Technology Tuesday: November 21

Welcome to Technology Tuesday! Every week The Job Shop Blog will bring you our 5 top science and technology news stories from around the web.

This week: A robot with a medical license, California is ahead of schedule on renewable energy adoption, an anti-aging genetic mutation, a discovery that lends new hope to a permanent moon colony, and a brain implant that boosts memory.


FOR THE FIRST TIME EVER A ROBOT HAS PASSED A MEDICAL LICENSING EXAM

Experts generally agree that, before we might consider artificial intelligence (AI) to be truly intelligent —that is, on a level on par with human cognition— AI agents have to pass a number of tests. And while this is still a work in progress, AIs have been busy passing other kinds of tests.

Xiaoyi, an AI-powered robot in China, for example, 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

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CALIFORNIA MAY REACH ITS RENEWABLE ENERGY GOALS 10 YEARS AHEAD OF SCHEDULE

In 2015, California Governor Jerry Brown signed a law that would see the state committing to renewable energy. The law gave California until 2030 to ensure 50 percent of its electricity came from renewable sources like the Sun and wind. At the time, Brown made it clear that fossil fuels are taking humanity down a dangerous path, despite their impact on getting us this far.

“We’ve got to realize that we are here today because of oil — oil and gas, [and] to a lesser extent, coal,” SFGate reported Brown saying. “What has been the source of our prosperity has become the source of our ultimate destruction, if we don’t get off of it.”

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SCIENTISTS HAVE FOUND THE FIRST EVER ANTI-AGING MUTATION

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. The secret seems to lie in a mutation of the gene SERPINE1, which allows carriers to live, on average, 10 percent longer than others.

Douglas Vaughan, a medical researcher and the chair of medicine at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine, became interested in the Old Order Amish community because they had a high incidence of a rare bleeding disorder, caused by a mutation on both copies of the SERPINE1 gene. This mutation prevents the regulation of a protein called PAI-1, which dissolves blood clots.

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NEW DISCOVERY RAISES HOPE FOR PERMANENT MOON COLONY

In October 2017, Japan’s Selenological and Engineering Explorer probe discovered a massive underground cave on the Moon. The space, which is 100 meters (328 feet) wide and 50 kilometers (31 miles) long, is being touted as a potential location for a lunar station. In fact, some experts are asserting that the best way to live on the Moon is in caves just like the one recently discovered.

Radio waves were used to investigate the cave, after an opening measuring 50 meters by 50 meters (164 feet) was found by the probe. It’s thought to be structurally sound, and could contain deposits of ice and water inside rocks that might be used to produce fuel.

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SCIENTISTS HAVE NOW BOOSTED HUMAN MEMORY WITH A BRAIN IMPLANT

With everyone from Elon Musk to MIT to the U.S. Department of Defense researching brain implants, it seems only a matter of time before such devices are ready to help humans extend their natural capabilities. Now, a professor from the University of Southern California (USC) has demonstrated the use of a brain implant to improve the human memory, and the device could have major implications for the treatment of one of the U.S.’s deadliest diseases.

Dong Song is a research associate professor of biomedical engineering at USC, and he recently presented his findings on a “memory prosthesis” during a meeting of the Society for Neuroscience in Washington D.C. According to a New Scientist report, the device is the first to effectively improve the human memory


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