August 21, 2010

Iran opens its First Nuclear Reactor - Fuel Load Will Be Done September 5

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There was a ceremony Saturday’s events signified the opening, not the startup, of the plant near Bushehr, in southern Iran, as a working nuclear plant.

Russia also announced what seemed to be a new safeguard. Its technicians will jointly operate the station for two to three years under an agreement signed Saturday before the opening ceremony, Mr. Kiriyenko said, gradually handing over the controls to the Iranians. Russians say that the plant complies with the International Atomic Energy Agency's requirements.

Rubiks Cube Coset Solution

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Tomas Rokicki combined the computing might of Google with some clever mathematical insights to check all 43 quintillion possible jumbled positions the Rubiks cube can take and has shown that it takes a maximum of 20 moves to solve any cube.

* First they divided the set of all possible starting configurations into 2.2 billion sets, each containing 19.5 billion configurations, according to how these configurations respond to a group of 10 possible moves. This grouping allowed the team to reduce the number of sets to just 56 million, by exploiting various symmetries of a cube. [40 times improvement from problem analysis]

* Rokicki's realised dead-end moves are actually solutions to a different starting position, which led him to an algorithm that could try out one billion cubes per second instead of previous algorithms that checked 4000 cubes per second. [250,000 times improvement from algorithm]

* An optimal solution to a position is one that requires no more moves than is required. Since a position that required 20 moves was already known, we did not need to optimally solve every position; we just needed to find a solution of 20 moves or less for each sequence. This is substantially easier; the table at left show the rate a good desktop PC has when solving random positions. The faster algorithm finds near optimal solutions that prove 20 moves or less.

* Solving each set of 19.5 billion in under 20 seconds would still take 35 years

* Used google cloud computing to solve in weeks [300 times speed up]

August 20, 2010

Carnival of Nuclear Energy 15 - Bellefonte Seems Likely to be Completed and the Power of China Nuclear Volume Production Plans

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1. From the TimesFreePress via the Nuclear Townhall - The Tennessee Valley Authority plans to revive one of its unfinished nuclear reactors from the 1970s before pursuing the next generation of nuclear power.

TVA directors will be asked today to spend $250 million in the next fiscal year for engineering and equipment work for the possible completion of the Unit 1 reactor at the Bellefonte Nuclear Power Plant in Hollywood, Ala.

If approved by the TVA board and federal regulators, the mothballed unit could be completed and generate power by 2018 — 44 years after work first began at the 1,600-acre site on the Tennessee River.

ellefonte was targeted by the nuclear industry four years ago as the first test site for the AP-1000, which is advertised as simpler and safer than older reactors.

But the industry has since switched the AP-1000 test site to Georgia Power Co.’s Vogtle plant near Waynesboro, Ga.

“If you completely risk evaluate the project, it is about $1 billion less to finish the existing unit versus the AP-1000 and there is about a 12-month earlier completion with the existing reactor,” Bhatnagar said

Extremely Large Ground Based Telescope Projects GMT, 30 Meter Telescope and the Advanced LSST Project

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An extremely large telescope (ELT) is a class of telescope with an aperture of more than 20 m diameter when discussing reflecting telescopes of optical wavelengths including UV, Visible, and Near infrared wavelengths. Among many planned capabilities, ELTs are planned to increase the chance of finding earth-like planets around other stars.

The Giant Magellan Telescope (GMT) is a ground-based extremely large telescope planned for completion in 2018. It will consist of seven 8.4 m (27.6 ft) diameter primary segments, with the resolving power of a 24.5 m (80.4 ft) primary mirror and collecting area equivalent to 21.4 m (70.2 ft) one. The telescope is expected to have over four times the light-gathering ability of existing instruments.

Ray Kurzweil Clarifies his Vision of Reverse Engineering the Brain and Developing Artificial Intelligence from Principles Gleaned from Brain Science

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Ray indicated that we would be able to reverse-engineer the brain sufficiently to understand its basic principles of operation within two decades.

Ray is responding to a charge by PZ Myers that Ray does not understand the brain.

I attended the Ray Kurzweil talk at the Singularity Summit and I can attest to the fact that Myers misrepresents what Ray said.
In the liveblogging there were specific examples of how understanding the brain processes gave an insight that inspired algorithms and approaches to hearing and image recognition.

