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Wireless Brain Implant Allows Paralyzed Primates To Walk Again

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Thanks to an incredible scientific breakthrough, partially-paralyzed monkeys have gained the opportunity of learning how to walk again.

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Scientists have used a wireless brain implant to sidestep the spinal cord injuries of two paralyzed rhesus macaques, allowing for their useless limbs to be reignited. The system involves wirelessly transmitting decoded brain signals in order to stimulate the muscles in charge of leg mobility. It marks the first time a neural prosthetic has regained movement in a primate.

Though the brain-spinal interface has only been tested on macaques to date, the researchers believe this may open doors to discovering technology that could allow for the same to be done in humans paralyzed by spinal cord injuries.

“The system we have developed uses signals recorded from the motor cortex of the brain to trigger coordinated electrical stimulation of nerves in the spine that are responsible for locomotion,” engineer David Borton from Brown University explained. “With the system turned on, the animals in our study had nearly normal locomotion.”

Astonishingly, one rhesus macaque fitted with the new implant was able to walk a mere six days after it was partially paralyzed from a surgical procedure that caused some of the nerves in its right hind leg to be severed.

“It was a big surprise for us,” noted Grégoire Courtine, who is a neuroscientist that led the research at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology. “The gait was not perfect, but it was almost like normal walking. The foot was not dragging and it was fully weight bearing.”

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And another animal in the study, who had more serious nerve damage in its right hind leg, recovered its ability to walk two weeks with the help of the device. Both monkeys had full mobility in three months.

This is the latest breakthrough for the “brain-spine interface” within neuroprosthetics, and has given scientists hope for reading intentions in the brain’s activity and using it to control computer, robotic arms, and paralyzed limbs.

The researchers, from Switzerland and Germany, wanted to restore the lost movement that happens from injuries in the upper spine that cause a disconnect in the communication channel of the brain’s motor cortex and lumbar region in the lower spinal cord that allow us to walk. Their vision was to do this wirelessly, therefore completely bypassing the severed nerves.

The system, stemming from technology called BrainGate, involves a pill-sized electrode array that is implanted in the brain. There, it gathers movement signals created by the motor cortex. The wireless sensor would then work to provide the signals to a computer, where they are decoded, and eventually sent back wirelessly via an electrical stimulator that is implanted in the lumbar spine just south of the spinal injury. When this stimulation signals spinal nerves, the leg muscles are then activated.

The researchers call the ability to restore movement without wires a pivotal breakthrough, because wired brain-sensing systems can hinder the ability to move freely.

“Doing this wirelessly enables us to map the neural activity in normal contexts and during natural behaviour,” explains Borton. “If we truly aim for neuroprosthetics that can someday be deployed to help human patients during activities of daily life, such untethered recording technologies will be critical.”

As for how this would translate to humans, Courtine says: “I don’t imagine someone walking down the street with a brain-spine interface. That’s a bit extravagant at this stage. But in the next five years, someone with a spinal injury could have a better recovery after being implanted with this and having robot-assisted rehabilitation.”

There is, undoubtedly, still many limitations of the system, though it is clearly an impressive accomplishment. The interface, for instance, is still in need of a separate computer that is able to decode the signals, specifically the wireless signals that, in their current state, can only get sent one way, which is from the brain to the legs.

“In a full translational study, we would want to do more quantification about how balanced the animal is during walking and measure the forces they’re able to apply,” notes Borton.

Andrew Jackson at Newcastle University’s Institute of Neuroscience celebrated the breakthrough as a “major step” toward recovering lost movement with neural implants. “When you think about bipedal walking, balance and steering are a challenge, but optimistically this could be used to allow people to walk with some kind of support, such as a frame,” he explained.

 

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We interviewed Franco DeNicola about what is happening with the shift in consciousness. It turned out to be one of the deepest and most important information we pulled out within an interview.

We explored why things are moving a little more slowly with the shift at times, what is stopping certain solutions from coming forward and the important role we all play.

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Beijing Doctors Said 7 Coma Patients Would Not Wake Up — AI Predicted The Opposite, And Was Right

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    AI technology has outsmarted doctors when it comes to coma patients. The lives of at least 7 individuals have been saved as a result.

