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Submission + - Text Compressor 1% Away From AI Threshold (

Baldrson writes: "Alexander Ratushnyak compressed the first 100,000,000 bytes of Wikipedia to a record-small 16,481,655 bytes (including decompression program) thereby, not only winning the second payout of The Hutter Prize for Compression of Human Knowledge but, bringing text compression within 1% of the threshold for artificial intelligence. Achieving 1.319 bits per character, this makes the next winner of the Hutter Prize likely to reach the threshold of human performance (between 0.6 and 1.3 bits per character) estimated by the founder of information theory, Claude Shannon and confirmed by Cover and King in 1978 using text prediction gambling. When the Hutter Prize started, less than a year ago, the best performance was 1.466 bits per character. Alexander Ratushnyak's open-sourced GPL program is called paq8hp12."

Submission + - Nicotine is the new wonder drug. (

Fantastic Lad writes: Smoking may be bad for you, but Researchers and biotech companies are quietly developing pharmaceuticals that are decidedly good for brains, bowels, blood vessels and even immune systems — and they're inspired by tobacco's active ingredient: nicotine. Nicotine acts on the acetylcholine receptors in the brain, stimulating and regulating the release of a slew of brain chemicals, including seratonin, dopamine and norepinephrine. Now drugs derived from nicotine and the research on nicotine receptors are in clinical trials for everything from helping to heal wounds, to depression, schizophrenia, Alzheimer's, Tourette Syndrome, ADHD, anger management and anxiety. Smoking will kill you, but also keep you in good health? Another story about nicotine warding off Parkison's disease here seems to agree. -Who knew?

Submission + - Is Robotics Going to the Dogs?

An anonymous reader writes: At least that's the feeling one gets from a pair of stories that followed the recent Robocup soccer-playing competition. One is about the Linux-powered 'der neue Roboter' (the new robot), which is much larger than Sony's discontinued AIBO and has 15 joints, including three for each leg and three for the neck. This doggie-bot was created by the Technical University of Darmstadt in collaboration with the Osaka-based Hajime Research Institute, which was founded by AIBO creator Hajime Sorayama. The other is about the RobuDOG, a French doggie-bot that runs Windows XP Embedded and is nearly as large as 'der neue Roboter,' has 17 servo-powered joints, sensors for velocity and floor contact, infrared sensors, and a programmable color camera. The RobuDOG is supported by a simulator that's built into Microsoft's just-released Robotics Studio version 1.5.

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