science + technology news

Artificial Intelligence for the New Millennium

June 30, 2001

For those wondering when artificial intelligence will truly take root, here’s a bulletin: it already has.

The “A.I.” movie might awaken venture capitalists to the commercial potential of research projects in controversial areas like the emotional dimensions of machine intelligence. The film asks what would become of a childlike robot programmed to love a human mother. Researchers said “A.I.” could build support for today’s more mundane goals of using… read more

Ultrafast Electron Spin Manipulation Allows for High-speed Quantum Computing

June 29, 2001

A new way to change quantum spin states on ultrafast time scales (femtoseconds) by manipulating electron spins could pave the way for all-optical quantum computation in solids by loosening the stringent requirements on coherence times.

Researchers at the University of California at Santa Barbara used 10-13 second pulses of laser light to “tip” the spin alignment of the electrons.

The results were published in the June… read more

Cinema’s computers and robots still think like people

June 29, 2001

Hollywood’s robots and computers still think like humans, whether they are playing Gandhi or Hitler. In reality, would they not think quite differently from us —- as aliens, in fact?

Only one film has ventured down this route and it comes from Russia, Andrei Tarkovsky’s “Solaris” (1972). Based on a novel by a Polish sci-fi writer, Stanislaw Lem, it imagines a world with a mind of its own that… read more

Congress Hears Military Nanotech Plans

June 29, 2001

Nanotechnology promises immense gains for the Department of Defense, especially in computers, materials and propulsion, but its benefits are still decades away and likely to be difficult and costly to mass produce, lawmakers were told Tuesday.

DoD plans call for developing advanced materials for embedded computing, composites and so-called “smart materials.” DARPA uses nanotechnology and micro-electromechanical systems or MEMS for a range of purposes. Researchers are developing so-called biofluidic… read more

Blood cells turn cancer killers

June 28, 2001

Lifesaving drugs might soon be dispatched with pinpoint accuracy to diseased organs by using a patient’s own red blood cells as drug-carrying torpedoes.

The drug is released precisely where it is needed by focusing ultrasound on the diseased tissue to make the blood cells — which have been exposed to a pulsed electric field and infused with the drug — burst open. This should allow potent drugs such as… read more

Measuring performance in virtual environments

June 28, 2001

Scientists are beginning to measure how humans perform in virtual environments, including gender-based differences, and how some virtual environments may favor individual aptitudes or learning styles.

People’s perceptions of distance, space and movement are often exaggerated or altered in computer simulations.

A.I.: Unraveling the Mysteries

June 28, 2001

Kubrick diehards have been playing an educated guessing game about A.I. … And in recent months, a younger, more Web-savvy set has been engaged in an elaborate interactive game that’s actually a marketing effort for the movie ….

Uploading Life: Send Your Personality to Space

June 28, 2001

The gradual merging of human beings with their computers over the next century gives rise to the prospect of interstellar immortality, said William Sims Bainbridge at a recent George Washington University Space Policy Institute symposium.

Cognitive neural science, genetic engineering, nanotechnology and information systems may allow the founding of a cosmic civilization, a possibility that does not require flying living human bodies and all the necessities of life to… read more

IBM announces world’s fastest silicon-based transistor

June 25, 2001

IBM has built the world’s fastest silicon-based transistor, operating at 210 GHz while drawing just 1 mA of current. This represents an 80 percent performance improvement and a 50 percent reduction in power consumption over current designs, claims IBM.

IBM expects the new technology will result in communications chips at speeds of 100 GHz within two years — five times faster and four years sooner… read more

NASA JPL webcast timed for A.I. movie release

June 22, 2001

NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory scientists will discuss AI research in a live webcast on June 29 at 11 a.m. Pacific Time.

The webcast will focus on rover autonomy, machines with human vision capability, and AI software.

NASA scientists envision a future colony of robots exploring a planet’s surface. A whole fleet of ground rovers, aerovers with flying ability and burrowing, worm-like probes may make up a… read more

Scientists Take Step Toward Single-Molecule Switches

June 22, 2001
Single molecule in ON and OFF states

Computers of the future may have components that function based on the action of single molecules, according to a paper by researchers at Penn State and Rice University published in the June 22 edition of Science.

Conformational changes — which happen when molecules alter their arrangement by rotation of their atoms around a single bond, effectively changing shape by moving or turning — determine how and when… read more

Should nanotech research be halted?

June 22, 2001

Ethical questions need to be asked now before we enter the brave new nanoworld, says Bill Joy.

Nanotechnology and information technology developments raise ethical issues regarding protecting intellectual property, privacy, moral rights and responsibilities of machines; and blur the distinction between “real” and “virtual” reality, points out

Space Medicine Gets Smart

June 22, 2001

Smart medical devices that help astronauts handle emergencies such as electrical burns will become part of the International Space Station perhaps as early as next month.

Further down the road, astronauts in trouble may also rely on “virtual clinics” on earth for in-depth medical assistance, which could also be used to help people on the ground in isolated places with no doctor nearby.

If an astronaut were to… read more

Military Game Simulations Add Emotional Realism

June 21, 2001

The U.S. Army is adding emotional realism to its battlefield computer simulations, using sophisticated computer animation, voice synthesis, voice recognition, and surround theater sound in research at the University of Southern California, under a $45 million Army grant.

The exercise illustrates the latest challenge among researchers: to focus on the more unpredictable side of the human psyche, simulating emotions and the unexpected effects that panic, stress, anxiety and fear… read more

New biological weapons possible

June 20, 2001

Genetic research is opening the door for a new range of biological weapons, University of Bradford Professor Malcolm Dando plans to tell the Global Forum for Law Enforcement and National Security in Edinburgh Thursday.

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