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Jason Dorrier

Jason Dorrier

Jason is managing editor of Singularity Hub. He cut his teeth doing research and writing about finance and economics before moving on to science, technology, and the future. He is curious about pretty much everything, and sad he'll only ever know a tiny fraction of it all.

From This Author


Samsung’s (Very) Early Attempts At Thought-Controlled Mobile Devices

Samsung’s Galaxy smartphones can be controlled by touch, gesture, eye movement—and your mind. Well, not exactly. Not yet. Not even close. Perhaps half in the name of science, half in the name of publicity, Samsung’s teamed up with Roozbeh Jafari—University of Texas, Dallas assistant professor and expert in wearable computing—to translate thoughts into common computing tasks using an electroencephalogram (EEG) cap.
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Spectacular Video Of First Virgin Galactic Rocket Test Going Supersonic Ten Miles High

In October 2004, Burt Rutan’s Scaled Composites claimed the $10 million Ansari X Prize when their spacecraft SpaceShipOne achieved suborbital flight—the first private organization to do so. Now, eight and a half years later, the commercial version of SpaceShipOne, Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo, achieved supersonic speeds after its pilots successfully fired the rockets at 47,000 feet. The video speaks for itself.

Moore’s Law Is No Joke — Pile Of Electronics From 1993 Fits In Your Palm Today

There’s nothing like a well-conceived picture to drive a point home. You know the point, right? Sure you do. (Hint: It's in the title.) Shall we run through these items? (I don’t know if I can ID them all perfectly—feel free to leave details/corrections/reminiscences in the comments!) Far right first. Easy. That’s a top-of-the-line Walkman. You could take it with you running, which accounts for the sporty lemon yellow hue. (It plays cassette tapes, kids.)

Giant Next-Generation Thirty Meter Telescope Gets Permit From Hawaii to Build on Mauna Kea

What would Dr. Evil do with a supercomputer, a giant laser, and a 30-meter deformable mirror? Hold the planet for ransom, of course. The billion-dollar Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) project, on the other hand, will assemble these components into a state-of-the-art optical telescope on the lip of a giant volcano and peer into the depths of space and time. (Astronomers. No ambition.)

Robots Will Do Everything You Do Now Only Better—What Then?

The US stock market is approaching a record high—having finally regained all it lost in the 2008 bear market. It would be cause for celebration, if it didn’t feel so out of touch with the “main street” reality of elevated unemployment. As a recent New York Times headline read, “recovery in the US is lifting profits, but not adding jobs.” The NYT goes on to blame the divide between rising corporate profits, recovering stocks, and stubborn unemployment on technology—or more specifically automation and robots.

CO2 Emissions in US Plunge to 1994 Levels As Natural Gas Booms

Proponents of natural gas, or methane in its purest form, say it is cleaner than coal and oil, lacks the PR problems and toxic waste byproducts of nuclear, and more efficiently produces electricity than sustainable sources. It is abundant and, in recent years, cheap. Is natural gas the future of energy production, a risky stop-gap measure to energy independence and cleaner energy, or simply overhyped?

Switch to Tablet and Smartphone Drives Striking Sales Declines in PCs

What’s going on with PCs? According to data provider IDC, worldwide PC shipments (laptops and desktops) declined -14% in the first quarter of 2013 compared to the first quarter of 2012. It’s the worst 12-month decline since IDC began covering the market in 1994, the fourth consecutive such drop, and almost twice the predicted -7.7%. Another data provider, Gartner, is sketching a similarly stark PC forecast in 2013, predicting a -7.6% decline in PC shipments this year.

Willow Garage Spinoff IPI Is Building Robots That Can See, Think, and Act

We often hear of robots forcing humans to learn new skills—but Willow Garage spinoff, Industrial Perception, Inc., (IPI) wants to do just the opposite. IPI is in the business of training robots for the real world. Step one: Give them eyes. Step two: Teach them to understand what they’re seeing. Step three: Do something about it.

