MIT has created an interesting little tool known as Immersion that compiles your personal Gmail metadata into a map of the people you contact the most.
The project, which became available to the public on June 30th, can access users' From, To, CC, Timestamp, and similar Gmail fields to obtain information and create a meticulous account of who you email and who they're connected to.
The human race's march towards becoming disposable batteries for power-hungry robot overlords continues. A mere day after Intel announced a new project that hopes to bring senses, smarts and adaptable machine learning to robots, word's come in that M.I.T. has developed a program that can detect frustration in human smiles much, much more accurately than people can. That's right, your future robo-master will be able to outsmart you and tell when you're lying.
We've heard you snickering in the corner. Quantum computing is definitely a solid theory; scientists have been able to make a couple of electrons dance to the same proverbial tune for a while now. But what use is that? Critics say that quantum theory is mostly a mind exercise and will never be able to scale up for useful applications. Well, one MIT quantum scientist is sick of hearing that crap, and Scott Aaronson is putting his money where his mouth is in the form of a $100,000 prize to anyone able to demonstrate that "scalable quantum computing is impossible in the physical world."
When a sticky-fingered thief pilfers your laptop, you rarely get a chance to track him down – unless you use Prey, that is. We've already covered how to use the GPS-enabled, screenshot-sending program to recover your notebook in just that circumstance, but creative researchers at MIT have started using Prey for a more humane effort. They've begun installing the software on second-hand electronics sent to developing countries in Indonesia, South Asia and Africa to help charities put a face to people who are helped by the donations.
Sites like Reddit and Digg are based entirely on free-thought concepts like crowdsourcing, forums and fair use. So, what's a poor former Reddit team member supposed to do when someone doesn't want to share their ideas? Apparently, he steals them. That's what Boston police say, at least. Today, they indicted 24-year-old programmer and Demand Progress co-founder Aaron Swartz on multiple charges, claiming he pilfered over four million documents from MIT and the JSTOR academic archive.
Well now, that's nice and chilling. Yes, computers are reading now, apparently. What about? Oh, nothing really. Just a game that spans the entirety of human history and military conquest. And – thanks to some delightful MIT researchers – said computers can now absorb knowledge like sponges who can also read. But hey, at least the first step in our eventual hubris-ridden annihilation is really damn interesting.
Let’s face it, summer is no friend to your brain. When you’re not busy killing it with beer, late night campfire parties or Michael Bay movies (seriously, he needs to be stopped), your poor grey matter gets boiled inside your noggin from taking on too much direct sunlight during weekend trips to the beach. To make up for the annual beating visited upon your poor noodle, we recommend treating it to some of the best free education on offer anywhere in the world. Do your brain a solid and direct your browsers to Massachusetts Institute of Technology's OpenCourseWare Program, our Cool Site of the Week.
The next time someone asks about that bulge coming from your khakis, you can confidently respond, "Why yes, yes that is a supercomputer in my pocket, and I am happy to see you."
You'll be telling the truth if you install MIT's new software designed to perform complex simulations on mobile phones. The software simulates physical phenomena, such has how cracks form in building materials and how fluids flow in irregular channels, crunching the numbers in seconds that would typically take a supercomputer hours to calculate.
As the eggheads at MIT explain it, the software is designed for situations where the general form of a problem is already known in advance, just not the details.
"This is a very relevant situation," says David Knezevic, a postdoc in the department who helped lead the project. "Often in engineering contexts, you know a priori that your problem is parametrized, but you don't know until you get into the field what parameters you're interested in."
MIT News has a whole bunch more on the topic right here.
If one were to anthropomorphize contemporary computer navigation technology, it would be a grave-bound man living in constant fear ever since Minority Report's release. However, most people would agree that the gesture-based interface depicted in the film has lost a bit of its novelty. It is no longer as challenging an undertaking as it seemed back when the movie first hit theaters.
Using the movie as an inspiration, two MIT students, Tony Hyun Kim and Nevada Sanchez, have been working on something they call the Glove Mouse. It is basically a pair of gloves that lets the user control a computer using just hand gestures.
The technology is built around a high speed camera, running at 154 frames per second, which captures finger position and movement in 3D, and translates it, using a “Lucas-Kanade Algorithm”, into actions. For example, rather than tapping a screen, a user could tap air to type or dial a phone number. And to scroll through a list of pictures or contact entries would require a similar swipe through the air--no touching the phone required.
Tim Hornyak, writing on the Crave Gadget Blog for Cnet, says this example of a “gestural interface” follows work by MIT (SixthSense), Toshiba, and Pioneer. Still, it raises the question: what’s the point? Touchscreens, while at times greasy, work well enough to get the job done. Like VHS beat out Beta, a more sophisticated interface technology won’t win out by virtue of its technical superiority--it has to fulfill a distinctly perceived purpose. Wagging your finger at your iPhone doesn’t seem to be a compelling enough reason.
Still, as we begin to place greater demands on mobile devices, it may be possible that the 2D world of the touchscreen will need replacement. In that case, a 3D option, such as this one, may well make an appearance in the marketplace.