Editor’s Note: This story was originally published in April 2006. Last week, John Perry Barlow—poet, Internet phlilosopher and activist, known for an eclectic resume and zest for life— died in his sleep after a period of ill health. California is reposting this story in light of that news.
Good Robot, Bad Robot
MIT Technology Review says 2017 was the year robots backflipped into our hearts, with exhibit A being Atlas, Boston Dynamics’ incredibly gymnastic bot, which (resisting the urge to say ‘who’) not only sticks the landing on an honest-to-god backflip, but raises its arms afterward as if in celebration.
Posted on January 12, 2018 - 3:22pm
In 2025, California parking lots will be the new gas stations. Or so goes the vision of Ethan Elkind, director of the climate program at the Center for Law, Energy & the Environment at Berkeley.
To the average technology consumer, a quantum computer sounds like something out of science fiction. But these machines are real, and scientists at Berkeley are working on one right now.
So what is a quantum computer?
Well, a “classic” digital computer, like the one at your desk, stores information in bits, a basic unit of information. Binary bits, found in the computers we use daily, can only be zero or one, or on or off.
In the ongoing quest to build artificial intelligence (AI) that more closely mimics the human brain, some computer scientists at Berkeley are focusing on one crucial piece of the puzzle: curiosity.
For the last three years Deepak Pathak and Pulkit Agrawal, Ph.D. students in the Berkeley computer science department, have worked to create software that can learn on its own. Now the team is looking at creating systems that can not only learn, but keep asking questions.
You’ve probably been told, “Wikipedia is not a source. Don’t cite it. Don’t use it.”
Many high school and university instructors warn students against using Wikipedia, but new research illuminating the online encyclopedia’s impact on academia might prompt teachers to reconsider.
Posted on December 16, 2017 - 12:19pm
The year was 1956. Barry Barish was a junior at Cal doing research at the California Radiation Laboratory, or Rad Lab (known today as the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory). When his professors were too busy to see him, he’d wander into the 184-inch cyclotron—a larger sequel to Ernest Lawrence’s fabled particle accelerators—invented at Berkeley and famous for blasting into existence an array of new heavy elements, including plutonium, berkelium, and californium.
When Donna fled her abusive marriage with her two toddlers in tow, she left with nothing but dreams for a better life.
Finding refuge at a domestic violence shelter, Donna—who agreed to be interviewed under a pseudonym—learned about FreeFrom, a non-profit startup founded by UC Berkeley School of Law graduate Sonya Passi, that helps domestic violence survivors become entrepreneurs.
Posted on November 28, 2017 - 2:44pm
Many famous names from the ancient world are mythical figures who probably never lived, like Hercules or Odysseus. Not Croesus (pronounced KREE-sus), King of Lydia, a fabulously wealthy region of Anatolia (now part of western Turkey), who ruled from 561 to 547 BCE. He was the richest man in the world and his wealth was built on gold that was present in abundance in the waters of the Pactolus River, which flowed through his capital, Sardis. The Lydians were the first people to mint coins of gold and silver and were the inventors of coinage itself during the reigns of previous kings.
Posted on November 22, 2017 - 10:30am
Representatives from three of Silicon Valley’s most powerful tech firms—Facebook, Google, and Twitter—trooped up to Capitol Hill last week and told senators they were really, really sorry the Russians hacked their platforms and may even have influenced the recent presidential election. But their contrition wasn’t followed by substantive plans to remedy the situation.
Posted on November 9, 2017 - 3:11pm
It wasn’t long ago that we all watched television on a bulky, cathode-ray TV connected to a pricey cable or satellite service. Now televisions are flat and the pay-TV industry is fading fast as consumers switch to online streaming on a plethora of digital devices. But the companies that pump out the content are still dependent on outdated business models and stubbornly ignore the transformational effects that fan fiction and even piracy could bring, says Abigail De Kosnik, an associate professor of new media studies at UC Berkeley.
Posted on November 1, 2017 - 5:01pm