A new start-up wants to transfer your consciousness to an artificial body so you can live forever.

Death is the one thing that’s guaranteed in today’s uncertain word, but now a new start-up called Humai thinks it might be able to get rid of that inconvenient problem for us too, by promising to transfer people’s consciousness into a new, artificial body.

If it sounds like science fiction, and that’s because it still is, with none of the technology required for Humai’s business plan currently up and running. But that’s not deterring the company’s CEO, Josh Bocanegra, who says his team will resurrect their first human within 30 years.

So how do you go about transferring someone’s consciousness to another robot body? As Humai explains on their website (which comes complete with new-age backing music):

“We’re using artificial intelligence and nanotechnology to store data of conversational styles, behavioural patterns, thought processes and information about how your body functions from the inside-out. 

This data will be coded into multiple sensor technologies, which will be built into an artificial body with the brain of a deceased human. Using cloning technology, we will restore the brain as it matures.”

What does that mean in plain speak? While it sounds very much like the singularity (with our brains being uploaded into computers), basically the company just wants to cryogenically freeze your brain and put it back in another body once the technology is ready to hook it up and repair it.

“When the technology is fully developed we’ll implant the brain into an artificial body,” Bocanegra explained to Popular Science. “The artificial body functions will be controlled with your thoughts by measuring brain waves. As the brain ages we’ll use nanotechnology to repair and improve cells. Cloning technology is going to help with this too.”

That sounds straightforward enough, but in reality, this is something that scientists around the world have struggled with for decades, and as yet there’s no evidence that it can actually be achieved.

Sure, we’ve worked out how to use brain waves to control things like artificial limbs,robots, and even other people’s arms, but getting an isolated brain to think and control a body independently is a whole other story.

Not to mention the fact that it’s becoming increasingly clear that our brain doesn’t work alone when it comes to regulating our behaviour and actions. Feedback fromour hormones is crucial to this process, as is information from other parts of our bodies, and even the bacteria that’s living in our intestines.

So it’s no surprise that experts aren’t signing up for Humai’s newsletter just yet. Michael Maven, a British software consultant, told David Moye from The Huffington Post that the idea is “damn near impossible”, not least because Bocanegra only has a team of two researchers (out of a total five staff members) and no venture capital.

“How will he connect it to a machine? You don’t just simply plug it in via USB. Nanotechnology is not an answer, it’s a buzzword,” Maven said Maven“The technology which could extract legible thoughts and ideas out of an organ made of living tissue is nowhere near anything we have yet.”

AI expert Andrea Riposati went a step further and questioned the legitimacy of the project, explaining that there was no scientific reason to think the technology needed would be ready in 30 years.

But Bocanegra responded and told The Huffington Post that “Humai is a legit project … Yes, it’s super ambitious, but that’s the reason why I’m excited to work on it.”

Still, there’s reason to be skeptical. Bocanegra’s last start-up was a cross between Airbnb and OK Cupid called LoveRoom, which essentially got attractive people to share rooms together to see if they got on. We’re not saying there’s anything wrong with that, but it doesn’t exactly give you the credentials to revolutionise an area of science that the world’s greatest minds (with huge teams and lots of funding) haven’t been able to crack.

So although it’s a nice idea, for now Y (still) OLO, and that life ends when your body does. But if that thought makes you really sad, just count yourself lucky that you’re not around for what happens next.

Scientists have developed gene-edited mosquitoes that can’t transmit malaria.

There are between 300 and 500 million new cases of malaria each year, with the disease costing as many as 1 million lives annually, but the majority of those cases could one day be avoided thanks to a significant but controversial new innovation developed by researchers in the US.

Gene-edited mosquitoes incapable of transmitting the malaria virus have been successfully developed, and they could ultimately overtake populations of malaria-carrying mosquitoes in the wild.

“This opens up the real promise that this technique can be adapted for eliminating malaria,” said Anthony James, a molecular biologist and geneticist at the University of California, Irvine.

Using the CRISPR gene-editing tool, the researchers introduced an antimalarial DNA element into the germ line of Anopheles stephensi mosquitoes, a major carrier of malaria in Asia. The technique resulted in 99.5 percent of the mosquitoes’ offspring inheriting the gene that prevents malaria transmission.

