Posts Tagged ‘Cybernetics’

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A follow-up to the post from earlier today about student experiments with projected interfaces:  “Light Touch is an interactive projector that instantly transforms any flat surface into a touch screen.”  Not for sale yet, but apparently available to potential partners.
via

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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…

In early April, Adam Wilson posted a status update on the social networking Web site Twitter – just by thinking about it.

LINK

Like I said 3 years ago in my “They Want Your Soul” film that Google Video recently removed, this is the ‘mental telepathy’ that many 2012 ‘Profits’ like to talk about. I’m not sure how many of them realize they’re actually (self-fulfilling) prophets for the NWO transhumanist neural implant and artificial general intelligence cognitive computer agenda, but that is the role they are serving. (TWYS can be downloaded in full quality here.) [More info on the ONR image they used below found here.]

WIRED Danger Room:

04_smartsensor

Forget the battlefield radios, the combat PDAs or even infantry hand signals. When the soldiers of the future want to communicate, they’ll read each other’s minds.

At least, that’s the hope of researchers at the Pentagon’s mad-science division Darpa. The agency’s budget for the next fiscal year includes $4 million to start up a program called Silent Talk. The goal is to “allow user-to-user communication on the battlefield without the use of vocalized speech through analysis of neural signals.” That’s on top of the $4 million the Army handed out last year to the University of California to investigate the potential for computer-mediated telepathy.

Before being vocalized, speech exists as word-specific neural signals in the mind. Darpa wants to develop technology that would detect these signals of  “pre-speech,” analyze them, and then transmit the statement to an intended interlocutor. Darpa plans to use EEG to read the brain waves. It’s a technique they’re also testing in a project to devise mind-reading binoculars that alert soldiers to threats faster the conscious mind can process them.

The project has three major goals, according to Darpa. First, try to map a person’s EEG patterns to his or her individual words. Then, see if those patterns are generalizable — if everyone has similar patterns. Last, “construct a fieldable pre-prototype that would decode the signal and transmit over a limited range.”

The military has been funding a handful of  mind-tapping technology recently, and already have monkeys capable of telepathic limb control. Telepathy may also have advantages beyond covert battlefield chatter. Last year, the National Research Council and the Defense Intelligence Agency released a report suggesting that neuroscience might also be useful to “make the enemy obey our commands.” The first step, though, may be getting a grunt to obey his officer’s remotely-transmitted thoughts.

– Katie Drummond and Noah Shachtman

[Photo: ONR]

ALSO:

Gizmodo:

The US Army is ramping up the development of technology right out of the X-Files, “making science fiction into reality” as Dr. John Parmentola—Director of their Research and Laboratory Management—puts it. The list of things currently in the works is amazing: Regenerating body parts on “nano-scaffolding”, telepathy through electronic impulses in the scalp, and self-aware virtual photorealistic soldiers that can be deployed in the battlefield through “quantum ghost imaging”. To test these they want to use them into a massively multi-player online games like World of Warcraft or Eve online:

We want to use the massively multi-player online game as an experimental laboratory to see if they’re good enough to convince humans that they’re actually human, that can think on their own, have emotions and talk in local slang. I actually interact with virtual humans in terms of asking them questions and they’re responding.

Once they have them perfected, they want to “deploy” these soldiers using something called “quantum ghost imaging”. This will allow to create photorealistic, non-cheesy-fake-CNN-looking holograms out of thin air by “pairing photons that do no reflect or bounce off an object, but off other photons,” whatever that means. Parmentola explains it as ““like having a tracing tool … that goes over the image and that’s connected to another one on a piece of paper that exactly imitates what it is that you are tracing with the other pen” which leaves me scratching my head as well. He hinted that this is closer than we can imagine.

The rest of their projects are equally mindblowing. Although this used to be the subject of much rumorology and speculation, the Parmentola confirmed that they are working in:

• A project to erase bad memories, which will be critical in helping soldiers with psychological damage.
• Devices that will translate one solider’s thoughts into electrical signals that can be beamed to other soliders, to help in stealth operations.
• Growing back body parts, both internal organs and limbs (Parmentola said researchers are not far away from this), using molecular-sized particles that act as nano-scaffolding for the human cells to grow, dissolving after the organ has regenerated.

Let’s hope it’s no all smoke and mirrors, because this research has the potential to benefit countless others outside the battlefield. [DoD Buzz]

Executive Intelligence Review:

`Spacewar’: Welcome to the
`Post-Human’ Era

by Gabriela Arroyo Reyes, LaRouche Youth Movement

Ready or not, computers are coming to the people.

That’s good news, maybe the best since psychedelics. It’s way off the track of the “Computers—Threat or menace?” school of liberal criticism, but surprisingly in line with the romantic fantasies of the forefathers of the science such as Norbert Wiener, Warren McCulloch, J.C.R. Licklider, John von Neumann, and Vannevar Bush.

The trend owes its health to an odd array of influences: the youthful fervor and firm dis-Establishmentarianism of the freaks who design computer science; an astonishingly enlightened research program from the very top of the Defense Department; an unexpected market-banking movement by the manufacturers of small calculating machines, and an irrepressible midnight phenomenon known as Spacewar.

Reliably, at any night-time moment (i.e., non-business hours) in North America, hundreds of computer technicians are effectively out of their bodies, locked in life-or-death space combat, computer-projected onto cathode ray tube display screens, for hours at a time, ruining their eyes, numbing their fingers in frenzied mashing of control buttons, joyously slaying their friends and wasting their employers’ valuable computer time. Something basic is going on.
“Spacewar,” by Stewart Brand
(
Rolling Stone, ca. 1972)

Within the remote confines of Stanford’s Artificial Intelligence Laboratory in Palo Alto, California, something big was brewing, the implications of which would make the likes of Bertrand Russell, Norbert Wiener, and Mephistopheles himself cackle.

In all their righteous, scraggly glory, the self-proclaimed “enlightened” hippies, from New York City to Haight-Ashbury, who had “tuned in, turned on, and dropped out,” to the point of dullness, were immersing themselves in the writings of Norbert Wiener, Buckminster Fuller, and Marshall McLuhan. It was through these New Age visionaries, that they could vicariously envision themselves in a cyberuniverse, one in which they could leave behind any semblance of responsibility for the past, present, or future, in which material reality could be wholly imagined as an information system.

