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Reading ‘to go’ for blind people

June 22, 2006

The K-NFB, the latest product to be developed by inventor Ray Kurzweil, is a portable scanning device that reads text to visually impaired people.

It will help with ad-hoc reading of documents such as bills and receipts, instructions on food packaging or medication or emergency evacuation notices in hotels.

Ray Kurzweil is also inventor of the first print-to-speech reading machine for the blind and other landmark… read more

No sex please, robot, just clean the floor

June 21, 2006

An international team of scientists and academics plans to publish a “code of ethics” for machines as robots become smarter, faster, stronger and ubiquitous.

They have identified key areas that include ensuring human control of robots, preventing illegal use, protecting data acquired by robots, and establishing clear identification and traceability of the machines.

“Security, safety and sex are the big concerns,” said Henrik Christensen, a member of the… read more

‘Thirst for knowledge’ may be opium craving

June 21, 2006

Neuroscientists have proposed a simple explanation for the pleasure of grasping a new concept: The brain is getting its fix.

The “click” of comprehension triggers a biochemical cascade that rewards the brain with a shot of natural opium-like substances, said Irving Biederman of the University of Southern California.

Latest research supports possibility of cyropreservation

June 21, 2006

The latest research on water supports the possibility that cells, tissues and even the entire human body could be cyropreserved without formation of damaging ice crystals, according to University of Helsinki researcher Anatoli Bogdan in a paper scheduled for the July 6 issue of the ACS Journal of Physical Chemistry.

Bogdan’s experiments involved a form of water termed “glassy water,” or low-density amorphous ice (LDA), which is produced by… read more

Riken builds 1-petaflops supercomputer

June 21, 2006

Riken has developed a supercomputer that it says achieves maximum theoretical performance of 1 petaflops (1,000 teraflops).

Its theoretical performance is nearly three times that of the top-ranked BlueGene/L installed at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.

The MDGrape-3 is expected to facilitate simulation of proteins’ molecular connections in a bid to shrink the development time for new drug therapies. In a broader sense, MDGrape-3 is expected to accelerate the… read more

Microsoft fosters robotics

June 21, 2006

The new Microsoft Robotics Group has announced Microsoft Robotics Studio, a robotics software development platform
intended for use with a wide range of robots.

Features of the system include the ability to create three-dimensional computer models of robots, using real-world physics, letting developers see how the programs they make will work, before building the robot itself.

Nanowire Transistors Faster than Silicon

June 21, 2006

Researchers at Harvard University have shown that nanowire transistors can be at least four times speedier than conventional silicon devices.

The principal researcher, chemistry professor Charles Lieber, says this could lead to inexpensive, high-performance, flexible electronic circuitry for cell phones and displays. It could also save space and further increase speed, he says, by allowing memory, logic, and sensing layers to be assembled on the same chip.

How much do we need to know?

June 21, 2006

We should limit access to information and technologies that could put unprecedented power into the hands of malign individuals, says Bill Joy in the June 17 New Scientist magazine (subscription required).

“Rather than regulate things, we could price catastrophe into the cost of doing business,” he advises. “Right now, if you want approval for things, you go through a regulatory system. If we used insurance and actuaries… read more

Artificial Intelligence Turns 50

June 20, 2006

AI@50, a conference commemorating the golden anniversary of the field of artificial intelligence, will be held on July 13-15 at Dartmouth University.

Source: Dartmouth University news release

Record CCD image sensor has 111 million pixels

June 20, 2006

Dalsa Semiconductor has fabricated an image sensor with more than 111 million pixels. The company claims the 4 x 4-inch charge-coupled device, configured as 10,560 x 10,560 pixels, is the world’s highest-resolution image sensor and the first to break the 100 million-pixel barrier.

‘Silicon Velcro’ could make sticky chips

June 20, 2006

“Silicon Velcro”, an exotic form of silicon that can be stuck together and then peeled apart, has been developed by German researchers.

The material could be used to manufacture microprocessors and devices that manipulate fluids on microscopic scales.

DNA or RNA? Versatile Player Takes a Leading Role in Molecular Research

June 20, 2006

Regulatory RNA is turning out to be a major player in some of a cell’s most vital activities.

“Anything DNA can do, RNA can do better,” was the slogan on a slide shown by one biologist, Susan Gottesman of the National Cancer Institute, at a symposium at the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory on Long Island last week.

Scientists estimate that more than one-third of human genes are under… read more

Researchers Say New Chip Breaks Speed Record

June 20, 2006

Researchers at IBM and Georgia Institute of Technology have broken the speed record for silicon-based chips with a semiconductor that operates at 500 gigahertz — 250 times faster than chips commonly used today.

They achieved the speed milestone by “freezing” the chip to 451 degrees below zero Fahrenheit. At room temperature, the chips operate at 350 gigahertz.

Artificial Intelligence

June 20, 2006

Ray Kurzweil participated in the Washington Post’s “Beyond the Future” web chat on Monday, June 19 to answer questions about AI. A transcript is included.

Beyond the Future is a weeklong series of live Web chats with noted experts and Washington Post reporters examining the kinds of technological advancements the world could see in 20, 50 or even 100 years.

Related news on the subject can be found… read more

The New Human

June 19, 2006

By 2020, virtual reality will allow for a full-immersion sensual encounter involving all five senses, says Ray Kurzweil in “The New Human,” an interview in the July 2005 issue of Playboy.

“You’ll feel as though you’re really with that person…. The whole idea of what it means to have a sexual relationship will be different.

“Computers used to be remote: now they’re in our pockets,” says Kurzweil. Next,… read more

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