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Oct 9, 2015

The Possibilities and the Future of Brain Hacking

Posted by in categories: neuroscience, robotics/AI

For all of man’s scientific and technological advances, the human brain largely remains a mystery. A new Vimeo video, “Master/Mind,” examines the state of research on the human mind and the questions that scientists, ethicists, futurists and others are asking in light of what we’re learning about the mind. The video, a Vimeo Staff Pick, consists of a series of comments from scientists, technologist, futurists and ethicists.

Automation, robotics and artificial intelligence are developing so rapidly that many people are wondering if some day, man will no longer harness science but rather be controlled by it. As this question weighs heavily on peoples’ mind, there has been a focus on understanding the human brain.

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Oct 8, 2015

Scientists float new approach to creating computer memory

Posted by in categories: computing, quantum physics

What can skyrmions do for you? These ghostly quantum rings, heretofore glimpsed only under extreme laboratory conditions, just might be the basis for a new type of computer memory that never loses its grip on the data it stores.

Now, thanks to a research team including scientists from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), the exotic ring-shaped magnetic effects have been coaxed out of the physicist’s deepfreeze with a straightforward method that creates magnetic skyrmions under ambient room conditions. The achievement brings skyrmions a step closer for use in real-world data storage as well as other novel magnetic and electronic technologies.

If you have a passing familiarity with particle physics, you might expect skyrmions to be particles; after all, they sound a lot like fermions, a class of particles that includes protons and neutrons. But skyrmions are not fundamental pieces of matter (not even of yogurt); they are effects named after the physicist who proposed them. Until just recently, magnetic skyrmions had only been seen at very low temperatures and under powerful magnetic fields.

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Oct 8, 2015

Transhumanism Immortality Bus Underway Across America

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, geopolitics, internet, life extension, transhumanism

New article on Immortality Bus trip promoting transhumanism with new videos:

It seemed a wild, impossible dream a year ago when I told my wife and young daughters I was going to drive a bus shaped like a coffin across America to raise life extension issues. A week ago, I just finished the second stage of the tour. Soon I’ll begin the third stage from Arizona to Texas, and then across the Bible Belt to Washington DC, where I plan to post a Transhumanist Bill of Rights to the US Capitol building.

If the bus tour seems like a wacky idea–especially for a presidential candidate –it’s because it is. Of course, to transhumanists, a more wacky idea is how most of our nation largely accepts death as a way of life. In the 21st Century, with the amazing science and technology this country has, I don’t believe death needs to be left unconquered. If, as a nation, we would just apply our ingenuity and resources, we could probably conquer death in a decade’s time with modern medicine. That’s precisely the reason why I’m running for president and driving the coffin bus around the country; I want to tell people the important news and get them to support radical technology and longevity science.

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Oct 8, 2015

Watch Adobe’s Monument Mode erase tourists from photos in real time

Posted by in categories: information science, mobile phones

Adobe engineer Ashutosh Jagdish Sharma demonstrated the technology on stage, enlisting the help of host Kim Chambers and Parks and Rec star Nick Offerman to act as stand-in tourists who were getting in the way of the desired shot. When the smartphone was held in place, Monument Mode was able to slowly erase the “tourists” from the image, building up a clear version of the photo slowly as human obstructions moved around. Even though Chambers and Offerman remained inside the frame, the final result showed the background only, the feature able to create a clear image from multiple shots.

Traditionally photographers have been able to remove tourists and other obstructions after their photos are taken with clever Photoshop work, by taking multiple shots, or by taking them from various angles. But Monument Mode works in real-time, cutting down on legwork, and requiring fewer photo-editing skills. The company says it the feature ”uses a new algorithm to distinguish moving objects from fixed ones,” but notes that it’s still only a tech preview, and that it may not come to fruition. That said, the company has a history of swiftly incorporating technology shown off at its MAX conferences. Adobe first detailed its “dehaze” feature during the same segment at last year’s show — it now comes as standard in Lightroom.

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Oct 8, 2015

NASA is opening up hundreds of patents to inventors, for free

Posted by in category: innovation

You’ll now be able to use them to create your own marketable inventions.

