Response of an artificial iris to light like the human eye

An artificial iris manufactured from intelligent, light-controlled polymer material can react to incoming light in the same ways as the human eye. The Iris was developed by the Smart Photonic Materials research group from the TUT, and it was recently published in the Advanced Materials journal.


The human iris does its job of adjusting your pupil size to meter the amount of light hitting the retina behind without you having to actively think about it. And while a camera’s aperture is designed to work the same way as a biological iris, it’s anything but automatic. Even point-and-shoots rely on complicated control mechanisms to keep your shots from becoming overexposed. But a new “artificial iris” developed at the Tampere University of Technology in Finland can autonomously adjust itself based on how bright the scene is.

Scientists from the Smart Photonic Materials research group developed the iris using a light-sensitive liquid crystal elastomer. The team also employed photoalignment techniques, which accurately position the liquid crystal molecules in a predetermined direction within a tolerance of a few picometers. This is similar to the techniques used originally in LCD TVs to improve viewing angle and contrast but has since been adopted to smartphone screens. “The artificial iris looks a little bit like a contact lens,” TUT Associate Professor Arri Priimägi said. “Its center opens and closes according to the amount of light that hits it.”

The team hopes to eventually develop this technology into an implantable biomedical device. However, before that can happen, the TUT researchers need to first improve the iris’ sensitivity so that it can adapt to smaller changes in brightness. They also need to get it to work in an aqueous environment. However, this new iris is therefore still long ways away from being ready.

Optical Deep Learning: Learning with light

Artificial Neural Networks mimic the way the brain learns from an accumulation of examples. A research team at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) has come up with a novel approach to deep learning that uses a nanophotonic processor, which they claim can vastly improve the performance and energy efficiency for processing artificial neural networks.


Optical computers have been conceived before, but are usually aimed at more general-purpose processing. In this case, the researchers have narrowed the application domain considerably. Not only have they restricted their approach to deep learning, they have further limited this initial work to inferencing of neural networks, rather than the more computationally demanding process of training.

The optical chip contains multiple waveguides that shoot beams of light at each other simultaneously, creating interference patterns that correspond to mathematical results. “The chip, once you tune it, can carry out matrix multiplication with, in principle, zero energy, instantly,” said Marin Soljacic, an electrical engineering professor at MIT, in a statement. The accuracy leaves something to be desired for making out vowels, but the nanophotonic chip is still work-in-progress.

The new approach uses multiple light beams(as mentioned above) directed in such a way that their waves interact with each other, producing interference patterns that convey the result of the intended operation. The resulting device is something the researchers call a programmable nanophotonic processor.The result is that the optical chips using this architecture could, in principle, carry out calculations performed in typical artificial intelligence algorithms much faster and using less than one-thousandth as much energy per operation as conventional electronic chips.
The team says it will still take a lot more effort and time to make this system useful; however, once the system is scaled up and fully functioning, it can find many user cases, such as data centers or security systems. The system could also be a boon for self-driving cars or drones, says Harris, or “whenever you need to do a lot of computation but you don’t have a lot of power or time.”


What is Blockchain?

Blockchains in Bitcoin.


A blockchain is a public ledger of all Bitcoin transactions that have ever been executed. It is constantly growing as ‘completed’ blocks are added to it with a new set of recordings. The blocks are added to the blockchain in a linear, chronological order. Each node (computer connected to the Bitcoin network using a client that performs the task of validating and relaying transactions) gets a copy of the blockchain, which gets downloaded automatically upon joining the Bitcoin network. The blockchain has complete information about the addresses and their balances right from the genesis block to the most recently completed block.


Blockchain formation.

The blockchain is seen as the main technological innovation of Bitcoin since it stands as proof of all the transactions on the network. A block is the ‘current’ part of a blockchain which records some or all of the recent transactions, and once completed goes into the blockchain as a permanent database. Each time a block gets completed, a new block is generated. There is a countless number of such blocks in the blockchain. So are the blocks randomly placed in a blockchain? No, they are linked to each other (like a chain) in proper linear, chronological order with every block containing a hash of the previous block.

To use conventional banking as an analogy, the blockchain is like a full history of banking transactions. Bitcoin transactions are entered chronologically in a blockchain just the way bank transactions are. Blocks, meanwhile, are like individual bank statements.

Based on the Bitcoin protocol, the blockchain database is shared by all nodes participating in a system. The full copy of the blockchain has records of every Bitcoin transaction ever executed. It can thus provide insight about facts like how much value belonged a particular address at any point in the past.

In the above representation, the main chain (black) consists of the longest series of blocks from the genesis block (green) to the current block. Orphan blocks (purple) exist outside of the main chain.




