Gecko Feet Inspire Wall-Climbing Gloves

I love it when nature inspires technology. A group of researchers has developed a glove that will allow humans to stick to and scale walls. This bit of amazingness is being modeled on the feet of geckos. Unlike tree frogs, whose sticky toe pads give these amphibians the ability to cling to surfaces, gecko toes instead use friction created by microscopic hair-like structures called setae that hold up the animal's body weight. This adaptation has been studied before, but so far physics and gravity have prevented any practical application for human use. We're simply too large and heavy. That has all changed now based on the work of Michael Elliot Hawks of Stanford University, who has developed a synthetic nano-fiber "setae" that can hold the weight of a human. If and when these become available to the public, I'm definitely adding them to my wish list! Read the rest

Your metadata reveals sensitive, private information

In MetaPhone: The Sensitivity of Telephone Metadata a pair of Stanford researchers recruited test-subjects who were willing to install spyware on their phones that logged the same "metadata" that the NSA harvests -- and that the NSA and President Obama claims is not sensitive or privacy-invading. The researchers applied basic analytics to the data and uncovered -- surprise! -- incredibly compromising information about the personal lives, health, and finances of their subjects, just by looking at metadata. What's more, harvesting the subjects' metadata also revealed sensitive information about the subjects' contacts' lives. (via Techdirt) Read the rest

Stanford Robotics and the Law Conference call for papers

I'm late getting to this (my own fault, I missed an important email), but We: Robot, the Robotics and the Law Conference at Stanford Law School is still accepting papers until Jan 18. Last year's event was apparently smashing, and this year's CFP is quite enticing:

The following list is by no means exhaustive, but rather meant as an elaboration on conference themes:

* Legal and policy responses to likely effects of robotics on manufacturing or the environment* Perspectives on the interplay between legal frameworks and robotic software and hardware* Intellectual property issues raised by collaboration within robotics (or with robots)* Perspectives on collaboration between legal and technical communities* Tort law issues, including product liability, professional malpractice, and the calculation of damages* Administrative law issues, including FDA or FAA approval* Privacy law and privacy enhancing technologies* Comparative/international perspectives on robotics law* Issues of legal and economic policy, including tax, employment, and corporate governance

In addition to scholarly papers, we invite proposals for demos of cutting-edge commercial applications of robotics or recent technical research that speaks one way or another to the immediate commercial prospects of robots.

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Call for papers: Robots and the Law at Stanford

Ryan Calo sends his call for papers for a Stanford Law School conference on robotics and the law. "This is our second year---the first conference took place in Miami. This year's focus is on legal and policy issues surrounding the immediate commercial prospects of robotics, including personal robots, drones, driverless cars, telepresence, and robotic surgery. We're calling it 'We Robot: Getting Down To Business.' The program committee, which consists of both law professors and roboticists, seeks submissions on a range of topics of relevance to the burgeoning robotics industry, as well as demos of robot prototypes or products. Legal scholars and technologists alike are warmly welcome to submit papers and/or attend. Hope to see you there!"

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Design Thinking for Social Good: An Interview with David Kelley

David Kelley is the founder of IDEO and the Stanford I asked him about design, process and people—and what it takes to be good at all three.