Demis Hassabis gives a more detailed description of a hybrid of neuroscience inspired approaches and machine learning which seems to be a more detailed description of what Ray was outlining

Ray presented a number of arguments as to why the design of the brain is not as complex as some theorists have advocated. This is to respond to the notion that it would require trillions of lines of code to create a comparable system. The argument from the amount of information in the genome is one of several such arguments. It is not a proposed strategy for accomplishing reverse-engineering. It is an argument from information theory, which Myers obviously does not understand.

China has almost 800 million Mobile phone subscribers and 27 million 3G subscribers

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China had 794.7 million mobile phone subscribers in July 2010.

                    million mobile subscribers   million 3G
China Mobile              558.9                  11.8 
China Unicom              158.5                   8.5
China Telecom              77.3                   6.5
TOTAL                     794.7                  26.8

Google Offers Developers Cloud Based Machine Learning for Smarter Apps

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The Google Prediction API provides a simple way for developers to create software that learns how to handle incoming data. For example, the Google-hosted algorithms could be trained to sort e-mails into categories for "complaints" and "praise" using a dataset that provides many examples of both kinds. Future e-mails could then be screened by software using that API, and handled accordingly.

Machine learning is not an easy feature to build into software. Different algorithms and mathematical techniques work best for different kinds of data. Specialized knowledge of machine learning is typically needed to consider using it in a product.

Google's service provides a kind of machine-learning black box-- ata goes in one end, and predictions come out the other. There are three basic commands: one to upload a collection of data, another telling the service to learn what it can from it, and a third to submit new data for the system to react to based on what it learned.

August 19, 2010

HPCWire Forecasts Mainstream Intel or AMD CPU-GPU chips in 2012 or 2013

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AMD has hinted about CPU-GPU chips for servers, but hasn't committed to any specific products or roadmap.
For this to make sense economically, the semiconductor process will have to be small enough to get a high-end CPU and GPU on the same die. That probably won't be practical until chips can be manufactured below the 32nm node. Also, software that can take advantage of heterogeneous designs will have to be in place to support a broad market for these chips in the enterprise -- i.e., not just for high performance computing. Because of these constraints, I think the earliest we'll see CPU-GPU server chips will be 2012,and more likely 2013.

GM shows updated versions of the Segway Followup PUMA now Called the En-V

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General Motors and its Chinese partner SAIC will unveil the EN-V two-seat electric concept at the Shanghai Expo in May

EN-V’s platform has evolved from the platform of the Personal Urban Mobility and Accessibility (P.U.M.A.) prototype that was developed by Segway and debuted in April 2009.

GM EN-V spec sheet

Overall Track:   1,150 mm [45”]

Jiao (Pride)             400 kg [880 lb]
Xiao (Laugh)           410 kg [900 lb]
Miao (Magic)          415 kg [910 lb]       
Chassis Platform      210 kg [460 lb] 
Body Construction:           Painted carbon fiber
Closures:                 Front access (single door, with polycarbonate glazing)
Seating:                  2 passengers side by side, fixed bucket seats
Chassis Construction:      Magnesium casting (lower chassis)

Top Speed:                    40 km/h [25 mph]
Range:                     40 km [25 miles]            
Energy Consumption:       70 Wh/km [125 Wh/mile]                  
Turning Radius:         1.74 m [68.5”] wall to wall diameter

Propulsion System
Motor Type:           Brushless DC motors for propulsion, braking and steering
Power:             440 Nm (max. torque) and 18 kW (max. power)
Battery Type:        Lithium-ion phosphate (air cooled)  
Output:              3.2 kWh and 5 kW (regenerative braking)         

Autonomous Systems
Sensors:         Vision, ultrasonic and Doppler sensors
Wireless:          5.9 GHz dedicated short-range communication and GPS

Autonomous Functionality

-       Automated retrieval, via app-linked smart phone
-       Automated door opening, via app-linked smart phone
-       Platooning
-       Infotainment options (geo-locating other vehicles, audiovisual information)
-       Web-conferencing (social networking)
-       Collision avoidance between vehicles
-       Object detection
-       Automated parking, via handheld device

China Leverages the Learning Curve Cost Savings for Energy and the US Attempts at Energy Research Leapfrogging

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* For China and Russia: 2.5c is added to coal and 1.3c to gas as carbon emission cost to enable sensible comparison with other data in those fuel/technology categories, though within those countries coal and gas will in fact be cheaper than the Table above suggests.