To measure how widespread the inserted gene element was in the offspring, the researchers also included in their genetic ‘cassette’ a protein that gave their eyes a red fluorescence. That way the scientists could easily figure out that almost all of the offspring generation had inherited the new genetic traits.

While their experimental breed was developed under tightly controlled lab conditions, the end goal is to introduce gene-edited insects into native populations, effecting agene drive that could ultimately eradicate malaria, due to gene-edited mosquitos overrunning natural specimens.

However, before any field tests can commence, the researchers will conduct more lab work to confirm the efficacy and safety of the malaria-blocking antibodies. The findings are published in PNAS.

“This is a significant first step,” said James. “We know the gene works. The mosquitoes we created are not the final brand, but we know this technology allows us to efficiently create large populations.”

But while such a gene drive holds huge promise for potentially eradicating malaria and ending the misery it causes to so many people, the idea is still very controversial – altering as it would the genetic properties of an entire species.

“[Gene drives] have tremendous potential to address global problems in health, agriculture, and conservation, but their capacity to alter wild populations outside the laboratory demands caution,” concluded the authors of a cautionary study on the technology in Science this year. “Just as researchers working with self-propagating pathogens must ensure that these agents do not escape to the outside world, scientists working in the laboratory with gene drive constructs are responsible for keeping them confined.”

Anti-ageing drug could let you live to 120 in good health

‘The idea that we would be talking about a clinical trial in humans for an anti-ageing drug would have been thought inconceivable.’ 

The world’s first anti-ageing drug will be tested on humans next year in trials which could result in people being able to live healthily well into their 120s.

Scientists now believe it is possible to stop people growing old and consign diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s to history.

Although it might seem like science fiction, researchers have already proven that the diabetes drug metformin extends the life of animals, and the Food and Drug Administration in the US has now given the go-ahead for a trial to see if the same effects can be replicated in humans.

If successful it will mean that a person in their 70s would be as biologically healthy as a 50-year-old.

Ageing expert Prof Gordon Lithgow, of the Buck Institute for Research on Ageing in California, is one of the study advisers. He said: “If you target an ageing process and you slow down ageing then you slow down all the diseases and pathology of ageing as well. That’s revolutionary. That’s never happened before.

“I have been doing research into ageing for 25 years and the idea that we would be talking about a clinical trial in humans for an anti-ageing drug would have been thought inconceivable.

“But there is every reason to believe it’s possible. The future is taking the biology that we’ve now developed and applying it to humans.”

Continued below.

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Ageing is not an inevitable part of life because all cells contain a DNA blueprint which could keep a body functioning correctly for ever. Some marine creatures do not age – or grow weaker as time passes – at all.

However, over our lifetime billions of cell divisions must occur to keep our bodies functioning correctly and the more times cells divide the more problems grow, and cells can no longer repair damage.

Scientists think the best candidate for an anti-ageing drug is metformin, the world’s most widely used diabetes drug which costs just 10 cents a day.

Metformin increases the number of oxygen molecules released into a cell, which appears to boost robustness and longevity.

When Belgian researchers tested metformin on the tiny roundworm C. elegans the worms not only aged slower, but they also stayed healthier longer. Last year Cardiff University found anecdotal evidence that when patients with diabetes were given the drug metformin they lived longer than others without the condition, even though they should have died eight years earlier on average.

The new clinical trial called Targeting Aging with Metformin, or TAME, is scheduled to begin in the US next winter. Scientists from a range of institutions are currently raising funds and recruiting 3,000 70 to 80-year-olds who have, or are at risk of, cancer, heart disease and dementia.

A baby girl born today is now expected to live to an average age of 82.8 years and a boy to 78.8 years, according to the Office for National Statistics. But if the results seen in animals are reproduced in humans, lifespan could increase by nearly 50 per cent.

Baby leaps into a brave new world

Each year around 100 children in Britain are born with a form of mitochondrial disease. The conditions, which range from deafness to heart disease and brain disorders, are often fatal. In 2016 a cure will come closer. Britain will become the first country to allow babies to be born using mitochondrial donation, creating children with genes from three people rather than two. It will inspire other countries to follow suit.

