Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Brian Malow on the Singularity

Elizer Yudkowsky and Jaron Lanier Discuss AI

Bloggingheads.tv has an interesting conversation between Eliezer Yudkowsky (Singularity Institute, Less Wrong) and Jaron Lanier (Microsoft Corp., University of California-Berkeley, Jaronlanier.com).  The video is embedded below. 

Autonomous City States on the Ocean

According to the Seasteading Institute, their mission is to further the establishment and growth of permanent, autonomous ocean communities, enabling innovation with new political and social systems. Seasteading is the concept of creating permanent dwellings at sea, called seasteads, outside the territory claimed by the government of any standing nation.

The Seasteading Institute was founded in 2008 by activist, software engineer and political economic theorist Patri Friedman, grandson of Nobel Prize winning economist Milton Friedman, and technology entrepreneur, investor and Philanthropist Peter Thiel.

Access Windows on Your iPad with OnLive Desktop

People love iPads. There’s no question. But when you’re on the go with work and a file needs editing—or creating—it’s hard to feel free to leave your computer behind. At least, that’s how it has been.

But starting this Thursday, life is going to change.

OnLive has just re-imagined what’s possible on iPad with the OnLive Desktop app, available Thursday in the iTunes App Store. Launching a brand-new chapter for OnLive (and everyone), OnLive Desktop gives users instant access to a seamless Windows desktop experience, with full-featured Microsoft Office applications and 2 GB of free cloud storage for secure file access anywhere. Need to edit a Word doc with redlines and comments? No problem. Need to give some oomph to that PowerPoint deck for your meeting? Go for it: present animations and slide transitions, edit diagrams and embed videos. Desperate for a pivot table in Excel? Pivot away … Anything you can do on your office desktop, you will be able to do on your iPad—at home, in your hotel, anywhere.

Boy With Blue Night-Vision Eyes Found in China

Nong Youhui from China has the strange ability which allows him to see perfectly in the dark. Not only has that, his blue eyes glow in the darkness like those of a cat. The father of the boy noticed that his son’s eyes glowed in the dark. So he went to a hospital in Dahua, Southern China for consultation. After examining the wonder kid Nong Youhui, ­doctors were surprised with his exceptional feature.

Born in the Chinese region of Guangxi, Nong Youhui can read in complete darkness and sees as clearly as most people do during the day. He is also known or nicknamed as ‘Cat Boy’ due to this anomaly.

State of the Art 3D Printing

During his PhD in Evolutionary Robotics, Siavash Mahdavi developed software that was able to design complex lattice structures which could be manufactured through additive manufacturing (more commonly known as rapid prototyping or 3D Printing).

Mahdavi established Within Technologies, a software house that specialises in the development of software for the medical and aerospace industries in 2008. This technology has been used in the aerospace sector to design lightweight yet strong components while in the medical sector, other software has resulted in the design and manufacture of complex porous structures that are ideally suited to bone in-growth into orthopedic implants.

The Robotic Inventory Revolution

Next time you order a book from Amazon, or shoes from Zappos, consider that you items were probably handled at one point by a robot.  Warehouses run by Gap, as well as Zappos and Staples now use autonomous robots to pluck products from their shelves and send them to you.

The leader in warehouse robotics is Kiva Systems, but now a new competitor, Symbotic is ready to enter the market.  How is Symbotic different from Kiva Systems, the better-known warehouse robotics company? Kiva's short, squat bots typically move big racks of open boxes to an order-picker who removes individual items and then packs them into a box that'll be sent to a customer. One example would be filling a box with three different pairs of shoes for a Zappos.com order. Symbotic, on the other hand, builds short, squat bots that grab closed boxes of merchandise and bring them to another robot (made by a third-party vendor) that puts them onto wooden pallets, at which point they're loaded onto a truck and sent to a retail store. Kiva's bots help to fill boxes full of items, and Symbotics' bots build pallets stacked with boxes.

