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The evolution of robot soccer

February 13, 2012

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“By mid-21st century, a team of fully autonomous humanoid robot soccer players shall win the soccer game, complying with the official rule[s] of the FIFA [Fédération Internationale de Football Association], against the winner of the most recent World Cup.”

This is the official goal of the RoboCup soccer competition, IEEE Spectrum Automaton reports.

The new version of Honda’s ASIMO kicks a soccer ball in… read more

The evolution of Web search

December 18, 2007

Integration of various kinds of content, speech recognition, and phone interfaces are among the coming new directions for Google search, says Google director of research and AI expert Peter Norvig.

The Evolution Will Be Mechanized

September 8, 2004

“A singularity looks great in special f/x, but is there any substance in the idea?” asks writer Bruce Sterling.

“When Vinge first posed the problem, he was concerned that the imminent eruption in artificial intelligence would lead to ubermenschen of unfathomable mental agility. More than a decade later, we still can’t say with any precision what intelligence is, much less how to build it. If you fail to define… read more

The evolutionary origins of optimism

June 13, 2012

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Positive feeling evolved to make us do critical tasks — but new findings suggest it can also help us live longer.

This article is an adapted excerpt from the new book Rainy Brain, Sunny Brain from Basic Books.

The function of our pleasure system is to entice us into doing things that are biologically good for us. This is why delicious food, especially in the company of… read more

The expanding electronic universe

December 6, 2005

The Dec. 1 issue of Nature looks at what wikis, blogs, digital libraries, Google Base, and other Internet technologies may mean for the future of scientific communication beyond the confines of scientific journals.

These tools offer fresh opportunities both before publication, when people are debating ideas and hypotheses, and after, when they are finding and discussing published results. They also provide scientists with exciting new possibilities for communicating with… read more

The Expert Mind

August 16, 2006

Studies of the mental processes of chess grandmasters have revealed clues to how people become experts in other fields as well.

The Extraordinary Tale of Red Rain, Comets and Extraterrestrials

September 1, 2010

Optical microscope images of red cells: (A) red cells before autoclaving (400x): cells evenly dispersed in the rain water. (B) red cells after 1 hour incubation at 121oC (1000x).(C) after 2 hour incubation at 121oC (1000x).

For years, claims have circulated that red rain that fell in India in 2001 contained cells unlike any found on Earth. Now new evidence that these cells can reproduce is about to set the debate alive.

“The flourescence behaviour of the red cells is shown to be in remarkable correspondence with the extended red emission observed in the Red Rectangle planetary nebula and other galactic and extragalactic… read more

The Eyes Have It — For Now

November 6, 2002

Even as homeowners gleefully wire up their homes with inexpensive Web cams, even as employers put up closed-circuit TV and cities install surveillance equipment on everything from traffic intersections to school buses, a small group of skeptics is beginning to question the effects of all this technology. They ask: Will you trust your neighbor in the 21st century? Or in putting up a security camera — just to make sure… read more

The Faculty Is Remote, but Not Detached

March 10, 2008

College instructors are increasingly using online distance learning tools such as streaming video that remote students can view online, virtual worlds, and Web forums.

Nearly 3.5 million students were taking online courses in the fall of 2006, and more than two-thirds of all higher-education institutions have online offerings in some form.

The Fantasy and Reality of 2004

December 30, 2003

Experts say what they’d like to see happen in 2004 and what they think will happen.

Howard Rheingold, author and virtual community pioneer:

“I wish an interdisciplinary investigation (PDF) of human cooperation and collective action would begin to emerge in 2004, bringing together scientists, scholars and practitioners in self-organizing Internet politics, peer-to-peer computation, the sociology of managing common pool resources, the economics of open-source production, the… read more

The Fastest Net Yet

September 26, 2005

Ultrafast broadband services from phone and cable companies could speed up your downloads to 15 megabits per second or more by replacing copper cables with fiber-optic lines.

The Father of Quantum Computing

February 15, 2007

“The watershed moment with quantum computer technology will be when a quantum computer — a universal quantum computer — exceeds about 100 to 200 qubits,” according to Oxford University theoretical physicist David Deutsch. In practice, “that probably means several hundred, or perhaps 1,000 or more, physical qubits.”

He said the most important applications of quantum computing in the future are likely to be a computer simulation of quantum systems,… read more

The Feel of Cancer Cells

December 4, 2007
Using the sharp point of an atomic-force microscope, UCLA researchers apply pressure to living cancer cells taken from patients (Sarah Cross and James K. Gimzewski, UCLA)

UCLA researchers are using atomic-force microscopy to probe the surface of cancer cells in an attempt to improve diagnostic accuracy.

Cancer cells found in samples they studied were much softer than normal cells.

The Fight Over NASA’s Future

December 30, 2008

Contentious issues on the future of the U.S. space program have become a focus of the members of the presidential transition team dealing with NASA, and the space program could undergo a transformation after Barack Obama takes office.

The Fight to Control Your Mind

April 2, 2003

Should the government have the right to alter the biochemistry of your brain? Richard Glen Boire, codirector and legal counsel of the Center for Cognitive Liberty and Ethics, says no, and he’s making his case before the Supreme Court.

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