Mitochondria are the power-packs providing energy to cells. They live in the part of the cell outside the nucleus, and have their own genomes, which are passed down through the maternal line. Around 2,500 women in Britain carry mitochondria with mutations that could adversely affect their children. At the moment, genetic diagnosis can test embryos for some of these. But such screening (allowing the selection of disease-free embryos) is fully effective only in certain cases.

By contrast mitochondrial donation is an outright cure. The likeliest procedure involves removing the nucleus from an egg that comes from two parents through in-vitro fertilisation (IVF) and inserting it into an egg from a donor with healthy mitochondria which has had its nucleus removed. The embryo will then inherit the genes of three different people, though the contribution of the third party is modest: mitochondria contain only 37 of the roughly 20,000 genes which make up a human. Nuclear DNA, which provides the other 99.8%, will not be changed in the process, so inherited traits such as eye colour, a propensity for baldness and personality quirks will still come from two parents.

Some oppose the procedure on religious or ethical grounds. A few worry that babies born this way will be sterile. Others dislike the idea of “three-parent babies”, as the media have dubbed them, or fret that, as mitochondria are passed down in eggs, any female children born from the process will pass the changed genes to their children. Those opposed will probably still create a fuss as the first procedures go ahead.

Scientists are building a system that could turn atmospheric CO2 into fuel .

Scientists in Canada are developing an industrial carbon dioxide recycling plant that could one day suck CO2 out of the atmosphere and convert it into a zero-carbon e-diesel fuel. Developed by tech start-up Carbon Engineering and partly funded by Bill Gates, the system will essentially do the job of trees, but in places unable to host them, such as icy plains and deserts.

Just like these new solar cells that are designed to split water into a hydrogen fuel, the CO2 recycling plant will combine carbon dioxide with hydrogen split from water to form hydrocarbon fuel. The plan is to provide the technology that could one day produce environmentally friendly fuel to complement the renewable energy systems we have now. “How do you power global transportation in 20 years in a way that is carbon neutral?” Geoff Holmes, business development manager at Carbon Engineering, told Marc Gunther atThe Guardian. “Cheap solar and wind are great at reducing emissions from the electricity. Then you are left with the transport sector.”

Carbon Engineering is one of a handful of companies around the world that are now set on coming up with ways to suck enough carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere to actually put a dent in the effects of climate change. There’s also the New York City-based start-up Global Thermostat, and Swiss-based Climeworks, which demonstrated earlier this year with Audi how its technology can capture carbon dioxide, and deliver it to German company Sunfire, where it was recycled into a zero-carbon diesel fuel.

While Climeworks’ demonstration was impressive, what all three companies now need to do is figure out how to make their atmospheric carbon dioxide to fuel systems economically viable. And this won’t be easy. One problem they’re going to have to overcome is the high cost of heating their carbon dioxide to around 400 degrees Celsius so they can process it properly. Another problem is that few investors are interested in giving them money until they can prove that this is actually feasible.

As Gunther reports for The Guardian, governments and private investors aren’t interested in paying anyone to come up with ways to simply suck carbon dioxide out of the environment, no matter how beneficial to the environment it might be. Plus even if someone was interested, they’d better be willing to fork out the billions of dollars it’s going to take to build a system that could actually make a discernible difference to the world’s climate. These developers need to offer their investors something valuable in return, and the obvious answer is fuel.


Right now, Carbon Engineering’s planned system could only capture only about 450 tonnes of CO2 each year, which would barely cover the carbon emissions of 33 average Canadians, but they say this system could be scaled up to 20,000 times to make it more practical.

As the video explains below, direct air capture seems to be the only potentially feasible way to absorb carbon dioxide that’s already been emitted from small mobile sources such as cars, trucks, and planes, which make up 60 percent of carbon dioxide emissions today. The systems require 1,000 times less land than carbon-sucking trees, and can be installed on land, like desert plains, that isn’t worth cultivating or inhabiting.

“I believe we have reached a point where it is really paramount for substantive public research and development of direct air capture,” Klaus Lackner of Arizona State University’s Centre for Negative Carbon Emissions said at the American Physical Society meeting in the US earlier this year.

“Scientists are increasingly convinced that we are going to need large scale removal systems to fight climate change,” Noah Deich from the California-based Centre for Carbon Removal told The Guardian. “I’m excited about direct air capture. It could be a really important technology to add to the portfolio.”