The Unites States has various nuclear fission and nuclear fusion research projects like the National Ignition Facilities work towards laser fusion with the proposed Laser Inertial Fusion Engine (LIFE). There is a video below that describes the laser fusion work. The economic goal would be to get LIFE to about half of the current cost of nuclear power when the first commercial unit is delivered around 2025-2030. The cost is compared to the current nuclear reactor capital costs of $4000-10000 per Kilowatt for new build in the United States. There is a detailed 8 page projected cost analysis for LIFE

China is already at $1500-2000 per kilowatt capital cost and the latest OECD estimate was for $1748/KW for overnight costs for a new CPR1000 reactor. China has announced plans to get the cost of CPR1000 reactors down by one third to about $1225/KW by the time they have built 50 of them. China will be building reactors for export after they get ahead of their domestic demand needs. Nuclear overnight capital costs from OECD estimates for the South Korea APR-1400 is US$ 1556/kW. China will be making its own version of the AP1000 and could get down to the $1100/kW range when they have built 50 of those. China could go from 3 cents per KWh to 2 cents per KWh. China's reactors will be cheaper than what the US has planned and China will have small modular units that are easily built in massive factories and exported.

The above chart from the World Nuclear association only goes up to the 8th unit produced. China is planning to 50 and 100 or more units. The reactor build times are now at 5 years and are being reduced to 4 years and even 3 years. Even 1-2 year buils times could be possible for the pebble bed reactors. There is also research to extend nuclear plants to 80 or more years of operation by designing all parts to be replaceable. A vibrant nuclear power industry with hundreds of units per year, far longer plant operations, complete fuel processing or deep burn, rapid factory construction can achieve sub-$1000/KW capital costs and one cent per KWh by improving all factors of construction and operation with a long term large scale industrial plan.

China Plans to Build and Export Japanese and French Nuclear Reactor Designs at Two Thirds the Cost With Volume Production

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China wants to build 153 new plants using existing technology and believes it can cut the costs of French and Japanese-based reactor designs by one third by rolling out the parts in bulk.
The Chinese-made CPR-1000 (based on the french EPR) reactor was "proven, reliable, and cost-effective". There will soon be operating base of 50 CPR1000s allowing customers to share spare parts, engineering, construction and operating experience.

Despite potential concerns about its safety standards matching Western regulations, Peter Atherton, an analyst at Citigroup, believes its reactors could reach Europe. "The Chinese have a number of reactors designed by themselves. China arriving and saying 'please approve our technology' in one or two years is perfectly feasible," he says.

Restoring lost muscle helps animal models live a lot longer with cancer

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Reversing the muscle wasting caused by cancer tumors leads to longer survival.

In most patients with advanced cancer, their muscles will gradually waste away for reasons that have never been well understood. Animals with cancer that received the experimental treatment that restored the lost muscle lived significantly longer, even as their tumors continued to grow.

Carnival of Space 167

Reprogrammed Thymus Stem Cells Could Help Tissue Regeneration

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Researchers, who used rat models, grew stem cells from the thymus - an organ important for our immune systems – in the laboratory using conditions for growing hair follicle skin stem cells.

When the cells were transplanted into developing skin, they were able to maintain skin and hair for more than a year. The transplanted follicles outperformed naturally-produced hair follicle stem cells, which are only able to heal and repair skin for three weeks. Once they were transplanted, the genetic markers of the cells changed to be more similar to those of hair follicle stem cells. The research, published in the journal Nature, shows that triggers from the surrounding environment – in this case from the skin – can reprogramme stem cells to become tissues they are not normally able to generate.

Gene’s action may help explain why restricting diet lengthens life and Enable Anti-Aging Drugs

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A team of University of Michigan scientists has found that suppressing a newly discovered gene lengthens the lifespan of roundworms. Scientists who study aging have long known that significantly restricting food intake makes animals live longer. But the goal is to find less drastic ways to achieve the same effect in humans someday. The U-M results offer promising early evidence that scientists may succeed at finding targets for drugs that someday could allow people to live longer, healthier lives.

In a study in the August issue of Aging Cell, U-M scientists found that a gene, drr-2, is an important component in a key cellular pathway, the TOR nutrient-sensing pathway, where many scientists are looking for potential drug targets. The U-M scientists then found that when they caused the drr-2 gene to be under- or over-expressed, they could lengthen or shorten lifespan in C. elegans, a worm widely used in research. Manipulating the drr-2 gene’s action produced the same effects as reducing or increasing caloric intake.

