Todd’s Tech Report: August 20, 2015

Seriously what happened to Less Jepson? He probably got tuna handles.


Baby Brains In Bottles

What’s going on?

Ohhhh Ohio! Building brains from the ground up. Grassroots like. University style. Researchers at OSU have created a tiny brain in a lab environment. It’s about the size of a pencil eraser and made from skin cells. But does it get the feels? I guess not. Their claim is that there is no sensory stimuli entering the brain. Thus, it’s not “thinking”. So much for tiny thoughts leading to big ideas.

Why does it matter?

The claim here is they have reproduced 99% of the brain’s diverse cell types and genes. They say their brain also contains a spinal cord, signaling circuitry and even a retina. The upside here outside of potential ethical issues is it could also be used to test drugs for conditions such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. But right now they say their doing a little military research with it. Of course they are.


Bugs Not Drugs

What’s going on?

How about those bugs eh? Small brains and wildly complex organizing behaviors. How do those two jive? Just like Old Country Buffett and the post-meal porcelain party. Researchers used simulated robots to replicate the behaviors of Leaf Cutter ants who spend their days tearing apart trees. Fun fact is there are 6 different jobs associated with this micro deforestation. Each goes to a different type of ant. No questions asked, they just do it. Like a 10 year old in a Nike factory.

Why does it matter?

In this simulated environment the robots learned the very rudimentary tasks and self organized who would do what. Then did it. No humans at play here. As the researchers added different environmental elements the robots automatically adjusted to the most efficient processes and labor divisions. Wild styles in my book. Robots making better versions of themselves under no human control. No worries.


The Doctor Is In….Side You

What’s going on?

OMG VR/AR. OCULUS. MAGIC LEAP. SAMSUNG. WANG CHUNG! Hype is chest deep in this game right now. The tech is tyte but mass adoption a ways off for the general population. But not in med-tech. EchoPixel uses 3D tech to let doctors explore and manipulate medical imaging in VR. This means doctors can dissect your heart before having to open you up using only information from your MRI. Good, then they could see it’s a cold, dark place made of stone. Get out the hammer drill.

Why does it matter?

3D is better than 2D when looking for blood clots in the brain or zooming around the colon looking for a bad time. Medical students can also use this as a tool to explore the human body as if they’re dealing with the actual thing. In the end, the more prep a doctor or sleep deprived intern has before they knife open my brain box the better.