Does it seem believable that the wars of the future will be fought entirely with robots while humans are safely miles away, monitoring and controlling? The US military is certainly making a case for such a scenario. The latest installation is a JUH-60A Blackhawk helicopter that flies, lands, and avoids threats – all without a pilot.
The autonomous Blackhawk’s official name is Rotorcraft Airscrew Systems Concept Airborne Laboratory, or RASCAL, and it has just completed its first test flight at the Diablo Mountain Range in San Jose, California. Pilots were actually aboard during the two-hour test flight for an emergency takeover, but turned out they weren’t needed.
Dr. Sami Kilic oversees doctors training to become surgeons at a hospital in Galveston, Texas, and he’s also the parent of a teenage boy. Like many parents, Kilic is concerned about how much time his son spends playing videogames. But now he’s also worried that his resident physicians aren’t playing them enough.
According to a study by Kilic and others at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston, doling out death in the virtual world of first-person-shooter games might help the next generation of surgeons save lives in the real world. The study, presented at a meeting of the American Gynecologic Laparoscopists in Las Vegas in November, used simulators to compare the robotic surgery skills of med school residents against college and high school students who spend a lot of their time playing videogames — and the videogamers won.
Robotic surgery — where robotic machinery helps surgeons perform certain tasks through very small incisions — is growing rapidly, despite the criticism that these procedures are expensive and may not be any more safe than traditional minimally invasive operations. In recent years, around 75 percent of all prostate cancer surgeries are now done with Intuitive Surgical’s da Vinci Surgical Systems machines, according to the company (.pdf).
Intuitive Surgical – which currently enjoys a monopoly on robotic surgery equipment — also reports (.pdf) that there was a 29 percent increase in robotic-assisted surgeries from 2010 to 2010, and the number climbed another 24 percent from 2011 to 2012. For better or worse, the next generation of surgeons will likely need to learn to operate robotic equipment.
Curved LCD technology may be opening up a whole new world of technology
Augmented reality, combined with the latest in curved LCD technology, may be bringing concepts that had previously been available only in science fiction into reality.
This is the idea of combining a head up display with contact lenses for a whole new level of gadget.
This could become possible as a result of the latest announcement from the Centre of Microsystems Technology, which has said that curved LCD has now been successfully embedded onto a contact lens, for an important step closer to a glass-free augmented reality experience.
For heart patients, signing up to implant a pacemaker in your chest isn’t casual choice. Nevertheless, the technology has saved numerous lives over the years. This week a new development was unveiled that uses a similar device to treat to Alzheimer’s patients with what’s essentially a pacemaker for the brain.
Researchers at Johns Hopkins University have announced the first successful implantation of a pacemaker-like device that delivers deep brain stimulation (DBS) as a means for reversing cognitive degeneration and memory loss caused by Alzheimer’s. The treatment is more commonly used on patients suffering from Parkinson’s disease.
Having been modeled after a variety of organisms (or their parts), robots come in all shapes and sizes but researchers at MIT now report that they’ve designed their robots after the very structures that make up living cells: proteins. Dubbed the Millimeter-Scale Motorized Protein or Milli-Motein, the tiny robots are able to change from extended chains to various 3D folded shapes in seconds.
But the really impressive feature is that the robots keep their shape even after power has been removed, thanks to a new kind of motor the team developed.
Each chain consists of 1-cm units that connect together, just as amino acids link up to make a protein, with a continuous flex circuit that controls power and communication to the device. Currently, the motor in each segment is able to lift only one other segment, but the researchers are already working on extending this to two segments.
The video put out by MIT shows how the snake-like robot can adopt and hold different configurations:
Cars are getting smarter and beginning to react on their own, but the gray matter manning the helm is still the vehicle’s Achilles heal. So to really get inside a driver’s head, automakers are going through their faces, analyzing expressions and muscle movements to determine whether the person at the wheel is too distracted, too tired or even too angry to safely control their ride.
In conjunction with PSA Peugeot Citroën, scientists at the Transportation Center and Signal Processing 5 Laboratory of Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) in Switzerland are developing a technology that uses a camera to capture facial expressions and software to look for telltale signs of distraction as well as emotions that could indicate that the driver is not up to the task at hand. Think of it as a concerned co-pilot who can not only read your mood, but also take action before your mental condition clouds your driving decisions.
When you’re a San Francisco startup looking to raise millions in funding and your secret weapon is a talking teddy bear, you better come ready to impress. Apparently, ToyTalk did just that.
Though little is known about the talking teddy bear, the interactive iPad app, whatever artificial intelligence is involved, or even the company itself, it recently put out a teaser trailer while raising $11 million in Series A funding, bringing it’s total raised to $16 million, according to Venturebeat.
