Sunday, March 13, 2005

The Economist Technology Quarterly

If you are mad about technology, grab a latest copy of The Economist featuring the Technology Quarterly.

These are the special articles featured :

Hunanoid Robots
Argues that humanoid form for robots might not be good engineering. But still designing humanoids might serve some purposes, especially since humans have designed their environments to match their form.

Describes the economics of Grid Computing and efforts by Sun and HP to help the technology mature.

Electronics, Unleaded
Talks about how a new EU rule restricting the use of harmful chemicals in electronic devices could pose problems for the entire supply chain. Especially, people like Dell. But, the rule makes sense looking at the number of obsolete devices getting dumped each year.

Phones with eyes
Eventhough picture messaging did not become as popular as text messaging, new camera phones are helping new innovations in making life simpler. For example, Amazon lets shoppers in bookstores scan bardcodes and lets them know if Amazon can offer a cheaper price !! Simple ?

Microstructured Materials
A new technology that uses rapid protoyping and genetic algoeithms could help people customise the physical properties of every cubic millimetre of a structure. This could lead to material structures that could show very useful, but unusual properties. An airplane bigger than A380 might not be a difficult task.

Chip-Based Speech Recognition
Researchers at CMU and UCB are working on chip solely devoted to speech-recognition that could deliver the ultimate solution to problems with software-based speech recognition.

The Tail of Software ?
A store called Softwide is innovating on a new model for selling software. This looks more like the "The Tail" featured on Wired.

Medicated Contact Lenses
A new technology could enable easy application of medication through contact lenses.

Spiritual Connection
"Spiritual" mobile phones are driving people crazy. Example, mobile phones can now show the direction of Mecca !!

iPod Killer ?
This article wonders if the convergence of many features into one device spells doom for dedicated devices. But surprisingly, such mating is just throwing up interesting offsprings, not killing the parents.

Smarter Air Travel
IATA is trying to bring the airline industry back to the black by efficient use of modern technology, but with apparent challenges of integration, security and customer service.

Cost of Technology
This article explores the usefulness of high tech for poor people lacking basic amenities. It quotes Embalam, a village near Pondicherry. It quotes work done by people like MS Swaminathan and Ashok Jhunjhunwala (IIT Madras). The basic argument is you shouldnt be hungry while working on a computer.

Collaborative Filtering
Talks about different methods, privacy issues and practical problems. The basic idea is "Find Good Things."

Forensic Computing
On how criminals and crime-fighters do in the technology race. Some Keywords : "Web Bugs"

AI Law
On how AI programs could reduce legal costs in the future and the technological, ethical issues facing such systems.

Ray Kurzweil
This guy is amazing. An inventor,scientist, futurist, writer and many more, his vision for the future includes virtual interaction between people and immortality. He believes he is going to live forever. (He was the guy to invent things like OCR and electric piano.)

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