Watch the video below to see how Carbon Engineering plans on doing it. It’s going to take a while before we see the captured carbon to fuel model become a viable solution, but that’s not stopping the likes of Carbon Engineering, Climeworks, and Global Thermostat. We’re excited to see what they come up with.

Scientists have developed a power cell that harnesses electricity from algae

Next week, international leaders and scientists are meeting in Paris to figure out how to lower the world’s reliance on fossil fuels – but one of the key challenges they’ll face is finding clean and highly efficient energy sources to take their place.

One candidate for the job? Green slime. Or, technically, blue-green slime. Scientists in Canada have used blue-green algae to energise a new kind of power cell that harnesses an electrical charge from the photosynthesis and respiration of cyanobacteria, which are the microorganisms that make up blue-green algae.

“Both photosynthesis and respiration, which take place in plant cells, involve electron transfer chains. By trapping the electrons released by blue-green algae during photosynthesis and respiration, we can harness the electrical energy they produce naturally,” said engineer Muthukumaran Packirisamy from Concordia University in Montreal.

The photosynthetic power cell consists of an anode, cathode, and proton exchange membrane. The blue-green algae are placed in the anode chamber, and as they undergo photosynthesis, they release electrons onto the electrode surface. With an external load attached to the cell, it’s possible to extract the electrons and harness power from the device.

From a natural resources point of view, blue-green algae are a fantastic choice to help take the burden off diminishing fossil fuels cyanobacteria are one of the most prosperous microorganisms on Earth. Plus, unlike other renewable energy sources like solar power and wind power, their efficiency doesn’t vary with changes in the weather.

“By taking advantage of a process that is constantly occurring all over the world, we’ve created a new and scalable technology that could lead to cheaper ways of generating carbon-free energy,” said Packirisamy.

It’s still early days for the technology, with the researchers noting that they have a lot of work to do in terms of scaling the power cell to make the concept commercially viable.

So far, they’ve measured open-circuit voltage as high as 993 millivolts and obtained a peak power of 175.37 microwatts, as detailed in their published findings in Technology. If they can expand on these initial achievements, the researchers hope the system will one day be powerful enough to run the electronic devices we use everyday – in addition to helping humanity cut down greenhouse gas emissions.

“In five years, this will be able to power your smart phone,” Packirisamy told Chris Arsenault at Reuters. Take that, lithium-ion.

This new touchscreen material could see the end of daily smartphone charging

Requires almost zero power to run.

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Scientists in the UK have invented a new type of touchscreen material that requires very little power to illuminate, offering up a cheap alternative to today’s smartphone and tablet screens, with vivid colours and high visibility in direct sunlight.

The team is already in talks with some of the world’s largest consumer electronics corporations to see if their new material can replace current LCD touchscreens in the next couple of years, which could spell the end for daily smartphone charging. “We can create an entire new market,” one of the researchers, Peiman Hosseini, told The Telegraph. “You have to charge smartwatches every night, which is slowing adoption. But if you had a smartwatch or smart glass that didn’t need much power, you could recharge it just once a week.”

Developed by Bodie Technologies, a University of Oxford spin-off company, the new display is reportedly made from a type of phase-change material called germanium-antimony-tellurium, or GST. The researchers are being understandably cagey about exactly how it’s made as they shop the technology around, but it’s based on a paper they published last year describing how a rigid or flexible display can be formed from microscopic ‘stacks’ of GST and electrode layers.

Each stack is made of a single 7-nanometre-thick layer of GST inserted between two layers of a transparent electrode. This stack is fed a very low-energy electric current to produce colour images.

“Initially, still images were created using an atomic force microscope, but the team went on to demonstrate that such tiny ‘stacks’ can be turned into prototype pixel-like devices,” The Engineer reports. “These ‘nano-pixels’ – just 300 by 300 nanometres in size – can be electrically switched ‘on’ and ‘off’ at will, creating the coloured dots that would form the building blocks of an extremely high-resolution display technology.”

They say their ultra-thin display material can produce vivid colour displays at very high resolution – even when hit with bright, direct sunlight – because of the way it manipulates incoming light. “This makes them potentially useful for ‘smart’ glasses, foldable screens, windshield displays, and even synthetic retinas that mimic the abilities of photoreceptor cells in the human eye,” says the team.

