Brain-inspired algorithms may make for optimized computational networks
Quantifying the rates of synapse pruning in the mammalian neocortex led to new algorithms for constructing adaptive and robust computational networks across several domains
July 19, 2015
Salk and Carnegie Mellon researchers developed a new model for building efficient networks by studying the rate at which the brain prunes back some of its connections during development. In this model, nodes (such as neurons or sensors) make too many connections (left) before pruning back to connections that are most relevant (right). The team applied their synaptic pruning-based algorithm to air flight patterns and found it was able to create routes to allow passengers to reach their destinations efficiently. (credit: Salk Institute and Carnegie Mellon University)
The developing brain prunes (eliminates) unneeded connections between neurons during early childhood. Now researchers from the Salk Institute for Biological Studies and Carnegie Mellon University have determined the rate at which that happens, and the implications of that finding for computational networks.
First working synthetic immune organ with controllable antibodies
Promises to lead to better understanding of the immune system, develop new therapies, improve testing of new classes of drugs and toxic chemicals
June 11, 2015
When exposed to a foreign agent, such as an immunogenic protein, B cells in lymphoid organs (such as the spleen) undergo germinal center (immune defense) reactions. The image on the left is an normal immunized mouse spleen with activated B cells (brown) that produce antibodies. At right, top: a scanning electron micrograph of synthetic porous synthetic immune organoids that enable rapid proliferation and activation of B cells into antibody-producing cells. At right, bottom: primary B cell viability and distribution is visible 24 hours following encapsulation of B cells from the mouse lymphoid organ into the synthetic organoids. (credit: Singh Lab)
Transhumanist position on human germline genetic modification
March 22, 2015 by James Hughes
Recently a group of scientists and an industry group have issued statements calling for a moratorium on human heritable or germline genetic modifications (see here, here and here), now that we have the powerful CRISPR technique to pursue such modifications.
These statements have been greeted rapturously by bioconservatives, who want to see a global ban on germline and enhancement genetic therapies.
Of course, transhumanists have been thinking about these things for a long time, and the World Transhumanist Association (now known as Humanity+) adopted a formal position on human germline genetic modification 11 years ago.