How Skype Used AI to Build Its Amazing New Language Translator | WIRED
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Very soon now, a select group of Skype beta testers will have a new Microsoft technology that seems borrowed from the world of Star Trek. It’s called the Skype Translator—a Skype add-on that listens to the English words you speak into Microsoft’s internet phone-calling software and translates them into Spanish, or vice versa.

As you can see from demos like the one below, it’s an amazing technology, and it’s based on work that’s been going on quietly inside Microsoft’s research and development labs for more than a decade. Microsoft is already using some of the text translation technology underpinning Skype Translate to power its Bing Translate search engine translation service, and to jump start the foreign language translation of its products, manuals, and hundreds of thousands of support documents. “One of the largest, published, untouched machine translation repositories on the internet is the Microsoft customer support Knowledge Base,” says Vikram Dendi, strategy director with Microsoft Research.

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A new digital ecology is evolving, and humans are being left behind

Incomprehensible computer behaviors have evolved out of high-frequency stock trading, and humans aren’t sure why. Eventually, it could start affecting high-tech warfare, too. We spoke with a researcher at University of Miami who thinks humans will be outpaced by a new “machine ecology.” For all intents and purposes, this genesis of this new world began in 2006 with the introduction of legislation which made high frequency stock trading a viable option. This form of rapid-fire trading involves algorithms, or bots, that can make decisions on the order of milliseconds (ms). By contrast, it takes a human at least one full second to both recognize and react to potential danger. Consequently, humans are progressively being left out of the trading loop. And indeed, it’s a realm that’s rapidly expanding. For example, a new dedicated transatlantic cable is being built between US and UK traders that could boost transaction speed by another 5 ms. In addition, the new purpose-built chip iX-eCute is being launched which can prepare trades in an astounding 740 nanoseconds. (via A new digital ecology is evolving, and humans are being left behind)

A Polytopia reader - Introductory links to Wildcat writings

(Having been asked for it, this is a re-post for those that missed it)

A Cyber Soaring Humanity

1. A Cyber Soaring Humanity (or The rise of the Cyber Unified Civilization)

2.The Natural Asymmetry of Infocologies

3.This mountain has no top

4.Hybrid futures, Knowmads and the Notion state

5. Hybrid futures and Knowmads (pt2)

6.Knowmads as metabolic reactors of information (Hybrid Future and Knowmads (pt 3)

7.Knowmads as Aesthetic Curators of information (Hybrid Futures & Knowmads pt 4)

8. Knowmads as Critical Relevancies (Hybrid Futures & Knowmads pt 5)

9. Aesthetic Management As The Future Of Joy (or a Foray in InfoBeauty)

Forays in Philotopia

# Polytopia as Rhizomatic Hyperconnectivity- a new form of wisdom emerges

# The Future History of Individualism (Pt.1)

# Parsing Hyper Humanism – a different angle to Posthumanism

# The Luxurious Ambiguity of Intelligence in Hyperconnectivity

Cyber Identity

# Fluid affinities replace nucleic identity

# What is it like to be a ‘Nym’ - A Polytopian Stance

# Some will be Gangsters of Poetry, Some will be Pan-Symbolists

We have always lived in an information economy, a fact that sometimes tends to be displaced by the immense amount of information now available at our fingertips. The huge amount of talk generated by the current infoconomy explosion takes little, if at all, account that ever since knowledge has been passed from parent to child and from culture to culture, the barter coin of trade was always information. Whether the information passed was gossip or the way to light a fire, the method of creating a better blade or the latest fashion fad, information was always the basis of human interaction.

(now writing the next step)

Wildcat: The Natural Asymmetry of Infocologies

How NASA Could Build A Cloud City Over Venus

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Owing to the extreme conditions on the Venusian surface, it’s going to be quite some time before a human ever steps foot on that planet. That’s why NASA is developing a plan to deploy human-occupied airships in Venus’s upper atmosphere. And yes, permanent occupation is the ultimate goal.

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Net is 'less free and more unequal'
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Sir Tim Berners-Lee calls for net access to be treated as a basic right, following a report suggesting great inequalities online.


The web is becoming less free and more unequal, according to a report from the World Wide Web Foundation.

Its annual web index suggests web users are at increasing risk of government surveillance, with laws preventing mass snooping weak or non-existent in over 84% of countries.

It also indicates that online censorship is on the rise.

The report led web inventor Sir Tim Berners-Lee to call for net access to be recognised as a human right.

The World Wide Web Foundation, led by Sir Tim, measured the web’s contribution to the social, economic and political progress of 86 countries.

Other headline findings from the report include:

74% of countries either lack clear and effective net neutrality rules and/or show evidence of traffic discrimination62% of countries report that the web plays a major role in sparking social or political action74% of countries are not doing enough to stop online harassment of women

The index ranked countries around the world in terms of:

universal accessrelevant content and usefreedom and opennessempowerment

Four of the top five were Scandinavian, with Denmark in first place, Finland second and Norway third. The UK came fourth, followed by Sweden.

"The richer and better educated people are, the more benefit they are gaining from the digital revolution," said Anne Jellema, chief executive of the World Wide Web Foundation, and the lead author of the report.

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Blood grown from stem cells could transform transfusions
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Stem-cell technology is being used to grow fresh human blood in the laboratory – but don’t hand in your donor card just yet-

In 2007, a team of researchers from the UK and Irish Blood services responded to an oddly specific call from the US military. They wanted scientists to help them build a machine, no bigger than two and a half washing machines, that could be dropped from a helicopter on to a battle field and generate stem-cell-derived blood for injured soldiers.

The team’s application was not successful, but they refocused their efforts and set off on a more utopian mission – to develop a similar technology to create a limitless supply of clean, laboratory-grown blood for use in clinics around the world. Using blood made from stem cells would unshackle blood services from the limits of human supply, and any risk of infection would be removed.

They’ve been working with embryonic or induced pluripotent stem cells, which, given the right culture conditions, can differentiate into any type of cells. Still at least a year from human testing, the team have tweaked their protocol to select only red blood cells.

“Because we make them from human cells they are as nature intended,” says Joanne Mountford, of the University of Glasgow, who leads the project along with Marc Turner, the medical director of the Scottish National Blood Transfusion Service.

“It’s the same thing your body makes but we’re just doing it in a lab.”

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