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The consequences of machine intelligence

October 28, 2012

race_against_the_machine

In their 2011 book, Race Against The Machine: How the Digital Revolution is Accelerating Innovation, Driving Productivity, and Irreversibly Transforming Employment and the Economy, authors Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee argued that “technological progress is accelerating innovation even as it leaves many types of workers behind,” says Rice University professor of computational engineering Moshe Y. Vardi in The Atlantic.

“While the loss of millions of jobs over the past… read more

Unleash your inner Asimov

October 28, 2012

science_fiction_prototyping_book

Writing science-fiction stories about encounters with imaginary worlds and futuristic devices could have a decisive influence on innovation, G. Pascal Zachary, writer and professor at Arizona State University, suggests in IEEE Spectrum.

David Brian Johnson, Intel’s staff futurist, even insists in a recent book, Science Fiction Prototyping, that by writing stories about future products, engineers can do a better job of actually making them, he… read more

Seniors to robots: don’t get too familiar

October 29, 2012

robots_at_home

Seniors (ages 65 to 93 years) preferred robotic more than human help for chores such as cleaning the kitchen, doing laundry and taking out the trash, but not for help getting dressed, eating and bathing, or for social activities, a Georgia Institute of Technology study found.

“It seems that older people are less likely to trust a robot with decision-making tasks than with monitoring or physical assistance,” said… read more

Boeing missile zaps electronic devices in first test flight

October 29, 2012

Boeing

A recent weapons flight test in the Utah desert may change future warfare after the missile successfully defeated electronic targets with little to no collateral damage.

Boeing and the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) Directed Energy Directorate at Kirtland Air Force Base, N.M., successfully tested the Counter-electronics High-powered Microwave Advanced Missile Project (CHAMP) during a flight over the Utah Test and Training Range.… read more

Stimulating brain cells with light to combat Parkinson’s disease

October 29, 2012

kokaia_optogenetics

Lund University researchers plan to use optogenetics to stimulate neurons to release more dopamine to combat Parkinson’s disease.

Optogenetics allows scientists to control specific cells in the brain using light, leaving other cells unaffected.

To do this, the relevant cells are equipped with genes that express a special light-sensitive protein. The protein switches on cells when they are illuminated with light from a thin optic fiber… read more

Capturing more of the Sun’s energy to improve photovoltaic cells

October 29, 2012

SEM image of the four-layer antireflective coating on a silicon substrate (credit: Martin F. Schubert et al./Appl. Phys. Express)

Photovoltaic cell efficiency may soon get a big boost from new materials that capture more of the Sun’s energy.

Professor E. Fred Schubert, of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute‘s Department of Electrical, Computer, and Systems Engineering, is investigating new ways to achieve four-layer antireflection transparent thin-film materials that capture more of the Sun’s energy by achieving a low refractive index (how much light is bent).

These tunable-refractive-index materials are based on… read more

Given tablets but no teachers, Ethiopian children teach themselves

October 29, 2012

olpc_children

Earlier this year, OLPC workers dropped off closed boxes containing the tablets, taped shut, with no instruction. “I thought the kids would play with the boxes. Within four minutes, one kid not only opened the box, found the on-off switch … powered it up. Within five days, they were using 47 apps per child, per day.

Within two weeks, they were singing ABC songs in the village, and within five months, they had hacked Android,” Negroponte said. “Some idiot in our organization or in the Media Lab had disabled the camera, and they figured out the camera, and had hacked Android.” ….read more

Hidden world: molecules inside cells that grab DNA like rock climbers

October 29, 2012

oxford_molecular_machines

“Each machine functions in much the same way as a rock-climber clinging to a cliff face,” says Mark Leake of Oxford University’s Department of Physics.

“It has one end anchored to a portion of cellular DNA while the other end opens and closes randomly by using chemical energy stored in a ubiquitous bio-molecule called adenosine triphosphate (ATP), the universal molecular fuel for all living cells. …read more

Germany to tap brakes on high-speed trading

October 29, 2012

hft_chart

Germany is set to advance a bill Wednesday imposing a spate of new rules on high-frequency trading, escalating Europe’s sweeping response to concerns that speedy traders have brought instability to the markets.

The measure seeks to require traders to register with Germany’s Federal Financial Supervisory Authority, collect fees from those who use high-speed trading systems excessively, and force stock markets to install circuit breakers that can interrupt trading if… read more

Carbon nanotubes to replace silicon: IBM

October 29, 2012

IBM carbon nanotube: The substrate gets dipped in the carbon nanotube solution and the nanotubes attach via a chemical bond to the coating in the HfO2 trenches (credit: IBM)

IBM scientists have precisely placed and tested more than 10,000 carbon nanotube devices in a single chip, using standard semiconductor manufacturing processes — paving the way for carbon technology to replace silicon in future computing and allowing further miniaturization of computing components. The development promises to lead the way for future microelectronics, with controlled placement of individual nanotubes at a density of about a billion per square centimeter.… read more

How to identify and predict human activities from video

October 30, 2012

minds_eye_cmu

A video shows a woman carrying a box into a building.  Later, it shows her leaving the building without it. What was she doing?

Carnegie Mellon University’s (CMU) Mind’s Eye program is creating intelligent software that will recognize human activities in video and predict what might happen next. It will also flag unusual events and deduce actions that may be occurring off-camera.

Automating the time-consuming job of… read more

Detecting early-stage diseases with the naked eye

October 30, 2012

Simple test developed by Professor Stevens and her colleague (credit: Roberto de la Rica and Molly M. Stevens/Imperial College of London)

Imperial College London scientists have developed a prototype ultra-sensitive sensor that would enable doctors to detect the early stages of diseases and viruses with the naked eye.

The visual sensor technology is ten times more sensitive than the current gold-standard methods for measuring biomarkers. These indicate the onset of diseases such as prostate cancer and infection by viruses including HIV.

The researchers say their sensor… read more

Transcranial magnetic brain stimulation treats depression without affecting sleep

October 30, 2012

497px-NeuroStar_TMS_Therapy_System

While powerful transcanial magnetic stimulation (TMS) of the frontal lobe of the brain can alleviate symptoms of depression, those receiving the treatment did not report effects on sleep or arousal commonly seen with antidepressant medications, researchers have found.

“People’s sleep gets better as their depression improves, but the treatment doesn’t itself cause sedation or insomnia.” said Dr. Peter B. Rosenquist, Vice Chair of the Department of… read more

Titan supercomputer capable of 20 petaflops peak performance

October 30, 2012

Titan_ornl

The U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) has launched a new era of scientific supercomputing today with Titan, a system capable of more than 20,000 trillion calculations each second — or 20 petaflops — peak performance by employing a family of processors called graphic processing units (GPUs) first created for computer gaming.

Titan is now one of the world’s fastest supercomputers,… read more

Strengthening fragile forests of carbon nanotubes

October 31, 2012

A carbon-nanotube forest (credit: BYU)

 

Brigham Young University (BYU) researchers have created stronger microstructures that can form precise, tall and narrow 3-D shapes for microelectromechanical systems (MEMS).

MEMS are ultra-tiny devices, often built on the scale of microns (millionths of a meter). Conventional MEMS structures tend to be made out of silicon-based materials familiar to the micro-electronics industry, but this ignores a suite of useful materials such… read more

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