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Robotics experts to debate ‘killer robots’ policies at UN

May 13, 2014

Crusher unmanned ground combat vehicle (credit: National Robotics Engineering Center of Carnegie Mellon University)

A leading robotics expert, Professor Noel Sharkey from the University of Sheffield’s Department of Computer Science, will speak to the United Nations in Geneva from May 13–16 to help global leaders understand the pros and cons of lethal autonomous weapons systems.

Sharkey is holding a debate with Professor Ronald Arkin from the Georgia Institute of Technology at the UN’s Convention of Certain Conventional Weapons (CCW) in Geneva to… read more

The UN fought the Internet — and the Internet won

December 14, 2012

Main Conference room at Day 4, WCIT 2012, Dubai, UAE (credit: ITU)

For the last two weeks some of the planet’s most oppressive regimes have faced off against some of the most powerful Internet advocates in an effort to rewrite a multilateral communications treaty that, if successful, could have changed the nature of the Internet and altered the way it is governed, Forbes reports.

On Thursday night that effort failed, as a U.S.-led block of dissenting countries refused to… read more

This is what Wall Street’s terrifying robot invasion looks like

August 8, 2012

hft_chart

This animated GIF chronicles the rise of the HFT Algo Machines from January 2007 through January 2012 (credit: Nanex Research, hosted by imgur.com)

Given the the endless mind-whirling acronyms, derivatives and structures of the financial markets, we’re rarely served with a visualization that so elegantly illustrates the arrival of Wall Street’s latest innovation.

This is what high frequency trading looks like, when specially… read more

Is a scientific definition of consciousness possible?

Consciousness arises from the mode in which billions of neurons communicate with one another, psychologists suggest
October 20, 2013

Parcellation of brain data into 194 cortical, subcortical and cerebellar ROIs.

UCLA psychologists have used brain-imaging techniques to study what happens to the human brain when it slips into unconsciousness.

Their research, published in the online open-access journal PLOS Computational Biology, is an initial step toward developing a scientific definition of consciousness, the researchers say.

“In terms of brain function, the difference between being conscious and unconscious is a bit like the difference between driving… read more

Billions and billions of planets

January 4, 2013

billions_of_planets

How many planets are in our galaxy?

Billions and billions of them at least. That’s the conclusion of a new study by astronomers at the California Institute of Technology, which provides yet more evidence that planetary systems are the cosmic norm.

The team made their estimate while analyzing planets orbiting a star called Kepler-32 — planets that are representative, they say, of the vast majority… read more

IBM to announce low-cost, more-powerful cloud-based Watson

November 14, 2013

IBM Watson computer

On Thursday, IBM will announce that Watson will be available to companies, academics and individual software developers as a cloud product that is “more than twice as powerful via the Internet … and at a small fraction of the previous cost,” The New York Times revealed Wednesday.

In October,  IBM announced that “organizations gaining competitive advantage through high cloud adoption are reporting almost double the revenue… read more

You don’t ‘own’ your own genes

All human genes are patented many times over.
March 28, 2013

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Court-proposed molecular points of distinction that allow claims on isolated DNA sequences. On the basis of two molecular changes (small circles) to a single phosphate and one hydroxyl group, the Federal Circuit court suggested that a new DNA fragment is patentable subject matter. (Credit: Genome Medicine)

Humans no longer “own” their own genes.

The more than 40,000 patents on DNA molecules have allowed companies to essentially claim the entire human genome for profit, report two researchers. Their study, published March 25 in the journal Genome Medicine, raises an alarm about the loss of individual “genomic liberty.”

The research team examined two types of patented DNA sequences: long and short fragments. They discovered… read more

Can Neanderthals be brought back from the dead?

January 22, 2013

400px-George_Church_at_TED

In a SPIEGEL interview, synthetic biology expert and Harvard University professor of genetics George Church explains how DNA will become the building material of the future — one that can help create virus-resistant human beings and possibly bring back lost species like the Neanderthal.

In his new book, “Regenesis: How Synthetic Biology Will Reinvent Nature and Ourselves,” which he has also… read more

Mars One design not feasible, MIT researchers find

October 15, 2014

The non-profit company Mars One plans to establish the first human settlement on Mars by 2025. Pictured is an artist's rendering of a series of habitats. Solar panels (in the foreground), would supply the colony's electricity, while a system to extract water from the soil (in the background) would supply drinking water. (Credit: Bryan Versteeg / Mars One)

MIT researchers have developed a detailed settlement-analysis tool to assess the feasibility of the Mars One plans to establish the first human colony on Mars by 2025,  finding that new technologies will be needed to keep humans alive on Mars.

Mars One —  considered by some to be essentially a Dutch-made reality TV show — claims that the entire mission can be built upon technologies that already… read more

‘Mind uploading’ featured in academic journal special issue for first time

June 26, 2012

uploading

The Special Issue on Mind Uploading (Vol. 4, issue 1, June 2012) of the International Journal of Machine Consciousness, just released, “constitutes a significant milestone in the history of mind uploading research: the first-ever collection of scientific and philosophical papers on the theme of mind uploading,” as Ben Goertzel and Matthew Ikle’ note in the Introduction to this issue.

“Mind uploading” is an informal term that refers to… read more

INFERNOS project: Maxwell’s Demon in nanoscale systems

October 11, 2013

infernos-project

The European INFERNOS (Information, fluctuations, and energy control in small systems) project aims to realize experimentally Maxwell’s Demon* by developing electronic and biomolecular nanodevices that support this principle.

Project partners met earlier this week at the Faculty of Physics of the University of Barcelona. The project is centered on considering information as a thermodynamic parameter.

Its ideas may be applied to different… read more

NSA scans 75% of the Internet

August 21, 2013

(Credit: iStockphoto)

The Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday the existence of several NSA programs that allow for far greater surveillance than the government has admitted to, and, importantly, detail how the government forces Internet service providers (ISPs) to hand over raw data, TechCrunch reports.

The programs have the ability to “reach roughly 75% of all U.S. Internet traffic,” according to the Journal, “including a wide array of… read more

Factory-grown meat is coming

February 29, 2012

Hamburger

Dr. Mark Post of Eindhoven University in the Netherlands hopes to produce meat in factoriesThe Economist reports.

He derives stem cells from cattle muscle,which are then multiplied a millionfold before they are put in Petri dishes and allowed to turn into muscle cells.

He plant to scale the process up by growing the cells on small spheres floating in tanks. Ultimately, he will use scaffolds made of… read more

The aliens would win

Five tips about aliens from ET searcher Seth Shostak
June 7, 2012

prometheus

Alien invasion is alive and well in Hollywood this season, given Men in Black III, Battleship, and Prometheus, which opens June 8 in the U.S., IEEE Spectrum Tech Talk reports.

Cue Seth Shostak, senior astronomer with the SETI Institute, who offers five points about aliens that don’t cut it in Hollywood:

1. Your great-great-grandma was probably not from outer space.read more

New NASA data challenges global warming theory

July 29, 2011

Particles in upper atmosphere slow down global warming, says NASA (credit: NASA)

NASA satellite data show the Earth’s atmosphere is allowing far more heat to be released into space than current computer models have predicted, according to a new study in the peer-reviewed science journal Remote Sensing.

Data from NASA’s Terra satellite shows that when the climate warms, Earth’s atmosphere is apparently more efficient at releasing energy to space than models used to forecast climate change have been programmed to… read more

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