Journals


How Driverless Cars Will Change the Feel of Cities

The Atlantic

It's 6 p.m. in Tempe, Arizona and pitch-black outside. I'm standing in the middle of a five-lane thoroughfare, among a group of people too numerous for the narrow median. We got trapped here after a brigade of left-turning cars preempted our passage--that's a thing that happens in cities like this one, designed for automobiles over pedestrians. An SUV pulls up as we cower inches away, waiting for the next traffic-light cycle. The driver's window is rolled down to allow some of the cool night air in.


What Tech Can Learn from the Fruit Fly's Search Algorithm - Facts So Romantic

Nautilus

Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you." Verse 7:7 from the Gospel of Matthew is generally considered to be a comment on prayer, but it could just as well be about the power of search. Search has become one of the key technologies of the information age, powering industry behemoths and helping us with our daily chores. But that's not where it ends. Scientists are starting to understand that search powers much of the natural world, too.


How 'Self-Driving' Trucks Connected the Australian Outback

The Atlantic

The trucks that roam the highways of the Australian outback are a lot bigger than the average 18-wheeler. Instead of towing one container, these road trains, as Australians refer to them, pull at least three self-tracking semitrailers behind them, which follow each other like train carriages. The trailers are packed with heavy goods--cattle, gas, coal, cars--and sent roaring through the continent's interior to deliver supplies to coastal cities. Fully loaded, road trains weigh up to 120 tons, and materialize on the shimmering horizon of outback roads as great mechanical beasts. As they pass at 70 miles per hour, you can feel the air velocity generated by the machine trying to suck you under the rig. Road trains are as much a part of the outback as red dirt or Akubra hats, signifiers of a rugged, Mad Max mythology that has come to define Australia's interior in the global imagination.



Semantic Development and Integration of Standards for Adoption and Interoperability

IEEE Computer

Semantic applications can help commercial applications perform quickly and reliably by improving ecosystem interoperability. Converting and integrating current standards specifications to OWL models could support the adoption of semantic models, as well as machine-processable standards compliance and data interoperability.


A Semantic Web Approach to Simplifying Trigger-Action Programming in the IoT

IEEE Computer

End-user programming environments for the IoT such as IFTTT rely on a multitude of low-level trigger-action rules that categorize devices and services by technology or brand. EUPont is a Semantic Web ontology that enables users to meet their needs with fewer, higher-level rules that can be adapted to different contextual situations and as-yet-unknown IoT devices and services.


Consciousness Began When the Gods Stopped Speaking - Issue 54: The Unspoken

Nautilus

Julian Jaynes was living out of a couple of suitcases in a Princeton dorm in the early 1970s. He must have been an odd sight there among the undergraduates, some of whom knew him as a lecturer who taught psychology, holding forth in a deep baritone voice. He was in his early 50s, a fairly heavy drinker, untenured, and apparently uninterested in tenure. "I don't think the university was paying him on a regular basis," recalls Roy Baumeister, then a student at Princeton and today a professor of psychology at Florida State University. But among the youthful inhabitants of the dorm, Jaynes was working on his masterpiece, and had been for years.


A neural algorithm for a fundamental computing problem

Science

Similarity search--for example, identifying similar images in a database or similar documents on the web--is a fundamental computing problem faced by large-scale information retrieval systems. We discovered that the fruit fly olfactory circuit solves this problem with a variant of a computer science algorithm (called locality-sensitive hashing). The fly circuit assigns similar neural activity patterns to similar odors, so that behaviors learned from one odor can be applied when a similar odor is experienced. The fly algorithm, however, uses three computational strategies that depart from traditional approaches. These strategies can be translated to improve the performance of computational similarity searches.


Engineered emotions

Science

Originally published in France in 2016, Living with Robots combines the authors' expertise in philosophy--in particular, Paul Du mouchel's scholarship on the role of emo tion in shaping social life and Luisa Damiano's work on human and artificial cognition--to offer insight into problems raised by advances in robotics and artificial intelli gence that will be faced by future societies. Throughout the book, the authors provide a conceptual framework for thinking about possible scenarios of human-robot interac tions, most extensively with regard to our relationships with social robots.


New tools offer clues to how the human brain takes shape

Science

Our brains are bigger, relative to body size, than other animals', but it's not just size that matters. Elephants and whales have bigger brains, so comparing anatomy or even genomes of humans and other animals reveals little about the genetic and developmental changes that sent our brains down such a different path. Geneticists have identified a few key differences in the genes of humans and apes. But specifically how human variants of such genes shape our brain in development--and how they drove its evolution--have remained largely mysterious. Now, researchers are deploying new tools to understand the molecular mechanisms behind the unique features of our brain.