The mysterious, but long awaited “Internet” was about to be unveiled, like a Pandora’s Box upon an unsuspecting world, and there were high hopes everywhere, as MIT’s Nicholas Negroponte put it, that it would “flatten organizations, globalize society, decentralize control, and help harmonize people.” Long gone would be the days of dirigistic economies and industry; the faint sounds of spinning lathes, milling cutters, dirigibles and gliders, cranes and tractors, would inevitably fall into an eerie silence. In their place, the Internet would usher in an unprecedented era, as it paved the way for a “digital generation.” But not merely digital in the conventional sense, as Dr. Timothy Leary (not one to jump on this cataclysmic bandwagon too late) attested when he reached the profound realization that psychedelia as a radical new religion attracted too few followers, and instead opted to coronate himself as the new high priest of cyberculture, prophesying that virtual reality was the new and improved “Electronic LSD.”

In a cultural landscape such as this one, where it can be said with certainty that the fate of entire language cultures teeters on the edge of a slippery precipice, it becomes difficult to ignore the debris of a civilization that had once produced minds of an impressive caliber and moral fiber that laid the very foundations in culture, science, epistemology, and the maxim of man’s divine spark of reason. Whoever would be so naive and gullible as to be seduced by this “technetronic” symbiotic union of gadgetry with the perverse, would be, wittingly or unwittingly, giving in to the tried and true methods of the Luciferian Venetian Empire; as the ancient hands of Time bear witness to the fact that Venice would rather kiss the hand it could not sever.

From the Counterculture to Cyberculture

The two pillars of assault on the American Intellectual Tradition, although cloaked in what appeared to be antithetical garments, were cybernetics and the drug counterculture. In the same way that the youth were corrupted in the aftermath of World War II, into their adolescent years during the Vietnam War, today there is a culture of rabid existentialism, ahistoric by its very nature, that because of the multiplicity of options available to it, doesn’t know which reality to choose to make its own; and the preconditions are being set by the modern-day descendants of the aforementioned Wieners and Russellites to ensure a new artificial paradigm-shift into a culture that would bring about its own destruction, and with it, the most advanced ideas that civilization has produced to date—a culture that only a cyberculture could offer.

The Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA) was established on Feb. 17, 1958 (under the Defense Reorganization Act), in response to the Soviet Union’s launching of Sputnik, to ensure that missile response capability in the United States would be adequate. Under the Defense Department, ARPA was bequeathed $520 million by Congress, and with it, sole responsibility “for the direction or performance of such advanced projects in the field of research and development as the Secretary of Defense shall, from time to time, designate by individual project or by category” (DOD directive 5105.15).

In 1963, the portion of research dealing with missile technology was moved from the jurisdiction of the military, to become a separate entity known as the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), at which point, ARPA was left with nothing but a large budget. The morbidly astute behavioral psychologist J.C.R. Licklider (who would later run the Command and Control Research division of ARPA research) was quick to suggest that ARPA, which would, in 1972, change its name to Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), should invest heavily in computer and artificial intelligence research. As the Cold War intensified, ARPA became a willing vessel for the ideas of cybernetic unmanned warfare of Norbert Wiener, which relied on the computers being built based on the logic designs of John von Neumann.

An overwhelming number of research and development initiatives, and disciplines under the rubric of “interactive computing systems,” associated with Human System Integration (HMI), and dealing on one level or another with human brain-machine interfaces, the Internet, or the gaming industry, have a genesis which can be traced back to the earliest days of ARPA. It was through ARPA that the cybernetic blueprint regarding human-machine interface would be unveiled. Today, DARPA proudly carries on the cybernetic torch with the AugCog (Augmented Cognition) program which—through its ongoing research and development for the Army, Navy, Marines, and Air Force—seeks to develop a computational system that, with the aid of prosthetic technologies, such as cued memory retrieval, would enhance the overall effectiveness and performance of the warrior soldier.

“The newly emerging field of AugCog is aimed at revolutionizing the way humans interact with computer-based systems by coupling traditional electromechanical interaction devices (such as a mouse or a joystick) with psychophysiological methods (respiration, heart rate, EG, functional optical imaging), where human physiological indicators can be used in real time to drive system adaptation or a priori assess potential design issues which may induce information overload or inefficient decision making” (DARPA). This is the beginning of what some hope will be the next big paradigm-shift, not only in interactive computing, but that it will come to define new parameters for what it means to be human.

The barely recognizable remnants of the military-industrial complex had been transformed into the military-entertainment-complex; this is the training ground for what is now being infamously called “post-human” warfare: a realm in which the unyieldingly faithful and self-avowed worshippers of the fathers of Cybernetics and Information Theory, Wiener and von Neumann, have incessantly and tirelessly dedicated themselves to the propagation of a “Renaissance,” in which there exists a seamless fusion between the digital, cybernetic machine and the human being. It is a grave error, according to them, to assume that cognition is an occurrence that takes place in the human mind. Instead, the high priests of post-humanism audaciously preach that cognition is a logical systemic activity which is distributed throughout the environments in which human entities just happen to move and work.

Can Machines Supercede Man?

