Tracking the Future
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Tracking the Future
Explore the most important technology and science trends! News, Analysis, Interviews, Presentations, Documentaries. All in one place at Tracking the future magazine
Curated by Szabolcs Kósa
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Ban ‘Killer Robots’ Before It’s Too Late

Ban ‘Killer Robots’ Before It’s Too Late | Tracking the Future | Scoop.it

Governments should pre-emptively ban fully autonomous weapons because of the danger they pose to civilians in armed conflict, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today. These future weapons, sometimes called “killer robots,” would be able to choose and fire on targets without human intervention.
The 50-page report, “Losing Humanity: The Case Against Killer Robots,” outlines concerns about these fully autonomous weapons, which would inherently lack human qualities that provide legal and non-legal checks on the killing of civilians. In addition, the obstacles to holding anyone accountable for harm caused by the weapons would weaken the law’s power to deter future violations.

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Head in the Cloud

Head in the Cloud | Tracking the Future | Scoop.it

Will our increased understanding of how our brains work allow us to transcend human nature? Yes indeed, say the authors of "Beyond Human Nature" and "How to Create a Mind." In the first book, Jesse Prinz, a philosophy professor at the City University of New York, challenges the tenets of modern evolutionary psychology, especially those that see human behavior as something strongly constrained by biology. In the second book, Ray Kurzweil, the software inventor and visionary, argues that human intelligence will radically evolve beyond biology and become embedded in new "spiritual" machines. Both authors begin by explaining what cutting-edge cognitive sciences know about how our brains work—a lot, it turns out.

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How A Robot Will Steal Your Job

How A Robot Will Steal Your Job | Tracking the Future | Scoop.it

In Terminator, the robots rose up and slaughtered the world’s humans. This Skynet scenario was scary, but a more plausible future is pretty frightening as well. The robots don’t exterminate us directly — they just slowly push us out of work, impoverishing the world’s labourers until we’re slaughtering each other to stay alive.

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A world without limits

New technologies are blurring the boundaries between the real and the virtual world. The brain can control a machine, and even perceive it as its own body. Can that improve our lives?

At Barcelona University, scientists are working on a European Research Project to link a human brain to a robot using skin electrodes and video goggles so that the user feels they are actually in the android body wherever it is in the world.

The electrodes measure brain impulses enabling a person to control the robot's actions without moving their own limbs. The idea is to enable severely disabled people to enter the world via a real-life avatar.

Using a remote avatar, anyone can travel without leaving home. But to make the experience feel more realistic, several senses need to work together.

In a laboratory in Pisa, scientists are testing a chair that vibrates in time with 3D video playback, recreating some of the physical aspects of walking.

An even deeper immersion into the virtual world becomes possible with robotic exoskeletons that simulate physical interactions, and with advanced 3D projection systems.

Touching virtual objects, feeling their texture and weight, will make the digital world more natural and easier to live in.

But what if virtual models could change the real world, making it more accessible? That's the goal of another European project involving hundreds of diabled people in several countries.

Scientists use cameras and sensors to study how physically impaired people move, getting a better idea of their average physical limitations.

The data is used to simulate how motor-impaired people cope with various tasks - such as opening the glove compartment in a car.

With these models, industrial designers will know in advance how safe and convenient their new products are, and can adapt them better for users with physical limitations.

Seeing the screen through the eyes of someone with advanced glaucoma, using the mouse as a person with tremors... makes it easier to understand other people's physical challenges, helping us move towards a world without limits.

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Ken Matsumoto's curator insight, March 22, 2015 1:35 AM

The article is about a European Research Project that uses skin electrodes and video goggles so the user feel as they are in the android body wherever they are in the world.

The users are able to control the android body using their thoughts
which helps severely disabled people to interact with the world.

This technology will be a life changing experience for people all over the world.

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One Step Closer To Efficient Robotic Limbs

One Step Closer To Efficient Robotic Limbs | Tracking the Future | Scoop.it

A device that would allow paralyzed people to use their thoughts to move robotic limbs fluidly and realistically is now one step closer to reality.
A team of scientists from Harvard, MIT and Massachusetts General Hospital led by Ziv Williams have found two groups of cells in one area of the monkey brain that allow the animals to remember a sequence of two movements at once. The team was then able to program a computer to interpret those brain patterns, in turn moving a cursor on a screen in the planned sequence.
The development is an improvement over current brain-machine interfaces, which focus on translating a single thought into a single movement in an external device.

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Ingress - It's time to Move

Check out the trailer of the new futuristic augmented reality game by Niantic Labs, a start-up team from Google:
"This world around you is not what it seems. Our future is at stake, and you must choose a side.
A mysterious energy has been unearthed by a team of scientists in Europe. The origin and purpose of this force is unknown, but some researchers believe it is influencing the way we think. We must control it or it will control us.
The Enlightened seek to embrace the power that this energy may bestow upon us.
The Resistance struggle to defend, and protect what's left of our humanity."