  • Reflect On:

    Given the serious questions about AI, are there are ways that AI technology can aid our current systems on the planet? How do we decide when we have gone too far with AI?

Sometimes after tragic accidents, people lose their consciousness and enter a coma or unresponsive state. Doctors usually make the call as to whether or not there is any point in keeping these people alive or if the family should consider “pulling the plug.” Doctors know best, right?

Well, recently there were at least seven patients in Beijing who doctors said had no hope of being able to regain consciousness, they were then re-evaluated by an artificial intelligence system that predicted these patients would awaken within a year. Guess what? They did.

One of the awakened patients was a 19-year-old who spent six months with unresponsive wakefulness syndrome after an accident that left him with a severe injury to his left temple. Some of China’s top neurologists conducted numerous rounds of assessment to determine his potential for a recovery. They gave him seven out of a possible 23 points on the coma recovery scale, this score gave his family members the legal rights to take him off of life support if they chose to do so.

After going through his brain scans the computer software assessed him with over 20 points, which is much closer to the full score, which would mean a recovery.

Another patient was a 41-year-old female who was victim to a stroke; she had been in an unresponsive state for three months and had been assessed with a recovery score of six. The computers estimate? 20.23.

The two aforementioned individuals, in addition to five more patients who were also in an unresponsive state, who doctors had predicted would not recover or wake up, did within 12 months of the scan done by the artificial intelligence, just as predicted.

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The Machine Also Made Some Mistakes

Perhaps this is a good time to believe in the power of miracles, a 36-year-old man who had suffered bilateral brainstem damage after suffering from a stroke was given low scores by both the doctors and the AI. He still fully recovered in less than a year.

This AI system was developed after eight years of research, which was conducted by the Chinese Academy of Sciences and PLA General Hospital in Beijing and so far has achieved nearly 90 percent accuracy on all prognostic assessments.

Some of the results of this research were published in the journal, eLife.

“We have successfully predicted a number of patients who regained consciousness after being initially determined to have no hope of recovery,” the researchers said in a statement.

“At present, there are more than 500,000 patients with chronic disturbance of consciousness caused by brain trauma, stroke, and hypoexic encephalopathy with an annual increase of 70,000 to 100,000 patients in China, which brings great mental pain and a heavy burden to families and society,” they added.

“The possible prediction of the recovery of patient consciousness will directly affect the choice of clinical treatment strategies, and even the choice of life or death by the patient’s relatives.”

Associate researcher with the Institute of Automation, Chinese Academy of Sciences and the first author of this study, Dr. Song Ming, explained how the system they developed was different from other AI methods used in the diagnoses of diseases like cancer, “our machine can ‘see’ things invisible to the human eyes,” he said.

So How Does This Technology Work?

The patients are analyzed using a brain scan that includes functional magnetic resonance imaging, fMRI. This technology is able to chart the activity in the brain by measuring even the smallest changes in blood flow.

Because there are so many neural activities going on at once, they are not always directly visible to doctors, however the AI system is equipped with machine learning algorithms and is able to detect these changing details more accurately and recognize patterns that were previously unknown in past cases.

“The AI system assumes that every patient still has consciousness,” Song said. “Its job is to determine the likelihood they will come to within a certain period.

“It will never replace doctors. It is just a tool to help doctors and families make better decisions.”

The Positive Potential Of AI

Many, including myself for the most part, are generally under the impression that AI is something that we should be wary of, and I stand by that statement. But in instances such as these, we can see how this technology is developed and how when used by the right hands can actually be an amazing gift to humanity. There are many instances where AI and other forms of tech can drastically enhance our current models of doing things, with more precision and accuracy. It shouldn’t all be dismissed right away, and it shouldn’t all be given the green light either. We have to be able to use discernment and determine whether or not we are using this technology for the right reasons and what the potential implications of bringing in these new technological advancements to our lives and current system.

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Free Franco DeNicola Screening: The Shift In Consciousness

We interviewed Franco DeNicola about what is happening with the shift in consciousness. It turned out to be one of the deepest and most important information we pulled out within an interview.