We need first to understand that the human form—including human desire and all its external representations—may be changing radically, and thus must be re-visioned. We need to understand that five hundred years of humanism may be coming to an end as humanism transforms itself into something that we must helplessly call post-humanism.
—Ihab Hassan, “Prometheus as Performer:
Towards a Posthuman Culture?”
[1]

The litmus test for the age-old question of whether or not machines could supercede man’s intellect was typified by what was widely known as the Universal Turing Machine, or Turing test, as described by Prof. Alan Turing in his 1950 paper, “Computing machinery and intelligence.” It consists of the following procedure: A human judge engages in a conversation with two other parties, one a human, and the other a machine; based on the responses from each of them, the judge, who does not know which is which, must figure out which is the human, which is the machine. It is presumed that both the human and the machine will try to mislead the judge as to its real identity, and pose as the “most human.” If an intelligent being cannot tell the intelligent machine from the intelligent human, this failure, according to Turing, would be the final and necessary proof that machines can think, and would draw out an obvious distinction between intellectual and physical capacities of the thinking human being.[2]

It was not until 1974, at a meeting of the American Society for Cybernetics, in Philadelphia, that the phrase “second order” or “second wave of cybernetics” was officially coined by Heinz von Foerster. There are three main “waves” of cybernetics that are distinguishable today: “first order” cybernetics, which Wiener helped engineer, and which lasted from the mid-1940s to the mid-1970s; “second order” cybernetics, which lasted from the mid-1970s until the mid-1990s. Finally, the “third order” cybernetics, also known as the period of social cybernetics (with which the futurists and humanist educators of today seem to preoccupy themselves the most), which began in the mid-1990s.[3]

Carrying on where Turing left off, Hayles, Hassan, and Hans Moravec propose in their rehashed theories that human identity is essentially an informational pattern, and that it has become increasingly “disembodied.” Moravec even goes as far as to make the modest proposal, that, in the not too distant future, human consciousness will itself be downloadable into a computer.

“We are cyborgs not in the merely superficial sense of combining flesh and wires, but in the more profound sense of being human-technology symbiots: thinking and reasoning systems whose minds and selves are spread across biological brain and non-biological circuitry.”[4]

The fusion between the biological and technological domains has created what academicians and scholars are likening to a “cognitive machinery” which they predict will inevitably evolve into a self-perpetuating process. To begin to unravel the convoluted phenomenon they describe, one need only to assess with a clinical eye the woes, curses, and bizarre sentimentality that pour forth from the mouths of mesmerized computer video-game players, thus affirming that they are merely projecting their proprioceptive senses into the simulation that is the gaming world. As though in a trance, produced by the flashing graphics of the technicolor LCD screen, many devout gamers find themselves locked in the same positions for countless hours, their left hand tapping away mindlessly on the keyboard, and their itchy “trigger-happy” finger nervously and repetitively guiding the mouse up and down. Entrenched, to the point of exaggeration, in the simulated space of the virtual world; indulged, to the point of complete oblivion to the real world around them—there is a fluid intermingling between flesh and metal, where there seemingly exist no physical boundaries between their fleshy bodies and the joystick which has now become an unconscious extension of their hands.

Welcome to the era of disembodied information, where flesh and metal become one. But before the preconditions of a post-human future are fully comprehended, the question must be posed: Who are the agents of this degrading misnomer that passes for “human” science?

Nancy Katherine Hayles, Professor of English at UCLA, and author of the cult-classic of cyberneticists and futurists alike, How We Became Posthuman: Virtual Bodies in Cybernetics, Literature, and Informatics, speaks for an emerging breed of academician, determined to keep this odiously entropic and venomous dogma alive. Hayles describes the kooky “research” of Kevin Warwick, Professor of Cybernetics at the University of Reading in England, who inserted an implant into his arm: his first implant being a passive device, communicating only with embedded sensors in the environment. He went on from this first attempt to a second implant that also sends signals to his nervous system, creating an integrated circuit, linking his evolving neural patterns directly with sensors and computer chips embedded in the external environment. Such are the depths to which these engineers of the Apocalypse will plunge in their promotion of a science (by nomenclature only) devoid of profound and impassioned ideas.

Hayles describes what she sees as the promising future of the post-human vision, which, despite the fact that it still has problems, and dangers, makes an otherwise meaningless and miserable existence quite bearable.

The Merger of Defense and Entertainment

The other leading propagandists of this perverse social fusion between man and machine include the Institute for Creative Technologies in Marina del Rey, California. In December of 1996, the National Academy of Sciences hosted a workshop on the common and organized aims that existed in the defense and entertainment industries dealing with modeling and simulation. The report that would emerge in the aftermath of this workshop, at the request of Prof. Michael Zyda (Computer Science specialist in artificial intelligence at the Naval Postdoctoral Academy in Monterey, California, and director of the MOVES Institute, which spawned the game “American’s Army”), prompted, three years later, the U.S. Army to fund the University of Southern California with a $45 million budget to create a research center that would develop and advance military simulations, and reflect the overlap between the Pentagon and Hollywood. Also in this growing list of propagandists, is the Institute for the Future (IFTF), which was founded in 1968 by former RAND Corporation researchers, and today claims to forecast the future.

Another incubator for the continued creation of explicitly anti-human ideas goes by the name of HASTAC (Humanities, Arts, Science, and Technology Advanced Collaboratory). The conception for the HASTAC consortium came in 2003 at a meeting of humanities leaders sponsored by the Mellon Foundation. Founder Cathy N. Davidson (vice provost for Interdisciplinary Studies, and co-founder of John Hope Franklin Humanities Institute at Duke University) and co-founder David Theo Goldberg (University of California Humanities Research Institute, Irvine), had already envisioned a plethora of projects that would expand innovative uses of technology to create an unparalleled cyberinfrastructure process. Included in the core leadership of HASTAC are Jeffery Schnapp (director of the Stanford University Humanities Lab); Ruzena Bajcsy (director of the Center for Information Technology Research in the Interest of Society at the University of California, Berkeley); Hadass Scheffer (director of fellowship programs at the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation); and Henry Lowood (Curator for Germanic Collections and History of Science and Technology Collections at Stanford University Libraries, Stanford University).

HASTAC describes itself as “a voluntary consortium of leading researchers from dozens of institutions, who have been co-developing software, hardware, and cyberinfrastructure. Legal, ethical, social, historical, and aesthetic issues must also be carefully considered as we expand our capacities for accumulating and analyzing data and as we push the boundaries of science and what it means to be human.” From among its ranks, HASTAC seeks to create a new generation of scholars in the humanities who have an infallible expertise in the most advanced work in creating leading edge Information Technologies, and transform institutions in the process of spreading their cyber-humanities vision.

