This Week In Tech And Telco: Exoskeletons Are Cool
Welcome back to our weekly round-up of tech and telco news. We're taking a little break from our newsletter for a couple of weeks while we get some other projects off the ground, so make sure you're checking in with us every week for fresh content. We have this blog going out every Friday, and our brand new podcast, The PathCast, every Wednesday.
Anyway, before you tune out for the weekend, here's your weekly dose of tech news. But first, have you seen our new podcast?
While Zuckerberg and Musk are also barking up this tree, it seems someone got there first. Using an exoskeleton suit controlled by his mind, a man with paralysis has been able to walk again.
While the suit was suspended with an overhead harness to prevent him from falling, this is a groundbreaking moment and paves the way for further advances. The revelation is a result of exoskeleton trials with Clinatec and the University of Grenoble, France.
The successful exoskeleton relies upon implanted brain sensors and wires entering the skull, while the most common approach for helping those with spinal injuries so far has been to insert ultrathin electrodes into the brain.
Exoskeletons have long been a point of interest, especially within the transhumanist community, as technology becomes more sophisticated. As well as healthcare and human advancement, the tech will likely be used for military purposes.
At its event dedicated to Surface products, Microsoft teased a new, dual-screen Android smartphone called the Surface Duo.
This is the tech company’s first attempt at an Android phone, following the relative failure of the Nokia Lumia range which sported a windows operating system.
While Microsoft has yet to issue a formal press release on the launch, there is a product site and a video.
It’s also worth noting this won’t be a foldy screen, unlike hopeful products from competitors, but two screens connected via a hinge.
Cisco is collaborating with SingularityNET to develop applications of decentralized Artificial General Intelligence.
SingularityNET specializes in decentralized Artificial Intelligence, allowing anyone to create, share, and monetize AI services at scale.
Artificial General Intelligence is a branch of AI that focuses on a computer’s ability to learn or understand tasks that a human can – the primary goal of AI.
SingularityNET’s platform uses blockchain to decentralize its source, meaning there is no single point of failure or attack that could compromise the AI’s ability to learn.
Dr. Ben Goertzel, SingularityNET CEO, said: “To really build a global decentralized thinking machine we are going to need to put a lot of complicated ingredients together, and the collaboration between Cisco and SingularityNET has the potential to accelerate things tremendously.”
Google is facing scrutiny in the US once again, this time over its plans to encrypt data on what users are browsing in Chrome.
The concern is that Google will have an unfair advantage, and ISPs will be kept out of the loop about what’s happening on their network — which, of course, is very valuable data indeed.
The Wall Street Journal learned that the House Judiciary Committee is investigating Google's plans to implement DNS over HTTPS in Chrome, while the Department of Justice has "recently received complaints" about the practice.
Telecoms companies are also concerned the changes could "foreclose competition in advertising and other industries," an alliance of ISPs told Congress in a letter.
Elon Musk gave a presentation on Saturday revealing Space X’s rocket, Starship. It’s this rocket that is intended to fly passengers to The Moon and Mars.
While still in development, Starship is expected to be the largest and most powerful rocket ever made, producing about double the thrust of the Saturn V that carried Apollo astronauts to The Moon back in 1969, according to MIT Tech Review.
Starship is over 165 feet (50 meters) tall, with three of SpaceX’s reusable Raptor engines attached to its base, weighing about 1,400 tons with a full tank of fuel.
The rocket will be tested in “one to two months” and carry its first passengers next year.
What other tech news are we reading?
- Facebook has acquired Servicefriend, which builds ‘hybrid’ chatbots, allegedly for its cryptocurrency wallet customer service Calibra. The deal closed in recent weeks, according to TechCrunch, with much of Servicefriend team moving over to Facebook too. (TechCrunch)
- 3D-printed 'shapeshifting' robots for Saturn's Moons? Okay. NASA is developing mini robots that can roll, fly, float and swim, then morph into a single machine. A contraption that “looks like a drone encased in an elongated hamster wheel" ... "splits in half, then the two halves rise on small propellers for aerial exploration." (NASA)
- Levi's new Trucker Jacket, an upgrade to previous smart clothing, paves the way for smart jeans, thanks to Google. Google’s Jacquard hardware, the tech used for Levi’s clothes, is smaller and has more possibilities. (WIRED)
- Telcos under the aegis of Association of Telecoms Companies of Nigeria (ATCON) raised the alarm over fresh plans by the Senate to impose 9% Communications Service Tax (CST) on operators and TV providers. (This Day Live)
- What would it take to shut down the entire internet? (Gizmodo)