Envisioning Absolutely Dark Material

The idea of completely dark material is fascinating. Researchers at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and Rice University recently broke the record for the world’s darkest known material, four times darker than the previous record holder. But let’s leave pure regurgitation to the news sites; what’s color – and what would completely dark material be like?

Contact Lenses With Embedded Electronics

Scientists at the University of Washington have created contact lenses with embedded electronic circuitry and lights. The lenses have been successfully and safely worn by rabbits and do not obstruct vision. This development brings us a step closer to lenses that could enable us, for example, to zoom in on distant objects or lenses that can superimpose information on the external environment (augmented reality).

Monkey Brain Makes Robot Walk

Last year I had the pleasure of seeing Dr. Miguel A. L. Nicolelis do a lecture at Reykjavik University about his research on mind-controlled robotics. His previous efforts have put him in the spotlight more than once which include enabling a monkey to control a robotic arm with his mind. Now Nicolelis and his team has pushed the bar by enabling a monkey to move robotic legs in a walking pattern.

Living Tissue to Power Your Computer?

A few years ago I read about an experiment that used living cortical neurons from a rat brain to perform calculations. More specifically, the neurons were connected to the controls of an F-22 fighter jet simulator. After some training, the brain was able to fly the jet in tough weather conditions. Today Geylen brought my attention to another similar experiment. An associate professor at the Uni. of Arizona has built a robot chassis controlled by the brain of a moth. He predicts we’ll be using such organic-machine hybrid computers soon.

2007 – The End is Nigh

Two-thousand-and-seven was a fine year. On May 27th ThinkArtificial.org launched with a bang and naturally I’ve quite enjoyed the ride. We’ve talked about synthetic lifeforms, living spacedust, surprising ingenuity of AIBOs. But this is the last post for 2007 and in it we ponder peeking into the future.

Predictions – the Web in ’08

Last week an online friend of mine, Nils Geylen of NDNL, asked a question:

2005 was the year of the blog, 2006 that of social networking and 2007 that of microblogging. 2008 will be that of?

My answer was knowledge networking while Nils’ was videos. Consequently, we decided to write our own separate posts on the matter, explaining in a bit more detail our visions of what the web of 2008 will bring (read Nils’ predictions). We also decided that the winner gets the internet.

Whole-Body Computer Interfaces

A Whole-body motion detection suitAs much as I’d love a brain-computer interface for controlling game characters or avatars in virtual worlds, there are still a few years until they’ll be able to analyze our body’s every move and translate them in real time to machines. In the meantime, there are other options. Small and cheap sensors have promise for new machine interfaces that monitor your entire body.

Introductory Resources and Lectures on Lisp, Scheme

Lowercase Lambda letterOne of my courses this semester is Programming Languages, covering their fundamental histories and differences. Something I direly need to open my eyes and jolt me out of Java fanaticism. I particularly enjoyed playing around with Scheme, a dialect of Lisp. Rather than selfishly leaving the precious resources somewhere in a dark corner, I wrote this article to help get you started with Lisp as well.

Wild Robots and Wildfire: Nature 2.0

The OLE fire extinguishing robot
One of the things that I really want to do is to make robots that live in the wild. We don’t yet have technology that’s cheap enough, but you can bet we will soon — and when that happens you’ll find me releasing hordes of intelligent machines into the wild.

Robot Crossing, Drive Carefully

Robot Crossing Sign
©2007 Hrafn Th. Thórisson

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