Month: August 2008

DPR Review: The Singularity

Last month, Neuron News published a journal entry (read) discussing the probabilistic near-future event of humans developing a technological super-human entity. This so-called Post-human era, if it comes to pass, will have fundamental ramifications to the continued existence of our species.

Because this issue is absolutely central to the ethical considerations of neurotechnology research, Neuron News will be continuously publishing a feature topic on The Singularity. We are also making an open call for contributions from our readers to help develop this important topical review, so please post your ideas, comments, and concerns by clicking on the What do you think? link below, and contact us if you have news, link references, or personal essays on the topic that you would like included in our DPRI Review of The Singularity.

DPR Review: The Singularity [ READ ]

Intel Features the Future of Brain-Computer Interfacing at Conference

At this year’s Intel Developer Forum in San Francisco, the final keynote address hosted by Justin Rattner, CTO of Intel Corp, focused on the next forty years of computing and how the gap is being bridged between machines and the human mind.

Mr. Rattner described the coming likelihood of “The Singularity,” previously discussed here on Neuron News (read), where the continued exponential growth of computing power will result in machines that surpass the “intelligence” of the human brain. It is not obvious that just because a device can process information at a higher level than that of the brain that it will automatically be imbued with what we consider as “intelligence.” However, there will no doubt be computers in the future with similar levels of complexity of the brain and ridiculously higher processing capabilities… so, we’ll see what happens.

The hour-long keynote web cast is quite interesting with several demonstrations of emerging technologies that will bring machines more human-like qualities. In particular, the non-invasive “mind-reading” headset technology from Emotiv Systems is demonstrated on stage with a human-to-computer game interaction. (In fact, they plan to begin shipping their neurotech headset in late 2008 for only $300!)

The headset records electrical activity from the brain through the skull and translates the signals, or your “thoughts,” into real actions in a computer game. Make a scary face, and frighten your virtual alien invaders away; focus on lifting a large rock that is blocking your path, and the virtual object levitates out of your way so your avatar may continue through the game world.

So, this Christmas, when you invite your friends over for game night, be sure to think carefully… because your fleeting imaginations might show up on the game screen for all to see!

“Research and Development: Crossing the Chasm between Humans and Machines” :: Intel Developer Forum Keynote :: August 21, 2008 :: [ VIEW WEB CAST ]

High-tech Amateur Research Investigates Fish DNA in NYC

This summer, two recent graduates of Trinity School in Manhattan conducted an impressive research program of amateur science that might send food critics and restaurateurs rolling through the streets of New York City.

And, if you happened to click on the school’s link above you will notice that we’re talking about high school students!

Using a recently developed technique called DNA bar coding, a species can be identified by looking at a single gene without the need to sequence the entire genome. So, Kate Stoeckle and Louisa Strauss went out into the city and ate a lot of sushi and preserved a bit of each sample to send off to a lab for testing. At the University of Guelph in Ontario, a graduate student who works in the “Fish Bar Code of Life” project completed the genetic analysis and compared the results to the thousands of fish species already identified in their database.

Read more about how the two young citizen scientists became interested in sushi ID’ing and what they discovered…
“Fish Tale Has DNA Hook: Students Find Bad Labels” :: The New York Times :: August 21, 2008 :: [ READ ]

Bar code of Life Database [ VISIT ]

Dr. John Donoghue’s Neurotech Presentation at NIH

Dr. John Donoghue, Professor of Neuroscience at Brown University, presented an informative, hour-long presentation at the National Institute of Health this past April covering his group’s important research in neurotechnology interfacing. This presentation is part of the NIH Neuroscience Seminar Series, and is a must-see for learning first-hand the profound advancements and exciting technologies being developed for connecting into our brain and nervous system.

Neuron News has also added a link in our Neurotech Resources list to the NIH VideoCast Archives for Neuroscience presentations, so you’ll be able to keep track of the latest reports and advancements in neuroscience being presented at NIH.

Pop some popcorn, sit back, and watch the video linked below, and then post your comments and thoughts here on Neuron News!

“Merging Mind and Machines: Neural Interfaces to Restore Lost Function in Humans” :: NIH VideoCasting Event :: April 14, 2008 :: [ VIEW VIDEO PRESENTATION ]

Our lab investigates how the brain turns thought into action…”
The Donoghue Lab at Brown [ VISIT ]

Watch the Evening Star throughout the Fall and Winter

The classic “evening star”, Venus (more), is now beginning to make its twinkling debut, and will be a beautiful sparkle to watch throughout the Fall and Winter seasons. Extremely visible to the unaided eye, Venus is a great celestial object for novice sky-watchers to begin learning how to track and enjoy observing the night sky.

Joe Rao, writing for, provides a nice overview of the Venus experience for 2008-2009… so, grab your binoculars, telescope, or just your family for an evening stroll through the neighborhood and check out the twinkle of Venus this Fall.

“Doorstep Astronomy: Venus Shines Bright” :: :: August 26, 2008 :: [ READ ]

MIT Focuses on the Neurotech Industry

Thanks to the tip from Zack Lynch that a new program from the MIT Sloan School of Management is researching the neurotechnology industry by trying to understand why innovations and business are successful in the field.

Lead by Assistant Professor Jason Davis, the work will be taking a close look at case histories of existing business models. The broader goal is to better understand how emerging technologies develop in certain organizational business structures and environments. It’s not clear how results will be released in the future, but this work could possibly lead to a valuable guide for future neurotech entrepreneurs to develop business models that will most likely succeed in the nascent industry.

MIT’s NeuroTechnology Innovation Project :: [ VISIT ]

Last updated April 5, 2020