Anticipated and Controversial, First Google Glass Devices in Production

Google Glass is fast becoming the most hyped, anticipated, controversial technology trial of the year. You heard it here first—although I’m sure you didn’t—Google will ship the first trial pairs of Google Glass in the next few days. Google’s Glass Explorer program enrolled 2,000 pre-early adopters who will pay $1,500 to beta test the firm’s wearable computer, iron out the kinks, and get the PR ball rolling.

Festo’s Robot Dragonfly an Awesome Mix of Prehistoric and Futuristic

German manufacturing firm Festo recently resurrected a Paleozoic dragonfly. No, we’re not talking de-extinction or synthetic biology—this baby’s robotic. But at 70 cm (27 in) by 48 cm (19 in), Festo’s BionicOpter robot dragonfly is a futuristic flying machine with more than a touch of the prehistoric in it.

Coming Soon to a Body Near You? World’s Smallest Chip to Be Swallowable

Dumb things will soon be smart—you’ve heard it repeated ad nauseum. Cyborg-Earth will bristle with uncounted hordes of tiny embedded chips; smart-roads will talk to smart-cars, warning of black ice; smart-buildings will hold court with smartphones, regulating temperature and lights to match prefences and schedule; trees, oceans, and glaciers will dutifully report real-time conditions to scientists.

Meet The Two-Ton Robotic Mantis: A Hexapod You Can Ride In

Weighing in at a little over two tons, Mantis is likely the biggest robot hexapod you’ve ever seen. Mantis walks on six ground-sensing hydraulic legs, carrying a human in its thoracic cockpit or being guided remotely by a nearby pilot. In footage taken without the full cockpit, the Mantis/pilot hybrid has the look of Spider-Man’s Doc Ock. Mantis is, quite simply, a sweet looking robot.

Bitcoin Exchange Mt. Gox Suspends Trading As Prices Crash

The market price of bitcoins in USD has fallen and fallen hard. After peaking at $266, prices plunged Wednesday morning. There was a strong late rally, such that some data providers listed the “close” around $165. But the cryptocurrency trades round the clock, and Wednesday morning’s decline continued throughout the evening and into Thursday.

Jurassic Park – But For Real This Time. De-extinction On The Move

Scientists may soon bring a species of frog (Rheobatrachus silus or the gastric brooding frog) back from the dead. The frog—which bizarrely swallowed its eggs, incubated them in its stomach, and gave birth to them through its mouth—has been extinct since 1984. However, researchers from the University of New South Wales harvested dead cell nuclei, frozen in the 70s, and implanted them in a living egg of a different but related frog species. Some of the eggs began to divide into early embyros, and the researchers were able to confirm the genetic material in the dividing cells was a match.

Man Puts House in the Canadian Rockies Up For Sale – in Bitcoins

You can use the digital cryptocurrency Bitcoin to buy an ever-lengthening list of items. Last week, a 2007 Porsche Cayenne sale was settled in the currency. But a house? Sure, why not. 23-year-old Taylor More is listing his grandparents home in the Canadian Rockies in Canadian dollars (C$) or Bitcoin—a minor detail More has yet to relay to grandma and grandpa.

Bitcoin Blows Up, Exchange Rate Jumps Ten-Fold in Recent Weeks

Recent headlines are humming over the booming digital currency Bitcoin—it’s either the next big thing or the digital equivalent of Tulipomania. Either way, there’s no debating the fact Bitcoin’s on a wild ride.

Liquid Robotics Launches New Powerful Data Collecting Ocean Robots

Maker of the epic ocean-going robot, Wave Glider, Liquid Robotics announced it’s engineered and will ship the next generation this fall. The new Wave Glider SV3 combines Liquid Robotics’ proprietary wave-energy harvesting tech (see here for more) with good old fashioned solar power to ensure the glider is master of its own destiny in any conditions.

Are We Paying Enough Attention to Information Technology’s Dark Side?

For centuries, the threat and selective use of brute force has steered the international balance of power. In the last couple of decades, the system has increasingly accommodated economic power as a means of non-violent leverage between states. Now, according to Marc Goodman of Singularity University, we must add technology to the equation.