Only in its fourth year of existence, HASTAC already commands “academic attention” and has more than 70 institutions under its umbrella, including Wayne State, Duke, Boston, Cornell, George Mason, Rice, and Stanford Universities; University of California at Irvine; the Universites of Michigan, Southern California, and Washington State; and last, but not at all least, the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation, Digital Promise, and the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation (the country’s largest private grant-making institution, with assets of $6 billion). Two of the most ambitious projects under the HASTAC umbrella are “The global body and the virtual Cyborg,” which is already underway through programs at Duke University, and “How they got game: Cultural implications of interactive simulations and video games,” from Stanford Humanities Lab, one of HASTAC’s founding members.

It is from these pitiable echelons that the morally repugnant Timothy Lenoir crawls out. With funding from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, Lenoir’s past endeavors have included investigative projects launched from Stanford Humanities Department at the time he was teaching the History of Science. Today, Lenoir is the Kimberly Jenkins Chair for New Technologies and Society at Duke University, where he continues to engage in research for the introduction of virtual reality into biomedics and other humanities fields. The Jenkins “Collaboratory” exists for the sole purpose of investigating and pushing the limits of “transformative processes” in fields such as “cultural production” and human-machine engineering, as well as biotechnology.

Today, the “Game” project is housed at Duke University, and focuses on the development of “industrial-strength” simulations that are the product of the military’s relationship with Hollywood and the gaming industry. It is here that the “collaboratory” of Simulation, First-Person Shooters, Strategy, and storytelling project leaders from PEO STRICOM (Program Executive Office for Simulation Training and Instrumentation Command); the Institute for the Future, Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC), MIT Media Lab; and SIMNET (Simulated Network) slime molds interface.

These are not merely colorful concoctions springing forth from fertile imaginations of mad scientists and pedagogues of calamity. This is a heinous attempt to create, from among the ranks of this emerging generation, a class of desensitized drones who will conform to the absurdity of a society in which nothing is held to be true, and everything is permitted. Reminiscent of the dark ages in science, where knowledge was suppressed, today it is not a question of annihilating science, but of controlling it. These are, and always have been the preconditions to control a society. From the pits of the aforementioned nexus, have sprung the seeds that were necessary predecessors to the modern-day Darwinian globalized market and cyberculture that have spawned a population on the verge of willingly surrendering that which renders them superior to apes, bacteria, and computers—their humanity.


[1] “Prometheus as Performer: Toward a Postmodern Culture?” Georgia Review 31, 4 (Winter 1977-78). In Performance in Postmodern Culture, Michel Benamou and Charles Caramello, eds. (Madison, Wisconsin: Coda Press, 1977).

[2] Alan Turing, “Computing Machinery and Intelligence,” Mind, vol. LIX, no. 236, October 1950.

[3] Stuart Umpleby, “The Science of Cybernetics and the Cybernetics of Science,” Cybernetics and Systems, vol. 21, no. 1, 1990.

[4] Andy Clark, Being There: Putting Brain, Body, and World Together Again (Cambridge: MIT Press, 1998).

Government Computer News:

Technology has always been essential to military strength, but breakthroughs developed within the military often are not limited to weapons. This special report introduces some of the Pentagon’s most advanced information technology projects, in the context of their relation to commercial products and battlefield necessities.

[IMGCAP(1)]The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency has fostered technologies ranging from the Internet to artificial intelligence research. Nowadays, the scientists it supports are pushing IT ever closer to achieving the processing power and cognitive awareness of living beings. At the same time DARPA is applying technology to the pressing threats imposed by current conflicts, the agency is sponsoring more than a dozen innovative projects, including a bid to perfect cheap, extremely accurate and nonradioactive atomic clocks for use in battlefield systems.

Advances in the mathematical algorithms for cryptography and the processing muscle behind them soon will transform the platforms that handle cascades of classified data, for example. National Security Agency officials characterize their work as a process of continuous ploy and counterploy in the rarefied realms of logic and computing.

The Grand Challenge of bringing practical, remotely piloted or autonomous land vehicles into use also is advancing via the competitive work of several teams. And in its approach to supercomputing, the Defense Department could be changing the way high-performance systems are measured, developed and purchased.

Mutating threats shape DARPA’s research in a wide range of new technologies

In a conflict where the biggest threats to soldiers often are low-tech, homemade explosives, it might not be obvious why troops need a more precise atomic clock to support their efforts. But the Defense Advance Research Projects Agency is working to deliver such precision, along with 13 other future icons that span a range of science and technology, from networking to air vehicles, biology and lasers, DARPA Director Tony Tether said.

The Chip Scale Atomic Clocks (CSACs), for instance, would perform key control functions throughout Pentagon networks and also could help warfighters detect an enemy’s presence.

All the Future Icon projects involve the application of computing resources to solve present and future defense missions, and some directly attack the problems of improving information technology performance for existing systems and futuristic computer architectures.

And they are the types of projects whose impact often extends beyond their original scope, affecting the development of technologies used elsewhere in government and commercially.

“They are tremendously difficult technical challenges that will be hard to solve without fundamentally new approaches — ones which may require bringing multiple disciplines to bear and perhaps even result in entirely new disciplines,” Tether said in testimony submitted recently to the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Terrorism, Unconventional Threats and Capabilities.

One of the most ambitious of the futuristic computer design projects is a five-year project to build a system modeled on the human brain, which would reflect and incorporate human assessments of the roles and intentions of people (see sidebar).

Shape shifters
The research agency is also probing highly advanced IT challenges such as the Programmable Matter project, which aims to develop software that would allow physical objects to change their size, shape, color and other attributes to fulfill changing functions within, say, a military communications system.

CSACs would tackle more immediate concerns in defense networks and in helping soldiers detect enemy vehicles and facilities, according to a leading scientist at the National Institute of Standards and Technology who is researching the technology with DARPA support.

DARPA’s research is honing computer-based methods of detecting purposely hidden or naturally elusive enemy targets underground or on the high seas.

The CSAC project has been driven by the increasing need to reliably assure continual synchronization of systems linked via the Global Information Grid, said Thomas O’Brian, chief of the Time and Frequency Division at NIST’s laboratory in Boulder, Colo. The lab receives DARPA funding to support the development of chip-scale atomic clocks.