To find possible avenues for future anti-aging drugs, many scientists around the world are focusing on signaling pathways in cells that sense nutrients. The one Hsu examined, the target of rapamycin pathway or TOR pathway, is so named because its activity can be influenced by the drug rapamycin. Recent results from a large federal study being conducted at U-M and elsewhere have shown that in mice, rapamycin is effective at mimicking the anti-aging effects of dietary restriction.

August 18, 2010

Singularity University- National Ignition Facility Talk by Ed Moses

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I was just at a presentation by the head of the NIF (National Ignition Facility) project. Ed Moses presented. This is the big laser fusion project.

They are doing shots at NIF everyday.

They are expecting to perform break even shots (more than the energy of the lasers but not more than the energy of the electricity that powers the capacitors which then power the lasers) in about 9 months.
They are expecting to get to fusion burn within 2 years.
They need to compress the diameter by 2 more times. They already compress it by 20 times. 2 more times in diameter is 8 times in volume. This would be expected to get to full energy breakeven and probably generate 5-20 times more power than what is put into the system electrically.

That would prove feasibility and breakeven. Then they have to get funding and build a pilot system and get up to 10 shots per second/ 600 shots per minute.

The timetable is for about 10 years to get there but they would have get big funding in 2 years to make the one fifth scale pilot system.

Los Alamos Inertial-electrostatic-confinement (IEC) Fusion and Periodically Oscillating Plasma Spheres

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Inertial-electrostatic-confinement (IEC) systems provide an economical and technologically straightforward means to produce fusion reactions in a table-top device. IEC devices confine a plasma in a potential well created by electrostatic fields or a combination of electrostatic and magnetic fields. The fields can be produced either by grids or by virtual cathodes, typically in spherical or cylindrical geometry. The fields accelerate ions towards the center of the device, where fusion reactions can occur

Though useful for practical neutron sources, the IEC fusion devices before the work of Robert Bussard suffered low fusion yields, ~ 0.01% of input power. Also, Periodically Oscillating Plasma Sphere (POPS) processes can boost the fusion yield.

New Energy Generation in the United States in 2010

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For the first seven months of 2010, the following new electric generation came online in the USA: 3,700 MW of natural gas, 3,400 MW of coal, 1,500 MW of wind, 300 MW of biofuels, 80 MW of solar, 50 MW of geothermal, and 20 MW of hydro. A total of 37,000 MW of new capacity are under construction and expected to come online between now and 2014. Of this capacity, 46% is natural gas, 29% is coal, 16% is wind, 6% are other renewables and 3% is nuclear. Another 248,000 MW of capacity is planned to come online by 2014 but is still in the documentation phase; 41% of this capacity is wind, 32% are other renewables and 27% are fossil fuels

Roller Coaster Superconductors and Fractals Boost Superconductors

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1. Superconductors can carry electricity without resistance, so they are more efficient than copper wires. However, to attain the superconducting state, these materials have to be cooled below a critical temperature, so-called transition temperature, at which point normal electrical resistance disappears. Developing superconductors with higher transition temperatures is one of physics’ greatest quests. Now, researchers at the Carnegie Institution’s Geophysical Laboratory, with colleagues,* have unexpectedly found that the transition temperature can be induced under two different intense pressures in a three-layered bismuth oxide crystal referred to as “Bi2223.” The higher pressure produces the higher transition temperature. They believe this unusual two-step phenomena comes from competition of electronic behavior in different kinds of copper-oxygen layers in the crystal.

Seth Shostak of the SETI Institute Interviewed by Sander Olson

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Here is the Seth Shostak interview by Sander Olson. Dr.Shostak is the senior astronomer at the SETI institute. Dr. Shostak has written a number of books on extraterrestrial intelligence, including Sharing the Universe: Perspectives on Extraterrestrial Life and Confessions of an Alien Hunter: A scientist's search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence. Dr. Shostak is also the host of SETI's weekly radio show titled Are We Alone?
Question: You have been searching for the existence of extraterrestrials for several decades. Are you more or less confident of the possibility of extraterrestrial life than when you started?
Answer: I am considerably more confident than I was three decades ago. Several decades ago we didn't even know if most solar systems had planets. Now we have already spotted more than 400 extrasolar planets, and we are finding more all the time. If we find out that 3% of all solar systems have terrestrial planets, then there should be 10 billion earthlike worlds in the galaxy. That isn't even counting the 100 billion other galaxies out there.

