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Jason Dorrier

Jason Dorrier

Jason is managing editor of Singularity Hub. He did research and wrote 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

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...

US Unemployment Is 7.9%—Are Robots to Blame?

Robots want to invade your home, take your job, and steal your wife. Maybe not that last one (yet). But as unemployment remains stubbornly elevated (7.9%) people are searching for answers. Among the usual...

Google Wants to Ditch the Password – Sounds Lovely

Memorizing numerous passwords is inconvenient. This is known. To counteract said inconvenience, many people use memorable (read: hackable) passwords on multiple sites. Which is a shame because security experts advise that, at a minimum, we use different, random, alpha-numeric strings for every website and switch them out every few months. Kind of the opposite of convenient. And even this method provides but a fig leaf of security.

Autonomous Healthcare Robot, RP-Vita, Gains FDA Approval

Bringing iRobot and InTouch Health's core technologies together gives medical telepresence robots more range, flexibility, and automation. Doctors need only note on an iPad where the robot should go, and RP-Vita takes it from there. It navigates the hall, avoiding humans and other obstacles, and enters the requested room to begin the session—where the doctor can talk to the patient and even plug in various monitoring devices to check their vitals in session.

Our Singularity Future: Overfished Bluefin Tuna Sells for Record $1.76 Million

In early 2013, a single 489 pound bluefin tuna sold in Japan for a record $1.76 million. That’s roughly two homes in San Francisco and a Ferrari for each driveway—two and half times last year’s record $736,000. It makes a shocking headline. But notably the price is not representative of the market. Buyers traditionally compete to attract headlines in the first auction of the new year. Although current prices aren’t anywhere near $3,500/lb, it is true bluefin tuna are getting more expensive. (See here for Tokyo fish market wholesale prices back to 1997.) Rising demand from sushi restaurants combined with diminishing supply has led to fewer fish and higher prices.

2.5 Million Computers Give PetaFLOP/s Power to Einstein@Home, Other Projects

As home computers have become near ubiquitous, unused computing power has risen in tandem. Just think how often your laptop is asleep on your desk. So, why let all those idle processors go to waste? Einstein@Home—a web of over 335,000 private personal computers—and other projects like it aim to put lazy machines to work.

Can Twitter Tell You When to Buy and When to Sell?

For Twitter sentiment to be a useful barometer, you needn’t require Tweeters be professional investors. But you do need them to actually care enough about stocks, commodities, or currency trading to Tweet key words about them. How many actually do that isn’t clear. The number is far from zero—but is it enough to be meaningful?

Tablet Sales to Trump Laptops in 2013 – That Was Fast!

After a few early-2000s misadventures in Microsoft tablet PCs—the tablet was effectively re-introduced by Apple’s iPad in early 2010. And just two years on, global tablet sales are projected to overtake laptop sales. That was fast!

Mercedes and Other Carmakers Are Building Increasingly Autonomous Autos

While Google and Stanford build robot cars from the top down, mainstream automakers are building autonomous autos from the base up. Before too long, the two will meet—at the least, relieving humans from an hour of stop-and-go traffic and maybe even taking over the entire commute.

Stanford Group Successfully Fabricates ‘Peel and Stick’ Solar Cells

In a December paper published in Nature’s preliminary research online publication, Scientific Reports, Stanford researchers announced a fabrication process that makes thin-film solar cell (TFSC) stickers. The resulting TFSCs are thinner and lighter than today’s solar panels. And according to the researchers these “peel-and-stick” solar cells can be stuck just about anywhere—no surface is too curvy or uneven.

Kamen and Coca-Cola Take On World’s Clean Water Shortage With Slingshot Purifier

Singularity Hub chatted with Paul Lazarus about his award-winning short film "Slingshot" and the film's namesake invention. Lazarus told us about the agony of condensing a grand challenge and potential solution to three minutes—and what he thinks the future promises for both.

Blueseed Secures Initial Funding for Visa-Free Tech Center of the Sea

Want to bring international expertise to Silicon Valley without the hassle of getting a visa? You may soon get that chance. Tech startup Blueseed wants to open a floating office park for non-US tech entrepreneurs off the California coast. And while the idea has its naysayers—it also recently secured a $300,000 infusion of capital from respected Silicon Valley investor, Mike Maples.

