Tag Archives: internet

Google Is Taking Questions (Spoken, via iPhone)

Pushing ahead in the decades-long effort to get computers to understand human speech, Google researchers have added sophisticated voice recognition technology to the company’s search software for the Apple iPhone.

Users of the free application, which Apple is expected to make available as soon as Friday through its iTunes store, can place the phone to their ear and ask virtually any question, like “Where’s the nearest Starbucks?” or “How tall is Mount Everest?” The sound is converted to a digital file and sent to Google’s servers, which try to determine the words spoken and pass them along to the Google search engine.

The search results, which may be displayed in just seconds on a fast wireless network, will at times include local information, taking advantage of iPhone features that let it determine its location.

The ability to recognize just about any phrase from any person has long been the supreme goal of artificial intelligence researchers looking for ways to make man-machine interactions more natural. Systems that can do this have recently started making their way into commercial products.

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Computing power to equal human brain by 2025

Dubai: By 2025 you will be able to buy the computing power of the human brain for $1,000 (Dh3,672), according to Dr Colin Harrison, a director and “Master Inventor” for IBM.

Harrison, who recently took some time to speak to Gulf News on a trip to the UAE, said the estimate is based on the current state of super-computers, which IBM has a long history with.

The company built Deep Blue, a machine designed to beat Russian Chess Champion Gary Kasparov, about 12 years ago and it is currently producing a line of high-performance machines called Blue Gene.

“Deep Blue has roughly the processing capacity of a lizard, and the early Blue Genes has roughly the processing capacity of small rodent,” said Dr Harrison. “If you want to get to the processing capacity of a human being, I think you need something like 10 petaFLOPS.”

How fast it that? The fastest version on the Blue Gene runs at 500 teraFLOPS, which means about 500 trillion mathematical operations per second.

Harrison said that there are some people at IBM who think it would be possible to run the entire internet on Blue Gene, although he says that would only cover “the front end on the internet,” such as websites, and not the large behind-the-scenes computations done in data centers.

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Stealth Semantic Startup Raises $8.5 Million, Won’t Tell Us Anything

I had a phone call late last week with a semantic startup called Siri that was spun out of SRI International (the birthplace of the computer mouse and the LCD screen, among many other important technologies). Most startups are willing to talk about their products “off the record” but this one wouldn’t divulge much beyond the fact that they’ve raised $8.5 million in Series A funding from Menlo Ventures and Morgenthaler.

What we do know is that the company was incorporated in December 2007 with the goal of commercializing aspects of the CALO cognitive learning system, which receives heavy funding ($200 million plus) from the PAL arm of Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, a supporter of research in a broad range of technologies that could potentially benefit the Department of Defense.

From the sound of things, Siri’s 19 developers – mostly engineers who count Yahoo, Google, Apple, Xerox, Nasa, and Netscape as their former employers – have been working on a system that will use artificial intelligence to automate many of the tasks that people currently conduct manually online. The founders describe themselves as out to change the fundamental ways that people use the internet, apparently by leveraging artificial intelligence that will learn from you and then give you the luxury of thinking less on your own.

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World first for sending data using quantum cryptography

For the first time the transmission of data secured by quantum cryptography is demonstrated within a commercial telecommunications network. 41 partners from 12 European countries, including academics from the University of Bristol, have worked on realising this quantum cryptographic network since April 2004.

Today [Wednesday 8 October] the first commercial communication network using unbreakable encryption based on quantum cryptography is demonstrated in Vienna, Austria. In particular the encryption utilises keys that are generated and distributed by means of quantum cryptographic technologies. Potential users of this network, such as government agencies, financial institutions or companies with distributed subsidiaries, can encrypt their confidential communication with the highest level of security using the quantum cryptographically generated keys.

The network consists of six nodes and eight intermediary links with distances between 6km and 82km (seven links utilising commercial standard telecommunication optical fibres and one “free-space”-link along a line of sight between two telescopes). The links employ altogether six different quantum cryptographic technologies for key generation which are integrated into the network over standardised interfaces.

