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Smart robots and murder by phone

Murder by phone and smart robots

(Copyright: Thinkstock)

Our pick of the week’s science and technology stories include a U-turn on GM crops, killer smartphones and why intelligent bots will be everywhere.

In praise of genetically modified food
Mark Lynas | Mark Lynas | 3 January 2013

Campaigner recants. "I apologise for having spent several years ripping up GM crops. I am also sorry that I helped to start the anti-GM movement back in the mid 1990s, and that I thereby assisted in demonising an important technological option which can be used to benefit the environment."

Will Gutenberg laugh last?
Nicholas Carr | Rough Type | 1 January 2013

We say we like books. And it turns out that we do. Sales of e-readers are slowing. Early adopters have adopted. Print sales are holding up well. Printed books may have more of a future than seemed probable even a year ago.

Better than human
Kevin Kelly | Wired | 24 December 2012
Intelligent robots, coming soon. "You’ll be paid in the future based on how well you work with robots. Ninety percent of your co-workers will be unseen machines. There will be a blurry line between what you do and what they do."

Leap seconds
Randall Munroe | What If? | 1 January 2013

"Could we speed up Earth’s rotation, so that we do not need Leap Seconds?" Short answer: Yes. But the bad news is, we would die in the process. "To get enough spin, we have to hit the Earth with a billion litres of rock per second."

Embodied cognition
Benjamin Bergen | Scientific American | 28 December 2012

Scientists pitch into age-old philosophical debate about language, meaning and thought: "Maybe we understand language by simulating in our minds what it would be like to experience the things that the language describes."

Look out, he's got a phone!
Charles Mann | Vanity Fair | 19 December 2012

Murder by smartphone: Hack the victim's pacemaker. "You don’t have to know anything about medical devices’ software to attack them remotely. You simply call them repeatedly, waking them up so many times they exhaust their batteries."

What turned Jaron Lanier against the web?
Ron Rosenbaum | Smithsonian | 24 December 2012

Silicon Valley visionary, pioneer of virtual reality, recants his faith in Web 2.0: "You can draw an analogy to what happened with communism, where at some point you just have to say there’s too much wrong with these experiments.”

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