QUEST Weekly News Articles, NO MEETING Nov 20th

QUEST topics 20 Nov 2009:

There will be NO MEETING this week OR next week as Capt Amerika is on the road but we will post news and topics to the CoP and the blog.


1.) Animating Captchas – ‘Captchas, the scrambled images used to separate humans from software bots online, could become harder for bots to solve – and easier for humans to handle – by animating them…. new system uses so-called “emerging images” – seemingly random assortments of blotches from which a coherent image emerges after a few seconds (see image, above)… developed an algorithm that identifies key features within an original image and converts them into an array of ink blots or “splats”. It then removes a number of the splats to make it harder for bots to reconstruct the original shape – while leaving enough information for a human brain to do so. *** this is key – you have to have the ability to do with a large assortment of images automatically ***… add motion we win on two fronts,” says Mitra. “Recognition becomes much easier for humans and much harder for bots…’

2.) Dreams as a tuneup – ‘Newer theories hold that dreams help the brain to consolidate emotional memories or to work though current problems, like divorce and work frustrations…argues that the main function of rapid-eye-movement sleep, or REM, when most dreaming occurs, is physiological. The brain is warming its circuits, anticipating the sights and sounds and emotions of waking… It’s like jogging; the body doesn’t remember every step, but it knows it has exercised. It has been tuned up. It’s the same idea here: dreams are tuning the mind for conscious awareness… Dr. Hobson argues that dreaming is a parallel state of consciousness that is continually running but normally suppressed during waking. *** this is consistent with our ideas of the continual generation and competition between plausible narratives ***… Once people are awake, he argued, their brain essentially revises its dream images to match what it sees, hears and feels — the dreams are “corrected” by the senses…20 percent of dreams contain people or places that the dreamer has encountered. Most images appear to be unique to a single dream… researchers have brought people into the laboratory and trained them to dream lucidly. They do this with a variety of techniques, including auto-suggestion as head meets pillow (“I will be aware when I dream; I will observe”) and teaching telltale signs of dreaming (the light switches don’t work; levitation is possible; it is often impossible to scream)… Lucid dreaming occurs during a mixed state of consciousness, sleep researchers say — a heavy dose of REM with a sprinkling of waking awareness…’

3.) Frustration in other animals – ‘Pet owners and scientists who spend a lot of time in the wild say that they can tell when an animal is upset by the sound of its voice. Now new analyses of animal calls may offer an explanation; humans seem to express frustration in the same way as other mammals… presented evidence that humans, bats, elephants and shrews all speak faster and with a higher pitch when stressed… Some emotional behaviors seem to be uniquely human. Monkeys shed tears to keep their eyes clean, but only Homo sapiens weep during distressing situations… He catalogued hundreds of facials expressions used by people and animals and noticed that monkeys — like humans — wrinkle their cheeks and grin with bright eyes when they laugh… Most scientists accept that the real question is not if animals have emotions, but why they have evolved,” said Bekoff *** this is exactly the question that QUEST is asking WHAT IS THE ENGINEERING ADVANTAGES FOR EMOTIONS = ALL QUALIA****’

4.) iPhone app to translate baby cries – another example of code breaking – an application that we posit is related to what Turing meant to say – ‘uses patented technology to analyze the tone and duration of the cries and match them to one of five possible types: hungry, sleepy, annoyed, stressed or bored… five cries are universal to all babies regardless of culture or language… Every baby has a unique accent and tone, just as adults do… takes about 10 seconds to record and analyze a cry, had over 90 per cent accuracy rate during the clinical tests with 104 infants… selling for $9.99 in Apple’s iTunes App Store for the US, UK and Spain’

5.) Cracking AES encryption – ‘researchers has discovered what they think could be a flaw that leaves AES encryption open to attack… faith in the belief that AES is so secure that its security key can never be broken. However, a team of researchers from Germany, France and Israel has recently demonstrated what may be an inherent flaw in AES — theoretically, at least…. The bottom line is that AES isn’t broken… published report, entitled “Key Recovery Attacks of Practical Complexity on AES Variants With Up to 10 Rounds…With Up to 10 Rounds’ are academic in nature and do not threaten the security of systems today. But because most people depend on the encryption standard to keep sensitive information secure, the findings are nonetheless significant… There is plenty of software bugs for attackers to use to bypass breaking the keys. That’s what keeps me awake at night, not the algorithms,” said Kocher’

