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Smart Future > Chip on our minds February 11, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Internet, Internet Software, Science.
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Wouldn’t it be nice if your computer knew what you were thinking even before you touched the keyboard? Or, better still, if the computer did the thinking, er, data processing, for you, because it is ‘connected’ directly to you?

Cybernetics, the science of communications and control in animals and machines, is radically changing the way we interact with computers. It promises a future where keyboards and computer mice would be replaced by mind control for everything from managing files, sending e-mails and Google searches. US mathematician Norbert Wiener coined ‘cybernetics’ (Greek for ‘steersman’) in 1948 to describe the study of autonomous machines that use a feedback mechanism to survey their surroundings and respond to it.

The concept of ‘cyborgs’ takes cybernetics a step further, making humans a part of the machine itself. Ask Kevin Warwick, renowned British cybernetics researcher, who recently gave a lecture at the IIT Techfest in Mumbai. A Radio Frequency Identification Device chip, implanted in his arm in 1998, enables him to walk into his office without an ID card and prompt lab lights to switch on when he enters. In other experiments, silicon chips implanted in his body enabled machines and people, with identical transponders, on another continent to replicate his movements through the internet.

It won’t be long before the desktop makes way for super-fast tiny computers worn in headbands, allowing us to ‘type’ almost as fast as we write by hand. Since the capacity of silicon-based technology typically doubles every two years, we should soon be able to process thoughts as fast as speech. This new realm of human-machine, and human-human, communication holds great promise for paralysed patients to use the power of ‘thought’. Paraplegics, for instance, could operate artificial limbs merely by ‘thinking’.

The forerunners of such ‘brain-reading’ technology are already here. The Sony (Charts) game system beams data directly into your mind without implants, and uses a pulsed ultrasonic signal to induce sensory experiences like smells, sounds and images. German neuroscientists have developed a similar device to help disabled people communicate by reading their brain waves through the skin. This ability to trigger neurons mechanically gives us the power to think something and have it happen: fly a plane, cook dinner, or, well, write a column. Next up could be ‘network-enabled telepathy’, where your thoughts flow from your brain over the network right into someone else’s brain. Truly hooked-up!


Money can’t buy you love and affection February 11, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Lifestyle.
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You know that dude, don’t you? Sure it’s a cliche, but money hasn’t bought happiness for heiresses.

Oh, that poor little rich girl. With the death of Anna Nicole Smith, her 5-month-old daughter, Dannielynn, might inherit millions, joining an exclusive group: Gloria Vanderbilt. Christina Onassis. Barbara Hutton. Just to name a few. They’re all women whose fabulous wealth equaled the GNP of small countries. They could buy just about anything, but not happiness.

Christina Onassis, the daughter of Greek shipping tycoon Aristotle Onassis, craved diet pills, junk food and affection. Married and divorced four times, she died, lying in a bathtub, at 37 in 1988.

Gloria Vanderbilt, the railroad heiress, married and divorced three times and, in 1988, watched helplessly as her son Carter, 23, committed suicide from the terrace of her 14th-floor Manhattan penthouse.

Barbara Hutton, the dime-store heiress, lost her mother to suicide when Barbara was 6. Raised by a governess, she was divorced seven times and lost her son in an airline crash. She was known for lavishing money on anyone who’d pay attention to her.

And don’t forget Doris Duke, the “million-dollar baby” thanks to tobacco. She was a kidnapping target whose father taught her to “trust no one.”

Of course, Dannielynn’s fate as an heiress isn’t nearly as certain as these women’s. Smith’s fight over her late husband J. Howard Marshall II’s oil fortune will probably play on for years. Though she originally won a $474 million judgment, it’s been reduced to about $88 million, but the fight goes on. Other legal entanglements, including contested paternity, could affect the child’s bottom line. But even if the money eventually comes her way, psychologists who study what makes people happy say that cash comes low on the list.

“What they’ve found is, you need love, a purpose in life and a sense of belonging,” says Paul Peluso, a licensed mental health counselor and an assistant professor at Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton. “Otherwise, you wonder, What reason do I have to wake up in the morning?'”

Ironically, having too much money can make all those things harder to achieve. If you’re wildly wealthy, do people love you for you or for what you can buy? If you’re so rich you needn’t work, what’s your purpose in life? And if you’re that loaded, are you invited into a group for your personality or your checkbook?

In our celebrity culture, the really rich also can be imprisoned by their wealth. They’re hounded by photographers. They’re besieged for donations. They fear for their safety or their family’s safety. At the same time, the money that’s supposed to buy them so much happiness brings them less and less.

“If you have too much wealth too easily, you get conditioned to being deprived of nothing,” says Jack Bodenstein, a Delray Beach psychotherapist. “Almost nothing satisfies you then.”

And yet some people with a hefty bottom line apparently can’t get enough.

Take Athina Onassis, 22, an equestrian who pops up occasionally in Wellington. The now-married daughter of Christina Onassis inherited roughly $1 billion after turning 18 in 2003. But as an adult she sued a charitable Greek foundation, The Onassis Foundation, established by her grandfather, Aristotle Onassis, for even more money, though the legal attempt failed when she didn’t follow through.

Who knows how wealth will affect little Dannielynn, but money didn’t help her mother. Before her death Thursday in Hollywood, Smith reeled from one tragedy to another.

The money she has been awarded in court battles didn’t spare her the recent death of her 20-year-old son. Nor did it polish the image of her previous life as a stripper, Playboy playmate and her laughable role as a reality show personality. In the end, her life was more fodder for jokes than admiration.

Get your fusion February 11, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Fashion, Lifestyle.
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Log onto http://www.gillettefusion.com click your country’s website and learn all about shaving! Even your sculp!

Everything that a man wants to know!

Journalist sues himself February 11, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Media.
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A Dutch journalist appeared before an appeals court yesterday in a bid to get the state to prosecute him for eating chocolate made from cocoa grown in African plantations where children are forced to work.

Teun van de Keuken filed a legal complaint against himself after eating 17 chocolate bars “that were established to be made from cocoa from plantations that practice slavery”, he said. When the public prosecutor’s office said it would not prosecute him, Van de Keuken, an investigative journalist for a Dutch consumer show, filed an appeal and said he is ready to go to prison for his crime.

Painting sets record February 11, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Arts.
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Christie’s has auctioned a Francis Bacon painting belonging to Sophia Loren for the record price of £14.2 million.

The sale price makes it the most expensive work of art ever by Bacon, and a record price for a painting in the post-war period in dollars, though not in pounds, an effect of modern exchange rates.