Working of Bitcoin and Blockchain


 A blockchain – originally block chain– is a distributed database that is used to maintain a continuously growing list of records, called blocks. Each block contains a timestamp and a link to a previous block. A blockchain is typically managed by a peer-to-peer network collectively adhering to a protocol for validating new blocks. By design, blockchains are inherently resistant to modification of the data. Once recorded, the data in any given block cannot be altered retroactively without the alteration of all subsequent blocks and the collusion of the network. Functionally, a blockchain can serve as “an open, distributed ledger that can record transactions between two parties efficiently and in a verifiable and permanent way. The ledger itself can also be programmed to trigger transactions automatically.”

Intel Core i9

Intel recently announced a new family of processors for enthusiasts, the Core X-series, and it’s anchored by the company’s first 18-core CPU, the i9-7980XE.



Priced at $1,999, the 7980XE is clearly not a chip you’ll see in an average desktop. Instead, it’s more of a statement from Intel. It beats out AMD’s 16-core Threadripper CPU, which was slated to be that company’s most powerful consumer processor for 2017. And it gives Intel yet another way to satisfy the demands of power-hungry users who might want to do things like play games in 4K while broadcasting them in HD over Twitch. And, as if its massive core count wasn’t enough, the i9-7980XE is also the first Intel consumer chip that packs in over a teraflop’s worth of computing power.




If 18 cores are overkill for you, Intel also has other Core i9 Extreme Edition chips in 10-, 12-, 14- and 16-core variants. Perhaps the best news for hardware geeks: The 10 Core i9-7900X will retail for $999, a significant discount from last year’s version.

All of the i9 chips feature base clock speeds of 3.3GHz, reaching up to 4.3GHz dual-core speeds with Turbo Boost 2.0 and 4.5GHz with Turbo Boost 3.0 a new version of Turbo Boost which Intel has upgraded. The company points out that while the additional cores on the Core X models will improve multitasking performance, the addition of technologies like Turbo Boost Max 3.0 ensures that each core is also able to achieve improved performance. (Intel claims that the Core X series reaches 10 percent faster multithread performance over the previous generation and 15 percent faster single thread.)



(via Engadget, The Verge)


Google’s and Nvidia’s AI Chips


Google will soon launch a cloud computing service that provides exclusive access to a new kind of artificial intelligence chip designed by its own engineers. CEO Sundar Pichai revealed the new chip and service this morning in Silicon Valley during his keynote at Google I/O, the company’s annual developer conference.


This new processor is a unique creation designed to both train and execute deep neural networks—machine learning systems behind the rapid evolution of everything from image and speech recognition to automated translation to robotics. Google says it will not sell the chip directly to others. Instead, through its new cloud service, set to arrive sometime before the end of the year, any business or developer can build and operate software via the internet that taps into hundreds and perhaps thousands of these processors, all packed into Google data centers.

According to Dean, Google’s new “TPU device,” which spans four chips, can handle 180 trillion floating point operations per second, or 180 teraflops, and the company uses a new form of computer networking to connect several of these chips together, creating a “TPU pod” that provides about 11,500 teraflops of computing power. In the past, Dean said, the company’s machine translation model took about a day to train on 32 state-of-the-art CPU boards. Now, it can train in about six hours using only a portion of a pod.


Nvidia has released a new state-of-the-art chip that pushes the limits of machine learning, the Tesla P100 GPU. It can perform deep learning neural network tasks 12 times faster than the company’s previous top-end system (The TitanX). The P100 was a huge commitment for Nvidia, costing over $2 billion in research and development, and it sports a whopping 150 billion transistors on a single chip, making the P100 the world’s largest chip, Nvidia claims. In addition to machine learning, the P100 will work for all sorts of high-performance computing tasks — Nvidia just wants you to know it’s really good at machine learning.


To top off the P100’s introduction, Nvidia has packed eight of them into a crazy-powerful $129,000 supercomputer called the DGX-1. This show-horse of a machine comes ready to run, with deep-learning software preinstalled. It’s shipping first to AI researchers at MIT, Stanford, UC Berkeley, and others in June. On stage, Huang called the DGX-1 “one beast of a machine.”

The competition between these upcoming AI chips and Nvidia all points to an emerging need for simply more processing power in deep learning computing. A few years ago, GPUs took off because they cut the training time for a deep learning network from months to days. Deep learning, which had been around since at least the 1950s, suddenly had real potential with GPU power behind it. But as more companies try to integrate deep learning into their products and services, they’re only going to need faster and faster chips.


