science + technology news

‘Big data’ and cloud computing empower smart machines to do human work, take human jobs

January 28, 2013

The "bookBots" in the Hunt Library on Centennial Campus at NC State University will house over 2 million volumes of books. The Hunt Library will be one of the most high-tech, innovative libraries around the world. (Credit: NC State - College of Design)

From giant corporations to university libraries to start-up businesses, employers are using rapidly improving technology to do tasks that humans used to do.

That means millions of workers are caught in a competition they can’t win against machines that keep getting more powerful, cheaper and easier to use, the Washington Post reports.

To better understand the impact of technology on jobs, The Associated Press analyzed employment… read more

A fuel cell for the home

June 3, 2014

Production of the cell stacks at the Fraunhofer IKTS (credit: Fraunhofer IKTS)

A simple fuel cell for home use has been developed by Fraunhofer Institute for Ceramic Technologies and Systems IKTS in Germany and heater manufacturer Vaillant.

With an output of one kilowatt, they cover the average current consumption for a four-person household.

Fuel cells convert natural gas directly into electrical energy. They are many times more efficient than are combustion engines, such as the car engine.… read more

More evidence that you’re a mindless robot with no free will

How we may confabulate reality and rationalize irrational behavior
May 4, 2016

(Credit: iStockphoto)

The results of two Yale University psychology experiments suggest that what we believe to be a conscious choice may actually be constructed, or confabulated, unconsciously after we act — to rationalize our decisions. A trick of the mind.

“Our minds may be rewriting history,” said Adam Bear, a Ph.D. student in the Department of Psychology and lead author of a paper published April 28… read more

DARPA shows off 1.8-gigapixel surveillance drone, can spot a terrorist from 20,000 feet

January 30, 2013

ARGUS view from 20,000 feet (credit: DARPA)

DARPA and the US Army have taken the wraps off ARGUS-IS, a 1.8-gigapixel video surveillance platform that can resolve details as small as six inches from an altitude of 20,000 feet (6km), ExtremeTech reports.

ARGUS is by far the highest-resolution surveillance platform in the world, and probably the highest-resolution camera in the world, period.

ARGUS, which would be attached to some kind of unmanned UAV (such as… read more

Mars One plans to establish human settlement on Mars in 2023

No return ticket
June 3, 2012

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Help wanted: astronaut. Must be willing to relocate to Mars — permanently. Hire date: 2013. Benefits: make history, start new planetary civilization, star in reality TV show. Apply to: Mars One.  

Netherlands-based Mars One hopes to establish the first human settlement on Mars in 2023. It has created a technical plan for this ambitious mission that is “as simple as possible” and says it has identified potentialread more

Huge Mars colony eyed by SpaceX founder Elon Musk

November 25, 2012

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Elon Musk, the billionaire founder and CEO of the private spaceflight company SpaceX, wants to help establish a Mars colony of up to 80,000 people by ferrying explorers there for perhaps $500,000 a trip, Space.com reports.

In Musk’s vision, the ambitious Mars settlement program would start with a pioneering group of fewer than 10 people.

Accompanying the founders of the new Marsread more

3D printing factory opens in New York City

October 20, 2012

(Credit: Shapeways)

Shapeways, a Netherlands-based online 3D printing company, has opened a “factory of the future” in Queens, New York that plans to house 50 high-resolution industrial 3D printers and print custom-designed products a year, Popular Science reports.

The company will allow customers to upload custom 3D designs, and then prints them using materials including acrylic, nylon, glass, gypsum, ceramic, and sandstone, and precious metals such as silver, and ships the… read more

Will AI replace judges and lawyers?

October 25, 2016

(credit: iStock)

An artificial intelligence method developed by University College London computer scientists and associates has predicted the judicial decisions of the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) with 79% accuracy, according to a paper published Monday, Oct. 24 in PeerJ Computer Science.

The method is the first to predict the outcomes of a major international court by automatically analyzing case text using a machine-learning algorithm.*

“We don’t… read more

Musk reveals Hyperloop concept

August 13, 2013

Hyperloop passenger transport

Elon Musk has published a blog post detailing the Hyperloop concept; a solar-powered, elevated transit system that could take passengers and cars from Los Angeles to San Francisco in 30 minutes.

Here are the core designs. Bloomberg has further details.

Vicarious AI breaks CAPTCHA ‘Turing test’

October 28, 2013

CAPTCHA - featured

Vicarious, a startup developing artificial intelligence software, today announced that its algorithms can now reliably solve modern CAPTCHAs (Completely Automated Public Turing tests to tell Computers and Humans Apart).

Stanford University researchers have suggested that a CAPTCHA scheme (which are used by websites to verify that a visitor is human by asking them to transcribe a string of distorted letters) should be considered “broken” if an algorithm… read more

A new — and reversible — cause of aging

NAD, a naturally produced compound in cells, rewinds aspects of age-related demise in mice
December 20, 2013

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Researchers have discovered a cause of aging in mammals that may be reversible: a series of molecular events that enable communication inside cells between the nucleus and mitochondria.

As communication breaks down, aging accelerates. By administering a molecule naturally produced by the human body, scientists restored the communication network in older mice. Subsequent tissue samples showed key biological hallmarks that were comparable to those of much younger animals.… read more

Email services close and destroy data rather than reveal files

August 11, 2013

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Lavabit, a Texas-based service that was reportedly used by Edward J. Snowden, announced the suspension of its service Thursday afternoon to avoid being “complicit in crimes against the American people,” The New York Times reports.

Within hours, a fast-growing Maryland-based start-up called Silent Circle also closed its e-mail service and destroyed its e-mail servers.

In effect, both businesses destroyed their assets — in part or in… read more

Uncommon features of Einstein’s brain might explain his remarkable cognitive abilities

November 23, 2012

Photographs of the left lateral surface of Einstein’s brain (credit: National Museum of Health and Medicine)

Portions of Albert Einstein’s brain have been found to be unlike those of most people and could be related to his extraordinary cognitive abilities, according to a new study led by Florida State University evolutionary anthropologist Dean Falk.

Falk and colleagues examined the entire cerebral cortex of Einstein’s brain based on 14 recently discovered photographs. The researchers compared Einstein’s brain to 85 “normal” human brains… read more

Can DARPA spark a DIY brain-scanning movement?

September 30, 2013

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A working prototype of a low-cost electroencephalography device funded by the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) made its debut in New York this weekend, the first step in the agency’s effort to jumpstart a do-it-yourself revolution in neuroscience, The Verge reports.

Dr. Bill Casebeer, a DARPA program manager, is hoping to spark a neuroscience fad within the maker movement. His goal is to return to… read more

Scientists see promise in deep-learning programs

November 27, 2012

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Using deep learning, an AI technique inspired by theories about how the brain recognizes patterns, technology companies are reporting startling gains in fields as diverse as computer vision, speech recognition and the identification of promising new molecules for designing drugs, The New York Times reports.

The advances have led to widespread enthusiasm among researchers who design software to perform human activities like seeing, listening and thinking. They offer… read more

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