August 17, 2010

Micro-supercapacitors with capacitances that are thousands of times higher than regular capacitors

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Newly developed micro-supercapacitors have the potential to power nomad electronics, wireless sensor networks, biomedical implants, active radiofrequency identification (RFID) tags and embedded microsensors, among other devices.

Supercapacitors, also called electric double layer capacitors (EDLCs) or ultracapacitors, bridge the gap between batteries, which offer high energy densities but are slow, and “conventional” electrolytic capacitors, which are fast but have low energy densities.

The newly developed devices described in Nature Nanotechnology have powers per volume that are comparable to electrolytic capacitors, capacitances that are four orders of magnitude higher, and energies per volume that are an order of magnitude higher. They were also found to be three orders of magnitude faster than conventional supercapacitors, which are used in backup power supplies, wind power generators and other machinery. These new devices have been dubbed “micro-supercapacitors” because they are only a few micrometers (0.000001 meters) thick.

Startup Aims to Transform Computing with Probability Processing

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1. MIT spin-out Lyric Semiconductor Inc. has launched a new breed of integrated circuits that replaces the binary logic of traditional computing with probabilistic logic. The aim is to deliver a much more efficient architecture for applications based on probability computing. For these types of workloads, the company is promising orders-of-magnitude improvement in energy efficiency, performance and cost.

Essentially, what Lyric has come up with is a fifth processor architecture, following CPUs, GPUs, DSPs, and FPGAs.

World record data density for ferroelectric recording

One Megawatt Tidal Turbine

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tlantis Resources Corporation one of the world’s leading developers of electricity-generating tidal current turbines, unveiled the largest and most powerful tidal power turbine ever built, the AK1000 which can generate 1 megawatt

Dispatching 1MW of predictable power at a water velocity of 2.65m/s, the AK1000™ is capable of generating enough electricity for over 1000 homes. It is designed for harsh weather and rough, open ocean environments such as those found off the Scottish coast. The turbine incorporates cutting edge technology from suppliers across the globe, has an 18 meter rotor diameter, weighs 1300 tonnes and stands at a height of 22.5 meters. The giant turbine is expected to be environmentally benign due to a low rotation speed whilst in operation and will deliver predictable, sustainable power to the local Orkney grid.

August 16, 2010

North Dakota Oil Has a New Production Record of 315282 Barrels of Oil Per Day in June

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North Dakota oil production has hit another record (5 monthly records out of six months) and is at 315282 barrels of oil per day in June 2010 North Dakota has added 70,000 barrels of oil pre day over its peak of 245000 barrels of oil per day in 2009.

Links to the Entire 2010 Singularity Summit Liveblogging

A Taiwan Zoo Has Cross Bred Lions and Tigers to create Ligers

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A video of the ligers from the UK Telegraph is below. A male lion and female tigress have produced rare offspring. Only two of the cubs survived -- known as ligers. They should grow to be larger than a typical lion.

Voxel Fabbing, Nanosphere Lithography and Microspheres, Personal Portable 3D Printer and At Home Laser Cutting

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These different fabrication approaches are connected. Microspheres and nanospheres form the building blocks of the Voxel fabbing concept and having access to smaller spheres increases the resolution of voxel fabbing. Also, the spheres can be used to make nanopillars of different sizes as shown in the nanosphere lithography method. Those nanopillars can be used to imprint uniform holes. The holes can be used to extrude columns. Combined there is a wide range of manufacturing processes that can be produced. There is also cheap laser cutting.

1. The concept of Voxel fabbing is described as an approach to digital matter and rapid assembly.

Imagine a desktop fabricator capable of making perfectly repeatable, arbitrary, multi material 3D objects with microscale precision. The objects would be composed of millions or even billions of small physical building blocks (voxels). Some building blocks could be hard, some could be soft. Some could be red, others green or blue. Some could be conductive and others could perform computation or store energy. Some could even be sensors and others actuators, and so on and so forth. With a relatively small repertoire of building block types and a rapid assembler, one could assemble a relatively large variety of machines at high resolution.

Voxels are the building blocks for making things. A rapid assembler will select and organize these Voxels and build them layer by layer into an object. Because you can select different Voxels you can give your object lots of different material properties, even properties that have been impossible. Voxels will then be true digital materials.

