Posts Tagged ‘tech’

Posted: January 8, 2013 by Wildcat in Uncategorized
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3D Systems, the industrial 3-D printing giant, is expanding its desktop line of printers with the oversized, multicolor-printing CubeX printers. The printers, announced today at CES, promise an oversized print platform that can output objects up to 10.8″ x 10.45″ x 9.5″, more than twice the build volume of printers from other manufacturers such as the Makerbot Replicator 2. The line offers from one to three print heads to allow for colorful printouts, although information about the ability to blend the filaments into additional colors was not released. CubeX appears to be based on 3D Systems’ 3DTouch series of printers, but with various upgrades. In addition to a modified chassis and larger print area, previously only available on the single- and double-head 3DTouch printer, the new machines also use the proprietary smart cartridges 3D Systems uses with entry-level Cube printers, rather than the more common standard spools of filament. These spools trade accessibility for a moisture-inhibiting system that is said to increase shelf life. (via 3D Systems’ Outsized Machine Does Multicolor Prints as Big as Your Head | Wired Design |

Posted: January 7, 2013 by Wildcat in Uncategorized
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WHAT do you get when you cross a fragrance with an actor?

Answer: a smell Gibson.

Groan away, but you should know that this joke was written by a computer. “Smell Gibson” is the C.P.U. child of something called Standup (for System to Augment Non-Speakers’ Dialogue Using Puns), a program that generates punning riddles to help kids with language disabilities increase their verbal skills.

Though it’s not quite Louis C. K., the Standup program, engineered by a team of computer scientists in Scotland, is one of the more successful efforts to emerge from a branch of artificial intelligence known as computational humor, which seeks to model comedy using machines.

As verbal interaction between humans and computers becomes more prominent in daily life — from Siri, Apple’s voice-activated assistant technology, to speech-based search engines to fully automated call centers — demand has grown for “social computers” that can communicate with humans in a natural way. Teaching computers to grapple with humor is a key part of this equation.

“Humor is everywhere in human life,” says the Purdue computer scientist Julia M. Taylor, who helped organize the first-ever United States symposium on the artificial intelligence of humor, in November. If we want a computational system to communicate with human life, it needs to know how to be funny, she says.

As it turns out, this is one of the most challenging tasks in computer science. Like much of language, humor is loaded with abstraction and ambiguity. To understand it, computers need to contend with linguistic sleights like irony, sarcasm, metaphor, idiom and allegory — things that don’t readily translate into ones and zeros.

(keep on reading)

Posted: January 7, 2013 by Wildcat in Uncategorized
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Researchers in Japan have come up with a storage solution to keep your most important data with a method that seems to be drawn directly from the pages of Superman.

Everyone who has gone through the process of upgrading their computer system knows the inevitable task of transferring data involves a certain amount of acceptance that some data will forever be lost.

Saved on storage devices without drives to retrieve the files, or by the deterioration of the storage substrate, data becomes lost.

Even Ray Kurzweil mentions in The Singularity Is Near, how he resorts to paper printouts to save his most important data for the long term.

Now, Japanese storage and electronics company Hitachi has announced that it has come up with a solution that stores data on slivers of quartz glass, keeping important data safe and sound for perhaps as long as hundreds of millions of years. The company’s main research lab has developed a way to etch digital patterns into robust quartz glass with a laser at a data density that is better than compact discs, then read it using an optical microscope. The data is etched at four different layers in the glass using different focal points of the laser. (via 33rd Square | Superman’s Indestructible Data Crystals May Be Possible)

Posted: January 5, 2013 by Wildcat in Uncategorized
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The concept of e-noses – electronic devices which mimic the olfactory systems of mammals and insects – is very intriguing to researchers involved in building better, cheaper and smaller sensor devices (read more: “Nanotechnology electronic noses”). Less well known is the fact that equivalent artificial sensors for taste – electronic tongues – are capable of recognizing dissolved substances (see for instance: “Electronic tongue identifies cava wines”). Conventional electronic tongues utilize pattern recognition for analysis using arrays of synthetic materials such as polymers, artificial membranes and semiconductors, for applications in the food and beverage industries. “Even with current technological advances, e-tongue approaches still cannot mimic the biological features of the human tongue with regard to identifying elusive analytes in complex mixtures, such as food and beverage products,” Tai Hyun Park, a professor in the School of Chemical and Biological Engineering at Seoul National University, tells Nanowerk. Park, together with Professor Jyongsik Jang and their collaborators, have now developed a human bitter-taste receptor as a nanobioelectronic tongue. Reporting their work in a recent issue of Nano Letters (“Human Taste Receptor-Functionalized Field Effect Transistor as a Human-Like Nanobioelectronic Tongue”), they utilized a human taste receptor as a sensing element for mimicking the human taste system and selective detection. (via Researchers develop a human-like nanobioelectronic tongue)

