Researchers at Lancaster University, UK have taken a hint from the way the human lungs and heart constantly communicate with each other, to devise an innovative, highly flexible encryption algorithm that they claim can't be broken using the traditional methods of cyberattack.
Information can be encrypted with an array of different algorithms, but the question of which method is the most secure is far from trivial. Such algorithms need a "key" to encrypt and decrypt information; the algorithms typically generate their keys using a well-known set of rules that can only admit a very large, but nonetheless finite number of possible keys. This means that in principle, given enough time and computing power, prying eyes can always break the code eventually.
The researchers, led by Dr. Tomislav Stankovski, created an encryption mechanism that can generate a truly unlimited number of keys, which they say vastly increases the security of the communication. To do so, they took inspiration from the anatomy of the human body.
Imogen Heap and her team have developed gloves that allow you to make music through simple gestures.
With most concerts, what you see is what you hear: A guitarist cozying up to a speaker for feedback, a drummer tapping the high-hat, a singer breathing into the mic. There’s a visual, interactive element to the show that plays a huge role in how much fun it is for the audience.
Not all musicians have that luxury. Go to an electronic music concert and most of the time you’ll find the artist hunched over a computer, turning knobs and poking buttons. You hear sounds, but rarely do you know how they’re made or where they’re coming from. At best, this effect is mysterious; at worst, it’s boring. “When you see a musician on a laptop, they’re often doing amazing things, you just have no idea because it’s on a screen,” says Imogen Heap. “Usually it just looks like they’re sending an email.”
Information overload has become an everyday experience for anyone who works with computers, owns a smartphone or waits at a bus stop with minute-by-minute updates about arrival times.
And this information overload has been cited as a major factor in the rise of stress-related diseases. Some advocate a digital detox as the antidote to the curse of email, social media and constant communication but for many, that is just isn’t practical.
Others are turning to traditional mindfulness meditation techniques as a way of managing their digital dependence without having to switch off from their everyday lives entirely. It’s seen as a way to calm the mind and help the body to cope with the overwhelming amount of data coming our way from all different directions and sources.
As long ago as June 1983 Time magazine ran a cover feature on stress as a modern anxiety. Three decades later, answers to the problem are being put forward by that same magazine. A February 2014 issue of Time featured a cover that read: The mindful revolution: The science of finding focus in a stressed-out, multitasking culture.
In 2014, Time readers, like many others, want practical solutions to their stress. We answer work emails while waiting in a supermarket queue, we pay bills while preparing dinner and we follow our favourite celebrity’s tweets while we eat it. We can begin to feel like we couldn’t escape all the stimuli even if we wanted to.
Answer your work email on the weekend often enough and you can feel like it’s expected of you to do so all the time. Once you are used to receiving a constant stream of news, you start to feel lost without it. That can cause anxiety and depression.
Researchers at Washington State University have devised a method by which computers can teach each other, freeing humans from having to do so.
While it may be getting easier for humans to teach robots how to perform new tasks, there's still one potential problem – when a new robot is introduced to a work environment, its user may have to teach it the task over again, from scratch. That might soon no longer be the case, however. Researchers at Washington State University have devised a method by which computers can teach each other, freeing humans from having to do so.
The technique mirrors the way in which a human teacher and student would interact, and has so far been used to teach "student" computers how to play Pac-Man and StarCraft.
The algorithms utilized are based around telling the "teacher" computer – the one that already knows how to play the games – when to advise the student computer to take action, and when to let it simply learn by doing. This is a crucial component of any teacher/student relationship, as the student won't know what to do if too little advice is offered, yet they'll never truly understand what's involved in a task if they're always simply following instructions.
Brad, a toaster susceptible to peer pressure, is the star of "Addicted Products," a design experiment recently named Best in Show at the 2014 Interaction Awards.
His name is Brad, and he’s an addict. And a toaster.
Brad is the star of “Addicted Products,” a design experiment recently named Best in Show at the 2014 Interaction Awards. As a connected toaster, he’s in constant contact with other connected toasters like him–and thus keenly aware of how much action they’re getting. If he’s not being used as much as his friends, Brad gets upset. He’ll wiggle his little handle to get your attention, begging you to make some toast or at least to give him a reassuring pat on the side. Ignore him long enough, and he’ll take a more drastic measure: pinging a network of potential owners to find a new home. Hey, at least he didn’t burn down your kitchen.
