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How to create a computer in a test tube

Self-organizing single molecules controlled by light may be the future of computing
April 24, 2015

For the first time a light beam switches a single molecule to closed state (red atoms). At the ends of the diarylethene molecule gold electrodes are attached. This way, the molecule functions as an electrical switch. (Credit: HZDR/Pfefferkorn)

How many individual molecules does it take to automatically create a circuit? The answer: one, if you use light to switch it on and off, say scientists at Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) and the University of Konstanz.

The trick: a strong bond between individual atoms that weakens in one location and forms again precisely when energy is pumped into the structure.

The first molecular switch

These… read more

Novel polarization forms promise to radically increase data speeds

New technique allows data transmitted on a single laser beam to be scaled to terabits or even petabits
April 26, 2015

Light's polarization is manipulated into novel shapes carrying additional data, according to the CCNY research (credit: CCNY)

As the world’s exponentially growing demand for digital data slows down the Internet and cell phone communication, City College of New York researchers may have just figured out a dramatic new way to increase transmission speed.

“Conventional methods of data transmission [that] use light … are being exhausted by data-hungry technologies, such as smart phones and cloud computing,” said Giovanni Milione, a PhD student under City… read more

’4-D printing’ objects that morph based on stimuli like water and heat

"3D printing is so last year --- we're onto 4D printing now," say Australian researchers
April 26, 2015

Another dimension: Professor Marc in het Panhuis and PhD student Shannon Bakarich are building objects using 4-D printing, where time is the fourth dimension (credit: University of Wollongong/Paul Jones)

Researchers at the ARC Centre of Excellence for Electromaterials Science (ACES) at the University of Wollongong (UOW) are developing 3-D printed materials that morph into new structures under the influence of external stimuli such as water or heat. They refer to this process as “4-D printing,” where the fourth dimension is time.

The researchers are currently exploring a use in manufacturing a valve that actuates… read more

A cheaper magnetic material for cars, wind turbines

April 26, 2015

Scientist Arjun Pathak arc melts material in preparation for producing a new type of magnet (credit: Ames Laboratory)

Scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Ames Laboratoryhave created a new magnetic alloy that is an alternative to traditional rare-earth permanent magnets.

The new alloy — a potential lower-cost replacement for high-performance permanent magnets found in automobile engines and wind turbines — eliminates the use of one of the scarcest and costliest rare earth elements, dysprosium, and instead uses cerium, the most abundant rare earth.… read more

A fast, high-quality, inexpensive 3-D camera

Overcomes the quality and lighting limitations of the Kinect
April 26, 2015

Motion Contrast 3D prototype scanner

Northwestern University engineers have developed a 3-D capture camera that produces high-quality images and works in all environments, including outdoors, overcoming limitations of Microsoft’s Kinect. It’s also designed to be inexpensive.

The research is headed by Oliver Cossairt, assistant professor of electrical engineering and computer science at Northwestern’s McCormick School of Engineering,

Both first and second generation… read more

Why declining investment in basic research threatens a US innovation deficit

April 24, 2015

research lab

Declining U.S. federal government research investment — from just under 10 percent in 1968 to less than 4 percent in 2015 — in critical fields such as cybersecurity, infectious disease, plant biology, and Alzheimer’s are threatening an “innovation deficit,” according to a new MIT report to be released Monday, April 27.

U.S. competitors are increasing their investment in basic research. The European Space Agency successfully landed the first spacecraft… read more

Scientists create the sensation of invisibility

Could help reduce stress in challenging social situations
April 24, 2015

Ph.D. student Zakaryah Abdulkarim, M.D., shows how to create the illusion of invisibility in the lab (photomontage). (Credit: Staffan Larsson)

How would it feel to be invisible? Neuroscientists at Sweden’s Karolinska Institutet have found out. It can actually changes your physical stress response in challenging social situations, for example.

