News — At The Edge — 3/14

That technology keeps improving — lasers, brain-hacking, tires and biology — while civilization continues to stagnate is a recipe for disaster.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

“250 million tires in the US in 2017 [alone]…[so] Goodyear’s engineers designed…[one] that works a bit like a stick of lip balm. At the center of the wheel sits a cylindrical, pressurized cartridge filled with liquified, biodegradable tire compound….

[As] the tread wears down…the tire surface draws out the compound…[that] oozes out of…the center to the tread surface automatically, passing through a grid-like frame that molds it into the proper shape.

(The system is…both tire and wheel…instead of a tire attached to a metal rim.)

When exposed to outside air…the compound hardens, and your tires never go bald…as long as you’ve got the car…[though] central cartridge would need replacing a few times…between 100,00 and 300,00 miles….

[Also] sensors embedded within…[tire] structure can analyze wear patterns and driving style, and tune the type of compound the user might install next….Aggressive brakers and performance nuts would get one kind of chemistry, another. Goodyear could account for climate and road quality as well….

[A] complete product — potentially within a decade. So the proposed tire compound…structural framework…embedded sensors and…[AI] analysis of use patterns might appear earlier in conventional tires.”

*****

“The ability to detect electrical activity in the brain through the scalp, and to control it, will soon transform medicine and change society in profound ways.

Patterns of electrical activity in the brain can reveal a person’s cognition — normal and abnormal…[to] treat neurological and mental illnesses and control behavior…[and] promises to do for the brain what biochemistry did for the body….

[It] can measure your IQ, identify your cognitive strengths and weaknesses, perceive your personality and determine your aptitude for learning specific types of information. Electrical activity in a preschooler’s brain…can predict, for example, how well that child will be able to read when they go to school….

[Also] using machine learning to analyze complex patterns of activity in a person’s brain…can read minds and know the person’s specific thoughts and emotions….[Example] tell if a person is contemplating suicide, simply by watching how the person’s brain responds to hearing words like ‘death’ or ‘happiness….

Such ‘brain hacking’…is gleaned by…the pattern of brain activity in an individual’s brain deviates from what is considered ‘normal’…[to] treat a vast array of neurological and psychiatric disorders, from Parkinson’s disease to chronic depression.

But the prospect of ‘mind control’ frightens many….

Rather than blasting the whole brain with bolts of electricity or saturating it with drugs, it makes far more sense to stimulate the precise neural circuit that is malfunctioning….

The military is using this method to speed learning and enhance cognitive performance in pilots….

The new capabilities of being able to directly monitor and manipulate the brain’s electrical activity raise daunting ethical questions…that has not existed previously. But the genie is out of the bottle.”

*****

“[Today] shooting an object out of the sky…means firing something expensive at it…[but lasers] are cheap to fire and never run out of ammunition…[with] 150kW weapon is undergoing tests on larger ships…[and] 50kW weapon that would sit atop…armored vehicles….

The next challenge is to soup lasers up…[to] take aim at large missiles, as well as the small ones…[with] 300kW by 2022 and 500kW by 2024.”

*****

Better cryo-EM samplesIn two or three years…cryogenic electron microscopy (cryo-EM) will become the most powerful tool for deciphering the structures of macromolecules…crucial for understanding biochemical mechanisms and drug development….

Improving RNA analysis….[for] long-read RNA sequencing and live-cell imaging using light-up RNA strands called aptamers….in the next year or two…[will] help to determine how common a particular modification is in the cell, and whether changes in one part of an RNA molecule correlate with changes in another….Using these technologies, we can better correlate cell death and other disease features with what’s happening to RNA molecules in the cell.

Decoding the microbiome…to understand which member of the microbiome is doing what, and thus whether specific microbes determine the level of certain metabolites…[because] multi-dimensional, and there might be a whole web of interactions, involving multiple species and pathways, which ultimately produce a set of metabolites….

Computing cancer….[W]e cannot see the process by which the disease forms, only its end point…[when] tumor has acquired many mutations….[Computational] model can simulate a range of scenarios and generate ‘virtual tumors’ with patterns of mutation that mimic patient data…to infer which parameters probably gave rise to a patient’s tumor…[for] direct measurements of tumor lineage and phenotype using emerging barcoding and recording methods….during tumor formation, giving insight into cancer’s origins, including how specific mutations influence cellular fitness and fuel the disease’s progression.

Enhancing gene therapy….to control gene expression in specific cell types…[and] drive expression in particular cell types for gene-therapy applications….

Single-cell sequencing[in] a portable, inexpensive platform for high-throughput, single-cell RNA sequencing…making single-cell storage and genomic profiling possible for just about any sample anywhere in the world.

Linking genome structure and function….DNA end to end…roughly 2 meters long…[and] folding patterns cannot be random; chromosomes form 3D structures that must be spatially and temporally regulated across an organism’s lifespan…. Now the big question is, what is the function of each of these folding patterns? How do they control fundamental processes such as gene expression, DNA replication and DNA repair?….3D genome-engineering tools with CRISPR-based live-cell imaging approaches…[to] both engineer and observe the genome in real time in cells.”

*****

Find more of my ideas on Medium at,

* (archive at bottom of the page.)

* Or click the Follow button below to add me to your feed

* Prefer a weekly email newsletter — free, no ads, no spam, & never sell the list — email me with “add me” in the subject line.

May you live long and prosper!
Doc Huston

Consultant & Speaker on future nexus of technology-economics-politics, PhD Nested System Evolution, MA Alternative Futures, Patent Holder —