June 1, 2012
Cash’s role is waning, as mobile, encryption, and other technologies let us plug directly into the digital economy, covered in an IEEE Spectrum special report on the future of money*. Here are a few excerpts….
The Biometric Wallet
A molecule, polyguanidine, that flips its arms like the slats on a Venetian blind might in future find uses in computer displays, computer memory, or even windows that become tinted at the flick of a switch.
A new European project using plastic fiber and off-the-shelf components could make optical networking so cheap and simple that in the future, anyone could install it, bringing ultra-high speed (1 to 10 gigabits/sec) telecom lines into every home.
THE US Department of Defense has revealed plans to develop a lie detector that can be used without the subject knowing they are being assessed.
The Remote Personnel Assessment (RPA) device will also be used to pinpoint fighters hiding in a combat zone, or even to spot signs of stress that might mark someone out as a terrorist or suicide bomber.
The Lifeboat Foundation is a nonprofit that seeks to protect people from some seriously catastrophic technology-related events. It funds research that would prevent a situation where technology has run amok, sort of like a pre-Fringe Unit.
The organization has a ton of areas that it’s looking into, ranging from artificial intelligence to asteroids. A particular interest for the group revolves around building shields and lots of them, such… read more
Robert X. Cringley predicts the coming demise of the landline telco monopolies from VoIP (voice over Internet) and Linux running on the latest generation of WiFi routers connected to local subscribers via a mesh network.
“The result is a system with economics with which a traditional local phone company simply can’t compete,” he says.
Researchers are building a miniature human liver on a silicon chip as a realistic model of the natural organ. Mass produced, such a chip could be a boon to companies developing drugs for hepatitis and other diseases, and for scientists investigating liver cancer and gene therapy and chemical firms testing the toxicity of new materials.
A cybernetic definition of “life” has been proposed by Bernard Korzeniewski of the Institute of Molecular Biology at Jagiellonian University in Kraków, Poland: “A network of inferior negative feedbacks subordinated to a superior positive feedback.”
In other words, life is a system that tries to regulate itself to preserve its identity. Uner this definition, ants, prions, and infertile humans are not alive, but parasitic DNA is, he says.
A tiny prototype robot that functions like a living creature is being developed that one day could be safely used to pinpoint diseases within the human body.
Called “Cyberplasm,” it will combine advanced microelectronics with latest research in biomimicry (technology inspired by nature). The aim is for Cyberplasm to have an electronic nervous system and “eye” and “nose” sensors derived from mammalian cells, as well as artificial… read more
Electronic Arts’ forthcoming Spore game will allow you to “create an world that is entirely yours: the creatures, the vehicles, the cities, the planets,” says designer Will Wright.
Those layers map onto different spatial scales that you advance through as you play: cell, creature, tribe, city, civilization and space.
As you work your way through the Spore levels, your creatures are automatically sent back to the central Spore… read more
Congress should invest $3 billion annually in understanding the biology of aging and how it predisposes us to a suite of costly diseases and disorders expressed at later ages, say a group of researchers led by S. Jay Olshansky, professor of epidemiology and biostatistics at the University of Illinois.
Drugs 1,000 times more potent than resveratrol, found in red wine, will be tested by Sirtris to treat diabetes.
The new drugs target an enzyme called SIRT1, which belongs to a class of proteins known as sirtuins that have been shown to lengthen life span in lower organisms, bringing the benefits of caloric restriction without the strict diet.
“As far as I’m aware, this is the first anti-aging… read more
Researchers at MIT’s Media Lab are trying to build computers that care about their users.
Affective computing proponents believe computers should be designed to recognize, express, and influence emotion in users.