Get to know James Hughes, director and secretary of the World Transhumanist Association, Executive Director of the Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies, and author of Citizen Cyborg: Why Democratic Societies Must Respond to the Redesigned Human of the Future. Great podcast! A big Thank You to James: we all appreciate the work that you do!
for National Geographic News
January 25, 2008
Scientists yesterday announced that they have successfully created an entire synthetic genome in the lab by stitching together the DNA of the smallest known free-living bacterium, Mycoplasma genitalium.
Experts are hailing the research as an important breakthrough in genetic manipulation that will one day lead to the “routine” creation of synthetic genomes—possibly including those of mammals. more>>>
Using the human mind to control computers could lead to a wide range of applications, such as giving people with limited motion the ability to operate machines. However, translating thoughts into actions is a great challenge for researchers. How can a system determine which thoughts should be acted upon, and which thoughts are merely personal thoughts and therefore should be ignored by the system?
More importantly, asks Dr. Mehrdad Fatourechi, can the system provide the users with the ability to control a computer whenever they want? These are the questions that Fatourechi and other “self-paced” brain computer interface (BCI) researchers are trying to answer.
So far, no self-paced BCI system has performed well enough to be suitable for practical applications. But Fatourechi, along with Professors Dr. Rabab K. Ward and Dr. Gary E. Birch from the University of British Columbia, Canada, have recently made a significant improvement with the development of a self-paced, fully automated brain-computer interface. The group’s results are published in a recent issue of the Journal of Neural Engineering. more>>>
A hearing aid is a straightforward device. Its microphone collects sound, its electronics amplify it, its tiny loudspeaker sends the sound into a tube placed in the ear canal, and the power comes from a disposable battery. There’s just one problem: people hate hearing aids. They get lost. They’re hard to wear while sleeping. They mustn’t get wet. They get chewed up by the dog. They’re awkward during sex.
I don’t have a hearing aid. But I do have a cochlear implant. Cochlear implants are for people who are so deaf that even the most powerful hearing aids won’t help. A processor worn on my ear collects sound and digitizes it, then transmits it by radio to a receiver embedded in my skull. The receiver sends pulses to electrodes attached to my auditory nerves.
It should be called a cochlear semi-implant, really, because half of it is on the outside. It lets me hear, which is great, but it has the same disadvantages as hearing aids. For starters, I have to assemble myself in the morning–literally. But more than that, my cochlear implant feels like something decidedly attached to me. Naturally, I would love to have a body that’s whole and complete in itself. A body that could plunge into the water without sacrificing the ability to hear friends’ laughter when it emerged. more>>>
TOKYO — A robot math whiz breezes through a Rubik’s Cube, using metal hands to twist and turn the colorful toy.
A panda robot uses sensors to detect when people are laughing, and joins in.
A dentistry student peers into the mouth of a new patient — a humanoid practice robot with a complete set of pearly white teeth.
• Click here for FOXNews.com’s Patents and Innovation Center.
Japan showed off its cutting-edge robots Wednesday at the country’s largest robotics convention, a dazzling display of the technologies that make it a world leader in both service and industrial robotics.
The dental training robot, dubbed Simroid for “simulator humanoid,” has realistic skin, eyes, and a mouth fitted with replica teeth that trainees practice drilling on. more>>>
Scientists in Japan have succeeded in controlling a humanoid robot with signals from a monkey’s brain.
Martyn Williams, IDG News Service
Tuesday, January 15, 2008 7:40 AM PST
Scientists in Japan have succeeded in controlling a humanoid robot with signals picked up in the U.S. from a monkey’s brain and transmitted across the Internet, they said Tuesday.
The research, which represents a world’s first according to the Japan Science and Technology Agency (JST), could be a first step toward giving doctors the ability to restore motor functions in severely paralyzed patients. It can also contribute to the development of robots that move more like humans, JST said in a statement Tuesday.
In the tests, scientists led by Miguel Nicolelis at Duke University in North Carolina trained two monkeys to walk on their legs on a treadmill. The activity of neurons in the leg area of the monkey’s brain was recorded while the monkey walked and decoded into predictions of the position of their leg joints.
These predictions were then sent across the Internet to Kyoto where they were used to control a robot. A live video signal of the robot was relayed back to the monkey to provide feedback. more>>>
M.D. Anderson biochemist’s work alters our view of cell division — and possibly disease
By ERIC BERGER
Copyright 2008 Houston Chronicle
For the first time, scientists have captured detailed images of life’s essence.
The dazzling pictures reveal a key step in the process of cell division, which all organisms must undergo to survive. The moment occurs deep within a cell, as two proteins work in concert to unzip a strand of DNA to create two new cells.
But until now, scientists seeking to directly observe this essential process only could view fuzzy images taken by an electron microscope.
A scientist at the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center has changed that by perfecting a technique employed by biophysicist Rosalind Franklin more than half a century ago to gather the first images of DNA.
The new work, by biochemist Maria Schumacher, goes far beyond taking pretty pictures of life in motion, however.
Her efforts are part of a widespread push by biomedical scientists to understand the molecular cause of disease. By fully comprehending these root causes, they hope to devise more effective disease treatments.
