Last week we reported how NASA scientists were referencing Star Trek, when announcing the discovery of a new type of life. Now we have Google promising that they are working on a "Star Trek future" for talking to computers. Plus, it appears the Chinese are working hard on teleportation.
Google promises ‘Star Trek future’ in computer voice tech
Google has acquired the Phonetic Arts, a speech synthesis company based in Cambridge, England who have had success in creating natural computer speech.
Phonetic Arts Generator promises "the ability to say anything in a faithful reproduction of a real voice"
And when Google announced the acquisition on their official Blog, Speech Technology Mike Cohen referenced Star Trek twice:
In Star Trek, they don’t spend a lot of time typing things on keyboards—they just speak to their computers, and the computers speak back. It’s a more natural way to communicate, but getting there requires chipping away at a range of hard research problems.
We already have a strong engineering center in London and look forward to welcoming Phonetic Arts to the team. We are excited about their technology, and while we don’t have plans to share yet, we’re confident that together we’ll move a little faster towards that Star Trek future.
So how long until our computers star talking to us, and even flirting with us, as happened with Kirk in the Star Trek episode "Tomorrow is Yesterday" (see clip below).
Chinese working on transporters?
In the last week there has been a lot of controversy surrounding the Wikileaks disclosure of classified cables from the US State Department. Today Popular Science noted one cable that details some of the advanced work being done by scientists in the People’s Republic in a variety of fields from plasma physics, nuclear fusion, and even quantum teleportation.
China’s University of Science and Technology hard at work on future tech
From the specific cable:
…the Hefei National Laboratory for Physical Science at the Microscale (HFNL). HFNL has 95 faculty members and roughly 400 graduate students. HFNL research focuses on quantum communication, nanoscience, superconductors, spintronics, and cognitive sciences. In the area of quantum communication, HFNL was conducting research in quantum teleportation and free space quantum cryptography that scientists hope will result in “totally secure” communications. USTC also oversees China’s “Program 178,” although they did not describe the nature of this program. (COMMENT: A cursory walk through their labs seemed to indicate they had already succeeded in single-particle quantum teleportation and are now trying to conduct dual-particle quantum teleportation. END COMMENT)
Of course this kind of quantum teleportation is a long way from the Star Trek transporters, but it appears the Chinese are leading the field. Could it be that the first to say "one to beam up" will be headed to a Chinese spaceship? Let’s just hope they don’t end up with so many transporter accidents as seen in Star Trek’s future, such as this scene when Captain Kirk is split in two (good and evil) in "The Enemy Within"