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Senate to debate ban on cloning

February 21, 2002

The Senate is preparing to debate the Human Cloning Prohibition Act of 2001 (S.790), which would ban all forms of human cloning as well as the importation of therapies developed from cloned human embryos.”Such a ban could be passed without much public comment, so if you have strong views on this, get them in immediately,” Eric Drexler and Chris Peterson suggest in the Feb. 2002 Foresight Senior Associate Letter. “See… read more

Robot care bears for the elderly

February 21, 2002

Robot bears watch over elderly residents in the world’s first hi-tech retirement home in Osaka, Japan.
The bears monitor patients’ response times to spoken questions and how long they spend performing various tasks, alerting staff where appropriate via a local area network.

Upside of Downsizing Analog Chips

February 21, 2002

Impinj has found a way to make analog devices employing the same CMOS technology currently used for making digital chips and fine-tuning them after they are produced. The result is analog devices that can be scaled down to tiny sizes and work better than the current generation of analog chips.
The “self-adaptive silicon” technology is modeled on how the human brain adjusts nerve cells; it can monitor… read more

A.I. Reboots

February 21, 2002

The focus of artificial intelligence today is no longer on understanding and replicating human intelligence but the development of systems to augment human abilities.
Promising applications of the “new A.I.” include:

  • CycSecure, a program to be released this year that combines a huge database on computer network vulnerabilities with assumptions about hacker activities to identify security flaws in a customer’s network.
  • The “Semantic Web,” a sophisticated
  • read more

    Pill reminders from robot pets

    February 20, 2002

    In the future, the elderly could be reminded to take medication by a computerized pet. The Pill Pets are brightly coloured, cuddly toys made of silicon, with a computerised screen that gives instructions on taking medication,

    For the Pill Pets to survive, they have to be told their reminders to take medication are being acted on.

    Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s (MIT) Ageing Lab in Boston… read more

    Artificial Muscles Gain Strength

    February 20, 2002

    Researchers have developed materials with properties closer to human muscles than anything yet seen. They will be perfect for an anti-gravitational suit, as well as for therapeutic and commercial devices.
    The MIT team has recently launched Molecular Mechanisms in Cambridge, MA to develop the technology and expect to create a “superman suit” for the armed forces that could enable soldiers to run, jump and lift to a nearly superhuman degree.… read more

    Call for bioweapons database

    February 20, 2002

    A database that contains the genetic details of all the bacteria and viruses
    that could be used in a bioterrorist attack should be established, leading American scientists have said.
    Other initiatives include greater security in laboratories where dangerous
    microbes are kept and the development of new ways of diagnosing infections.
    The researchers have also urged the US Government to engage with other
    nations on biological weapons.

    The scientists made… read more

    Researchers close to delivering molecular circuits

    February 20, 2002

    Molecular electronics researchers are converging on viable circuit-fabrication methods. A Hewlett-Packard and UCLA team are tackling one universal problem with molecular circuits: the inherent defects created by any chemical reaction. They’re designing a molecular equivalent of an FPGA (floating point gate array) that can be used to implement a redundant wiring scheme in which defective cells are simply switched out of the network.

    The team is also working on… read more

    Hijacking the Brain Circuits With a Nickel Slot Machine

    February 20, 2002

    Neuroscientists have uncovered a common thread between Compulsive gambling, attendance at sporting events, vulnerability to telephone scams and exuberant investing in the stock market based on rewards. And they found that the brain systems that detect and evaluate such rewards generally operate outside of conscious awareness. In navigating the world and deciding what is rewarding, humans are closer to zombies than sentient beings much of the time.

    Dr. Jonathan… read more

    GM bacteria may banish tooth decay

    February 20, 2002

    A mouthful of genetically modified bacteria could keep tooth decay away for life, by replacing your mouth’s natural cavity-causing bacteria with GM bacteria specially designed to prevent tooth decay.
    BCS3-L1 can be brushed or squirted onto the teeth in a formulation its creator says tastes like chicken soup. It dramatically reduced cavities in rats but OraGen, Inc., has not yet received permission from the US Food and Drug Administration to… read more

    Collision Course: Beating Moore’s Law by 2006 will take teamwork

    February 15, 2002

    CERN’s Large Hadron Supercollider will begin generating more than 10 million gigabytes of data each year when it becomes operational in 2006 — beyond the capabilities of any computer CERN scientists had at their disposal, or any supercomputer that could be built. The solution: the European DataGrid.The European DataGrid is an ambitious project based on an emerging distributed-processing technology known as grid computing. Instead of relying on mainframe makers like… read more

    New world of nanoelectronics may arrive in the near future, AAAS speakers say

    February 15, 2002

    A future filled with tiny, molecule-sized computers–fast and powerful enough to do things like translate conversations on the fly or calculate complex climate models–may be closer than people think, top nanotechnology researchers said at the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Annual Meeting in Boston today.
    “We may be five to six years ahead of schedule in nanoelectronics, and some of today’s research is nearing the stage where… read more

    Inventor of artificial hand sees ‘bionic’ replacement parts becoming more human

    February 14, 2002

    Bionic limb replacements that look and work exactly like the real thing could be realized within a decade, thanks to fast advances in human-to-machine communication and miniaturization.

    Writing in Science, Feb. 8, Rutgers biomedical engineer and inventor William Craelius, whose Dextra artificial hand is the first to let a person use existing nerve pathways to control individual computer-driven mechanical fingers, says “bionic technologies can be adapted for restoring some… read more

    The Nanotube Computer

    February 14, 2002

    The nano future is emerging through the haze of hype: the road to terabit memory and cheap flat-screen displays will be paved with carbon nanotubes.

    Carbon nanotubes are, in theory at least, the ideal material for building tomorrow’s nanoelectronics. And now, a little more than 10 years after their discovery, nanotubes seem ready to make the transition from exotic laboratory wonders to materials useful in actual technologies. Prototypes of… read more

    Wearable Internet appliance

    February 14, 2002

    Hitachi has produced a Wearable Internet Appliance for business use that enables users to surf the Internet through a wireless LAN. It includes a head mount display and pointing device.

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