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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

Massive clash of black holes raises astronomers’ hopes of witnessing gravitational waves

What do the rhythmic flashes of light coming from quasar PG 1302-102 mean?
September 18, 2015

Artist’s conception of a converging supermassive black holes in the Virgo constellation (credit: P. Marenfeld/NOAO/AURA/NSF)

Circling like prizefighters in a ring, a pair of supermassive black holes is heading toward an epic collision. One so powerful it would send a burst of gravitational waves surging through and distorting the very fabric of space-time.

Already, the intensity of the encounter is causing mysterious rhythmic flashes of light coming from quasar PG 1302-102 — 3.5 billion light-years away in the Virgo constellation.

“This is the… read more

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

June 26, 2012


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

Can Neanderthals be brought back from the dead?

January 22, 2013


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

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

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

Don’t fear the Cybermind

August 6, 2012

(credit: Christine Daniloff)

The line that separates my mind from the Internet is getting blurry, Harvard professor of psychology Daniel M. Wegner writes in the New York Times Sunday Review.

“This has been happening ever since I realized how often it feels as though I know something just because I can find it with Google. Technically, of course, I don’t know it. But when there’s a smartphone or… read more

Tesla plans self-driving ‘autopilot’ Model S feature via software update this summer

Car is "sophisticated computer on wheels," says Musk
March 19, 2015

Model S (credit: Tesla Motors)

A software update will give Tesla Model S cars the ability to start driving themselves in “autopilot” mode on “major roads” like highways this summer, Tesla Motors chief executive Elon Musk announced today (March 19).

He also said Tesla had been testing its autopilot mode on a route from San Francisco to Seattle, largely unassisted, and that the cars will be able to park themselves in a private garage… read more

When will a computer pass the Turing Test?

An interview with Eric Schmidt, Executive Chairman, Google
August 14, 2013


“Many people in AI believe that we’re close to [a computer passing the Turing Test] within the next five years,” said Eric Schmidt, Executive Chairman, Google, speaking at The Aspen Institute on July 16, 2013.

In a wide-ranging interview by writer/biographer Walter Isaacson, president and CEO of the Aspen Institute, Schmidt covered topics ranging from future user interfaces (“the next UI is AI”) to phone-based medical… read more

Chinese astronauts may grow vegetables on the Moon

December 6, 2012


Chinese astronauts may get fresh vegetables and oxygen supplies by gardening in extraterrestrial bases in the future, according to Deng Yibing, deputy director of the Beijing-based Chinese Astronaut Research and Training Center, Xinhua News reports.

Yibing said the experiment focused on a dynamic balanced mechanism of oxygen, carbon dioxide, and water between people and plants in a closed system.

According to Deng, a cabin of 300 cubic meters… read more

The aliens would win

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


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 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

$5 million grant to study immortality

John Templeton Foundation grant to UC Riverside philosopher John Fischer will fund research
August 3, 2012


The John Templeton Foundation has awarded a three-year, $5 million grant  to John Martin Fischer, distinguished professor of philosophy at the University of California, Riverside, to undertake a rigorous examination of a wide range of issues related to immortality.

“People have been thinking about immortality throughout history. We have a deep human need to figure out what happens to us after death,”… read more

Big Bang or Big Chill? The ‘Quantum Graphity’ theory

August 21, 2012

Is this the hidden granular structure from lensing-like effects? (Credit: James Q. Quach et al./

The start of the Universe should be modeled not as a Big Bang but more like water freezing into ice, according to a team of theoretical physicists at the University of Melbourne and RMIT University.

They suggest that by investigating the cracks and crevices common to all crystals — including ice — our understanding of the nature of the Universe could be revolutionized.

Hidden patternsread more

New self-driving car system tested on UK roads

February 20, 2013

Self-driving RobotCar

Scientists at Oxford University have developed a self-driving car that can cope with snow, rain and other weather conditions. The system can be fitted to existing cars and could one day cost just £100 (US$150), The Guardian reports.

The new system has been installed in a Nissan Leaf electric car and tested on private roads around the university. It will halt for pedestrians, and could take over… read more

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