OECD Nuclear and Electricity Generation for January to May 2010 and China's Nuclear City

24M Could Reduce Cost of Batteries for Electric Cars by 85% by 2015

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A company called 24M (24 Molar), has been spun out of the advanced battery company A123 Systems. It will develop a novel type of battery based on research conducted by Yet-Ming Chiang, a professor of materials science at MIT and founder of A123 Systems. He says the battery design has the potential to cut those battery costs by 85 percent.

The battery pack alone in many electric cars can cost well over $10,000. Cutting this figure could make electric vehicles competitive with gasoline-fueled cars.

The new company has raised $10 million in venture-capital funding, and about $6 million from the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E), which will fund collaboration between the company and MIT and Rutgers University.

George Church's Multiplex Automated Genome Engineering Machines to sell for $90,000 by end of 2010

In May, Venter and his team successfully inserted a fully customized strand of DNA into a living cell, creating what they call the "first synthetic genome." Church says MAGE (Multiplex Automated Genome Engineering) can achieve similar results faster and cheaper. His lab's device will go on sale later this year for about $90,000, and at least a dozen companies, including chemical giant DuPont (DD) and biotech startup Amyris, are considering purchasing it

In 2009, Church's team was able to genetically alter a common bacterium, E. coli, to produce lycopene, an antioxidant in tomatoes that may help fight cancer. Some of the altered bacteria produced five times the normal quantity of lycopene. The team spent just three days and $1,000 in supplies to produce the bacteria using MAGE. Using old techniques, it would have taken months.
Bloomberg coverage - the Harvard team modifies DNA directly in live cells, which are tricked into thinking it’s their own genetic material

* While MAGE can produce high quantities of cells with many functions, Venter’s method can design cells that can be used as templates to build on

August 15, 2010

James Randi on Is there Such a Thing as Scientific Consensus

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James Randi on Is there Such a Thing as Scientific Consensus?

We can trust our perceptions, or so we like to believe. But James Randi knows better. Randi, who for half a century traveled the world as a celebrated conjurer and escape artist, takes the stage to demonstrate how human beings fool each other and themselves. Drawing on his extensive experiences as an investigator of paranormal, supernatural, and generally weird claims, Randi will argue that the inhabitants of the modern world are not as rational as they appear -- and that as our technologies become ever-more potent, our hidden penchant for unreason becomes commensurately more dangerous. In singular times, it is the ethical responsibility of every thinking being to become an agent for the promulgation of critical thought, skepticism, and humility.

He notes that we all make assumptions. He then reveals a fake hand microphone and fake glasses (no lenses in it).

Irene Pepperberg on Nonhuman Intelligence: Where we Are and Where We're Headed

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Irene Pepperberg on Nonhuman Intelligence: Where we Are and Where We're Headed

Futurists like to predict how genetic engineering and computational implants will allow humans to become a super-species, but what about the application of similar technologies to nonhumans? First, however, shouldn’t we examine their current cognitive and physical capacities? How can we improve upon what we don’t yet fully understand? Second, what would we do with more intelligent creatures ­ harness them to do more of our work or treat them more as equals? Finally, we already have many conflicting views on the legal status of animals in our society ­ what happens if we endow them with more human characteristics? Might such animals provide a testing ground for humanity's ability to interact humanely with animal-like and ultimately human-like machines?

Jose Cordeiro: The Future of Energy and the Energy of the Future

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Jose Cordeiro: The Future of Energy and the Energy of the Future
energy is $8 trillion per year industry
Jose has been involved in the millenium project for ten years.
He was going to be the secretary of energy for Venezuala if the opponent of Yugo Chavez had won
He is involved in the Singularity University.

Home energy generation project of the Singularity University

David Hanson on Why Characters Are Key to Friendly Artificial Intelligence

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David Hanson on Why Characters Are Key to Friendly A.I.

The human mind is hardwired for social cognition and face-to-face interactions. This explains people’s powerful attraction to fictional characters in entertainment and literature, and why characters inspire such strong emotions in people, even love. This effect could extend to A.I.-driven character machines, if we can make their intelligence humanlike enough to act like protagonists. Currently robots and agents may look extremely humanlike, but possess only rudimentary cognitive A.I. They are not yet fully gratifying as characters. People are deeply discerning of social intelligence in the human form, and so to realize the potential for enchanting, lovable protagonists, A.I. must closely emulate human emotions and cognition, as well as appearance. Character machines need more than the mere illusion of awareness. The machines must truly understand us, exhibit genuine compassion and creativity. We must witness the machines learn and grow, fill with wonder and hope, and strive towards goals, see them struggle and overcome. The machines must learn to form deep, caring relationships with people, and attain true love and wisdom. As protagonist machines obtain these capabilities, they will grow more desirable to consumers. This feedback loop among consumer demand for lovable characters, technical development of product that better satisfies people, and requisite new scientific insights, could propel the evolution of strong, friendly A.I. over coming years. Hence, humanlike character intelligence holds promise as an approach for the pursuit of safe, singularity-level machine intelligence.

