Friday Futures: robot doctors, smog diamonds and brain hacking

Image credit: Olivier Le Moal /

Welcome to Friday Futures, our weekly guide to the latest visions of  The Future from around the web. Because who doesn’t want to know the future before it happens (maybe)?  This episode: a robot passes its medical exam; the guy who vacuums up smog (and makes diamonds); why chatbots shouldn’t chat; and hacking a brain.

An AI robot just passed its medical exam, and then some

An AI-powered robot in China has recently taken the national medical licensing examination and passed, making it the first robot to have done so. Not only did the robot pass the exam, it actually got a score of 456 points, which is 96 points above the required marks. Investigate further…

This guy vacuums up Beijing smog, and makes diamonds out of it

Daan Roosegaarde uses technology and creative thinking to produce imaginative, earth-friendly designs. His latest projects — from a bike path in Eindhoven, where he reinterpreted “The Starry Night” to get people thinking about green energy, to Beijing,  where he developed a smog vacuum cleaner to purify the air in local parks. Learn about the vacuum…

We just sent a message to a nearby star system (don’t wait up for a reply)

They say that the key to a good relationship is communication, a belief that members of San Francisco-based nonprofit Messaging Extraterrestrial Intelligence (METI) International seemed to uphold when they sent their latest interstellar messages, by radio, to a nearby star system. Read more…

Why chatbots shouldn’t chat (like humans)

These assistants are scripted to emulate every­day conversation. And everyday conversation is filled with little pauses and filler words, the “phatic” spackle of social interactions. Listen in…

In LA, they’re trying to hack a brain. No, really!

In an ordinary hospital room in Los Angeles, a young woman named Lauren Dickerson waits for her chance to make history. Read more…

If you have this gene mutation, you will generally live 10% longer

The genes of a small Indiana Amish community may hold the secret humans have pursued for much of living memory: the key to living longer and healthier lives. Find out more…

And finally: An infographic that explains the true power of hurricanes.

(Compiled by Alex Leslie; Edited by John C Tanner)

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