Friday, May 22, 2009

CPBN Where We Live: Status Update

The Connecticut Public Broadcasting Network has a podcast of their "Where We Live" show from May 22, 2009, about the current Status Update art show at the Gallery@Haskins.
Status Update is a new exhibition presented by The Arts Council of Greater New Haven on view at Haskins Laboratories through August 1, 2009. The exhibit explores how artists are using social networking technologies like facebook and twitter to create and show new work. In the podcast, the show's curator Debbie Hesse and artist Sharon Butler talk about how social networking is changing the art world.

(painting by Matt Held)

Laser Probes for Brain Experiments

Prachi Patel, in a May 2009 article in ieee spectrum online describes how researchers at Case Western Reserve University are using light as "what could be a more benign, efficient, and effective way to study brain circuits." He reports:

"Ordinary electrodes can damage tissue, and they need wires to connect to power sources outside the brain. The light probes ... could be made with thin, flexible optical fibers, tiny polymer microcapsules, or nanoparticle-coated flexible patches. ... Once the probes are embedded in a certain part of the brain, you could wirelessly trigger neurons by scanning a laser beam on that area. (The near-infrared light used in the experiments is good at penetrating brain tissue.)"

(Image by Colin Anderson/Getty Images.)

Technology, Humanity and the Future

IEET Executive Director James Hughes has posted a video interview in which he answered some questions about technology and its impact on humanity at Convergence 08, November 15, 2008 in Mountain View, California. Thanks to J., friend of the IS Group.

New services promise online life after death

A story by Mallory Simon in /technology relates how new companies are appearing that " ... try and fill [the] void created in your digital life after death." Examples include Legacy Locker " ...a safe, secure repository for your digital property that lets you grant access to online assets for friends and loved ones in the event of death or disability ..." and EternalSpace that " ... provides everlasting online memorials to share and preserve the treasured memories, photographs, videos and thoughts of life's most cherished moments." Thanks to An Xiao for bringing this to our attention and for her wonderful blog, That Was Zen.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Swine Flu as ambient music

Swine flu has been sequenced. Stephan Zielinski has written code to translate a key gene into a piece of ambient music. He describes this in: “Swine Flu Hemagglutinin”: amino acid sequence as ambient music. Click on the graphic above to see the actual amino acid sequence. There was also an article in about Zielinski's composition called Making music out of swine flu. Thanks and a hat tip to Alice Faber for letting us know about Zielinski's work.

Lost robot crosses city by asking directions

NewScientist Tech features an article by Colin Barras that describes a wheeled robot called ACE (Autonomous City Explorer) that finds its way around a city by asking people for directions. The robot was designed by Martin Buss and his team at the Technical University of Munich. Check out the video. Thanks and a hat tip to Christina Spiesel for letting us know about this robot.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Modern Humans Ate Neanderthals

Apropos one of our current readings, this article from the Guardian suggests that the disappearance of Neanderthals may be attributable to the eating habits of Homo sapiens: we ate them! Then again, if you feel as I do that archaeology is an entire discipline based on the predicate "is consistent with", you may doubt the importance of these discoveries.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Brain Gain

Margaret Talbot wrote a long article called "Brain Gain" in the The New Yorker recently about the underground world of "neuroenhancing" drugs.

25 Microchips That Shook the World

IEEE Spectrum Online has a Special Report called 25 Microchips That Shook the World. An article of the same name by Brian R. Santo discusses some of the all time favorites in the silicon world. Additional suggestions are provided in the comments, by luminaries in the technology world, and in a talkback section.

AVIOS Student Speech Application Contest

On May 6, 2009 the Applied Voice Input/Output Society (AVIOS) announced their fourth annual student speech application contest sponsored by AT&T, Cepstral, I6Net, Loquendo, Microsoft, Opera, and Voxeo. Applications must involve speech input and/or output, but may be pure speech or multimodal. Cash and/or equipment prizes valued at over $1000 will be awarded to teams of student programmers who design and create applications judged to be robust, useful, creative, innovative, and user friendly.

The contest encourages students to develop applications using speech technologies such as automatic speech recognition and text to speech synthesis and to combine them with other modalities. This year, students may use any of a variety of platforms including AT&T Speech Mashups, Cepstral VoiceForge TTS service, CMU's RavenClaw/Olympus, Google Android, I6net VXI*, Loquendo VoxNauta Platform, LumenVox Speech Engine Standard License, Microsoft Windows and Tellme VoiceXML Platform Opera, Voxeo Prophecy, and Voxeo Tropo.

Students anywhere in the world can submit their creative and innovative applications to be judged by speech application experts. The contest also provides a forum for students to show what they can do with the power of speech applications For more information and the contest entry form, go to

Thanks to Patti Price for letting us know about this contest.