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‘Robo-rat’ controlled by brain electrodes

May 2, 2002

Researchers at the State University of New York in New York City have turned a living rat into a radio-controlled automaton, using three electrodes placed in the animal’s brain. The animal can be remotely steered over an obstacle course, making it twist, turn and jump on demand.
The research will help pinpoint biochemical changes in the brain and which brain regions are involved in processing different behaviors.

“The researchers… read more

The Shape of Computer Chips to Come

May 2, 2002

As chips continue to shrink, researchers are combining the amazing properties of silicon with communications network research.

News tip: Walter Purvis

Artificial voice system says hello

May 1, 2002

Hideyuki Sawada of Waseda University in Japan is designing an artificial voice system to make interacting with robots more natural.

The system emulates the human lung, windpipe, vocal cords and throat by using a compressed air tank that forces air into a plastic voice-box chamber, where it makes rubber “vocal cords” vibrate. The sounds generated are then fed to a flexible tube that mimics a human vocal tract. The… read more

Bell Labs breaks through on Moore’s Law

April 30, 2002

Scientists at Bell Labs have developed a way to image a single impurity atom in silicon to understand how impurities affect the properties of microchips.
The finding will help in creating new manufacturing technologies for smaller chips. Impurities are introduced into silicon to provide charge carriers that control a chip’s electrical properties.

As components continue to shrink, just a few atoms of impurities could determine the function of a… read more

First permanent wireless retinal prothesis implanted

April 30, 2002

Ophthalmologists at the Keck School of Medicine of the University of Southern California have implanted the first permanent wireless microelectronic retinal prothesis.
Visual signals from a video camera will be sent to the 16-electrode intraocular electrode array attached to the retina via a receiver implanted behind the patient’s ear.

Researchers hope the retinal prosthesis, intended to stand in for the damaged retinal cells in people suffering from such blinding… read more

Unearthing Information in an Avalanche of Voice Mail

April 30, 2002

AT&T Labs researchers have built a system that allows browsing through voice mail. The ScanMail system uses speech recognition technology to transcribe voice-mail messages so they can be searched on an automated speech recognition server.
Other researchers are developing systems capable of searching audio content on the Internet. Compaq Cambridge Research Laboratory’s SpeechBot spiders the Web for audio files, downloads, and transcribes them. The system has created transcripts for more… read more

Nanotech startups demo new products to VCs

April 28, 2002

Mountain View, CA — Several nanotechnology startups demonstrated new products to venture capitalists and investors at the first nanoSIG Nano Ventures Funding & Partnering Conference. Some claimed they’ll begin to generate revenues in the near term (unlike most nanotechnology ventures).

Apex Nanotechnologies is going after the molecular modeling market or CAMD (computer-aided molecular design) with a “major breakthrough in molecular modeling software,” said CEO Ramez Naam.… read more

Singularity is a major focus of Foresight SIGs

April 25, 2002

Three of the special interest group meetings at Foresight’s Exploring the Edges: Spring 2002 Senior Associates Gathering, which begins Friday evening, April 26 in Palo Alto, will focus on the Singularity — a coming dramatic phase transition as technology accelerates over the next few decades and machines achieve superintelligence.
These include Brainstorms in Accelerating Change: Open Singularity Discussion, moderated by Ray Kurzweil; Exploring the Technological Singularity: Universal Trends… read more

Artificial liver uses 3-D modeling

April 25, 2002

Researchers believe they have solved the problem of growing the complex networks of blood vessels that artificial organs would need to sustain themselves within the body.
The idea, so far tested in rats, involves copying the blood vessel network of a real liver and using 3D fractal computer modelling and machining to mimic its construction.

The scinentists use the model to construct a silicon-mould scaffold. They then pump a… read more

Internet Insight: Moore’s Law & Order

April 24, 2002

Kurzweil’s Law of Accelerating Returns forsees faster growth in computational power over the next several decades than Moore’s Law predicts. Kurzweil said we can “expect the process to accelerate at a double exponential rate.”"The next paradigm, the sixth, will be three-dimensional molecular computing,” Kurzweil said. “In the past year, there have been major strides, for example, in creating three-dimensional carbon nanotube-based electronic circuits.”

Lucent Technologies and IBM have already… read more

Sandia Sensors to Track Terrorists

April 24, 2002

Sandia National Laboratories has launched a $2.5 million crash program to create an advanced sensor to track terrorists. The smart, golf ball-sized sensors, dropped in a city or in enemy territory, could communicate with one another to identify and track terrorists’ activities and report back.

Crunching for Dollars

April 19, 2002

JJX Capital plans to bring a supercomputer that is “the most powerful ever built for commercial use” online in June that can predict “the future price movements of every stock, bond and commodity traded in the United States.”

The 2 teraflops machine will use AI software that incorporates fuzzy logic, neural networks and genetic algorithm optimization to help predict the performance of an investment.

Nanobiotech Makes the Diagnosis

April 19, 2002

Nanobiotechnology researchers are producing a variety of tools with important implications for medicine and biotechnology, including faster and easier diagnosis of complex diseases and genetic disorders.

This is a “new class of devices that combine the ability of biological molecules to selectively bind with other molecules with the ability of nanoelectronics to instantly detect the slight electrical changes caused by such binding.”

Automatic Networks

April 19, 2002

Self-organizing networks of devices, connecting to one another wirelessly and automatically, are becoming commercially available for industrial uses and later for offices and homes.

3-D, and Ditch the Glasses

April 19, 2002

A number of 3-D displays currently being developed “open up a whole new world for medicine, science and other professions that rely on complex visualizations” as well as video games.

For example, the autostereoscopic display currently under development at NYU eliminates the need for glasses, can be seen from a variety of viewing angles, and allows users to see a unique picture depending on where they sit.

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