Posted: January 2, 2013 by Wildcat in Uncategorized
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Predicted for 2003 (above): Apple redefined the desktop, laptop, and MP3 player. The next insanely great thing: an LCD arm cuff that includes a PDA, wireless Internet, a mini iPod, and, of course, a phone. The iPhone bracelet’s motion sensor allows you to scroll through apps and files with the flick of a wrist, its clasp holds a digicam for use during video calls, and its wireless ear clip lets you listen and speak to callers. And everything can be done via voice recognition or touchscreen. Talk about the right call. Illustration: Kenn Brown. (via The Future Is Now: What We Imagined for 2013 — 10 Years Ago | Gadget Lab |


Here is an essay version of my notes from Peter Thiel’s recent guest lecture in Stanford Law’s Legal Technology course. As usual, this is not a verbatim transcript. Errors and omissions are my own. Credit for good stuff is Peter’s.

When thinking about the future of the computer age, we…

When thinking about the future of the computer age, we can think of many distant futures where computers do vastly more than humans can do. Whether there will eventually be some sort of superhuman-capable AI remains an open question. Generally speaking, people are probably too skeptical about advances in this area. There’s probably much more potential here than people assume. 

It’s worth distinguishing thinking about the distant future—that is, what could happen in, say, 1,000 years—from thinking about the near future of the next 20 to 50 years. When talking about legal technology, it may be useful to talk first about the distant future, and then rewind to evaluate how our legal system is working and whether there are any changes on the horizon.

Blake Masters: Peter Thiel on The Future of Legal Technology – Notes Essay

Posted: December 29, 2012 by Wildcat in Uncategorized
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Have you ever wondered what the next major input method for smartphones and other devices will be? Well, if this Danish company, The Eye Tribe, is able to achieve its goal, the next big thing might be your gaze. The Eye Tribe is working to build a software that would allow users to interact with their mobile devices just by looking at them. The startup’s work has already enabled it to raise $800,000 in seed funding from European investors, but the company has now got its big break. The Eye Tribe has announced the launch of a $4.4 million project over three years, that will put its eye-control system on smartphones and tablets. Out of the $4.4 million, $2.3 million was provided by the Danish National Advanced Foundation, a Danish government foundation. The foundation will not take an equity stake in the company. (via The Eye Tribe wants to create the first eye-controlled tablet)

Posted: December 29, 2012 by Wildcat in Uncategorized
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Rui Yang, Kazuya Terabe and colleagues at the National Institute for Materials Science (NIMS), and the International Center for Materials Nanoarchitectonics (MANA) in Japan and at the California NanoSystems Institute/UCLA have developed “nanoionic” (processes connected with fast ion transport in all-solid-state nanoscale systems) devices capable of a broad range of neuromorphic and electrical functions. Background Such a device would allow for fabrication of on-demand configurable circuits, analog memories, and digital-neural fused networks in a single device architecture. Synaptic devices that mimic the learning and memory processes in living organisms are attracting interest as an alternative to standard computing elements to help extend performance beyond current physical limits. However, artificial synaptic systems have been hampered by complex fabrication requirements and limitations in the learning and memory functions they mimic. How it works The device is based on a platinum-tungsten trioxide (WO3–x) device using oxygen ions migrating in response to voltage sweeps. Accumulation of the oxygen ions at the electrode leads to Schottky diode-like potential barriers and resulting changes in resistance and rectifying characteristics. The stable bipolar switching behavior at the platinum-tungsten trioxide-based device is attributed to the formation of a conductive filament and oxygen absorbability of the platinum electrode. The researchers noted that the device properties* — volatile and non-volatile states and current fading following positive voltage pulses — are similar to neural behavior — that is, short- and long-term memory and forgetting processes. The device was found to possess a wide range of time scales of memorization, resistance switching, and rectification varying from volatile to permanent in a single device. “These capabilities open a new avenue for circuits, analog memories, and artificially fused digital neural networks using on-demand programming by input pulse polarity, magnitude, and repetition history,” the researchers conclude. (via Synaptic electronic circuits that learn and forget like neural processes | KurzweilAI)

