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The floating city that could become the future of life at sea

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  • Yacht island comes with 11 accommodation decks and four helipads
  • Designed to move on four platforms, each with thrusters to keep it stable

It looks like something straight out of a James Bond film – but a British firm believes this floating building could be the future of life at sea.

With 11 accommodation decks, a 360-degree observation area, four helipads, its own dock, several swimming pools and as much space as a cruise liner, it’s not so much a boat as a city.

Although it certainly does not fit the mould of a yacht, the design, called ‘Project Utopia’, was unveiled to stunned onlookers at the glitzy Monaco Yacht Show.

Fantasy island: As this artist's impression shows, Project Utopia is more like a floating city than a boat

Fantasy island: As this artist’s impression shows, Project Utopia is more like a floating city than a boat.

Designer BMT Nigel Gee, of Southampton, Hants, has not yet put a figure on how much the floating island might cost to create or what sort of customer would want to buy it.

The boat is designed to float on four platforms, each with thrusters to keep the whole yacht island stable, even in the extreme seas.

Able to move ‘at slow speeds’, it stretches 65m above the sea’s surface, providing visitors to the 13th floor observation deck with panoramic views.

Just below, the top deck of the main accommodation and service spaces – which could house shops, bars and restaurants – would be covered by a retractable canopy.

Yacht Design Director James Roy believes it challenges preconceptions of traditional naval architecture.

All at sea: Project Utopia is designed to float on four platforms, each with thrusters to keep the whole island stable

All at sea: Project Utopia is designed to float on four platforms, each with thrusters to keep the whole island stable.

He said: ‘Visions of the future are often constrained by familiarity with the present or a reflection on the past.

‘Much is made in today’s design community of starting with a blank sheet of paper yet many, if not all yacht concepts revert back to the traditional form.

‘Because of the perception that a yacht should be a form of transport it becomes an immediate design constraint.

‘Utopia is not an object to travel in, it is a place to be, an island established for anyone who has the vision to create such a place.’

A design for life: A graphic showing the schematics of the yacht island, which comes with with 11 accommodation decks, a 360-degree observation area, four helipads and several swimming pools

A design for life: A graphic showing the schematics of the yacht island, which comes with with 11 accommodation decks, a 360-degree observation area, four helipads and several swimming pools.

In the middle, a large column plunges down into the water, acting as a mooring system and housing a wet dock providing access from the sea.

James said the design, which has been created in partnership with Yacht Island Design, represents how the firm, which works on yachts, commercial and naval craft, uses state-of-the-art technology to bring innovation to the industry.

From fiction to reality: Project Utopia looks remarkably like Stromberg's lair in Bond film The Spy Who Loved Me

From fiction to reality: Project Utopia looks remarkably like Stromberg’s lair in Bond film The Spy Who Loved Me.

He added: ‘Pioneering design ideas such as Utopia are exactly the types of projects that our team excel in.

‘Our forward-thinking approach and unrivalled state-of-the-art engineering experience allows us to work closely with designers, stylists and shipyards, and bring these ideas to life.’

 

Via DailyMail

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IBM thinks about the next 100 years

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A hundred years from now, will we be assimilated by the machines? Or will we assimilate them? These are the kinds of issues facing International Business Machines as the company begins its second 100 years.

Right now, most folks are thinking about the past 100 years at IBM, which is celebrating the centennial of its founding on Thursday. But for Bernard Meyerson, the company’s vice president of innovation, it’s all about the next century.

“That’s pretty much what we think about,” Meyerson told me today.

Meyerson has plenty to look back on, including his own not-so-small part in IBM’s past innovations. When his cell phone dropped the connection during our telephone conversation, he called back and casually mentioned that he had a hand in creating the transistors built into that cell phone. And when I asked him to explain, he said, “I actually invented the technology known as silicon-germanium.”

It turns out that IBM has played a behind-the-scenes role in all sorts of technologies, ranging from semiconductor development to barcodes to Wi-Fi. “IBM is a funny company,” Meyerson said. “We don’t force you to put a little sticker on anything that says, ‘We’re the smart guys.'”

But enough about the past: What about the future? “Going forward, you have tremendous opportunities,” particularly when it comes to making sense of the huge databases that are being built up in all sorts of fields, Meyerson said. For example, imagine a system that can take medical records from the 285 million people around the world with diabetes, anonymize those records and analyze them, looking for potential new treatments or preventive measures.

“The fact is, there is no mechanism today that could do that, and the reason is that medical data is unstructured,” he said. There’s little consistency in how the records are kept, and medical conditions might be described in different ways by different doctors.

When you put together the volumes of data and the numbers of people that have to be covered in these massive, unstructured data sets, the figures mount up to quintillions of bytes. That’s the challenge facing new types of computing tools — for example, the Watson supercomputer, which won a highly publicized “Jeopardy” quiz-show match earlier this year. Now Watson is being put to work on a tougher task: making sense of medical records, which is just the kind of job Meyerson has in mind.

Still other challenges await. Watson-style computers could digest the millions of data points involved in tracking the flow of highway traffic, then develop models to predict where the tie-ups could arise before they actually happen. The computers of the next century will have to handle a wide range of “big data” challenges, ranging from climate modeling to natural-language search engines for multimedia.

