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The AI Report

June 23, 2009

Humanoid robots, passing the Turing test, unsupervised learning, and AI’s used to fight terrorism and a few of the topics in AI, robotics, and intelligence covered in this special section written by 22 experts.

Discovery opens the door to generating electricity from microbes

May 24, 2011

The molecular structure of the proteins that enable bacterial cells to transfer electrical charge has been discovered by scientists at the University of East Anglia.

The discovery means scientists can design electrodes with better contacts to pick up the charges generated by the microbes, creating efficient microbial fuel cells or “bio-batteries.” The advance could also help development of microbe-based agents that can clean up oil or uranium… read more

Surfaces have built-in ‘fingerprints’

July 29, 2005

The surfaces of most paper documents, plastic cards and cardboard packages contain unique “fingerprints” that could be used to combat fraud, according to physicists.

The fingerprint is contained in microscopic imperfections on the surface and can be read by a portable laser scanner. The results could eventually eliminate the need for expensive security measures — such as holograms, chips and special inks — on passports, identity cards and pharmaceutical… read more

2007 Turing Award Winners Announced

February 5, 2008

Recipients of the 2007 A.M. Turing Award were Edmund M. Clarke of the University of Texas, a professor at Carnegie Mellon University; E. Allen Emerson, and Joseph Sifakis, of the University of Grenoble.

They were awarded $250,000 for their work on model checking, an automated method for finding design errors in computer hardware and software.

Homeland Insecurity

August 16, 2002

Most of the security measures envisioned after September 11 will be ineffective, and some will make Americans less safe, says security guru Bruce Schneier.

Plans to merge hundreds of previously separate databases in the Department of Homeland Security may result in vulnerability to hackers, and plans to install biometric and other screening devices in airports without adequate supervision can result in identity theft and other problems, he believes.

Medicine’s New Toolbox

June 30, 2009

Induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells (adult cells genetically reprogrammed to act like embryonic stem cells) could capture the details of human disease with unprecedented accuracy and revolutionize the way researchers search for new treatments.

Because each cell line comes from a human patient, the cells reflect the complex array of factors that led to the patient’s disease: the genetic mutations, the effects of environmental history. And because those cells… read more

MIT computational puzzle still unsolved after more than a decade

May 30, 2011

MIT computer scientist Ron Rivest, one of the co-creators, along with Len Adelman and Adi Shamir, of the RSA encryption algorithm, created a “timelock” puzzle that has gone unsolved since 1999.

The puzzle is based on finding the remainder when one large number, 7.2 quadrillion digits long, is divided by another, over-600-digit-long, number. The calculation was designed to take 35 years, using the fastest computer… read more

Nanotechnology could lead to radical improvements for space exploration

August 9, 2005

Constantinos Mavroidis, director of the Computational Bionanorobotics Laboratory at Northeastern University in Boston, visualizes a kind of “spider’s web” of hair-thin tubes packed with bio-nanotech sensors across dozens of miles of terrain as a way to map the environment of some alien planet in great detail.

Another concept he proposes is a “second skin” for astronauts to wear under their spacesuits that would use bio-nanotech to sense and respond… read more

Fully Robotic Observatory Set Up In Antarctica

February 8, 2008

Scientists have installed a fully robotic observatory in Antarctica.

It will operate autonomously for up to 12 months at a time while sending back data via the Iridium satellite network.

A Theory of Evolution, for Robots

September 6, 2002

Scientists have designed a winged robot capable of learning flight techniques automatically with genetic algorithms. Its small motors allow it to manipulate its meter-long, balsa-wood wings in different directions. A computer program feeds the robot random instructions, which let it develop the concept of liftoff on its own.

Singularity University Presents “Humanity’s Grandest Challenges”

July 9, 2009

Singularity University has invited the public to a panel discussion on “grand challenges” in water, health, the environment, and energy on Thursday, July 9 at 7pm PT at NASA Ames Research Park.

* Moderator: Mr. Vijay Vaitheeswaran, Writer for The Economist, Author of “Zoom”
* Global Public Health: Dr. Larry Brilliant, President, Skoll Urgest Threats Funds
* Climate: Dr. Chris Field, Carnegie/Stanford, U.S. Rep… read more

Skin cancer treatment: biggest breakthrough in 30 years

June 6, 2011

Researchers at the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York and colleagues have shown that vemurafenib outperforms the most common chemotherapy drug for metastatic melanoma, dacarbazine.

The researchers compared the drugs on 672 patients with late stage, inoperable melanoma. They found that 48 per cent of those receiving vemurafenib responded to the treatment, while only 5 per cent of patients responded to dacarbazine. At 6 months, survival was 84… read more

Researchers creating life from scratch

August 21, 2005

A new breed of biologists is attempting to bring order to the hit-and-miss chaos of genetic engineering by bringing to biotechnology the same engineering strategies used to build computers, bridges and buildings.

Bacteria and nanofilters–the future of clean water technology

February 13, 2008

University of Nottingham researchers are using bacterial bioremediation in combination with membrane filtration techniques to improve water cleaning technology.

The bacteria eat contaminants present in water, which is then filtered through membranes with pore sizes of ten microns to one nanometer.

Current membrane technology decreases in efficiency over time, as membranes become fouled with contaminants. With bioremediation, the membranes are automatically cleaned. In addition, waste products can be… read more

Redmond center previews Microsoft’s vision for future office

September 27, 2002

Microsoft Corp. has unveiled the Center for Information Work, a permanent exhibit of office products and software that are at least five years away.

The future concepts include surround sound, copying or moving material between the computers by just pointing at them, and multimedia email, but Microsoft failed to address important security issues in the center. The future concepts include surround sound, copying or moving material between the computers… read more

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