Posted: December 13, 2012 by Wildcat in Uncategorized
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Clay Shirky argues that technologies get interesting only when they’re widespread enough to become boring. In 2012, in the best way possible, e-readers became incredibly, fantastically boring. Though the year found marginal improvements to e-reader technologies, it also saw a significant reversal in the relationship between humans and the written words we use to help express our humanity: In 2012, we read books, but our books also read us. Teachers used e-readers to catch would-be cheaters among their students. Books on screens promised new frontiers of interactivity between textbooks and teaching. They transformed Shakespeare’s plays from public performances to intimate ones. We went, with our books, back to the future, rediscovering in digital texts what has always made books agents of culture and, generally, awesome: their implicit community, their fundamental sociability, their ability to capture and convene. This year, we began to learn what it will mean to have books and readers that are reciprocal. We began to understand an old insight in a new way: We shape our books, and then our books shape us.

The Year in Tech, 2012: Reading  (via courtenaybird)

At the DealBook conference today in Manhattan, I asked the executive chairman of Google, Eric Schmidt, where in the world the jobs for a great many people will be. His advice: We have to learn how to “outrace the robots.”

“Given the trends of globalization, automation and demographics, there will definitely be a small number of people who will be very prosperous,” said Mr. Schmidt. The challenge is to let as many people into that class as possible, and even more important, get masses of people educated to a level where they can qualify for work in the new businesses these people create.

Mr. Schmidt was speaking in an interview after appearing onstage at the New York Times DealBook conference. Earlier he, along with Mike Moritz, a partner in the Sequoia Capital venture capital firm, and Clara Shih, the founder of Hearsay Social, discussed how cloud computing’s access to a nearly limitless amount of knowledge and a borderless consumer base would create great fortunes.

Throw in robotics, 3-D printing, and faster telecommunications, and things get tougher for the average worker. Robots may hollow out the factories in China, which count on cheap human labor, and bring manufacturing back to the United States. Those machines will need people to service them, and those people will need to be reasonably skilled.

Eric Schmidt: How We Outrace the Robots –

Posted: December 11, 2012 by Wildcat in Uncategorized
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Lapka for iPhone: five sensors to measure the world, inspired by NASA and Yves Saint Laurent

A small Russian hardware startup brings ‘luxury tools’ to your phone 

Posted: December 11, 2012 by Wildcat in Uncategorized
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Genomics may accomplish a lot, but could it redefine humanity’s view of itself?

Given the number of famous scientists around, it’s easy to forget the full title of the Nobel Week Dialogue includes the phrase “impact on society.” But Helga Nowotny, the president of the European Research Council, was on hand to provide a remedy. Nowotny is a social scientist who spends a lot of time thinking about how science and society influence each other. She was next in line for a Nobel Week Dialogue talk.

Nowotny started out by noting genomics is often mentioned as a promising thing (like the “promise of genetic medicine” and so forth). But the term “promise,” she noted, implies a contract, and she did her best to make the details of that contract explicit. The payoff of getting this contract right in the case of genetics, she suggested, might be a second Renaissance.

Although attempts to understand the natural world have existed in almost every culture, institutionalized science of the sort we practice today only dates back a few hundred years. As it has grown, it has become increasingly reliant on society for support. In return, Nowotny said, science makes a number of promises. One is the promise of information that is above the vagaries of political and religious figures.

The contract between science and society, plus a possible new Renaissance | Ars Technica (via techspotlight)

1. Super Condoms Using a simple nano-fabrication technique called electro-spinning, researchers have successfully manufactured a fabric woven from sperm-blocking fibers knitted together with anti-HIV drug delivery fibers. The result is a female condom that prevents pregnancy, guards against HIV transmission, and then evaporates within hours or days depending on how it’s manufactured. It’s the world’s perfect condom, and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has just given the researchers $1 million to manufacture them for a mass market.