The tiny clocks could be deployed in hundreds of systems that military organizations at all levels rely on, including not only radios but also radars, sensors and location units that use the Global Positioning System, O’Brian said in an interview. The atomic clocks promise to make GPS systems more reliable while using little power, along with providing other helpful features, such as low weight and small size, he continued.

The CSACs “are significantly more accurate than the quartz crystal units ,which have been the standard” for such timekeeping, O’Brian said. The new generation of small clocks relies on the vibration frequency of elements such as cesium and rubidium to maintain their steady timekeeping and does not involve radioactive materials.

The tiny clocks can operate for as long as two days or more using the power available in a AA battery, O’Brian said.

“Another aspect of these devices is that they can serve as magnetometers,” he added. As such, the CSACs could sense the presence of metallic objects, such as mines or tanks. “You could scatter them across a wide area so when a Jeep or tank drives over, they might detect it,” O’Brian said. “Or they could detect the presence of ventilating fans in [al Qaeda caves] in Tora Bora [Afghanistan].”

CSACs already have proved themselves in demonstrations using GPS devices, and the technology showed that it could help navigation units function when satellite signals aren’t available, O’Brian said.

Some of the main tasks remaining before the CSACs reach routine use include:

  • Developing efficient, low-cost mass-production methods.
  • Improving the small clocks’ resistance to field conditions such as vibration, temperature and pressure variations and shock.
  • Reducing power consumption.

O’Brian expressed confidence that researchers could soon achieve those improvements.

The research agency’s push in the fields of “detection, precision identification, tracking and destruction of elusive targets” has spawned several research projects. One group of them aims to improve methods for finding and investigating caves, and another centers on tracking seaborne vessels.

The cave research has gained momentum partly from the response of adversary countries’ forces to the success of the Pentagon’s spy satellite technology. Countries such as Iran and North Korea reportedly have built extensive underground facilities to conceal some of their nuclear-weapon production facilities from orbiting sensors.

The underground research spurred by such strategic threats also has led DARPA to study how better cave technology can aid tactical operations, such as by helping soldiers discover enemy troops and weapons lurking in small caves and by helping detect cross-border smuggling tunnels.

The Counter-Underground Facilities program aims at developing sensors, software and related technology to:

  • Pinpoint the power, water airflow and exhaust vents from cave installations.
  • Evaluate the condition of underground facilities before and after attacks.
  • Monitor activities within cave structures during attacks.

According to DARPA procurement documents, the Pentagon’s cave program began by developing methods to learn about those conditions and other features of caves via Measurement and Signature Intelligence (Masint) technology.

Masint methods involve the use of extremely sophisticated and highly classified technology that can integrate information gathered by various types of sensors, including acoustic, seismic, electromagnetic, chemical, multispectral and gravity-sensing devices.

DARPA’s underground facility research project also involves investigation of the effluents coming from vents connected to cave complexes. Effluents for Vent Hunting research can involve the computerized evaluation of smoke to distinguish, for example, between decoy cooking fires and real cooking fires in an area where hostile forces may be roaming.

On the high seas, the Predictive Analysis for Naval Deployment Activities (PANDA) project is refining its existing technology to track the location and patterns of more than 100,000 vessels and to detect when ships and boats deviate from normally expected behavior.

Suspicious behavior
As such, the PANDA research is similar to other systems that use exception detection to pinpoint unusual behavior by people in airports or train stations. Developers of those counterterrorism systems have carved out the task of teaching systems what types of events to watch for among the countless mundane activities observed via video cameras in the transportation hubs.

Like the PANDA system, the exception-detection software for airports flags unusual events — such as an errant freighter in one case or an unattended satchel in the other — and brings them to the attention of human analysts.

At the edges of computer science, DARPA is approaching the problem of attracting and cultivating talent to the field of computer science partly by asking promising students to choose projects that strike them as interesting and attractive.

“One of the ideas the students liked is Programmable Matter,” Tether told the congressional subcommittee members. “It is an important idea that is of significant relevance to DOD. The challenge is to build a solid object out of intelligent parts that could be programmed so that it can transform itself into other physical objects in three dimensions. It would do this by changing its color, shape or other characteristics.”

The programmable matter project could, for instance, lead to the invention of a malleable antenna that could change its shape depending on the radio or radar to which it is connected, Tether said.

“The computer science challenges are to identify the algorithms that would allow each element of the object to do its job as the object changes, while staying well coordinated with the other elements and functioning as an ensemble,” he added.

DARPA throws down the challenge on cognitive computing

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s research in the field of cognitive computing could progress to the point of a Grand Challenge that would pit alternate methods of building brainlike systems against one another.

The agency’s Biologically-Inspired Cognitive Architecture program is pushing artificial intelligence in the direction of building software that mimics human brain functions.

BICA relies on recent advances in cognitive psychology and the science of the human brain’s biological structure to build software that comes much closer to human abilities than previous AI. The research agency’s Information Processing Technology Office is leading the BICA research process by funding research teams based mainly at universities.

AI traces its roots back to designs such as expert systems and neural networks, familiar since the 1980s, which held out the promise of transforming information technology by adopting human learning and thinking methods. Those classic AI approaches proved to be useful in some commercial and government systems but were less effective than conventional IT architectures for most uses.

BICA’s leaders note that AI progress has been slow and steady in recent decades. “However, we have fallen short of creating systems with genuine artificial intelligence — ones that can learn from experience and adapt to changing conditions in the way that humans can,” according to DARPA. “We are able to engineer specialized software solutions for almost any well-defined problem, but our systems still lack the general, flexible learning abilities of human cognition.”

The BICA program has completed its first phase, which commissioned eight research teams to combine recent findings in brain biology and psychology to help build blueprints for functioning computers that could learn and understand like people. In the second phase of the five-year BICA program, which is now under way, the military research agency is seeking proposals for vendor teams to develop and test models of human cognition, or thinking, based on the architectures built in the program’s first year.

DARPA has not yet announced plans for a grand challenge competition to pit the resulting AI-like systems against one another. But vendor documents submitted in response to BICA’s first phase refer to an anticipated challenge stage of the program.

