The Download

What's up in emerging technology

Today Paralysed man stands in rehab center

Electric implant helps paralyzed man walk the length of a football field

Two new reports suggest that electrically stimulating the spinal cords of accident victims can let them walk again.

New approach: Paralysis is caused when a person’s spinal cord gets injured or severed in an accident. Doctors are testing whether implanting… Read more

Image credit:
  • Mayo Clinic

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Yesterday A battle scene from Starcraft II

Tencent’s AI programs defeat Starcraft’s own AI

AI researchers at the Chinese tech giant Tencent have posted details of two programs capable of beating the “cheating” AI found in the popular video game Starcraft.

The AI programs, called TStarBot1 and TStarBot2, were able to defeat the AI built into… Read more

Image credit:
  • Blizzard Entertainment

Editor's Pick

Maybe we can afford to suck CO2 out of the sky after all

While avoiding the worst dangers of climate change will likely require sucking carbon dioxide out of the sky, prominent scientists have long dismissed such technologies as far too expensive.

But a detailed new analysis published today in the journal Joule...

Read the full story →
Yesterday Image of a mosquito biting a human.

Scientists just showed how to drive malaria mosquitoes to extinction

A team in the UK has caused a buzzing cage full of mosquitoes to “crash” and die out after releasing sex-distorting DNA into their gene pool. The researchers say they eventually hope to use the technology, called a gene drive, to make malaria-carrying… Read more

Image credit:
  • skeeze | Pixabay
Tram in Potsdam

The world’s first autonomous tram just launched in Germany

The world’s first driverless tram went for its first test ride in real traffic in Potsdam, Germany, the Guardian reports. The adapted Combino tram was developed by engineering firm Siemens.

All aboard: On Friday, the autonomous tram trundled along a six-kilometer… Read more

Image credit:
  • Siemens
September 21, 2018 An engineer tinkers with a Bristlecone quantum chip

Why the US can’t afford to let politics derail its planned quantum strategy

A US national plan for quantum technologies could be delayed by the country’s midterm elections. At a meeting next week, the White House’s Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) will stress the importance of getting a national strategy in place… Read more

Image credit:
  • Google
Fertilised human egg

IVF moonshot takes next step toward making human eggs from skin

Japanese scientists just took a new step toward a “game changing” way to make babies from skin cells.

The news: The Japanese team reports in the journal Science that they’re closer than ever. The team, led by Mitinori Saitou and colleagues from Kyoto… Read more

Image credit:
  • Alan Handyside | Wellcome

Editor's Pick

The world’s most powerful supercomputer is tailor made for the AI era

Since 2013, Chinese machines have occupied the number one slot in rankings of the world’s most powerful supercomputers. Now America is back on top again. Engineers at the US Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Lab in Tennessee have just unveiled...

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September 20, 2018 Image of rover landing on Ryugu asteroid.

Japan has just landed two rovers on the surface of an asteroid

The country is the first to successfully land rovers on an asteroid’s surface.

The journey: The Hayabusa-2 spacecraft set out on its mission to the 3,000-foot-wide Ryugu asteroid in 2014 and finaly arrived in June this year.

The news: Two of the the mission’s… Read more

Image credit:
  • Jaxa
Alibaba's Jeff Zhang.

Alibaba’s “honey badger” AI chip company hopes to take on bigger beasts

China’s Alibaba has announced a subsidiary that that will develop computer chips specifically designed for artificial intelligence. 

The trade war between Washington and Beijing recently exposed how dependent Chinese manufacturers are on imported silicon… Read more

Image credit:
  • Alibaba