Archive for January, 2010

Silicon Republic:

Google’s top inventor says talking computers are the future.

23.12.2009
Future computing and mobile interfaces driven by artificial intelligence, speech recognition and machine vision are consuming the time of Google’s top inventor, he told siliconrepublic.com.

Google’s director of research Peter Norvig, who was in Ireland last week to give the prestigious Boole Lecture at the University of Cork, is the man behind the Google Search product we know and use today, driving the core web search algorithms in the world’s biggest internet company as well as leading the team that created Google Translate.

He joined Google in 2002 as director of search quality – a pivotal time in the company’s development where it enjoyed 10-fold growth, evolving from a curious start-up to the online advertising and software giant it is today. Prior to joining Google Norvig was NASA’s top computer scientist and would have worked on the Remote Agent and Mars Exploration Rovers.

Norvig co-wrote with Stuart Russell Artificial Intelligence: A Modern Approach, a best-seller and considered the definitive book on the subject.

I asked Norvig how Google goes about invention and what fires up Google’s researchers to create and develop new technologies. “I think we are always reinventing things, which I think is good,” he says candidly. “You always try to attract the best people and you can’t attract a person whose job is to just maintain something that was built 10 years ago. The top people don’t want to do that, they want to invent their own.

“We’ve been lucky enough, the growth has been so fast that every couple of years we’ve had to throw out something and start from scratch. You have to tell someone:, for your first year work on this and next year we’ll need something 10 times bigger so why don’t you try that. And that’s a challenge.

“That’s the kind of thing people get excited about. We’ve been able to reinvent, throw out what we had before. In terms of size of the web and the number of documents we have, that’s been growing exponentially in terms of our users, it’s been growing and I guess also in terms of the speed of the response.

“When I started we created a new index of the web every month. And I thought that was a lot compared to a library card product which we had been thinking of ourselves as being like. They didn’t update and we thought we were pretty good. And then we said people started to search for news on Google and we said now we’re going to have to update every day and hour and now with tweets it’s every minute. We’re driven by the fact that we’ve got to have more users, more documents and more speed.”

I asked Norvig about the challenge of keeping a clean and simple search product at a time when it seems more information will be generated in the next year than during the entire history of mankind and when it seems that by next year 50pc of all traffic on the internet will be video and the next 1bn users of the web will be via mobile.

“We’ll do more with indexing the actual content of the video. We started out just searching the keywords of the video and now we’ve started doing speech recognition of the spoken word in the videos and over time we’ll start pulling out objects –this has a car in it that’s in a car chase. That’ll be a challenge.

During my derelict’ion this year we’ve had plenty of remarkable Technocrat / Transhumanist happenings. So with this entry lets get up to speed on noteworthy items from 2009. The mad scientists have been very busy, and their news items of IIF context almost seemed to increase each month as time progressed.

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Technology predictions for 2010
Telegraph Dec. 24, 2009
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The rise of the tablet computer (led by Apple), broadband-enabled on-demand TV, real-time social websites, 3D TV, and augmented reality in information and location-based games are the hot consumer electronics trends for 2010 predicted by the Telegraph’s technology team….

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2010 preview: Is this the year that we create life?
New Scientist Life Dec. 21, 2009
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Craig Venter hopes to unveil a living bacterial cell carrying a genome made from scratch in the lab. George Church of Harvard University expects to get synthetic ribosomes to self-replicate. A completely
synthetic cell remains a distant goal, however….

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The Year in Robotics
Technology Review Dec. 29, 2009
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In 2009, researchers have developed new robots to tackle a variety of
tasks: helping with medical rehabilitation, aiding military maneuvers, mimicking social skills, grabbing new objects quickly and robustly, and achieving superior mobility, such as squeezing under doors or through tiny openings, or navigating a cluttered…

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The Year in Energy
Technology Review Dec. 28, 2009
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Liquid batteries, giant lasers, and vast new reserves of natural gas
highlight the fundamental energy advances of the past 12…

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The Year in Biomedicine
Technology Review Dec. 22, 2009
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Advances in antiaging drugs, acoustic brain surgery, flu vaccines–and the secret to…

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The Year Online
Technology Review Dec. 23, 2009
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This year will be remembered for cloud computing, real-time search, and the appearance of Google’s Web-based operating…

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A Review Of The Best Robots of 2009
Singularity Hub Dec. 22, 2009
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In 2009, robots continued their advances in industrial/manufacturing, humanoid, and other areas….

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Machine Translates Thoughts into Speech in Real Time
PhysOrg.com Dec. 21, 2009
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By implanting an electrode into the brain of a person with locked-in
syndrome, researchers led by Boston University and Harvard/MIT
scientists have demonstrated the first brain-machine interface to
wirelessly transmit neural signals from implanted electrodes to a
speech synthesizer for real-time synthetic speech production.

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The Body Electric
New York Times Dec. 24, 2009
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Robot cars, remote-controlled and mobile robotic surgeons, and wireless artificial arms are some of the ways DARPA is remaking our world as portrayed in THE DEPARTMENT OF MAD SCIENTISTS…

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Building a Search Engine of the Brain, Slice by Slice
New York Times Dec. 21, 2009
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A “Google Earthlike search engine,” the first entirely reconstructed, whole-brain atlas with resolution all the way down to the level of single cells–2.5 petabytes of information– will be available at the Brain Observatory at U.C. San Diego to anyone who wants to log…

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THE SCIENCE OF AVATAR
KurzweilAI.net Dec. 28, 2009
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James Cameron has created a whole ecosystem, from semi-intelligent trees to giant land and air creatures…. [He] has taken the Gaia hypothesis, that the biosphere of the Earth is itself a kind of living entity, and sexed it up — the biosphere of Pandora is essentially a god, and it’s networked! Creatures can plug into each other via what…

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Singularity University announces second Executive Program
KurzweilAI.net Dec. 28, 2009

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Singularity University has announced its second 10-Day Executive Program, to take place Feb. 26 to Mar. 7, 2010. Targeted to decision-makers, strategists, CEOs, entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, and government leaders, the program concentrates on six exponentially
growing technologies: Artificial Intelligence and Robotics, Nanotechnology,…

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Conference brings together nanomedicine and telemedicine
KurzweilAI.net Dec. 24, 2009
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The Unither Nanomedical & Telemedical Technology Conference (Quebec, February 23-26, 2010) will focus on development of medical
nanobots and nanomedical therapies, nanomedical pharmaceuticals,
nano-bio interfaces and hybrids, systems biology to accelerate
nanomedical therapies, and telemanagement of miniature in-vivo medical devices, with a keynote by Ray Kurzweil.

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Looking Back at the 100 Best Innovations of 2009
Popular Science Dec. 23, 2009
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A robot that uses whiskers instead of cameras to see in the dark, a personal video network that lets users place cordless cameras virtually anywhere and view video in real time on the Web, and an electronic stethoscope that beams sounds to a doctor’s PC by Bluetooth and renders a near-real-time graphical representation of the sounds onscreen are…

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Controlling the TV with a wave of the hand
PhysOrg.com Dec. 23, 2009
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Consumer devices for 3D gesture recognition for controlling TVs, videogames, and personal computers, using a camera in real time to
capture motion, are coming in 2010 from a number of companies, including Softkinetic/Texas Instruments and…

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Do computers understand art?
PhysOrg.com Dec. 23, 2009
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Certain artificial-vision algorithms can differentiate between artistic styles and periods based on low-level pictorial information, such as pixel and color distribution, diversity of the color palette, and entropy (degree of disorder), researchers at the University of Girona and the Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics have found….

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Scientists discover how the brain encodes memories at a cellular level
PhysOrg.com Dec. 23, 2009
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When synapses are strengthened during learning, one of the proteins
wrapped around the synapse’s silencing complex (keeps a synapse from being strengthened) gets degraded, freeing RNA to synthesize a new protein, scientists at UC Santa Barbara have…

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Scientists create world’s first molecular transistor
PhysOrg.com Dec. 23, 2009
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The first transistor made from a single molecule has been created by
researchers from Yale University and the Gwangju Institute of Science and Technology in South Korea. The researchers were able to manipulate a benzene molecule’s different energy states, depending on the voltage they applied to it through gold contacts, to control the
current…

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Scientists take important step toward the proverbial fountain of youth
PhysOrg.com Dec. 22, 2009
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Reduced glucose caused normal lung cells to have a higher activity of the gene that dictates the level of telomerase (an enzyme that extends their lifespan) and lower activity of a gene that slows their growth, University of Alabama researchers have found….

