Monday, November 26, 2007

Essential circuits of cognition: The brain’s basic operations, architecture, and representations

Published by Richard Granger (University of California Irvine and Dartmouth College) on

The goals of artificial intelligence have always been twofold: i) formal explanation of the mechanisms underlying human (and animal) intelligence and ii)construction of powerful intelligent artifacts based on those mechanisms. The latter engineering goal may pragmatically benefit from the former scientific one: extant face recognition systems and automated telephone operators might have been considered the best possible mechanisms were it not for our own abilities. The only reason that we know that these industrial systems can be outperformed is that humans do so. Biological systems achieve their cognitive capabilities solely through brain mechanisms: the physiological operation of anatomical circuitries. Brain circuits are circuits; that is, they can be understood in computational terms. An explosion of knowledge in neuroscience and related fields is revealing the data crucial for characterizing the layout and properties of these circuits. Click for more... (.pdf)

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Automated Killers and the Computing Profession

Published by Noel Sharkey of the University of Sheffield on

When will we realize that our artificial-intelligence and autonomous-robotics research projects have been harnessed to manufacture killing machines? This is not terminator-style science fiction but grim reality: South Korea and Israel have both deployed armed robot border guards, while other nations—including China, India, Russia, Singapore, and the UK—increasingly use military robots. Currently, the biggest player, the US, has robots playing an integral part in its Future Combat Systems project, with spending estimated to exceed $230 billion. The US military has massive and realistic plans to develop unmanned vehicles that can strike from the air, under the sea, and on land. The US Congress set a goal in 2001 for one-third of US operational ground combat vehicles to be unmanned by 2015. More than 4,000 robots presently serve in Iraq, with others deployed in Afghanistan. The US military will spend $1.7 billion on more ground-based robots over the next five years, several of which will be armed and dangerous. Click for more...
[G.K Comment: Computer ethics is an extremely complex issue that is going to play a major role in the months and years to come, as more and more robots are deployed in the battlefield. Autonomous systems are always going to fail under specific circumstances regardless of how intelligent they become. But who is responsible if a robot unfairly causes a casualty? This article raises many valid questions that all computer scientists should be concerned about.]

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Scientific Revolution: Skin transformed into stem cells through reprogramming!

Published by BBC on 20/11/2007

Human skin cells have been reprogrammed by two groups of scientists to mimic embryonic stem cells with the potential to become any tissue in the body. The breakthrough promises a plentiful new source of cells for use in research into new treatments for many diseases. Crucially, it could mean that such research is no longer dependent on using cells from human embryos, which has proved highly controversial. The US and Japanese studies feature in the journals Science and Cell. Until now only cells taken from embryos were thought to have an unlimited capacity to become any of the 220 types of cell in the human body - a so-called pluripotent state. Click for more...

[G.K Comment: You may wonder why such an article appears on an eBrain blog. Well it was suspected for many years that cells are generic structures that can be programmed to perform different body functions. Now with this revolutionary discovery, scientists have proven that theory to be true. Likewise neurons are generic structures that get programmed differently for vision, speech, abstract thinking etc... Only if we can decode the way they process and exchange information then one of the few remaining unsolved mysteries of science may come to light.]

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Future directions in computing

Published on 14/11/2007 by BBC

Silicon electronics are a staple of the computing industry, but researchers are now exploring other techniques to deliver powerful computers. Quantum computers are able to tackle complex problems. A quantum computer is a theoretical device that would make use of the properties of quantum mechanics, the realm of physics that deals with energy and matter at atomic scales. In a quantum computer data is not processed by electrons passing through transistors, as is the case in today's computers, but by caged atoms known as quantum bits or Qubits. "It is a new paradigm for computation," said Professor Artur Ekert of the University of Oxford. "It's doing computation differently." Click for more...

[G.K Comment: This article lists some new technologies that could potentially replace silicon in computers. They are all very exciting prospects that could have a positive effect on the way eBrains are designed in the future.]