Human or Robot? Harder to Tell In Latest Bipedal Robot PETMAN Video

Boston Dynamics is no Geppetto and PETMAN no Pinnochio, but someone must have wished on a phosphorous flare because, decked out in full chem-resistant chamo and a dystopic gas mask, PETMAN couldn’t look more human.

First Fully 3D Printed Building May Take Shape This Year

We can 3D print the very small—check out these mindblowing nanoscale creations—but what about the very big? If a few bold architectural startups have anything to do with it, we may soon see the first...

Robots Invade Restaurants: Here Are Eight of Our Favorites

Robotic automation has long been the domain of manufacturing. But of late, robots have made an often entertaining and sometimes gimmicky leap to restaurants in China, Taiwan, Japan, and increasingly the US. Please accept the following video ode to Singularity Hub’s favorite restaurant robots of the past few years.

A Million Smartphones Will Drive Biggest Heart Health Study in History

Researchers at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) are recruiting a million participants to join a decade long heart health study. The enabling factor? Smartphones. It’s a great example of information technology bleeding into other fields and speeding their progress. If all goes to plan, the UCSF study (dubbed Health eHeart) will be the broadest such study ever completed.

Reprogrammed Assembly Line Robots Make Fine Art in San Francisco

What is an Autofuss? Good question. The four year old San Francisco design firm is hard to pin down. Go to the website to find out, and you will be shown (not told) with a lush selection of video shorts defying the laws of physics and begging the question, “How’d they do that?” Well, you wouldn’t be here if the answer were anything else. Robots, of course.

Sensors in Smartphones: Galaxy S4 Adds Pressure, Temperature, and Humidity Sensors

Samsung recently launched their latest salvo in the smartphone wars, the Galaxy S4. Most tech writers couldn't decide whether they’d rather be bored by the phone or pan its ridiculous Broadway-style launch (see below, circa 17:20)—a little from column A, a little from column B, perhaps? We don’t write about every smartphone release, but this one caught our eye. The S4 includes a barometer, thermometer, and hygrometer (to measure humidity)—the first smartphone to do so.

Accelerating Technology Parallels Exponentially Rising Piles of Junk

In the midst of a move and digging through the clutter, I’ve excavated a number of ancient pieces of tech from bygone eras. There’s a 2004 Apple Powerbook that’s thicker than the econ textbook it’s sitting on, a cracked first generation iPhone, and an early “flatscreen” TV (that’s far from flat). What to do with this stuff? The faster we move from one generation of technology to the next, the faster the current iteration is destined for the trash heap. Does accelerating tech therefore doom us to flee an uninhabitable WALL-E world in the future? Maybe, but probably not.

World’s Biggest Radio Telescope Opens Eyes in the Chilean Atacama

Information technology continues to invade every nook and cranny of modern life. At Singularity Hub, we tend to focus on genomics, robotics, artificial intelligence, or the Internet of Things. But another field, radio astronomy, is progressing leaps and bounds thanks also to rapidly advancing computing power.

Stunning Visuals From the Edge of Science and Engineering

Sometimes when words just aren't sufficient, adding an image can spark understanding and inspiration. Welcome to the National Science Foundation’s International Science and Engineering Visualization Challenge 2012, a competition that awards creative communication of scientific concepts by way of images, videos, charts, and even games.

NASA to Launch 13,000 Square Foot Kapton Solar Sail in 2014

Navigating space isn’t easy—there’s no air, water, or earth to push your spacecraft in another direction. Rocket fuels and gravity assist have been our best tools for over fifty years. But in 2014, NASA...

BMW Forecasts Cars Will Be Highly Automated by 2020, Driverless by 2025.

The latest in a slew of press from major automakers, BMW and Continental recently announced a partnership to develop new technology for self-driving cars. The collaboration aims to develop an “electronic co-pilot” system for highway grade driverless cars over the next year. And they think we’ll have partially automated cars by 2016, highly automated cars by 2020, and fully automated cars by 2025.

China’s BGI to Sequence 2,200 Geniuses In Search For “Smart” Genes

In the world of genomics, Chinese biotech giant BGI is big and getting bigger. The firm agreed to purchase Bay Area juggernaut Complete Genomics for a bargain basement $117 million in 2012. BGI owns 156 DNA sequencers and produces 10% to 20% of the world's genetic information. Now the firm is putting their DNA sequencing might behind an investigation into the genetics of genius.