Transhumanism's Alternate Views

Source: www.jameslyonsart.com/
At 33rd Square, we specifically present a positive view to Transhumanism and the Singularity.  We find that exponential technological progress is leading humanity to a new world that will be dramatically different, and better.  Scientific and technological progress has the potential for promise and peril according to Ray Kurzweil, but we remain confident that recognizing the impacts before they happen and actively working to make the systems beneficial is the best path.  Some examples of this work are Ben Goertzel's push to create 'Friendly AI' and conferences that are being organized to define the legal and ethical systems for artificial intelligence systems and robots.

There are however interesting alternate views on the rise of exponential technology.  Most of these critics find technological progress underlies some nefarious underlying motives of elites, conspiracy cabals, or even the Devil himself.

Monday, January 30, 2012

WiGig Allows for Full DVD Wireless Transfer in Under One Minute

Panasonic has developed a prototype system, in which WiGig is embedded in a tablet that can wirelessly transmit data.  WiGig, a multi-gigabit speed wireless communications technology, was first announced back in 2009, but it’s taking companies like Panasonic quite a while to come up with applications that make use of it. Via WiGig, devices can communicate with each other at multi-gigabit speeds using the 60 GHz frequency band. like photos or videos to displays mounted in the passenger seats of a car. That car has to be nearby: while Wi-Fi typically has a transmission range of about 30m, WiGig’s range is just 1-3m (Bluetooth: around 10m).

It's now got a working prototype and DigInfo has managed to grab a brief video demo (embedded below) showing the technology. Both photos and videos can be effortlessly pinged from a tablet (housing the aforementioned memory card) to compatible in-car displays. We're told that those heady transfer speeds are more than capable of handling a whole DVD of video content in under a minute, although the range of the transmission remains between one to three meters. The use-case for in-the-car therefore makes a lot of sense.  Once self-driving cars are on the road, what else will we have to do between destinations?

The Verge Visits Microsoft Edison Lab

Microsoft's working on some wild technology in its Redmond labs, and The Verge's Joshua Topolsky recently toured the facilities to see the latest innovations. Today they are sharing a mind-bending look at a suite of technologies that Microsoft is developing in order to create a holodeck-like experience.

Stevie Bathiche, director of research at Microsoft's applied sciences lab, says to "imagine a day where in your home, one wall is dedicated to being your magic wall. A wall where it can teleport you to another world without really going anywhere." Bathiche shows off a number of systems that aim to accomplish this vision, including a system that projects LED light to detect a human being's movements in space, and a glasses-free stereoscopic display that can be "steered" by the viewer as they move.

Longevity Extended in Mice Again

Researchers have long known that the amount of fat mass of an organism is emerging as key determinant in longevity. Too little or too much fat is associated with early mortality in rodents and humans, whereas leanness, intermediate with respect to these two extremes is associated with relative longevity, possibly reflecting an optimal amount of fat.  Now scientists have found a gene in mice that allows them to live longer without active calorie restriction.  

Calorie restriction results in leanness, which is linked to metabolic conditions that favor longevity. Scientists at the Gladstone Institute of Cardiovascular Disease have now shown that deficiency of the triglyceride synthesis enzyme acyl CoA:diacylglycerol acyltransferase 1 (DGAT1), which promotes leanness, also extends longevity without limiting food intake. 

In the study, female DGAT1-deficient mice were protected from age-related increases in body fat, tissue triglycerides, and inflammation in white adipose tissue. This protection was accompanied by increased mean and maximal life spans of ~25% and ~10%, respectively. Middle-aged Dgat1-/- mice exhibited several features associated with longevity, including decreased levels of circulating insulin growth factor 1 (IGF1) and reduced fecundity. Thus, deletion of DGAT1 in mice provides a model of leanness and extended lifespan that is independent of calorie restriction.

According to the researchers:

Our findings show that deletion of the TG synthesis enzyme, DGAT1, promotes leanness and extends lifespan in female mice and therefore suggests a link between murine lipid metabolism and longevity. These results are consistent with a study linking lipid metabolism and longevity in Caenorhabditis elegans, where activation of lipid hydrolysis resulted in decreased fat mass and extended lifespan [*]. We presume that the effects of DGAT1 deficiency are the result of reduced TG and related lipid metabolites in tissues. However, notably, DGAT1 has several biochemical activities [^], and we therefore cannot exclude the possibility that changes in other DGAT1-associated pathways contribute to these effects.
...Our findings suggest that inhibition of DGAT1, or other strategies to promote leanness, may have the potential to retard age-related metabolic disease and prolong lifespan in humans. 

