Tag Archives | Computers

How Ross Perot Saved the World’s First Electronic Computer

ENIAC panels on display at the Smithsonian.

ENIAC panels on display at the Smithsonian.

via Gizmodo:

Ross Perot is a collector. He once bought a copy of the Magna Carta in 1984. But more intriguingly, he also bought and resurrected ENIAC, the world’s first electronic computer.

ENIAC stands for the “Electronic Numerical Integrator And Computer” and was conceived of during World War II to help calculate the arched paths of artillery bullets. It is an absolutely massive machine weighing in at 27 tons and occupying 1,800 square feet when fully assembled.Construction began in 1943, but by the time it was finished in 1945, the war was over. The Army kept a tight lid on things at first. Even the maintenance manual (below) remained classified until 1946. So what did the United States Army do with this marvel of technology? They used it to design the first hydrogen bomb. Then, in 1955, they threw the thing away.

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Using TV, Videos or a Computer Game as a Stress Reducer after a Tough Day at Work Can Lead to Feelings of Guilt and Failure

I know TV is evil, but I thought video games were good.  Guess I was wrong again!

Via ScienceDaily:

It seems common practice: After a long day at work, most people sometimes just want to turn on the TV or play a video or computer game to calm down and relax. However, in a study recently published in the Journal of Communication researchers at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz in Germany and VU University Amsterdam in the Netherlands found that people who were highly stressed after work did not feel relaxed or recovered when they watched TV or played computer or video games. Instead, they tended to show increased levels of guilt and feelings of failure.

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In a joint survey research project, Dr. Leonard Reinecke of the Department of Communication at Mainz University and Dr. Tilo Hartmann and Dr. Allison Eden of the Department of Communication Science at the University of Amsterdam asked a total of 471 study participants about their previous day, how they felt after work or school, and what media they turned to at the end of the day.

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First ‘Quantum Computer’ No Faster Than Regular PCs

quantum computingHave they tried rebooting the modem?

The world’s first commercial quantum computer, made by the Canadian company D-Wave Systems Inc., performed no better than a classical computer in a recent analysis.

Quantum computers are thought to be able to solve complex problems thousands of times faster than classical computers, and scientists have been working on developing them for more than a decade. These devices could be useful for modeling quantum mechanics — the realm of physics that describes how matter at the sub-microscopic scale can exist as both a particle and a wave — or for cracking encrypted online information.

A team of researchers compared the performance of a D-Wave Two device to that of a classical computer on a specific set of problems, and failed to find evidence that the quantum computer was faster. [10 Technologies That Will Transform Your Life]

“We do not see any evidence of quantum speedup in the D-Wave device,” said Matthias Troyer, a theoretical physicist at ETH Zurich, in Switzerland, and co-author of the study, detailed today (June 19) in the journal Science.

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Computers Will Be Like Humans By 2029

Spike Jonze - Her“Her” here we come! That’s the prediction of Ray Kurzweil, futurist in chief at Google, reports CNBC:

In less than two decades, you won’t just use your computers, you will have relationships with them.

Because of artificial intelligence, computers will be able to read at human levels by 2029 and will also begin to have different human characteristics, said Ray Kurzweil, the director of engineering at Google.

“My timeline is computers will be at human levels, such as you can have a human relationship with them, 15 years from now,” he said. Kurzweil’s comments came at the Exponential Finance conference in New York on Wednesday.

“When I say about human levels, I’m talking about emotional intelligence. The ability to tell a joke, to be funny, to be romantic, to be loving, to be sexy, that is the cutting edge of human intelligence, that is not a sideshow.”

The Oscar winning movie ‘Her,’ which was about a man who fell in love with his operating system, foreshadowed many of Kurzweil’s predictions about how artificial intelligence (AI) will evolve…

[continues at CNBC]

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Computer Knows When You’re Faking Pain

PIC: cryteria (CC)

PIC: cryteria (CC)

It looks like taking a sick day may get a lot harder. A UC San Diego research team says computer programs can tell the difference between genuine pain and fake pain a lot better than human beings:

Via Medical News Today:

They note that in social species like humans, faces have evolved to show valuable information in social contexts, and this includes expressions of emotions and pain.

