April 8, 2002
The Internet revolution of the 1990s –and resulting worker productivity increases — created fundamental changes that are at least partly responsible for why the recent downturn was so mild, some economists believe.
In a new book, “Our Posthuman Future,” political theorist Francis Fukuyama warns that biotechnology may disruptively alter human nature.Fukuyama, who is also the author of “The End of History and the Last Man,” is concerned about genetic engineering of the human germline, mood-altering drugs, and major increases in human longevity, all of which could change society and alter the balance of human nature and cause us to “lose our humanity,”… read more
The World Wide Lexicon (WWL) project is developing a distributed computer program to harness the brains of the world’s computer users to build a multilingual translation database for less common languages.
Since the project depends on volunteers, quality assurance may be problem, but software developer Brian McConnell hopes to develop an automatic peer-review system to ensure that translations are accurate.
McConnell has designed a spider program to roam the… read more
Researchers at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute have grown the first three-dimensional nanotubes, which are essential for next-generation computer chips and integrated circuits.
The method is based on a selective growth process that allows the nanotubes to grow perpendicular to the silica-coated substrate. By chiseling the silica into predetermined shapes, researchers can precisely control and direct the nanotube growth.
Nanotubes have properties that make them attractive as active nanoscale electronic… read more
Lobal Technologies of London is building a natural language processing system called LAD (Language Acquisition Device) that understands sentences word by word and builds its replies word-by-word, rather than just reading a script.The system is based on a model of the human brain, with emulators for the five brain areas that are most important for language processing, built using neural network technology
Lobal’s roadmap for developing LAD is based… read more
Professor Steve Mann, from the University of Toronto, is suing Air Canada for negligence and damage to his wearable computer system during a security search.
Mann was delayed for three days and subjected to a humiliating strip search. A computerized heart monitor that he has attached to his skin was removed, leaving him bleeding.
Mann believes that his status as a cyborg should be treated in the same way… read more
Harvard University researchers have succeeded in bringing practical quantum computers one step closer to reality by storing qubits (quantum bits) in a memory and retrieving them later, without having to observe, and therefore invalidate, their values. The first step, demonstrated last year, was the ability to store a laser-encoded signal in the spin states of atoms and then nondestructively read them back out.
The next step: demonstrate that quantum… read more
The next-generation Internet is being built with high-speed wireless networks, ranging from next-generation cell phones and other mobile devices to free-space optical networks based on laser light.
The hottest trends:
Haptic interfaces, which add the sense of touch to virtual-reality systems, are becoming commerically available but are still expensive.CyberGrasp from San Jose-based Immersion consists of a lightweight mechanical exoskeleton that fits over a motion capture glove. It lets users manipulate virtual objects in a computer-generated world and creates the illusion of touching and grasping objects.
Woburn, MA-based SensAble Technologies makes touch-based modeling systems for industrial designers. Its FreeForm system… read more
The Federal Drug Administration has ruled that the Verichip, an implantable microchip used for ID purposes, is not a regulated device, so it can now be sold in the United States.
Applied Digital Solutions has been marketing the VeriChip in the U.S. as a device to allow hospital workers to access patients’ health records, by scanning the chip and cross-referencing the device’s ID with a patient database.… read more
Ray Kurzweil will debate Gregory Stock, Director, UCLA Program on Medicine, Technology and Society, on “BioFuture vs. MachineFuture” at the “Exploring the Edges” Foresight Senior Associate Gathering this month, April 26-28, 2002 in Palo Alto, California.
Stock foresees “widespread reworking of human biology via genetic engineering: neither governments nor religious groups will be able to stop this” in the next few decades, says Foresight president Christine Peterson. “Greg sees computer… read more
Researchers at Purdue University have created Nanotubes measuring just 100 atoms in diameter.Nanotube “parent” molecules were developed. These molecules self-assemble in water to form tiny rings, which then snap together, forming long tubes.
The outside of these tubes has “hooks” on which to hang other molecules. This allows the resulting nanotube to be used for specific electronic applications — virtually forming angstrom-sized circuit elements.
Professor Hicham Fenniri’s research… read more
Optimistic about an economy rebound, Intel has ramped up R&D spending to an all time high of $4.1 billion.CEO Craig Barrett says that Intel is focusing on its “core competency” — selling microchips and extending the life of silicon technology. Moore’s Law “is good for another 15 years,” Barrett contends.
At the February Intel Developer’s Forum in San Francisco, the company announced its newest Pentium 4, code-named Prescott, that… read more