'Did you hear...'

Life imitates art. Have you seen the Al Pacino film 'Simone' about a virtual actress? From Scotland, home of Dolly the cloned sheep, comes the first virtual personality. This online creation, Seonaid, anchors daily broadcasts on a government Web site, delivering updates about Scottish health, education and transportation policy. Check out www.scotland.gov.uk/pages/news/junior/jxa_22.aspx. Seonaid's 28, has a virtual cat named Napoleon and lives with a virtual partner named Callum. Watch your back, Katie Couric.

Down the Yellow Brick Road. On the World Future Society's book list for 2002 is, Are We Spiritual Machines? The book of essays includes chapters with fascinating headings such as, 'I married a computer.' There are responses to the chapters by inventor Ray Kurzweil, self-proclaimed prophet of artificial intelligence, who has long predicted that computers will eventually develop consciousness. Walt Disney tackled a similar subject in 'Pinocchio.'

Back to the future. The DaVinci Institute of Louisville, Colo., is collecting ideas for technological breakthroughs yet to be invented. For its Immortalizer Technologies project, the institute is trying to identify gadgets 'so significant that the people who invent them will become immortal'their names will live on forever in the history books,' institute director Thomas Frey said. Examples: instant sleep to rejuvenate you before tackling an important project, weather control to put out storms before they start and hotels in space.

Got a brilliant idea? Submit it by Oct. 31 at www.immortalizertechnologies.com. Even better, teleport it to buzz@postnewsweektech.com.

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