The trailer suggests way more than it actually reveals as well as being a bit heavyhanded with how much a child will love spending free time with Toy Talk instead of other technology options:
Note: This text was previously released on the Huffington Post on August 31, 2012. A week before the NFl began their official season.
The NFL prepares for its upcoming season, and during exhibition games on television, as wide receivers go deep for spectacular catches, I cannot help but be reminded of exciting moments from the London Olympic Games, particularly in track & field — when Usain Bolt ran to take three gold medals in the the 100 m, 200 m and 4×100 m relay.
Coincidentally, there has been speculation that Bolt may transition to professional sports such as football in the NFL, although he may prefer soccer. The main reason behind his potential future in either sport is not because he is a good ball handler, in fact, the ball is hardly mentioned. What matters is that Bolt is fast.
Note: This entry was updated on August 19, 2012 with an extra commentary at the end of the main text.
As an educator in higher education and researcher specializing in remix culture and authorship, when I first learned about Zakaria’s admission to plagiarism, I was very disappointed in him, and thought that there was no way around it, that his admission of plagiarizing parts of Jill Lepore‘s work on gun control written for the New Yorker puts into question his intellectual integrity.
I thought that his apology was quick and to the point, but that somehow it was not enough. I thought that it was necessary for Zakaria to come forward and explain in as much detail as possible the reasoning for his behavior. And I thought that I wasn’t alone in hoping for this to happen–that if an actual explanation was delivered, it would all serve the constructive purpose of discussing the seriousness of plagiarism with students while providing a concrete example of a public intellectual who committed such an unacceptable act.
Note: This text appeared previously on Huffington post. Since its original publication on August 8, 2012, NBC decided to at least make available live streaming of the closing ceremonies. Other than this, much of what is observed in the following commentary remains relevant.
Viewers well versed in media expect delivery-on-demand for major events. This has created a peculiar tension when viewing prime-time Olympic coverage consisting of competitions that previously took place throughout the day, but which were not broadcasted live on TV. After the first week of events, it appears that audiences are tuning-in to NBC’s evening broadcast in larger numbers than previous Olympics, and this has become the network’s main justification for holding out on selected events until prime-time.
Social media spoilers are inevitable when the broadcasting network decides to block-out selected events and save them for primetime. This became evident to me as I experienced the Olympics during the first three days.
It began on Friday when I settled to watch the opening ceremony. At this time I briefly considered the fact that the broadcast was not live on the East Coast of the United States, where I live. I also realized that people on the West Coast would see the opening extravaganza three hours after me.
I said to myself that it did not matter because viewing a delayed broadcast of an opening event, sure to be considered historic, would not change my viewing experience. Such a situation is equivalent to one’s willingness to watch a television series knowing that it is a recorded production.
Things were different when I selectively viewed the first events on Saturday live on Bravo, CNBC, MSNBC, and NBC Sports. The multiple broadcasts were also complemented with apps for mobile media, well supported with the nbcolympics.com website.
Throughout the day I checked twitter and Facebook for updates and comments. I soon learned that Michael Phelps took fourth place in the Men’s 400m Individual Medley, while Ryan Lochte took first, winning the gold. However, I was not able to experience the historic moment until primetime on NBC. At this point I was more interested in knowing how it happened, and was no longer invested in the event as I would have, had it been live.
The same thing happened again on Sunday when Lochte and Phelps participated in the men’s 4×100-meter freestyle relay only to come second to France. Again, I learned about this in the late afternoon, but I waited to view it during primetime on NBC.
The decision by NBC to select certain events, from earlier in the day, and broadcast them during primetime began to be discussed as soon as Saturday, and by Sunday, stories were written on different online publications. Entertainment Weekly, in particular, ran two extensive stories. NBC apparently made its decision in order to attain higher ratings during its primetime broadcast. Understandably some people are quite unhappy about NBC’s decision, which is why, as I write this, the hash tag #nbcfail is still going strong with rants.
After viewing the events on Sunday night, however, I don’t think that the problem for NBC is that selected events are shown well after they take place. The problem, in my view, is that NBC appears to be selecting the wrong events for delayed broadcast at night.
To be specific, both on Saturday and Sunday during primetime, NBC went back and forth between gymnastics and swimming. When swimming came on, I could not help but think that I was about to see something which had already taken place. But with gymnastics, I did not mind the delayed broadcast at all. Why, I thought? I came to the conclusion that it has to do with the type of sport.
Swimming is an action sport, which deals with extreme physical performance dependent on time. It is defined by exciting moments such as when your favorite athlete does not even take third place. Add to this the possibility of breaking a world record, and you are sure to have a nail-biting experience as a viewer. Such thrill is unlikely to happen with a delayed broadcast of a major swimming competition such as Lochte’s and Phelps’ once it has been spoiled earlier in the day due to social media and online news sources.
