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Sep 21, 2014

DARPA’s jetpack will help soldiers run faster, stronger (video)

Posted by in categories: engineering, innovation, military

We’ve seen several attempts at making jetpacks that fly, but over at Arizona State University, a team is developing one for those who prefer staying closer to the ground. The DARPA-funded project (naturally) is called 4MM or 4 minute mile, and it aims to develop a jetpack that can provide soldiers that extra boost needed to run a full mile within four minutes. Sure, soldiers are physically fit, but the jetpack will make sure each one can do a 4-minute mile, even if they’re not particularly fast runners, and even if they’re carrying heavy equipment and armor.

Thus far, testers have been shaving seconds off their running time even while carrying the 11-pound jetpack, though the ASU researchers still have a ways to go to achieve their goal. Since being able to move fast without much rest can save your life in the battlefield, Harvard’s Soft Exosuit inventors should totally get together with these ASU researchers to make the ultimate getaway suit.

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Sep 21, 2014

3D Re-Printer Concept – All-in-one Plastic Recycling 3D Printer

Posted by in category: 3D printing

by — 3Dprint.com

reprint

The ability to 3D print objects of all shapes, and many sizes, has enabled individuals to take at least some control of their lives away from the large manufacturers and corporations out there. We can now become the makers of what we consumer. 3D printing has been touted as a way to cut back on waste. Additive manufacturing is clearly a much better fabrication method than that of subtractive manufacturing. These new processes are certainly saving materials for the large manufacturers out there who may be printing in metals, or other materials instead of using milling techniques. For those of us who use ordinary FDM-based desktop 3D printers to make trinkets and little doo-dads, let’s be honest, we are probably causing more plastic waste than we were prior to purchasing these machines. How many 3D prints have you had which have failed and you simply end up throwing away? Half of the stuff you print, you likely would never have purchased anyway, right?

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Sep 20, 2014

FUTURISM UPDATE (September 21, 2014)

Posted by in category: futurism

FUTURISM UPDATE (September 21, 2014)

a Amazon and Lifeboat

GE INTELLIGENT PLATFORMS: High-performance Automation for a Connected World http://www.ge-ip.com/future-of-industrial-automation

CNN: View from Russia: Could Putin be in Obama’s ‘broad coalition’ against ISIS? http://edition.cnn.com/2014/09/18/opinion/isis-obama-putin-n.….?hpt=hp_c1

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Sep 20, 2014

Empire Robotics shows its hands … and they’re fingerless

Posted by in category: robotics/AI

— BetaBoston

Via Empire Robotics

The candidate for best robotic hand looks like a beanbag and claims to grip anything.

A Boston builder of robot hands, Empire Robotics, is showing its first commercial grippers today: the enchanting and entirely fingerless VersaBall. Interestingly, this first demonstration is in partnership with Universal Robots, who happens to be local bot maker Rethink Robotics’ competitor.

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Sep 19, 2014

FUTURISM UPDATE (September 20, 2014)

Posted by in category: futurism

a Amazon and Lifeboat

FUTURISM UPDATE (September 20, 2014)

DARPA: President Obama Highlights New DARPA Program Aimed at Developing Novel Therapies Customized to Individual Patients http://www.darpa.mil/NewsEvents/Releases/2014/08/26.aspx

Rising Tides – Mitigation versus Consternation http://www.21stcentech.com/rising-tides-mitigation-consternation/

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Sep 19, 2014

Is Artificial Intelligence a Threat?

Posted by in category: robotics/AI

By Angela Chen — The Chronicle of Higher Education

One Step Ahead of the Robots 2

When the world ends, it may not be by fire or ice or an evil robot overlord. Our demise may come at the hands of a superintelligence that just wants more paper clips.

So says Nick Bostrom, a philosopher who founded and directs the Future of Humanity Institute, in the Oxford Martin School at the University of Oxford. He created the “paper-clip maximizer” thought experiment to expose flaws in how we conceive of superintelligence. We anthropomorphize such machines as particularly clever math nerds, says Bostrom, whose book Superintelligence: Paths, Dangers, Strategies was released in Britain in July and arrived stateside this month. Spurred by science fiction and pop culture, we assume that the main superintelligence-gone-wrong scenario features a hostile organization programming software to conquer the world. But those assumptions fundamentally misunderstand the nature of superintelligence: The dangers come not necessarily from evil motives, says Bostrom, but from a powerful, wholly nonhuman agent that lacks common sense.

