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Free Thought Project


IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers)

  • DARPA’s RACER Program Sends High-Speed, Autonomous Vehicles Off-Road
    DARPA has announced the first phase of a shiny new program called RACER, which stands for Robotic Autonomy in Complex Environments with Resiliency. I’m not sure why they couldn’t have just left it at RACE, but that’s government backronyms for you. Anyway, the RACER program is all about high-speed driving… Read more »
  • How MIT’s Muriel Medard Pioneered the Universal Decoder
    Network coding pioneer Muriel Médard calls herself a pathological optimist. The MIT electrical engineering and computer science professor’s positive thinking has led to new ways to improve tried-and-true techniques in the field of information theory.As the head of the network coding group at the university’s Research Laboratory for Electronics, the… Read more »
  • BattleBots: Behind the Scenes With Ghost Raptor
    As a fashiontech designer, I spend a lot of time making sure my designs are safe, whether it's a robotic spider dress or a prosthetic leg with a built-in Tesla coil and spark gaps. So when I got invited to help update a robot designed to kill other robots in… Read more »
  • The Long Road to Today’s Cochlear Implant
    “A bit of bedlam.” That’s how the physician Graeme Clark described the scene at the Royal Victorian Eye and Ear Hospital in Melbourne, Australia, on the day before what would be the most important surgery of his career. Engineers and staff were running around with last-minute equipment tests. Meanwhile, Clark’s… Read more »
  • Cutting Carbon Emissions Is Harder Than the Glasgow Climate Pact Thinks
    Three months ago the Glasgow Climate Pact (COP26) declared that by 2030 the world must cut total carbon dioxide emissions by 50 percent relative to the 2010 level, which was 30.4 billion tonnes. This would bring annual emissions to less than 20 billion tonnes, a level last seen more than… Read more »
  • 3D-Printed OLEDs Enable DIY Screens Nearly Anywhere
    LCDs may be the mainstay of consumer displays, but when it comes to picture quality, including high contrast ratio, brighter colors, and wider viewing angles, OLEDs have the edge. These organic light-emitting diode displays are so-called because of their self-emission capabilities, using organic carbon-based compounds and other ingredients to create… Read more »
  • How Claude Shannon Helped Kick-start Machine Learning
    Among the great engineers of the 20th century, who contributed the most to our 21st-century technologies? I say: Claude Shannon. Shannon is best known for establishing the field of information theory. In a 1948 paper, one of the greatest in the history of engineering, he came up with a way… Read more »
  • Scarcity Drives Fabs to Wastewater Recycling
    In these days of seemingly never-ending chip shortages, more and greater varieties of semiconductors are in demand. Chip fabs around the world are now racing to catch up to the world's many microelectronic needs. And chip fabs need a lot of water to operate. By some estimates, a large chip… Read more »
  • Meta Aims to Build the World’s Fastest AI Supercomputer
    Meta, parent company of Facebook, says it has built a research supercomputer that is among the fastest on the planet. By the middle of this year, when an expansion of the system is complete, it will be the fastest, Meta researchers Kevin Lee and Shubho Sengupta write in a blog… Read more »
  • Rooftop Drones for Autonomous Pigeon Harassment
    Feral pigeons are responsible for over a billion dollars of economic losses here in the United States every year. They’re especially annoying because the species isn’t native to this country—they were brought over from Europe (where they’re known as rock doves and are still quite annoying) because you can eat… Read more »
  • Wi-Fi 7 Stomps on the Gas
    Consumer technology is often a story of revolutionary leaps followed by a descent into familiarity. The first computers advanced so quickly that new models went obsolete while they were still on store shelves. Today, any US $500 laptop will be relevant for a decade. A similar story can be told… Read more »
  • AI Could Analyze Speech to Help Diagnose Alzheimer’s
    Alzheimer’s disease is notoriously difficult to diagnose. Typically, doctors use a combination of cognitive tests, brain imaging, and observation of behavior that can be expensive and time-consuming. But what if a quick voice sample, easily taken at a person’s home, could help identify a patient with Alzheimer’s?A company called Canary… Read more »
  • Letting Robocars See Around Corners
    An autonomous car needs to do many things to make the grade, but without a doubt, sensing and understanding its environment are the most critical. A self-driving vehicle must track and identify many objects and targets, whether they’re in clear view or hidden, whether the weather is fair or foul.… Read more »
  • Atari Breakout: The Best Video Game of All Time?
    Breakout was the best video game ever invented, many designers say, because it was the first true video game. Before Breakout, all were games like Pong—imitations of real life. With Breakout, a single paddle was used to direct a ball at a wall of colored bricks. Contact made a brick… Read more »
  • How E Ink Developed Full-Color e-Paper
    It was the end of 2008, October, right before the holiday shopping season. Talk-show host Oprah Winfrey released her highly anticipated Favorite Things list, with the Amazon Kindle topping the gadget category. This is the moment that the concept of electronic paper, or e-paper, went mainstream. But this black-and-white, reflective… Read more »
  • Medal of Honor Goes to Asad M. Madni, Microsensor and Systems Pioneer
    IEEE Life Fellow Asad M. Madni is the recipient of this year’s IEEE Medal of Honor. He is being recognized “for pioneering contributions to the development and commercialization of innovative sensing and systems technologies, and for distinguished research leadership.”The IEEE Foundation sponsors the award. Madni has been a distinguished adjunct… Read more »
  • Video Friday: An Agile Year
    Video Friday is your weekly selection of awesome robotics videos, collected by your friends at IEEE Spectrum robotics. We’ll also be posting a weekly calendar of upcoming robotics events for the next few months; here's what we have so far (send us your events!):ICRA 2022: 23–27 May 2022, PhiladelphiaERF 2022:… Read more »
  • Spin Me Up, Scotty—Up Into Orbit
    At first, the dream of riding a rocket into space was laughed off the stage by critics who said you’d have to carry along fuel that weighed more than the rocket itself. But the advent of booster rockets and better fuels let the dreamers have the last laugh.Hah, they said:… Read more »
  • Intel Invests $20 Billion in Ohio for Advanced Fabs
    Intel has chosen to expand its advanced manufacturing in a U.S. state that neither the company nor any other chipmaker has a presence in: Ohio. Intel announced today that it will build two leading-edge logic fabs east of Columbus at a cost of US $20 billion. Construction is set to… Read more »
  • For Better AR Cameras, Swap Plastic Lenses for Silicon Chips
    This week, startup Metalenz announced that it has created a silicon chip that, paired with an image sensor, can distinguish objects by the way they polarize light. The company says its “PolarEyes” will be able to make facial authentication less vulnerable to spoofing, improve 3D imaging for augmented and virtual… Read more »

