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Your Future Home Will Be Much Nicer to You

Architect Marc Kushner explains the radical changes you can expect from residential architecture in the coming years.

Marc Kushner: Residential architecture in general is going to go through quite a bit of changes over the next few decades. The important thing to think about when you think about a field as fast as residential architecture — you have to think locally. Because a house in New York is a lot different than a house, say, in Seattle or in India or in England. Each of those cities have different forces acting on it. In New York, you're going to see apartments get smaller and smaller. So Mayor Bloomberg had an initiative for 250-square-foot micro apartments, which currently is illegal in New York. But as you start to shrink the apartment size, architects are thinking about how to make up for that lost space with new social amenities, new public spaces, new ways for people to interact with each other and with the city.

When we think about the future of houses, lately the big buzzword is the Internet of Things. And the Internet of Things is going to change the way that we live the same way that the iPhone changed the way that we communicate. But it's a hard to understand exactly how that's going to resonate with architecture right now. I think one thing that's a lot more obvious is the Internet of Transportation. And when you think about something like Uber and as that starts to grow and people stop owning cars, that's going to have a massive effect on the cities where we live. All of a sudden we're not going to need giant parking lots; we're not going to need parking structures. Streets will be able to be shared by cars and by pedestrians as cars get smarter. That's going to have a gigantic effect on the buildings that we build.

The Internet of Things right now as it's affecting the house is stuff like the Nest thermostat, which is a smart thermostat that you can also control from your iPhone or from your phone as you're away from the house. It's about smart locks that you don't need a key for. It can recognize you or the digital signature of your phone to open up the door for you. Houses are getting smarter. Things are getting smarter. Refrigerators are going to know when to order food for you. That's all amazing, but that's not necessarily directly going to impact the spaces where we spend our time.

So, when you think about designing a house, when an architect designs a house, that's a huge responsibility for an architect because this is the place where people grow up; where they have dinner with their family; where they fight with their family; or they love their family. The spaces shape those relationships. I know in my house growing up I had the bedroom that was right off of a balcony so everyone would see me going to the bathroom and everyone would see me in a towel and I was a fat and awkward kid and I hated that. I hated that feeling of everyone seeing me. And that a hundred percent shaped me into who I am today. That physical experience of occupying that house and the decision that one architect made 10 years before I was born made me and gave me the personality that I have today. That's an awesome responsibility that architects have.

The Internet of Things might change the way you live your life within your house, but we're not quite at the point where it's having a huge effect on the way your house is designed, says architect Marc Kushner. Kushner, the CEO of Architizer.com, describes some of the other radical changes we can come to expect from residential architecture, including micro-apartments in New York, less space devoted to cars (as personal ownership plummets thanks to services such as Uber), and greater emphases on shared public space within a development.

Does conscious AI deserve rights?

If machines develop consciousness, or if we manage to give it to them, the human-robot dynamic will forever be different.

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  • Does AI—and, more specifically, conscious AI—deserve moral rights? In this thought exploration, evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins, ethics and tech professor Joanna Bryson, philosopher and cognitive scientist Susan Schneider, physicist Max Tegmark, philosopher Peter Singer, and bioethicist Glenn Cohen all weigh in on the question of AI rights.
  • Given the grave tragedy of slavery throughout human history, philosophers and technologists must answer this question ahead of technological development to avoid humanity creating a slave class of conscious beings.
  • One potential safeguard against that? Regulation. Once we define the context in which AI requires rights, the simplest solution may be to not build that thing.

A new hydrogel might be strong enough for knee replacements

Duke University researchers might have solved a half-century old problem.

Photo by Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images
Technology & Innovation
  • Duke University researchers created a hydrogel that appears to be as strong and flexible as human cartilage.
  • The blend of three polymers provides enough flexibility and durability to mimic the knee.
  • The next step is to test this hydrogel in sheep; human use can take at least three years.
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Hints of the 4th dimension have been detected by physicists

What would it be like to experience the 4th dimension?

