Archive for December, 2008

Listen carefully:

Dharmendra S Modha’s blog post: link.


IBM press release: link.

From Modha’s blog:

In September 2005, proposal to organize 2006 Almaden Institute around Cognitive Computing was selected by Dr. Mark Dean who then headed IBM’s Almaden Research Center and by four department heads (Dr. Dilip Kandlur, Dr. Laura Haas, Dr. Gian-Luca Bona, and Dr. Jim Spohrer).

On March 31, 2006
, grand challenge proposal to start a project on Cognitive Computing was funded by IBM Research.

May 10-11, 2006, a very successful Almaden Institute on Cognitive Computing took place. Please see here and here.

August 16, 2006, Cognitive Computing group was organized, and I became its manager.

April 27, 2007, BBC News reported my group’s work on a half-mouse-scale simulation in near real-time.

May 2-3, 2007, I co-chaired Cognitive Computing 2008 at UC Berkeley.

May 20-21, 2007, I spoke at the Decade of the Mind Symposium organized by Jim Olds and James Albus.

July 17, 2007, PC Magazine carried a cover story on Cognitive Computing.

On September 2007, I co-authored a letter in Science calling for a Decade of the Mind Initiative along with truly distinguished colleagues who also spoke at the Decade of the Mind Symposium.

November 10-16, 2007, we presented our work on rat-scale simulation at Supercomputing 2007 conference. See here.

-All the news I missed

Posted: December 2, 2008 in 2008
Quick & dirty. More below than I would have blogged outright, in no apparent order.
Web search for Club of Rome & population control.
Top Ten Forecasts For The Next 20 Years
Some of these are alarming, and new to even the IIF blog.
UK gangs robbing rural regions for food
As times get harder in Britain’s cities, armed gangs are heading for the countryside – and stealing deer, salmon and rabbits to feed a burgeoning black market in food.

Army Science Conference FCS video calls for cognitive computing

Probabilistic Learning of Programs
Another Google Step Towards AGI
Last weekend, at least 12,000 people gathered at Ft. Benning, GA for the 19th annual protest to demand the closure of the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation, formerly known as the School of the Americas. Since 1946, the taxpayer-funded US Army school has trained more than 60,000 Latin American soldiers in combat techniques and psychological warfare, leading directly to murders, rapes, disappearances, and massacres that have affected hundreds of thousands of people throughout Latin America.

Microsoft Doles-out 5GB Free Online Storage

Here’s a way to get your own little piece of the cloud for free.

Stimulus Plan – and NASA

Check it…
The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency has awarded a $4.9 million grant to five universities and IBM Research for the first phase of an ambitious research venture in cognitive computing, an emerging field that lies at the outer edge of artificial intelligence and is based on advances in computing, nanotechnology and neuroscience.   The leader of IBM’s cognitive computing program, Dharmendra Modha, describes the research as “the quest to engineer the mind by reverse-engineering the brain.”

Nanotubes crank out tunes

Attach electrodes to an ultrathin sheet of carbon nanotubes and you have a simple, lightweight, transparent and flexible loudspeaker.

Facial recognition systems for border security

Facial recognition systems are used around the world to check very quickly if an individual’s photo appears in a database of known or suspected criminals. Unfortunately, the systems often acquire poor facial images in real-world environments such as airports. Now, researchers at the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) have found that several simple steps can significantly improve the quality of facial images that are acquired at border entry points such as airports and seaports. The researchers add that their recommendations for improving facial images could be implemented relatively easily — and cheaply — with existing facial recognition technology. Read more…

NIST face picture attributes

It’s not the first time that I’m writing about smart textiles — check here or there for previous stories. But today, let’s look at the work of Lena Berglin, a Swedish PhD student who is creating multifunctional textiles based on smart materials. She already has developed an intelligent glove, capable of transmitting communication, and several garments for health monitoring including a tanktop, a cardigan and a belt that measure ECG, muscular activity and breathing frequency.