2. Molecule Printers We already have 3D printers that can print out everything from toys to skin. And now a research group has figured out how to output the results of a CAD program to a printer that will build functional molecules piece-by-piece. This is an ideal way to create personalized medicine.

3. Stretchable Gold Why should circuit boards be brittle and stiff? Now they don’t have to be, because scientists have invented stretchable gold that can be printed onto rubber circuit boards. With circuits made of stretchable gold, you can bend and torque your devices as much as you want, or have a squeezy computer.

4. Artificial Muscles Carbon nanotubes are used in a lot of nanoscale devices and applications, and turning into an artificial muscle is just another of its amazing properties. When a carbon nanotube is dipped into charged solution, it absorbs ions, expanding and coiling up. And when it releases those ions, it uncoils in the other direction, stretching out. This motion — coiling and expanding, then uncoiling and stretching — emulates the action of a muscle. It means we’ve got a molecular outboard motor that can drive other molecules around. Coming soon to your blood vessels or oil spills everywhere!

5. Stain-repellant Fabric Coating Materials scientists working at the nano-scale with fabric aren’t just interested in condoms. They’re also making the next generation of water-resistant, unstainable clothing. This isn’t just cotton that is easy to wash. It actually “shrugs off” stains because it’s made of several nano-layers of positively and negatively charged films that actively repel everything from water to acids. Deadly chemicals might actually jump off your clothing.

6. Microscopic Drug Delivery Capsules One of the big problems with cancer treatment is that doctors want to deliver medicines to the precise region of your body where the cancer is active. Now, using nanoscale drug capsules, they can. Basically, the drugs are placed inside these nanoscopic capsules, which are attracted to the specific form of cancer the patient is suffering from. Once in range of the cancerous cells, the capsules unleash their medicine — leaving the cancer blighted, but the rest of your body unharmed. Eventually, we could even inject nanoscale machines into your body that would act as tiny pharmaceutical labs, using your body’s natural resources (from enzymes to proteins) to manufacture and deliver drugs.

7. Plastic that Bleeds and Heals Itself Self-healing materials, from concrete that fills in its own cracks to ship hulls that knit back together, are becoming commonplace in the nanofabrication era. One of the most uncanny examples of a self-healing material is a plastic that “bleeds” when it rips, using the extruded “blood” to repair damage and become whole again.

8. Electricity-Generating Viruses A team of researchers have figured out how to engineer viruses to convert pressure into electrical energy. Paint these viruses onto the bottom of your shoes and you could power up your smart phone. Or paint a dance floor with them and power your whole club.

8 Incredible Nanotechnologies that Actually Exist Today

The equations Google employs to predict the Web pages users visit has inspired a new way to track the spread of cancer cells throughout the body. “Each of the sites where a spreading, or “metastatic,” tumor could show up are analogous to Web pages,” said Paul Newton, a mathematician at the University of Southern California, who has been working with cancer specialists at the Scripps Research Institute. Google ranks Web pages by the likelihood that an individual would end up visiting each one randomly. These predictions are based on the trends of millions of users across the Web. Google uses something called the “steady state distribution” to calculate the probability of someone visiting a page. “You have millions of people wandering the Web, [and] Google would like to know what proportion are visiting any given Web page at a given time,” Newton explained. “It occurred to me that steady state distribution is equivalent to the metastatic tumor distribution that shows up in the autopsy datasets.”

Google Search Algorithm Models Cancer Spread |

Say goodbye to that annoying buzz created by overhead fluorescent light bulbs in your office. Scientists at Wake Forest University have developed a flicker-free, shatterproof alternative for large-scale lighting. The lighting, based on field-induced polymer electroluminescent (FIPEL) technology, also gives off soft, white light – not the yellowish glint from fluorescents or bluish tinge from LEDs. “People often complain that fluorescent lights bother their eyes, and the hum from the fluorescent tubes irritates anyone sitting at a desk underneath them,” said David Carroll, the scientist leading the development of this technology at Wake Forest. “The new lights we have created can cure both of those problems and more.” The team uses a nano-engineered polymer matrix to convert the charge into light. This allows the researchers to create an entirely new light bulb – overcoming one of the major barriers in using plastic lights in commercial buildings and homes. The research supporting the technology is described in a study appearing online in advance of publication in the peer-reviewed journal Organic Electronics.

Goodbye, fluorescent light bulbs: New lighting technology won’t flicker, shatter or burn out