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Will selfies replace the password?

This week's Question: New apps, including one created by West Virginia University students in 2014, uses advanced facial recognition and liveness detection capabilities to authenticate smartphone users. A free technology from Hoyos Labs, showcased at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, similarly enables a person to log in to a device without a user name, password, or other personally identifiable data. What do you think? Will selfies replace the password?

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Will autonomous car trends lead to lost jobs?

This week’s Question: As an increasing number of automakers develop autonomous or semi-autonomous cars, some critics are concerned that the number of vehicles on the road will be reduced and jobs will be lost, especially those in motor vehicle parts manufacturing and professional driving sectors. What do you think? Will autonomous car trends lead to lost jobs?

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Will virtual traffic lights improve traffic?

This week's Question: Carnegie Mellon University researchers have claimed that they can reduce commute times by placing virtual traffic lights on drivers' windshield. Through connected vehicle technology, the Carnegie Mellon system replaces conventional traffic lights with stop and go signals appearing directly in view. The virtual traffic lights are generated on demand when needed, such as when two cars are approaching an intersection. Although the technology attempts to optimize traffic patterns, some analysts say that older cars, as well as traffic lights and infrastructure, would need to be upgraded before the technology would be viable. What do you think? Will virtual traffic lights improve traffic?

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The Human Eye Can See ‘Invisible’ Infrared Light

Any science textbook will tell you that human beings can’t see infrared light. Like X-rays and radio waves, infrared light waves are outside the visual spectrum. But an international team of researchers co-led by scientists at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis has found that under certain conditions, the retina can, in fact, sense infrared light after all. Using cells from the retinas of mice and people, and powerful lasers that emit pulses of infrared light, the researchers found that when laser light pulses rapidly, light-sensing cells in the retina sometimes get a double hit of infrared energy. When that happens, the eye is able to detect light that falls outside the visible spectrum.

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Will we really wear wearables?

This week's Question: New smartwatches were showcased at this year's Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, including devices that run on operating systems and feature pedometers, sleep trackers, and audio players. Research firm Canalys forecasts that worldwide annual smartwatch shipments will grow from 8 million in 2014 to 45 million by 2017. An early 2014 Endeavour Partners survey of 6,223 US adults, however, revealed that one in ten adult consumers owns a wearable activity tracker, such as Jawbone, Fitbit, Nike+ Fuelband, or Misfit Wearables. Yet, more than half no longer continue to use them, and a third of respondents stopped using the modern activity trackers within six months of receiving them. What do you think? Will we really wear wearables?

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Will we deliver electricity from space?

This Week's Question: Scientists are exploring the possibility of utilizing space solar power for Earth-bound purposes. The United States, China, India and Japan all have projects at various stages of development that would see robots assemble solar arrays that could provide the Earth with clean, renewable energy, delivered wirelessly via microwaves and laser beams. According to experts, space is the ideal location for a solar power station as it would have access to uninterrupted power from sunlight. The final cost of the entire system, however, could easily reach $20 billion. What do you think? Will we deliver electricity from space?

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Are you optimistic about artificial intelligence?

This week's Question: In a BBC interview last year, renowned physicist, cosmologist, and author Stephen Hawking warned of the dangers of artificial intelligence. Hawking said AI "would take off on its own and re-design itself at an ever-increasing rate," passing the limited abilities of humans. A new study from Stanford University aims to understand the impacts that artificial intelligence will have on Earth. Leading thinkers from several institutions will begin a 100-year effort to study and anticipate how AI will influence how people work, live and play. "I'm very optimistic about the future and see great value ahead for humanity with advances in systems that can perceive, learn and reason," said Stanford alumnus and former president of the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence Eric Horvitz, "However, it is difficult to anticipate all of the opportunities and issues, so we need to create an enduring process." What do you think? Are you optimistic about artificial intelligence?

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