science + technology news

When Computers Attack

June 25, 2007

Robert Elder, commander of the Air Force Cyberspace Command, said his newly formed command, which defends military data, communications and control networks, is learning how to disable an opponent’s computer networks and crash its databases.

When Cash Is Only Skin Deep

December 1, 2003

Applied Digital Solutions has announced plans to develop a service that would allow consumers to pay for merchandise using microchips implanted under their skin. Micro-chipped customers would scan themselves using special readers.

When breakthroughs begin at home

January 17, 2012

diybio-revolution-hand_400x400px, an online hub for sharing ideas on DIYbio (do-it-yourself biology) has grown to more than 2,000 members since its inception.

One of the movement’s rallying points is Genspace, a nonprofit laboratory in Brooklyn that is open to members of the public, regardless of scientific background. Similar labs have sprouted in Boston and San Francisco.

Genspace has roughly a dozen members, and each pays $100 a… read more

When AI improves human performance instead of taking over

May 22, 2017

The game results show that placing slightly “noisy” bots in a central location (high-degree nodes) improve human coordination by reducing same-color neighbor nodes. Square nodes show the bots and round nodes show human players; red edges show color conflicts, which are reduced with bot participation. (credit: Hirokazu Shirado and Nicholas A. Christakis/Nature)

It’s not about artificial intelligence (AI) taking over — it’s about AI improving human performance, a new study by Yale University researchers has shown.

“Much of the current conversation about artificial intelligence has to do with whether AI is a substitute for human beings. We believe the conversation should be about AI as a complement to human beings,” said Nicholas Christakis, Yale Universityread more

When a light goes on during thought processes

October 2, 2008
Neuron action potentials can be recorded optically using a genetic calcium indicator that colors the cells in the brain of a living mouse. (Max Planck Institute for Medical Research)

Scientists at Max Planck Institute for Medical Research in Heidelberg have succeeded in optically detecting individual action potentials in the brains of living animals.

They introduced fluorescent indicator proteins into the brain cells of mice via viral gene vectors. The light indicates which neurons are communicating with each other.

When a Camcorder Becomes a Life Partner

November 8, 2010

Looxcie wearable camcorder (Looxcie)

Small, lightweight, hands-free cameras — worn on a headband, for example, or tucked over an ear — will record life’s memorable moments as they unfold.

The Looxcie ($199), a small wearable camcorder introduced recently, loops over the ear. The camera is built into a Bluetooth headset that streams 480 x 320 pixel digital images at 15 frames per second wirelessly to Android phones that use a free Looxcie app.… read more

Wheelchair moves at the speed of thought

July 24, 2003

A system that lets severely disabled people steer a wheelchair using only their thoughts is under development.

Using a skullcap with electrodes, it noninvasively monitors the electrical activity of the wearer’s brain. A neural network can be trained to recognize different mental states, currently: “turn left,” “turn right” and “move forward.”

Wheelchair Makes the Most of Brain Control

September 13, 2010


A robotic wheelchair that combines brain control via EEG with artificial intelligence to make it easier for people to maneuver it using only their thoughts has been developed by researchers at the Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne.

The approach, known as “shared control,” could help paralyzed people gain new mobility by turning crude brain signals into more complicated commands.

Patients don’t need to continuously instruct the… read more

What’s Missing From Our Cognitive Toolkit’?

January 20, 2011

(National Institute of Mental Health)

There’s a rich discussion of aspects of this question (proposed by Steven Pinker) on What scientific concept would improve everybody’s cognitive toolkit?

What’s wrong with the electric grid?

October 10, 2003

Experts widely agree that failures of the power-transmission system such as the recent Northeast United States blackout are a nearly unavoidable product of a collision between the physics of the system and the economic rules that now regulate it.

To avoid future incidents, the nation must either physically transform the system to accommodate the new rules, or change the rules to better mesh with the power grid’s physical behavior.

What’s the purpose of life?

May 15, 2002

Ray Kurzweil and Gregory Stock debated “BioFuture or MachineFuture?” at the recent Foresight meeting.

What’s Next?

June 11, 2002

Twelve scientists have predicted the next great inventions.
They include:

  • Ray Kurzweil: A three-dimensional molecular computer and a system for sending microscopic intelligent robots into the human bloodstream to fight pathogens, rebuild bodies, provide full-immersion VR and establish direct mental connections to the Internet.
  • Daniel Branagan, Department of Energy’s Idaho National Engineering and Environmental Laboratory: Nanotech alloys to create a new class of highly wear- and
  • read more

    What’s Next In Augmented Reality?

    October 21, 2009

    At this week’s International Symposium on Mixed and Augmented Reality, researchers will present systems designed to push the boundaries of AR–allowing users to interact with and manipulate virtual data, share real and virtual space with others, and see real time information around them.

    What’s next for the Internet

    July 5, 2007

    If you think of the World Wide Web as a cloud of largely undifferentiated information, the mission of Radar Networks is to take that cloud and impose order on it via the semantic Web — moving from Web 2.0 to Web 3.0.

    What’s next for NASA? 10 wild newly funded projects

    August 19, 2012


    What’s next for NASA now that Curiosity has touched down on Mars?

    For a sneak peek into what the space agency has in store, take a look at the 28 proposals for the NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts program, which gives out awards of $100,000 and $500,000 for ideas that have the potential to “transform future aerospace missions.”

    Here are 10 of the most fantastic projects that… read more

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