?

How To Prevent Vitamin D and Magnesium Deficiencies

Supplements are one route to tackle this problem. Vitamin D supplements are often recommended in winter for those living in northern latitudes when exposure to the sun is limited. Magnesium supplements are currently all the rage and are creating a social media buzz, with advocates arguing they can assuage all kinds of medical maladies, including anxiety and mental illness.

Experts underline, however, that supplements should be taken with caution and follow medical advice.

“Just because you think you are deficient, don’t start supplementing yourself,” Sukumar said. Vitamin D levels can be easily assessed with a simple blood test. Though this is not the case for magnesium, as only small amounts are contained in the blood. One way to assess your intake would be looking at your diet and consuming plenty of magnesium-rich foods, she added. 

Read More: Do Multivitamins Work and How Do You Know If You Need One?

Why You Should be Cautious with Supplements

Jumping straight to supplements could cause its own health problems if they are taken unnecessarily or in too high a dosage. Too much magnesium can lead to a range of consequences, such as diarrhea, stomach cramps, and nausea. Vitamin D, meanwhile, is fat-soluble, meaning that the body stores it to draw from stocks when needed.

In the event that a vitamin D deficiency is indicated supplements may be required and research suggests that dual supplementation with magnesium can be beneficial.

“Our research shows that instead of just using vitamin D if you take it with magnesium, you might achieve better results,” Sukumar said. Her research group focused on obese and overweight people, who are often at risk of vitamin D deficiencies. In such cases, high-dose vitamin D supplementation is often given, but results from her trial suggested that a dual supplementation of both vitamin D and magnesium actually worked best. “I believe that as magnesium influences vitamin D at the level of the biochemical pathway, these findings will be applicable to other populations as well.”

“Typically, when you are diagnosed with a low vitamin D level, I think the best way would be for you to get supplemented to be able to raise your levels to within a normal range,” Sukumar added. “And then continue with healthy lifestyle practices, like being outdoors more and consuming foods that are rich in vitamin D and magnesium.” 

Read More: Should You Use Serotonin Supplements?

Article Sources

Our writers at Discovermagazine.com use peer-reviewed studies and high quality sources for our articles, and our editors review for scientific accuracy, and editorial standards. Review the sources used below for this article:

Read More: What You Need to Know About Vitamin C, Vitamin B, Turmeric, and Fish Oil/Omega-3

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January 27, 2024 at 07:36PM

Watch Chinese startup Landspace launch and land reusable rocket prototype for 1st time (video)


The Chinese company Landspace just notched a big milestone in its quest to develop a reusable rocket. 

The Beijing-based startup launched and landed a test version of its Zhuque-3 rocket at the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in Inner Mongolia on Jan. 19.

The vehicle soared about 1,150 feet (350 meters) into the sky during the roughly 60-second flight, then came back down for a pinpoint landing within 7.9 feet (2.4 meters) of its target, according to Landspace, which declared the test mission "a complete success."

Related: Chinese startup Landspace poised to begin reusable rocket landing tests

The Chinese company Landspace’s Zhuque-3 VTVL-1 test article launches on a test mission on Jan. 19, 2024. The vehicle reached a maximum altitude of about 1,150 feet (350 meters) and made a pinpoint touchdown, according to the company. (Image credit: Landspace)

Zhuque-3 is a two-stage, stainless-steel rocket whose first stage will be reusable, like that of SpaceX’s workhorse Falcon 9

The Zhuque-3, which Landspace hopes to start flying in 2025, will stand about 250 feet (75 meters) tall and be capable of carrying up to 40,350 pounds (18,300 kilograms) to low Earth orbit (LEO) in reusable mode, according to SpaceNews.

The Falcon 9, for comparison, can haul about 50,265 pounds (22,800 kg) to LEO, according to its specifications page.

The Zhuque-3 VTVL-1 vehicle lifts off on its test mission on Jan. 19, 2024. (Image credit: Landspace)

Landspace — which also flies the expendable, and currently operational, Zhuque-2 rocket — isn’t the only Chinese outfit working to develop a reusable launch vehicle, as SpaceNews notes.

Others include the companies iSpace, Galactic Energy and Orienspace, as well as the state-owned China Aerospace Science and Technology Corp., whose many projects include a fully reusable version of its future Long March 9 heavy lifter.

Join our Space Forums to keep talking space on the latest missions, night sky and more! And if you have a news tip, correction or comment, let us know at: community@space.com.

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January 24, 2024 at 12:06PM