However, “humans can simulate facial expressions and fake emotions well enough to deceive most observers,” says Prof. Kang Lee, senior author from the University of Toronto.

According to the study, there are two motor pathways in the brain that control facial movement:

  • Subcortical extrapyramidal motor system – which drives spontaneous facial expressions of felt emotions
  • Cortical pyramidal motor system – which controls voluntary (faked) facial expressions.

While humans are unable to consistently spot the subtle differences between the two, the team says a computer can.

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Viewing The World Through The Lens Of Artificial Idiocy

road_testVia the Guardian Tom Chatfield on gazing at reality through computers’ data-crunching models:

When Facebook asks me what I “like”, it’s making the convenient assumption that I feel one of two ways about everything in the world – indifferent or affectionate. When it aggregates the results of mine and a billion other responses, marvellous insights emerge. But these remain based on a model of preference that might kindly be called moronic.

Similarly, every measurement embodies a series of choices: what to include, what to exclude. If a computer could learn to recognise images of cats with absolute accuracy, would that mean it knew what a cat was? Not unless you redefined cats as silent, immobile, odourless sequences of information describing two-dimensional images. If a computer could learn to identify you with absolute accuracy via surreptitiously scraped data from your social media presence, phone calls and banking activities, would that mean it knew what it means to be you?

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Inside China’s Internet Addiction Rehab Camps

internet addictionThe New York Times has a short film exploring life inside one of China's hundreds of boot-camp-style treatment centers for electronics-addled youth who spend night and day gaming online, in some cases allegedly wearing diapers to avoid taking bathroom breaks. The camp director compares the internet to "electronic heroin" and warns that the teens "know the internet inside and out, but nothing about human beings." Questions abound: Is China at the forefront of what will become a global epidemic of Compulsive Internet Use? Are computers being scapegoated for problems that are in fact more subtle and complex? Could you survive several months cold turkey?
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The Closing of the Scientific Mind

Pic: Repdan (CC)

Pic: Repdan (CC)

Yale Professor of Computer Science David Gelernter thinks that science as become an “international bully”. You may recall that Gelernter was severely injured after receiving a mail bomb from Ted Kaczynski. Wonder what an open dialogue between these two would have been like had Kaczynski chosen a more peaceable tactic for his activism?*

Via Commentary:

The huge cultural authority science has acquired over the past century imposes large duties on every scientist. Scientists have acquired the power to impress and intimidate every time they open their mouths, and it is their responsibility to keep this power in mind no matter what they say or do. Too many have forgotten their obligation to approach with due respect the scholarly, artistic, religious, humanistic work that has always been mankind’s main spiritual support. Scientists are (on average) no more likely to understand this work than the man in the street is to understand quantum physics.

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NSA Trying To Build Quantum Computer That Could Break All Forms Of Encryption

quantum computingTrying to maintain your privacy? Consider just giving up. The Washington Post reports:

In room-size metal boxes ­secure against electromagnetic leaks, the National Security Agency is racing to build a computer that could break nearly every kind of encryption used to protect banking, medical, business and government records around the world.

According to documents provided by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, the effort to build “a cryptologically useful quantum computer” — a machine exponentially faster than classical computers — is part of a $79.7 million research program titled “Penetrating Hard Targets.” Much of the work is hosted under classified contracts at a laboratory in College Park, Md.

The development of a quantum computer has long been a goal of many in the scientific community. With such technology, all current forms of public key encryption would be broken, including those used on many secure Web sites as well as the type used to protect state secrets.

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Computers Can Be Hacked Using High-Pitched Sound That You Can’t Hear

800px-Sine_waves_different_frequencies.svgGetting pissed off and screaming at your computer still shown to have no effect.

Via Scientific American:

Using the microphones and speakers that come standard in many of today’s laptop computers and mobile devices, hackers can secretly transmit and receive data using high-frequency audio signals that are mostly inaudible to human ears, a new study shows.

Michael Hanspach and Michael Goetz, researchers at Germany’s Fraunhofer Institute for Communication, Information Processing, and Ergonomics, recently performed a proof-of-concept experiment that showed that “covert acoustical networking,” a technique which had been hypothesized but considered improbable by most experts, is indeed possible.

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