(via Wired, Forbes, Nvidia, The Verge)


A peek into NVIDIA’s self driving AI.

In a step toward making AI more accountable, Nvidia has developed a neural network for autonomous driving that highlights what it’s focusing on.

Sorta follow-up to my previous blog post: Is AI Mysterious?. Some of the most powerful machine-learning techniques available result in software that is almost completely opaque, even to the engineers that build it.


We still don’t know exactly how AI works, the people at Nvidia still don’t know why the AI they built wasn’t following a single instruction given by its creators. Instead, it relied entirely on an algorithm that had taught itself to drive by watching a human do it.

It simply matches input from several video cameras to the behavior of a human driver and figures out for itself how it should drive. The only catch is that the system is so complex that it’s difficult to untangle how it actually works.

Nvidia is now working to open the black box by developing a way to visually highlight what the system is paying attention to. Explained in a recently published paper, the neural network architecture developed by Nvidia’s researchers is designed so that it can highlight the areas of a video picture that contribute most strongly to the behavior of the car’s deep neural network. Remarkably, the results show that the network is focusing on the edges of roads, lane markings, and parked cars—just the sort of things that a good human driver would want to pay attention to.


Nvidia’s Convolutional Neural Network architecture for Self-Driving AI.

“What’s revolutionary about this is that we never directly told the network to care about these things,” Urs Muller, Nvidia’s chief architect for self-driving cars, wrote in a blog post.

Fascinatingly enough, this compares a lot to human intelligence where we don’t actually know how to describe certain actions we do, but we just do them.

This certainly highlights the fact that in the near future we might start seeing AI those are just like us or even Superintelligent. I highly recommend reading the book Superintelligence: Paths, Dangers, Strategies by Nick Bostrom.

(Sources: Nvidia, MitTechReview, Nvidia Blog)


The rise of A.I. and over-powering humans will prove to be a catastrophic situation. Elon Musk is attempting to combat the rise of A.I. with the launch of his latest venture, brain-computer interface company Neuralink.  Detailed information about Neuralink on Wait But Why. (Highly Recommended to Read!)


Musk seems to want to achieve a communications leap equivalent in impact to when humans came up with language – this proved an incredibly efficient way to convey thoughts socially at the time, but what Neuralink aims to do is increase that efficiency by multiple factors of magnitude. Person-to-person, Musk’s vision would enable direct “uncompressed” communication of concepts between people, instead of having to effectively “compress” your original thought by translating it into language and then having the other party “decompress” the package you send them linguistically, which is always a lossy process.

Another thing in favor of Musk’s proposal is that symbiosis between brains and computers isn’t fiction. Remember that person who types with brain signals? Or the paralyzed people who move robot arms? These systems work better when the computer completes people’s thoughts. The subject only needs to type “bulls …” and the computer does the rest. Similarly, a robotic arm has its own smarts. It knows how to move; you just have to tell it to. So even partial signals coming out of the brain can be transformed into more complete ones. Musk’s idea is that our brains could integrate with an AI in ways that we wouldn’t even notice: imagine a sort of thought-completion tool.

So it’s not crazy to believe there could be some very interesting brain-computer interfaces in the future. But that future is not as close at hand as Musk would have you believe. One reason is that opening a person’s skull is not a trivial procedure. Another is that technology for safely recording from more than a hundred neurons at once—neural dust, neural lace, optical arrays that thread through your blood vessels—remains mostly at the blueprint stage.


( via Wired, TechCrunch )

Is A.I. Mysterious?

Contemplating on the book I recently began, Superintelligence: Paths, Dangers, Strategies by Nick Bostrom, the author clearly describes the future of AI as tremendously frightening and tells us in what ways AI will overpower human beings, until a point in the future where the humans will no longer be needed. Such kind of intelligence will be superior to human beings, hence coined the term Superintelligence. Nick, further mentioned in the initial pages of the book that such kind of invention would be the last invention humans would ever make, and the AI would then invent new things itself, without feeling the need of a human being.

Does AI possess a darker side? (Enter article by MitTechReview)

Last year, a strange self-driving car was released onto the quiet roads of Monmouth County, New Jersey. This experimental vehicle was developed by researchers at Nvidia, didn’t look different from other autonomous cars, but it was unlike anything demonstrated by Google, Tesla, or General Motors, and it showed the rising power of artificial intelligence. The car didn’t follow a single instruction provided by an engineer or programmer. Instead, it relied entirely on an algorithm that had taught itself to drive by watching a human do it. Getting a car to drive this way was an impressive feat. But it’s also a bit unsettling since it isn’t completely clear how the car makes its decisions. Information from the vehicle’s sensors goes straight into a huge network of artificial neurons that process the data and then deliver the commands required to operate the steering wheel, the brakes, and other systems. The result seems to match the responses you’d expect from a human driver. But what if one day it did something unexpected—crashed into a tree, or sat at a green light? As things stand now, it might be difficult to find out why. The system is so complicated that even the engineers who designed it may struggle to isolate the reason for any single action. And you can’t ask it: there is no obvious way to design such a system so that it could always explain why it did what it did.