6.) Hacking into medical devices – ‘showed how to glean personal information from such a device, how to drain its batteries remotely, and how to make it malfunction in dangerous ways…came up with the idea of restricting access to implantable medical devices depending on the physical proximity of the communicating device. Under their plan, a device will always be accessible from up to 10 meters away, and will normally enforce a series of authentication steps before allowing access…’

7.) Near death experiences – ‘Sevigny awakened, he could barely stand. His back was broken in two places, his knees were busted, and he had internal bleeding. He gave up hope of surviving and curled up in the snow to die. But then he felt an odd sensation. He felt someone behind him and heard a voice:”No, you can’t give up. You have to live… they all tell strikingly similar stories of being saved from death by a mysterious presence… Most of the people who’ve encountered the Third Man aren’t mystics, says Geiger, a senior fellow at the University of Toronto and governor of the Royal Canadian Geographical Society. They include a NASA astronaut, aviator Charles Lindbergh about to pass out when he sensed someone near him. Then he heard a male voice. He says it told him to get up, and it guided him through a maze of hazards to safety… Maybe the Third Man is a coping mechanism… When he first heard the voice, Sevigny says, it reminded him of a woman. It was warm and nurturing, and it gave practical advice: “You have to get your jacket on. You have to get water… even told him to arrange the blood dripping from his body in the shape of arrows, pointing to the way he was walking in case rescuers came up on his trial…

8.) Persistent pain after breast cancer surgery : ‘experience pain that persists long after surgery… most likely to have these effects were those under 40, those who had undergone radiation treatment and those who had surgery to remove all of the lymph nodes in the armpit rather than a less invasive procedure called a sentinel node biopsy…’

9.) Managing pain: ‘Chronic pain affects more than 70 million Americans, which makes it more widespread than heart disease, cancer and diabetes combined… Distorted incentives and inadequate treatment are hurting patients at the same time they are driving up health costs…’

10.)                    Research into falling: ‘More than one-third of people ages 65 or older fall each year. About one fall in 10 results in a serious injury… cost of falls ranges widely, up to $75 billion a year in the United States, if fall-related home care and assisted-living costs are added to medical expenses… continuous measurement and greater precision afforded by simple computing devices, researchers say, promise to deliver new insights on risk factors and tailored prevention measures…Motion analysis aided by inexpensive sensors and computing, researchers say, may well become a new “vital sign,” like a blood pressure reading, that can yield all sorts of clues about health… Fall prevention also promises to be part of an emerging — and potentially large — worldwide industry of helping older people live independently in their homes longer… The independent-living industry could have a huge payoff in innovation, jobs and competitiveness… technology-aided “targeted interventions,” Dr. Fan said, reduced falls by 30 percent in the study group, compared with a similarly aged sampling of the population. But she thinks it should be possible to reach 50 or 60 percent…’

11.)                    Facial biometrics: ‘The difference between our work and the majority of the others that are found in this field is the idea of individualized models… Our objective”, he continued, “is to create a model for each person which highlights the most distinguishing features of each face, as a sort of facial “DNI”. *** very similar to our discussion on cartoon caricacures. ****… facial biometrics system is normally made up of three components.  First, a camera is necessary to record an image; secondly, a software program is needed which determines if there is a face in that image, locating among other things, the facial geometry (the placement of the eyes, nose, mouth, etc.); and thirdly, a system that is capable of classifying all those elements to differentiate between them and those of other persons.  The most complicated part, according to the researchers was combining the facial geometry and facial texture. “With only the geometric information, very low classifications are obtained, which is why we combine this information with that of facial texture to obtain a more robust model, and a statistical way of combining them occurred to us, which offered very good results…’

12.)                    Ripley : ‘ similar to the cyber sensing station being worked at afrl : unveiled a new way to secure complex Web applications by effectively cloning the user’s browser and running it remotely…prevents a malicious user or remote hacker from altering the behavior of code running inside a Web browser by creating an exact copy of the computational environment and running that copy on the server. Ripley then sends all of the user’s actions, including mouse clicks, keystrokes, and any other inputs, in a compressed “event stream” from the client to the server. This stream is run through the cloned client application on the server, and the behavior of that virtual doppelganger is compared to that of the application running on the user’s browser at home. If there are any discrepancies, Ripley disconnects the client… part of a larger trend in solutions that protect the integrity of client-side code by assuring that no unauthorized behavior can occur’

