In the summer of 1935, a pair of Bavarian climbers arrived in the Bernese Alps, hoping to become the first people ever to scale the monstrous north face of the mountain known as the Eiger. On their first day, they made good progress. On the second day, less so, and on the third, even less. Then a storm swept over the mountain and they froze to death. The next year, four more mountaineers attempted the face, and all four died. After a third failed attempt in 1937, a quartet of climbers finally reached the summit in 1938, taking three days to get there.
Twelve years and many more fatalities later, a pair of climbers managed to surmount the Eiger in 18 hours. The 1960s saw the first successful solo climb. In 1988, Alison Hargreaves climbed the Eiger while six months pregnant. By the 1990s, people were making the climb in the dead of winter. In 2008, Swiss climber Euli Steck speed-climbed the peak, solo, in winter, in 2 hours, 47 minutes, and 33 seconds. You can watch the video. Last month, a trio of Brits stood on a ledge near the top of the Eiger, then spread their arms and legs like wings and flew down.
Bitcoin is disruptive in the most raw sense of the word. Not the “hey, it’s another photo sharing app!” form of disruptive, or even the libertarians wanting new ways to get from point a to point b without saying the word “taxi” kind of disruptive. The biggest bitcoin bulls say it has the potential to be the third major way to buy and sell goods that the world has ever known, after bartered goods and government-backed money.
If the promises of bitcoin could ever be unlocked – perhaps one of the biggest ifs in the tech world today – it’s about as big of a venture-style opportunity as you could imagine. Right now the value of the system is a headline-grabbing $1 billion. But if its potential to be a global, borderless way of buying and selling goods via the Internet were ever achieved, it’s value would one day be in the trillions. It’s a massive potential for value creation that suddenly has people in a lather. Investors like Fred Wilson’s Union Square Ventures have already placed some significant bets – with many more investors quietly mining for opportunities. But despite the massive potential upside, bitcoin is fraught with so much complexity and risk that the potential seems almost impossible to unlock.
The term "Big Data" naturally conjures up images of Big Users, like the government or Google or Costco. It's easy to see why big enterprises crunch data to learn, for example, which groceries people want on the first day of a heat wave and which they want later on, or how warmed-up Scots buy different foods than people on a hot day in England, or how your recent Facebook activity hints that you're in the market for a new printer. But Big Data is now so abundant and accessible that it can also be used by us smallfolk. Case in point: Buycott, a new app for smartphones that scans a product code and tells you in an instant who will profit if you buy the thing. Don't want to help the Koch brothers make more money? Want to reward companies that took your preferred position on Internet freedom or marriage equality? Just scan and tap.
In the second installment of our “8 Trends That Will Shape Humanity” series, we look at the rise of the "city state" and how the coming consolidation of humanity into cities will change life for residents of these massive urban hubs.
What is the sharing economy? It’s a growing movement that enables the sharing of personal resources amongst members. Recently estimated to be worth $3.5 billion by Forbes magazine, the sharing economy was heralded by innovators like Zipcar (a car sharing service) and Airbnb (a house and apartment sharing service). While there are numerous free sharing services, generally the sharing transaction is monetized and handled by a third party company. These sharing services have allowed members to make money by renting out things and space that would have otherwise sat unused. And people are truly sharing almost everything.
A group at Tokyo Institute of Technology, led by Dr. Osamu Hasegawa, has succeeded in making further advances with SOINN, their machine learning algorithm, which can now use the internet to learn how to perform new tasks. The system, which is under development as an artificial brain for autonomous mental development robots, is currently being used to learn about objects in photos using image searches on the internet. It can also take aspects of other known objects and combine them to make guesses about objects it doesn't yet recognize.
For Robots Like Baxter, The Interface Becomes A Personality Fast Company Not only was Baxter designed to work safely alongside people on the floor of the factory, but it has human-like qualities intended to comfort the people working with and...
John Boitnott's insight:
The future of Robots is here and it has a personality and can learn on it's own.
Work, friendships, exercise, parenting, eating, reading — there just aren’t enough hours in the day. To live fully, many of us carve those extra hours out of our sleep time. Then we pay for it the next day. A thirst for life leads many to pine for a drastic reduction, if not elimination, of the human need for sleep. Little wonder: if there were a widespread disease that similarly deprived people of a third of their conscious lives, the search for a cure would be lavishly funded. It’s the Holy Grail of sleep researchers, and they might be closing in.