The history of literature features many well-known narrations of invisibility and its effect on the human mind, such as the myth of Gyges’ ring in Plato’s dialogue The Republic and the science fiction novel The Invisible Man by H.G.… read more

Researchers in China have created genetically modified human embryos

Public interest group calls for strengthening global policies against human germline modification
April 23, 2015

Human embryos are at the centre of a debate over the ethics of gene editing (credit: Dr. Yorgos Nikas/SPL)

A research team in China has created genetically modified human embryos using the gene-editing technique CRISPR/Cas9, according to a report in the online journal Protein & Cell.

The experiments were conducted by a research team led by Junjiu Huang of Sun Yat-sen University in Guangzhou, China.

Human germline modification is widely considered unethical for both safety and social reasons. Using germline modification… read more

Google’s Project Fi aims to speed up mobile communications by tapping into free WiFi hotspots

April 23, 2015

Project Fi

Google has introduced Project Fi, a new hybrid wireless service intended to help speed up mobile voice, text, and data by tapping into one million free, open Wi-Fi hotspots that Google has verified as fast and reliable.

“Similar to our Nexus hardware program, Project Fi enables us to work in close partnership with leading carriers, hardware makers, and all of you to push the boundaries of what’s… read more

Charged holes in graphene increase energy storage capacity

April 23, 2015

This image shows zigzag and armchair defects in graphene (credit: Rajaram Narayanan/Jacobs School of Engineering/UC San Diego)

Engineers at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) have discovered a method to increase the amount of electric charge that can be stored in graphene, a two-dimensional form of carbon, which could increase battery storage capacity.

The research, published in the journal Nano Letters, may provide a better understanding of how to improve the energy storage ability (energy density) of capacitors for potential uses… read more

Interactive biotechnology learning and design using games and remote-control labs

April 22, 2015

biotic game with controller

Stanford Engineering | Ingmar Riedel-Kruse, an assistant professor of bioengineering at Stanford, and his team have created three related projects that begin to define the new field of interactive biotechnology.

Stanford bioengineers have developed a new approach to teaching and experimenting, using “interactive biotechnology,” with  “Biotic processing units” (BPUs) that allow for remotely interacting with biological materials and performing experiments.

“Biotechnology today is very similar to where computing… read more

How to identify which cancer drugs work best for each patient

Implantable device could allow doctors to test cancer drugs in patients before prescribing chemotherapy
April 22, 2015

At top, the researchers can use this device to measure how far a given drug spreads over time. At bottom, they used the device to measure the spread of four different cancer drugs. (credit: Oliver Jonas et al/Science)

More than 100 drugs have been approved to treat cancer, but predicting which ones will help a particular patient is an inexact science at best. Now a new implantable device developed at MIT can carry small doses of up to 30 different drugs promises to allow researchers to measure how effectively each one kills the patient’s cancer cells.

Such a device could eliminate much of the guesswork… read more

High-speed MRI technique captures complex vocal movements at 100 frames per second

Demonstrated with Wizard of Oz song "If I Only Had a Brain"
April 22, 2015

High-speed MRI

Beckman Institute | New Super-Fast MRI Technique: Singing ‘If I Only Had a Brain’

Scientists at the University of Illinois Beckman’s Biomedical Imaging Center (BIC) have developed a real-time magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) technique capable of showing dynamic images of vocal movement at 100 frames per second — the fastest MRI speed in the world, according to the scientists.

“Typically, MRI is able to acquire maybe 10 frames… read more

New WiFi system uses LED lights to boost bandwidth tenfold

April 21, 2015

LED transmission system-ft

Researchers at Oregon State University have invented a new technology called WiFiFO (WiFi Free space Optic) that can increase the bandwidth of WiFi systems by 10 times, using optical transmission via LED lights.

The technology could be integrated with existing WiFi systems to reduce bandwidth problems in crowded locations, such as airport terminals or coffee shops, and in homes where several people have multiple WiFi devices.

Experts… read more

Acoustically driven controls go beyond a smartphone’s touch screen

April 21, 2015

Acoustruments doll-ft

Overcoming the limits of touch screens, Carnegie Mellon University and Disney Research researchers have developed an inexpensive alternative: a hardware toolbox of physical knobs, sliders, and other mechanisms that can be readily added to any device.