Conceived by Italian designer Simone Rebaudengo, Brad is a glimpse into a bizarro near-future, one where the internet of things leads not to harmoniously interconnected gadgets but rather a house full of junkies–appliances hopelessly addicted to being used. The fanciful premise evolved from a simple idea: What if the smart objects of the future aren’t just smart, but also potentially jealous, petty or vindictive? What if, connected to and benchmarked against their peers, their relationships with each other start to inform their relationships with us?
How soon can we expect to see brain implants for perfect memory, enhanced vision, hypernormal focus or an expert golf swing? We're closer than you might think.
What would you give for a retinal chip that let you see in the dark or for a next-generation cochlear implant that let you hear any conversation in a noisy restaurant, no matter how loud? Or for a memory chip, wired directly into your brain's hippocampus, that gave you perfect recall of everything you read? Or for an implanted interface with the Internet that automatically translated a clearly articulated silent thought ("the French sun king") into an online search that digested the relevant Wikipedia page and projected a summary directly into your brain?
Science fiction? Perhaps not for very much longer. Brain implants today are where laser eye surgery was several decades ago. They are not risk-free and make sense only for a narrowly defined set of patients—but they are a sign of things to come.
Unlike pacemakers, dental crowns or implantable insulin pumps, neuroprosthetics—devices that restore or supplement the mind's capacities with electronics inserted directly into the nervous system—change how we perceive the world and move through it. For better or worse, these devices become part of who we are.
Neuroprosthetics aren't new. They have been around commercially for three decades, in the form of the cochlear implants used in the ears (the outer reaches of the nervous system) of more than 300,000 hearing-impaired people around the world. Last year, the Food and Drug Administration approved the first retinal implant, made by the company Second Sight.
Both technologies exploit the same principle: An external device, either a microphone or a video camera, captures sounds or images and processes them, using the results to drive a set of electrodes that stimulate either the auditory or the optic nerve, approximating the naturally occurring output from the ear or the eye.
An artificial-intelligence system has learned to spot the telltale language people use when lying in court or in fawning online book reviews
LAWYERS and judges use skill and instinct to sense who might be lying in court. Soon they may be able to rely on a computer, too.
An AI system trained on false statements is highly accurate at spotting deceptive language in written or spoken testimony. It can also be used to weed out fake online reviews of books, hotels and restaurants.
The system is the work of computational linguists Massimo Poesio at the University of Essex in Colchester, UK, and Tommaso Fornaciari at the Center for Mind/Brain sciences in Trento, Italy. It is based on a technique called stylometry, which counts how often certain words appear in a passage.
The method is often applied to determine who wrote a piece of text, but software can employ it to pick out deception instead. The strategy is to seek out the overuse of linguistic hedges such as "to the best of my knowledge", or overzealous expressions such as "I swear to god".
"But all previous studies had used deceptive texts created in the lab," Poesio says. "What has been missing was a system that could work on real-world lies."
So he and Fornaciari trained a machine learning system by feeding it Italian courtroom depositions and statements by defendants known to have committed perjury. The researchers say it is now nearly 75 per cent accurate at indicating whether a defendant or witness is being deceptive. "We can achieve an accuracy that is way above chance," says Poesio.
Cognitive computers — machines capable of learning, rather that simply following programming — may one day be able to mimic human brains. But first, they're being used to invent chocolate burritos and Swiss-Thai asparagus quiche. IBM, a leader in the field of cognitive computing who has been working with DARPA since 2008 on a project to create a computer that thinks as people do, has partnered with the Institute of Culinary Education to take the IBM Food Truck on a tour round the United States. On its travels, top chefs will be serving meals dreamed up by a computer.
It comes down to dopamine, one of the brain’s basic signaling molecules. Emotionally, we feel dopamine as pleasure, engagement, excitement, creativity, and a desire to investigate and make meaning out of the world. It’s released whenever we take risks, or encounter novelty. From an evolutionary standpoint, it reinforces exploratory behavior.