AGING Journal

iCub Facial Recognition On Track

Partly due to the increasing use of social robots, scientists today are keen on advancing facial recognition software. In order to do this, researchers have been working on  models of natural visual systems; however, turning the effortless intricacies of the cerebral cortex into hard wires and code is tricky business. A lot of facial recognition software  systems are based on a large dictionary of features stored in memory that must be filtered by artificial neurons through out various layers. Through these means, invariance to factors such as position and scale can be achieved but it’s often at the high cost of increasing the number of connections between the layers of the network which results in bulkier hardware.

Nanotechnology Used to Create 3D Displays

Dr Tim Wilkinson at Cambridge University is combining liquid crystals with nanotechnology to try and create 3D displays which would look like real life. Wilkinson is actually trying to change the shape and size of individual pixels using nanotechnology to change the way light reflects through them.  With this control, he hopes to create displays that are more true to life.

Dr Wilkinson explains:
Liquid crystal displays are now a commonplace technology from mobile phone displays to wide screen televisions. They are, however, still limited by the shape, size and speed of their pixels when they are used to display video images. This video shows microscope sequences of a new nanotechnology based liquid crystal pixel structure that will allow much higher resolution displays and even true 3D holographic displays to be fabricated in the future.

Artificial Cell Membranes Created

A step has been taken that could allow for the creation of artificial life forms. Scientists from the University of California, San Diego (UCSD), and Harvard University have created artificial self-assembling cell membranes using a novel chemical reaction. The chemists hope their creation will help shed light on the origins of life. Neal Devaraj, assistant professor of chemistry at the University of California, San Diego, and Itay Budin, a graduate student at Harvard University, report their success in the Journal of the American Chemical Society.

“One of our long term, very ambitious goals is to try to make an artificial cell, a synthetic living unit from the bottom up – to make a living organism from non-living molecules that have never been through or touched a living organism,” Devaraj said. “Presumably this occurred at some point in the past. Otherwise life wouldn’t exist.”

Quantum Computing Will Make Cloud 100% Hacker Proof

Researchers have succeeded in combining the power of quantum computing with the security of quantum cryptography and have shown that perfectly secure cloud computing can be achieved using the principles of quantum mechanics.

They carried out what they claim is the first demonstration of "blind quantum computing," in which a quantum computation was carried out with the input, computation, and output all remaining unknown to the computer, and therefore, also any eavesdroppers. The scientists in the Vienna research group have demonstrated the concept of “blind quantum computing” in an experiment: they performed the first known quantum computation during which the user’s data stayed perfectly encrypted. The experimental demonstration uses photons, or “light particles” to encode the data. Photonic systems are well-suited to the task because quantum computation operations can be performed on them, and they can be transmitted over long distances.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Lytro May Partner with Smart Phone Makers

We were so impressed with the Lytro Light Field Camera that we put in on our list of the Top Ten Innovations of 2011.  Now that its famed light field camera has finally become official, Lytro is looking to the future, with an eye, apparently, toward the cellphone market. During a recent interview with PC World, Lytro executive chairman Charles Chi described his company's new sensor in greater detail, and talked at length about its purportedly superior battery life. He also divulged a few hints about Lytro's roadmap. When asked whether the firm would ever license its technology to a smartphone manufacturer, Chi confirmed that Lytro has "the capital to do that, the capability in the company to do that, and... the vision to execute," before launching into an explanation of what it would take for such an initiative to succeed:
If we were to apply the technology in smartphones, that ecosystem is, of course, very complex, with some very large players there. It's an industry that's very different and driven based on operational excellence. For us to compete in there, we'd have to be a very different kind of company. So if we were to enter that space, it would definitely be through a partnership and a codevelopment of the technology, and ultimately some kind of licensing with the appropriate partner.


The Future of Robotics Is Not as Scary as You Think

Image Source:The Animatrix  

The world is populated with a precious few humanoid robots that can do basic tasks like run, ride bikes and open a can of soda, but according to one robot expert, the idea that robots could rise up and enslave us is a wildly optimistic view of the speed of robotics development.