Bruce Fein: Army to deal with potential domestic “civil unrest and crowd control”

“Systems biologists” at Harvard Medical School have developed a “computational language” called “Little b” for modeling biological processes. Going beyond the familiar logical, arithmetic and control constructs of most languages, it reasons about biological data, learns from it, and incorporates past learning into new models and predictors of cells’ behaviors. Its creators call it a “scientific collaborator.”
When Doves Cry
When will the antiwar left wake up and realize they’ve been had … again.
Obamanomics And Hedge Funds
Don’t expect much “change we can believe in” when it comes to regulating hedge funds.
VeriChip partners with Microsoft HealthVault
Verichip Corporation, in the news in the last couple of weeks due to stock-related excitement, now offers some operational news. The company, makers of the FDA-approved implantable RFID chip, has announced a partnership with Microsoft HealthVault, an online depository of personal health records.
Alanco wins Homeland Security subcontract
Alanco Technologies Inc. has announced that its TSI Prism subsidiary will provide RFID-enabled inmate tracking systems for nineteen federal immigration detention facilities operated by the Department of Homeland Security. TSI Prism will serve as a subcontractor for Northrop Grumman in a deal to provide infrastructure and an integrated system that will locate and track detainees, reserve bed space among various facilities and manage detainee transportation.

The first U.S. land border crossings using RFID and other information technology to capture, read and analyze traveler and vehicle information have opened in Blaine, Wash., and Nogales, Ariz.

I can’t count how many new advances in solar I’ve seen over the past few years that never…
Scientists at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute have identified a previously undetected trigger point on a naturally occurring “death protein” that helps the body get rid of unwanted or diseased cells. They say it may be possible to exploit the newly found trigger as a target for designer drugs that would treat cancer by forcing malignant cells to commit suicide.
Thick as Thieves: The Private (and very profitable) World of Corporate Spying
When Comverse Infosys founder and CEO Jacob “Kobi” Alexander fled to Israel and later Namibia in 2006, the former Israeli intelligence officer and entrepreneur took along a little extra cash for his extended “vacation”–$57 million to be precise.
A MIT researcher has demonstrated a reaction which resembles the photosynthesis process that plants make each day which means that from now on solar power could be deployed at world scale. Using catalysts developed by the chemist, he showed a video where oxygen was generated from water, just like plants do it in photosynthesis.
We’ve been in a recession since December 2007, according to a fancypants stat group. WSJ reports, “In a statement, the National Bureau of Economic Research said its Business Cycle Dating Committee determined that the U.S. entered recession in December 2007, marking the end of the economic expansion that began in November 2001.” I don’t think Americans need a committee to tell them the economy has been on the express the train to Suck City for over a year… More »
Israeli Likud Party leader Benjamin Netanyahu, who is running for Prime Minister, wants some of that magic Barack Obama pixie dust. So Netanyahu STOLE OBAMA’S WEB DESIGN for his campaign web site. Of course, Hebrew reads from right to left, so the whole thing is backwards in one version of the site.
The American military is planning to build robot soldiers that will not be able to commit war crimes like their human comrades in arms.
Announcing his national security team, Obama said Defense Secretary Robert Gates had agreed to remain in office, and reiterated his intention to announce a new mission as soon as he took office to end the war in Iraq.
Russia is developing missiles designed to avoid being hit by space-based missile defence systems that could be deployed by the United States, a top Russian general was quoted as saying Monday
The U.S. military expects to have 20,000 uniformed troops inside the United States by 2011 trained to help state and local officials respond to a nuclear terrorist attack or other domestic catastrophe, according to Pentagon officials.
Has universal ageing mechanism been found?
The SIRT1 protein begins to neglect its role as a gene suppressor (which normally prevents genes from being expressed in the wrong body tissues — a process thought to contribute to some diseases) in mice whose DNA is damaged, and this may contribute to aging, Harvard Medical School researchers have found.
Few people in Vermont remember Dr. Robert W. Hyde, but one of his former patients can’t forget him. The doctor was involved in one of the nation’s darkest chapters in medical science: In the 1950s, Hyde conducted drug and psychological experiments at a Boston hospital through funding that apparently originated with the CIA. Later, he became director of research at the Vermont State Hospital.
CCTV cameras which can ‘predict’ if a crime is about to take place are being introduced on Britain’s streets.
Revealing RNC Document Leaked
National Geospacial Intelligence Agency and Northcomm were possibly involved with spying on demonstrators.
Poverty in the United States is spreading from rural and inner-city areas to the suburbs, according to a study, a situation that can worsen as the economy confronts what may be a protracted recession.
The U.S. government will not reach its goal of balancing the federal budget by 2012 because of the response to the global financial crisis, the White House said on Wednesday.
In violation of its pledge to the United Nations not to recruit children into the military, the Pentagon “regularly target(s) children under 17,” the American Civil Liberties Union(ACLU) says.
Black Friday’s retail shoppers hunting for holiday bargains won’t be enough to stave off what’s likely to become the next economic crisis. Malls from Michigan to Georgia are entering foreclosure, commercial victims of the same events poisoning the housing market.
President-elect Barack Obama on Wednesday will announce the creation of a president’s Economic Recovery Advisory Board, chaired by former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker, to provide outside advice from heavyweight thinkers, officials said.
In the heat of battle, their minds clouded by fear, anger or vengefulness, even the best-trained soldiers can act in ways that violate the Geneva Conventions or battlefield rules of engagement. Now some researchers suggest that robots could do better.
Future Combat Systems is the cornerstone of the Army’s modernization efforts, consisting of a family of new combat vehicles, unmanned aerial and ground systems and unattended ground sensors and munitions all connected by a state-of-the-art network.
How did we get into the current financial mess? Great question.
NASA Successfully Tests First Deep Space Internet
NASA has successfully tested the first deep space communications network modeled on the Internet, using software called Disruption-Tolerant Networking, or DTN, developed with Google vice president Vint Cerf.
Microsoft Releases New Robot-Building Software
Microsoft has released Robotics Developer Studio 2008, a software program that enables users to create applications for robots.

