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The Economist Technology Quarterly: August 2012
Self-driving cars: Cars that can drive themselves are closer than you might think and promise to reduce road accidents, ease congestion and revolutionise transport. Cruise-control, lane-keeping and self-parking systems are getting smarter, and a few full autonomous vehicles are already on the roads. This could transform car design, redefine car ownership and affect city planning.
Energy weapons: Military lasers are coming. Energy weapons are finally moving from the laboratory to the real world, but they are hardly the super-weapons of science fiction. So much energy is needed to burn through a tank's armour that it is easier simply to fire a rocket at it. But energy weapons will have their uses and are moving towards deployment.
Phase-change memory: This technology will soon be storing your music and photos. Phase-changing memory chips, an emerging technology, could soon dethrone flash memory in smartphones, cameras and laptops. And as well as dethroning flash, phase-change memory could also lead to a radical shift in computer design.
Solar lamps: New technology and business models are lighting the way and could soon doom kerosene. Cheaper and better solar-powered electric lights promise to do away with kerosene-fuelled lanterns as they work anywhere the sun shines, even in places that are off the grid.
Other topics in the latest Technology Quarterly include:
- Robotics: A marine robot uses sonar to scan for tiny limpet mines attached to a ship's hull.
- Military technology: New kinds of paint for military vehicles can detect, absorb and neutralise gases in a chemical weapon attack.
- Technology and society: To what extent can social networking make it easier to find people and solve real-world problems?
- Technology and regulation: A research project considers how the law should deal with technologies that blur man and machine.
With a growing global readership (now 4.5m) and a reputation for insightful analysis and perspective on every aspect of world events, The Economist is one of the most widely recognised and well-read current affairs publications. The paper covers politics, business, science and technology, and books and arts, concluding each week with the obituary. Its website (www.economist.com) offers articles from the past ten years, in addition to web-only content such as blogs, debates and audio/video programmes. The Economist is now available to download for reading on Android, iPhone, or iPad devices.
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