Blog

Archive for the ‘evolution’ category

Aug 24, 2016

Steve Fuller’s Review of Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow by Yuval Noah Harari

Posted by in categories: big data, bioengineering, biological, bionic, cyborgs, disruptive technology, energy, evolution, existential risks, futurism, homo sapiens, innovation, moore's law, neuroscience, philosophy, policy, posthumanism, robotics/AI, science, singularity, theory, transhumanism

My sociology of knowledge students read Yuval Harari’s bestselling first book, Sapiens, to think about the right frame of reference for understanding the overall trajectory of the human condition. Homo Deus follows the example of Sapiens, using contemporary events to launch into what nowadays is called ‘big history’ but has been also called ‘deep history’ and ‘long history’. Whatever you call it, the orientation sees the human condition as subject to multiple overlapping rhythms of change which generate the sorts of ‘events’ that are the stuff of history lessons. But Harari’s history is nothing like the version you half remember from school.

In school historical events were explained in terms more or less recognizable to the agents involved. In contrast, Harari reaches for accounts that scientifically update the idea of ‘perennial philosophy’. Aldous Huxley popularized this phrase in his quest to seek common patterns of thought in the great world religions which could be leveraged as a global ethic in the aftermath of the Second World War. Harari similarly leverages bits of genetics, ecology, neuroscience and cognitive science to advance a broadly evolutionary narrative. But unlike Darwin’s version, Harari’s points towards the incipient apotheosis of our species; hence, the book’s title.

This invariably means that events are treated as symptoms if not omens of the shape of things to come. Harari’s central thesis is that whereas in the past we cowered in the face of impersonal natural forces beyond our control, nowadays our biggest enemy is the one that faces us in the mirror, which may or may not be able within our control. Thus, the sort of deity into which we are evolving is one whose superhuman powers may well result in self-destruction. Harari’s attitude towards this prospect is one of slightly awestruck bemusement.

Here Harari equivocates where his predecessors dared to distinguish. Writing with the bracing clarity afforded by the Existentialist horizons of the Cold War, cybernetics founder Norbert Wiener declared that humanity’s survival depends on knowing whether what we don’t know is actually trying to hurt us. If so, then any apparent advance in knowledge will always be illusory. As for Harari, he does not seem to see humanity in some never-ending diabolical chess match against an implacable foe, as in The Seventh Seal. Instead he takes refuge in the so-called law of unintended consequences. So while the shape of our ignorance does indeed shift as our knowledge advances, it does so in ways that keep Harari at a comfortable distance from passing judgement on our long term prognosis.

Continue reading “Steve Fuller's Review of Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow by Yuval Noah Harari” »

Aug 23, 2016

Russia to design new rocket

Posted by in category: evolution

Russia has begun designing a new super-heavy carrier rocket, which will be made using the accomplishments of the Energy-Buran program. This was reported by Russian newspaper, Izvestia. According to the General Director of RSC Energia, Vladimir Solntsev, it is expected that the existing RD-171 engine will be used.

“At this moment, we are not considering using hydrogen circuits on the first and second stages of this launch vehicle. In the third stage, we hope to use circuits from Angara, which is already flying,” he explained.

The rocket will launch a capacity of approximately 80 tons into low Earth orbit (LEO). Its further evolution, based on RD-171 technology, may make it possible to increase its carrying capacity to 120 tons and, if necessary, up to 160 tons due to changes in the rocket engine layout, and the expansion of the capabilities of the engines.

Aug 22, 2016

Russia starts designing main superheavy rocket for lunar program

Posted by in categories: evolution, space

Experts of the state-run corporation Roscosmos started designing a new superheavy rocket on the basis of the “Energia–Buran” program.

The new rocket is said to be built with the use of the existent RD-171 rocket engine. “We do not consider using hydrogen circuits on the first and second stages of this carrier. We intend to take the third stage from the currently-operating Angara rocket,” a representative for the corporation told the Izvestia newspaper.

Continue reading “Russia starts designing main superheavy rocket for lunar program” »

Aug 19, 2016

Some thoughts on Deus Ex: Mankind Divided, Augmentation and Transhumanism

Posted by in categories: evolution, transhumanism

The next step in human evolution is closer than you think.

Aug 12, 2016

Why haven’t we found any aliens yet?

Posted by in categories: alien life, evolution

Many years ago, Carl Sagan predicted there could be as many as 10,000 advanced extraterrestrial civilizations in our galaxy.

After nearly 60 years of searching without success, a growing list of scientists believe on Earth only came about because of a lucky series of evolutionary accidents, a long list of improbable events that just happened to come together at the right time and will never be repeated. Is it possible they are right and we are all there is? Highly unlikely.

Earth is a typical rocky planet, in an average solar system, nestled in the spiral arm of an ordinary galaxy. All the events and elements that came together to build our world could happen almost everywhere throughout the galaxy and there should be nothing unusual about the evolution of life on this planet or any others.