The network is installed in a standard optical fibre communication ring provided by SECOQC partners, Siemens AG Österreich in Vienna. Five subsidiaries of Siemens are connected to the network. The operation of the quantum cryptographic network will be visualised on a screen at the Siemens Forum in Vienna and streamed live over the Internet. The network-wide key generation and distribution will be demonstrated, the different functionalities of the network itself will be presented as well as utilisation of the keys for standard communication applications. A voice-over-iptelephone-application will be secured by the information-theoretically secure “one-time-pad-encryption“ while videoconferencing will be protected by symmetrical AES-encryption with frequent key changes. A low-cost key distributor, with the potential of extending the quantum cryptographic network to the consumer, will also be shown.

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This is your grid on brains

Managing power networks in the future may involve a little more brain power than it does today, if researchers at Missouri University of Science and Technology succeed in a new project that involves literally tapping brain cells grown on networks of electrodes.

The Missouri S&T group, working with researchers at Georgia Institute of Technology, plans to use the brain power to develop a new method for tracking and managing the constantly changing levels of power supply and demand.

Led by Dr. Ganesh Kumar Venayagamoorthy, associate professor of electrical and computer engineering, the researchers will use living neural networks composed of thousands of brain cells from laboratory rats to control simulated power grids in the lab. From those studies, the researchers hope to create a “biologically inspired” computer program to manage and control complex power grids in Mexico, Brazil, Nigeria and elsewhere.

“We want to develop a totally new architecture than what exists today,” says Venayagamoorthy, who also directs the Real-Time Power and Intelligent Systems Laboratory at Missouri S&T. “Power systems control is very complex, and the brain is a very flexible, very adaptable network. The brain is really good at handling uncertainties.”

Venayagamoorthy hopes to develop a system that is “inspired by the brain but not a replica. Nobody really understands completely how the brain works.”

The research is funded through a $2 million grant from the National Science Foundation’s Division of Emerging Frontiers in Research and Innovation.

The Missouri S&T team will work with researchers at Georgia Tech’s Laboratory for Neuroengineering, where the living neural networks have been developed and are housed and studied. A high-bandwidth Internet2 connection will connect those brain cells over 600 miles to Venayagamoorthy’s Real-Time Power and Intelligent Systems Laboratory. Missouri S&T researchers will transmit signals from that lab in Rolla, Mo., to the brain cells in the Atlanta lab, and will train those brain cells to recognize voltage signals and other information from Missouri S&T’s real-time simulator.

Venayagamoorthy’s lab is capable of simulating a power grid the size of Nigeria’s, or a portion of the combined New England and New York grid in the United States.

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Managing Power Grids Using Brain Cell Technology

In old movies we were going to improve society by making everything think like a computer. Now the goal is to make computers think like brains. Researchers at Missouri University of Science and Technology say they can make power network management more efficient by literally tapping brain cells grown on networks of electrodes.

The Missouri S&T group, working with researchers at Georgia Institute of Technology, plans to use the brain power to develop a new method for tracking and managing the constantly changing levels of power supply and demand.

Led by Dr. Ganesh Kumar Venayagamoorthy, associate professor of electrical and computer engineering, the researchers will use living neural networks composed of thousands of brain cells from laboratory rats to control simulated power grids in the lab. From those studies, the researchers hope to create a “biologically inspired” computer program to manage and control complex power grids in Mexico, Brazil, Nigeria and elsewhere.

“We want to develop a totally new architecture than what exists today,” says Venayagamoorthy, who also directs the Real-Time Power and Intelligent Systems Laboratory at Missouri S&T. “Power systems control is very complex, and the brain is a very flexible, very adaptable network. The brain is really good at handling uncertainties.”

Venayagamoorthy hopes to develop a system that is “inspired by the brain but not a replica. Nobody really understands completely how the brain works.”

The research is funded through a $2 million grant from the National Science Foundation’s Office of Emerging Frontiers in Research and Innovation.