The researchers drew inspiration from wind instruments in devising these mechanisms, which they call “Acoustruments.” The idea is to use simple 3-D-printable plug-in plastic tubes and other structures to connect the… read more

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Internet radio without the internet

New high-quality music service to offer 40 million songs, using caching instead of streaming; launches Tuesday on Kickstarter
March 23, 2015 by Amara D. Angelica

AIVVY headset (credit: AIVVY)

I got this post today from Martine Rothblatt, PhD, CEO of United Therapeutics:

” I am very excited. March 24, 2015 is Kickstarter launch for AIVVY — CEO in pictures showing me smartphone control interface.  I’m in! It is best audio streaming interface I’ve ever experienced, and compatible with Sirius XM.

“Lets you run/bike and listen to great audio without getting RF power across your skin from cellular… read more

Transhumanist position on human germline genetic modification

March 22, 2015 by James Hughes

(credit: pixabay)

Recently a group of scientists and an industry group have issued statements calling for a moratorium on human heritable or germline genetic modifications (see herehere and here), now that we have the powerful CRISPR technique to pursue such modifications.

These statements have been greeted rapturously by bioconservatives, who want to see a global ban on germline and enhancement genetic therapies.

Of… read more

Ask Ray | Futurist Martine Rothblatt, PhD discusses cyber consciousness

March 19, 2015

brain - A1

Dear readers,

I want to recommend this article in USA Today profiling Martine Rothblatt, PhD’s keynote at South by Southwest.

USA Today | Sirius founder envisions world of cyber clones, tech med

Her talk featured a roundup of concepts about the future of the human brain and the potential for people to interact through virtual avatars and recreations of an individual.

USA Todayread more

Ray Kurzweil music technology breakthroughs – inside story

Background on Kurzweil's Technical Grammy Award
February 8, 2015 by Amara D. Angelica

Kurzweil 250 prototype boards (credit: Kurzweil Music Systems/Young Chang)

In Fall 1983, visitors crammed into a packed demo on the fifth floor of the New York Hilton Hotel during the New York AES convention and marveled at the Kurzweil K250, noted Electronic Musician magazine in its March 2015 issue.

“The first ROM-based sampling keyboard to successfully reproduce the full complexity of acoustic instruments, the 250 offered natural-sounding pianos, thick drums, lush strings, and more, and its… read more

Ray Kurzweil receives 2015 Technical Grammy Award for outstanding achievements in music technology

February 7, 2015

Grammy Awards - 57th - logo

Ray Kurzweil received the 2015 Technical Grammy Award on February 7, 2015 for his outstanding achievements in the field of music technology.

One of his primary inventions paved the way for re-creating acoustic instruments with electronic equivalents.

The Technical Grammy Award is a Special Merit Award presented by vote of the National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences Trustees, for contributions of outstanding technical significance to the recording… read more

Machine Cognition and AI Ethics Percolate at AAAI 2015

February 4, 2015 by Melanie Swan

robot brain chip

The AAAI’s Twenty-Ninth Conference on Artificial Intelligence was held January 25–30, 2015 in Austin, Texas. Machine cognition was an important focal area covered in two workshops on AI and Ethics, and Beyond the Turing Test, and in a special track on Cognitive Systems.

Some of the most interesting emergent themes are discussed in this article.

Computational Ethicsread more

Ask Ray | Immortality via the singularity

February 3, 2015

(credit: iStock)

Dear Dr. Kurzweil,

Thank you so much for all your help, time, and encouragement throughout my paper and presentation. It was really exciting that you could be in my 7th grade presentation.

I realize as a Director of Engineering at Google you are very busy. I would love to visit Google. I really appreciate everything you have done and all the resources that you sent.

— Lucyread more

The future of the newsletter and e-mail

December 31, 2014 by Amara D. Angelica

Oculus Rift: millions sold in 2015? (credit: Samsung)

In “The return of the newsletter,” Wired notes today that with better spam filters and other tools, non-stop overload from Facebook and Twitter, and the death of RSS, newsletters are “making something of a comeback.”