Tooby, Goertzel, Yudkowsky & Legg panel: Narrow and General Intelligence

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Tooby, Goertzel, Yudkowsky & Legg panel: Narrow and General Intelligence

Yudkowsky starts if off by defending the concept of general intelligence. That evolutionary biology should recognize it. That there is human intelligence icing on the cake beyond primate intelligence.

Legg - Monte Carlo AIXI can learn to solve things.

AIXI is fictious but can be model for doing things. Just like a Turing machine.

John Tooby: Can discovering the design principles governing natural intelligence unleash breakthroughs in artificial intelligence?

Shane Legg: on Universal measures of intelligence

Shane Legg on Universal measures of intelligence

Intelligence is a key concept in the quest for artificial intelligence, and more generally the singularity. Remarkably, relatively little work has gone into developing general, encompassing and theoretically founded definitions of intelligence for machines. This leaves us without a clear foundation for either theoretical research or developing empirical measures of progress. In this talk I outline the major perspectives on the nature of intelligence and some of the informal definitions that have been put forward. I then sketch the main ideas behind the universal intelligence measure. This is a formal definition of intelligence based on Hutter's AIXI model of theoretically optimal machine intelligence. Based on this a number of researchers, including myself, are developing practical tests of machine intelligence. I describe some of the challenges faced when doing this and share some recent results from testing various artificial agents. Might we soon be able to measure our progress towards machine intelligence?

Here is a 2007 paper by Shane Legg on Universal Intelligence (47 pages

He is reviewing the computations per second from the best supercomputers by year. He notes that it is slightly curving upward on a log graph. It is projected that we have exaflops around 2018 and 100 exaflops by 2025.

But he wants to see machine intelligence against the year.

Will you use a human model of intelligence or a more ideal or normative model of intelligence

Anita Goel: Information Processing & Physical Intelligence in Nanomachines that Read/Write DNA

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Anita Goel: Information Processing & Physical Intelligence in Nanomachines that Read/Write DNA

Nanobiosym is her company

precision control of DNA read/write machines at the single molecular level will enalbe many things including gene radar.

Gene Radar is a technology, a mobile phone-like device in which you place a small drop of blood or saliva. The machine can then display what disease the person has. It detects signatures of DNA and RNA. It detects a molecular fingerprint. The idea is to introduce and fine-tune the technology in developing countries, then bring it to developed countries with developed infrastructure where resistance to new technologies is often a barrier.
Here is a 2008 interview about Gene RADAR

Ellen Heber-Katz on The MRL mouse - how it regenerates and how we might do the same

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Ellen Heber-Katz on The MRL mouse - how it regenerates and how we might do the same

We will present an overview of the current state of mammalian regeneration in the context of recent and ongoing discoveries in the MRL mouse system. The MRL mouse is the first and to date the only genetically dissectable mammalian model for regeneration and as such provides a "laboratory" for assessing theories and potential clinical approaches to achieving the medical goal of regeneration. The very recent finding that the turning off of a single gene – p21 - related to the regulation of the cell cycle can convert an otherwise non-regenerating mouse to a regenerator leads to two important conclusions. First, the molecular apparatus for regeneration has survived the long evolutionary gap between lower species such as hydra and salamander up through the advent of mammals. And second, the fact that the capacity to regenerate can be “uncloaked“ through the turning off of a single gene gives impetus to the possibility that regeneration can be induced by drug therapy alone.

Epimorphic regeneration. Newts grow back a limb in about 10 weeks. Full size takes a bit longer.

Deer antler is epimorphic regeneration as well.
In the MRL mouse it regenerates hole punches in ears within 30 days.
Normal mice do not restore ear holes. Rabbits do regenerate ear holes.