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Our three-dimensional future: how 3D printing will shape the global economy

Our three-dimensional future: how 3D printing will shape the global economy | Tracking the Future | Scoop.it

Lately, it seems like nearly everything has been reproduced by a 3D printer. Between the group that 3D printed a gun, the people who printed a drone, and the army of items sold at this small marketplace for 3D printed goods, there are plenty of novelty uses for these suddenly trendy machines. We’re a long way from 3D printing a house, but it’s clear that the hobby is inching into the mainstream.
Yet it’s difficult not to wonder: at what point will 3D printing move beyond novelty to industry? Will these machines change the way we manufacture goods, and subsequently change the global economy, too? (Is it already happening before our very eyes?)

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Competition in flatland

Competition in flatland | Tracking the Future | Scoop.it

Move over graphene, there is competition in town. A new type of two-dimensional materials – with the far less appealing family name, transition metal dichalcogenides – are increasingly gaining attention. Well, at least they’re giving it a shot. Graphene, a sheet of carbon atoms only one atomic layer thick, still has plenty going for itself in terms of electronic, optical and mechanical properties. There seems nothing that graphene can’t do.
On the other hand, there are also limits. When it comes to its electronic properties graphene is not a semiconductor in the same was as silicon is. It is lacking a bandgap, a gap in its electronic states that is important for light emitters and for some electronic devices.
Transition metal dichalcogenides offer an advantage there. They are semiconductors, and they can have a bandgap. 

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Mind-controlled robot avatars inch towards reality

Mind-controlled robot avatars inch towards reality | Tracking the Future | Scoop.it

Researchers at the CNRS-AIST Joint Robotics Laboratory (a collaboration between France's Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique and Japan's National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology) are developing software that allows a person to drive a robot with their thoughts alone. The technology could one day give a paralyzed patient greater autonomy through a robotic agent or avatar.

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How can we govern new life forms?

How can we govern new life forms? | Tracking the Future | Scoop.it

‘Synthetic biology’ is an emergent scientific field with enormous potential for development and technological advancement. However, it also carries an equal capacity for risk and for harmful results to derive from the advancement of the science. Consequently, it is widely recognised in academic papers, political documents, and public discourse as requiring regulation on national and global levels, on both an ethical plane and as a safeguard.

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Kurzweil at Techonomy: Artificial Intelligence Is Empowering All of Humanity

Kurzweil at Techonomy: Artificial Intelligence Is Empowering All of Humanity | Tracking the Future | Scoop.it

In the opening session of Techonomy 2012 in Tucson today, Techonomy founder David Kirkpatrick interviewed Kurzweil on stage. Their conversation covered the exponential progression of software, how the brain works, what it will mean to think "in the Cloud" or have the intelligence of IBM's Watson computer at our fingertips, and what functions humans will still have once computers can do the jobs of even the most educated among us.

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Melanie Mitchell: AI and the Barrier of Meaning

Melanie Mitchell, Professor of Computer Science at Portland State University discusses her work on development of the Copycat, an AI computer program that makes analogies.

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Artificial, Intelligent, and Completely Uninterested in You

Artificial, Intelligent, and Completely Uninterested in You | Tracking the Future | Scoop.it

Artificial intelligence is obviously at the forefront of the singularitarian conversation. The bulk of the philosophical discussion revolves around a hypothetical artificial general intelligence’s presumed emotional state, motivation, attitude, morality, and intention. A lot of time is spent theorizing the possible personality traits of a “friendly” strong AI or its ominous counterpart, the “unfriendly” AI.
Building a nice and cordial strong artificial intelligence is a top industry goal, while preventing an evil AI from terrorizing the world gets a fair share of attention as well. However, there has been little public and non-academic discussion around the creation of “uninterested” AI. Essentially, this third state of theoretical demeanor or emotional moral disposition for artificial intelligence doesn’t concern itself with humanity at all.

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Nanotech can be used for MS, diabetes, food allergies and asthma

In a breakthrough for nanotechnology and multiple sclerosis, a biodegradable nanoparticle turns out to be the perfect vehicle to stealthily deliver an antigen that tricks the immune system into stopping its attack on myelin and halt a model of relapsing remitting multiple sclerosis (MS) in mice, according to new Northwestern Medicine research.
The new nanotechnology also can be applied to a variety of immune-mediated diseases including Type 1 diabetes, food allergies and airway allergies such as asthma.

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The Most Amazing Race: Reverse-Engineering the Brain

The Most Amazing Race: Reverse-Engineering the Brain | Tracking the Future | Scoop.it

If the race to map the human genome was the last great competition in science, the challenge to reverse-engineer the brain is the most amazing race today. But experts wildly disagree on how we'll get there.

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Artificial Intelligence and Automatic Writing

Artificial Intelligence and Automatic Writing | Tracking the Future | Scoop.it

There is a specter haunting the world of writers - the specter of automatic writing. That's right, an article or report generated by a computer algorithm without human input. An algorithm is a "step-by-step procedure for solving a problem or accomplishing some end especially by a computer." This is a natural outgrowth of the science of Artificial Intelligence. So new is this topic of automatic writing that there are very few Google or Bing searches on the subject. People are only gradually becoming aware of it. This will change soon, because automatic writing will revolutionize journalism, not to mention freelance writing. And it will happen quickly.

