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book review | Science fiction bots becoming fact

March 3, 2011 by R.U. Sirius

We, Robot book cover

An interview with Mark Stephen Meadows, author of We, Robot: Skywalker’s Hand, Blade Runners, Iron Man, Slutbots, and How Fiction Became Fact.

 With We, Robot (Lyons Press, 2010), Mark Stephen Meadows explores the recent edges of robotic development in the context of some of our favorite fictional narratives.

It’s a smart, edgy read, written in a very hip, almost cyberpunk style (for one example, the author describes himself

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Robots invent spoken language, join Facebook

May 18, 2011 by Amara D. Angelica

Lingodroidsintro

OK, I just made up the Facebook part, but IEEE Spectrum reported Tuesday on two robots that communicate linguistically like humans and invent new words. Spooky.

They’re called “Lingodroids” (reminds me of Stephen King’s even spookier The Langoliers, which were robotic monsters dealing with a “time rip”).

Researchers at the University of Queensland and Queensland University of Technology in Australia have designed… read more

Tiny bugs are controlling your mind!

August 30, 2011 by Amara D. Angelica

probiotic

Before you take another probiotic cap, you may want to read this. Yet another study at McMaster University in Canada suggests that gut bacteria might be able to alter your brain chemistry and change your mood and behavior, reports Science NOW.

We reported on earlier research on gut bacteria at McMaster University and at Ohio State University. We also mentionedread more

Passing of the typewriter

April 27, 2011 by Amara D. Angelica

(Credit: iStockhphoto)

Sadly, one of the world’s last remaining typewriter factories, Godrej & Boyce in Mumbai, India, is closing down its typewriter production line, survived only by Moonachie, N.J.-based Swintec.

We may not know what we’ve lost. Despite its limitations, with a typewriter, you are pressed to think out the entirety of what you are trying to say in your head to avoid endless retyping (or using… read more

Report on the fourth conference on artificial general intelligence

September 3, 2011 by Ben Goertzel

The Fourth Conference on Artificial General Intelligence (AGI-11) was held on Google’s campus in Mountain View (Silicon Valley), California, in the first week of August 2011. This was the largest AGI conference yet, with more than 200 people attending, and it had a markedly different tone from the prior conferences in the series.

A number of participants noted that there was less of an out-of-the-mainstream, wild-eyed maverick… read more

GLITCHES IN THE MATRIX . . . AND HOW TO FIX THEM

March 2, 2003 by Peter B. Lloyd

Why, exactly, do the rebels have to enter the Matrix via the phone system (which after all doesn’t physically exist)? And what really happens when Neo takes the red pill (which also doesn’t really exist)? And how does the Matrix know what fried chicken tastes like? Technologist and philosopher Peter Lloyd answers these questions and more.… read more

Crowdfunded science projects

March 14, 2012 by Amara D. Angelica

Exomoon project (Harvard)

Got a cool idea for a research project, but need funding? Check out Petridish.org, which has just launched crowdfunded science and research projects. I think this is a really great idea that could open up funding for some amazing research ideas.

On Petridish.org, researchers post materials about themselves and their research, and the public can discover projects that are exciting to them. In exchange for contributing to… read more

Future food for cities

September 10, 2010 by Derek Jacoby

8 25

Within the next decade you will be able to grow all of your vegetables in a box barely larger than your refrigerator. This surprising statement is the result of a class project at Singularity University this summer. Here’s how we came to believe that this is true.

In the first week at Singularity University, we were introduced to a team project called “Food for Cities.” The project… read more

USC engineers build synthetic synapse with carbon nanotubes

May 2, 2011 by Amara D. Angelica

Field effect transistor using carbon nanotubes to create synthetic synapse (credit: USC Viterbi School of Engineering)

Engineering researchers at the University of Southern California have built a carbon nanotube circuit that reproduces the function of a neural synapse.

“This is a necessary first step in the process,” said Professor Alice Parker, who began the complex project of looking at the possibility of developing a synthetic brain in 2006.

“We wanted to answer the question: Can you build a circuit that… read more

book review | Alone Together: Why We Expect More from Technology and Less from Each Other

January 24, 2011 by R.U. Sirius

In 1938, existentialist philosopher Jean Paul Sartre wrote “Hell is other people.” Sartre may never have cobbled together his existential philosophy that viewed human individuals as utterly alone — alienated, atomized beings in a vast meaningless universe — if he had grown up playing with social robots and holding others at a discreet psychological distance by communicating with them nearly exclusively via instant messaging.

According to Wikipedia, one… read more

How to synthesize a new kind of yeast cell — or person

September 19, 2011 by Amara D. Angelica

Dr._Moreau

Scientists, in theory, could one day create whole new lifeforms, going way beyond simple cloning, new research at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine suggests.

The scientists have now replaced the DNA in a yeast chromosome with computer-designed, synthetically produced DNA (structurally distinct from its original DNA), producing a healthy yeast cell.

So perhaps one day, a mad scientist could even create an entirely new… 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

Virtual self

January 25, 2011

A still image of a Project LifeLike avatar conversing with a person. Project LifeLike is a collaboration between the Intelligent Systems Laboratory (ISL) at the University of Central Florida (UCF) and the Electronic Visualization Laboratory (EVL) at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) that aims to create visualizations of people, or avatars, that are as realistic as possible. While their current results are far from perfect replications of a specific person, their work has advanced the field forward and opens up a host of possible applications in the not-too-distant future.  (University of Chicago/University of Central Florida)

Your avatar may be just a virtual identity, but it can also affect how you are in the real world.

“In this world of new media, people spend a lot of time interacting with digital versions of one another.” — Jeremy Bailenson

If you spend a lot of time online, you may even have an electronic alter ego–an avatar. An avatar is a movable image that people design… read more

Ask Ray | The future of human self-awareness: deeper mirrors

November 15, 2010 by Ray Kurzweil

The False Mirror, by René Magritte, 1928. Oil on canvas. © 2010 C. Herscovici, Brussels / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.

Hello Ray,

In the last few years I have been basically writing in Persian and hardly anything in English. One thing I’ve been recently discussing that I thought may be of interest to you is that it seems to me the next stage of human consciousness will be about being self-aware of ourselves in a different body.

Maybe recognizing ourselves in the mirror after plastic surgery is the first… read more

How Watson works: a conversation with Eric Brown, IBM Research Manager

January 31, 2011 by Amara D. Angelica

IBM Watson

For nearly two years IBM scientists have been working on a highly advanced Question Answering (QA) system, codenamed “Watson.” The scientists believe that the computing system will be able to understand complex questions and answer with enough precision, confidence, and speed to compete in the first-ever man vs. machine Jeopardy! competition, which will air on February 14, 15 and 16, 2011.

We had some questions, so we spoke… read more

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