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The sinister powers of crowdsourcing
New Scientist Tech Dec. 22, 2009
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Crowdsourcing’s power to compartmentalize and abstract away the true meaning of tasks could potentially entice people into participating in a covert project that they otherwise wouldn’t support, using a tool such as Amazon’s Mechanical Turk, says Harvard University law professor
Jonathan…

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Working as a Team, Bacteria Spin Gears
New York Times Dec. 21, 2009
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Researchers at Argonne National Laboratory, Northwestern and Princeton have shown that the collective swimming behavior of bacteria can be harnessed for work, a step toward the development of
hybrid biological and micromechanical…

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Switchable Nanostructures Made with DNA
PhysOrg.com Dec. 21, 2009
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Scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Brookhaven National
Laboratory have found a new way to use a synthetic form of double-stranded DNA for programmable self-assembly of nanoparticles. It could allow for switchable, three-dimensional and small-cluster structures that might be useful, for example, as biosensors, in solar
cells, and as…

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Scientists improve chip memory by stacking cells
PhysOrg.com Dec. 21, 2009
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Scientists at Arizona State University have developed a way to create inexpensive, high-density data storage by stacking memory layers inside a single…

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Snap and Search (No Words Needed)
New York Times Dec. 19, 2009
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Google’s massive data centers with their computing power and more than a billion images allow its Goggles image-recognition smartphone app to recognize millions of images…

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Complex Integrated Circuits Made of Carbon Nanotubes
Technology Review Dec. 17, 2009
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The first three-dimensional carbon nanotube circuits, made by researchers at Stanford University, could be an important step in making nanotube computers in the coming decade that could be faster and use less power than today’s silicon chips. The Stanford nanotube arrays are some of the densest ever made, with five to 10 nanotubes per…

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New Technique Detects Proteins That Make Us Age
KurzweilAI.net Dec. 15, 2009
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University of Bath researchers have developed a new technique that could be used to diagnose and develop treatments for age-related
conditions like Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes and cancer. In these
diseases, proteins in the body react with sugars in a process called glycation. This modifies the protein’s function and can trigger complications…

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Scientists decode memory-forming brain cell conversations
PhysOrg.com Dec. 16, 2009
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The conversations neurons have as they form and recall memories in real time have been decoded by Medical College of Georgia scientists. The finding could help pinpoint at what stage memory formation is flawed and whether drugs are improving it. They inserted 128 electrodes in the hippocampus of mice to record the conversations of 200 to 300…

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Japanese Store Selling Custom-Made Robots That Look Like Their Owners
PhysOrg.com Dec. 14, 2009
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Japanese department store Sogo & Seibu plans to offer robots that are
custom-made to look just like their owners. They will be life-size humanoids that can dpeak with a real person’s (recorded) voice….

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Computing with a wave of the hand
PhysOrg.com Dec. 11, 2009
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A display that lets users manipulate on-screen images using hand gestures has been developed by the MIT Media Lab. (Matthew Hirsch, Douglas Lanman, Ramesh Raskar, Henry…

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Motion-sensing phones that predict your every move
New Scientist Tech Dec. 13, 2009
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A system that learns users’ behavior patterns to provide them with an enhanced cellphone service has been developed by Technical University of Delft communications engineers. The system uses telltale
sequences and timings from the phone’s accelerometer and other devices to create an electronic signature of “mobility events.” A neural network…

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Popeye, the robot with brains not brawn
WIRED.CO.UK Dec. 10, 2009
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European researchers have developed a new approach to artificial intelligence that could empower computers to respond intelligently to human behaviour as well as commands. Their robot, named Popeye, was built to work out which voices are “relevant” among a cacophony of
noise by combining video input and image recognition technology with
sound…

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How Much Information? 2009 Report on American Consumers
KurzweilAI.net Dec. 10, 2009
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The average American consumes 34 gigabytes of content and 100,000
words of information in a single day (excluding work information) — 11.8 hours of information — according to a report by the University of
California, San Diego. U.S. information consumption in 2008
totaled 3.6 zettabytes (10^21 bytes) and 10,845 trillion words. Video…

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Kurzweil, Chinese Singularity featured in Winter h+ magazine
KurzweilAI.net Dec. 9, 2009
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The Winter 2009 Issue of h+ Magazine, just out, includes The Ray Kurzweil Interview, CAPRICA: Birth of the Cylons, DIY  Transhumanism, Nano-Bio-Info-Cogno: Paradigm for the Future, and The Chinese Singularity (“Chinese culture has little of the West’s subliminal resistance to thinking machines or immortal people and this cultural difference may…

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Google Reinvents Search For Mobile Era
InformationWeek Dec. 8, 2009
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Google is deepening its commitment to new modes of search: by voice, location, and sight. Google on Monday announced: 1) the inclusion of real-time information in Google search results; 2) Google Goggles, an experimental image recognition system for Android 1.6+ devices by which users can submit search queries using snapshots of certain…

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Optimism as Artificial Intelligence Pioneers Reunite
New York Times Dec. 7, 2009
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Four and a half decades after the first research in artificial intelligence, much of the original optimism is back, driven by rapid progress in AI technologies, and that sense was tangible last month when more than 200 of the original Stanford Artificial Intelligence Laboratory scientists assembled at Stanford for a two-day…

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You’ll buy more from web ads that know how you think
New Scientist Tech Dec. 7, 2009
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An “ad morphing” system that serves up banner ads that fit a website user’s personality type has been developed by MIT Sloan School of Management researchers. It uses a program called the Bayesian Inference Engine running unobtrusively on a user’s computer to monitor the person’s click patterns to determine how they respond to different…

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Researchers show brain waves can ‘write’ on a computer in early tests
PhysOrg.com Dec. 7, 2009
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Brain waves can be used to type alphanumerical characters on a computer screen by merely focusing on a letter, with near 100 percent accuracy, Mayo Clinic and University of North Florida researchers  have found. They used electrocorticography (ECoG), in which electrodes are placed directly on the surface of the brain in patients to record…

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Organovo Has Its First Commercial 3D Bioprinter
Singularity Hub Dec. 3, 2009
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Organovo has developed a research prototype of a bioprinter capable of producing very basic tissues like blood vessels….

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The Race to Reverse Engineer the Human Brain
H+ Magazine Nov. 30, 2009
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IBM’s recent announcement of simulation of a cat’s cortext on a Dawn Blue Gene/P Supercomputer aligns with IBM’s “smarter planet” initiative, a method of integrating sensors into infrastructure and analyzing the data they produce to optimize systems like the electrical grid, water systems, and traffic….

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Reverse-engineering the human visual system using molecular biology and GPUs
KurzweilAI.net Dec. 3, 2009
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Harvard and MIT researchers have demonstrated a way to build more powerful artificial visual systems, taking inspiration from screening
techniques in molecular biology (a multitude of candidate organisms or
compounds are screened in parallel to find those that have a particular
property of interest). “Reverse-engineering a biological
visual…

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Cray studies exascale computing in Europe
EE Times Dec. 2, 2009
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Cray Inc. has announced three European partners for a new program
aimed at delivering by the end of the decade a supercomputer capable
of performing an exaflop, one quintillion calculations per…

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Nanowires Key to Future Transistors, Electronics
Science Daily Dec. 3, 2009
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A method for creating nanowire transistors with layers of silicon and germanium sharply defined at the atomic level has been developed by
researchers at IBM, Purdue University and UCLA. The nanowires are “grown” vertically, so they have a smaller footprint, which could make it possible to fit more transistors on a chip, extending Moore’s law….

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Study reveals people’s thoughts on living longer
PhysOrg.com Nov. 30, 2009
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In a study if which people were given a hypothetical pill to make them live longer, 63 percent of participants said there would be personal benefits to life extension, including spending more time with family (36 percent); having more time in life to achieve ambitions (31 percent); and better health and quality of life (21 percent), according to a…

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IBM Cat Brain Simulation Dismissed as ‘Hoax’ by Rival Scientist
New York Times Nov. 24, 2009
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IBM’s claim that it has designed the first brain simulation to exceed the scale of a cat’s cortex is being dismissed as “a hoax and a PR stunt” by Henry Markram, director of the Blue Brain Project in Switzerland, which is also attempting to reverse-engineer mammalian brains. Markram said the cat brain simulation involves only “point neurons,”…

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Machine Converts CO2 into Gasoline, Diesel, and Jet Fuel
PhysOrg.com Nov. 23, 2009
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Researchers at Sandia National Laboratories have built a machine that uses the sun’s energy to convert carbon dioxide waste from power plants into transportation fuels such as gasoline, diesel, and jet fuel. The system could provide an alternative to carbon sequestration; instead of permanently storing CO2 underground, the CO2 could be…

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Shared Supercomputing and Everyday Research
New York Times Nov.; 22, 2009
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Researchers and others are moving to a cloud-computing infrastructure
to allow access to supercomputer resources by individual scientists
and organizations around the globe, reducing the need for smaller
universities and labs to spend money on their own computing
infrastructure while opening access to formerly private medical and
other scientific…

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The Methuselah Manifesto
Reason.com Nov. 17, 2009
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Maximum Life Foundation president David Kekich gathered a group of
scientists, entrepreneurs, and visionaries to meet for three days with the goal of developing a scientific and business strategy to make extreme human life extension a real possibility within a couple of decades, dubbed the Manhattan Beach Project….

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A Central Nervous System for Earth: HP’s Ambitious Sensor Network
New York Times Nov. 18, 2009
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HP Labs has announced a project that aims to be a “Central Nervous System for the Earth” (CeNSE): a R&D program to build a planetwide sensing network, using billions of tiny accelerometers that detect motion and vibrations, and later, ones for light, temperature, barometric pressure, airflow and humidity. The nodes could be stuck to bridges…

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Intel: Chips in brains will control computers by 2020
Computerworld Nov. 19, 2009
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By the year 2020, you won’t need a keyboard and mouse to control your
computer, say Intel Corp. researchers, who are close to gaining the ability to build brain sensing technology into a headset that culd be used to  manipulate a computer, working with associates at Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Pittsburgh. Their next step is…

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Innovation: The dizzying ambition of Wolfram Alpha
New Scientist Tech Nov. 17, 2009
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Stephen Wolfram wants Wolfram Alpha to generate knowledge of its own. Alpha has been exposed to more utterances than a typical child would hear in learning a new language, allowing it to get smarter at understanding how people phrase their requests, he says. “You’ll be able to ask it a question, and
instead of it using knowledge that came…

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The cat is out of the bag: cortical simulations with 10^9 neurons, 10^13 synapses
KurzweilAI.net Nov. 18, 2009
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Results of massively parallel cortical simulations of a cat cortex, with 1.5 billion neurons and 9 trillion synapses, running on Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory’s Dawn Blue Gene/P supercomputer, will be presented by IBM and LLNL researchers today at the SC09 Conference on High Performance Networking and Computing in Portland. “The…

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Supercomputers with 100 million cores coming by 2018
Computerworld Nov. 16, 2009
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The U.S. Department of Energy has begun holding workshops on building
a system that’s 1,000 times more powerful than today’s top supercomputer (Jaquar’s 2.3 petaflops): an exascale (10^18 calculations per second)  system, which would likely arrive around the year 2018. Exascale systems will be needed for high-resolution climate models, bio…

