🧠 Meta Trains AI to Read People's Minds. Scientists Can Wirelessly Charge Stuff That's 30 Meters Away
Hey! Welcome to the sizzling September edition of Bizarro Devs. In this issue we've scoured the web to bring you the latest and greatest from the sometimes wacky, sometimes wild, but always interesting world of technology. This month's highlight reel features:
🧠 Researchers from Facebook's parent company Meta have trained AI to "read people's minds"
🔌 Scientists have shown that they can use infrared laser light to wirelessly transmit 400mW of electricity across a significant distance
🖥️ Chinese company Baidu released their first superconducting quantum computer called "Qian Shi"
📰 From the Newsroom
We don't normally think of saying a word as being a process. On a neurological level though, it most certainly is. When humans intend to speak, our brains take into account how we are going to move our mouths to form the words that will subsequently be produced by our vocal chords.
What's fascinating is that even if we ultimately choose not to proceed with the final step of actually saying a word out loud, our brains will still react the same way.
Researchers at Meta have begun studying this brain phenomena using AI. In one study, they looked at 169 healthy adult participants who listened to stories and sentences being read out loud to them. As they listened, scientists recorded their brain activity.
This data was then uploaded into an AI model, which was programmed to find patterns. The goal was to see if the algorithm could “hear” what participants were listening to, according to the electrical and magnetic activity in their brains.
The main purpose behind the study was to give patients who have suffered traumatic neurological injuries the ability to communicate. The idea being that AI could read a person's brain to understand the words they intend to speak, and then presumably a computerized voice could render the audio of the intention.
AI is often depicted in the media and in popular culture as a take-over-the-world threat to humanity that will lead to a future dystopia, but this is an excellent example of AI being used for a positive goal.
Imagine yourself walking into an airport. Your cell phone battery is on 2%. In the midst of getting ready for your flight, you forgot you had an important client call scheduled. The good news? It's a full hour before take off. The bad news? Your phone is about to die. You search for the nearest USB charging station, but all the ports are occupied.
You panic...or do you?
Maybe in 2022 you do, but in the future, you'll probably be able to charge your phone while you use it – no cables or plugs required.
Researchers in South Korea successfully tested the use of infrared laser light to transmit 400mW of power over distances of up to 30 meters (98 feet). While 400mW isn't strong enough to charge a smartphone, the technological breakthrough only happened recently. If they scale it over time, we may very well see the day when our phones will "magically" charge without any visible external power source.
"Distributed laser charging" is the technical term for how the researchers pulled it off. The specific kind they produced was shown to be safer and to be able to travel longer distances than previous experiments using similar wireless power transmission.
Application of the technology has the potential to benefit multiple industries - not only personal gadgets like cell phones. It could also be used in environments where cabling is hard to put together or maintain; or where electrical connections can cause interference or be a fire hazard.
We can all probably admit that the concept of your phone charging with no wire while you're using it sounds cool and futuristic, but is anyone else a bit concerned about an invisible power beam shooting electricity directly at their head?
Chinese tech giant Baidu has officially entered the quantum computing space with a processor and an "all-platform" stack 🖥️
Quantum computing is a field of computer science that many have heard about, but few understand what it actually means. At a very basic level, what's important to know is that it exponentially amplifies the horsepower of traditional computers by using something called qubits. These qubits allow particles to simultaneously exist in more than one state, and thus perform calculations that might take a regular computer millions of years to do.
If all that sounds exciting, then you're going to love Baidu's recent announcement:
Baidu just released their first quantum computing processor, dubbed Qian Shi, which will feature 10 of the qubits mentioned above.
Qian Shi is going to accelerate research in fields like artificial intelligence, computational biology, material simulation, and finance.
Baidu also announced the simultaneous release of Liang Xi, which they called their "all-platform quantum hardware-software integration solution." It was described as being able to provide various services that will be accessible via mobile and desktop apps, as well as the Cloud. Baidu's vision with this, is to make it possible to access quantum computing anytime and anywhere, even on your smartphone.
While we aren't likely to see a massive consumer adoption of quantum computing in the very near future, with Baidu's release of Qian Shi and Liang Xi, they've collectively taken all of us one step closer toward quantum computing being more accessible.
⛓️ Ten Must See Links of the Month
Thanks to a partnership between Uber Eats and Nuro, some parts of the U.S. will soon be saying goodbye to humans delivering them food, as robots will be taking over the responsibility.
Germany has officially become the first country in the world to have a rail line that's entirely run by hydrogen-powered trains. The 93 million euro project launched last month, and features 14 hydrogen trains servicing routes along the Bremervörde, Lower Saxony area of Germany.
Nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes. So goes the saying. But there's a species of jellyfish called Turritopsis dohrnii that neither pays taxes, nor dies. The taxes part is still a mystery, but researchers from the Universidad de Oviedo in Spain have now isolated the genes that make them biologically immortal.
Speaking of jellyfish, anyone who loves underwater diving will appreciate what researchers at the University of Washington recently invented - the world's first underwater messaging app.
USB cables are about to get the Usain Bolt treatment, as USB 4 Version 2.0 promises speeds of up to 80 Gbps - double that of Version 1.0 and even faster than Thunderbolt 4.
Physicists in the U.S. have recently out-sprinted the speed of light. Okay, not literally. But, through the use of technology, they were able to produce speeds more than 30% faster. That doesn't mean we'll be able to fly from Tokyo to London in three seconds. The actual practical application of this discovery will be used for future laser development that relies on the underlying technology.
If you feel empathy for the plight of dairy cows, but can't quite get into plant-based milk, then you might be excited to try the next generation of milk alternatives, which uses science to produce the same proteins found in cow's milk.
Although there are no official applications to become a resident yet, those looking to make a move around the year 2030, may consider billionaire Marc Lore's utopian city "Telosa" as their future home. Mr. Lore has stated that it will be a new model for society, governed by “equitism.”
Found yourself in another life or death situation again with no cell tower nearby and no connection? No problem. Well, no problem if you buy either Apple's new iPhone 14 or Huawei's new Mate 50 cell phone, both featuring breakthrough emergency texting via satellite link.
Chinese ecommerce giant Pinduoduo is coming to take a piece of Amazon dot com's market share in the U.S. - but their labor practices are cause for concern.
🎤 It’s How They Said It
You can complain because roses have thorns, or you can rejoice because thorns have roses.
- Tom Wilson
🧮 The numbers game
10,000 years is how long it would take even the best regular computer to solve a specific problem that a Google quantum computer was able to solve in only minutes.
40 percent is the percentage of large companies planning to create initiatives around quantum computing by 2025 - according to technology research firm, Gartner Inc.
Over $7.1 billion USD will be the expected global market value of quantum-computing hardware by 2026 - according to Research and Markets, another research firm.
That's it for this month. If you have links to share, then my emails are always open. Simply reply to this email to land in my inbox.
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Have a great month,