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‘Sims’ creator inks TV deal with Fox

June 4, 2003

Will Wright, creator of “The Sims,” has signed a deal with Fox Broadcasting Co. to develop a TV show starring a robot.

“I’d like to fast-forward into the future a bit and explore how machines and artificial intelligence will impact human beings and how robots will help us define ourselves,” Wright said.

ROBO SPACE: How Space Perception Separates Man From Machine

June 4, 2003

Robots can’t dance. Or navigate a building and interact with physical objects.

Researchers in Sony Computer Science Laboratory in Paris and elsewhere are figuring out how to teach them spatial cognition and language, adapted to whatever environment they find themselves in.

Blood Substitute From Worms Shows Promise

June 3, 2003

Researchers have found that the hemoglobin of worms might be a good red-cell alternative for humans. Animal hemoglobin can cause allergic reactions and even damage the kidneys. But the hemoglobin from a common marine worm (Arenicola marina) has shown none of these effects in mice, at least.

Coming Soon: Smarter Soldiers

June 3, 2003

Soldiers of 2011 will step into wired uniforms that incorporate all the equipment they need. The uniforms will monitor vital signs and plug them into a massive network of satellites, unmanned planes and robotic vehicles.

CIA Developing Software to Scour Photos

June 2, 2003

The CIA is bankrolling efforts to improve technology designed to scour millions of digital photos or video clips for particular cars or street signs or even, some day, human faces.

The innovative software promises
to help analysts make better use of the CIA’s enormous electronic archives. Analysts also could be alerted whenever a helicopter or other targeted item appeared in a live video broadcast.

Quantum dots boost tissue imaging

June 2, 2003

An ultra-high resolution technique for imaging living tissue can provide a thousand-fold increase in resolution, thanks to the addition of tiny nanocrystals called quantum dots. Researchers ultimately hope to use the technique to probe ovarian tumors and other types of cancer deep in the body.

Specific cells, such as cancer cells, can be targeted by adding antibodies to quantum dots, which then act as homing devices.

Nano-coated implants cut MRI scan dangers

June 2, 2003

Biophan has developed a coating for pacemaker implants made from nanoparticles that reflect most of frequencies of MRI radio waves. The coating also prevents high currents from flowing around the implant’s surface and heating nearby body tissues. The technology should protect such patients from life-threatening MRI scanner fields.

Project Will Seek to Uncover Genetic Roots of Major Diseases

May 31, 2003

Dr. J. Craig Venter has launched the Genomic-Based Prospective Medicine project, a large-scale effort to identify the genetic roots of common diseases. They will sequence many genes from a large number of patients, looking for mutations that might be associated with higher risk of disease.

Another Clone Milestone as a Mule Is Born in Idaho

May 31, 2003

Scientists said yesterday that they had cloned a mule for the first time, raising the prospect that it will soon be possible to produce genetic carbon copies of related animals, including champion racehorses, and to repopulate endangered equine species.

Comment: “This development has potential to repopulate endangered, even recently extinct, species.”
– Ray Kurzweil

Stem cell ‘immortality’ gene found

May 31, 2003

The key gene that keeps embryonic stem cells in a state of youthful immortality has been discovered.

The breakthrough may one day contribute to turning ordinary adult cells into those with the properties of human embryonic stem cells (capable of differentiating into the different cells in the body). This would end the need to destroy embryos to harvest the cells for new medical treatments.

Comment: “This is very… read more

Analog Over Digital? For a Better Ear Implant, Yes

May 30, 2003

An MIT researcher has devised a processor for cochlear implants that he says consumes only about .5 milliwatt, one-tenth of the processing power of current devices. The trick: using analog instead of digital processing, which requires more power.

Fire Up That Game, Boy

May 30, 2003

Researchers at the University of Rochester found that young adults who regularly played action video games showed better visual skills than those who did not.

The researchers suggest that video games could be used to help visually impaired patients see better or to train soldiers for combat.

Designing Robots That can Reason and React

May 29, 2003

Researchers at Georgia Tech Research Institute are creating machines that can make complex decisions, using
a variety of techniques such as “learning momentum” — teaching a robot that if a behavior is working well, it should continue doing it — and reinforcement learning, using computer-generated “rewards” to tell the robot it has made good decisions and should continue doing so.

The researchers are also developing a colony of 100… read more

Mimicry makes computers personable

May 29, 2003

We would enjoy interacting with our computers more if they mimicked our speech patterns, says Noriko Suzuki’s team at the ATR Media Information Science Laboratories in Kyoto, quoted in an article in the New Scientist May 31 issue.

Suzuki asked volunteers to work on-screen with an animated character whose character hummed back sounds that mimicked characteristic features, such as the rhythm, intonation, loudness and pitch of the… read more

Gesture Your Mouse Goodbye

May 29, 2003

FingerWorks of Newark, Delaware, has developed a technology that turns hand gestures into some of the most common computing tasks, like opening files. The technology could gain favor with people who suffer from repetitive stress injuries.

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