Military Examines Role In Domestic Defense: Citizen Soldiers May Need More Training On Homeland Operations, Defense Secretary Says

Defense Secretary Robert Gates on Monday ordered his top department leaders to conduct a broad review to determine whether the military, National Guard and Reserve can adequately deal with domestic disasters and whether they have the training and equipment to defend the homeland.

U.S. Taps Online Youth Groups to Fight Crime, Terrorism

The US State Department announced plans on Monday to promote online youth groups as a new and powerful way to fight crime, political oppression and terrorism.

McCain and Obama Camps Coordinated on Building Staff Rosters for Next Government

The Washington Note that in July 2008, the McCain and Obama camps began to work secretly behind the scenes to assemble large rosters of potential personnel for the administration that only one of the candidates would lead.

US rolls out ‘Vicinity RFID’ to check IDs in moving vehicles

RFID technology that allows the remote identification of travellers in moving vehicles is being rolled out at US land border crossings this month. Crossing points with Canada at Blaine, and with Mexico at Nogales, came online last week, with Buffalo, Detroit and San Ysidro to follow, and a total of 39 planned.

Our Poor Soldiers – 1 in 3 Homeless Men is a Veteran

Vigilant Shield 09: A Cover for Illegal Domestic Operations?

On November 17, U.S. Northern Command (NORTHCOM) and the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) concluded Vigilant Shield 09 (VS09), described in a press release as a training exercise focused on “homeland defense and civil support.”

Maryland city testing nightly police checkpoints into neighborhoods

The initiative, dubbed “Safe Zone,” began Nov. 5, and includes community events and police checkpoints, a tactic used in Baltimore, but that has proved controversial in Washington, D.C.

Invention: Microscopic bio-robot slaves

Shrinking robots allows them to carry out ever more delicate tasks. But even the smallest built so far are too big to be able to, say, imprint microscopic, or even nanoscale, patterns onto microchips.

Change: Timothy Geithner, (Fed, IMF, Kissinger Associates, CFR, BIS) Nominated for U.S. Treasury Secretary

This is Geithner’s bio from the New York Fed. I’ve emphasized a few little mom and pop outfits that any agent of Change/Hope would obviously be involved with. By some miracle, though, he’s not a former CEO of Goldman Sachs!*

So, um…Can you make me a Cyborg?

