Global Express
An interactive quarterly for those who care about the future

Where are you headed?: Technology


[cover image]


Some of the world's rarest books and documents are stored in the Vatican Library. However, every year only 2000 scholars are allowed to access the 150,000 manuscripts and nearly two million books!

To bring this store house of knowledge to a wider audience (and to you as well) the Vatican Library has teamed up with the Pontifical Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro and IBM, to create a database, so that images and manuscripts can be displayed on computer screens internationally. The Images could be stored on CD-ROM or distributed across networks. So, now you can stay at home and get your PhD.


"Fuzzy Logic" came, as you might expect (?), from the University of California in the 1960s. Dr Lotfi Zadeh, an electrical engineer, observed that a lot of the words we use are like mathematical concepts. The words "many" and "few" are like numbers. "Frequently" and "rarely" are like probabilities. And "Very" and "somewhat" are like multiplication or division. Dr Zadeh thought that these words were like mathematical concepts, but not quite, because they were "fuzzy". So he came up with the theory of "fuzzy logic". We won't go into the details of the theory now, but Dr Michio Sugeno of Tokyo University of Technology has been able to mimic "fuzzy logic". He has made a remote controlled helicopter that responds to the human voice! He is able to "tell" his helicopter to move "somewhat" to the left and "sort of" upwards!

You'll be surprised to know that your 1990s heating/cooling system may be controlled by fuzzy logic control units. It works out what you "feel" is a "pleasant" room temperature! An ancient Greek philosopher, Zeno, asked, "If you remove the grains from a pile of sand one at a time, at what point does it cease to be a pile?" What is your fuzzy answer to this?


An operator in an office in Perth, Western Australia, studies a monitor, and with a couple of key strokes on a computer, adjusts the temperature and humidity in an office building. The interesting thing is that the office building is in Singapore, one of 50 in that city, the conditions for which are controlled from Perth! EMS Control Systems, an Australian company is finding a ready market for such systems in Asian cities.

Mohan Bhagwandas, Australia

Last update: 2000-02-12 17:19:51 (EEST).
Copyright © 1996-2003 by Global Express. All rights reserved.
Contact us at