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Eyes write

August 22, 2002

New software called Dasher could allow computer users with disabilities or busy hands to write nearly twice as fast, more accurately and more comfortably than before and could also speed up writing on palm-tops and typing in Japanese and Chinese, its developers say.
The software lets users select letters from a screen and calculates the probability of one letter coming after another. It then presents the letters required… read more

Bettering Ourselves Through Biotech: Greater Productivity, Sharper Memories, Hair Feathers

August 22, 2002

Beefing up muscle without steroids or hormones; rejuvenating damaged skin and heart tissue; ratcheting up memory function, and other therapies that promise to enhance human abilities are nearing the marketplace, thanks to ever-faster breakthroughs in biotechnology

Faster Chips That March to Their Own Improvised Beat

August 22, 2002

Self-timing, or asynchronous microprocessors will lead to improved computer performance, providing faster operations and reduced power consumption and electromagnetic emissions.

Sun Microsytems and Phillips Research are pioneering developments in this area.

NASA rejects claim it plans mind reading capability

August 21, 2002

NASA managers today said published media reports suggesting the agency plans to read the minds of potential terrorists go too far and ignore the facts and science behind the research. “NASA does not have the capability to read minds, nor are we suggesting that would be done,” said Robert Pearce, Director, NASA’s Strategy and Analysis Division in the Office of Aerospace Technology in Washington. “Our scientists were… read more

Bot Battle More of a Lovefest

August 21, 2002

The International Design Contest robot competition at MIT nvolved eight teams of students from seven countries to make a remote-controlled bot that can push hockey pucks and foam rubber balls across the shuffleboard-sized playing area and onto a scale at the end of the field.

In Three Dimensions, Words Take Flight. Literally.

August 20, 2002

Brown University researchers are developing a 3-D virtual-reality chamber that allows for creating interactive-theater experiences with literature in space.

Forget Nature. Even Eden Is Engineered.

August 20, 2002

Aided by satellites and supercomputers, and mobilized by the evident environmental damage of the last century, humans have a real chance to begin balancing economic development with sustaining earth’s ecological webs, said Dr. William C. Clark, a biologist at Harvard who heads an international effort to build a scientific foundation for such a shift.

The prospect of managing the planet is attracting more than 100 world leaders and thousands… read more

Cities Die. Should New York Be the First to Clone Itself?

August 20, 2002

New York City is creating of an immensely detailed, three-dimensional, interactive, constantly updated map of the city.

“NYCMap” will be stored on remote servers in case something more terrible than 9-11 hits.

Biology Seeks a Few Good Geeks

August 20, 2002

As chairwoman of the inaugural IEEE Computer Society Bioinformatics Conference, held at Stanford University last week, Vicky Markstein is trying to recruit the leading minds of computer science into what she calls “the industrial revolution of biology,” an anticipated period of discovery resulting from the analysis of genomic information.
Computer scientists will be essential for deriving useful knowledge from the large databases of genomic data that have recently become available,… read more

Does schmoozing make robots clever?

August 19, 2002

Luc Steels, a professor at the University of Brussels and director of Sony’s Computer Science Laboratories in Paris, believes that robots should learn by expressing themselves through interaction and forming their own languages and even “cultures.”

Dismissing the Turing Test as “fake,” Steels believes that machines can evolve intelligence through interaction with one another and with their ecology, but that this synthetic intelligence is unlikely to bear much resemblance… read more

Opposition to Nanotechnology

August 19, 2002

With nanotechnology moving into commercialization, environmental groups are mounting a compaign to declare a moratorium on commercial production of nanomaterials, based on the precautionary principle, the go-slower approach to new technology.

The campaign, led by the ETC Group, addresses concerns about nanoparticles interacting with living cells. For example, they warn that nanoscale particles in carrying drugs into the brain could also transport toxins and that nanoparticles absorbed by bacteria… read more

The E-Gang: Medical Marvels

August 16, 2002

Forbes profiles eight visionaries in information technology for medicine.

  • Neuroscientist Kari Stefansson’s gene-mining software will allow doctors to create genetic profiles of patients within a decade.
  • TIGR’s Claire Fraser gene tests could one day let doctors customize drug treatment for the exact genetic strain found in their patients.
  • Rosetta Inpharmatics’ Stephen Friend plans to use DNA chips to spot which genes are most active in
  • read more

    Homeland Insecurity

    August 16, 2002

    Most of the security measures envisioned after September 11 will be ineffective, and some will make Americans less safe, says security guru Bruce Schneier.

    Plans to merge hundreds of previously separate databases in the Department of Homeland Security may result in vulnerability to hackers, and plans to install biometric and other screening devices in airports without adequate supervision can result in identity theft and other problems, he believes.

    First language gene discovered

    August 16, 2002

    Scientists think they have found the first of many genes that gave humans speech. The gene, FOXP2, is thought to be linked to an ability to control facial movements — a faculty crucial to language, which would give bearers a survival advantage because they were able to communicate more clearly.

    Autism link to ‘geek genes’

    August 16, 2002

    An upsurge in autism cases diagnosed in the Silicon Valley area of California may be due to genes more common in its high-tech workers, researchers believe. They speculate that “computer geeks” may, while not fully autistic themselves, may be carrying genes that contribute to it and are more likely to meet partners who also carry autistic genes, raising the chances of children with the full-blown condition.

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