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Page 1915

Jan 5, 2007

North Korea to Test a Nuke Again?

Posted by in categories: geopolitics, nuclear weapons

From ABC News:

WASHINGTON, Jan. 4, 2007 — North Korea appears to have made preparations for another nuclear test, according to U.S. defense officials.

“We think they’ve put everything in place to conduct a test without any notice or warning,” a senior U.S. defense official told ABC News.

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Jan 5, 2007

The Sorcerer’s Apprentice

Posted by in category: nanotechnology

On Edge.org, 160 brilliant scientists and thinkers were asked, “what are you optimistic about?” Gregory Cochran, a professor of anthropology at the University of Utah, chose to speak about self-replicating manufacturing:

In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread”—it has always been that way.

Most men have been slaves of necessity, while the few who were not lived by exploiting others who were. Although mechanization has eased that burden in the advanced countries, it is still the case for the majority of the human race. Limited resources (mainly fossil fuels), as well as negative consequences of industrialization such as global warming, have made some people question whether American living standards can ever be extended to most of the human race. They’re pessimists, and they’re wrong.

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Dec 31, 2006

Americans Predict 2007

Posted by in category: polls

From the Associated Press:

WASHINGTON (AP) — Another terrorist attack, a warmer planet, death and destruction from a natural disaster. These are among Americans’ grim predictions for the United States in 2007.

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Dec 22, 2006

UK Government Report Talks Robot Rights

Posted by in categories: robotics/AI, supercomputing

In an important step forward for acknowledging the possibility of real AI in our immediate future, a report by the UK government that says robots will have the same rights and responsibilities as human citizens. The Financial Times reports:

The next time you beat your keyboard in frustration, think of a day when it may be able to sue you for assault. Within 50 years we might even find ourselves standing next to the next generation of vacuum cleaners in the voting booth. Far from being extracts from the extreme end of science fiction, the idea that we may one day give sentient machines the kind of rights traditionally reserved for humans is raised in a British government-commissioned report which claims to be an extensive look into the future. Visions of the status of robots around 2056 have emerged from one of 270 forward-looking papers sponsored by Sir David King, the UK government’s chief scientist.

The paper covering robots’ rights was written by a UK partnership of Outsights, the management consultancy, and Ipsos Mori, the opinion research organisation. “If we make conscious robots they would want to have rights and they probably should,” said Henrik Christensen, director of the Centre of Robotics and Intelligent Machines at the Georgia Institute of Technology. The idea will not surprise science fiction aficionados.

It was widely explored by Dr Isaac Asimov, one of the foremost science fiction writers of the 20th century. He wrote of a society where robots were fully integrated and essential in day-to-day life.In his system, the ‘three laws of robotics’ governed machine life. They decreed that robots could not injure humans, must obey orders and protect their own existence – in that order.

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Dec 21, 2006

Hypersonic Cruise Missile

Posted by in category: military

From Popular Science, a project that introduces a powerful kinetic weapon to the U.S. military arsenal:

When the order comes, the sub shoots a 65-ton Trident II ballistic missile into the sky. Within 2 minutes, the missile is traveling at more than 20,000 ft. per second. Up and over the oceans and out of the atmosphere it soars for thousands of miles. At the top of its parabola, hanging in space, the Trident’s four warheads separate and begin their screaming descent down toward the planet. Traveling as fast as 13,000 mph, the warheads are filled with scored tungsten rods with twice the strength of steel. Just above the target, the warheads detonate, showering the area with thousands of rods-each one up to 12 times as destructive as a .50-caliber bullet. Anything within 3000 sq. ft. of this whirling, metallic storm is obliterated.

If Pentagon strategists get their way, there will be no place on the planet to hide from such an assault. The plan is part of a program — in slow development since the 1990s, and now quickly coalescing in military circles — called Prompt Global Strike. It will begin with modified Tridents. But eventually, Prompt Global Strike could encompass new generations of aircraft and armaments five times faster than anything in the current American arsenal. One candidate: the X-51 hypersonic cruise missile, which is designed to hit Mach 5 — roughly 3600 mph. The goal, according to the U.S. Strategic Command’s deputy commander Lt. Gen. C. Robert Kehler, is “to strike virtually anywhere on the face of the Earth within 60 minutes.”

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Dec 12, 2006

Regional nuclear war could devastate global climate

Posted by in category: nuclear weapons

From Eurekalert, a warning about the dangers of nuclear war:

Even a small-scale, regional nuclear war could produce as many direct fatalities as all of World War II and disrupt the global climate for a decade or more, with environmental effects that could be devastating for everyone on Earth, university researchers have found.

These powerful conclusions are being presented Dec. 11 during a press conference and a special technical session at the annual meeting of American Geophysical Union in San Francisco. The research also appears in twin papers posted on Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics Discussions, an online journal.

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