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Education

IBM's Watson Goes To College To Extend Abilities 94

An anonymous reader writes in with news that IBM's Jeopardy winning supercomputer is going back to school"A modified version of the powerful IBM Watson computer system, able to understand natural spoken language and answer complex questions, will be provided to Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in New York, making it the first university to receive such a system. IBM announced Wednesday that the Watson system is intended to enable upstate New York-based RPI to find new uses for Watson and deepen the systems' cognitive computing capabilities - for example by broadening the volume, types, and sources of data Watson can draw upon to answer questions."
IBM

Watch IBM's Watson On Jeopardy Tonight 293

JohnMurtari notes that the media hype machines are massively promoting tonight's battle between Jeopardy champions and a super computer. Yes it's a PR stunt. But I imagine the actual research probably had a lot of interesting problems to address. Anyway, you can learn about IBM Watson if you're interested. I'm sure the most amusing bits will be on YouTube about 30 seconds after air time.
AI

RoboEarth Teaches Robots to Learn From Peers 97

mikejuk writes "A world wide web for robots? It sounds like a crazy idea, but it could mean that once a task is learned, any robot can find out how to do it just by asking RoboEarth. From the article: 'It's not quite war-ready, but a new Skynet-like initiative called RoboEarth could have you reaching for your guide to automaton Armageddon sooner than you think. The network, which is dubbed the "World Wide Web for robots," was designed by a team of European scientists and engineers to allow robots to learn from the experience of their peers, thus enabling them to take on tasks that they weren't necessarily programmed to perform. Using a database with intranet and internet functionality, the system collects and stores information about object recognition, navigation, and tasks and transmits the data to robots linked to the network. Basically, it teaches machines to learn without human intervention.'"
The Internet

HTTP Intermediary Layer From Google Could Dramatically Speed Up the Web 406

grmoc writes "As part of the 'Let's make the web faster' initiative, we (a few engineers — including me! — at Google, and hopefully people all across the community soon!) are experimenting with alternative protocols to help reduce the latency of Web pages. One of these experiments is SPDY (pronounced 'SPeeDY'), an application-layer protocol (essentially a shim between HTTP and the bits on the wire) for transporting content over the web, designed specifically for minimal latency. In addition to a rough specification for the protocol, we have hacked SPDY into the Google Chrome browser (because it's what we're familiar with) and a simple server testbed. Using these hacked up bits, we compared the performance of many of the top 25 and top 300 websites over both HTTP and SPDY, and have observed those pages load, on average, about twice as fast using SPDY. Thats not bad! We hope to engage the open source community to contribute ideas, feedback, code (we've open sourced the protocol, etc!), and test results."
Wireless Networking

Google Gives the Gift of Free Airport Wi-Fi 158

itwbennett writes "Google is giving you something to be thankful for as you travel this holiday season. The company announced today that it is offering free Wi-Fi at 47 airports across the US between now and January 15. If you haven't booked your flights yet, you want to factor this into your plans. Here's a list of the 47 airports, which cover about 35% of all US passengers, according to Google. The Burbank and Seattle airports will continue to offer the free Google Wi-Fi indefinitely." The HuffPo notes another altruistic note in Google's gesture: "As another way to pass on the spirit of the season, once they log on to networks in any of the participating airports, travelers will have the option [of making] a donation to Engineers Without Borders, the One Economy Corporation, or the Climate Savers Computing Initiative. Google will match the donations made across all the networks up to $250,000, and the airport network that generates the highest amount per passenger by January 1, 2010 will receive $15,000 to donate to the local nonprofit of their choice."
The Military

Advanced Surveillance Tech for Unmanned Drones Credited In Iraq 283

mathoda writes "Investigative reporter Bob Woodward states that America has developed secret capabilities 'to locate, target and kill key individuals in groups such as al-Qaeda in Iraq, the Sunni insurgency and renegade Shia militias, or so-called special groups. The operations incorporated some of the most highly classified techniques and information in the US government.' The LA Times now reports, 'As part of an escalating offensive against extremist targets in Pakistan, the United States is deploying Predator aircraft equipped with sophisticated new surveillance systems that were instrumental in crippling the insurgency in Iraq, according to US military and intelligence officials.' Part of the capabilities appear to be that the unmanned flying drones can track targets even inside of buildings." Update by J : Bruce Schneier's readers have some thoughts.
Robotics

New BigDog Robot Video 193

John860 writes "The US company Boston Dynamics has released an amazing new video of its quadruped robot BigDog. The highlight of the video (at 1:24) shows how the robot starts slipping on ice, almost falls several times, but finally regains its balance and continues walking. The video also shows the robot's ability to cope with different types of terrains, climb and descend steep slopes, and jump. Two years ago, the older version of BigDog was already able to climb slopes, keep its balance after a strong kick, and walk on rough terrain like stones, mud, and snow. The new version weighs 235 lbs and can carry a payload of up to 340 lbs, a factor of 4 better than its predecessor."
Programming

An AI 4-Year-Old In Second Life 234

schliz notes a development out of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute where researchers have successfully created an artificially intelligent four-year-old capable of reasoning about his beliefs to draw conclusions in a manner that matches human children his age. The technology, which runs on the institute's supercomputing clusters, will be put to use in immersive training and education scenarios. Researchers envision futuristic applications like those seen in Star Trek's holodeck."
Google

Nanaimo, The Google Capital of the World 227

eldavojohn writes "Time.com has up a story on Nanaimo, a British Columbia coal mining town of about 78,000 that has had everything conceivable mapped into a Google database. Citizens can track fire trucks real time. The results also include Google Earth data for Nanaimo. 'The Google fire service allows people to avoid accident sites by tuning electronic devices to automatic updates from the city's RSS news feed, says fire captain Dean Ford. Eventually, Nanaimo plans to equip its grass-cutting machines with GPS devices, so residents piqued by the apparent shabbiness of a particular park or grass verge can use Google to find out when last it was groomed by the city's gardening staff. And the city's cemeteries will soon be mapped to allow Internet users to find out who is buried in each plot, says Kristensen. A new multi-million-dollar conference center, opening in June, will have 72 wireless access points to allow out-of-towners to use their laptops to navigate the Google Earth version of the city.'"
The Military

DARPA Funds Development on Modular Satellite Network 51

coondoggie points out a Networkworld story about plans for modular satellite technology which is intended to replace modern, "monolithic" devices. The project hopes to solve issues of scalability and reliability by separating the typical satellite systems and allowing the different modules to change function when necessary. Quoting: "According to DARPA such a virtual satellite effectively constitutes a "bus in the sky" - wherein customers need only provide and deploy a payload module suited to their immediate mission need, with the supporting features supplied by a global network of infrastructure modules already resident on-orbit and at critical ground locations. In addition, there can be sharing of resources between various "spacecraft" that are within sufficient range for communication. DARPA said ... within the F6 network all subsystems and payloads can be treated like a uniquely addressable computing peripheral or network device. Such an approach can provide a long sought after "plug-n-play" capability, according to the agency."

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