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How Will We Keep Supercomputing Super?
New York Times Nov. 16, 2009
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Building an exascale supercomputer that can deliver a billion billion (10^18) calculations per second is going to force designers to change the way they think about putting these supercomputers together. Graphics processors (GPUs) are the first step in that process, although more esoteric technologies may…

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Google Submits Second Proposal for Library of the Future
Wired Nov. 16, 2009
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Google and a coalition of authors and publishers are hoping a second draft of a legal settlement will clear the way through a thicket of copyright laws to let Google build the library of the…

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Singularity University Executive Program: Ray Kurzweil’s Opening Address
TechCrunch Nov. 13, 2009
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Over the last week, Singularity University has been holding an Executive Program with the goal of preparing executives for the “imminent disruption and opportunities resulting from exponentially accelerating technologies.”…

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Listen, Watch, Read: Computers Search for Meaning
Science Daily Nov. 16, 2009
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European researchers in the MESH project have created the first integrated semantic search platform that integrates text, video and audio. The platform can search annotated files from any type of media — photographs, videos, sound recordings, text, document scans — using optical character  recognition, automated speech recognition and…

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Tiny Particles Can Deliver Antioxidant Enzyme to Injured Heart Cells
ScienceDaily Nov. 16, 2009
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Georgia Tech scientists have developed microscopic polymer beads that can deliver an antioxidant enzyme made naturally by the body into the heart, reducing the number of dying cells and resulting in improved heart function in rats. The enzyme in the particles, called superoxide dismutase (SOD), soaks up toxic free radicals produced when cells…

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Cray’s Jaquar now world’s fastest supercomputer
KurzweilAI.net Nov. 15, 2009
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The Jaguar Cray supercomputer at Oak Ridge National Laboratory has become the world’s most powerful supercomputer, at 1.75 petaflops per second, edging out the IBM Roadrunner system at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico, which has slowed slightly to 1.04 petaflops per second. The newest version of the…

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Medibots: The world’s smallest surgeons
New Scientist Health Nov. 20, 2009
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Advances in robotics could revolutionize healthcare, pushing the limits of what surgeons can achieve, from worm-inspired capsules to crawl through your gut, and systems swallowed in pieces that assemble themselves inside the body, to surgical robots that will soon be ready to embark on a fantastic voyage through our bodies, homing in on the part…

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Contact lenses to get built-in virtual graphics
New Scientist Tech Nov. 12, 2009
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University of Washington researchers are developing a contact lens with embedded microelectronics for overlaying graphics on the real world that could provide a compelling augmented reality…

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Wireless Phones Can Affect The Brain, Swedish Study Suggests
Science Daily Nov. 11, 2009
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A study at Orebro University in Sweden indicates that mobile phones
and other cordless telephones have at two biological effects on the
brain: increased content of the protein transthyretin in the blood-cerebrospinal-fluid barrier (part of the brain’s protection against outside influences), and various health symptoms reported by children and…

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New search technique for images and videos has broad applications
Physorg.com Nov. 10, 2009
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Engineers at the University of California, Santa Cruz have developed a new approach to a fundamental problem in computer vision: how to program a computer to recognize or categorize what it “sees” in an image or video. The software analyzes the map of pixel relationships and determines the salient geometric features of the object or action….

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DARPA: Inventing this side of the impossible
New Scienist Opinion Nov. 11, 2009
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Prosthetic arms as nimble and light as the real thing, driverless cars that work their way through real traffic, a portable robotic emergency room, and scramjets able to race around the world in just a few hours are among the DARPA projects profiled by journalist Michael Belfiore in a new book, The Department of Mad Scientists….

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A Battery-Free Implantable Neural Sensor
Technology Review Nov. 5, 2009
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Electrical engineers at the University of Washington have developed an implantable neural sensing chip that needs less power, drawing power from a RFID reader radio source up to a meter away. (Brian Otis, University of Washington) The NeuralWISP is a collection of smaller,  more low-power components, such as a specialized signal amplifier,…

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Sony demos game controller to track motion and emotion
New Scientist Tech Nov. 5, 2009
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Sony has unveiled a hands-free, full-body game controller, the Interactive Communication Unit (ICU). Like Microsoft’s Natal, Sony’s ICU tracks a person’s whole body without their having to wear the body markers used in motion-capture studios, and it can detect a player’s emotions by watching their facial expressions, and judge sex and…

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AI Spacesuits Turn Astronauts Into Cyborg Biologists
Wired Science Nov. 2, 2009
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Patrick McGuire, a University of Chicago geoscientist, has developed algorithms that can recognize signs of life in a barren landscape, using a Hopfield neural network, which compares incoming data against patterns it’s seen before, picking out those details that qualify as new or…

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Breakthrough In Industrial-scale Nanotube Processing
ScienceDaily Nov. 3, 2009
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Rice University scientists have unveiled a method for high-throughput industrial-scale processing of carbon-nanotube fibers, using chlorosulfonic acid as a solvent. The process that could lead to revolutionary advances in materials science, power distribution and nanoelectronics….

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The Future of Video Game Input: Muscle Sensors
Live Science Oct. 29, 2009
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A muscle-sensing system that can remotely control devices such as games and multi-touch surfaces has been developed by researchers at Microsoft, the University of Washington, and the University of Toronto. They system uses electromyography (EMG) sensors to detect muscle  signals from the arm skin’s surface, allowing researchers to build a…

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Xerox Claims Printable Electronics Breakthrough
PC magazine Oct. 27, 2009
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Xerox has announced a new silver ink that is apparently a breakthrough in printable electronics. The possibilities range from printing on flexible plastic, paper and cardboard, and fabric, to printing RFID tags on almost anything….

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Brain scanners can tell what you’re thinking about

Oct. 28, 2009
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Neuroscientists can now use “neural decoding” to recreate moving images that volunteers are viewing, read memories and future plans, diagnose eating disorders, and detect which of two nouns a subject is thinking of, all at rates well above…

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Meet BigDog’s Two-Legged Brother
Technology Review Oct. 27, 2009
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Petman, a bipedal bot that walks on two legs and can recover from a push (using the same balancing technology that allows BigDog to recover from a kick) has been developed by Boston Dynamics….

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Muscle-Bound Computer Interface
Technology Review Oct. 28, 2009
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A gesture-based system using electrodes attached to a person’s forearm that read electrical activity from different arm muscles to allow for hands-free, gestural interaction have been developed by researchers at Microsoft, the
University of Washington in Seattle, and the University of…

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Google Launches Google Social Search Amid Social-Media Battle
Wall Street Journal Oct. 26, 2009
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Google’s new Social Search allows users to find postings from their friends as part of a Web search….

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New Route To Nano Self-assembly Found
ScienceDaily Oct. 25, 2009
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Researchers at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory have found a way to induce nanoparticles to assemble themselves into complex arrays, using block copolymers with surfactants as mediator molecules….

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Augmented reality system lets you see through walls
New Scientist Tech Oct. 23, 2009
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An augmented reality system has been built by Carnegie Mellon University researchers that gives the impression that one is seeing through walls. It uses two cameras: one that captures the driver’s view and a second that sees the scene behind a view-blocking wall. A computer takes the feed from the second camera and layers it on top of the…

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Head-up Displays go Holographic
Technology Review Oct. 16, 2009
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A new compact projection device developed by Light Blue Optics uses “holographic projection*,” allowing it to be far smaller than current in-car head-up display** (HUD) systems — small enough to fit inside a rearview mirror. * Holographic projectors use liquid crystal on silicon to modulate beams of red, green, and blue laser light to…

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Artificial Black Hole Created in Chinese Lab
the physics arXiv blog Oct. 14, 2009
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Chinese scientista have used metamaterials to create the world’s first artificial black hole in their lab, distorting space so severely that light entering it (in this case microwaves) cannot escape. Their black hole consists of 60 layers of
printed circuit board arranged in concentric circles and coated in a thin layer of copper from which…

IIB Note: Are Black Holes the future of weaponry?

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Researchers Probe Computer ‘Commonsense Knowledge’
ScienceDaily Oct. 11, 2009
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University of Illinois at Chicago AI scientists were recently awarded a three-year, $500,000 National Science Foundation grant to develop algorithms for use in building commonsense knowledge bases that can evolve. They will consider questions such as how to deal with contradictory information that is entered and how to organize knowledge in…

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Google Wave 101
Search Engine Watch Oct. 12, 2009
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The revolutionary new Google Wave communication platform attempts to bring together your favorite online communication options, combining the features of instant messaging, e-mail programs, the viral aspects of social  media, Twitter, maps, and document sharing into one program….

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Military Robots to Get a Virtual Touch
Technology Review Oct. 6, 2009
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Adding force sensing to a PackBot robot arm could give operators the ability to “feel” the weight of an object or whether it is hard or soft, via the robot’s arms. The US military currently uses iRobot’s wheeled PackBot in Iraq and
Afghanistan for tasks such as bomb disposal, detecting hazardous materials and carrying…

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Brain-to-brain communication demonstrated
KurzweilAI.net Oct. 7, 2009
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Brain-to-brain (“B2B”) communication has been achieved for the first time by Dr. Christopher James of the University of Southampton. While attached to an EEG amplifier, the first person generated and transmitted a series of binary digits by imagining moving their left arm for zero and their right arm for one. That data was sent via the…

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Singularity Summit media page launched
KurzweilAI.net Oct. 5, 2009
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The Singularity Summit has launched a media page for uploading videos (including some SS09 sessions), photos, and tweets (#SS09)….