Corruption Watch

  • ZEPs: the corruption threat lurking on the horizon
    For many Zimbabwean nationals who are anxious over their next move in the wake of the decision by the Department of Home Affairs not to renew Zimbabwe exemption permits, an even more dangerous threat of corruption awaits as the countdown to the deadline to regularise their stay in South Africa… Read more »
  • CW marks 10th birthday with continued firm commitment to corruption fight
    Corruption Watch marks the 10th anniversary of its launch today, and the organisation is making it clear that it has no intention of slowing down. "The fact that CW's cause and approach is as relevant today as it was 10 years ago is testament to conflicting circumstances," says our new… Read more »
  • PSC commissioner vacancy: call for public input on shortlisted candidates
    The Portfolio Committee on Public Service and Administration invites members of the public to submit comments on the 16 shortlisted candidates put forward for the position of Public Service Commission commissioner. The closing date for comments is 11 February 2022. The post PSC commissioner vacancy: call for public input on… Read more »
  • 2021 CPI: SA again fails to progress in anti-corruption efforts
    This year’s Corruption Perception Index shows that 86% of countries have made little to no progress in the last 10 years. The global average remains unchanged at 43 for the 10th year in a row, and two-thirds of countries score below 50 - South Africa is one of them, with… Read more »
  • Another year, another CPI – and it’s the same old story
    Overall, the 2021 Corruption Perceptions Index - released today by Transparency International - shows that control of corruption has stagnated or worsened in 86% of countries over the last decade. This situation is also true of South Africa. The post Another year, another CPI – and it’s the same old… Read more »
  • The facilitators and followers in the state capture project: SAA
    Just like Eskom and Transnet, South African Airways irregularly spent millions of rands on the now-defunct New Age newspaper. Former acting CEO Vuyisile Kona approved a significant increased expenditure on a subscription to the publication, without a budget or any knowledge of the affordability, effectiveness and commercial value for the… Read more »
  • Whistle-blowers: they deserve better from us all
    In this article, taken from the foreword of Daring to Act, our recently-released report on perceptions of whistle-blowing in South Africa, former South African Airways treasurer Cynthia Stimpel reflects on her experience and suggests ways in which the private and public sectors can make life easier for their whistle-blowers. The… Read more »
  • MEDIA ADVISORY: 2021 Corruption Perception Index to be released on 25 January 2022
    On Tuesday 25 January, Transparency International, the leading civil society organisation tackling corruption worldwide, releases its annual Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI). For the first time in its 27-edition history, the CPI will offer a comprehensive look at a decade of corruption, revealing if the country has improved, regressed or stagnated… Read more »
  • The facilitators and followers in the state capture project: Transnet
    Acting chief justice and state capture commission chairperson Raymond Zondo has found that the same modus operandi used at Eskom was used at Transnet to favour the now defunct TNA Media for irregular contracts worth millions, despite there being no value for the parastatal and no proper procurement processes followed. Between… Read more »
  • Bain, Nedbank deny facilitating corruption in South Africa
    Bain & Co and Nedbank - both implicated in the Zondo commission's first report on the three years of hearings into allegations of state capture - have both denied any wrongdoing on their part. Bain is said to have been involved in the weakening of Sars, while Nedbank and Regiments… Read more »


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