I agree--that picture does look a lot like HAL. The line between preposterous science fiction and realizable technologies is so blurred that its increasingly hard to tell the nuts from the geniuses anymore!
I keep remembering the transparent storage media in the movie 2001--remember when Dave was unscrewing them and they popped out looking like bars of glass. How else would the memory in those bars be accessed if not by high-precision laser targeting? I think many of us guessed that MEMS micro-mirrors would be the enabler for storing qubits on atoms in a transparent medium, but Duke and Univ. of Wisconsin were the first to prove the concept.
MEMS micro-mirrors are already used for optical switching by companies like Glimmerglass Networks and Micralyne, but those devices do not have the speed or accuracy necessary to create a quantum computer. The Duke and the University of Wisconsin demonstration, however, shows that MEMS is up to the task of targeting individual atoms, albeit it will be a long time--at least a decade--before we see this dream fully realized.
Drones are, in essence, flying autonomous vehicles. Pros and cons surrounding drones today might well foreshadow the debate over the development of self-driving cars. In the context of a strongly regulated aviation industry, "self-flying" drones pose a fresh challenge. How safe is it to fly drones in different environments? Should drones be required for visual line of sight – as are piloted airplanes? Join EE Times' Junko Yoshida as she moderates a panel of drone experts.