The Missouri S&T team will work with researchers at Georgia Tech’s Laboratory for Neuroengineering, where the living neural networks have been developed and are housed and studied. A high-bandwidth Internet2 connection will connect those brain cells over 600 miles to Venayagamoorthy’s Real-Time Power and Intelligent Systems Laboratory. Missouri S&T researchers will transmit signals from that lab in Rolla, Mo., to the brain cells in the Atlanta lab, and will train those brain cells to recognize voltage signals and other information from Missouri S&T’s real-time simulator.

Venayagamoorthy’s lab is capable of simulating a power grid the size of Nigeria’s, or a portion of the combined New England and New York grid in the United States.

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‘Slow’ light to speed up the net

A huge increase in the speed of the internet could be produced by slowing parts of it down, say researchers.

Applying the brakes could be the “metamaterials” that may make it possible to create invisibility cloaks.

The net’s speed limit comes about not in transporting information, but in routing it to its various destinations.

Metamaterials could replace the bulky and slow electronics that do the routing, paving the way for lightning fast speeds.

High-speed telecommunications routes include fibre-optic cables that span vast distances, carrying different streams of information in different channels—each with its own frequency of light.

As data nears the end of its journey, these frequencies must be separated and sent to their destinations.

The separation is accomplished with bulky equipment that spreads the closely spaced frequencies in the pulses into different detectors.

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We’ve seen the future … and we may not be doomed

UN report finds life is getting better for people worldwide – but that governments are failing to grasp the opportunities offered at ‘a unique time’. Geoffrey Lean and Jonathan Owen report

Humanity stands on the threshold of a peaceful and prosperous future, with an unprecedented ability to extend lifespans and increase the power of ordinary people – but is likely to blow it through inequality, violence and environmental degradation. And governments are not equipped to ensure that the opportunities are seized and disasters averted.

So says a massive new international report, due to be published late this month, and obtained by The Independent on Sunday. Backed by organisations ranging from Unesco to the US army, the World Bank to the Rockefeller Foundation, the 2008 State of the Future report runs to 6,300 pages and draws on contributions from 2,500 experts around the globe.

Its warning is all the more stark for eschewing doom and gloom. “The future continues to get better for most of the world,” it concludes, “but a series of tipping points could drastically alter global prospects.”

It goes on. “This is a unique time in history. Mobile phones, the internet, international trade, language translation and jet planes are giving birth to an interdependent humanity that can create and implement global strategies to improve [its] prospects. It is increasingly clear that the world has the resources to address our common challenges. Ours is the first generation with the means for many to know the world as a whole, identify global improvement systems, and seek to improve [them].”

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Intel Launches System-on-a-Chip Design “Tolopai”

Intel launched its new embedded x86 system-on-a-chip (SoC) today, and in doing so, moved a small step closer toward eventually competing head-to-head with ARM. Formally, the new SoC platform is known as the Intel EP80579 Integrated Processor Family, but the project was code-named Tolapai, and that name trips off the tongue more readily. Tolapai isn’t just a new integrated SoC; it’s Intel’s first volley into a mobile and “embedded” market space that the company believes will grow enormously in the coming years. Unlike how ARM and other companies use the term, when Intel talks about “embedded systems,” the company isn’t just referring to point-of-sale terminals or industrial applications, but to a category of what it refers to as mobile Internet devices (MIDs).

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World’s smallest NAND memory device created by Intel and Micron

IM Flash Technologies LLC, a joint venture between Intel and Micron has made world’s first sub-40nm Nand memory device.This 34nm 32Gb multi-level chip which is due this year is the smallest Nand process geometry on the market.

NAND Flash architecture is one of two flash technologies (the other being NOR) used in memory cards such as the CompactFlash cards. It is also used in USB Flash drives, MP3 players, and provides the image storage for digital cameras.

According to the statement released by Intel and Micron the chip is the only monolithic device at this density that fits into a standard 48-lead thin small-outline package, providing a cost-effective path to higher densities in existing applications.

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