Gymnastics, on the other hand, is a sport about physical strength, precision and gracefulness. Add to this the fact that it depends on points given by judges who, in large part, rely on aesthetics, and we have a dynamic that is closer to viewing a theatrical performance, and not so different from viewing the opening ceremony. Gymnastics is one of my favorite categories in the Olympics, and I don’t think I have ever experienced them live.
NBC’s situation actually makes apparent the fact that major networks need to better understand how to create a worthwhile experience for viewers who are likely to know already much about sporting events that took place early in the day (in this case the Olympics) which they decide to deliver during primetime.
If a network decides to hold out on a sport defined by its physical excitement, such as swimming, then an effort should be made in creating a viewing experience about how and why something happened and not “what will happen.” This approach would then make the juxtaposition of swimming and gymnastics a better fit given their differences as I explained. With this more realistic approach Bob Costas will not have to say “no spoilers” as he introduces the taped segment of Lochte winning gold while Phelps takes none, hoping that the viewers will have a thrilling experience. I did not.
The RE/Mixed Media Festival, now in it’s 3rd year, is an annual celebration of collaborative art-making and creative appropriation. It’s the artists’ contribution to the ongoing conversation about remixing, mashups, copyright law, fair use, and the freedom of artists to access their culture in order to add to and build upon it.
The festival – which this year will take place at the Brooklyn Lyceum – a 3-floor 10,000 sq. ft. venue on the border of the Park Slope and Gowanus neighborhoods of Brooklyn – will feature performances, panel discussions, live musical collaborations, hip-hop, sampling, film & video, DIY, food and drink, DJs, technology, interactive installations, painting, sculpture, software, hacking, and much more!
Note: Previously this entry read “book print.” This was a mistake on my part. It should be “book sprint.”
I recently read the “book print” New Aesthetic, New Anxieties by a group of media researchers, theorists and curators, who got together for three and a half days from June 17–21, 2012, at V2, in Rotterdam, The Netherlands.
The concept of coming together for just a few days to brainstorm a book is certainly something worth considering as an act of creative critical practice. The book from this standpoint functions surprisingly well, especially because its premise is delivered to match the speed of change that its subject (The New Aesthetic) experiences in the daily flow of information throughout the global network. I personally find amazing that a book of this sort can be put together with some cohesion.
Digging through my archives, I found the list of my early updates on Facebook. When I joined Facebook back in 2008, personal updates read “What are you doing?” prompted with “Your Name is … ” I liked the idea behind positioning the Facebook user in a constant state of action. It was like a performance online. Because of this set up, I found myself always thinking of what I was actually doing at the moment that I entered Facebook, and thought of creative ways to approach the apparent triviality of the updates.
We are currently conducting a survey for a Remix Studies book project and we would really appreciate your help. The survey is quick and easy and should take no more than a few minutes of your time. Your assistance will be invaluable in the development of the book, which we hope will be of great use to students, teachers, researchers and practitioners of remix alike.
If possible, we would also be very grateful if you could help us to distribute the survey to anyone within your networks who has an interest in remix.
Kim Jung Il is dead. Sadam and Kadafi have been overthrown and executed. The model of the old-school dictator seems to be dying. Unfortunately, there’s a new dictator in town. Well, not really new, but its presence has never been more prevalent or obvious. This dictator is not just one person or regime. The neo-dictator is comprised of countless organizations, with its power being shifted and redistributed per agenda, so this dictator can’t ever really be killed off. Like any good tyrant, the neo-dictator is motivated by lust for money and power (the quench for which can never be sated). Naturally the neo-dictator’s most powerful tool is the law, laws like SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act) and PIPA (Protect IP Act), which are designed so content providers and their bed fellows could hold onto their outdated and dying business models. Perhaps it’s just a tactic to slow down technological advancement while they catch up.
Erik Kessels’ installation shows what 24 hours of photos on Flickr looks like in physical form. The installation got me thinking about the exorbitant amount of pictures we take today. I’ve never been a big picture taker, that was until I got a digital camera. I have a little over a hundred physical pictures I’ve collected over my lifetime, but I have thousands in digital form, most of which I accumulated in a span of 3-4 years, starting about 7 years ago. My physical pictures I view once in a while, with a definite level of fondness, sometimes wishing I had taken more pictures. I took those pictures to commemorate specific events: nieces’ birthdays, the first time I went camping with my nieces, my last weekend in San Antonio before I moved back to LA, my college graduation, nieces’ high school graduations, dad’s 60th birthday, the last party I attended in Boston before I moved back to LA, pictures from my cross-country trips, when the family dog was just a puppy, and so on. Most of my digital pictures, however, are rather insignificant.