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Redesigning Humanity panel update
KurzweilAI.net Oct. 2, 2009
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The “Redesigning Humanity” panel with James Hughes, Ray Kurzweil, Martine Rothblatt, and Wendell Wallach at the Woodstock Film Festival mentioned yesterday will be held at 4 pm ET Friday, October 2, viewable live via streaming video….

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A Genetic Fountain of Youth
Technology Review Oct. 1, 2009
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By disabling a gene involved in an important biochemical signaling pathway involving a protein called target of rapamycin (TOR), scientists have discovered a way to mimic the anti-aging benefits of caloric restriction, allowing mice to live longer and healthier lives. This finding offers a promising drug target for combating the many health…

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Free-flying cyborg insects steered from a distance
New Scientist Tech Oct. 1, 2009
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By connecting electrodes and radio antennas to the nervous systems of beetles, University of California, Berkeley engineers were able to make them take off, dive and turn on command. Funded by DARPA, the project’s goal is to create fully remote-controlled insects able to perform tasks such as looking for survivors after a disaster, or acting as…

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Scientists Develop Nasal Spray That Improves Memory
ScienceDaily Oct.. 2, 2009
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A molecule from the body’s immune system (interleukin-6) administered through the nose helps the brain retain emotional and procedural memories during REM sleep, researchers from University of Lubeck in Germany have found….

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’2B – The Era of Flesh is Over’ film to premiere at Woodstock Film Festival Friday
KurzweilAI.net Oct. 1, 2009
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“2B – The Era of Flesh is Over,” a science-fiction film set in the near future, will have its world premiere at the 10th anniversary Woodstock Film Festival in Woodstock, NY on Friday, Oct. 2, 2009. A panel discussion, “Redesigning Humanity — The New Frontier,” moderated by bioethicist James J. Hughes,
including Ray Kurzweil, 2B film executive…

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Touchless 3-D Fingerprinting
Technology Review Sept. 30, 2009
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With a new non-contact, 3-D fingerprinting system that projects patterns of light onto a finger and analyzes the 1000 pixels-per-inch image, University of Kentucky researchers can quickly create a more accurate print than those made with ink or sensor plates and significantly reduce incorrect matches and environmental problems.

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New project to create ‘FutureGrid’ computer network
PhysOrg.com Sept. 29, 2009
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The San Diego Supercomputer Center at UC San Diego is part of a team chosen by the National Science Foundation to build and run an experimental high-performance grid test-bed, allowing researchers to collaboratively develop and test new approaches to parallel, grid and cloud computing. FutureGrid, to be composed of nearly 1400 state-of-the-art…

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Bell Labs breaks optical transmission record, 100 Petabit per second kilometer barrier
PhysOrg.com Sept. 29, 2009
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Bell Labs scientists have set a new optical transmission record of 15.5 Terabits per second over 7,000 kilometers, using 155 lasers, each operating at a different frequency and carrying 100 Gigabits/second of data. The researchers also increased capacity by interfacing advanced digital signal processors with coherent detection, a new technology…

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A step toward better brain implants using conducting polymer nanotubes
PhysOrg.com Sept. 29, 2009
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Brain implants developed at the University of Michigan are coated with nanotubes made of poly(3,4-ethylenedioxythiophene) (PEDOT), a biocompatible and electrically conductive polymer that has been shown to record neural signals better than conventional metal electrodes….

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Quest for a Long Life Gains Scientific Respect
New York Times Sept. 28, 2009
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Several proteins are now known to influence longevity, energy use and the response to caloric restriction, including sirtuins (thought to help the body ride out famines), receptors for insulin, IGF-1, and TOR (“target of  rapamycin”) — an antimicrobial that was recently found to extend lifespan
significantly, even when given to mice at an advanced…

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Wanted: Home Computers to Join in Research on Artificial Life
New York Times Sept. 28, 2009
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Silicon Valley researchers at Digital Space plan to turn software originally designed to search for evidence of extraterrestrial life to the task of looking for evidence of artificial life, using hundreds of thousands of Internet-connected computers in homes and offices. A concept view of an artificial
protocell forming in the EvoGrid

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Discovery Brings New Type Of Fast Computers Closer To Reality
ScienceDaily Sept. 28, 2009
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UC San Diego physicists have created integrated circuits with particles called “excitons” at 125 degrees Kelvin (can be easily attained commercially with liquid nitrogen), bringing the possibility of a new type of extremely fast
computer based on excitons closer to reality. Excitons are pairs of negatively charged electrons and positively…

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Cracking The Brain’s Numerical Code: Researchers Can Tell What Number A Person Has Seen
ScienceDaily Sept. 25, 2009
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By carefully observing and analyzing the pattern of activity in the brain, researchers have found that they can tell what number a person has just seen, or how many dots a person has been presented with. These findings confirm the notion that numbers are encoded in the brain via detailed and specific activity…

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Augmented Reality in a Contact Lens
IEEE Spectrum September 2009
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University of Washington researchers are developing optoelectronic systems embedded in a contact lens to create Terminator-like augmented-reality
displays and for noninvasive monitoring of the wearer’s biomarkers (such as glucose levels) and other health indicators on the surface of the eye. One lens prototype [top] has several…

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Video surveillance system that reasons like a human brain
Security News Sept. 21, 2009
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“AlSight Cognitive Video Analytics,” an autonomous video-surveillance system tbat uses cognitive learning engines and computer vision to process visual data on a level similar to the human brain, has been developed by BRS Labs. It is used to protect global critical infrastructure assets, including major international hotels, banking…

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EU funding ‘Orwellian’ artificial intelligence plan to monitor public for “abnormal behaviour”
Telegraph Sept. 21, 2009
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The EU’s Project Indect aims to develop computer programs that monitor and process information from web sites, discussion forums, file servers, peer-to-peer networks and even individual computers for “automatic detection of threats, abnormal behavior, or…

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What’s Augmented Reality’s Killer App?
Technology Review Sept. 23, 2009
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With Mobilizy’s just-released Augmented Reality Mark-up Language (ARML), programmers can more easily create location-based content for AR applications — the equivalent of HTML for the Web….

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Machines could ultimately match human intelligence, says Intel CTO
Network World Sept. 21, 2009
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“It’s not inconceivable we’ll reach a point that machines do match human intelligence,” said Intel CTO Justin Rattner, referring to the concept of the technological Singularity. Rattner said the fundamental technologies behind a future exaflop machine could be demonstrated by the middle of next decade, and — depending on government investment…

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Super-dense data stores cool down
New Scientist Tech Sept. 17, 2009
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A material that could allow super-dense (125 gigabytes per square inch) “millipede”-style data storage systems to work at room temperature (and thus be a viable commercial product) has been developed by researchers at Pohang University of Science and Technology in Kyungbuk, Korea. The system uses a “baroplastic” — a hard polymer that becomes…

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Robots get smarter by asking for help
New Scientist Tech Sept. 17, 2009
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Willow Garage researchers are training a robot to ask humans to identify objects it doesn’t recognize, working with Amazon’s Mechanical Turk, an online marketplace that pairs up workers with employers that have simple
tasks they need completing. A cleaning robot, for example, could spend its first week in a new building taking pictures and…

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Snort stem cells to get them to brain
NewScientist Health Sept. 10, 2009
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Snorting stem cells might be a way of getting large numbers of stem cells or therapeutic proteins such as neural growth factor into the brain without surgery, University Hospital of Tübingen researchers have found in an
experiment with…

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Electrical circuit runs entirely off power in trees
PhysOrg.com Sept. 8, 2009
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University of Washington researchers have tapped electrical power from trees to run low-power (10 nanowatts) sensors….

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Scientist: Human brain could be replicated in 10 years
PhysOrg.com Sept. 7, 2009
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A model that replicates the functions of the human brain is feasible in 10 years according to neuroscientist Professor Henry Markram of the Brain Mind Institute in Switzerland. Inhibitory neurons in the neocortex (Blue Brain Project, Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne) “A brain model
will sit on a massive supercomputer and serve as…

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Smart People to Blame for Central Planning
The Daily Reckoning Sept. 7, 2009
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Central planning didn’t work in Russia or China — or in the 2007-2008 financial blow-up — but today, in China, the government boosts production, and in America, the central planners are trying to boost consumption, says investment author Bill Bonner. “In short, the fixers are still fixing. And soon,
the world will be in an even worse fix…

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Chemists reach from the molecular to the real world with creation of 3-D DNA crystals
PhysOrg.com Sept. 2, 2009
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Self-assembled 3D DNA crystals that could be used for smaller and more sophisticated nanoelectronics devices and organizing biological macromolecules have been developed by NYU, Purdue, and Argonne  National Laboratory scientists….

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Researchers grow nanowire crystals for 3-D microchips
PhysOrg.com Aug. 26, 2009
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Stanford researchers have developed a method of stacking and purifying multiple crystal layers of germanium onto silicon that may pave the way for three-dimensional microchips that produce more computing power per unit of surface area….

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Mining the Web for Feelings, Not Facts
New York Times Aug. 23, 2009
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An emerging field known as sentiment analysis, fueled by social networking, is taking shape around one of the computer world’s unexplored frontiers: translating human emotions into hard data, which could eventually transform the experience of searching for information…

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Are we ready for the Autonomous Age?
NewScientist Tech Aug. 20, 2009
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The media and government should improve public awareness of the complex social, ethical and legal questions that autonomous systems (like autonomous vehicles and smart homes) raise, the UK’s Royal Academy of Engineering argues in a new report….