San Francisco artist Tina Vlach, who lost her left eye in an accident, is now seeking a Webcam for her prosthetic eye.

FDA sets “safe” levels for toxic melamine in baby formula

(CNN) — After first saying that they could not determine a threshold for the safe amount of certain toxic chemicals in infant formula, Food and Drug Administration officials said Friday that trace amounts are safe.

Researchers find new nanomaterial could be breakthrough for implantable medical devices

A team of researchers has made a breakthrough that could lead to new dialysis devices and a host of other revolutionary medical implants.

Fed Pledges Top $7.4 Trillion to Ease Frozen Credit

The U.S. government is prepared to lend more than $7.4 trillion on behalf of American taxpayers, or half the value of everything produced in the nation last year, to rescue the financial system since the credit markets seized up 15 months ago

Obama Picks Key Architect Of The Economic Collapse As Top Economic Adviser

Lawrence Summers played a key role in  lobbying Congress for the repeal of the Glass Steagall Act. His timely appointment by President Clinton in 1999 as Treasury Secretary spearheaded the adoption of the Financial Services Modernization Act in November 1999. Upon completing his mandate at the helm of the US Treasury, he became president of Harvard University (2001- 2006).
Inhofe says Treasury Secretary made dire warnings in conference call on September 19th

IBM, DARPA, building “cat brain”

IBM has announced it will lead a US government-funded collaboration to make electronic circuits that mimic brains. Part of a field called “cognitive computing”, the research will bring together neurobiologists, computer and materials scientists and psychologists

Microsoft to aid in war on terror, builds software for DHS

Microsoft and GIS vendor ESRI have announced that they are constructing a suite of collaboration tools for intelligence gathering and processing, intended for deployment at the Department of Homeland Security’s national fusion centers. The software is built on top of Microsoft’s SharePoint server platform and ESRI’s ArcGIS Advanced Enterprise server.

Survival Retreat

A friend just finished his Survival Retreat. Jacob salvaged an old 12 x 17 foot metal shed and located the unit in a south facing ravine. He anchored the building using the ground for the floor and painted it to match the surrounding trees. Power came from a 60 Watt Solar Charger attached to a couple of 12 Volt Deep Cycle Batteries . An old barrel stove sitting at the far end of the room provided plenty of heat. There was a hand pump attached to a 55 gallon drum for water and a shiny Composting Toilet sitting in the corner. It was finished up with a metal bunk bed against the wall and a futon on the opposite side. The place is very well hidden and sits about a half mile from his house. Feds ignored clear meltdown warnings

Feds ignored clear meltdown warnings – Economy in Turmoil-
The Bush administration backed off proposed crackdowns on no-money-down, interest-only mortgages years before the economy collapsed, buckling to pressure from some of the same banks that have now failed. It ignored remarkably prescient warnings that foretold the financial meltdown, according to an Associated Press review of regulatory documents.

Poverty spreading in suburbs: study | Reuters

Poverty in the United States is spreading from rural and inner-city areas to the suburbs, according to a study, a situation that can worsen as the economy confronts what may be a protracted recession. Food Prices Will Rise, Causing Export Bans, Riots

Food prices will rise next year, prompting a revival of protectionism from food-growing nations and risking a renewed bout of rioting, according to Jochen Hitzfeld, an analyst at UniCredit SpA in Munich.

“Agricultural commodities will outperform the broad commodity indices in 2009,” Hitzfeld wrote in a research note this week. “If key crop-producing countries then impose export bans again and speculators drive up prices via physical stockpiling and futures contracts, new food unrest is even conceivable in the second half of 2009.”

Russia Tests Sea And Land Based Nuke Missiles
Russia successfully tested Friday a sea-based missile capable of carrying multiple nuclear warheads, the military said, amid continued tension with Washington over missile defence.

