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The 50 Best Robots Ever

December 27, 2005

They’re exploring the deep sea and distant planets. They’re saving lives in the operating room and on the battlefield. They’re transforming factory floors and filmmaking….

The 50 Greatest Gadgets of the Past 50 Years

December 25, 2005

PC World’s list of the top tech gadgets of the last half century, rated by “usefulness, design, degree of innovation, and influence on subsequent gadgets, as well the ‘cool factor,’” includes Sony Walkman (1979), Apple iPod (2001), and a tie between ReplayTV RTV2001 and TiVo HDR110 (1999) — the top three.

Other cool items include iRobot Roomba Intelligent Floorvac (2002), Sharp Wizard OZ-7000 (1989), and MITS Altair 8800 (1975).

The 70 Online Databases that Define Our Planet

December 6, 2010

Researchers want to create the “Living Earth Simulator” to mine economic, environmental and health data to create a model of the entire planet in real time. But one of the dangers from such an approach is that any ethical issues are likely to be swamped by this tidal wave of numbers.

The idea is to exploit the huge amounts of data generated by financial markets, health records, social media… read more

The $75 Future Computer

December 23, 2009


The XO-3, an upgrade in 2012 to the XO computer from One Laptop Per Child (OLPC), hopes to be an all-plastic, waterproof tablet PC with 8-gigaherz processor, virtual keyhboard, and camera, half the thickness of an iPhone, and using less than a watt of power, all for $75.

The 7th Annual Year In ideas

December 10, 2007

The Times’ 70 best ideas of 2007 include Wireless Energy, Wave Energy, Crowdware, Wikiscanning, and The Best Way to Deflect an Asteroid.

The A.I. Revolution Is On

December 28, 2010

The fruits of the AI revolution are now all around us, but today’s AI bears little resemblance to its initial conception. Once researchers were freed from the burden of building a whole mind, they could construct a rich bestiary of digital fauna, which few would dispute possess something approaching intelligence.

AI is so crucial to some systems—like the financial infrastructure—that getting rid of it would be a lot harder… read more

The Afterlife Is Expensive for Digital Movies

December 25, 2007

Storing digital data for a movie produced using all-electronic processes costs $208,569 a year, vs. the $486 it costs for film, audio recordings, on-set photographs and annotated scripts, according to a study of digital archivng by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

In addition, digital media have a limited life and formats are rapidly becoming obsolete.

The Age of Assisted Cognition

August 16, 2002

Researchers are developing AI and pervasive-systems technology that can adapt to elder patients’ changing needs and respond quickly in moments of agitation and distress, based on patient data gathered by sensors placed throughout an eldercare facility.

Examples include a “gesture pendant” that can detect Parkinson’s Disease or side effects from medication; tracking elderly guests’ movements in a pervasive environment that includes electronic badges, infrared detectors and load-sensing beds; a… read more

The age of big data

February 12, 2012

Welcome to the Age of Big Data — advancing trends in technology that open the door to a new approach to understanding the world and making decisions.

Data is doubling every two years, estimates IDC.

The computer tools for gleaning knowledge and insights from the Internet era’s vast trove of unstructured data are fast gaining ground. At the forefront: the rapidly advancing techniques of AI, like natural-language processing,… read more

The age of enhancement

March 5, 2013


Technology is starting to give us superpowers once reserved for comic-book heroes, Slate reports.

Human enhancement is happening all the time, largely through incremental improvements on existing technologies.

Wearable technology is taking off. Muscle suits are starting to look more plausible. The military is working on “Spider-Man suits” that let the wearer scale vertical walls.

Devices that interact directly… read more

The AI Chasers

February 7, 2008

MIT roboticist Rodney Brooks, Adaptive A.I. Inc. founder Peter Voss, Self-Aware Systems founder Steve Omohundro, Powerset CEO Barney Pell, and Google research director Peter Norvig discuss how they see AI developing in the years ahead, when a human-level AI might emerge, and how worried we should be about that whole killer-robot-goes-on-rampage scenario, in these interviews accompaning a cover story in The Futurist.

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.

The aliens would win

Five tips about aliens from ET searcher Seth Shostak
June 7, 2012


Alien invasion is alive and well in Hollywood this season, given Men in Black III, Battleship, and Prometheus, which opens June 8 in the U.S., IEEE Spectrum Tech Talk reports.

Cue Seth Shostak, senior astronomer with the SETI Institute, who offers five points about aliens that don’t cut it in Hollywood:

1. Your great-great-grandma was probably not from outer more

The Altered Human Is Already Here

April 6, 2004

Technologically altered human beings are making a leap into the posthuman future, using biochemical, proton-pump inhibitors, serotonin boosters and other drugs — a social change on the same order as the advent of computers, but one taking place inside the human body.

There is now almost no bodily system that cannot be adjusted by drugs. Blood, respiration, the nervous system, hormonal regulation, muscles and bones, the cardiovascular system, reproduction,… read more

The amazing trajectories of life-bearing meteorites from Earth

April 12, 2012


The asteroid that killed the dinosaurs 65 million years ago (10 km in diameter, mass greater than 1 trillion tons) must have ejected billions of tons of life-bearing meteorites into space. Now Kyoto Sangyo University physicists have calculated this could have seeded life in the solar system and even as far as Gliese 581,  Technology Review Physics arXiv Blog reports.

Their results contain a number of surprises:

  • As

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