As with most human behaviours, it’s hard to tease out our biological need for sleep from the cultural practices that interpret it. The practice of sleeping for eight hours on a soft, raised platform, alone or in pairs, is actually atypical for humans. Many traditional societies sleep more sporadically, and social activity carries on throughout the night. Group members get up when something interesting is going on, and sometimes they fall asleep in the middle of a conversation as a polite way of exiting an argument. Sleeping is universal, but there is glorious diversity in the ways we accomplish it.
Engineering nature to sustain our needs is exactly what the Glowing Plant Project aims to do in efforts to engineer “a glow-in-the-dark plant using synthetic biology techniques that could possibly replace traditional lighting”.
Bioluminescence – the production and emission of light by a living organism – is the overarching concept of the Glowing Plant Project, and the approach can be divided into three basic steps: design, print and transform.
Visit the article link to learn more about this new technology...
Google and NASA have teamed up to launch a new laboratory focused on advancing machine learning. The Quantum Artificial Intelligence Lab — hosted at NASA's Ames Research Center in California — will contain a quantum supercomputer that will be used by researchers from the Universities Space Research Association (USRA) and all over the world to pioneer breakthroughs in artificial intelligence.
Google believes quantum computing may prove invaluable in developing its web searching and speech recognition technology, while also assisting researchers in the creation of better models of disease and climate patterns. It has already developed quantum machine-learning algorithms that are capable of quickly recognizing data to save power on mobile devices and efficiently sort out erroneous information from "highly polluted training data." Supplied by D-Wave Systems, the quantum computer operates differently from traditional supercomputers by combining atoms to work together as quantum bits. By isolating and forcing these bits to interact, Google and NASA will be able to carry out two or more calculations simultaneously, helping them find "the optimal solution."
It’s been 17 years since Dolly the sheep was cloned from a mammary cell. And now scientists applied the same technique to make the first embryonic stem cell lines from human skin cells.
Ever since Ian Wilmut, an unassuming embryologist working at the Roslin Institute just outside of Edinburgh stunned the world by cloning the first mammal, Dolly, scientists have been asking – could humans be cloned in the same way? Putting aside the ethical challenges the question raised, the query turned out to involve more wishful thinking than scientific success. Despite the fact that dozens of other species have been cloned using the technique, called nuclear transfer, human cells have remained stubbornly resistant to the process.
Until now. Shoukhrat Mitalipov, a professor at Oregon Health & Science University and his colleagues report in the journal Cell that they have successfully reprogrammed human skin cells back to their embryonic state. The purpose of the study, however, was not to generate human clones but to produce lines of embryonic stem cells. These can develop into muscle, nerve, or other cells that make up the body’s tissues. The process, he says, took only a few months, a surprisingly short period to reach such an important milestone.
There will be a special attraction for deaf people in theaters nationwide soon. By the end of this month, Regal Cinemas plans to have distributed closed-captioning glasses to more than 6,000 theaters across the country.
Sony Entertainment Access Glasses are sort of like 3-D glasses, but for captioning. The captions are projected onto the glasses and appear to float about 10 feet in front of the user. They also come with audio tracks that describe the action on the screen for blind people, or they can boost the audio levels of the movie for those who are hard of hearing.
Yale researchers recently discovered a way to boost the efficiency of solar cells by a whopping 38 percent by coating them with a fluorescent dye. Polymer solar cells are popular for their low cost, low weight, large area and mechanical flexibility, according to Physorg, but they only convert roughly 50 percent of the solar energy absorbed into usable electricity. The organic squaraine dye improves light absorption and recycles electrons, thereby hastening the light to energy conversion process.
A study published in this month's Nature suggests that scientists have found a region of the brain that controls aging. Turn it off, they theorize, and you could add 20 years to your life — presuming it works in humans, that is.
The research, conducted by the Albert Einstein School of Medicine in New York, injected mice with a substance that inhibits a particular molecule in their brains. The hormone is related to inflammation and stress, and was found to increase in the hypothalamus as the mice got older.
The fact that inflammation and stress makes us look and feel older — indeed, that it helps kill us — isn't news. What is disturbing to learn is that the brain is deliberately initiating this reaction. Now, at least, we may have found how to turn it off.
Not only did the mice who got the inhibitor live 20% longer — which would translate into a couple of decades in human terms — but their quality of life stayed the same. Muscle strength, bone density and skin remained the same. The experiment even worked if the mice were middle-aged when the injections began.