The University of Maryland at College Park provided one of the computer architectures for the first phase of the BICA program, basing some of its research on methods of designing a mobile system that could learn the various skills DARPA seeks in a cognitive system. “We are ultimately interested in [designing] an agent that captures many of the abilities of a child, and thus do not focus on a large initial knowledge base,” the University of Maryland computer scientists wrote.

“We keep the environment and input/ output to the system relatively simple so that we can focus on the primary issue of integrating those components and not the important but low-level details that will eventually need to be addressed,” according to their blueprint.

The 14 Future Icon technology areas, as described in testimony by Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency Director Tony Tether before a House committee:

Networks: Self-forming, robust, self-defending networks at the strategic and tactical level are the key to network-centric warfare.

Chip-Scale Atomic Clock: Miniaturizing an atomic clock to fit on a chip to provide very accurate time as required, for instance, in assured network communications.

Global War on Terrorism: Technologies to identify and defeat terrorist activities such as the manufacture and deployment of improvised explosive devices and other asymmetric activities.

Air Vehicles: Manned and unmanned air vehicles that quickly arrive at their mission station and can remain there for very long periods.

Space: The U.S. military’s ability to use space is one of its major strategic advantages, and DARPA is working to ensure the United States maintains that advantage.

High-Productivity Computing Systems: DARPA is working to maintain the U.S. global lead in supercomputing, which is fundamental to a variety of military operations, from weather forecasting to cryptography to the design of new weapons.

Real-Time Accurate Language Translation: Real-time machine language translation of text and speech with near-expert human translation accuracy.

Biological Warfare Defense: Technologies to dramatically accelerate the development and production of vaccines and other medical therapeutics from 12 years to only 12 weeks.

Prosthetics: Developing prosthetics that can be controlled and perceived by the brain, just as with a natural limb.

Quantum Information Science: Exploiting quantum phenomena in the fields of computing, cryptography and communications, with the promise of opening new frontiers in each area.

Newton’s Laws for Biology: DARPA’s Fundamental Laws of Biology program is working to bring deeper mathematical understanding and accompanying predictive ability to the field of biology, with the goal of discovering fundamental laws of biology that extend across all size scales.

Low-Cost Titanium: A completely revolutionary technology for extracting titanium from ore and fabricating it promises to dramatically reduce the cost for military-grade titanium alloy, making it practical for many more applications.

Alternative Energy: Technologies to help reduce the military’s reliance on petroleum.

High-Energy Liquid Laser Area Defense System: Novel, compact, high-power lasers making practical small-size and low-weight speed-of-light weapons for tactical mobile air and ground vehicles.

NSA pushes for adoption of elliptic-curve encryption, whose greater security and shorter key lengths will help secure small, mobile devices

The cryptographic security standards used in public-key infrastructures, RSA and Diffie-Hellman, were introduced in the 1970s. And although they haven’t been cracked, their time could be running out.

That’s one reason the National Security Agency wants to move to elliptic-curve cryptography (ECC) for cybersecurity by 2010, the year the National Institute of Standards and Technology plans to recommend all government agencies move to ECC, said Dickie George, technology director at NSA’s information assurance directorate.

Another reason is that current standards would have to continually extend their key lengths to ensure security, which increases processing time and could make it difficult to secure small devices. ECC can provide greater security with shorter keys, experts say.

The switch to ECC will be neither quick nor painless. It will require mass replacement of hardware and software to be compatible with ECC and new NSA cybersecurity standards.

In fact, the 2010 goal might not be realistic for NSA, where more than a million different pieces of equipment will need to be moved to ECC, George said. NSA’s move could potentially take as long as 10 years to complete, given the project’s complexity and scope. The agency has not set a specific deadline for completing its Cryptographic Modernization initiative, started in 2001 and recognizes that cybersecurity will always be a moving target, he said. The move to ECC is part of the initiative.

ECC, a complex mathematical algorithm used to secure data in transit, will replace RSA and Diffie-Hellman because it can provide much greater security at a smaller key size. ECC takes less computational time and can be used to secure information on smaller machines, including cell phones, smart cards and wireless devices.

The specifics of the changeover were announced in 2005 with NSA’s release of its Suite B Cryptography standards. Suite B falls under NSA’s Cryptographic Modernization initiative and details ECC usage for public keys and digital signatures. The announcement, the first related to cryptographic standards in 30 years, was a watershed event, said Bill Lattin, chief technology officer at Certicom, a pioneer in ECC.

NSA has licensed approximately 25 of Certicom’s ECC patents for use by the government and vendors that develop defense products.

The move to ECC represents a new way of doing business for the NSA. The Cryptographic Modernization initiative “is not just replacing the old with the new. We are upgrading the entire way we do communications,” George said.

Interoperability is the core of the new communications program and the reason for the modernization initiative. NSA plans to work closely with other governments, U.S. departments and agencies, first responders, and the commercial sector, George said. To do so, the agency needs public-key algorithms to securely transmit information among all parties, he said.

“If you go back 30 years, things weren’t nearly as interoperable as they are now. In today’s world, everything is being networked. We have to allow interoperability. And the cryptography has to match [among devices] because if it doesn’t, it is not going to be interoperable,” George said.

These interoperability goals will most likely extend across federal, state and local governments in addition to law enforcement agencies nationwide.

Although RSA and Diffie-Hellman are both public-key algorithms, experts say they don’t scale well for the future. To make RSA and Diffie-Hellman keys, which now can go to 1,024 bits, secure for the next 10 to 20 years, organizations would have to expand to key lengths of at least 2,048 bits, said Stephen Kent, chief scientist at BBN Technologies. Eventually, key sizes would need to expand to 4,096 bits. “That’s enormous keys. To do the math operations underlying the keys takes longer and is more computationally intensive,” Kent said.

Thus, NSA’s decision to move to ECC, which appears to be the only option. Experts agree that there is no new technology comparable to ECC. Although there are a number of protocols, there are only two basic technology approaches, George said: integers, used by RSA and Diffie-Hellman, and ECC, he said.

“ECC is the only impressive thing out there,” Kent said. “People don’t get excited every time a new thing comes along. We wait several years and let people try to crack it first. ECC definitely passed the test in this regard.”