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Oct 8, 2015

Panasonic has made the world’s most efficient rooftop solar panel

Posted by in categories: Elon Musk, solar power, sustainability, transportation

At the end of last week, solar technology company SolarCity, which was co-founded by Tesla CEO Elon Musk, made headlines when it announced it had developed the most efficient rooftop solar panel to date, with a module-level efficiency of 22.04 percent. Now, just a few days later, Panasonic has one-upped them by announcing a rooftop panel prototype that’s nearly half a percent more efficient.

“Sorry Elon, I’mma let you finish…” and, well, you know how that pun goes. What’s cool about Panasonic’s record-breaking prototype is that it was mass-produced, and able to convert 22.5 percent of sunlight into electrical energy straight off the production line, which means it’ll be easily commercialised and presumably relatively cheap for consumers.

Right about now you’re probably wondering why this is a big deal, when researchers have already managed to convert the Sun’s rays into electricity with more than 40 percent efficiency, and just last year Panasonic themselves announced they’d made a solar cell with 25.6 percent efficiency.

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Oct 8, 2015

Fusion reactors ‘economically viable’ in a few decades, say experts

Posted by in categories: engineering, nuclear energy

An illustration of a tokamak with plasma (credit: ITER Organization)

Fusion reactors could become an economically viable means of generating electricity within a few decades, replacing conventional nuclear power stations, according to new research at Durham University and Culham Centre for Fusion Energy in Oxfordshire, U.K.

The research, published in the journal Fusion Engineering and Design, builds on earlier findings that a fusion power plant could generate electricity at a price similar to that of a fission plant and identifies new advantages in using new superconductor technology.

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Oct 8, 2015

Facebook’s Like button will soon have these emoticon alternatives, says report

Posted by in category: futurism

Facebook is preparing to test a new “reactions” feature that would allow users to reply to posts with more than a “Like,” according to a report from Engadget ES. The site on Thursday published mockups of the feature, which adds a range of emoticons to Facebook’s standard thumbs-up Like button. Citing unnamed sources, Engadget reports that the feature will be rolled out to users in Spain and Ireland as early as Friday.

The report follows a recent announcement from Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, who said at a public Q&A session last month that the site had begun working on new ways for users to “express empathy” beyond the “Like” button. The set of reactions published by Engadget does not include the thumbs-down “Dislike” button that many had expected at the time of Zuckerberg’s announcement, though it does feature angry and sad smiley faces. Other icons include a heart, a smiling face, a shocked face, and something that looks like a laughing face.

Facebook has recently introduced new tools to make it easier for users to personalize their profiles and posts. This month, it launched a Snapchat-like “Doodle” feature that allows users to draw on photos, and the site has started to test looped video profile pictures.

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Oct 8, 2015

Pluto Has Red Ice And Blue Skies

Posted by in category: space

Space sailors’ delight?

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Oct 8, 2015

Meet the laundry-folding washing machine of our lazy-ass future

Posted by in categories: electronics, habitats, robotics/AI

Socks are the hardest. For a future washing machine that washes, dries and then folds the results, it’s one of the small barriers that remains in that latter stage. But as a research project that started back in 2008, Laundroid is finally getting there. Next year, the collaboration between housing firm Daiwa House, electronics company Panasonic and Seven Dreamers will start offering preorders, the year after that ‘beta’ machines, then folding machines for big institutions, with event full retail planned the year after that — we’ll be in 2019 by then. (That said, the all-in-one model is still at the in-development stage). There’s no price and the presentation we saw added in a bunch of mosaic filtering on top as the shirt gradually got folded so you couldn’t see how the thing actually works. But that’s okay. We can wait. It’s not going to stop us waiting our chore-dodging dreams to come true.

While the video teaser above gives you pretty much nothing of substance, at the on-stage demonstration, we saw a just-washed tee take a matter of minutes for the internal tech to sort, identify and fold. The tech involved is separated into two very separate parts: image analysis and robotics. With a hypothetical bundle of clothes, each item demands different folding (we’re going to say) techniques, so the machine needs to figure what that soft lump of cloth is, then prime it for folding. The presentation here at CEATEC elaborated (if only lightly) on the stages it’s taken to get to here: it’s been a pretty long journey.

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