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Robots ‘Evolve’ the Ability to Deceive
Technology Review Aug. 18, 2009
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Robots equipped with artificial neural networks and programmed to find “food” eventually learned to conceal their visual signals from other robots to keep the food for themselves, researchers at the Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne in Switzerland have found. (PNAS) The team “evolved” new generations of robots by copying and…

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New Nanolaser Key To Future Optical Computers And Technologies
ScienceDaily Aug. 17, 2009
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The “spaser,” the tiniest laser since its invention nearly 50 years ago, paves the way for a host of innovations, including “hyperlenses” resulting in sensors and microscopes 10 times more powerful than today’s and able to see objects as small as DNA, super-fast computers and consumer electronics that use light instead of electronic signals to…

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Sony patents reveal emotion recognition software
gamesindustry.biz August 16, 2009
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Sony Computer Entertainment America has filed patents for software that can recognize emotions, including, laughter, sadness, joy, anger and boredom. The patents may be related to Sony’s PlayStation 3 motion-tacking  technology, which can detect facial expressions, and sound similar to Microsoft’s Project Natal, which can detect emotional…

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Twitter Forty Percent ‘Pointless Babble’
Information Week Aug. 16, 2009
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40.55 percent of tweets are pointless babble, 3.75 percent is spam, and 5.85 percent is self-promotion, according to a study by Pearl Analytics. Excluding news sites, the most prolific tweeters are solipsistic new-media marketing and tech mavens promoting themselves, another study by Sysomos suggests, according to Information Week blogger…

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IBM Scientists Build Computer Chips From DNA
PC World Aug. 16, 2009
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IBM scientists are researching ways in which DNA can self-assemble into patterns on a chip’s surface, acting as scaffolding for millions of carbon nanotubes and nanoparticles that can serve as interconnects and transistors on future computer…

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Seeking
Slate Aug. 12, 2009
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The brain’s “seeking system” is hard-wired to obsessively love Google, Twitter, e-mail, and other electronic communication devices, fueled by the opioid
neurotransmitter dopamine, according to neuroscientists….

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RFID tags get an intelligence upgrade
NewScientist Tech Aug. 14, 2009
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Researchers are developing “computational RFID tags” (CRFIDs) with no external power source using microcontrollers and compact, energy-efficient software and ways to store data, making possible smarter applications (such as encrypting/decrypting data for more secure passports or credit cards and and moisture sensors)….

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Capping Two-faced ‘Janus’ Nanoparticle Gives Engineers Complete Control
ScienceDaily Aug. 11, 2009
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Duke University engineers have for the first time achieved optical and magnetic control over all the degrees of an nanoparticle’s motion, opening up broad possibilities for using “dot-Janus” particles as building blocks for applications such as electronic paper, self-propelling micromachines, assembly of nanostructures, and controlling the…

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Mobile phones get cyborg vision
BBC News Aug. 11, 2009
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Ubiquitous augmented reality (AR) is coming to some smart phones, providing rich, location-relevant information. For example, Acrossair’s iPhone app overlays tube-station information on the camera image, using data from the iPhone’s GPS and compass. And Mobilizy’s Wikitude world browser presents users of phones running Google’s Android with…

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‘Spiderbots’ talk amongst themselves inside active volcano
NewScientist Tech Aug. 11, 2009
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A squadron of robust, self-healing, remotely controllable “spiderbots” inside Mount St. Helens is the first network of volcano sensors that can automatically communicate with each other via a mesh network and with satellites, route data around any sensors that break, and be dropped into volcanoes. Similar networked robots could one day be used…

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Immortality improves cell reprogramming
Nature News Aug. 9, 2009
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Specialized adult cells made “immortal” through the blockade of an antitumor pathway (p53) can be turned into stem-like cells quickly and efficiently, making it easier to generate patient-specific cells from any tissue type, five research teams have found….

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Plasmodium Computing
the physics arXiv blog August 10, 2009
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A way to program a biological computer using the food-seeking behavior of the Physarum polycephalum (an amoeboid slide mold that can find the shortest way through mazes and anticipate periodic events), has been suggested by Andrew Adamatzky from University of the West of…

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Robots to get their own operating system
NewScientist Tech Aug. 10, 2009
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The Robot Operating System or ROS, an open-source set of programs meant to serve as a common platform for a wide range of robotics research, is being developed and used by teams at Stanford University, MIT, and the Technical University of Munich, among…

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Expert panel urges NASA to revive futuristic think tank
NewScientist Space Aug. 7, 2009
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NASA should revive its successful Institute for Advanced Concepts (NIAC), says an expert panel, focused on projects for 10 years and beyond….

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IBM gets $16 million to bolster its brain-on-a-chip technology
Networld World Aug. 8, 2009
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IBM has received $16.1 additional funding from DARPA to work on the Systems of neuromorphic adaptive plastic scalable electronics (SyNAPSE) program, bringing the total to $21 million. DARPA is looking to develop electronic neuromorphic machine technology that is scalable to biological levels. The goal is to develop systems capable of analyzing…

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Scaling Up a Quantum Computer
Technology Review August 7, 2009
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Researchers at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) in Boulder, CO, have demonstrated multiple computing operations on quantum bits–a crucial step toward building a practical quantum…

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Virtual Worlds May Be the Future Setting of Scientific Collaboration
PhysOrg.com Aug. 4, 2009
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The first professional scientific organization based entirely in virtual worlds, the Meta Institute for Computational Astrophysics (MICA), has been formed by scientists from the California Institute of Technology, Princeton, Drexel University, and MIT. In addition to getting people together in a free and convenient way, virtual worlds can…

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DNA computation gets logical
PhysOrg.com Aug. 3, 2009
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Weizmann Institute researchers have developed an advanced DNA computer capable of representing basic rules and facts and answering queries, using fluorescent molecules in some strands to light up in a combination of colors that represent…

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Researchers develop ‘brain-reading’ methods
PhysOrg.com July 27, 2009
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A highly accurate way to uncover a person’s mental state and what sort of information is being processed — before it reaches awareness — using functional MRI has been developed by Rutgers and UCLA scientists. The research also suggests that a more comprehensive approach is needed for mapping brain activity and that the widely held belief…

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Scientists Worry Machines May Outsmart Man
New York Times July 25, 2009
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Impressed and alarmed by advances in artificial intelligence, a group of computer scientists is debating whether there should be limits on research that might lead to loss of human control over computer-based systems that carry a growing share of society’s…

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Terahertz Transistor Could Usher in Era of Cheap Surveillance Video Cameras
The physics arXiv blog July 20, 2009
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Nanoscale transistors are promising candidates for a new class of efficient terahertz detecting technology that could make “intimate” body-search-at-a-distance cameras as cheap and easy as conventional video…

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Ray Kurzweil and David Chalmers to Headline Singularity Summit 2009 inNew York
KurzweilAI.net July 15, 2009
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Singularity Summit 2009 moves to New York on October 3-4, the Singularity Institute for Artificial Intelligence (SIAI) plans to announce Thursday. The event will feature leading experts on accelerating technological change and the future of humanity, such as inventor/futurist Ray Kurzweil, speaking on “The Ubiquity and Predictability of the…

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The Next Hacking Frontier: Your Brain?
Wired Science July 9, 2009
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As neural devices such as deep brain stimulators and electrode systems for controlling prosthetic limbs become more complicated — and go wireless — some scientists say the risks of “brain hacking” should be taken…

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Computer learns sign language by watching TV
New Scientist Tech July 8, 2009
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Software developed in the UK has worked out the basics of sign language by absorbing TV shows that are both subtitled and…

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First Drug Shown to Extend Life Span in Mammals
Technology Review July 8, 2009
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Rapamycin, an antifungal drug derived from bacteria in the soil on Easter Island. can substantially extend the life span of mice, according to three independent…

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Singularity University Presents “Humanity’s Grandest Challenges”
KurzweilAI.net July 9, 2009
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Singularity University has invited the public to a panel discussion on “grand challenges” in water, health, the environment, and energy on Thursday, July 9 at 7pm PT at NASA Ames Research Park.

* Moderator: Mr. Vijay Vaitheeswaran, Writer for The Economist, Author of “Zoom”
* Global Public Health: Dr. Larry Brilliant, President, Skoll Urgest Threats Funds
* Climate: Dr. Chris Field, Carnegie/Stanford, U.S. Rep to the International Panel on Climate Change, co-author of the IPCC report that won the Nobel Prize with Al Gore
* Water: Ms. Meena Palaniappan, Pacific Institute, Director of their Water Initiative
* Climate: Dr. Bill Collins, Head of the Climate Science Department, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

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Quantum computer closer: Optical transistor made from single molecule
gizmag July 6, 2009
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An optical transistor has been created from a single hydrocarbon molecule called dibenzanthanthrene by ETH Zurich researchers….

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Memristor minds: The future of artificial intelligence
New Scientist Tech July 8, 2009
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Hybrid transitor-memristor chips designed to reproduce some of the brain’s thought processes have been developed by HP and Boston University researchers, and University of California, San Diego researchers have developed a memristive device that they claim behaves like a neural synapse….

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MIT develops camera-like fabric
CNET News July 7, 2009
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A fabric made of a mesh of light-sensitive fibers that collectively act like a rudimentary camera (without a lens) has been developed by MIT researchers. Within the fibers are two cylindrical shells of semiconductor material, each connected to the outside world with four built-in metal electrodes. MIT suggested that the technology, if…

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One step closer to an artificial nerve cell
PhysOrg.com July 6, 2009
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The first artificial nerve cell that can communicate with nerve cells in the body using neurotransmitters is being developed by Scientists at Karolinska
Institutet and Linkoping University. The scientists intend to develop a small unit that can be implanted into the body, and release neurotransmitters to treat individual patients. Research…

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Laser light switch could leave transistors in the shade
NewScientist Tech July 1, 2009
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An optical transistor that uses one laser beam to control another could form the heart of a future generation of ultrafast photonic computers, overcoming the speed limits with wires, say Swiss researchers. Using a green beam to switch an orange output beam from weak to strong is analogous to the way a transistor’s control electrode switches a…

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Can a new implant coating technique create a new six million dollar man?
PhysOrg.com June 29, 2009
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An electrochemical process for coating metal implants to make them resemble biological material vastly improves their functionality, longevity and integration into the body a Tel Aviv University researcher has…

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Review: Wetware by Dennis Bray
New Scientist Opinion June 30, 2009
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Living cells are chemical computers. (Volker Steger/Christian Barpelle/SPL) They take information from the environment and process it to produce behavioral “outputs.” The processing units are proteins, which perform all the same operations as the logic gates of a computer. Inputs from the environment cause the proteins to flip shape, to…

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Scientists create first quantum processor
PhysOrg.com June 26, 2009
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A team led by Yale University researchers has created the first rudimentary two-qubit solid-state quantum processor, taking another step toward building a quantum…

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Physics brings realism to virtual reality
NewScientist Tech June 28, 2009
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The latest multi-core processors and some smart software allow techniques used by physicists and engineers to simulate the real world in extreme detail, creating virtual worlds governed by real physics, rather than the simplified versions used today. One expert evens predicts that such techniques could
be used to create Matrix-like virtual…

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Domestic robots with a taste for flesh
New Scientist Tech June 25, 2009
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Five domestic robots that gain energy by eating flies and mice, digested by an internal microbial fuel cell, have been built by James Auger, at the Royal College of Art, London and collaborator….