Now, once again, such kind of experiments and research may seem obscure at the moment or may even be neglected by some people, but what if an entire fleet of vehicles start working in the manner they learned and ignoring the commands by a human.

Enter OpenAI: Discovering an enacting the path to safe artificial general intelligence.

OpenAI is a non-profit artificial intelligence (AI) research company, associated with business magnate Elon Musk, that aims to carefully promote and develop friendly AI in such a way as to benefit humanity as a whole.

Hopefully, OpenAI will help us have friendly versions of AI.



The artist Adam Ferriss created this image, and the one below, using Google Deep Dream, a program that adjusts an image to stimulate the pattern recognition capabilities of a deep neural network. The pictures were produced using a mid-level layer of the neural network.

This image sure seems kind of spooky. But who knows, there might be some hidden sarcasm in the AI that we are yet to discover.

Meanwhile, you can give it a try .



Sources (MitTechReview, OpenAI, Wiki)

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Artificial Intelligence ready ARM CPUs (DynamIQ)

ARM processors are ubiquitous and many of the tech gadgets we used are powered by them, furthermore, the company is showing off its plans for the future with DynamIQ. Aimed squarely at pushing the artificial intelligence and machine learning systems we’re expecting to see in cars, phones, gaming consoles and everything else, it’s what the company claims is an evolution on the existing “big.Little” technology.


Here’s a high-level look at some of the new features, capabilities and benefits DynamIQ will bring to new Cortex-A processors later this year:

  • New dedicated processor instructions for ML and AI: Cortex-A processors designed for DynamIQ technology can be optimized to deliver up to a 50x boost in AI performance over the next 3-5 years relative to Cortex-A73-based systems today and up to 10x faster response between CPU and specialized accelerator hardware on the SoC that can unleash substantially better-combined performance.


  • Increased multi-core flexibility: SoC designers can scale up to eight cores in a single cluster and each core can have different performance and power characteristics. These advanced capabilities enable faster responsiveness to ML and AI applications. A redesigned memory subsystem enables both faster data access and enhance power management
  • More performance within restricted thermal budgets: Efficient and much faster switching of software tasks to match the right-sized processor for optimal performance and power is further enhanced through independent frequency control of individual processors
  • Safer autonomous systems: DynamIQ brings greater levels of responsiveness for ADAS solution and increased safety capabilities which will enable partners to build ASIL-D compliant systems for safe operation under failure conditions.



(source: ARM community, Engadget)

MIT lab’s smart boots could keep astronauts on their feet

If you’ve ever worn a spacesuit during a moonwalk or EVA, and I know a lot of you have, you were probably frustrated by how difficult it was to move around — both with the restrictions of the suit itself and the limitations on what you can see and feel. Researchers at MIT’s Man-Vehicle Lab want to make things easier with boots and other wearables that give the user haptic feedback warning them of obstacles they might not see.

It’s a serious consideration when you’re on a mission where every second count; we can all have a laugh now seeing footage of astronauts biffing it into moon dust, but if that uses up valuable breathable air or takes place during a time-sensitive operation like a rescue, it’s not so funny anymore.



That’s why Professor Leia Stirling and grad students at MIT are looking into alternative ways to keep astronauts informed of what’s around them so they can not just avoid stumbles, but make informed decisions.

“There’s a lot of different questions that we’re asking within the lab to help with different decisions that need to be made,” Stirling told TechCrunch. “This particular project looked at how can we potentially help someone navigate their environment and avoid obstacles at the same time?”

The solution is boots with built-in range-finding sensors that use haptic feedback (vibrations) to tell the user how close they are to an unseen moon rock or antenna. They start slow and speed up as the obstacle gets closer, a bit like the proximity alert some cars have when you’re backing into a parking spot.


“The Man Vehicle Lab is really interested in human-machine interactions,” Stirling said. “How do we enable the appropriate trust in those systems so that the person can use the information and make the right decision?”The boots, currently just prototypes, aren’t quite ready to launch into space, but they have been tested by members of the Mars Desert Research Society, which maintains a facility in the Mars-like conditions of the Utah desert.


(via TechCrunch)