Innovations in 5: Superpowers, super brains and supercomputers

May 7, 2013

Here’s what we’re reading/watching today:

Okay, maybe you can't do this, but isn't it all relative? (AP Photo/DC Comics, File) (Anonymous - AP) Okay, maybe you can’t do this, but isn’t it all relative? (AP Photo/DC Comics, File) (Anonymous – AP)

1) You have superpowers and you didn’t even know it. Well, that’s according to Slate’s Mark Joseph Stern, who writes :

“Artificial enhancement of the human body isn’t just for cyborgs; most of us have bodies that have already been enhanced beyond their natural potential. To us, these advantages are a routine part of modern existence. To our grandparents, they would have made us seem like Superman.”

The piece then notes five technologies that have given us seemingly superhuman abilities.

2) In a 2013 report to Congress titled “Military and Security Developments Involving the People’s Republic of China 2013,” the Pentagon made its most direct accusation against the Chinese government and military for cyberspying. The report reads, in part:

“In 2012,numerous computer systems around the world, including those owned by the U.S. government, continued to be targeted for intrusions, some of which appear to be attributable directly to the Chinese government and military. These intrusions were focused on exfiltrating information. China is using its computer network exploitation (CNE) capability to support intelligence collection against the U.S.diplomatic, economic, and defense industrial base sectors that support U.S. national defense programs.”

The Washington Post’s Ernesto Londoño has the story.

3) The Big Think’s “Big Theme” today is “predicting the future” with, among others, Daniel Altman. Here Altman goes through what he got right in the wake of his 2012 book, “Outrageous Fortunes: The Twelve Trends That Will Reshape the Global Economy.”

4) Wired’s Daniela Hernandez offers a relatively deep dive on Deep Learning and some of the latest advances in Artificial Intelligence:

“…scientists aren’t just aiming for smaller. They’re trying to build machines that do things computers have never done before. No matter how sophisticated algorithms are, today’s machines can’t fetch your groceries or pick out a purse or a dress you might like. That requires a more advanced breed of image intelligence and an ability to store and recall pertinent information in a way that’s reminiscent of human attention and memory. If you can do that, the possibilities are almost endless.”

5) Ars Technica’s Jon Brodkin reports that the company behind the world’s fastest supercomputer, Cray, is making its next generation of supercomputing technology available to companies for a starting price of $500,000. The big takeaway: The technology could potentially be used to power a supercomputer faster than Titan, today’s fastest supercomputer.

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