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‘Conflict index’ warns when a nation faces civil war

October 29, 2001

A “conflict barometer” system providing a weekly measure of unrest could predict countries approaching civil war.
Raw material for the barometer is several thousand Reuters news stories. A sentence-analysing program called a parser classifies events into roughly 200 categories. From the category counts, researchers calculate the proportions of events involving civil protests, repressive government actions and outbreaks of violence to give a nation’s “conflict carrying capacity.”

They found that… read more

Developing Warning System for Biological Attack Proves Difficult

October 29, 2001

Designing early warning detectors for biological attacks has proved difficult, but developments are underway.The Army’s Joint Program Office for Biological Defense is currently testing the Joint Biological Point Detection System at Dugway Proving Grounds.

The Department of Energy is trying to use off-the-shelf technology to build a system for use in civilian areas like airports, stadiums and subways and during the Winter Olympics next February. It uses air samplers… read more

Can Congress Convene Online?

October 26, 2001

Spooked by anthrax in the Capitol, public officials and opinion makers are scrambling to figure out how to keep the government running if Congress can’t physically convene. Among the options being considered: having senators and representatives gather online, in “an electronic Congress.”

Security on the Brain, Solutions in the Eyes

October 26, 2001

Amsterdam airport is the first major international airport to introduce an iris scanner to identify travelers.
Holders of a card with the image of their iris captured in a computer code should be able to whip through a special passage and avoid passport control and long lines. All it takes is a few seconds of peering into a video camera, and the computer to recognize that the scanned eye matches… read more

Subliminal study shows subconscious learning is possible

October 26, 2001

Subconscious learning probably is possible, say Boston University researchers, and subconscious learning may affect our conscious decisions — without our realising it.

Takeo Watanabe and his colleagues at Boston University found that people who had watched a particular direction of subliminal dot movement during a letter-naming trial were significantly better at picking it out later.

The finding challenges the idea that attention is an essential element of the… read more

Devastating attacks on the net ‘imminent,’ says report

October 26, 2001

A new wave of devastating Internet attacks is just waiting to happen and there is there is currently little chance of preventing it.
The threat is a variation of the “denial of service” (DoS) attack, commonly used by malicious hackers to block a website by bombarding it with spurious requests. However, the new threat would target routers, key hubs of the Internet’s infrastructure, instead of individual websites.

“We believe… read more

Entrepreneurs Respond to Fearful Times

October 26, 2001

Tinkerers and entrepreneurs have found a new source of inspiration: fear of terrorism.
New products beginning to hit the market include fish tanks transformed into special glass boxes for opening suspicious mail, a home anthrax-testing kit, powered parachutes for people who live and work in high-rises, a sealed glass case for people to open their mail in, flavored syrups that can be used to cover up the bitter taste of… read more

Anthrax Powder is High-Grade, Scientists Say

October 25, 2001

Scientists in and out of government said yesterday that the anthrax strike on Capitol Hill involved an advanced, highly refined powder that is quite dangerous and not the primitive form of the germ that some federal officials have recently described.

The anthrax was altered from its natural state to reduce its electrostatic charge, a process that prevents small particles from sticking together and to nearby objects, thus making them… read more

Unlocking the Paralysis Riddle

October 25, 2001

Researchers studying spinal cord injuries have observed certain patterns of the human brain that may ultimately enable paraplegics and quadriplegics to regain some motor activity in their paralyzed limbs — or use their brains to control robotic limbs.

Researchers took MRI snapshots of the brains of quadriplegics as they were asked to move their hands, elbows, feet, knees and lips. The images revealed neural activity in all the places… read more

Electron beams could be used to irradiate mail

October 25, 2001

The US Postal Service is installing irradiation equipment in an attempt to destroy biological weapons, such as anthrax, concealed in envelopes and parcels. Electron beam irradiation is a leading candidate technology for this purpose.
A system from Titan called SureBeam uses high-energy electron beams to break down molecules within DNA, either killing a micro-organism or rendering it unable to reproduce. SureBeam bombards its target with energy levels… read more

The Hypermedia Hazard

October 25, 2001

Media and political institutions responsible for providing clarity and coherent information appear to be unraveling under the stress of coping with terrorist attacks, especially the anthrax problems, casualties and resulting hysteria.

Scientists Report Gains in Knowledge of Bacterium

October 24, 2001

Scientists reported two major advances yesterday in their understanding of the anthrax bacterium — discoveries that could lead to the development of drugs custom-designed to interfere with the anthrax toxin at different stages of its operation.

Scientists from Harvard Medical School and the University of Wisconsin said that after a decade’s search they had found the receptor protein on the surface of cells that was targeted by the anthrax… read more

KurzweilAI.net adds Events listing

October 18, 2001

KurzweilAI.net has added an Events section for forthcoming conferences related to accelerating intelligence. Coverage includes key events focusing on artificial intelligence, robots, nanotechnology, biotechnology, and the future of computers and microelectronics.

The listing is accessible on KurzweilAI.net’s home page.

Waging war by remote control

October 18, 2001

The United States is for the first time flying armed, unmanned aircraft into combat and controlling them with operators in the United States via satellite.The use of the armed RQ-1 Predator drone planes is a revolutionary step in the conduct of warfare because they signal that the Air Force is now able to survey and then shoot at ground positions from lower altitudes without putting pilots at risk.

The… read more

Speaking of Voice Recognition

October 17, 2001

Intel, Microsoft, Comverse, Philips and SpeechWorks — the Speech Application Language Tags (SALT) Forum are working together to develop speech-enabled software that will let users call up any website on any device without having to click a button.

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