For those of us who love robots, this is oddly dispiriting news. Yes, we should be pleased that we do not have to worry about robot overlords making our lives miserable in our lifetimes.

Great Visualization of Emerging Technology

Great visualization on emerging technology trends from Michell Zappa.

BMW Demos Its Self-Driving Car

Self driving cars are on their way.  Now BMW has released information on the work they are doing to achieve a consumer version of the technology. Looking no different from a regular BMW, the car is fitted with a “four-sense” system which includes radar, cameras, laser scanners and ultrasonics.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

An Improved Brain for Your Future?

Image: The Human Connectome Project (HCP)
There is a good chance that someday you will be much, much smarter than you are now. At least that's the hope of neuroscientists focused on understanding the basis of intelligence. They have discovered that the brains of people with high IQs tend to be highly integrated, with neural paths connecting distant brain regions, while less intelligent people's brains build simpler, shorter routes. These connections might be made better with advances in nootropics, or by brain augmentation.  For now, no one knows why some brains construct much longer-range connections than others.

"When the brain mechanisms that underlie intelligence are understood, it is theoretically possible that those mechanisms can be tweaked to increase IQ," said Richard Haier, a neuroscientist and professor emeritus at the University of California at Irvine who studies intelligence. For the first time in human history, he said, "the concept that intelligence can be increased is reasonable."  See this video for more on Haier's work, or this Scientific American article.

10 Big Data Predictions for 2012

Everyday, we create 2.5 quintillion bytes of data–so much that 90% of the data in the world today has been created in the last two years alone. This data comes from everywhere: from sensors used to gather climate information, posts to social media sites, digital pictures and videos posted online, transaction records of online purchases, and from cell phone GPS signals to name a few. This data is big data.  We covered some of the possibilities of big data previously, and now, writing for the Dachis Group, Dion Hinchcliffe offers Big Data Predictions for 2012:

Spider Silk Could Be Used For Brain Implants

Pound for pound (or gram for gram), typical spider silk is 20 times as strong as steel and four times as tough as Kevlar. It is also extremely flexible, stretching up to 50 per cent of its length without breaking. Now, research has found that it's not just the silk's physical properties that are impressive. It elicits no immune reaction in our bodies, it is biodegradable, and it is produced at low temperatures and pressures relative to other polymers.  Here is a sampling of some of the research into the practical applications oft this amazing material:

Natasha Vita-More on Life Expansion

Natasha Vita-More speaks on Transhumanism, the future of Technology, two of her favorite technologies being Nanotechnology and Artificial General Intelligence, and the Aesthetics of Transhumanism.

This presentation was recorded at the Hong Kong Polytechnic University at the time of the Humanity+ @Hong Kong conference Dec 2011.

Kinect in Your Next Laptop

It was a vision of a science fiction future: you sit down with your laptop at a coffee shop, you open the lid of the computer and a green light above the screen comes on, and perhaps you hear the faint sound of a whirling servo. You’ve barely raised the mug to your lips when the system displays a welcome message and logs you in without any keyboard input. Setting the mug down, you make am upwards gesture and swirl with one hand and your applications open.

It’s not that far off, as rumor would have it. There have been prototypes seen of Windows 8 laptops made by Asus that had a built-in Kinect sensor along the top of the screen. You could do all that was described above and more with such bundled technology. What could some of the practical applications of this technology be?

DARPA Wants to Extend Moore's Law

In a previous post, we outlined how 3D microprocessor chips are coming into production, and that this will help extend Moore's Law.   Now DARPA (the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) wants to get involved as well.

According to DARPA, computational capability is an enabler for nearly every military system.  But computational capability is increasingly limited by power requirements and the constraints on the ability to dissipate heat.  One particular military computational need is found in intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance systems where sensors collect more information than can be processed in real time.  To continue to increase processing speed, new methods for controlling power constraints are required.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Lawrence Krauss -The Future of AI, Physics & Math

Lawrence Krauss, author of A Universe from Nothing: Why There Is Something Rather than Nothing is a theoretical physicist at Arizona State University.  Krauss' work in science and public policy includes: science education, science writing, school science curricula, science and religion, scientific integrity in government, defense, nuclear proliferation, science and pseudoscience, space exploration, science and public policy.

