To bury Boston’s busiest highway underground, engineers are simulating traffic flows on their computers (to give the highway a brain) and starting huge fires in West Virginia (to give it a fire control system).
Some doctors have begun patenting not just devices but medical procedures and techniques. Proponents argue that this practice is needed to foster innovation in medical care. Critics claim that it perverts the Hippocratic oath and drives up medical costs.
Foreign companies are tapping into the vigorous U.S. system of innovation by sponsoring and increasing amount of research and development at American companies. Is this a boon, or a subtle form of industrial espionage?
Forget about Big Blue vs. Kasparov–the best test of artificial intelligence is to ask a computer to write a story. Meet Brutus.1, a software agent that creates short tales of betrayal,self-deception, and evil worthy of a human creator.
Strapping rockets onto an aircraft creates a new breed of space plane. Look for cheaper satellite launch, ultrafast package delivery, and hypersonic passenger transport that would leave the Concorde in the dust.
Pound for pound, microbes such as anthrax rival nuclear weapons in their ability to inflict mass casualties. But the enforcing the existing treaty banning biological weapons must not compromise the biotech industry’s valuable trade secrets.
The Sojourner vehicle that trekked across the Martian surface captured the world’s fancy last summer, but we haven’t seen anything yet. Next will come rovers that can roam miles across Mars and “aerobots” able to survey other planets.