We explored why things are moving a little more slowly with the shift at times, what is stopping certain solutions from coming forward and the important role we all play.

Watch the interview here.
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Scientists Discover A New & Efficient Way To Turn Sunlight Into Fuel

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    A new process is able to effectively turn sunlight into fuel by combining natural processes and human made technologies.

  • Reflect On:

    With all of the emerging alternative energy sources that are becoming available to us, do we really need to be burning fossil fuels any longer?

The sun is a big burning ball of fire and thus, energy. Really, everything is energy. We already know that it is the light and warmth of the sun that gives life to every living thing on this planet. We have already seen an example of how the sun’s energy can be utilized to create power with the rapidly increasing use of solar panels, but researchers from St. John’s College, University of Cambridge, have now discovered a new way to utilize energy from the sun and turn it into fuel. Yes fuel — the type of fuel that could directly compete with fossil fuels.

The researchers used semi-artificial photosynthesis to explore new ways to produce and store solar energy. Using natural sunlight to separate hydrogen and oxygen including the use of a combination of biological components and human made technologies.

This research could revolutionize the way we are currently utilizing the sun for renewable energy production. Their method was able to absorb even more solar light than the natural process of photosynthesis. A paper, published in the journal Nature Energy described how the researchers were able to develop this process of unassisted, solar driven water splitting.

One of the authors of the study and PhD student at St. John’s college, Katarzyna Sokól said, “Natural photosynthesis is not efficient because it has evolved merely to survive so it makes the bare minimum amount of energy needed — around 1-2 percent of what it could potentially convert and store. “

One of the keys to this process is an ancient enzyme known as hydrogenase.

“Hydrogenase is an enzyme present in algae that is capable of reducing protons into hydrogen,” Sokól added.

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“During evolution this process has been deactivated because it was necessary for survival but we successfully managed to bypass the inactivity to achieve the reaction we wanted — splitting water into hydrogen and oxygen.”

The process of mimicking photosynthesis in order to collect and store energy is something that scientists have been experimenting with for years. However, according to Sokól, the earlier technologies are not capable of scaling up to industrial models for a myriad of different reasons — either they are too expensive, or inefficient of use materials could also pose a risk to the environment.

The team took the approach to create an electrochemical cell, similar to a traditional battery, but based on the light-collecting biochemistry of a process called photosystem II. This was able to provide the necessary voltage that is required for the hydrogenase enzyme to do do it’s job and reduce the amount of hydrogen in water so that it can separate from oxygen and become the gas it was born to be.

Although this process may sound simple, connecting artificial systems with natural and organic processes has proved to be quite challenging.

“This work overcomes many difficult challenges associated with the integration of biological and organic components into inorganic materials for the assembly of semi-artificial devices and opens up a toolbox for developing future systems for solar energy conversion,” says, Erwin Resner, author and laboratory head.

There is much more research that needs to be done, but this is a huge and important step towards being able to fully utilize this method for an alternate fuel source.

“This could be a great platform for developing solar technologies. The approach could be used to couple other reactions together to see what can be done, learn from these reactions and then build synthetic, more robust pieces of solar energy technology,” says Sokól.

“It’s exciting that we can selectively choose the processes we want, and achieve the reaction we want which is inaccessible in nature. This could be a great platform for developing solar technologies. The approach could be used to couple other reactions together to see what can be done, learn from these reactions and then build synthetic, more robust pieces of solar energy technology,” she added.

Final Note

While this is certainly a plus in the direction of moving toward new energy systems, these technologies have advanced counterparts in the realm of zero-point energy that can make an even greater impact on humanity, without the need for sunlight.

The challenge? It has often been said that if ‘free energy’ like technologies come out prior to humanity shifting their consciousness enough to truly handle these technologies, we will in essence use them in the exact same way we do now: patent them, limit them and then charge people extensively for energy. This does not help to free the population, but only keeps it enslaved, and abundance limited.

Much Love

 

 

Free Franco DeNicola Screening: The Shift In Consciousness

We interviewed Franco DeNicola about what is happening with the shift in consciousness. It turned out to be one of the deepest and most important information we pulled out within an interview.