Narayan Srinivasa, Creating Machines That Can Perceive

Dr. Narayan Srinivasa, is the Principal Research Scientist and Manager at Hughes Research Laboratories in Malibu. Srinivasa’s primary research interests are in the areas of learning, perception, adaptive control and evolutionary dynamics.  He is currently the program manager for two DARPA projects, SyNAPSE and Physical Intelligence, which attempt to develop a theoretical foundation inspired by brain science and physics to engineer electronic systems that exhibit intelligence.

In his 12 years at HRL he has designed and managed several projects for GM and Boeing solving real-world problems in the areas of sensing and control, winning numerous awards including the HRL Distinguished Inventor Award, GM Most Valuable Colleague Award and HRL Outstanding Team Award. He was a Beckman Fellow at the prestigious Beckman Institute, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, IL, where he was a member of Human Computer Intelligent Interaction group and worked in the areas of learning algorithms for robotics, manufacturing and computer vision. He has published 80 technical papers and holds 25 US patents.

In the video below, Srinivasa shares his research on creating perceptive machines and artificial intelligence.


No Robots - Animated Short Film

A student film, from San Jose State University, which is directed by Kimberly Knoll (USA) and 張永翰 Yunghan Chang (Taiwan).

No Robots from YungHan Chang on Vimeo.

Graphene May Be A Super Filter

Graphene, the 21st century's most promising new material, has been found to have yet another incredible property.  A team led by graphene co-discoverer Professor Sir Andrew Geim at the University of Manchester has demonstrated that thin films of graphene oxide are impermeable to most gases and liquids, but extremely permeable to water. The findings were reported in Science today.

The behaviour happens when graphene oxide sheets are stacked on top of each other to form a laminate. The researchers put such a film on top of a metal container containing various liquids and gases: even helium, a gas noted for its ability to pass through almost anything, was blocked. Water, however, evaporated out of the container.

X-Ray Laser Produced at Lawrence Livermore Lab

Lawrence Livermore Lab (LLNL) researchers and international collaborators have created the shortest, purest X-ray laser pulses ever achieved, realizing a 45-year-old prediction and ultimately opening the door to new medicines, devices and materials.

The researchers aimed radiation from the Linac Coherent Light Source (LCLS), located at the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center (SLAC), at a cell containingneon gas, setting off an avalanche of femtosecond-duration X-ray emissions to create a new “atomic X-ray laser” in the kiloelectronvolt energy regime.

The Self Balancing Unicycle 2.0 Is Now Shipping

Focus Designs has announced the release of the SBU (Self Balancing Unicycle) is a revolutionary gyro stabilized, accelerometer driven, battery powered, clean “green” vehicle. This cutting edge transportation vehicle is affordable, reliable, environmentally clean, and totally fun. According to Focus Designs, the SBU is easy to ride, it takes the average rider about 20 minutes to learn. The SBU controls the forward and backward balance while the rider balances left and right. It’s a unique blend of machine and human balancing. The rider controls the speed by leaning forward or backward to speed up or stop. There is no need to pedal, in fact there are no crank arms, just foot pegs. The SBU stays upright by utilizing advanced electronics including accelerometers and gyroscopes with sophisticated balancing algorithms.

Improved Genome Sequencing To Promote Longevity

Kent Kemmish, of Halcyon Molecular discusses how improved genome sequencing can accelerate longevity research at the 2011 H+ Conference in Hong Kong.  Kemmish is a  geneticist/molecular biologist working with the bionanotech startup to make Ultra Low Cost Sequencing a reality.

Extending and Expanding Moore's Law with 3D Chips

Almost 50 years after Gordon Moore forecast the path toward faster, cheaper chips, we've miniaturized electronic components so much that we're increasingly colliding with fundamental physical limitations. Wires only four atoms long by one atom tall have been created.  The days of simple transistor scaling are long behind us with the latest, greatest chips being more of a hodgepodge of materials and design tweaks. These chips also leak a lot of power, and contain transistors that are so variable in quality they're difficult to run as intended.