The article mentions KurzweilAI News and nine other newsletters, including mini-AIR, the newsletter of the hilarious Annals of Improbable Research magazine, noted for its annual Ig Nobel Prizes (such as one earlier this… read more

Don’t fear artificial intelligence | by Ray Kurzweil

December 30, 2014 by Ray Kurzweil

Ray Kurzweil responds to concerns from Elon Musk and Stephen Hawking, Phd, on the future possibility of dangers from developments in artificial intelligence. This was also published in Time magazine’s Ideas section.

related reading:
Time | “Don’t fear artificial intelligence” by Ray Kurzweil

Don’t fear artificial intelligence
by Ray Kurzweil

Stephen Hawking, the pre-eminent physicist, recently warned that artificial intelligence… read more

We could get to the singularity in ten years

December 26, 2014 by Ben Goertzel

10 to Singuarlity

It would require a different way of thinking about the timing of the Singularity, says AGI pioneer Ben Goertzel, PhD. Rather than a predictive exercise, it would require thinking about it the way an athlete thinks about a game when going into it, or the way the Manhattan Project scientists thought at the start of the project.

This article, written in 2010, is excerpted with permission from Goertzel’s newread more

Explainer: what is 4D printing?

December 19, 2014 by Dan Raviv

Shapeshifting: 3D printed materials that change shape over time. (Credit: Dan Raviv/Scientific Reports)

Additive manufacturing — or 3D printing — is 30 years old this year. Today, it’s found not just in industry but in households, as the price of 3D printers has fallen below US$1,000. Knowing you can print almost anything, not just marks on paper, opens up unlimited opportunities for us to manufacture toys, household appliances and tools in our living rooms.

But there’s more that can be done with… read more

Ray Kurzweil receives IEEE Eta Kappa Nu honor society’s top honor

November 30, 2014

Saurabh Sinha, PhD, Chair of the IEEE Educational Activities Board; Ray Kurzweil, IEEE Eta Kappa Nu “Eminent Member” honoree; Karen Panetta, PhD, Chair of the IEEE Education Activities Board and Recognition Committee; John Orr, PhD, President of Eta Kappa Nu, the IEEE Honor Society. (credit: IEEE)

Ray Kurzweil was presented with the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Eta Kappa Nu honor society top honor, Eminent Member, at the 2014 IEEE Educational Activities Board Awards Ceremony. He received the honor for technical attainments and contributions to society through outstanding leadership in the profession of electrical and computer engineering.

The Induction and Awards presentation took place during the week of IEEE’s Meeting Series. Members of the… read more

Ask Ray | Living in virtual worlds as an avatar

November 19, 2014

Second Life - 1

Dear Mr. Kurzweil,

I’m in seventh grade, taking a research class called Da Vinci. I have to produce a 10 page annotated paper. I will produce a multimedia presentation on my topic.

My topic is immortality through genetics, nanotechnology and robotics with a special emphasis on artificial intelligence, such as living in a virtual world as an avatar.

Our teacher encouraged us to reach out to experts.… read more

Ask Ray | Potential for elitization of the singularity

November 18, 2014 by Ray Kurzweil

(credit: stock image)

Dear Professor Kurzweil,

I was hoping for your views on the potential elitization of singularity that could lead to exacerbation of class, opportunity and economic division.

The ongoing quest for extending human life and artificially enhancing its quality testifies to our instincts for permanence and survival at all cost.

Technologically acquired supremacy breaks the well accepted paradigm that improved life span, physical and cognitive performance is possible only with practice, studious effort… read more

Who blew up the rocket?

What happens when you mix space pork, greedy megacorporations, and recycled Russian rocket engines?
November 6, 2014 by Howard Bloom

Antares launch failure, (credit: NASA)

Exactly what exploded in a ball of flame over Wallops Island, Virginia, on Tuesday October 28 at 6:22 pm? And what brought down Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo over the Mojave Desert Friday morning just after ten am?

Was the vehicle that exploded above the launch pad in Virginia, as some headlines have proclaimed, a NASA rocket? Was it, as others have said, a commercial rocket? Or were both… read more

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