Aug 3, 2016

A Description Of ‘Hollow Earth’ According To Ancient Tibetan Buddhism

Posted by in category: evolution

Hollow-Earth (According To Ancient Tibetan Buddhism)

A very unique perspective on Earth and its evolution.


Shambhala is round but depicted as an eight-petalled lotus blossom, which is a symbol of the heart Chakra (represented in the picture above).

Continue reading “A Description Of ‘Hollow Earth’ According To Ancient Tibetan Buddhism” »

Aug 2, 2016

Brain scan during stress may predict memory loss

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, evolution, neuroscience

The findings showed that the shrinking of the hippocampus — brain region associated with learning and memory — actually precedes the onset of a change in behaviour — namely the loss of memory. “Until now, no one knew the evolution of these changes. Does the hippocampus shrink before or after memory loss? Or do the two happen handin- hand,” said Sumantra Chattarji, Professor at National Centre for Biological Sciences in Bengaluru, Karnataka, in a statement.

Using rats as a model system which reacts to stress much as humans do, the team studied how the brain changes in structure during stress. The results showed that when under stress, rats develop anxiety-related behaviours and their ability to form memories are affected. In the study, rats were subjected to stress for two hours every day over 10 days. The brains were examined with MRI scans on several days over the course of the study, and their ability to form memories were assessed repeatedly.

After just three days of stress, the hippocampus of every stressed rat had shrunk. “Normally structural changes are seen in the brain after a long time — say 10 to 20 days. Three days doesn’t even count as chronic stress,” Chattarji added. Five days after stress exposure, the rats’ hippocampus-based ability to make memories was tested again. The stressed rats were found to perform almost as well as unstressed rats, the researchers said. “Volume loss and shrinkage has happened, yet spatial memory is still holding up,” Chattarji said.

Continue reading “Brain scan during stress may predict memory loss” »

Jul 26, 2016

Genetic factors are responsible for creating anatomical patterns in the brain cortex

Posted by in categories: evolution, genetics, neuroscience

Studies are showing that anatomical patterning found in the brain’s cortex may be controlled by genetic factors.


The highly consistent anatomical patterning found in the brain’s cortex is controlled by genetic factors, reports a new study by an international research consortium led by Chi-Hua Chen of the University of California, San Diego, and Nicholas Schork of the J. Craig Venter Institute, published on July 26 in PLOS Genetics.

The human brain’s wrinkled cerebral cortex, which is responsible for consciousness, memory, language and thought, has a highly similar organizational pattern in all individuals. The similarity suggests that genetic factors may create this pattern, but currently the extent of the role of these factors is unknown. To determine whether a consistent and biologically meaningful pattern in the cortex could be identified, the scientists assessed brain images and genetic information from 2,364 unrelated individuals, brain images from 466 twin pairs, and transcriptome data from six postmortem brains.

They identified very consistent patterns, with close genetic relationships between different regions within the same brain lobe. The frontal lobe, which has the most complexity and has experienced the greatest expansion throughout the brain’s evolution, is the most genetically distinct from the other lobes. Their results also suggest potential functional relationships among different cortical brain regions.

Jul 20, 2016

Proteins that move DNA around in a bacterium are surprisingly similar to those in our own cells

Posted by in categories: bioengineering, biotech/medical, evolution, singularity

Perfecting Synthetic biology — this definitely is advancement forward in the larger Singularity story.


In both higher organisms and bacteria, DNA must be segregated when cells divide, ensuring that the requisite share of duplicated DNA goes into each new cell. While previous studies indicated that bacteria and higher organisms use quite different systems to perform this task, A*STAR researchers have now found a bacterium that uses filaments with key similarities to those in multicellular organisms, including humans.

Robert Robinson from the A*STAR Institute of Molecular and Cell Biology has a long-standing interest in what he calls the “biological machines” that move DNA around when cells divide. He and his co-workers had gleaned from gene sequencing analysis that there was something distinctive about the DNA-moving machinery in the bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis.

Continue reading “Proteins that move DNA around in a bacterium are surprisingly similar to those in our own cells” »

Jul 20, 2016

Former journalist who embedded with DARPA delivers ‘Radical Evolution’ seminar

Posted by in category: evolution

ROCK ISLAND ARSENAL, Ill. — Former Washington Post reporter, Joel Garreau, Lincoln professor of Law, Culture, and Values at Arizona State University spoke at Heritage Hall on his book “Radical Evolution,” here, July 14.

Garreau, whose seminar provoked thoughts on the future of Army sustainment, logistics and warfighter readiness, was invited to speak as part of ASC Commanding General Maj. Gen. Kevin O’ Connell’s Leadership Professional Development seminar series.

Garrea’s main argument is that for the first time in human history, we now have the technological ability to take control of our evolution.

Page 1 of 1212345678Last