Fortunately, chipmakers are pursuing a pair of innovations that will give dramatic boosts in the two categories that really count: performance and power consumption. In both cases, the idea is to build up and into the third dimension. And manufacturers will do it at the level of both the individual transistor and the full microchip. In 2012, the chip will start to become the cube.

Until recently, microprocessor transistors have been flat, built into the plane of the silicon. Each field-effect transistor on a chip contains four parts: a source, a drain, a channel that connects them, and a gate on top that controls the current flow through the channel. Only the gate and a thin layer of insulator beneath it rest above the silicon.

However, this past May, Intel unveiled its plans for the first big move away from the flat transistor. After months of gearing up production, the new transistors, which are built into a processor code-named Ivy Bridge, will make their way onto the market during the first half of 2012.  This will replace the Sandy Bridge format, and is already on the specification sheets of many manufacturers.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Know Thyself - With a Brain Scan

Imagine playing a video game controlled by your mind. Now imagine that game also teaches you about your own patterns of stress, relaxation and focus. At TEDxToronto Ariel Garten of InteraXon, shows how looking at our own brain activity gives new meaning to the ancient dictum "know thyself."

Novatiq Unleashes SCORP onto Robotics Market

Swiss company Novatiq is set to enter the robotics market with its first offering, SCORP. Designed for scouting and surveillance applications, SCORP is a Micro Unmanned Ground Vehicle (MUGV) that joins the growing ranks of throwable robots. As such, it is small, rugged and lightweight enough to be carried in a backpack and thrown into buildings or over rough terrain.

SCORP is an advanced small, lightweight portable reconnaissance robot, boasting day/night 360° omnidirectional panoramic vision that can be deployed and operated by a single person. Simply throw the SCORP into the area you need to survey. Night invisible illumination allows the SCORP to operate at night or in darkened areas.

US Ready for Autonomous Combat Drones?

Researchers say a drone aircraft being tested by the U.S. Navy that could conduct a combat mission without human involvement raises troubling ethical questions.

The drone, designed to land on the deck of an aircraft carrier, operates not only with no pilot in the cockpit but with no pilot at all, raising the specter of a pre-programmed semi-independently operating machine capable of wreaking mayhem on its own.

While humans would program the autonomous drone's flight plan and could override its decisions, many find the concept of a heavily armed aircraft operating without direct human control worrisome.

Computer 'Paints' Pictures

Computer scientist Simon Colton has created software called the Painting Fool, which he claims possesses creative talents. In this video, you can see some of its recent artwork, demonstrating a range of styles. One of its pieces uses visual attributes of the human body to produce a crowd of people, while in another example it uses a more impressionistic style. What first appears to be a straightforward painting of a hand reveals a hidden dimension when turned sideways. This shows the software's ability to surprise its viewers with its creations.

AVA, iRobot's Newest Offereing

AVA, is iRobot’s latest personal assistance robot, basically an iPad (or notebook) on a pretty sophisticated set of wheels.  In category terms it is similar to other teleprescence robots.  We have covered AVA before, and in the video below, we don’t learn anything new about the robot. However, watching AVA we begin to get a feel for how AVA might work in the home, particularly, as iRobot CEO Colin Angle points out, to assist the elderly. With laser range finders, acoustic sensors, accelerometers, bumpers, and two cameras for 3D vision, iRobot’s built AVA to have the tools to get around the home and be of service.

Peter Diamandis on the Go Fast Button

Peter Diamandis, X-Prize founder and co-author of the upcoming book, Abundance: The Future Is Better Than You Think discusses various topics with Forbes magazine.

The Go Fast Button, means that innovation is in the hands of anyone that wants to use it via Cloud Computing, the internet and exponential technology.  Diamandis predicts an explosion in the rate of innovation via this phenomenon.  Democratization of technology, the ease of communication and collaboration will led to this acceleration of innovation.

Goertzel and de Garis Debate the Rise of Artificial Intelligence

An interesting debate between Ben Goertzel and Hugo de Garis  which is a continuation of their written debate in March.  Recorded at the Hong Kong H+ event in December with Kelly Larson.  

