The #1 picture just left me speechless. It’s now my desktop :-)
A “speculative paper”–and here “speculative” should be read as “pulling stuff out of their asses”–released by the British government frets that robots might someday be smart enough to demand emancipation, raising the prospect that they’ll have to be treated as citizens (and sue if they’re denied that right).
Should they prove successful, the paper said, “states will be obligated to provide full social benefits to them including income support, housing and possibly robo-healthcare to fix the machines over time.”
The paper goes on to predict that we probably won’t have to worry about that eventuality for at least 20 years. Asimov notwithstanding, I’m thinkin’ it’s going to be quite a lot longer than 20 years. (And call me nutty, but aren’t there more pressing things for the British government to be worrying about? This is like releasing a paper that warns about the repercussions of cockroaches suddenly becoming sentient and demanding the vote. It could happen–with Jerry Springer being Exhibit A–but it’s not something that we necessarily need to worry about right now.)
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This article, “From On High to Lowbrows,” discusses some of the scientific highlights of 2006.
(Is anybody besides me really, really shocked that 2006 is almost over?)
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Graham Sleight’s column “Yesterday’s Tomorrows” from Locus Magazine looks at classic works from a contemporary perspective.
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Technology company Accenture is working on a prototype video system that will allow geographically scattered families to get together virtually as often as they’d like. They’re aiming for technology that’s easy for even those who might be intimidated by computers, and which will automatically check to see which family members are available for a visit when someone puts a meal on the table.
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They’ve opened the ISFDB for editing by the general public. They would like to recruit beta testers for this effort.
The ISFDB is a community effort to catalog works of science fiction, fantasy, and horror. It links together various types of bibliographic data: author bibliographies, publication bibliographies, award listings, magazine content listings, anthology and collection content listings, and forthcoming books.
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A Japanese research team has succeeded in filming a giant squid live–possibly for the first time–and says the elusive creatures may be more plentiful than previously believed.
Researchers at Carnegie Mellon and the University of Pittsburgh have created a unique ink-jet printing system that uses “bio-ink” to lay down a pattern of cells that will differentiate into a designed pattern of both bone and muscle cells. They begin with a layer of nurturing proteins as a base, then use a robotic inkjet-style machine to lay down a specific pattern of tiny droplets of various proteins, just like laying ink on paper.
Boston University marine biologists have made progress converting sharks to “remote control” so that they might be outfitted with sensors and sent on spying machines. The sharks were implanted with electrical stimulators that trick their brains into smelling food. Using the stimulators, researchers were able to “steer” the sharks around a tank. The military has, predictably, classified the research, but the University is now seeking new funding to continue their studies for peacetime applications.