Apr 2, 2012

Artificial Intelligence and Spider Goats

First, Catherine Stine has determined the winners of the Future Hybrids contest.

Congratulations Allan Douglas, Suze, and Misha.

Now on to A and B

Artificial intelligence made a leap forward with IBM's new neurosynaptic chip that for the first time actually mimics how a human brain functions.

A team of scientists led by IBM researcher Dharmendra Modha have announced the creation of two demonstration chips that not only store and process information in close parallel, the way a human brain does, but actually possess "neurons" and "synapses" (the artificial neurons and synapses numbering in the hundreds and thousands, respectively) that will soon be capable of forming, strengthening, and breaking connections on the fly. LEARN MORE

Biotechnology Breakthrough

As amusing as the idea is of goats dangling from spinnerets in barns, reality doesn't go that far. Not yet. Scientists figured out how to get spider silk in goat milk. The milk needs to be processed before the spider silk is useable.

Spider silk is attractive as a material because it is tough, elastic, strong and adhesive; tougher than Kevlar and stronger than steel. Scientists and engineers have wanted to explore more uses for this natural material. The problem: spiders are territorial and kill each other, making spider farms difficult. They needed larger supplies to test medical applications such as artificial ligaments and tendons, eye sutures, and jaw repair.

Uses can also be anticipated for bulletproof vests and improved car airbags. LEARN MORE

Experiments continue, hoping to grow a strain of alfalfa that produces even greater quantities of spider silk.

I realized most of my upcoming stories utilize gene manipulation in some way, so these types of breakthroughs fascinate me.

What do you think about spider goats and computers closer to thinking like we do?

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