Interview: Jason Silva Effs the Ineffable in Fresh Philosophical Espresso Shot

Filmmaker Jason Silva’s latest philosophical short, “The Mirroring Mind,” is a stream of consciousness—about consciousness itself. If you like brain yoga, Silva's your man. He likens the mind’s ability to mirror an external environment that includes the mind itself to “plugging a video camera into the TV and then aiming the camera at the TV—the recursive loop that is formed extends itself ad infinitum.”

Wirelessly Charged Lithium Battery Can Be Stretched, Folded, and Twisted

Singularity Hub has faithfully followed flexible displays over the last few years—and now researchers are hard at work fabricating flexible components to match. In a recent paper, Yonggang Huang and John A. Rogers of Northwestern University and the University of Illinois demonstrated a lithium-ion battery embedded in a rubber substrate that can be stretched, folded, twisted, and charged wirelessly.

Distributed Network of 3000 Ocean Robots Argo Notches Millionth Data Point

If there’s one thing we know about Earth’s oceans, it’s that we don’t know terribly much. But robot explorers are helping ocean scientists bridge the gap between known and unknown with more data. Argo,...

Fearsome UK Robot Aircraft Is Semi-Autonomous and Will Fly in 2013

There’s a robotic arms race on. Aerospace firms in concert with defense agencies are upping the ante on airborne attack drones. Not to be outdone by its ally across the Atlantic, the UK’s Ministry of Defense (MoD) is said to be soon testing a superdrone called Taranis. The drone is designed to fly intercontinental missions at supersonic speeds, undected by radar—and almost completely free of human direction.

LEDs to Outsell Traditional Light Bulbs in 5 Years

Thomas Edison didn’t invent the light bulb—but he did relentlessly test the materials and design that took the technology mainstream. Edison’s first incandescent bulb powered on in 1879. A little over 130 years on it remains king, but semiconductor technology is making a run at the throne. IMS Research says that by 2018, consumers will prefer LED bulbs over incandescents.

New Arm Allows Military Robot BigDog to Hurl Cinderblocks Like a Champ

Periodically, Boston Dynamics releases video documenting its robotic protégé BigDog’s development. Prior BigDog hits include video of it walking, running, and toting heavy loads. We can now add to the list video of BigDog hurling cinderblocks with a giant pincher-equipped arm where its head ought to be.

Space Tourist Dennis Tito Announces Quest for Mars by 2018 – Can He Do It?

Seems like every other week there’s a new plan to push humans a little farther into space. Last week, Dennis Tito—the world’s first space tourist—announced the formation of his foundation, Inspiration Mars, and pledged to partially fund a 2018 manned flight (a married couple to be precise) to circle the Red Planet and return to Earth. The project will cost at least $1 billion, and Inspiration Mars will seek philanthropic and potentially government funding in addition to Tito’s contribution.

After an Impressive 2012, Online Education to Go Global in 2013

A year after its 2012 launch, online education platform Coursera is booming. The startup recently added 29 partner universities, expanding their catalogue to 313 courses from 62 universities in 17 countries. To say the...

Hype or Hope? We’ll Soon Find Out – Leap Motion “Minority Report” Controller Ships in May

Leap Motion caused quite a stir in 2012 when they unveiled their super precise motion-sensing device, the Leap Motion Controller. (The Leap sensor is capable of detecting details as small as the head of a pin.) On Wednesday, Leap Motion announced plans to ship the first batch of pre-ordered Leap Controllers Monday, May 13th—less than a year after the tech was introduced. The device will be available in Best Buy stores May 19th.

Infinity Aerospace Wants to Open Source Space Research With ArduLab

While ambitious private space outfits like SpaceX and Planetary Resources grab headlines, a quieter grassroots transformation is underway. To that end, Infinity Aerospace recently launched their first creation, ArduLab, at the Kairos 50 on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. ArduLab is a plug-and-play microgravity research module, NASA approved, and ready to be installed in the International Space Station out of the box—starting at just $1,999.

