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The Coming Wave of Gadgets That Listen and Obey

January 27, 2008

Devices that incorporate speech recognition are starting to hit the mass market in cellphone and other non-desktop-computer locations.

The Coming Wireless Revolution

November 14, 2008

Within the next couple of years, high-bandwidth (tens of megabits per second), far-reaching wireless Internet signals will soon blanket the nation, thanks to a decision by the FCC last week to allow use of megahertz frequency bands that were previously allocated to television broadcasters.

The company that spooked the world

August 6, 2012


The “Cyber Security Evaluation Centre” set up in England by Huawei, a Chinese telecom giant, in 2010 marks a new way of persuading purchasers, and the British government, that equipment from the manufacturer that runs it can be trusted, The Economist reports.

It operates in close cooperation with GCHQ, Britain’s signals-intelligence agency. Its security-cleared staff, some of whom used to work for GCHQ, are responsible… read more

The Complete Guide to Googlemania!

February 25, 2004

They named their new search engine Google, for the biggest number they could imagine. But it wasn’t big enough. Today Google’s a library, an almanac, a settler of bets. It’s a parlor game, a dating service, a shopping mall. It’s a Microsoft rival. It’s a verb. At more than 200 million requests a day, it is, by far, the world’s biggest search engine. And now, on the eve of a… read more

The Computational Universe

July 4, 2006

The universe can be viewed as a giant quantum computer made up of connected quantum gates that flip quantum bits and thereby propagate information and uncertainty, says Seth Lloyd in a new book, Programming The Universe.

The “ultimate laptop” (one with 1 kilogram of mass and 1 liter of volume) would have a maximum of 1051 operations per second on 1032 bits, but would be roughly 100 times hotter… read more

The Computer at Nature’s Core

February 10, 2004

The computational worldview — that the universe itself is governed by the laws of computation and is, in fact, a computer — is the death of the notion that technology is applied science.

If both the physical universe and the biological world are best understood in terms of information and computation, it no longer makes sense to think that technology results from an application of science. Indeed, if computation… read more

The computing trend that will change everything

April 10, 2012


The electrical efficiency of computing (the number of computations that can be completed per kilowatt-hour of electricity used) has doubled every year and a half since the dawn of the computer age.

The power needed to perform a task requiring a fixed number of computations will continue to fall by half every 1.5 years (or a factor of 100 every decade). As a result, even smaller and less power-intensive computing devices… read more

The consequences of machine intelligence

October 28, 2012


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

The Consumer Genetic Testing Industry Strikes Back

July 27, 2010

Last Thursday, the Government Accountability Office presented Congress with a damning report on the consumer genetic testing industry, concluding many tests are “misleading and of little or no practical use.” Company leaders and some geneticists, responding via blog and twitter, have called the report one-sided and unscientific, citing concern it will do irreparable harm to the nascent industry.

One of the main criticisms is that the GAO did… read more

The cosmic web unveiled: observing ‘dim matter’ in 3D

May 1, 2014


Caltech astronomers have taken unprecedented 3D images of the intergalactic medium (IGM) — the diffuse gas that connects galaxies throughout the universe, proving that the speculated “dim matter” of the universe exists.

Theoreticians have predicted since the 1980s that primordial gas from the Big Bang is not spread uniformly throughout space, but is instead distributed in channels that span galaxies and flow between them. This “cosmic web” —… read more

The cosmological supercomputer

How the Bolshoi simulation evolves the universe all over again
October 3, 2012


Most of the ordinary matter in the universe — the stuff that makes up all the atoms, stars, and galaxies astronomers can see — is invisible, either sprinkled throughout intergalactic space in tenuous forms that emit and absorb little light or else swaddled inside galaxies in murky clouds of dust and gas, Joel R. Primack writes in IEEE Spectrum.

When astronomers look out into the night… read more

The cost of bin Laden: $3 trillion over 15 years

May 17, 2011

By conservative estimates, bin Laden cost the United States at least $3 trillion over the past 15 years, counting the disruptions he wrought on the domestic economy, the wars and heightened security triggered by the terrorist attacks he engineered, and the direct efforts to hunt him down.

Certainly, in the course of the fight against bin Laden, the United States escaped another truly catastrophic attack on our soil. Al-Qaida,… read more

The Creativity Crisis

July 12, 2010

American creativity scores have been falling since 1990, College of William & Mary researchers have discovered.

One likely culprit is the number of hours kids now spend in front of the TV and playing videogames rather than engaging in creative activities. Another is the lack of creativity development in our schools.

Meanwhile, other countries — in Europe and China especially — are making creativity development a national priority.… read more

The Crowd Is Wise (When It’s Focused)

July 20, 2009

Open-innovation models succeed only when carefully designed for a particular task and when the incentives are tailored to attract the most effective collaborators, say collective-intelligence experts.

The cultural genome: Google Books reveals traces of fame, censorship and changing languages

December 20, 2010


Harvard University researchers have been analyzing the more than 15 million books scanned by Google, which created a massive electronic library that represents 12% of all the books ever published.

As the team says, the corpus “will furnish a great cache of bones from which to reconstruct the skeleton of a new science.”

There are strong parallels to the completion of the human genome. Just as that… read more

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