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Teenage ‘baby’ may lack master aging gene
New Scientist Health June 25, 2009
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Brooke Greenberg is 16 years old now (the picture shows her at age 11), but hasn’t aged since she was an infant. Understanding her condition could provide an insight into the genetics of aging. Richard Walker of the University of South Florida College of Medicine thinks that Brooke is the first recorded
case of what he describes as…

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Human Eye Inspires Advance In Computer Vision
ScienceDaily June 22, 2009
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Inspired by the behavior of the human eye, Boston College computer scientists have developed a technique that lets computers see objects as fleeting as a butterfly with nearly double the accuracy and 10 times the speed of earlier…

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The AI Report
Forbes June 22, 2009
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Humanoid robots, passing the Turing test, unsupervised learning, and AI’s used to fight terrorism and a few of the topics in AI, robotics, and intelligence covered in this special section written by 22 experts….

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Cell Phones That Listen and Learn
Technology Review June 22, 2009
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SoundSense, which picks up sounds and tries to classify them into “voice,” “music,” or “ambient noise” categories, is a step in building a system that can learn user behavior on the go, say its Dartmouth College developers. The software could allow for giving users feedback on their daily activities for health, time-management, and…

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Plan to teach military robots the rules of war
New Scientist Tech June 18, 2009
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An “ethical governor” that aims to ensure that robot attack aircraft behave ethically in combat has been developed by robotics engineer Ron Arkin at the Georgia Institute of…

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Semantic technology takes off
KurzweilAI.net June 18, 2009
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Key news at the Semantic Technology Conference in San Jose: Wolfram Alpha rep Russel Foltz Smith said they will offer an API to their engine that will allow companies with natural-language front ends to call their engine and get rich data from across the web. Ask.com announced they are crawling the web
gathering Q&A pairs and parsing…

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Re-Engineering the Earth
The Atlantic July/August 2009
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A few scientists are considering radical — and possibly extremely dangerous — schemes for reengineering the climate by brute force. Their ideas are
technologically plausible and cheap, so a rich and committed environmentalist could act on them tomorrow. And the scariest part….

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The Display That Watches You
Technology Review June 5, 2009
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Researchers at Fraunhofer Institute for Photonic Microsystems (IPMS) have developed a screen technology that could help make wearable displays more compact and simpler to use. By interlacing photodetector cells with display pixels, the researchers have built a system that can display a moving image while also detecting movement directly in front…

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Inside the Military’s Secret Terror-Tagging Tech
Wired Danger Room June 3, 2009
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The military has spent hundreds of millions of dollars researching, developing, and purchasing “Tagging tracking and locating” (TTL) devices, including laser-based reflectors, RFID tags capable of responding from twelve miles away, homing beacons so tiny, they can be woven into fabric or paper, and invisible chemical dye to mark…

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US shells out $10M for unmanned aircraft that can perch like a bird
Network World Layer 8 June 3, 2009
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AeroVironment has received n additional $5.4 million from DARPA to further develop a tiny aircraft that can fly into tight spaces undetected, perch, and send live surveillance information to its…

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Reading the Surface of the Brain
Technology Review June 3, 2009
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Neurolutions is developing a small implanted device that translates signals recorded from the surface of the brain into computer commands to allow paralyzed patients to control a computer and perhaps prosthetic limbs and other devices. (Eric Leuthardt, Washington University School of Medicine) The device is based on electrocorticography…

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Sony latest to demo videogame motion-sensing controller
PhysOrg.com June 3, 2009
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Sony on Tuesday demonstrated a prototype motion-sensing videogame controller. A camera tracks the player’s movements, and software translates their movements to those of onscreen characters….

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Commonly used medications may produce cognitive impairment in older adults
PhysOrg.com June 1, 2009
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Many drugs such as sleeping pills commonly prescribed to older adults for a variety of common medical conditions including allergies, hypertension, asthma, and cardiovascular disease appear to negatively affect the aging brain. The drugs cause immediate but possibly reversible cognitive impairment, including delirium, in older adults, according…

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How to Build a 100-Million-Image Database
The physics arXiv blog Jun 1, 2009
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A database of 100 million high-quality digital images taken from Flickr by Institute of Information Science and Technologies in Pisa, Italy could help in testing the next generation of image search algorithms….

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Xbox 360 Project Natal: Full-Body Motion Control One-Ups the Wii
Gizmodo Jun 1, 2009
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Microsoft’s Project Natal, a bar that sits above or below your TV, lets you control games just by moving around, using a camera, sensors and a microphone. It lets you move through menus by swiping your hands back and forth. The camera allows for facial and voice recognition and will recognize your face and sign you in automatically. It…

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Siri lifts veil on intelligent assistant
Mercury News May 27, 2009
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Siri, a San Jose company, has announced that it would offer an “intelligent agent” for the iPhone that responds to natural-language queries to find movie theaters, book restaurant reservations and airline flights, buy from online retail sites, and even answer trivia questions….

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Superconducting Chips To Become Reality
Science Daily May 29, 2009
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Superconducting germanium doped by gallium has been produced by scientists at the Forschungszentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (FZD) research center. Germanium as a new material for chips would enable both faster processes and further miniaturization in micro- and nanoelectronics….

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Despite ‘Terminator,’ machines still on our side: Scientists say AI will be humanity’s ‘Salvation’
Daily News May 26, 2009
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AI experts including Reid Simmons of the Robotics Institute at Carnegie Mellon University and Ray Kurzweil say the post-apocalyptic “Terminator Salvation” scenario is unlikely. “Kurzweil believes the technical advancement of the next few decades will herald a literal rewiring of the human brain. Given
the shrinking costs of nanotechnology,…

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Is A Terminator Scenario Possible?
H+ May 21, 2009
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H+ asked David Brin, Ben Goertzel, J. Storrs Hall, Vernor Vinge, and others: “Is a Terminator-like scenario possible? And if so, how likely is…

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Harnessing science to create the ultimate warrior
New Scientist Science in Society May 20, 2009
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Super-soldiers could be selected for specific duties on the basis of their genetic makeup and then constantly monitored for signs of weakness, says a report by the US National Academies of Science. If a soldier is struggling, a digital “buddy” might step in and warn them about nearby threats, or advise
comrades to zap them with an electromagnet…

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Modeling Sneaky Robots
Technology Review May 20, 2009
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An algorithm that models stealthy robot behavior has been developed by . Seoul National University professors. They designed simulations in which a robot waits in the shadows and moves quickly between obstacles to intercept a target….

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I.B.M. Unveils Real-Time Software to Find Trends in Vast Data Sets
New York Times May 20, 2009
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System S, new software from IBM, can acquire huge volumes of data from many sources and quickly identify correlations within it, harnessing advances in computing and networking horsepower in a fashion that analysts and customers describe as unprecedented. Instead of creating separate large databases to track things like currency movements,…

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New memory material may hold data for one billion years
Nanowerk News May 20, 2009
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A new experimental computer memory device that can store 1 terabyte per square inch (allowing for storing thousands of times more data than conventional silicon chips) with an estimated lifetime of more than one billion years has been developed by Alex Zettl of UC Berkeley and colleagues. The device consists of an iron nanoparticle enclosed in…

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Dutch Supercomputer Establishes New Record in Go
HPC Wire May 15, 2009
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The Go program MoGo TITAN, running on the Dutch national supercomputer Huygens, defeated two human Go professionals at the Taiwan Open 2009, held in Taiwan Feb. 10-13. After the victory of IBM’s Deep Blue against Garry Kasparov, the game of Go — one of the last board games where humans are still able to easily win against AI — has replaced…

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Inside the bad-ass world of military research projects
Network World Layer 8 May 18, 2009
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The US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency has detailed nine top strategic research programs in a 57-page report, including supercomputers,
self-forming/self-defending networks, quantum information science, and real-time accurate language translation….