Meyerson doesn’t expect Watson to answer that challenge completely. A hundred years from now, Watson will almost certainly be considered a quaint antique, much like the tabulating machines that were made back in 1911.

“Watson specifically is not the issue, as much as the combination of Watson’s ability to interpret natural language, the capacity to store ‘big data’ and apply data analytics to come up with solutions for society,” he said. “In the absence of natural language, you’re going to have a short, unhappy life attempting this work. Without that key ingredient, how are you going to take the interaction of humans and machines to the next level and make it easy?”

What will the next level be in the year 2111? “Honestly, at 100 years I’m genuinely unsure,” Meyerson said. The past century has shown that the pace of technological advancement can be highly variable, depending on what kinds of breakthroughs come to the fore. But if Meyerson had to bet on one particular game-changing technology, it would be coming up with a direct interface between computing circuits and the human brain.

“If it turns out that there is a very natural way to communicate data back and forth without being obtrusive, then the whole world changes,” he told me. This wouldn’t be a Borg-like assimilation, in which humans look increasingly like machines. Rather, the machines would blend into the human body.

Does that sound like a grand dream for the next century? Or a nightmare? Feel free to chime in with your comments below.

 

 

Via MSNBC

U.S. fines BAE $79 million over arms-control breaches

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Britain’s BAE Systems Plc agreed to pay up to $79 million in U.S. government fines for more than 2,500 alleged breaches of rules governing military exports, the State Department said on Tuesday.

The civil settlement is the biggest in the department’s history. It ends long-running corruption investigations into the company, Europe’s biggest arms maker by sales, on both sides of the Atlantic.

The department cleared BAE’s fast-growing U.S. unit and its subsidiaries of all charges against the parent company, based in Farnborough, outside London.

But it said a lack of full cooperation from the parent had left it “unable to assess fully the potential harm to U.S. national security” from the unauthorized resale of U.S. weapons and technology know-how to more than a dozen countries.

The U.S. subsidiary, BAE Systems Inc, accounts for about 52 percent of the company’s worldwide sales and is among the Pentagon’s top 10 suppliers. It operates a separate export compliance program under a special security pact that governs its dealings inside and outside the United States.

The State Department said it found a total of 2,591 BAE arms-control breaches after the parent company’s criminal conviction last year for violations of the U.S. Arms Export Control Act and International Traffic in Arms Regulations, which frame U.S. arms-control laws.

For instance, the department said, BAE failed to get a required U.S. nod to engage in “brokering activities” involving U.S. systems or sub-systems incorporated on the EF-2000 Eurofighter Typhoon. Since 1998, BAE has marketed or exported the fighter to Australia, Czech Republic, Greece, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, South Korea, Austria, Denmark, Japan and Switzerland, the department said.

Beside unauthorized brokering of U.S.-supplied arms and services, the alleged breaches of U.S. law included failure to register as a broker; failure to file mandated annual reports; causing unauthorized brokering; failure to report the payment of fees or commissions associated with arms deals; and failure to maintain records involving controlled transactions.

The State Department, in a “proposed charging letter” made public on its web site, described the violations as “systemic, widespread and sustained for more than 10 years.”

BAE also failed to cooperate fully for the 14 months since the criminal pleadings set the stage for the parallel civil investigation, the department said. It followed the global settlement announced in February 2010 of criminal cases brought by the U.S. Department of Justice and Britain’s Serious Fraud Office.

Under its agreement last year with the Justice Department, the company pleaded guilty to one charge of conspiring to make false statements to the U.S. government and paid a fine of $400 million. In London, BAE pleaded guilty to one charge of failing to keep records of payments made to a marketing advisor in Tanzania and paid about $50 million.

The cases grew from criminal investigations into arms deals in Saudi Arabia, Tanzania, Sweden, the Czech Republic and Hungary.

The State Department said it is releasing an administrative hold it imposed, after the criminal conviction, on license applications by the parent company to export U.S.-origin arms and services.

But it declared a policy of presumptive denial on three BAE subsidiaries “because of their substantial involvement in activities related to the conviction.” The units’ export license requests would be approved only if they were determined to be in the U.S. national interest.

The department identified these as BAE Systems CS&S International, Red Diamond Trading Ltd and Poseidon Trading Investments Ltd.

BAE, apparently referring to this, said a limited number of its UK-originating exports would be subject to “enhanced administrative review.” This was not expected to hurt current or future exports, it said.

The parent company’s settlement with the State Department will have “zero impact” on the U.S. unit’s ability to carry out its business plan, John Suttle, a company spokesman, said in a teleconference.

Phil Finnegan, director of corporate analysis at the Teal Group aerospace consultancy, said BAE needed to make such an agreement because it is heavily reliant on the U.S. arms market, the world’s most lucrative.

“BAE must continue to be in a strong position with the U.S. government so it can win new contracts and expand through its continuing stream of U.S. acquisitions,” he said.

Under the four-year term of its consent deal with BAE, the State Department agreed to consider suspending $10 million of the new fines to offset the cost of improved export control compliance measures.

Shares in BAE, which have risen 3 percent in 2011, closed down 0.6 percent at 337.2 pence on the London Stock Exchange.

Via NewsDaily

Written by Nokgiir

May 18, 2011 at 12:08 am