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The End of Human Nature

April 24, 2003

“We’re headed toward an era when human beings will be as casually “enhanced” as chickens or marigolds, with higher IQs, better looks, longer lives.”

In his book, Enough: Staying Human in an Engineered Age, Bill McKibben “indicts germline technology, the so-called designer baby science that aims to let parents improve their offspring by pasting desirable genes into their kid’s DNA.”

Unusually Long and Aligned ‘Buckytubes’ Grown at Duke

April 23, 2003

Duke University chemists have developed a method of growing one-atom-thick cylinders of carbon (nanotubes) 100 times longer than usual, while maintaining a soda-straw straightness with controllable orientation. Their achievement solves a major barrier to the nanotubes’ use in ultra-small nanoelectronic devices, said the team’s leader.

Baby teeth revealed as source of stem cells

April 23, 2003

Scientists have discovered that baby teeth are a source of stem cells. The cells could differentiate into neural cells and fat cells to help repair damaged teeth and perhaps even treat neural injuries or degenerative diseases.

Dealing with future nanotech dangers

April 22, 2003

New York — The Center for Responsible Nanotechnology (CRN) issued a report today identifying 11 significant risks of molecular nanotechnology (MNT) along with possible solutions.

MNT has “the potential to disrupt many aspects of society and politics,” the report says. “The power of the technology may cause two competing nations to enter a disruptive and unstable arms race. The flexibility and small size of molecular manufacturing systems and their… read more

Distributed computers power new search engine

April 22, 2003

A distributed computing project called Grub, which harnesses individual users’ spare computing power and Internet bandwidth, began cataloguing millions of web pages this week.

LookSmart, the US company behind Grub, believes the distributed service has the potential to one day rival Google.

Startups Seek Perfect Particles To Search And Destroy Cancer

April 21, 2003

Several companies are developing new cancer treatments that send nanoparticles into patients’ bodies to find tumor cells. Once they do, doctors excite the particles with electromagnetic energy to attack the tumor without collateral damage to nearby healthy cells and without the frightening side effects of chemotherapy and radiation: hair loss, nausea, and ravaged immune systems.

The Unmanned Army

April 21, 2003

“The unmanned combat aerial vehicle (UCAV) is the first tangible evidence of [a] robotic future….If the UCAV program succeeds, it could lead us to a distant point on the horizon where no Americans in uniform will ever again fight on the battlefield — automated submarines launching cruise missiles, divisions of unmanned ground vehicles racing toward enemy capitals. Autonomous helicopters will charge ahead of the columns, flying 15 feet off the… read more

Foresight offers discount to KurzweilAI.net readers

April 18, 2003

Foresight Institute is offering a $100 discount to KurzweilAI.net readers for the Foresight Vision Weekend Annual Senior Associates Gathering: “Molecular Myth, Manufacturing, Money and Mania-Will the real nanotechnology please self-assemble!,” May 2-4, 2003 in Palo Alto.

Speakers include Larry Lessig, K. Eric Drexler, Peter Schwartz, Ed Feigenbaum, Steve Jurvetson, Ralph Merkle, Neil Jacobstein, Eliezer Yudkowsky, Brad Templeton, Christine Peterson, and Aubrey de Grey. They will address current… read more

Planning for the Next Net War

April 18, 2003

The Department of Defense is introducing network-centric warfare in Iraq, using “real-time video images to target missiles in flight, wireless PDAs to connect with stateside medical records from the battlefield, and virtual- reality simulations to provide just-in-time delivery of material to front-line troops.”

Future war technologies will include information from sensors reporting such things as the shape of radar waveforms, acoustic signals and seismic analysis, used to immediately notify… read more

In the Skies Over Iraq, Silent Observers Become Futuristic Weapons

April 18, 2003

“Remotely piloted aircraft like the Predator have played a crucial role in the Iraq war, not only providing a bird’s-eye view of the battlefield but also giving military planners the ability to kill fiercely defended targets with a futuristic weapon — all without risking American lives.”

All the armed services are now using unpiloted aerial vehicles, with more than ten different unmanned aerial vehicles on the battlefield.

GM Blood Kills Human Cancer Cells

April 18, 2003

“Genetically modifying a patient’s white blood cells turns them into potent cancer killers, UK researchers have revealed.”

The researchers isolated T-lymphocyte cells from cancer patients and genetically modified these cells to carry a gene that produces an antibody that recognizes a specific molecule in the cancer cells.

“This antibody allows the T-cell to bind onto the cancer cell and trigger a chain of events that turns the T-cells… read more

SARS Virus is Mutating, Fear Doctors

April 18, 2003

“A cluster of SARS patients in Hong Kong with unusual symptoms has prompted concern that the virus causing the disease is mutating….Scientists in Hong Kong are now urgently sequencing key genes from recently isolated coronaviruses to reveal any changes.”

Games to take your breath away

April 18, 2003

Scientists at Dublin’s Media Lab Europe have developed a computer game uses sensors stuck to a player’s body.

“The sensors monitor breathing and only move characters on-screen if the player breathes in the right way. The game is designed for children in hospital to help them cope with boredom during long periods of bed rest and recuperation.

Fast Tracking

April 18, 2003

“Sophisticated software and hardware are giving wildlife trackers an almost instant overview of plant and animal patterns. Ultimately, this will offer scientists a more profound understanding of how nature interacts….Using handheld computers, digital cameras, and satellite positioning systems, scientists are able to simplify data collection, recruit more people to do the work, and take their most comprehensive look yet at plants and wildlife.”

Robot Planes Tested for Friendly Skies

April 18, 2003

“NASA is developing a collision-avoidance system that would allow fully autonomous, and not just remotely piloted, aircraft to operate in civil airspace.”

The aircraft uses a radar system and can detect the transponders found in larger aircraft. “Eventually, engineers envision a system that combines radar, transponders, cameras and other instruments so drones can operate as safely as any other plane.”

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