A species dominance war – a battle between humans and AI machines – is one way that the mid-term future could pan out, but we have no reason to think it’s the most likely way. And it’s possible that focusing on this sort of outcome too much (as many of our science fiction movies have, just because it makes good theater) may even increase the odds of it happening. Sometimes life follows fiction, because the movies someone sees and the books they read help shape their mind. 
- Ben Goertzel from interview

New Tool Enhances View of Muscles

Fascinated with the mechanics of muscle movement in people and animals, Simon Fraser University associate professor James Wakeling has developed a novel method using ultrasound imaging, 3D motion-capture technology and proprietary data-processing software to scan and capture 3D maps of the muscle structure — in just 90 seconds.

Wakeling is adding to the arsenal of increasingly sophisticated medical imaging tools with a new signal-processing method for viewing muscle activation details that have never been seen before.
It’s a medical-imaging breakthrough because previous methods took 15 minutes to do the job—far too long to ask people to hold a muscle contraction.

Is 3D Printing Just A Fad?

Christopher Mims has posted an interesting critique of the over-hyping of 3D Printing at MIT's Technology Review. Recently there have been a number of lower-cost 3D printers coming to market, with the purported promise of revolutionizing how we consume products. There are even 3D printers coming online that will be able to produce chocolate objects. 3D files for such printers are also becoming more widely available. The technology has been available for around 25 years, yet it is only now seemingly making an impact.

The enthusiasm is not entirely dominated by hobbyists and Singulatarians, 3D Systems recently aquired 3D printing machinery manufacturer ZCorp. As described in their press release, 

This acquisition integrates Z Corp and Vidar products and services with 3D Systems’ extensive portfolio, uniquely positioning 3D Systems for accelerated growth in the dynamic, rapidly expanding 3D content-to-print space.

ShanghAI Lectures - AI Education for the Globe

The ShanghAI Lectures are about Natural and Artificial Intelligence are held via videoconference at the University of Zurich in Switzerland, the University of Salford/MediaCityUK in the United Kingdom, Shanghai Jiao Tong University in China, and about 12 other universities around the globe. Students from the participating universities work together on the exercises, using a powerful robotics simulator software.

The ShanghAI Lectures project aims at

  • making education and knowledge on cutting-edge scientific topics accessible to everyone
  • exploring novel methods of knowledge transfer
  • building a sustainable community of students and researchers in the area of Embodied Intelligence
  • overcoming the complexity of a multi-cultural and interdisciplinary learning context
  • bringing global teaching to a new level

Surgical Robots Could Fix NASA Satellite


A modified Da Vinci surgical robot is helping NASA study how robots can refuel and service space satellites, remotely controlled from Earth. The agency's Notional Robotic Servicing Mission is looking for ways that fully robotic spacecraft can perform servicing of GEO (geosynchronous earth orbit) satellites in space, avoiding the cost and danger of sending astronauts to do the same job.

Located 22,236 miles (35,786 kilometers) above the Earth, GEO is one of the busiest highways in our solar system.More than 100 government-owned spacecraft and 360 commercial communication satellites commute on it each day, making it a prime location to offer repair, refueling, and tow-truck services.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Is The Internet Your Memory Now?

A new study has concluded that the he Internet is becoming our main source of memory instead of our own brains. In the age of Google, our minds are adapting so that we are experts at knowing where to find information even though we don’t recall what it is. The findings of the study are that:

  • People remember where to look up information - not the info itself
  • People actively forget information if they think they can look it up later
  • Tests on how people remembered items they would normally Google showed changes 

The researchers found that when we want to know something we use the Internet as an ‘external memory’ just as computers use an external hard drive. Nowadays we are so reliant on our smart phones and laptops that we go into ‘withdrawal when we can’t find out something immediately’.

Evi App Popularity Crashing Servers

We featured the release of Evi in a post yesterday.  The overwhelming popularity of the Evi App for Android and iOS is a potential bomb for the app's creator, True Knowledge.  The servers running the Siri-esque application have not been able to cope with the demand by users, leading to a lot of users getting this message in response to their queries: