Monthly Archives: August 2006

Emotionally aware machines

A Cambridge (UK) scientist has developed a prototype computer that can ‘read’ users’ minds by capturing and then interpreting facial expressions – such as concentration, anger or confusion. In experiments using actors the computer was accurate 85% of the time … Continue reading

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Memory downloads

The US government is researching how combat experience can be downloaded in to the heads of raw airforce recruits. Other researchers have already figured out how to operate machines simply by thinking about the action you require (useful if you’re … Continue reading

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Are newspapers yesterday’s news?

If Rupert Murdoch is predicting the end of newspapers as we know them, then we should probably listen. In 1960, 80% of Americans read a daily newspaper. Today the figure is closer to 50% – and falling. Globally circulation is … Continue reading

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No new ideas

Historically, politics has been dominated by big ideas. However, that was then and this is now. The last big idea in politics was probably free market economics (Thatcherism and Reganism in the 1980s) but it’s been pretty barren ever since. … Continue reading

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Creeping conservatism

Are we all moving rightwards? A Harvard University poll found that 75% of students supported the armed forces compared with just 20% in 1975. Why the change of heart? First, September 11. Second, the Republican party has spent a lot … Continue reading

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Glocal government

Will national governments survive the current century? There is already evidence emerging that power is shifting towards the local at the one end and the global at the other. We are also witnessing the decline of law and even security … Continue reading

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Voter antipathy

Do you really care who wins the next election? — aren’t they all the same anyway? Perhaps this is why, in the UK, more people belong to the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) than all three major … Continue reading

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Tribalism

Historically, international relations have been based on relationships between nation states but this is changing. Many of the current conflicts are between groups inside states. Moreover, the very idea of the nation state is itself under threat from both above … Continue reading

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The death of manufacturing

Thirty years ago most Western countries had between 20-40% of their workforces in manufacturing. Now the figure is closer to 2-4%. Have we seen a shift like this before? Yes. During the industrial revolution and, more recently at the end … Continue reading

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BRICs

There is a lot of talk about the growing power and influence of Brazil, Russia, India and China (the so-called BRIC countries) and companies are falling over themselves to invest in China in particular. For example, according to McKinsey Asia … Continue reading

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