More importantly, dopamine is a motivator. It’s released when we have the expectation of reward. And once this neurotransmitter becomes hardwired into a psychological reward loop, the desire to get more of that reward becomes the brain’s overarching preoccupation. Cocaine, widely considered the most addictive drug on the planet, does little more than flood the brain with dopamine and block its reuptake (sort of like SSRI’s block the reuptake of serotonin).
Video games are full of novelty, risk-taking, reward-anticipation, and exploratory behavior. They’re dopamine-production machines dressed up with joysticks and better graphics. And this is why video games are so addictive.
Dutch scientists have developed the world's smallest autonomous flapping drone, a dragonfly-like beast with 3-D vision that could revolutionise our experience of everything from pop concerts to farming.
"This is the DelFly Explorer, the world's smallest drone with flapping wings that's able to fly around by itself and avoid obstacles," its proud developer Guido de Croon of the Delft Technical University told AFP.
Weighing just 20 grammes (less than an ounce), around the same as four sheets of printer paper, the robot dragonfly could be used in situations where much heavier quadcopters with spinning blades would be hazardous, such as flying over the audience to film a concert or sport event.
The Explorer looks like a large dragonfly or grasshopper as it flitters about the room, using two tiny low-resolution video cameras—reproducing the 3-D vision of human eyes—and an on-board computer to take in its surroundings and avoid crashing into things.
And like an insect, the drone which has a wingspan of 28 centimetres (11 inches), would feel at home flying around plants.
"It can for instance also be used to fly around and detect ripe fruit in greenhouses," De Croon said, with an eye on the Netherlands' vast indoor fruit-growing business.
"Or imagine, for the first time there could be an autonomous flying fairy in a theme park," he said.
With a chip under your skin, you can do everything from unlocking doors to starting motorbikes, says Frank Swain, who has been trying to get his own implant.
A few years ago, I perched on the edge of my bed in a tiny flat, breathing in a cloud of acetone fumes, using a scalpel to pick at the corner of an electronic travel card. More than 10 million Londoners use these Oyster cards to ride the city’s public transport network. I had decided to dissect mine. After letting the card sit in pink nail polish remover for a week, the plastic had softened enough that I could peel apart the layers. Buried inside was a tiny microchip attached to a fine copper wire: the radio frequency identification (RFID) chip.
My goal was to bury the chip under my skin, so that the machine barriers at the entrance to the Underground would fly open with a wave of my hand, as if I was some kind of technological wizard. But although I had the chip and an ex-Royal Marines medic willing to do the surgery, I failed to get my hands on the high-grade silicone I’d need to coat the chip to prevent my body reacting against it. Since then, people have used the technique I helped popularise to put liberated Oyster chips in bracelets, rings, magic wands, even fruit, but the prize for first London transport cyborg is still up for grabs.
The person who does will find themselves inducted into the community of “grinders” – hobbyists who modify their own body with technological improvements. Just as you might find petrol heads poring over an engine, or hackers tinkering away at software code, grinders dream up ways to tweak their own bodies. One of the most popular upgrades is to implant a microchip under the skin, usually in the soft webbing between the thumb and forefinger.
A Brazilian neuroscientist says brain-controlled robotics will let the paralyzed walk again.
In less than 60 days, Brazil will begin hosting soccer’s 2014 World Cup, even though workers are still hurrying to pour concrete at three unfinished stadiums. At a laboratory in São Paulo, a Duke University neuroscientist is in his own race with the World Cup clock. He is rushing to finish work on a mind-controlled exoskeleton that he says a paralyzed Brazilian volunteer will don, navigate across a soccer pitch using his or her thoughts, and use to make the ceremonial opening kick of the tournament on June 12.
The project, called Walk Again, is led by Miguel Nicolelis, a 53-year-old native of Brazil and one of the biggest names in neuroscience. If it goes as planned, the kick will be a highly public display of research into brain-machine interfaces, a technology that aims to help paralyzed people control machines with their thoughts and restore their ability to get around.
“It’s going to be like putting a man on the moon—it’s conquering a level of audacity and innovation that the people outside Brazil aren’t used to associating with Brazil,” Nicolelis has told audiences. The kick, he has said, “will inaugurate a new era of neuroscience, [that of] neuroengineering.”
