"Computers, once vilified and now championed, were constant in one thing: They amplified the virtues and deficits of the system that implemented them." The Tangled History of Soviet Computer Science. [more inside]
Walter Pitts rose from the streets to MIT, but couldn’t escape himself. Pitts was used to being bullied. He’d been born into a tough family in Prohibition-era Detroit, where his father, a boiler-maker, had no trouble raising his fists to get his way. The neighborhood boys weren’t much better. One afternoon in 1935, they chased him through the streets until he ducked into the local library to hide. The library was familiar ground, where he had taught himself Greek, Latin, logic, and mathematics—better than home, where his father insisted he drop out of school and go to work. Outside, the world was messy. Inside, it all made sense. [more inside]
Colorado shoulder-level double-amputee Les Baugh successfully controls two robot arms by thought alone, allowing him to put cups on shelves and perhaps buy a soda from a machine. BusinessInsider has more details. [more inside]
Norbert Wiener: The Eccentric Genius Whose Time May Have Finally Come (Again) - "The most direct reason for Wiener's fall to relative obscurity was the breakthrough of a young mathematician and engineer named Claude Shannon." [more inside]
What do 3D printing, jelly, liver transplants, chainmail, dental fillings, ferrofluids, and the Six Million Dollar man have to tell us about our future? Materials scientist and engineer Mark Miodownik lets us know in this Royal Institution lecture.
On January 5th, 2011 largely unknown modern composer, and pioneer of long format compositions on early computer systems Roland Kayn "... left this world today from his home". [more inside]
Valentino Braitenberg's 1984 book, Vehicles: Experiments in Synthetic Psychology was a seminal work for its discussion of how one might design a system (biological or otherwise) in order to generate behavior like that seen in beings with brains. He embarks on a series of thought experiments in which he creates thirteen "vehicles" through simple components that (arguably) display intelligent behavior, evolving in a Darwinian fashion to demonstrate what appears to be high-level cognition. [more inside]
You probably think you know what cybernetics means, you are probably wrong. Has the field of cybernetics been discredited, or just mostly forgotten? It has been variously described as the science of communication and control, the art of defensible metaphors, and used in pop culture as a root word for cyborg. [more inside]
The Unspeakable Odyssey of the Motionless Boy. "How much of our humanity are we prepared to cede to machines? This is a dilemma of the future, but it's not much of a concern for Erik Ramsey. Erik can't move. He can't blink his eyes. And he hasn't said a word since 1999. But now, thanks to an electrode that was surgically implanted in his brain and linked to a computer, his nine-year silence is about to end." [Via]
Cockroach Controlled Mobile Robots — Overview: an experimental mechanism that uses a living Madagascan hissing cockroach atop a modified trackball to control a three-wheeled robot. If the cockroach moves left, the robot moves left. Infrared sensors also provide navigation feedback to the cockroach, striving to create a pseudo-intelligent system with the cockroach as the CPU. Garnet Hertz, creator of Fly with Implanted Webserver and Cockroach with Wireless Video, has used Gromphadorhina portentosa on three generations of autonomous roachbots (YouTube video and Ars Electronica 2005 gallery).
World's first brain prosthesis revealed. Well, first hippocampus replacement at least. If this is not a dead end for science (which I doubt), I am gonna get my soul fully digitalized in 2020, then spreading it on the whole net with some new version of a code-red virus. :-)
Professor becomes world's first cyborg Surgeons have carried out a ground-breaking operation on a cybernetics professor so that his nervous system can be wired up to a computer. It is hoped that the procedure could lead to a medical breakthrough for people paralysed by spinal cord damage, like Superman actor Christopher Reeve. Prof Warwick believes it also opens up the possibility of a sci-fi world of cyborgs, where the human brain can one day be upgraded with implants for extra memory, intelligence or X-ray vision. The medical possibilities with this are amazing, so why does it make me feel so uneasy?