Quantum Leap In Hi-Tech Performance
For years, physicists have been heralding the revolutionary potential of using quantum mechanics to build a new generation of supercomputers, unbreakable codes, and ultra-fast and secure communication networks. The brave new world of quantum technology may be a big step closer to reality thanks to a team of University of Calgary researchers that has come up with a unique new way of testing …

NVIDIA brings supercomputing to the desktop
US technology firm NVIDIA rolled out high-performance “personal supercomputers” Tuesday that let desktop workstations handle mind-boggling tasks once far beyond their capabilities. Computers built with innovative NVIDIA graphics processing units (GPUs) are capable of handling calculations typically relegated to expensive supercomputing “clusters”

Microsoft, Intel research parallel computing with US universities
Microsoft and Intel said Tuesday they are teaming with US universities to unleash the mighty potential of multi-core computer chips. Microsoft and Intel will jointly spend 20 million dollars over five years to fund Universal Parallel Computing Research Centers at the University of California, Berkeley, and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

“Reality Mining” Resets the Privacy Debate
An anonymous reader sends us to the NYTimes for a sobering look at the frontiers of “collective intelligence,” also called in the article “reality mining.” These techniques go several steps beyond the pedestrian version of “data mining” with which the Pentagon and/or DHS have been flirting. The article profiles projects at MIT, UCLA, Google, and elsewhere in networked sensor research and other forms of collective intelligence.

Google Gatekeeper
Google censoring for governments.

Google Sorts 1 Petabyte In 6 Hours
We are excited to announce we were able to sort 1TB (stored on the Google File System as 10 billion 100-byte records in uncompressed text files) on 1,000 computers in 68 seconds. By comparison, the previous 1TB sorting record is 209 seconds on 910 computers.

Google Turns On User-Tweakable Search Wiki
Google has launched a new service that allows users to tailor to their own search results. Called SearchWiki, the service allows Google account…

Google to Track TV Viewers More Closely
According to this post, Google is about to launch a TV advertising program that will let advertisers target audiences based on…

Changing Images of Man (PDF Download)
Changing Images of Man is the stuff of legend — but the actual document is way more interesting than the conspiracy theory that surrounds it. It’s an undeniably weird document, though, and even the most airbrushed versions of it’s origin and history make for mind-expanding reading.

Quantum Computing: cryptographic challenges, but no end for security
Examination of the technical evolution within several industries reveals an approaching precipice of scientific change.  The glacially paced, but inevitable convergence of quantum mechanics, nanotechnology, computer science, and applied mathematics, will revolutionize modern technology.  The implications of such change will be far reaching, with one of its greatest impacts affecting information security.  More specifically, that of modern cryptography.

“The Last Secrets of the Bush Administration”
How to find out what we still don’t know.

Joint Intelligence DNA Database Described
Scattered details of a little-known U.S. government database containing the DNA of suspected terrorists were gathered and reported today in the Financial Times.  See “Fears over Covert DNA Database” by Stephen Fidler. The Joint Federal Agencies [or more often: Antiterrorism] Intelligence DNA Database (JFAIDD) is described in a 2007 briefing slide (pdf) as “a searchable database of DNA profiles from detainees and known or suspected terrorists.”

Less-Invasive Brain Interfaces
Using electrocorticography (ECoG) — recording neural activity from a sheet of electrodes laid directly on the surface of a patient’s brain — scientists have found they can
predict the movement of fingers and which of several sounds the patient is imagining.

Lower Childhood IQ Associated With Higher Risk Of Adult Mental Disorders
In a new, long-term study covering more than three decades, researchers found that children with lower IQs showed an increased risk of developing psychiatric disorders as adults, including …

Robots Created That Develop And Display Emotions And Become Attached To Certain People
New robots develop and display emotions as they interact with humans, and become attached to …

Xeroxing the brain
Anders Sandberg and Nick Bostrom, of Oxford’s Future of Humanity Institute, have published an in-depth roadmap for “whole brain emulation” – in other words, the replication of a fully functional human brain inside a computer.

Fed To Make It Easier For You To Get In Debt
The Federal Reserve threw a massive life-line to consumers on Tuesday with two new programs aimed at making it easier for them to obtain loans for homes, cars and on credit cards.  Under the new mortgage program, the Fed will buy up to $100 billion of debt issued by government-sponsored mortgage enterprises Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and the Federal Home Loan Banks. It will also buy up to $500 billion of mortgage securities backed by Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and Ginnie Mae.