We explored why things are moving a little more slowly with the shift at times, what is stopping certain solutions from coming forward and the important role we all play.

Watch the interview here.
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Wi-Fi Security – Measures to Prevent Technology Enabled Crimes

Every Wi-Fi user must know how to adopt security measures that will prevent them from becoming victims of wireless technology crimes.

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Considered as one of the greatest advancement since the Internet, Wi-Fi wireless networking technology has given mobility to computers. People use wireless technology in the office, at home, and in public places. Unless Wi-Fi users adopt some sort of security, various problems can result when computers transmit unsecured information to one another.

Bandwidth theft, exposed e-mail messages, password or user name theft, and hijacked online identity rank among the top problems brought about by unsecured Wi-Fi transmissions. Every Wi-Fi user must know how to secure their computer.

Use WPA Instead of WEP Encryption

Encryption protocols are used to make network traffic more secure by encoding data packets that are transmitted thereon. Unfortunately, some wireless routers don’t have encryption enable or use the weaker WEP (Wired Equivalency Privacy) security protocol.

It is well known that WEP security keys are easy to break and therefore network administrators should use the WPA or WPA2 protocols. Even if a router doesn’t support the more secure WPA or WPA2 protocols, WEP should be used; it is better than nothing.

Install a Firewall on Every Computer and Server

A firewall is the most basic and fundamental network security measure there is to secure wireless networks. While Wi-Fi routers can be used to extend the range of networks, they also make the network more vulnerable. A firewall will need to be installed on every computer to ward off security threats. This should be done even if the wireless router has a firewall installed on it.

Use Virtual Private Network (VPN)

B­asically, VPNs form a private network that uses a public network (usually the Internet) to connect remote sites or users together. VPNs use authenticated links to make sure that only authorized users can connect to a network. It also uses encryption to make sure that others can’t intercept and can’t use data that travels over the Internet. Numerous websites offer both free and paid VPN versions. VPNbase is one of them.

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Reduce the Transmitter Power of Network Access Points

Part of the convenience of using wireless networks is the ability to access services remotely. This strength also becomes a weakness, because others can see, and potentially use the network as well, especially when a powerful transmitter/antenna is being used.

To limit how far outside the premises the wireless signal travels, reduce the power output of wireless antennas. This requires some tweaking to find the right setting, because reducing the signal output of antennas also reduces the network’s service delivery and quality.

Disable Remote Administration

WLAN (wireless local area network) routers often come with the ability for a network administrator to remotely configure the router. By default, this feature is usually turned off and should stay that way if remote administration is not absolutely necessary. While network administrators can usually set passwords, to secure access to the router’s control panel, leaving the feature enabled could leave the network vulnerable as well.

Remove or Disable Weak Passwords and Access Codes

Ensure that all default passwords and access codes that come preset on network equipment are changed or disabled. Access the router’s web interface and update all settings that have a bearing on network security. Be sure the use strong passwords as well.

Physically Secure your Wireless Network Equipment

Hardware devices typically come with a hard reset button. Making network equipment readily available to be physically handled by anyone who wishes to do so puts the network at risk. Secure all critical and sensitive equipment in rooms or equipment racks.

Don’t Broadcast the Network’s SSID

To allow for the easy setup of wireless clients, most wireless access points will broadcast the SSID (Service Set IDentifier), or network name. While broadcasting the SSID makes setting up wireless clients easier, it also makes WLANs visible to wireless devices that are within range, including those that are malicious. Turn off SSID broadcast to make the network invisible and more secure.

Simple Wireless Network Security

Ensuring that a wireless network is secure is an ongoing responsibility. Wireless network threats, such as those posed by hackers and viruses can be thwarted by some common sense approaches such as physically securing network equipment and using strong encryption methods and technologies. However, the most effective security measures are those that seek to cover all the known security vulnerabilities.

Free Franco DeNicola Screening: The Shift In Consciousness

We interviewed Franco DeNicola about what is happening with the shift in consciousness. It turned out to be one of the deepest and most important information we pulled out within an interview.

We explored why things are moving a little more slowly with the shift at times, what is stopping certain solutions from coming forward and the important role we all play.

Watch the interview here.
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