With very little electricity required to illuminate a display made from this special ‘GST sandwich’ configuration, the team says they could dramatically cut the overall amount of power consumed by a smartphone.

Often when we’re using our smartphones and smartwatches, the majority of the power is being used to keep the display running, which includes an LCD panel, touchscreen, and backlight. Replacing this with a low-energy alternative could see us ditching the nightly charge for a far more convenient weekly charge.

We’ll have to wait and see if announcements will be made about big commercial partnerships, but the researchers are confident they’ll have a prototype out within the next 12 months. Maybe this will be the technology that finally breaks us free from our utter dependance on our phone cords.

Here’s how the way you’re born could affect your brain development

C-section or natural?

Whether babies are born naturally or via caesarean section could have a lasting effect on how their brains develop, early findings from a study in the US have suggested. By analysing the growth of baby mice, scientists have identified different types of cell development based on how they were born.

When a baby is born, the brain naturally produces more cells than it needs before killing some off. Neuroscientists from Georgia State University looked at how brain cells developed in mice immediately after birth, and found increased rates of cell death in mice born via caesarean section compared to mice born vaginally. “We were struck by this peak of cell death right at birth,” Nancy Forger told Brain Decoder.

The research is still at the preliminary stage, but it collaborates to what we already know about the way the nervous system grows in the first few years of life. But why exactly would the two methods of birth have such different effects? It’s too early to say, but one possibility is that it’s connected to the way that our bacteria-based microbiomes are passed on to us by our mothers.

Depending on the birth method, these can come from vaginal microbiota or from skin-dwelling species, such as Lactobacillus and Staphylococcusprevious research has shown. Scientists think that this has a lasting effect on our immune system, and the researchers from Georgia State want to add brain development to that list as well.

They also found that the c-section mice were on average larger than their counterparts – which backs up earlier research into links between obesity and type of birth method – and quieter. If these same connections can be found in human babies, we might have to rethink our approach to caesarean sections: the next step is to try and confirm a link between the immune cells of the brain – called the microglia – and the rate at which cells die off.

During a normal labour process, babies are exposed to certain biological processes, such as a rush of hormones, that never kick in if labour doesn’t start. Scientists are now busy trying to work out exactly what the long-term effects of a c-section are and how we might be able to compensate for it using drugs administered after birth.

The researchers say a close look at the consequences of caesarean birth is necessary, with some 30 percent of babies born in the US delivered this way (in other countries, the rate is even higher). As the delivery method is both a personal and a medical decision for the mother, having the full facts available before a choice is made is important.

Woman has emergency surgery on her arm after hair band causes serious infection | Health News | Lifestyle | The Independent

A woman was forced to undergo surgery on her arm after she developed a life-threatening bacterial infection believed to have been caused by a hairband on her wrist.

Like many women, Audree Kopp, from Louisville in the US state of Kentucky, kept a hair tie on her wrist – often out of necessity or forgetting to remove it.

But she has since warned others against doing so, after bacteria on the accessory caused a severe infection.

Ms Kopp first noticed something was wrong with her arm when a lump appeared and began to grow on her wrist.


A news reporter gestures towards the type of hair band which caused Ms Kopp’s problem

Dismissing it as a spider bite at fisrt, she told WLKY News that she became concerned when the lump “just kept getting bigger and redder”.

“I didn’t believe it at first, I thought that it was a spider bite or something else, not from wearing a hair tie.”

After antibiotics prescribed by her familiar doctor were unable to tackle the infection, she was given emergency surgery.

“It could have been a whole different ballgame, people are known to go into a coma, your body shuts down,” she told WLKY.

Ms Kopp wrote on Facebook that the glitter tie “rubbed a tiny scratch” on her wrist and bacteria entered the wound.

“I was admitted to the ER, transported by ambulance to another hospital for emergency surgery. my white cell count was thru the roof, and I was lucky to have NOT had sepsis [sic],” she wrote of the type of bodily response which can be life-threatening.

Her doctor advised her to avoid keeping hair ties on her wrist that are plastic, and to ensure she washes her hairbands when she washes her hands.

“Please share this, because I’m pretty sure about 90% of us females don’t think twice about keeping hair ties on our wrists,” she wrote on her page.

Plant lamps powered by soil nutrients bring electricity to remote areas of Peru