Two different experiments show hints of a 4th spatial dimension. Credit: Zilberberg Group / ETH Zürich
Technology & Innovation

Physicists have understood at least theoretically, that there may be higher dimensions, besides our normal three. The first clue came in 1905 when Einstein developed his theory of special relativity. Of course, by dimensions we’re talking about length, width, and height. Generally speaking, when we talk about a fourth dimension, it’s considered space-time. But here, physicists mean a spatial dimension beyond the normal three, not a parallel universe, as such dimensions are mistaken for in popular sci-fi shows.

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Predicting PTSD symptoms becomes possible with a new test

An algorithm may allow doctors to assess PTSD candidates for early intervention after traumatic ER visits.

Image source: camillo jimenez/Unsplash
Technology & Innovation
  • 10-15% of people visiting emergency rooms eventually develop symptoms of long-lasting PTSD.
  • Early treatment is available but there's been no way to tell who needs it.
  • Using clinical data already being collected, machine learning can identify who's at risk.

The psychological scars a traumatic experience can leave behind may have a more profound effect on a person than the original traumatic experience. Long after an acute emergency is resolved, victims of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) continue to suffer its consequences.

In the U.S. some 30 million patients are annually treated in emergency departments (EDs) for a range of traumatic injuries. Add to that urgent admissions to the ED with the onset of COVID-19 symptoms. Health experts predict that some 10 percent to 15 percent of these people will develop long-lasting PTSD within a year of the initial incident. While there are interventions that can help individuals avoid PTSD, there's been no reliable way to identify those most likely to need it.

That may now have changed. A multi-disciplinary team of researchers has developed a method for predicting who is most likely to develop PTSD after a traumatic emergency-room experience. Their study is published in the journal Nature Medicine.

70 data points and machine learning

nurse wrapping patient's arm

Image source: Creators Collective/Unsplash

Study lead author Katharina Schultebraucks of Columbia University's Department Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons says:

"For many trauma patients, the ED visit is often their sole contact with the health care system. The time immediately after a traumatic injury is a critical window for identifying people at risk for PTSD and arranging appropriate follow-up treatment. The earlier we can treat those at risk, the better the likely outcomes."

The new PTSD test uses machine learning and 70 clinical data points plus a clinical stress-level assessment to develop a PTSD score for an individual that identifies their risk of acquiring the condition.

Among the 70 data points are stress hormone levels, inflammatory signals, high blood pressure, and an anxiety-level assessment. Says Schultebraucks, "We selected measures that are routinely collected in the ED and logged in the electronic medical record, plus answers to a few short questions about the psychological stress response. The idea was to create a tool that would be universally available and would add little burden to ED personnel."

Researchers used data from adult trauma survivors in Atlanta, Georgia (377 individuals) and New York City (221 individuals) to test their system.

Of this cohort, 90 percent of those predicted to be at high risk developed long-lasting PTSD symptoms within a year of the initial traumatic event — just 5 percent of people who never developed PTSD symptoms had been erroneously identified as being at risk.

On the other side of the coin, 29 percent of individuals were 'false negatives," tagged by the algorithm as not being at risk of PTSD, but then developing symptoms.

Going forward

person leaning their head on another's shoulder

Image source: Külli Kittus/Unsplash

Schultebraucks looks forward to more testing as the researchers continue to refine their algorithm and to instill confidence in the approach among ED clinicians: "Because previous models for predicting PTSD risk have not been validated in independent samples like our model, they haven't been adopted in clinical practice." She expects that, "Testing and validation of our model in larger samples will be necessary for the algorithm to be ready-to-use in the general population."

"Currently only 7% of level-1 trauma centers routinely screen for PTSD," notes Schultebraucks. "We hope that the algorithm will provide ED clinicians with a rapid, automatic readout that they could use for discharge planning and the prevention of PTSD." She envisions the algorithm being implemented in the future as a feature of electronic medical records.

The researchers also plan to test their algorithm at predicting PTSD in people whose traumatic experiences come in the form of health events such as heart attacks and strokes, as opposed to visits to the emergency department.

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