Jeb Bush: GOP should form ‘shadow government’
Former Fla. gov says create ‘a shadow government,’ focus on policy

US manufacturing hits 26-year low
US manufacturing slumped to a 26-year low in November, highlighting the abrupt downturn in the world’s biggest economy, a survey showed Monday.

Despite Protests, Obama Keeps Gates On As Defense Secretary
In a show of bipartisan support, President-elect Barack Obama has decided to keep Robert Gates on as defense secretary despite protests from Iraq War opponents, according to published reports.

Barack Obama’s security team delights the hawks
Barack Obama will announce his national security team today to approval from the military establishment and Republicans, distant cries of dissent from liberals and head-scratching from others.

Statistician debunks Gore’s climate linkage to the collapse of the Mayan civilisation
Gore says that we should use our understanding of the Maya collapse help us solve the climate crisis, noting that “we need to remember the consequences to civilizations that refused to take environmental concerns seriously”. Given what we know of the Maya collapse, what is Gore really saying?

Welcome to Soviet Britain: The Labour heartlands where figures reveal that half the population relies on the state for a job
Labour’s public sector spending has created a wave of ‘Soviet’ boroughs where around half the population depends on the state for work, figures revealed yesterday.

Brain-machine interface via real-time fMRI
Brain-machine interface via real-time fMRI: Preliminary study on thought-controlled robotic arm.

Brain Controlled Cell Phones
NeuroSky Inc, a venture company based in San Jose, Calif, prototyped a system that reads brain waves with a sensor and uses them for mobile phone applications.

Obama’s Transition Team Includes Contributors, Bundlers and Lobbyists
Members of Barack Obama’s transition team weren’t necessarily selected solely on their résumés and expertise–some may have scored positions over similarly qualified individuals because they supported the president-elect by bundling money for his presidential campaign or opening their own wallets to him. And although Obama prohibits registered lobbyists from making financial contributions to his transition, influence peddlers past and present are showing up on the team that’s building the foundation for the next administration.

State Department unveils social networking site
Initiative is the department’s latest effort to promote international dialogue among young people.

Key tech players aid Obama transition behind the scenes
Many names… more.

New theory of visual computation reveals how brain makes sense of natural scenes
Computational neuroscientists at Carnegie Mellon University have developed a computational model that provides insight into the function of the brain’s visual cortex and the information processing that enables people to perceive contours and surfaces, and understand what they see in the world around them.

U.S. Army offers the public Bot Hunting software
BotHunter, announced on Monday, is a free malware-detection application for Mac OS X, Linux/Unix, and Windows that monitors network activity. Unlike intrusion detection system (IDS) tools that scan only incoming data, BotHunter looks for patterns that indicate malware activity in both incoming and outgoing data.

Double to Triple the Energy Harvesting from Nanoscale Piezoelectrics
Dramatic enhancement in energy harvesting for a narrow range of dimensions in piezoelectric nanostructures around the critical size of 20-23 nanometer thick beams.

Maps and Charts of Iraqi Oil Fields
These are documents turned over by the Commerce Department, under a March 5, 2002 court order as a result of Judicial Watch’s Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit concerning the activities of the Cheney Energy Task Force.  The documents contain a map of Iraqi oilfields, pipelines, refineries and terminals, as well as

Sick babies denied treatment due to corp. patent on gene
BABIES with a severe form of epilepsy risk having their diagnosis delayed and their treatment compromised because of a company’s patent on a key gene.

Colossal Financial Collapse
The Truth behind the Citigroup Bank “Nationalization”

Fed’s emergency loan program increases activity…
Another $800B…

Gaming Grows up, Moves Out: Augmenting Reality with Google Android
The next generation of games promises to take gaming out of the lounge room and back into the open. Consoles and gaming devices won’t just be a combination of key strokes and button presses, they’ll be tool used in the real-world as part of the game.

Ron Paul on RT on World’s Central Banks

Cops taser old lady for taking wrong seat at football game

Technological Elitists and DARPA
Carnegie Mellon CS Chair (and CRA Government Affairs Chair) Peter Lee and Berkeley’s Randy Katz have been doing some thinking about the sorts of problems in computing it might be useful for a future DARPA Director to understand.