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Nine games computers are ruining for humanity
New Scientist Science in Society May 18, 2009
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AI researchers have taught computers to play a wide range of strategic games well enough to beat the best human players, including chess, poker, and checkers. The next generation of bots will be general game players (GGPs), which can learn the rules of any game and then figure out how to play…

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Will designer brains divide humanity?
New Scientist Science in Society May 13, 2009
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It will soon be possible to boost human brainpower with electronic “plug-ins” or even by genetic enhancement. What will this mean for the future of humanity? Would it widen the gulf between the world’s haves and have-nots — and perhaps even lead to a distinct and dominant species with unmatchable powers of intellect? It won’t be long before…

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Darpa: Heat + Energy = Brains. Now Make Us Some.
Wired Danger Room May 8, 2009
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Darpa’s latest venture, called “Physical Intelligence” (PI) intends to prove mathematically that all brain activities — reasoning, emoting, processing sights and smells — derive from physical mechanisms, acting according to the
principles of “thermodynamics in open systems.” They’re asking for “abiotic, self-organizing electronic and chemical…

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Brain scanning may be used in security checks
The Guardian May 10, 2009
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Distinctive brain patterns could become the latest subject of biometric scanning after EU researchers successfully tested technology to verify
­identities for security checks. The U.S. government’s IARPA (Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity) is seeking development proposals to enhance such biometric-signature…

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Could the net become self-aware?
New Scientist Tech April 30, 2009
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“The Internet behaves a fair bit like a mind,” says Ben Goertzel, chair of the Artificial General Intelligence Research Institute. “It might already have a degree of consciousness…. The outlook for humanity is probably better in the
case that an emergent, coherent and purposeful Internet mind develops.” If the effort that has gone into…

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Ugolog Creates Surveillance Website
To Watch Anyone, Anywhere
Singularity Hub April 28, 2009
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Ugolog allows individuals to quickly set up a powerful surveillance system (for home monitoring, for example), using live video streaming via the Ugolog website, but the service could raise privacy issues for some uses….

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Face Mining: Finding Who and When in Video
KurzweilAI.net April 27, 2009
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Pittsburgh Pattern Recognition, a start-up spun out from Carnegie Mellon University, has posted a face mining concept for the TV series Star Trek that allows for navigating video by character. “We applied our state-of-the art algorithms in face detection, face tracking and face recognition to 67 Star Trek episodes over three seasons. This…

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Computer Program to Take On ‘Jeopardy!’
New York Times April 26, 2009
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IBM plans to announce Monday that it is in the final stages of completing a computer program named Watson to compete against human “Jeopardy!” contestants, using a Blue Gene supercomputer and a database with a significant fraction of the Web now indexed by Google. If the program — a new class of software that can “understand” human questions…

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Singularity 101 with Vernor Vinge
H+ April 24, 2009
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Signs that the Singularity is near might include “larger and larger software debacles” and “whether or not the effects of Moore’s Law are continuing on track,” suggests legendary science- fiction writer Vernor Vinge….

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Brain Wave of The Future
Washington Post April 23, 2009
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NeuroSky is turning brain-computer interfaces into cheap, ubiquitous consumer items, including Christmas competitors like Mattel’s $80 Mindflex and Uncle Milton’s $130 Force Trainer, both of which involve levitating a ping-pong-like ball. NeuroSky plans to develop brain-wave sensors for the automotive, health-care and education industries….

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Innovation: Harnessing spammers to advance AI
NewScientist.Tech April 17, 2009
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If spammers are able to write a program to read distorted text (and images) in CAPTCHAs (scrambled letters that attempt to block spammers), they have solved an AI problem,” says their creator Luis von Ahn of Carnegie Mellon
University….

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Neuroscientists propose project to comprehensively map mammalian brain circuits
PhysOrg.com Mar. 31, 2009
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A first-draft circuit map of the entire mouse brain within two to three years has been proposed by Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory and 20 other major research institutions as a first step in assembling a comprehensive map of the major neural circuits in the mammalian brain. The whole-brain circuit map
should provide insights about what goes wrong…

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Researchers bring new brain mapping capabilities to desktops of scientists worldwide
PhysOrg Mar. 31, 2009
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Research teams at the University of Utah and University of Colorado at Boulder have made technical advances that have significantly reduced the time it takes to map brain regions. These include automation tools to tag every cell with a molecular signature, capture 25,000 TEM images weekly, and automatically merge thousands of images into…

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Humanoid robot helps scientists to understand intelligence
PhysOrg.com Mar. 31, 2009
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Imperial College London researchers believe their iCub humanoid robot will help them learn more about how humans use cognition to interact with their world. The team will link a computer simulation of a human brain to iCub so that it can process information about its environment and activate its motors to allow it to move its arms, head, eyes…

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Google announces Cognitive Autoheuristic Distributed-Intelligence Entity
KurzweilAI.net April 1, 2009
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Google announced at midnight the world’s first Cognitive Autoheuristic
Distributed-Intelligence Entity (CADIE), the first evolving intelligent system. “im a girl, 2 minutes old, just hanging out in da C.A. learnin a lot tryin 2 get
smarter make friends save humanity etc etc. i like cmputrs (duh) sunsets rainbows ponies and after 1 netwide…

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New robot ‘steered by human thought’: Honda
PhysOrg.com Mar. 31, 2009
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Honda’s latest ASIMO robot version can be steered by human thought, using a helmet-like brain machine interface to perform four basic movements with its arms, legs and tongue….

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Alarm raised about religion defamation ban
AP Mar. 29, 2009
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The U.N.’s top human rights body has approved a “defamation of religion” proposal by Muslim nations urging the passage of laws protecting religion from criticism. Christian, Jewish, and secular groups say the non-binding
resolution restricts freedom of speech and will worsen relations between…

IIB’s Note: This could be used to protect “secular” Transhumanism from criticism as well. A bad move on all levels.

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How Can You Tell If Your IM Buddy Is Really a Machine?
Discover Mar. 23, 2009
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One of the quickest and easiest ways to sniff out a bot is to test a chatter’s medium-term memory, suggests computer scientist Kevin Warwick. While a human will likely remember that you asked, “What color is an apple?” three minutes ago, a bot may not, so asking the same question a second time will produce an identical answer. The reverse can…

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Vast Spy System Loots Computers in 103 Countries
New York Times Mar. 28, 2009
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A vast electronic spying operation has infiltrated computers and has stolen documents from hundreds of government and private offices around the world, University of Toronto researchers have found….

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Brain on a chip?
PhysOrg.com Mar. 16, 2009
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European researchers are building a neuromorphic computer that will work similar to the brain, at smaller scale. The first effort is a network of 300 artificial neurons and half a million “synapses” on a single chip….

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Brain scan reveals memories of where you’ve been
New Scientist Health Mar. 12, 2009
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Functional MRI scans of the hippocampus (responsible for memory) have for the first time been used to detect a person’s location in a virtual environment. The finding suggests that more detailed mind-reading, such as detecting as
memories of a summer holiday, might eventually be possible, says Eleanor Maguire, a neuroscientist at University…

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DHS wants to use human body odor as biometric identifier, clue to deception
UPI Mar. 9, 2009
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The U.S. Department of Homeland Security plans to study the possibility that human body odor could be used to tell when people are lying or to identify individuals in the same way that fingerprints…

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Researchers find ways to sniff keystrokes from thin air
IT World Mar. 12, 2009
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The electromagnetic radiation that is generated every time a computer keyboard is tapped is easy to capture and decode, two separate research teams, from the Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne and security consultancy Inverse Path, have found….

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Wireless Tasers extend the long arm of the law
New Scientist Tech Mar. 11, 2009
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The new Taser XREP is an electrically charged dart that can be fired from up to 20 meters away with a 12-gauge shotgun. Upon impact, its barbed electrodes penetrate a victim’s skin, discharging a 20-second burst of
electricity to “distract, disorient and entice the subject to grab the projectile,” which routes the shock through the hand,…

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Lockheed offers ready-to-go supersoldier exoskeleton
The Register Feb. 27, 2009
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Lockheed’s Human Universal Load Carrier exoskeleton will allow soldiers to carry loads up to 200 pounds with minimal…

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Inexpensive scanners can ‘fingerprint’ paper, researchers say
Network World Mar. 10, 2009
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Researchers at Princeton University and University College London say they can identify unique information, essentially like a fingerprint, from any sheet of paper using any reasonably good scanner. The technique could be used to crack down on counterfeiting or even keep track of confidential…

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Unveiling the “Sixth Sense,” game-changing wearable tech
KurzweilAI.net Mar. 11, 2009
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TED has just released the video of MIT scientists Pattie Maes & Pranav Mistry unveiling their “Sixth Sense,” a wearable device with a projector, as in Minority Report — the buzz of…

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High time to act on armed robots
New Scientist Science in Society Mar. 10, 2009
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Robot sentries patrol the borders of South Korea and Israel. Remote-controlled aircraft mount missile attacks on enemy positions. Other military robots are already in service, and not just for defusing bombs or detecting landmines. MAARS robot (Qinetiq) A coming generation of autonomous combat robots capable of deep penetration into enemy…

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The Next Generation in Human Computer Interfaces – Awesome Videos
Singularity Hub Mar. 4, 2009
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A new generation of exciting new interfaces with the digital world is in the pipeline, including Siftables (computerized blocks you can stack and shuffle in your hands), Reactables (new way of creating and interacting with music), and mixed-reality interfaces….

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Wolfram Alpha Computes Answers To Factual Questions. This Is Going To Be Big.
TechCrunch Mar. 8, 2009
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Stephen Wolfram’s forthcoming Wolfram Alpha online service, a “computational knowledge engine,” will compute answers to factual questions, using models of fields of knowledge, complete with data and algorithms, with a natural-language interface. The project involves more than a hundred people working in stealth to create a vast system of…

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The first virtual reality technology to let you see, hear, smell, taste and touch
PhysOrg Mar. 4, 2009
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U.K. scientists are creating the “Virtual Cocoon,” a new “Real Virtuality” (all senses stimulated to create a fully immersive perceptual experience) device that can stimulate all five senses much more realistically than any other current or prospective device. Concept design of a mobile Virtual Cocoon…

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EFF launches surveillance self-defense site
KurzweilAI.net Mar. 5, 2009
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The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has created a Surveillance Self-Defense site to educate the American public about the law and technology of U.S. government surveillance and provide technical information on how to protect your privacy….

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Shocking cancer treatment may also yield weapon
New Scientist Tech Mar. 5, 2009
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A technique using 60-nanosecond pulses thought to be a promising cancer treatment is also being investigated by Old Dominion University as the basis for a Taser-like weapon that stuns for longer….

