As facial recognition systems improve, they will get better at identifying people at different ages, even very young children.
If a fingerprint can tell someone who you are, a “breathprint” could reveal how you’re doing.
For the past two decades, Dweik has been studying the molecular patterns in breath that can reveal what’s happening inside the body. In the same way that a pocket of air above the water level in a closed container carries signature molecules that reflect the composition of that water, our breath is directly linked to what’s happening in our blood.
"A lot of people just think breath is what’s in your lungs," Dweik told me. "We realize now that anything in your body that is eventually in the blood can be measured in your breath."
That includes diseases like lung cancer, liver disease, heart disease, asthma, and inflammatory bowel disease, all of which have “really distinct signatures in the breath,” Dweik says. And the medical implications are major: Breath-testing devices—think of them as Breathalyzers that detect disease rather than alcohol—can be just as accurate as traditional blood testing or biopsies, only cheaper and far less invasive.
Read more. [Image: Reuters]
The Segway was supposed to change everything … until it became the preferred transportation of walking tours and shopping mall security. But now its inventor, Dean Kamen, is back with a new creation that might be slightly more revolutionary.
Enter the DEKA limb, the first FDA-approved robotic arm that’s powered by the wearer’s mind. Electrodes attached to the arm near the prosthesis detect muscle contraction, and those signals are then interpreted into specific movements by a computer, the FDA announced on Friday.
"The device is modular so that it can be fitted to people who’ve suffered any degree of limb loss, from an entire arm to a hand," Bloomberg Businessweek reported. ”Six ‘grip patterns’ allow wearers to drink a cup of water, hold a cordless drill or pick up a credit card or a grape, among other functions.”
In a decade, cognitive enhancement may have gone mainstream. Pills can already help you stay up longer, bring more focus to your work, and who knows what else. But what might sound good on an individual level could create societal disruptions, or so Palo Alto think-tank the Institute for the Future proposes in its latest Ten-Year Forecasts.
As a result, the Institute has proposed that the world’s citizens need a “Magna Cortica.”
"Magna Cortica is the argument that we need to have a guidebook for both the design spec and ethical rules around the increasing power and diversity of cognitive augmentation," said IFTF distinguished fellow, Jamais Cascio. "There are a lot of pharmaceutical and digital tools that have been able to boost our ability to think. Adderall, Provigil, and extra-cortical technologies."
Back in 2008, 20 percent of scientists reported using brain-enhancing drugs. And I spoke with dozens of readers who had complex regimens, including, for example, a researcher at the MIT-affiliated Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research. “We aren’t the teen clubbers popping uppers to get through a hard day running a cash register after binge drinking,” the researcher told me. “We are responsible humans.” Responsible humans trying to get an edge in incredibly competitive and cognitively demanding fields.
Read more. [Image: Reuters]
When Europe’s armies first marched to war in 1914, some were still carrying lances on horseback. By the end of the war, rapid-fire guns, aerial bombardment, armored vehicle attacks, and chemical weapon deployments were commonplace. Any romantic notion of warfare was bluntly shoved aside by the advent of chlorine gas, massive explosive shells that could have been fired from more than 20 miles away, and machine guns that spat out bullets like firehoses. Each side did its best to build on existing technology, or invent new methods, hoping to gain any advantage over the enemy. Massive listening devices gave them ears in the sky, armored vehicles made them impervious to small arms fire, tanks could (most of the time) cruise right over barbed wire and trenches, telephones and heliographs let them speak across vast distances, and airplanes gave them new platforms to rain death on each other from above. New scientific work resulted in more lethal explosives, new tactics made old offensive methods obsolete, and mass-produced killing machines made soldiers both more powerful and more vulnerable. On this 100-year anniversary, I’ve gathered photographs of the Great War from dozens of collections, some digitized for the first time, to try to tell the story of the conflict, those caught up in it, and how much it affected the world. Today’s entry is part 3 of a 10-part series on World War I, which will be posted every Sunday until June 29.
The beauty of bitcoin, many of those who use the currency will tell you, is that it’s decentralized. You don’t have to bother with a bank, which means you don’t necessarily leave the kind of paper trail that many other transactions produce. From the user perspective, paying with bitcoin is basically like using cash—only you can do it online.
So it’s fitting that bitcoin is the currency of choice among online vendors of fake IDs, some of whom now offer discounts to customers who pay that way. Other vendors have gone bitcoin-only, according to a subreddit discussion of popular fake ID sites.
It must be noted that bitcoin isn’t just an underworld currency—in fact, not everyone agrees that it’s currency at all.
Read more. [Image: Reuters]
Preeminent scientists are warning about serious threats to human life in the not-distant future, including superintelligent computers. Most people don’t care.
Read more. [Image: Mick Tsikas/Reuters]
Nearly 60 percent of the fake $88.7 million recouped last year was created using inkjet or laser printers.
GUATEMALA CITY—In the last three months, Guatemala has witnessed 356 homicides, 202 armed attacks, 44 illegal drug sales, 11 kidnappings, and six cases of “extortion by cell phone.”
These numbers come courtesy not of Guatemalan law-enforcement but of Alertos.org, a new platform that recruits citizens to report crimes. And they’ve enlisted in the effort, using email, Twitter, Facebook, mobile apps, and text messaging to chronicle thousands of criminal activities since last year—in a country where a hobbled police force is struggling to address the fifth-highest murder rate in the world.
In recent years, police have courted cell phone-toting citizens as crime “censors” everywhere from Washington, D.C. to the tiny Kenyan village of Lanet Umoja. But the practice has gained particular traction in Latin America, which, as the UN reported in April, has the highest rate of criminal violence on the planet (the region accounts for 8 percent of the world’s population and a third of its murders). The criminal syndicates and drug cartels behind this bloodshed have overwhelmed, crippled, and corrupted national police forces, resulting in the highest levels of impunity in the world as well. In these countries, criminals literally get away with murder, again and again. Amateur crime-mapping has emerged as a parallel law-enforcement mechanism—in part owing to the popularity of cell phones in the region.
Read more. [Image: Alertos.org]
BookTraces is a new project to track down the human markings in 19th-century books that, in the era of digitization, will (at best) end up in deep storage throughout the nation’s library system.
The books are “a massive, distributed archive of the history of reading, hidden in plain sight in the circulating collections,” the site argues. “Marginalia, inscriptions, photos, original manuscripts, letters, drawings, and many other unique pieces of historical data can be found in individual copies… Each book has to be opened and examined.”
While the implications of this research are large for librarians (more on that anon), for the lay person, there is a fascinating question at the heart of this project to find and preserve unique copies of old texts:
What is a book?
In the Kindle era, it seems pretty obvious. There is an implicit argument in the act of digitizing a book and removing it from the shelf: a book is its text. A book is a unique string of words, as good as its bits.
Read more. [Image: Booktraces.org]