Posts from August 2020

Brain interface – Neuralink surgical robot

  • The machine consists of three parts. There’s a “head,” which houses automated surgical tools and brain-scanning cameras and sensors, against which a patient situates their skull. A device first removes a portion of skull to be put back into place post-op. Then, computer vision algorithms guide a needle containing 5-micron-thick bundles of wires and insulation 6 millimeters into the brain, avoiding blood vessels. (Neuralink says the machine is technically capable of drilling to arbitrary lengths.) The wires — which measure a quarter of the diameter of a human hair (4 to 6 μm) — link to a series of electrodes at different locations and depths. At maximum capacity, the machine can insert six threads containing 192 electrodes per minute. (link)

Weekend links

  1. chimpanzee muscle exceeds human muscle in maximum dynamic force and power output by ∼1.35 times. This is primarily due to the chimpanzee’s higher fast-twitch fiber content, rather than exceptional maximum isometric force or maximum shortening velocities. (link)
  2. Depression and microbiom (link)
  3. Robots can guard against humans hurting robots. (link)
  4. Oumuamua was the first object ever seen flying into our solar system and back out again. That’s opposed to most solar system objects that turn circles around the sun, never leaving the celestial neighborhood. (link)


Military considerations for Israel

Very interesting and original paper on the military capabilities of Israel against Sunni and Shiite hegemonies.
As a practitioner of the mainly symbolic discipline I do, it is a good reality check.

Here’s an excerpt,

The study assesses that a Sunni military threat, either with or without Turkey, could rapidly and unexpectedly emerge. The current combined military capability of the Sunni states is relatively limited compared to that of Israel, but over the long term, Israel would likely prove unable to maintain the decisive technological superiority it now possesses versus the current Sunni militaries. In such a scenario, Israel’s current exaggerated emphasis on combat with non-state light infantry, located within urban areas, under counter-insurgency rules of engagement would combine to compromise its long-term ability to cope with a Sunni conventional combined arms threat that could arise in the future.

link (PDF)


Sunday links

  1. Violence in New York is up….In the last 28 days (through July 12), compared to last year, shootings have more than tripled (318 vs. 97). (link)
  2. How to Tell GPT-3 from a human? “The lesson here is that if you’re a judge in a Turing test, make sure you ask some nonsense questions, and see if the interviewee responds the way a human would.” (link) [not so fast, gwern shows how to circumvent this nonsense (link), also “Tempering Expectations…(link)”
  3. TV and radio could command our attention the way the speaker in a classroom would, through people paying attention to what others were attending to. But we use 21st-century media in isolation. (link)
  4. The human sperm flagellum rotates the cell to beat equally on all sides in 3D, not an eel-like, side to side motion. (link)
  5. Warlords of the air, Sergey Brin’s Revolutionary $19 Airship. (link)