Silicon Valley Billionaires Eclipse Nobel Prize, Send $33 Million to Unsuspecting Scientists

Yuri Milner, billionaire Silicon Valley investor, recently joined forces with tech titans Mark Zuckerberg, Sergey Brin and their wives Anne Wojcicki (founder of 23andMe) and Priscilla Chan to shower riches on a group of unsuspecting scientists. The Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences (Breakthrough Prize) awarded eleven researchers a total of $33 million ($3 million apiece) for their research into stem cells, cancer, and genetics.

Kickstarter 3Doodler 3D Printing Pen Nothing of the Sort – But Somehow Raises $2 Million

Five days after launch on Kickstarter, the 3Doodler 3D printing pen boasted over 21,000 backers and $1.9 million in pledges. Their goal was $30,000! What’s so special about the 3Doodler? If nothing else, it rivals the lofty infomercial marketing heights of Slap Chop or ShamWow. But let’s get something straight—3Doodler is a crafting “pen” not a handheld 3D printing pen (whatever that even means).

Quest to Model the Human Brain Nets a Billion Euros

Is a billion euros enough to understand the human brain? The Human Brain Project thinks it’s a good start, and on January 28th, the European Commission agreed. The Human Brain Project was one of two projects to get a billion in backing after a two year decision period. Henry Markram, the project’s founder and co-director, hopes to use the funds to build a digital model of the human brain from the ground up to better understand how the brain works.

Interview: 16-Year-Old Jack Andraka Invents Cheap, Accurate Cancer Test

Jack Andraka is 16 years old, a sophomore in high school, and a pretty endearing chap. Andraka’s alter ego? Mad scientist. Last year, Andraka developed a very cheap, accurate diagnostic test for pancreatic cancer...

Catherine Mohr: The Da Vinci Surgical Robot and Beyond

Humans have been doing surgery for 10,000 years, and for most of that time, undergoing a procedure was an immensely painful, high-risk endeavor. But with the rise of advanced techniques in the last 150 years, modern surgery has become sterile, anesthetized, and often minimally invasive. So how has surgery improved more recently? Robots, of course. Robotic surgical tools are not only already here, they’ve been on the surgical scene for over a decade.

Diamandis: Tricorder X Prize Offers $10 Million to Build Star Trek Inspired Health Scanner

It’s hard to imagine a Star Trek away team without their tricorders waving back and forth, scanning for life forms. Was there anything those things couldn’t do, and might we primitive 21st century humans develop a similarly powerful handheld diagnostic technology? The Qualcomm Tricorder X Prize, announced in 2012, officially opened registration in early 2013 to find out.

Interview: Diamandis’ Planetary Resources To Claim High Value Asteroids With Robotic Beacons

Once Planetary Resources has figured out how to get to an asteroid and how to mine it—what will they mine? Near-Earth asteroids contain abundant iron, nickel, platinum group metals, and water. If space is to be the “final frontier,” we’ll need to live off the land—and asteroids are a low gravity (in other words, cheap) way to harvest materials.

Veebot’s Needle Wielding Robot to Automate Blood Draws

Taking blood is a fine art. Even the most experienced practioner may require more than one stab to find a vein—seems only natural to wonder, might a robot do the job better? Mountain View’s Veebot thinks so. Veebot wants to take the art out of needlework with their robotic venipuncture machine.

AutoDesk and Organovo Team Up To Bring Printable Human Organs Closer

Bioprinting firm, Organovo, isn’t anywhere near 3D printing a hand or heart. But a recently announced partnership with 3D modeling software giant Autodesk (maker of AutoCAD) might speed things up a bit. As Autodesk’s Carlos Olguin says, “Life is becoming a nascent design space in an engineering sense. It’s subject to specs, subject to QA, it’s repeatable. Biology is becoming an engineering discipline.”

Are Humans Causing Oceanic Jellygeddon? The Jury’s Still Out

Tied tight with advancing technology are concerns human development is irrevocably damaging the planet. Back in 2001, one theory warned warmer oceans and overfishing would spawn jellyfish at an alarming rate. Throughout the next...

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