Q&A: Nanobots could explore human cells – but their size is an engineering challenge

Scientists are developing virus-sized robots that could defuse blood clots, explore human cells or even scrub water of impurities. But as these inventions get smaller, the laws of motion that govern these machines are not very intuitive, so researchers are drawing inspiration from nature, says Brad Nelson, professor of robotics at ETH Zürich, Switzerland, who … Read more

Machine learning and big data are unlocking Europe’s archives

From wars to weddings, Europe’s history is stored in billions of archival pages across the continent. While many archives try to make their documents public, finding information in them remains a low-tech affair. Simple page scans do not offer the metadata such as dates, names, locations that often interest researchers. Copying this information for later … Read more

Brain-controlled computers are becoming a reality, but major hurdles remain

A robotic companion called PEANUT provides brain-computer interface users with social feedback, such as encouragement, while they use the system. Image credit - Inria/C. Morel

by Tom Cassauwers Imagine controlling your computer just by thinking. It sounds far-out, but real advances are happening on these so-called brain-computer interfaces. More researchers and companies are moving into the area. Yet major challenges remain, from user training to the reality of invasive brain implant procedures. Sensors in pig brains – that’s what Elon Musk … Read more

Categories ICT

Opening the ‘black box’ of artificial intelligence

When decisions are made by artificial intelligence, it can be difficult for the end user to understand the reasoning behind them. Image credit - phylevn/Flickr, licenced under CC BY 2.0

Artificial intelligence is growing ever more powerful and entering people’s daily lives, yet often we don’t know what goes on inside these systems. Their non-transparency could fuel practical problems, or even racism, which is why researchers increasingly want to open this ‘black box’ and make AI explainable. In February of 2013, Eric Loomis was driving … Read more

Categories ICT