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First Pass: What’s Wrong with the Grand Challenges for Engineering

October 11, 2010 by Daniel W. Rasmus

At the risk of committing more over-thinking of the Grand Challenges for Engineering, I want to take a first pass at discussing what I think is wrong with them in a very specific way, and honing the list into something more grand.

Here is the current list:

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Cellphones that can see through walls and detect cancer

April 23, 2012 by Amara D. Angelica

Terahertz imager

University of Texas at Dallas researchers have designed an imager chip that could one day turn mobile phones into devices that can see through walls, wood, plastics, paper and other objects.

The UT Dallas imager chip technology being explored by UT Dallas researchers is designed for imaging in the terahertz frequency range, specifically from 280 GHz (.28 THz) to about 1 THz. The terahertz frequency range is 1000 times higher than… read more

NASA Ames’ Worden reveals DARPA-funded ‘Hundred Year Starship’ program

October 18, 2010 by Amara D. Angelica

"We'Pete Worden at Long Conversation (Long Now Foundation)

Video of Pete Worden and Peter Schwartz. Audio podcast of the full 19-minute conversation also available.

NASA Ames Director Simon “Pete” Worden revealed Saturday that NASA Ames has “just started a project with DARPA called the Hundred Year Starship,” with $1 million funding from DARPA and $100K from NASA.

“You heard it here,” said Worden at “Long Conversation,” a Long Now

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New plant paradigms from The Human Race to the Future

Genetically engineering exotic foods of the future
April 4, 2014 by Daniel Berleant

Dragonfruit (credit: Wikimedia Commons)

Excerpted and adapted from the book The Human Race to the Future: What Could Happen and What to Do.

An exponential change perspective, well-known among futures enthusiasts, was applied to time itself by Freeman Dyson in 1997. He taxonomized the future in terms of different, order of magnitude generations — time horizons of 10 years, 100, 1,000, and so on.

My book The Humanread more

Panoramic hi-res augmented reality glasses: most radical CES intro so far?

January 7, 2014 by Amara D. Angelica

Innovega Inc. is demonstrating at CES prototypes of what looks like the most radical augmented-reality eyewear yet.

Intrigued, I called Innovega CEO Steve Willey Monday night. He ran down the specs of their iOptik design: binocular 720 x 1280 pixels, 3D (depth) vision, and a humungous field of view of 90 degrees, as shown in the image above. That’s six times the number of… read more

Why China makes our electronic products (it’s not just cheaper labor)

January 22, 2012 by Amara D. Angelica

(Credit: Apple Inc.)

It’s not just that workers are cheaper abroad, according to an important article in The New York Times Saturday. Most of the components of cellphones, computers, and other electronic products are now manufactured in China (and European and other East-Asia countries), so assembling the device half-a-world away would create huge logistical challenges, the article points out.

China now has a far larger supply of qualified engineers than… read more

Why the sponge’s protosynapses never evolved into the real thing

June 25, 2012 by Amara D. Angelica

ucsb_sponge

It was a mystery: sponges had evolved a protosynapse — the beginning of a nervous system — but never actually developed a real synapse.

It was the evolutionary period of time when virtually the rest of the entire animal kingdom branched off from a common ancestor it shared with sponges, the oldest known animal group with living representatives.

Ironically, sponges themselves have no nervous system. So what happened to… read more

The state of the future

July 14, 2010 by Jerome C. Glenn

sotf2010

As noted in our 2010 State of the Future (the 14th annual report from the Millennium Project, just published), the world is in a race between implementing ever-increasing ways to improve the human condition and the seemingly ever-increasing complexity and scale of global problems.

If current trends in population growth, resource depletion, climate change, terrorism, organized crime, and disease continue and converge over the next… read more

Ask Ray | Will future people lose sight of their humanity?

November 30, 2011 by Ray Kurzweil

A Nice Place to Visit

Dear Ray:

Have you seen this Twilight Zone episode, “A Nice Place to Visit?” I think it is a good illustration of the likely consequences of our future.

I’m eager for my 12-year-old son to watch Transcendent Man with me. I think it’s important for him to understand the implications of free will.

Resa

Resa,

Thanks. Yes, I’m very familiar… read more

Evi trumps Siri for general knowledge

January 30, 2012 by Amara D. Angelica

Evi on iPhone 4

Move over Siri, Evi is the new kid in town.

It’s no Watson, but Evi, created by True Knowledge, a Cambridge, U.K.-based semantic technology startup, like Siri, can answer questions posed by voice (using Nuance software) in a conversational manner or by typing.

But unlike Siri (only available on iPhone 4S), Evi runs on the iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad (with iOS 4.0 or… read more

Are you ready for a robot that learns on the Internet?

August 2, 2011 by Amara D. Angelica

A robot said to think, learn, and act by itself (credit: Tokyo Institute of Technology)

A humanoid robot that “learns from the Internet and from other robots” and can “think, learn, and act by itself” has been developed by the Hasegawa Lab at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, DigInfo TV reports.

OK, this is freaking me out just a little. I don’t want a bot that learns on the Internet how to make me green tea (see video),… read more

A radical alternative to nuclear reactors

March 15, 2011 by Amara D. Angelica

sbsp_flowchart

With deterioration of the nuclear reactor situation in Japan and radiation heading for Tokyo — in one extreme Pentagon scenario, catastrophic meltdowns and megadeaths in Japan, according to a source — many scientists are ramping up the search for alternates to earthquake-vulnerable nuclear power.

“The Japanese Government has dissembled regarding the gravity of the failure of their power plants and the potential for meltdown of their  containment… read more

Ask Ray | How do you respond to Noam Chomsky’s claim that ‘Watson is not good AI’?

February 19, 2011 by Ray Kurzweil

brain chip

Hello,

I was wondering if I could get a comment from Mr. Kurzweil. I know he thinks Watson will win the Jeopardy! match — I agree. Professor Noam Chomsky has told me that Watson is not good AI, though, and I’m curious how Kurzweil would respond to Chomsky’s words, found here.

I read your article in PC Magazine, which is what persuaded me to… read more

A robot that learns how to tidy up after you

May 23, 2012 by Amara D. Angelica

A robot places an item in a refrigerator (credit: Saxena Lab)

Finally: a robot I really need. Like right now.

Researchers at Cornell’s Personal Robotics Lab have trained a robot to survey a room, identify all the objects, figure out where they belong, and put them away. Bingo!

“This is the first work that places objects in non-trivial places,” said Ashutosh Saxena, assistant professor of computer science.

“It learns not to put a shoe in the refrigerator,”… read more

Ask Ray | Science and God

March 21, 2011 by Ray Kurzweil

sky

Hi Ray,

It was nice to see you again at the Transcendent Man film screening. I enjoyed the movie and the discussion. The way I see it, over time we have been discovering the intelligence that is manifested in nature. This intelligence is much greater than our own —  however, piece by piece, we have been stitching it together.

The point is that we have been making these discoveries… read more

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