LG’s 55” OLED Television Is Thin As a Pencil and First to Market

To kick off 2013, South Korean electronics firm LG launched the world’s first commercially available 55” OLED (organic light-emitting diode) television. And according to LG, it’s “as thin as three credit cards.” Which is both jaw dropping and an entirely appropriate unit of measurement. If you want thin, expect to pay. The model’s $12,000 US price tag will have you handing over those credit cards in short order.

IBM Predicts Computers Will Touch, Taste, Smell, Hear and See In 5 Years

IBM's 2012 "5 in 5" list is all about the senses. Computers can already see and hear by way of microphone and camera. And plenty of apps use these senses for fun, like recording music, and more serious purposes, like monitoring moles for skin cancer. But why not go further? The “5 in 5” visionaries predict we’ll have touch screens that not only sense our fingers but give back subtle vibrations to simulate how certain items feel—from a silk shirt to a cotton pillow. Or devices that will smell our breath to see if we have diabetes, cancer, or a cold.

Forecasting the Future: Ray Kurzweil, Nate Silver, and—the Market?

If you're a futurist, chances are you have a favorite oracle or uncanny prediction. Maybe it was John Paulson’s bet against the housing market in 2007-08, or Nate Silver’s spot on election call in...

Leap Motion ‘Minority Report’ Computer Interface Preps For Big 2013

Mid-2012, Leap Motion unveiled the most accurate motion sensing technology on the market to date. The Leap detects every subtle finger flick and hand gesture with up to 1/100th of a millimeter precision and...

A Vision of the Future in 2013? Flexible Phone Rumors Continue Apace

At the giant electronics convention, CES 2011, Samsung showed off their flexible AMOLED displays to great fanfare. Soon after, rumors ran rampant flexible displays would be available in 2012. The year brought many things, but a...

Nikon Photomicrography Competition: It’s a Small World After All

Why do we love the annual Nikon Small World Photomicrography Competition? Because it gathers art, science, and technology into one tiny room and reminds them how much they have in common. And of course,...

Star Wars Fans Building a Full Scale Replica of the Millennium Falcon

Headed to Tennessee a decade from now? If you're a Hubber, you might consider demoting Graceland. Star Wars geek extraordinaire, Chris Lee, is building a full scale replica of the Millennium Falcon an hour...

Ray Kurzweil Teams Up With Google to Tackle Artificial Intelligence

Think we’ll have artifical intelligence by 2029? Ray Kurzweil does. He is simultaneously idolized and infamous for saying so. And now he will put his ideas to the test. On Friday, Kurzweil announced he’s...

Telepresence Robots Invade Hospitals – “Doctors Can Be Anywhere, Anytime”

A disembodied human face hangs atop a robot chassis next to a Redmond, Oregon hospital bed (not pictured). The doctor on the screen is 20 miles distant, in Bend. But from there he is...

Australian Outback Launches Fastest Radio Telescope in the World

Radio telescopes have been sifting the stars since 1937. Most slowly scan a small percent of the sky. But that’s about to change. A new radio telescope will be the fastest sky surveyor yet—and it’s part...

$25 Million Michigan Project Hopes to Add Cars to Internet of Things

The US Department of Transportation (DOT) is conducting a 12-month, $25 million study to see if cars sending data to each other over Wi-Fi can make driving safer. Cars talking to each other and maybe braking...

America’s Titan Surpasses Sequoia as World’s Fastest Supercomputer

Last week, a throng of computer geeks descended on snowy Utah to show off, admire, and debate the future of the fastest computers on the planet. And of course, to find out which Boolean...

Space Exploration on the Cheap: Kickstarter Sensation NanoSatisfi Launches in 2013

While information technology may be advancing exponentially—the pace of the space race has seemed glacial since the 1970s. By now, most of us are used to a top-down, monolithic model of space exploration with...

X Prize to Sequence Genomes of World’s Oldest People. Hopes To Unlock Secrets of Longevity

Toni Balcean turned 101 in September. How’d she beat a century? Simple. “Clean living and good Italian wine.” Case closed! Unless, of course, you like science. A retooled Archon Genomics X PRIZE aims to help scientists better understand...

Paging Dr. Watson: IBM and Cleveland Clinic Collaborate to Train Watson in Medicine

Can you imagine telling someone a century ago that a hundred years hence a stack of electrified silicon would be studying for its medical exam? It’s the stuff of Star Trek. (“Computer? Early Grey,...

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