Tauriq Moosa: Sex robots, as far-fetched as they may seem, could end up being commonplace. A mature response to this would be best all round
Consenting adults’ private activities seem to get a lot of other people very cross. Almost nowhere is this more pronounced than activities involving sex: the position, placement and management of people’s genital activities seem to keep a lot of other adults awake – but in an unhealthy, conservative way.
Many people don’t like two men doing romantic things together; many dislike women doing things too; and even if it’s the “proper” combination of sexes, there are rules about monogamy and marriage and money and so forth – that must not be violated, lest you incur the wrath of judgmental columnists and incomprehensible comment sections (or, unfortunately, the law itself).
Even otherwise progressive individuals are troubled by things such as non-monogamous relationships, child-free people (mostly child-free women, because wombs must always be filled with future babies, apparently), and men using sex toys.
So when considering, for example, sex robots, we should expect hatred, antagonism, and judgement. That attitude, in particular and in general toward adult consensual sex, should change. We can use sex robots as a good case-study to demonstrate why.
AT&T, Cisco, GE, IBM and Intel are the latest companies to band together with the aim of standardizing interoperability across smart machines and ultimately, drive adoption of an Internet of Things. Announced last week, the Industrial Internet Consortium (IIC) is a not-for-profit open membership group created to establish common frameworks for development of inter-connected digital and physical worlds.
While the notion of device-to-device communication holds great potential across a range of industries, with different manufacturers using different engineering standards, development has been slow-moving in the eyes of some.
Learning about smart objects from the Karotz Internet-connected toy rabbit thing
..The Karotz, with its simple, truncated cone body embodies some of the Brancusian minimalism that has become particularly elusive in today's world of endless app grids and scrolling text tickers. With the addition of dynamic, if minimalist, attributes—a single glowing surface, rotating ear forms–this sculptural object imbues semantic messages and subtleties of meaning. Karotz offers connection without consumption, to give us a way to interact with the Internet without leaving our current physical and social context.
The strength of these models comes not from their ability to replace underwriters, but rather their ability to complement human decision-making. After getting an initial estimate, human experts typically tweak the model to account for their unique experience, in the same way a regular might correct for the dents and creases in the local pub’s billiards table (as Nate Silver suggests). The merits of humans and algorithms working together were not lost on Kasparov either. After the loss to Deep Blue, Kasparov himself helped popularise Centaur Chess, a variant where cyborg teams of one human and one computer compete against each other.
Spritz doesn't strive to fix speed reading's flaws, but to transcend reading entirely.
If you’re a person who reads, you may have read about Spritz, a startup that hopes to “reimagine” reading. Like most tech startups, reimagining entails making more efficient. Spritz promises to speed up reading by flashing individual words in a fixed position on a digital display. Readers can alter the speed of presentation, ratcheting it up to 600 words per minute (about three times the speed the average reader scans traditional text).
This method, called rapid serial visual presentation (RSVP), isn’t new, but Spritz has added an “Optimal Recognition Point” or ORP to this display technique. They claim it helps readers recognize each word most effectively by focusing their attention on a red letter representing its optimal point of recognition. Public response to the technology has been tremendous. According to Spritz, over 10,000 developers have already signed up to develop “Spritzified” products.
The book business is merging into the magazine business as more publishers sell literature via subscription to highly targeted clusters of readers. High-profile literary studio Plympton is leading the charge with its $5-a-month iOS service Rooster.
One way to address our farming challenges is through various high-tech practices collectively known as precision agriculture. Precision farmers use technology such as self-steering tractors and aerial drones to find ways of more efficiently using water, fertilizer, and other resources. Farmbot is an open source precision agriculture machine, meaning anyone can take the designs and build their own.
Why an app that reminds you to text your partner might not be the best idea. If you’re looking to add a digital spark to your relationship this Valentine’s Day, you can download the new app Romantimatic. Romantimatic will send you scheduled reminders to contact your significant other and give you pre-set messages to fire off. The pre-set messages include simple, straightforward classics like “I love you” and “I miss you.”Or maybe that doesn’t sound appealing. It sure doesn’t to me. In that case, I recommend you follow my lead: Take a solemn oath before the Greek god Eros and vow to never, ever go this far down the outsourced sentiment rabbit hole.