OUT: ‘Clock Boy’ IN: CLOCK GIRL! Swedish Woman Invents ‘Slapping Alarm Clock’ 

 


The Anniversary of the First U.S. Patent Issued

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Calling all inventors! On this date in 1790, the first U.S. patent was granted. The patent was  signed by George Washington and granted to Samuel Hopkins for the process of making potash, an element used for making fertilizer.

Since 1790 many, many, many more patents have been granted, and some say that patents are being abused.

Should we reform the U.S. patent system? Check out Cato research on the topic and decide for yourself:


Thomas Edison was born on this day in 1847

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The Next Age of Invention

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For City JournalJoel Mokyr writes:  The statement “everything that could be invented has been invented” is frequently misattributed to the late-nineteenth-century American patent commissioner Charles Holland Duell. The Economistonce credited him with the remark, and sites such as “kool kwotes” still reproduce it. In fact, Duell believed the opposite. “In my opinion,” he wrote at the turn of the century, “all previous advances in the various lines of invention will appear totally insignificant when compared with those which the present century will witness. I almost wish that I might live my life over again to see the wonders which are at the threshold.” While this prediction turned out to be on the money, the belief that “the end of invention” is near is very much alive in our age, despite ample evidence of accelerating technological progress.

“Most states today realize that peaceful interstate competition in the marketplace requires staying current with the most advanced technology—but terrorists and rogue states want to stay current, too, for very different reasons…”

Pessimism is most prevalent among economists such as Northwestern University professor Robert J. Gordon, who expects growth to slow to a small fraction of what it was in the past. Gordon predicts that the disposable income of the bottom 99 percent of Americans will grow at just 0.2 percent per year—one-tenth the average rate of U.S. economic growth in the twentieth century. Innovation, he maintains, will not be enough to offset the headwinds that will buffet Western industrialized economies in the next half-century—aging populations, declining educational achievement, and rising inequality. And he is not alone in this dismal view. In The End of Science, published in 1996, journalist John Horgan declared that “the modern era of rapid scientific and technological progress appears to be not a permanent feature of reality, but an aberration, a fluke. . . . Science is unlikely to make any significant additions to the knowledge it has already generated. There will be no revelations in the future comparable to those bestowed upon us by Darwin or Einstein or Watson and Crick.”

“The argument that “if we don’t do this, someone else will” should prove more powerful than the concerns of groups that regard a new technology with suspicion.”

Certainly, it is difficult to know exactly in which direction technological change will move and how significant it will be. Much as in evolutionary biology, all we know is history. Yet something can be learned from the past, and it tells us that such pessimism is mistaken. The future of technology is likely to be bright. Read the rest of this entry »


Academic Advantage: Chinese College Student’s ‘Sleep Prevention’ Invention

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From RocketNews24 brings this viral phenomenon from Yahoo! Japan News, and writes:  Necessity is the mother of invention, and for university students there is no greater necessity than staying awake for late night cramming when exams come about. Some students do whatever it takes to stay up and get that last bit of info committed to memory before the big day, even to the detriment of their own health. However, one girl known by her surname of Huang has found a cheap and effective way to keep her head up and has gone viral in China’s social media for it.

Her invention, titled “Test Studying Sleep Preventative” is a revolutionary… It’s just a clothespin hanger really. But such an item is easily found in homes and dorms all over China allowing for instant implementation once you figure out what to hang it from.

Although Huang seems to show a knack for engineering, she’s actually a second year student at Fujian Agriculture and Forestry University. Still, by simply putting clumps of her hair into the various clothes pins and letting the hanger keep her head up and alert she can learn all about aquifers without the risk of dozing off.

Read the rest of this entry »


When Robots Take Over, What Happens to Us?

screen_shot_2013-11-11_at_10.51.36_am_1Paul Waldman interviewed James Barrat, author of Our Final Invention: Artificial Intelligence and the End of the Human Era, to see what happens when we’re no longer the most intelligent inhabitants of Earth.

Artificial intelligence has a long way to go before computers are as intelligent as humans. But progress is happening rapidly, in everything from logical reasoning to facial and speech recognition. With steady improvements in memory, processing power, and programming, the question isn’t if a computer will ever be as smart as a human, but only how long it will take. And once computers are as smart as people, they’ll keep getting smarter, in short order become much, much smarter than people. When artificial intelligence (AI) becomes artificial superintelligence (ASI), the real problems begin.

In his new book Our Final Invention: Artificial Intelligence and the End of the Human Era, James Barrat argues that we need to begin thinking now about how artificial intelligences will treat their creators when they can think faster, reason better, and understand more than any human. These questions were long the province of thrilling (if not always realistic) science fiction, but Barrat warns that the consequences could indeed be catastrophic. I spoke with him about his book, the dangers of ASI, and whether we’re all doomed. Read the rest of this entry »


VIDEO: How to pluck a chicken in 14 seconds

Homemade Whizbang Chicken Plucker