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This is your brain on magic mushrooms

January 24, 2012 by Amara D. Angelica

psilocybin

Stoner alert: psilocybin (the active ingredient in hallucinogenic mushrooms) messes with your brain.

OK, not exactly a news flash. But that’s what researchers in the U.K. and Denmark found when they scanned the brains of 30 people tripping on psilocybin.

But here’s what’s interesting: the researchers did two different types of functional MRI (fMRI) brain scans with two groups of 15 — one scan that measured blood flow throughout the… 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

Crowdsourcing a TEDx talk: what are the three most important trends shaping humankind’s future in the next 10 years?

January 19, 2012 by Amara D. Angelica

Eric Ezechieli

We received an interesting email from sustainability expert/Singularity University grad Eric Ezechieli:
On January 27, I will be delivering a TEDx Trieste presentation, and I will speak in ‘”Exponentialish.” In exponential times, half a gallon of brain does not suffice to keep up with what is going on, and in any case a single perspective is limited.

So, I am asking for your help: could… read more

Beyond texting: augmented-reality windshields — what could go wrong?

January 16, 2012 by Amara D. Angelica

ar_car

What? You thought distracted drivers texting on cell phones and swerving erratically is a problem? That’s so 2011.

Imagine a future in which icons flash on your car windshield, hologram-style, as your car approaches restaurants, stores, historic landmarks or the homes of friends, effuses CNN.

Simply point your hand at them, and the icons open to show real-time information: when that bridge over there was built,… read more

Battle of the ‘Fantastic Voyage’ researchers

January 12, 2012 by Amara D. Angelica

Cap-sule

The 1961 classic science-fiction movie Fantastic Voyage movie is about a team of scientists who are shrunk down and sent in a miniature submarine inside the body to repair a blood clot in an ailing colleague’s brain. How far have today’s scientists come in exploring inside the body?

Pretty far. We’ve reported on 17 research projects since 2003 to develop innovative endoscopes and other devices… read more

China Telecom to launch telecom services in Europe; U.S. next

January 12, 2012 by Giulio Prisco

China-Telecom

China Telecom is reportedly launching mobile services in the U.K., the first time a Chinese telecom operator has launched MVNO services outside China (an MVNO is a mobile operator that sells services directly to its customers but does not own any of the infrastructure), according to China Tech News.

The service will target Chinese residents and visitors in the UK, starting in the first quarter of 2012.… read more

Social networks, surveillance, and terrorism

January 10, 2012 by Amara D. Angelica

(Credit: iStockphoto)

“We are creating systems of comprehensive surveillance in which a billion people are involved and those people’s lives are being lived under a kind of scrutiny which no secret police service is the 20th century could ever have aspired to achieve,” claims militant digital privacy advocate Eben Moglen, Betabeat reports.

“And all of that data is being collected and sold by people whose goal it is to… read more

A super-memory smart drug?

December 15, 2011 by Amara D. Angelica

Suppression of PKR

Could this be the “Limitless” breakthrough we’ve been looking for?

Researchers at Baylor College of Medicine  (BCM) have discovered that when the activity of PKR — a molecule normally elevated during viral infections — is inhibited in the brain, mice learn and remember dramatically better.

“The molecule PKR (the double-stranded RNA-activated protein kinase) was originally described as a sensor of viral infections,… read more

How to learn things automatically

December 12, 2011 by Amara D. Angelica

Decoded Neurofeedback

OK, this one’s right out of The Matrix and The Manchurian Candidate.

Imagine watching a computer screen while lying down in a brain imaging machine and automatically learning how to play the guitar or lay up hoops like Shaq O’Neal, or even how to recuperate from a disease — without any conscious knowledge.

Researchers at Boston University (BU) and ATR Computational Neuroscience Laboratories in Kyoto, Japan… read more

Will the Kinect 2 read your lips? Open the pod bay door, HAL

December 8, 2011 by Amara D. Angelica

3D Video Capture with Kinect (YouTube)

The next generation of the Kinect (bundled with future Xbox consoles) may be “so accurate it can lip read,” the Technology Review Hello World headline breathlessly reads — evoking HAL 9000 in 2001.

What’s more, says Eurogamer, citing a nameless source, “Kinect 2 will be so powerful it will enable games to detect when players are angry, and determine in which direction they are facing,… read more

When the Singularity happens, it will be ‘very obvious’: Vernor Vinge vs. the Singulars

December 7, 2011 by Amara D. Angelica

singularityfringe

How will we know if we have passed through a Singularity? Damn good question, one that keeps me up at night. Like right now.

Science fiction writer Vernor Vinge, originator of the technological Singularity concept, came up with some interesting answers in an io9 video interview: “When things begin to happen in the real world that no human has any explanation for … or if… 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

Bots gone wild

November 28, 2011 by Amara D. Angelica

ant-roach

Introducing random — a new, occasional blog category for stuff that’s way too weird for our regular weird posts. Like these wacky robot stories:

Wanna take a ride on a 15-foot-long inflatable walking robot named Ant-Roach (as in anteater-cockroach)? Um, maybe not, but hey, “human safe” bots are not a bad idea, especially if you plan to have one in your home, with kids. A future Disney… read more

Let’s tell everyone how to make a virus that could kill millions!

November 26, 2011 by Amara D. Angelica

H5N1 virus (credit: Lennart Nilsson)

Here’s an idea: why don’t we just tell everybody in the world how to make an airborne H5N1 influenza virus strain (“bird flu”) that has been genetically altered to be easily transmissible (between ferrets, which mostly closely mimic the human response to flu), and which if released, could trigger an influenza pandemic, quite possibly with many millions of deaths?

OK, it seems like a totally evil idea, one that… read more

New hope for repairing diseased or damaged brains

November 25, 2011 by Amara D. Angelica

Two exciting landmark studies of ways to repair damaged or diseased brains have just been published, and are discussed on KurzweilAI today.

The University of Wisconsin-Madison study found that when neurons generated from human embryonic stem cells (hESC) were implanted into the hippocampus of a mouse, the neurons began to behave like normal rat neurons. That means that for humans in the future, there could be limitless… read more

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