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Sep 18, 2014

FUTURISM UPDATE (September 19, 2014)

Posted by in category: futurism

0   a     Y E L L O W
FUTURISM UPDATE (September 19, 2014)

WALL STREET JOURNAL: It’s Time to Take Artificial Intelligence Seriously. No Longer an Academic Curiosity, It Now Has Measurable Impact on Our Lives http://online.wsj.com/articles/its-time-to-take-artificial-i.….1408922644

Blue Origin to Replace Russia’s RD-180 for U.S. Rocket Flights http://www.21stcentech.com/blue-origin-replace-russias-rd-18.….t-flights/

CBSNEWS: Popular Science picks best inventions for 2014 http://www.cbsnews.com/videos/popular-science-picks-best-inventions-for-2014/

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Sep 18, 2014

It’s Time to Take Artificial Intelligence Seriously

Posted by in category: robotics/AI

Christopher Mims — Wall Street Journal

The age of intelligent machines has arrived—only they don’t look at all like we expected. Forget what you’ve seen in movies; this is no HAL from “2001: A Space Odyssey,” and it’s certainly not Scarlett Johansson’s disembodied voice in “Her.” It’s more akin to what happens when insects, or even fungi, do when they “think.” (What, you didn’t know that slime molds can solve mazes?)

Artificial intelligence has lately been transformed from an academic curiosity to something that has measurable impact on our lives. Google Inc. used it to increase the accuracy of voice recognition in Android by 25%. The Associated Press is printing business stories written by it. Facebook Inc. is toying with it as a way to improve the relevance of the posts it shows you.

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Sep 18, 2014

Why Superintelligence May Not Help Us Think about Existential Risks — or Transhumanism

Posted by in categories: alien life, biological, cyborg, defense, disruptive technology, ethics, existential risks, futurism, homo sapiens, human trajectories, internet, military, philosophy, policy, posthumanism, science, singularity, transhumanism

Among transhumanists, Nick Bostrom is well-known for promoting the idea of ‘existential risks’, potential harms which, were they come to pass, would annihilate the human condition altogether. Their probability may be relatively small, but the expected magnitude of their effects are so great, so Bostrom claims, that it is rational to devote some significant resources to safeguarding against them. (Indeed, there are now institutes for the study of existential risks on both sides of the Atlantic.) Moreover, because existential risks are intimately tied to the advancement of science and technology, their probability is likely to grow in the coming years.

Contrary to expectations, Bostrom is much less concerned with ecological suicide from humanity’s excessive carbon emissions than with the emergence of a superior brand of artificial intelligence – a ‘superintelligence’. This creature would be a human artefact, or at least descended from one. However, its self-programming capacity would have run amok in positive feedback, resulting in a maniacal, even self-destructive mission to rearrange the world in the image of its objectives. Such a superintelligence may appear to be quite ruthless in its dealings with humans, but that would only reflect the obstacles that we place, perhaps unwittingly, in the way of the realization of its objectives. Thus, this being would not conform to the science fiction stereotype of robots deliberately revolting against creators who are now seen as their inferiors.

I must confess that I find this conceptualisation of ‘existential risk’ rather un-transhumanist in spirit. Bostrom treats risk as a threat rather than as an opportunity. His risk horizon is precautionary rather than proactionary: He focuses on preventing the worst consequences rather than considering the prospects that are opened up by whatever radical changes might be inflicted by the superintelligence. This may be because in Bostrom’s key thought experiment, the superintelligence turns out to be the ultimate paper-clip collecting machine that ends up subsuming the entire planet to its task, destroying humanity along the way, almost as an afterthought.

But is this really a good starting point for thinking about existential risk? Much more likely than total human annihilation is that a substantial portion of humanity – but not everyone – is eliminated. (Certainly this captures the worst case scenarios surrounding climate change.) The Cold War remains the gold standard for this line of thought. In the US, the RAND Corporation’s chief analyst, Herman Kahn — the model for Stanley Kubrick’s Dr Strangelove – routinely, if not casually, tossed off scenarios of how, say, a US-USSR nuclear confrontation would serve to increase the tolerance for human biological diversity, due to the resulting proliferation of genetic mutations. Put in more general terms, a severe social disruption provides a unique opportunity for pursuing ideals that might otherwise be thwarted by a ‘business as usual’ policy orientation.

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Sep 17, 2014

Artificial Intelligence: How Algorithms Make Systems Smart

Posted by in category: robotics/AI

By Stephen F. DeAngelis, Enterra Solutions — Wired

algorithmia-ft

“Algorithm” is a word that one hears used much more frequently than in the past. One of the reasons is that scientists have learned that computers can learn on their own if given a few simple instructions. That’s really all that algorithms are mathematical instructions. Wikipedia states that an algorithm “is a step-by-step procedure for calculations.

Algorithms are used for calculation, data processing, and automated reasoning.” Whether you are aware of it or not, algorithms are becoming a ubiquitous part of our lives. Some pundits see danger in this trend. For example, Leo Hickman (@LeoHickman) writes, “The NSA revelations highlight the role sophisticated algorithms play in sifting through masses of data. But more surprising is their widespread use in our everyday lives. So should we be more wary of their power?” [“How algorithms rule the world,” The Guardian, 1 July 2013] It’s a bit hyperbolic to declare that algorithms rule the world; but, I agree that their use is becoming more widespread. That’s because computers are playing increasingly important roles in so many aspects of our lives. I like the HowStuffWorks explanation:

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