NIST, which develops government- wide cybersecurity standards, also sees a need to move to ECC, although its recommendations are less stringent than NSA’s, whose ECC guidelines are a subset of NIST’s.

“I’m pretty sure [RSA and Diffie-Hellman] will be broken within a decade or so,” said Bill Burr, manager of NIST’s security technology group. “We are trying to end the use for most purposes of RSA and Diffie-Hellman with 1,000-bit keys by the end of 2010. And if you are real conservative, we are late.”.

“NSA has been fairly aggressive to standardize on ECC,” Burr said. We are slower, partly because we think it will naturally happen anyhow.”

John Pescatore, vice president and analyst at Gartner, does not see a need for the average user to switch to ECC unless it is to take advantage of its smaller size, such as securing cell phones and smart cards. With NSA, those technologies might include “things that a soldier carries around…and [has] strict limits on power consumption,” Pescatore said.

Burr expects ECC to become a universal standard by 2020, when most ECC patents owned by Certicom expire. “If it’s not a big problem today, it may be hard for the CIO to motivate people to transition to ECC,” said Kent.

DARPA’s Grand Challenge moves downtown, where teams will test their vehicles against city traffic

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s competition for autonomous vehicles has seen great leaps forward in its first two incarnations. This year, the ride could get rather bumpy, as the Grand Challenge moves from the expanses of the desert to the mean streets of the city.

The competition, called the Urban Challenge for 2007, is no mere sporting event. DARPA’s goal is to use the challenge to help develop technologies for self-guiding military vehicles that could reduce the deadly toll of vehicular-related battlefield casualties among U.S. military personnel.

Approximately half the U.S. soldiers killed to date in Iraq have died in enemy attacks on vehicles, whether by live enemy fire or by improvised explosive devices or, to a lesser extent, in vehicular accidents.

Based on results from the two previous Grand Challenges and a preliminary look at the entrants in DARPA’s Urban Challenge contest now under way, “we think that over time we will be able to build vehicles that will be able to drive as well as humans in certain situations,” said Norman Whitaker, program manager for DARPA’s Urban Challenge.

In May, DARPA trimmed the roster of teams competing in the Urban Challenge from 89 to 53 and will further narrow the field to 30 semifinalists this week based on scores issued during site visits DARPA officials have been conducting since May. The agency also will name this week the location of the competition’s Qualification Event scheduled for Oct. 26 to 31 and the location for the final contest Nov. 3.

To date, DARPA has said only that both events would take place in the western United States, although its placement in a simulated urban combat zone has become the theme of this year’s contest and considerably upped the ante for the level of vehicle proficiency that will be required to successfully complete the contest’s 60-mile course in six hours.

The complexities of a city environment and the introduction this year of other moving vehicles along the course increases exponentially the sophistication of the sensing, data processing and guidance technologies required, Whitaker said.

DARPA’s goal in its successive challenges is to raise the bar each time, he said, although the addition of moving traffic represents the biggest obstacle ever added to the contest.

The first Grand Challenge in 2004 ran over a 142-mile course in the desert, but the competition looked more like the Keystone Cops than Knight Rider — no vehicle made it past the eight-mile mark. Still, DARPA officials said they saw promise, which came to fruition in 2005, when four vehicles covered a 132-mile desert course. With those results, the decision was made to take the Grand Challenge downtown.

With an urban setting and traffic, vehicles “have to make decisions fast, so we’ve speeded up the timeframe” in which vehicles must receive sensor data, process it and respond, all without human intervention, Whitaker said. “As usual, we’ve taken it to the nth degree and said we want full autonomy. By [asking for an extreme], we get a lot of the middle ground covered.”

The placement of this year’s contest in a dynamic setting creates challenges unheard of in previous challenges and requires technological advancements that will bring self-guided vehicles to a near reality, participants say.

“This year we have moving objectives and that dynamic interaction is new and very difficult,” said Gary Schmiedel, vice president of the advanced product engineering group at Oshkosh Truck, one of the corporate entrants in this year’s Urban Challenge and one of the teams that successfully completed the 132-mile course in 2005. “This brings us much closer to a real-world application of the technology and means that we have to build a truck that’s as versatile as you or I would be.”

At the level of sophistication that will be required in this year’s contest, “this is really a software competition, not a hardware competition,” said David Stavens, a doctoral candidate at Stanford University who’s working on Stanford’s entry in the Urban Challenge and was a co-creator of Stanley, the modified Volkswagen Touareg sport utility vehicle that won DARPA’s 2005 Grand Challenge for Stanford University.

The Stanford team, consequently, is spending much of its time this year working on probabilistic algorithms and machine learning capabilities and is tackling the problem with help from the Stanford Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, Stavens said. Probabilistic algorthms will help this year’s Stanford entry, Junior, a Volkswagen Passat station wagon, deal with uncertainties along the course, while machine learning will enable the team to program the car with human-like driving skills.

“By driving other roads, you can gain enough knowledge that the robot will be able to handle the Urban Challenge course just fine,” Stavens said. “This is a very rich subset of the skills that you and I would use when we jump in our own cars and go driving, but this type of technology can save our soldiers’ lives in the battlefield and save lives in the civilian world.”

After this year’s challenge, DARPA will evaluate whether the contests have advanced the technology enough to make commercial production of autonomous vehicles for the military feasible and economically practical, Whitaker said. After an experiment along the lines of the challenges, “there’s an intermediate phase before [the military] goes out and starts buying systems. It could also be that we’ll need to see more work on the commercial side,” he said.

Teams build on technologies from past challenges

As the agency that created the Internet and nurtured it through its early years, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency has a long history of transferring its technical innovations from military to civilian use. The Grand Challenge will likely prove to be another example.

Although the challenge’s primary goal is developing driverless military vehicles, DARPA has organized the competitions with the expectation that technologies created for them will be applied in the private sector, too.

Many of the corporate Grand Challenge participants, in fact, look at it as an opportunity to test and perfect — in demanding military conditions — technologies they will later adapt for industrial or civilian use.