“If we understand in great detail the structure of the proteins involved in normal cell growth, then we can understand when there’s been a change to cause some sort of defect,” said William Klein, chairman of M.D. Anderson’s department of biochemistry and molecular biology. more>>>
This is awesome it’s just like how you can use Google Sketch-up to model 3D buildings from 2D photos. This is VERY powerful technology that I can imagine will one day be used to digitally model vast areas of the Earth.
That’s because soon enough the software won’t need a human to help it trace the object. There is exstensive research being put into getting computers to recognize objects in video. Once they become very good at recognizing objects and the computational power is available, then a van could drive around with video cameras like Google’s Street View technology except it could create a completely 3D version of everything!
The #1 technology that needs to be made before we have AI is computer vision to be able to digitize the world into a 3d representation. Once we have that, the flood gates are open for artificial intelligence. Because I’m not smart with computer vision, I won’t be working with Artificial Intelligence until that milestone in human achievement is accomplished. This page explains in detail how to create artificial intelligence if you had access to computer vision technology.
From Boing Boing:
Posted by Mark Frauenfelder, January 7, 2008 10:39 AM | permalink
VideoTrace is an application that lets you easily create 3D models from things in video clips.
The University of Adelaide’s Australian Centre for Visual Technologies is developing VideTrace. I don’t think it’s available to the public yet.
The user interacts with VideoTrace by tracing the shape of the object to be modelled over one or more frames of the video. By interpreting the sketch drawn by the user in light of 3D information obtained from computer vision techniques, a small number of simple 2D interactions can be used to generate a realistic 3D model. Each of the sketching operations in VideoTrace provides an intuitive and powerful means of modelling shape from video, and executes quickly enough to be used interactively. Immediate feedback allows the user to model rapidly those parts of the scene which are of interest and to the level of detail required. The combination of automated and manual reconstruction allows VideoTrace to model parts of the scene not visible, and to succeed in cases where purely automated approaches would fail.
Posted by David Pescovitz, January 7, 2008 1:54 PM | permalink
The notion that our reality is a simulation or “control system” of some kind has always intrigued me. Long before The Matrix, folks like Jacques Vallee, John Keel, Rudy Rucker, and Hans Moravec played with this idea in very smart ways. And recently, Oxford philosopher Nick Bostrom developed a mathematical argument to support the mind-bending theory. His work was even the subject of a New York Times column last year. My Fortean friend Mark Pilkington of Strange Attractor Journal pointed me to another new paper, “The Physical World as a Virtual Reality,” written by Brian Whitworth and published by Massey University’s Centre for Discrete Mathematics and Theoretical Computer Science in Auckland, New Zealand. From the abstract:
This paper explores the idea that the universe is a virtual reality created by information processing, and relates this strange idea to the findings of modern physics about the physical world. The virtual reality concept is familiar to us from online worlds, but our world as a virtual reality is usually a subject for science fiction rather than science. Yet logically the world could be an information simulation running on a multi-dimensional space-time screen. Indeed, if the essence of the universe is information, matter, charge, energy and movement could be aspects of information, and the many conservation laws could be a single law of information conservation. If the universe were a virtual reality, its creation at the big bang would no longer be paradoxical, as every virtual system must be booted up. It is suggested that whether the world is an objective reality or a virtual reality is a matter for science to resolve. Modern information science can suggest how core physical properties like space, time, light, matter and movement could derive from information processing. Such an approach could reconcile relativity and quantum theories, with the former being how information processing creates space-time, and the latter how it creates energy and matter.
“…(T)he first microprocessor only had 22 hundred transistors. We are looking at something a million times that complex in the next generations-a billion transistors. What that gives us in the way of flexibility to design products is phenomenal.”
—Gordon E. Moore
In 1965, Intel co-founder Gordon Moore saw the future. His prediction, now popularly known as Moore’s Law, states that the number of transistors on a chip doubles about every two years. Through Intel’s relentless pursuit of technology innovations, we have delivered on Gordon Moore’s prediction for nearly 40 years, investing billions of dollars in research and development.
Gordon Moore’s prediction has fueled the worldwide technology revolution as Intel continues to move the industry towards greater performance, energy efficiency, and technologies that create new computing solutions. more>>>
January 07, 2008 (CareerJournal) Corporate recruiters have long surfed the Web to vet potential hires, but now they’re also surfing blogs to unearth job candidates, expanding their talent pool and gaining insights they say they can’t get from resumes and interviews.
Most blog-related recruits are professionals in technology and media because jobs in these fields often require knowledge of the blogosphere, says Kirsten Dixson, a founding partner at Brandego LLC, a career management firm in Exeter, N.H., that specializes in personal branding.
In addition to blogs that focus on their industry or field of interest, recruiters say they check candidates’ blogs about noncareer-related topics for evidence of writing skills and clues to how well rounded they are. more>>>
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Blogging the Singularity Bloggers:
Chris Williamson: Filmmaker, science enthusiast, and futurist concerned with the accelerating nature of technological growth and where it's headed. He is currently studying for his MFA in Film Production.
Frank Whittemore: As an IT professional since 1961, the accelerating change of technology is not news to him but the wonder will never cease! Be sure check out Frank's blog about Life Extension!