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May 19, 2015

Edge of Dark Review

Posted by in categories: futurism, robotics/AI, transhumanism


edge.of.dark

Edge of Dark is part space-opera, part coming-of-age story, and part exploration of the relationship between humans and the post-human descendants who may ultimately transcend them.

The book takes place in the same universe as Brenda Cooper’s “Ruby’s Song” books (The Creative Fire; The Diamond Deep). However, you don’t need to have read those books to enjoy this one. The story in Edge of Dark picks up decades after the earlier books.

The setting is a solar system in which the most Earth-like planet, once nearly ecologically destroyed, is now in large part a wilderness preserve, still undergoing active restoration. Most humans live on massive space stations in the inner solar system. A few live on smaller space stations a bit further out, closer to the proverbial “Edge”. And beyond that? Beyond that, far from the sun, dwell exiles, cast out long ago for violating social norms by daring to go too far in tinkering with the human mind and body.

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May 19, 2015

Will we ever understand the beginning of the universe? — Ross Andersen | AEON

Posted by in category: space

http://cdn-imgs-mag.aeon.co/images/2015/05/FLAMMARION-FINAL-SIZED-1024x639.jpg

“People are wedded to these ideas, because they grew up with them. Scientists don’t like to change ideas unless they’re forced to. They get involved with a theory. They get emotionally attached to it. When an idea is looking shaky, they go into defensive mode.” Read more

May 18, 2015

A First Big Step Toward Mapping the Human Brain — Katie Palmer | Wired

Posted by in category: neuroscience

Electrophysiological data collected from neurons in the mouse visual cortex forms the basis for the Allen Institute's Cell Type Database.

“When it’s complete, the database will be the first in the world to collect information from individual cells along four basic but crucial variables: cell shape, gene expression, position in the brain, and electrical activity. ” Read more

May 18, 2015

Does Artificial Intelligence Pose a Threat? — Ted Greenwald | The Wall Street Journal

Posted by in category: robotics/AI

“The combination of immense Internet-connected networks and machine-learning algorithms has yielded dramatic advances in machines’ ability to understand spoken and visual communications, capabilities that fall under the heading ‘narrow’ artificial intelligence. Can machines capable of autonomous reasoning—so-called general AI—be far behind? And at that point, what’s to keep them from improving themselves until they have no need for humanity?” Read more

May 17, 2015

Robots Might Be the Necessary Future of Urban Pet Ownership — Evan Ackerman | IEEE Spectrum

Posted by in category: robotics/AI

“‘If artificial pets can replicate the human benefits obtained from live pets, does that mean that the human–animal emotional bond is solely dependent on ourselves and the image that we project on a live or artificial interactive partner? Does it ethically matter if the benefits of keeping artificial pets outweigh the risks, sparing other live pets’ potential animal welfare issues?’” Read more

May 17, 2015

How Excited Would Buckminster Fuller Be at the Prospect of 3D Printed Buildings? — By Jason Dorrier SingularityHub

Posted by in categories: 3D printing, architecture

The Experimenters is an excellent new web series of animated interviews with some of the great minds and original thinkers of the last century. Its first episode highlights Buckminster Fuller, best known for his popularization of the geodesic dome—but also for being a one-of-a-kind thinker, inventor, and personality. Read more

May 16, 2015

So, the NSA Has an Actual Skynet Program — Kim Zet Wired

Posted by in categories: privacy, robotics/AI, security, Skynet, supercomputing, surveillance

We’ve suspected it all along—that Skynet, the massive program that brings about world destruction in the Terminator movies, was just a fictionalization of a real program in the hands of the US government. And now it’s confirmed—at least in name.

As The Intercept reports today, the NSA does have a program called Skynet. But unlike the autonomous, self-aware computerized defense system in Terminator that goes rogue and launches a nuclear attack that destroys most of humanity, this one is a surveillance program that uses phone metadata to track the location and call activities of suspected terrorists. A journalist for Al Jazeera reportedly became one of its targets after he was placed on a terrorist watch list. Read more

May 16, 2015

Then and Now: 8 Fun Examples of Exponential Change From the Last Decade — By Peter Diamandis SingularityHub

Posted by in categories: futurism, human trajectories

http://cdn.singularityhub.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/10-years-exponential-change-1000x400.jpg

It’s hard to believe, but…

Ten years ago…

  • The first video was uploaded to YouTube.
  • Facebook, then just a year old, dropped “the” from its old URL “thefacebook.com” after acquiring “facebook.com” for $200K.
  • An early prototype of an autonomous car completed the DARPA Grand Challenge for the first time.
  • The term “drone” meant a military weapon system.
  • Bitcoin and blockchain didn’t exist, and wouldn’t be created for three more years.
  • Android was a small startup that Google had just acquired.
  • There were 6.4 billion humans on Earth, only ~1 billion were online, and none of them had heard of Uber or AirBnb. Read more

May 15, 2015

First Look: Oculus Rift Shipping in Early 2016 — By Jason Dorrier SingularityHub

Posted by in category: augmented reality

Since the first Oculus Rift virtual reality headset prototype, people have breathlessly asked, “When will a consumer version be ready?” Oculus played coy and stuck to its guns. When we think it’s ready, they said.

Well, evidently, it’s ready. Read more

May 15, 2015

Virtually Human — A Transhumanist Poem by Veronika Lipinska

Posted by in categories: entertainment, fun, robotics/AI

What follows is a work of transhumanist poetry by the Anglo-Polish lawyer, Veronika Lipinska, Lifeboat Foundation advisory board member and Steve Fuller’s co-author of The Proactionary Imperative: A Foundation for Transhumanism (Palgrave, 2014). The Polish sources of transhumanism remain underexplored, but they range across theology and literature. The ‘Polish Brethren’ were a radical 16–17th century Protestant sect who hosted the heretic Fausto Sozzini — the model for Faust — who laid the theological groundwork for such characteristic Enlightenment religious doctrines as Unitarianism and Deism, both of which posited a more immediate connection between the human and the divine than the established churches found comfortable. In more recent times, most transhumanists will be familiar with the science fiction of Stanislaw Lem, but still more recently the 1980 Nobel Prize winner for Literature, Czeslaw Milosz, has penned a poem, ‘After Enduring’, dedicated to cosmologist Frank Tipler’s efforts to infer Christian eschatology from the physics of the Singularity. This poem is a modest follow-up for a new generation.

Virtually human

He played with my head
Got me hardwired
Connected me to the world
And now I can see everything

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