Velodyne Acoustics, a maker of high-fidelity stereo and home theater equipment, entered the 2005 Grand Challenge and invented laser-based sensors for its vehicle that it has now sold to participants in the 2007 Urban Challenge.

The company also is marketing its invention to prospects in several industries, said Michael Dunbar, Velodyne’s business development manager.

David Hall, the company’s founder, chief executive officer and chief engineer, along with his brother, Bruce, Velodyne’s president, entered a vehicle in the 2005 Grand Challenge as Team DAD (for Digital Audio Drive). While working on the project, they identified shortcomings with the laser-based light, distancing and ranging (Lidar) scanners used alone or in combination with cameras as the eyes in the guidance systems of autonomous vehicles, Dunbar said. Lidar systems available on the market at the time scanned for objects only along a single, fixed line of sight.

In response to those limitations, David Hall, an avid inventor, created his own Lidar scanner consisting of an assembly of 64 lasers spinning at 300 to 900 rotations per second capable of detecting objects anywhere in a 360-degree horizontal field. The Velodyne Lidar assembly produces 1 million data points per second, compared to the 5,000 data points a second of earlier systems.

Velodyne doesn’t have a vehicle in this year’s Urban Challenge but has sold its HDL-64 Lidar scanner to 10 Challenge participants that have included it on their vehicles, either alone or in conjunction with optical sensors, Dunbar said. “Some of the teams can use our sensor and eliminate other types of sensors so [the sensor data] is much easier for them to manipulate,” he said.

By setting its own benchmarks for supercomputing systems, DOD gets better performance — and might change how HPC systems are procured

Twice a year, work being done by the world’s fastest supercomputers comes to a screeching halt so the systems can run a benchmark called Linpack to determine how fast they are, at least in relation to one another. Linpack — which measures how many trillions of floating-point operations per second the machine is capable of executing — is the benchmark used to rank the fastest supercomputers in the world, in the twice-annual Top 500 List.

As an exercise in flexing muscle, Linpack is about as useful as any other benchmark. But as a tool for judging supercomputing systems in a procurement process, it is limited at best. The Defense Department, through its High Performance Computing Modernization Program, is shaking up the supercomputing world by applying a more disciplined approach to purchasing big iron.

Instead of using a generic benchmark to compare models, the program issues a set of metrics that carefully codifies its own workload. Program leaders then ask vendors to respond with the best — yet most cost-effective — systems they can provide to execute such a workload.

“We don’t specify how big the machine is,” said Cray Henry, head of the program. “We will run a sample problem of a fixed size, and call the result our target time. We then put a bid on the street and say we want you to build a machine that will run this twice as fast.” It is up to the vendor to figure out how that machine should achieve those results.

Sounds simple, but in the field of supercomputers, this common-sense approach is rather radical.

“It’s a well-oiled process,” agreed Alison Ryan, vice president of business development at SGI. She said that for vendors, “this kind of procurement is actually difficult. It takes a lot of nontrivial work. It’s easier to do a procurement based on Linpack.” But in the end, the work is worthwhile for both DOD and the vendor, because “it’s actually getting the right equipment for your users.”

“They’ve done a great job on the program in institutionalizing the [request for proposal] process,” said Peter Ungaro, chief executive officer at supercomputer company Cray.

DOD created HPCMP in 1994 as a way to pool resources for supercomputing power. Instead of having each of the services buy supercomputers for its own big jobs, the services could collectively buy an array of machines that could handle a wider variety of tasks, including large tasks.

On the rise
Today, the program has an annual budget of about $250 million, including $50 million for procuring two new supercomputers. Eight HPCMP shared-resource centers, which house the systems, tackle about 600 projects submitted by 4,600 users from the military services, academia and industry.

As of December 2006, the program had control of machines that could do a total of 315.5 teraflops, and that number grows by a quarter each year, as the oldest machines are replaced or augmented by newer technologies.

And over the years, the program has developed a painstakingly thorough process of specifying what kind of systems it needs.

What about HPCMP is so different? It defines its users’ workload, rather than use a set of generic performance goals.

Henry said that most of the workloads on the program’s systems can fall into one of about 10 categories, such as computational fluid dynamics, structural mechanics, chemistry and materials science, climate modeling and simulation, and electromagnetics. Each job has a unique performance characteristic and can be best run on a unique combination of processors, memory, interconnects and software. “This is better because it gauges true workload,” Ryan said.

To quantify these types of jobs, HPCMP came up with a computer program called the linear optimizer, which calculates the overall system performance for handling each of these jobs. It weights each job by how often it is executed. It also factors in the price of each system and existing systems that can already execute those tasks.

Once numbers have been generated for each proposed system, the program takes usability into consideration. Henry admitted that is hard to quantify, but it includes factors such as what sorts of third-party software is available for the platform and what sorts of compilers, debuggers and other development tools are available.

Once these performance and usability numbers are calculated, they are weighted against the past performance of the vendors. From there, the answer of which system may be the right one may be obvious — or it may come down to a narrow choice between a handful of systems.

“It’s not often they need the same type of system year after year,” Ungaro said.

Bottom line
Although DOD generally is well- represented on the twice-annual list of the world’s fastest computers — it had 11 in the June 2007 Top 100 ranking, for instance — the true beneficiaries are the researchers who can use the machines. The biggest benefit? “Time to solution,” Henry said.

DOD might need to know the performance characteristics of an airplane fuselage. Using a very accurate simulation saves money and time from testing actual fuselages.

“Typically, the kind of equations we’re trying to solve require from dozens to thousands of differential calculations,” Henry said. And each equation “can require a tremendous number of iterations.”

Imagine executing a single problem a million or even tens of millions of times at once, with each execution involving thousands of calculations. That’s the size of the job these systems usually handle.

DOD has many problems to test against. Programs track toxic releases of gas spread across an environment. They help develop better algorithms for tracking targets on the ground from moving radars. They speed development of missiles. In one example, supercomputing shortened the development time of the Hellfire missile to just 13 months, allowing it to be deployed in Iraq two years earlier than otherwise would have been possible.

By providing the fastest computing power available, the program in its modest way can assure the Defense Department stays ahead of the enemy.