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Dagmawi hailu's curator insight, March 27, 2015 4:55 AM

Writing articles, comments and now even novels; AI is showing advancements at a shocking rate in usurping what were once considered human only skills and knowledge. It may sound like a science fiction but computers are now able to write fully featured article that is difficult for the average human beings to tell the difference from the one written by a "human" journalist. Should journalists be worried ? and How will the future of journalism be ? is some of the questions we are faced to answer with.

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Answer to world's future problems lies in synthetic biology

Answer to world's future problems lies in synthetic biology | Tracking the Future | Scoop.it

While the issue of biological transportation and digital creation of cells has given rise to heated debates across the globe for ethical as well as religious reasons, Dr J Craig Venter - American biologist and founder, chairman and president of J Craig Venter Institute - chose to sum up synthetic biology as an exciting development in the science at the HT Leadership Summit. This, he said, was because it offered a plethora of exciting possibilities for digitalising life with a DNA code.

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Tiny Bots Will Crawl Through Your Body

Tiny Bots Will Crawl Through Your Body | Tracking the Future | Scoop.it

3D-printed biobots might one day roam the insides of our bodies, sensing and neutralizing toxins, targeting tumors and releasing drugs, and acting as cellular repairmen. Research published today in Scientific Reports takes a first step toward that goal.

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Artificial Muscle Is 200 Times Stronger Than the Real Thing

Artificial Muscle Is 200 Times Stronger Than the Real Thing | Tracking the Future | Scoop.it

They're small but mighty. The tiny artificial muscles created by an international team of researchers are 200 times stronger than human muscle fibers of comparable size.

In the future, improved versions of the muscles could go into the next generation of motors for robots arms, flaps on airplane wings, medical devices — any inanimate thing that moves.

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Stanford's touch-sensitive plastic skin heals itself

Stanford's touch-sensitive plastic skin heals itself | Tracking the Future | Scoop.it

A team of Stanford chemists and engineers has created the first synthetic material that is both sensitive to touch and capable of healing itself quickly and repeatedly at room temperature. The advance could lead to smarter prosthetics or resilient personal electronics that repair themselves.

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Computer memory could increase fivefold from advances in self-assembling polymers

Computer memory could increase fivefold from advances in self-assembling polymers | Tracking the Future | Scoop.it

The storage capacity of hard disk drives could increase by a factor of five thanks to processes developed by chemists and engineers at The University of Texas at Austin.
The researchers' technique, which relies on self-organizing substances known as block copolymers, was described this week in an article in Science. It's also being given a real-world test run in collaboration with HGST, one of the world's leading innovators in disk drives.

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A Carbon-Fiber Electrode for a Better Connection to the Brain

A Carbon-Fiber Electrode for a Better Connection to the Brain | Tracking the Future | Scoop.it

Connecting a human brain to a computer is as much a materials science problem as a biology one. What kind of interface is delicate enough not to damage nerve tissue, but resilient enough to last decades?

Researchers have come up with what they call a “stealthy neural interface” made from a single carbon fiber and coated with chemicals to make it resistant to proteins in the brain.

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The ends of humanity

The ends of humanity | Tracking the Future | Scoop.it

Socialism is dead, and the transhuman future looms. Is there any way to recover a sense of global purpose?

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10 Ways Artificial Intelligence Can Reinvent Education

10 Ways Artificial Intelligence Can Reinvent Education | Tracking the Future | Scoop.it

For decades, science fiction authors, futurists, and movie makers alike have been predicting the amazing (and sometimes catastrophic) changes that will arise with the advent of widespread artificial intelligence. So far, AI hasn’t made any such crazy waves, and in many ways has quietly become ubiquitous in numerous aspects of our daily lives. From the intelligent sensors that help us take perfect pictures, to the automatic parking features in cars, to the sometimes frustrating personal assistants in smartphones, artificial intelligence of one kind of another is all around us, all the time.

While we’ve yet to create self-aware robots like those that pepper popular movies like 2001: A Space Odyssey and Star Wars, we have made smart and often significant use of AI technology in a wide range of applications that, while not as mind-blowing as androids, still change our day-to-day lives. One place where artificial intelligence is poised to make big changes (and in some cases already is) is in education. While we may not see humanoid robots acting as teachers within the next decade, there are many projects already in the works that use computer intelligence to help students and teachers get more out of the educational experience. Here are just a few of the ways those tools, and those that will follow them, will shape and define the educational experience of the future.

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Dagmawi hailu's curator insight, March 27, 2015 5:00 AM

The new frontier for AI is education. To be more precise, how the use of AI in the education system will improve its quality in its future. Ten possible ways are suggested for the use of AI in this area. Automatic grading, adaptation of education to the needs of the student, pinpointing places where improvement is needed, feedback's for students and instructors, assistance for students are just some of the places where AI is predicted to make a big impact on.

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Lasers, Fusion, Energy Innovation

Ed Moses of the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory discusses how lasers and fusion are revolutionizing energy innovation.
Ed Moses Principal Associate Director, NIF & Photon Science, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory
Interviewed by: Steve Clemons

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