Lance Becker on Modifying the Boundary Between Life and Death

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Lance Becker on Modifying the Boundary Between Life and Death

There is increasing evidence that the boundary between life and death is not a distinct cut-off, but rather is more flexible and modifiable than we have previously believed. If true, it may be possible to save tens of thousands of lives each year from premature death with novel therapies currently in development.

To develop these life saving therapies requires an understanding of the basic mechanisms of death. We understand relatively little about sudden death in humans and acute death in cells, and the physiological implications of cell death within a whole person remain unknown. A common pathway for sudden death is any condition that results in oxygen deprivation to tissues. Deprivation of oxygen, called ischemia, is the pathway for devastating conditions such as cardiac arrest, asphyxia, drowning, poisoning, severe blood loss, heart attack and stroke, among others. Conventional wisdom dictates that the best therapy for conditions of oxygen deprivation is to rapidly restore blood flow, delivering oxygen back to the body.. The restoration of oxygenated blood is called “reperfusion”. Rapid reperfusion is currently the universal treatment to these life-threatening emergencies.

But there is a problem with this approach: it does not work if the period of oxygen deprivation has been prolonged. Furthermore, the restoration of oxygen itself has been shown to cause tissue injury, a phenomenon known as “reperfusion injury”. Many scientists now believe that there is another approach which may restore life to those for whom our current methods of reperfusion and restoring oxygen are insufficient.

Over the last years we have developed some newer insights into the basic mechanism of cell death and the cause of reperfusion injury. It has been shown that many of these cellular pathways involve the mitochondria, the tiny organelle within our cells that is responsible for producing energy for the cell. A major breakthrough in our understanding has been that the mitochondrion also uniquely controls the initiation of cellular death, and it is the activation of this pathway upon reperfusion that results in reperfusion injury and cellular death. This control over cell death may be modifiable and more flexible that we currently believe. Understanding the hard wiring of the mitochondria, its ability to control the flow of electrons within our cells, and the chemical results of this activity are now within our grasp. If true, the implications on human therapies would be significant.

Our collective knowledge in this area suggests that a new combined approach to saving lives is required. We propose to simultaneously provide (a) artificial circulation plus (b) controlled reperfusion cocktails to victims of ischemia who currently do not survive all traditional methods of resuscitation. Studies using such an approach reveal that the brain can be restored to full function after a period of ischemia that is completely lethal to standard treatment. Studies to expand this approach to the resuscitation of whole animals and humans are now underway. There is reason for much optimism that we will soon have the ability to restore life to tens of thousands of premature deaths each year with these new approaches to resuscitation.

there seems to be intentional death of cells after they are deprived of oxygen for a long time but then have oxygen restored.

All study of intentional cell death leads to mitochondria.

Liveblogging the Singularity Summmit with Ramez Naam on The Digital Biome

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Ramez Naam on The Digital Biome

Exponential technologies offer the promise not only of changing the human condition, but of radically altering the face of the planet on which we dwell. Within the next 20 years we will have sequenced the genome of every known species on the earth and tremendously advanced our understanding of how to utilize those genes and reprogram those organisms to alter the biosphere. Biosphere engineering will play a major role in overcoming current environmental and resource challenges, including finite reserves of fossil fuels and looming changes to the earth’s climate. That is just the beginning. An understanding of the complete biome genome will bring tremendous agility in combating future infectious disease outbreaks, in creating new sensors and manufacturing capabilities, and in revolutionizing food. Biosphere engineering and its underlying technologies will allow us to dramatically raise the population carrying capacity of the planet to tens of billions of individuals at least. With effective technology to sculpt the planetary biome, the limits of the number of humans that can live on the planet, and the quality of life of each, at tremendously higher than they appear to be today. This talk will explore some of the lower bounds of what's possible with control of the biome.

Liveblogging the Singularity summit - Eliezer Yudkowsky on Simplified Humanism and Positive Futurism

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Eliezer Yudkowsky on Simplified Humanism and Positive Futurism

I will discuss a complex of related ideas that together form a more powerful whole: The idea of an upward-sloping future, as opposed to a worldview that locates utopia in the past and sees an inevitable downward slope going forward; humanism that focuses on personhood theory, rather than matters of outward form; the rejection of previously accepted ills, such as smallpox, or now aging, as unjustifiable; commitments to reason and rationality, the substitution of goals for prophecies, and the acceptance that each additional detail of a prediction is burdensome and must be separately justified. These ideas combine to form the natural continuation of the Enlightenment project, in which hope for a dramatically better future continues.

Carnival of Nuclear Energy 14

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