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Tech-news archive: May-June 2010

Eric Horvitz's receptionist at Microsoft is a computer that can interact with visitors outside his office in Redmond, Wash.
Computers make strides in recognizing speech
(Jun 25, 2010)

"Our young children and grandchildren will think it is completely natural to talk to machines that look at them and understand them," said Eric Horvitz, a computer scientist at Microsoft's research laboratory who led the medical avatar project, one of several intended to show how people and computers may communicate before long. For decades, computer scientists have been pursuing artificial intelligence. But in recent years, rapid progress has been made in machines that can listen, speak, see, reason and learn, in their way.

Read more. Source: New York Times

First replicating creature spawned in life simulator
(Jun 18, 2010)

If you found a self-replicating organism living inside your computer, your first instinct might be to reach for the antivirus software. If, however, you are Andrew Wade, an avid player in the two-dimensional, mathematical universe known as the Game of Life, such a discovery is nothing short of an epiphany.

Read more. Source: New Scientist

digital avatar
Immortal avatars: Back up your brain, never die
(Jun 7, 2010)

Though there's little prospect of creating a conscious robo-clone of you in the foreseeable future, several companies are taking the first steps in that direction. Their initial goal is to enable you to create a lifelike digital representation, or avatar, that can continue long after your biological body has decomposed.

Read more. Source: New Scientist

photonics graphic
Entangled photons available on tap
(Jun 3, 2010)

The creation of an "entanglement gun" brings the prospect of a light-based quantum computer a step closer. The ability of entangled photons to spin in two different senses will allow quantum computers to encode a 0 and a 1 simultaneously, allowing even a small quantum computer to outperform the fastest supercomputer for some tasks.

Read more. Source: New Scientist

Prof Simmons showing pictures of the atomic transistor
Seven-atom transistor sets the pace for future PCs
(May 25, 2010)

Researchers have shown off a transistor made from just seven atoms that could be used to create smaller, more powerful computers. Transistors are tiny switches used as the building blocks of silicon chips. If the new atomic transistor can be made in large numbers it could mean chips with components up to 100 times smaller than on existing processors.

Read more. Source: BBC

The pump is the same size of a human red blood cell (left)
Smallest man-made pump revealed
(May 19, 2010)

Scientists have revealed the smallest man-made pump ever built – the size of a human red blood cell. The team of US and Chinese researchers used ultra-fast laser pulses to create tunnels in glass rods thinner than a human hair. The glass walls of these tunnels can conduct electricity. The scientists powered their minuscule fluid pump by "switching" this conduction on and off.

Read more. Source: BBC

Chips on the brain. Image: Frazer Hudson
Army of smartphone chips could emulate the human brain
(May 4, 2010)

If you have a smartphone, you probably have a slice of Steve Furber's brain in your pocket. By the time you read this, his 1-billion-neuron silicon brain will be in production at a microchip plant in Taiwan. Computer engineers have long wanted to copy the compact power of biological brains. But the best mimics so far have been impractical, being simulations running on supercomputers.

Read more. Source: New Scientist


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