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Brain center searches for patterns

April 9, 2002

Duke University Medical Center researchers have discovered the brain region that automatically watches for patterns in sequences of events.
In an article posted online April 8, 2002 in Nature Neuroscience, researchers Scott Huettel, Beau Mack and Gregory McCarthy reported experiments in which they asked subjects to watch simple random sequences of a circle or a square flash onto a screen. During the experiments, the scientists imaged the subjects’ brains using… read more

Image processing chip has potential as artificial retina

April 8, 2002

A new type of analog processor that is compact while offering extremely fast computations for image processing may lead to the creation of an artificial eye to replace damaged human retinas.
The cellular nonlinear network (CNN) analog computer chip is integrated with a camera to produce an image processor. The 1 cm-square CNN chip can increase processing speed while reducing the power requirements over standard digital chips by two to… read more

The ‘New Economy’ re-examined

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.

A Dim View of a ‘Posthuman Future’

April 7, 2002

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

Distributed program to translate many languages

April 7, 2002

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

3-D nanotubes grown

April 5, 2002
3-D nanotubes

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

‘We’re building a brain!’

April 5, 2002

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

‘Cyborg’ sues airline

April 4, 2002

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

Researchers demo secure storage of quantum data

April 4, 2002

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

Pioneers go beyond wires, walls and the World Wide Web

April 4, 2002

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:

  • A high-speed (6 megabits or more per second) wireless standard known as 802.11b or “Wi-Fi,” which is spawning a huge array of commercial products as well as free-access community networks.
  • Internet2, a national research consortium, which
  • read more

    A glove and mechanical assembly let you feel the unreal

    April 4, 2002

    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

    FDA approves implantable chip

    April 4, 2002

    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

    Kurzweil to debate Stock on ‘BioFuture vs. MachineFuture’

    April 2, 2002

    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

    Nanotubes Self-assemble into Circuit Elements

    March 28, 2002

    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

    The Singularity: A Talk With Ray Kurzweil

    March 26, 2002

    “We are entering a new era. I call it ‘the Singularity,’” says Ray Kurzweil in an interview just published on the Edge Web site.

    The interview is available as a video, RealAudio file, and text transcript.

    Excerpts from interview

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