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Robotic computer watches your every move
New Scientist Tech Mar. 2, 2009
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Giving a PC a robotic neck and throwing away the keyboard and mouse has produced a less-demanding personal computer controlled only by gestures….

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Microsoft Mapping Course to a Jetsons-Style Future
New York Times Mar. 1, 2009
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Microsoft is developing advanced artificial intelligence and graphics systems, such as a virtual assistant with voice- and facial-recognition skills who can book appointments for meetings or schedule a flight. The new system will take advantage of computing systems that Microsoft says will be about 50 to 100 times more powerful than today’s…

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Designer Babies – Like It Or Not, Here They Come
Singularity Hub Feb. 25, 2009
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The era of designer babies is here and there is no going back. Case in point: the Fertility Institute will soon be able to offer couples the ability to screen their embryos for eye color, hair color, and complexion. It also plans to offer
almost any conceivable customization as science makes them available. Opponents are vilifying the…

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Microsoft Demos Augmented Vision
Technology Review Feb. 24, 2009
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Microsoft researchers have demonstrated software that can superimpose computer-generated information in real time on top of a digitized view of the real world, which could add another dimension to future smart…

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Oak Ridge explores cybots
Government Computer News Feb. 19, 2009
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An army of software robots intelligent enough to cooperate with one another to monitor and defend the largest networks against security threats: that’s the goal of the Ubiquitous Network Transient Autonomous Mission Entities (UNTAME) program that researchers are developing at Oak Ridge National…

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Reading Thoughts with Brain Imaging
Technology Review Feb. 18, 2009
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Vanderbilt University researchers have reported that from functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) data from visual areas of the brain alone, they could distinguish which of two images subjects were holding in their memory — even several seconds after the images were removed. The study also pinpointed, for the first time, where in the…

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The Cellphone, Navigating Our Lives
New York Times Feb. 16, 2009
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With the dominance of the cellphone, the map is emerging as a new metaphor for how we organize, find and use information. A new generation of smartphones like Google’s Android G1 and a range of Japanese phones now “augment” reality by painting a map over a phone-screen image of the user’s
surroundings produced by the phone’s camera. With…

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Scientists read minds with infrared scan
PhysOrg.com Feb. 10, 2009
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Researchers at Canada’s largest children’s rehabilitation hospital have developed a technique that uses infrared light brain imaging to decode preference — with the goal of ultimately opening the world of choice to children who can’t speak or…

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Google Taking a Step Into Power Metering
New York Times Feb. 9, 2009
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Google will announce its entry Tuesday into the small but growing business of the “smart grid,” digital technologies that seek to keep the electrical system on an even keel and reduce electrical energy consumption. Google has developed a free Web service called PowerMeter that consumers can use to track energy use in their house or business as…

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Video: Robot uses human mind tricks to navigate
New Scientist Tech Feb. 8, 2009
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Engineers in Germany have been studying human brain activity related to visual information to improve the way moving robots avoid obstacles….

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How to control a herd of humans

New Scientist Science in Society Feb. 4, 2009
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Stanford University researchers have found that activities performed
in unison, such as marching or dancing, increase loyalty to the group. This helps explain why fascist leaders, amongst others, use organised marching and chanting to whip crowds into a frenzy of devotion to their cause, according to psychologist Jonathan Haidt at the…

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Innovation: Speech prediction software
NewScientist.Tech Feb. 3, 2009
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National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST) of Japan claims that its “speech completion” technology is a first. The software could make speech-recognition software more powerful by increasing the speed and accuracy with which you can dictate long and difficult words and common…

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Singularity University to Study Accelerating Technologies, Launches at NASA Ames
KurzweilAI.net Feb. 3, 2009
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With the support of NASA, Google and a broad range of technology thought leaders and entrepreneurs, a new university will launch in Silicon Valley this summer with the goal of preparing the next generation of leaders to address “humanity’s grand challenges.” Singularity University (SU) (www.singularityu.org) will open its doors in June 2009 on…

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Google Ocean adds detail to the depths
New Scientist Tech Feb. 2, 2009
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Google Earth can now provide a detailed 3D view of features both above and below water, relying on the U.S. Navy for sonar and other data….

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When you watch these ads, the ads check you out
AP Jan. 30, 2009
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Small cameras can now be embedded in a public video screen or hidden around it, tracking who looks at the screen and for how long, reminiscent of the science-fiction movie “Minority Report.” TruMedia Technologies, the makers of the tracking systems, say the software can determine the viewer’s gender, approximate age range and, in some cases,…

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Ethics Report on Autonomous Military Robots to be Released
KurzweilAI.net Feb. 2, 2009
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The Ethics + Emerging Technologies Group at Cal Poly will release a major report, “Autonomous Military Robots: Risk, Ethics, and Design,” Monday, authored by several of its faculty researchers and funded by the US Department of Navy, Office of Naval Research (ONR). The 100+ page preliminary report addresses current and predicted states of…

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Working Artificial Nerve Networks Under Development
Science Daily Jan. 30, 2009
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Weizmann Institute of Science researchers have created circuits and logic gates made of live nerves grown in the lab. The objective is to create a synthetic, many-neuron “thinking”…

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Future Watch: A.I. comes of age
Computerworld Jan. 26, 2009
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The Stanford Artificial Intelligence Robot (Stair) represents a new wave of AI, one that integrates learning, vision, navigation, manipulation, planning,
reasoning, speech and natural-language processing. It also marks a transition of AI from narrow, carefully defined domains to real-world situations in which systems learn to deal with complex…

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Light-speed nanotech: Controlling the nature of graphene
PhysOrg.com Jan. 21, 2009
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Researchers at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute have discovered a new method for controlling the nature of graphene, bringing academia and industry potentially one step closer to realizing the mass production of graphene-based…

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Semiconducting Nanotubes Are ‘Holy Grail’ for Electronic Applications
PhysOrg.com Jan. 21, 2009
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Duke University chemists have created exclusively semiconducting versions of single-walled carbon nanotubes for use in manufacturing reliable electronic nanocircuits. In addition to being tiny, these nanotubes offer reduced heat output and operation a higher frequencies, compared to current materials used to make miniaturized electronic…

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Basking in Big Data
Technology Review Jan. 16, 2009
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Researchers at the University of California, Davis, and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory announced that they have developed software that makes analysis and visualization of huge data sets possible without the aid of a…

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AI-based virtual agent for call centers lowers costs, improves caller experience
KurzweilAI.net Jan. 12, 2009
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Adaptive A.I. Inc. (a2i2) of Playa del Rey, CA plans to announce on Monday the “world’s first commercial AGI (artificial general intelligence) system” — a virtual IVR (interactive voice response) call center operator that can hold “smart, productive conversations,” CEO Peter Voss, a computer scientist and entrepreneur, told KurzweilAI.net in an…

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New games powered by brain waves
PhysOrg.com Jan. 10, 2009
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The Mind Flex game from toy maker Mattel allows players to move a ball around an obstacle course by directing their thoughts, and toymaker Uncle Milton’s “Force Trainer” (named after Yoda’s “The Force”) similarly allows players to lift a ball inside a transparent tube….

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How the city hurts your brain
Boston.com Jan. 2, 2009
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Just being in an urban environment impairs our basic mental processes. After spending a few minutes on a crowded city street, the brain is less able to hold things in memory, and suffers from reduced self-control, University of Michigan scientists have found….

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Coming to the Battlefield: Stone-Cold Robot Killers
Washington Post Jan. 4, 2009
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Armed robotic aircraft soar in the skies above Pakistan, hurling death down on America’s enemies in the war on terrorism. Soon — years, not decades, from now — American armed robots will patrol on the ground as well, fundamentally transforming the face of battle. The Army stands on the threshold of one of the greatest transformations in…

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Researchers create all seeing ‘eye’
PhysOrg.com Jan. 5, 2009
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Scientists at The Vision Center in Australia say the Perspex globe, designed primarily as a scientific tool to investigate how insects see, navigate and learn, also has potential uses for guiding robot vehicles and aircraft, providing low-cost panoramic security surveillance and novel lighting…

New Scientist:

THE Pentagon’s enthusiasm for non-lethal crowd-control weapons appears to have stepped up a gear with its decision to develop a microwave pain-infliction system that can be fired from an aircraft.

The device is an extension of its controversial Active Denial System, which uses microwaves to heat the surface of the skin, creating a painful sensation without burning that strongly motivates the target to flee. The ADS was unveiled in 2001, but it has not been deployed owing to legal issues and safety fears.

Nevertheless, the Pentagon’s Joint Non-Lethal Weapons Directorate (JNLWD) in Quantico, Virginia, has now called for it to be upgraded. The US air force, whose radar technology the ADS is based on, is increasing its annual funding of the system from $2 million to $10 million.

The transmitting antenna on the current system is 2 metres across, produces a single beam of similar width and is steered mechanically, making it cumbersome. At the heart of the new weapon will be a compact airborne antenna, which will be steered electronically and be capable of generating multiple beams, each of which can be aimed while on the move.

The new antenna will be steered electronically and is capable of generating multiple heat beams

The ADS has been dogged by controversy. Jürgen Altmann, a physicist at Dortmund University in Germany, showed that the microwave beams can cause serious burns at levels not far above those required to repel people. This was verified when a US airman was hospitalised with second-degree burns during testing in April 2007.

The airborne version will not make it any less contentious. “Independent of the mode of production, with this size of antenna the beam will show variations of intensity with distance – not just a simple decrease – up to about 500 metres,” says Altmann. Shooting it on the move with any accuracy will be difficult, he adds.

Dave Law, head of the technology division of the JNLWD, says the new antenna will operate at the lowest possible effective power level and will have a sophisticated automated target-tracking system.

In a recent cost-benefit analysis, the US Government Accountability Office rated the ADS worst out of eight non-lethal weapons currently in development.