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Charmed by Six Feet of Circuitry

August 8, 2002

Grace, a six-foot autonomous robot, was the star of the recent annual meeting of the American Association for Artificial Intelligence in Canada.Grace performed successfully in the “Robot Challenge” event: start at the entrance to the conference center, take the elevator to the registration desk, register for the conference and then deliver a speech in the auditorium.

Grace was co-developed by Carnegie Mellon University (overall hardware and software architecture), the… read more

Playstation 3 chip nears completion

August 8, 2002

IBM, Sony and Toshiba have designed a new multimedia chip called “Cell,” touted as a “supercomputer on a chip.” It is expected to be used in Playstation 3 and as future IBM server chips.

Featuring a multiple-core-processor, the new multipurpose chip will be capable of running graphics, high-bandwidth communication, and multiple devices, and operating at one teraflop.

Another Dimension

August 8, 2002

Two chipmakers are developing 3-D chips to increase semiconductor power and speed by a factor of 10–at no additional cost.
Tohoku University professor Fujio Masuoka, who invented flash memory, and a small team of researchers plan to have a 3-D chip ready in five years.

Matrix Semiconductor, with has raised $80 million, says it has already created a 3-D chip that it will start selling by year-end, mainly to… read more

Machine brains poised to surpass us

August 7, 2002

Ray Kurzweil believes we are fewer than 30 years away from a time when machine intelligence will surpass our own, he said, speaking at the annual conference of the American Association of Artificial Intelligence.Kurzweil predicted:

  • By 2010, computers as we know them will disappear and be embedded in our clothes and eventually our bodies.
  • Humans will be using computers embedded in the body to augment their
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    More Memory on the Way

    August 6, 2002

    Researchers from the University of Southern California School of Engineering have developed a 256-bits “Data IntensiVe Architecture (DIVA)” memory that puts a processor on the DRAM chip, allowing for significantly faster memory performance and eliminating the gap between CPU and memory performance.

    REBOOTING CIVILIZATION II

    August 6, 2002

    On July 21, Edge held a meeting, REBOOTING CIVILIZATION II, concerned with information processing and computation as central metaphors.

    It included leading scientists commenting on various “universes”: physicist Seth Lloyd (the computational universe), physicist Paul Steinhardt (the cyclic universe), physicist Alan Guth (the inflationary universe), computer scientist Marvin Minsky (the emotional universe), and technologist Ray Kurzweil (the intelligent universe).

    The text and… read more

    In an Ancient Game, Computing’s Future

    August 1, 2002

    Programmers working on Go — which is more complex than chess — see it as more accurate than chess in reflecting how the human mind uses pattern recognition. “Writing a strong Go program will teach us more about making computers think like people than writing a strong chess program,” says David Fotland, creator of “The Many Faces of Go” software.

    How neurons synthesize proteins from limited number of genes

    August 1, 2002

    Researchers at Baylor College of Medicine and UK-based Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute have identified a mechanism by which neurons can synthesize a diverse range of proteins from a relatively limited number of genes.

    For the Pcdh family of proteins, the diversity is achieved by “alternative promoters and cis-alternative splicing with a low level of trans-splicing,” enabling individual neurons to express distinct combinations of Pcdh genes, and, in turn, proteins.

    Virtual people help bridge digital divide

    August 1, 2002

    Web-based avatars are being developed in the U.K. as a simplified interface to computer systems that inform citizens about services.

    Game Theory for Real People

    August 1, 2002

    Game theorists need to consider emotions and their consequences, not just rational behavior, according to game theorist Martin Shubik, speaking at the International Conference on Game Theory.

    Nobel prize winner John Nash spoke on “Further work on computational study of models in cooperation in games. Study of standard three-person games in terms of agencies.”

    Quantum net for atom angling

    July 31, 2002

    Researchers at University of Texas at Austin are able to extract an exact number of atoms from a Bose-Einstein condensates (BEC) — clouds of atoms that behave as though they were a single super-atom — using a quantum dot. Manipulating BECs is important in developing quantum computers.

    Anemone of the Smart People

    July 31, 2002

    SIGGRAPH’s Emerging Technologies Exhibition features advances in seamless human-machine integration, robots, machines that enhance the five senses, and explorations of virtual reality.

    Call for moratorium on commercial nanomaterials

    July 30, 2002

    ETC Group (“dedicated to the conservation and sustainable advancement of cultural and ecological diversity and human rights”) calls for “an immediate moratorium on commercial production of new nanomaterials [and for launching] a transparent global process for evaluating the socio-economic, health and environmental implications of the technology.” ETC Group cites an EPA meeting where it was claimed that “nanoparticles are showing up in the livers of research animals, can seep into… read more

    WHITE PAPER GETS EXPERTS WONDERING ABOUT NANO REALITY AND HYPE

    July 30, 2002

    A white paper says nanotechnology will affect a wide range of industries and there are promising investments to be made, but warns about the hype.

    Windows, lose, draw

    July 30, 2002

    University of Alberta researchers have developed a poker-playing computer program that successfully guesses whether an opponent is bluffing, wavering or playing his hands straight.

    It records a player’s habits or biases as the game progresses and uses algorithms to mix that information with baseline probabilities, creating the effect of both reason and intuition. The program now defeats 90% of opponents.

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