13.)                    Absent minded robots: ‘two facets of human memory: time-based decay, or the way that memories disappear over time, and interference, which is the failure to recall information due to other memories competing for attention…recorded WiFi readings on a scale of 1-100, as it moved through the virtual setting and these WiFi readings also had different levels of noise (errors) associated with them. At intervals, the robot relied on its memory to create an estimated WiFi signal map by recalling signal strength information it had gathered and stored…ActSimple created the most reliable estimated WiFi map. Interestingly, when the robot “remembered” everything–that is, used all of its gathered information (errors and all)–it generated the least accurate map overall’

14.)                    ‘Sixteenth and your cellphone’ – ‘His prototype, and the software that powers it, works with smartphones and turns walls, sheets of paper and other surfaces into screens for, say, browsing the Web. The camera translates gestures into commands — for example, you can hold up both your hands to frame a scene and flick your thumb to take a picture. Aim the device at an airplane boarding pass and the projector flashes the status of your upcoming flight… device can be made for just $350, using off-the-shelf components and his source code, which he intends to make available on an open-source model’

15.)                    Social networks and ambient intelligence: ‘working on merging the instant sharing of social information, popularised by networking and messaging platforms, such as Facebook and Twitter, with emerging ambient intelligence systems that use sensors and smart objects to create awareness of users’ whereabouts and activities. Combined, the two technologies promise to provide pervasive awareness, a powerful new way to stay in touch with friends and relatives, whether they live down the street or on the other side of the globe… social connections between people are enhanced by both the number and the quality of the interactions between them. Pervasive awareness systems can support and improve this social communication…would rarely have to post status updates manually to let their family know what they are doing or where they are. Surrounded by smart objects and sensors in their home or office, the system continually updates their status information, automatically telling friends that they are unavailable to receive a phone call while they are busy cooking or that they do not want to be disturbed during a business meeting…creating such apps is a relatively straightforward process, particularly for tech-savvy young people who are accustomed to modifying and adding features to their MySpace or Facebook pages. However, the researchers are currently working on a new interface to make the process even easier…researchers are planning to launch a follow-up initiative for adaptive pervasive awareness systems based on the notion of a trustworthy personal “bubble” that ensures privacy. At the same time, they are developing ASTRA-based applications for existing social networking platforms’

16.)                    Video fingerprinting for fast access: ‘tagging one or two videos in this way is not particularly problematic. However, manually annotating thousands of clips, as content providers and media libraries regularly do, can be extremely time consuming and costly…faster alternative is to use software to automatically extract snippets of a video and create a unique identifier based on a variety of audiovisual features, such as scene, motion and music changes. These so-called digital media fingerprints can then be used to index and search full audio/video content. The technology works well for uncompressed, raw audio and video, but it has not been used effectively with the far more common, space-saving compressed files that stream from websites, are stored in media libraries or are broadcast by TV stations… wanted to develop a way of indexing and searching compressed video files quickly and easily regardless of their compression format or how or where they are stored…developed two advanced software engines: one to create fingerprints from compressed audio and/or video and another to use these unique identifiers to carry out content-based searches of audiovisual material…defines audio and video features much as a human viewer perceives audiovisual elements… It builds the fingerprint based on visual features, such as scene changes, the way the camera cuts and moves, the brightness level, and the movement of people and objects,” the project manager explains…

17.)                    Virtual Business : ‘ Going to work in Second Life’ – ‘Enterprise tool will let employees’ avatars — animated alter egos — meet in virtual worlds from the privacy of a company’s own network, rather than the public networks used in standard Second Life…Linden Lab, creators of Second Life, more than 1,400 organizations — including large companies, educational institutions, government agencies and even the U.S. military — use Second Life to hold meetings, conduct training and prototype new technologies more efficiently… But virtual collaboration doesn’t only involve virtual worlds. Tools like “Dropbox” allow online file storage and sharing, while “Basecamp” lets users to collaborate on projects online…Google Wave” was announced in May, but is currently only available by invitation. It’s a real-time communication tool that allows, among other things, multi-user conversations and file sharing, and it could become a staple of virtual collaboration…

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