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Mar 31, 2014

Why Asimov’s Three Laws Of Robotics Can’t Protect Us

Posted by in category: robotics/AI

George Dvorsky — i09
It’s been 50 years since Isaac Asimov devised his famous Three Laws of Robotics — a set of rules designed to ensure friendly robot behavior. Though intended as a literary device, these laws are heralded by some as a ready-made prescription for avoiding the robopocalypse. We spoke to the experts to find out if Asimov’s safeguards have stood the test of time — and they haven’t.

First, a quick overview of the Three Laws. As stated by Asimov in his 1942 short story “Runaround”:
1. A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.

2. A robot must obey the orders given to it by human beings, except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.

3. A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law.

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Mar 30, 2014

The Future of Space-Age Risk Management!

Posted by in category: futurism

LIST OF UPDATES (MARCH 31 THROUGH APRIL 06/2014). By Mr. Andres Agostini at The Future of Scientific Management, Today! At


The Secrets of Roman Concrete Finally Revealed After 2,000 Years

The Future of War Post-Crimea

Continue reading “The Future of Space-Age Risk Management!” »

Mar 29, 2014

This Enormous Rolling City Is Designed To Re-Plant The Desert

Posted by in categories: engineering, habitats

Adele Peters — Fast Company

Every year, more than 46,000 square miles of arable land turns to desert. As deserts spread–a process that keeps moving faster thanks to climate change and practices like clear-cutting–the UN estimates that more than 1 billion people will be directly affected. Many of them, living in places like Northern Africa and rural China, are already struggling with poverty, so the loss of farmland would be especially hard to handle.

One potential answer: An enormous mobile oasis that roams over drylands planting seeds. The Green Machine, originally designed by Malka Architecture and Yachar Bouhaya Architecture for the Venice Biennale, may some day be rolling around the borders of the Sahara Desert holding back the dust and sand.…esertp://” target=“_blank”>Read More

Mar 28, 2014

Will You Obey Your Robot Boss?

Posted by in category: robotics/AI

Jessica Leber — Fast Company

People are always joking about our robot overlords, but before robots become the world’s rulers, they’re probably going to be our bosses at work first. Either way, it’s important to know how pliable we humans are going to be.

Researchers at the University of Manitoba were curious about how far people would go in obeying the commands of a robot, so they designed an experiment that echoes Stanley Milgram’s infamous obedience studies, in which many participants obeyed an authority figure who told them to administer painful electrical shocks to strangers.

Substitute a small but slightly evil-sounding humanoid robot for the lab-coated researcher, and give the participants a really, really boring task rather than a morally fraught one, and you have the set up below. It’s actually a little uncomfortable to watch.

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Mar 27, 2014

Radio Tecnico: How The Zetas Cartel Took Over Mexico With Walkie-Talkies

Posted by in categories: information science, innovation, law enforcement, surveillance

On September 16, 2008, Carl Pike, the deputy head of the Drug Enforcement Administration’s Special Operations Division, watched live video feeds from a command center outside Washington, D.C., as federal agents fanned out across dozens of U.S. cities. In Dallas, a team in SWAT gear tossed a flash-bang grenade into a suburban home and, once inside, discovered six pounds of cocaine behind a stove, and a stockpile of guns. At a used-car dealer’s house in Carmel, Indiana, agents pulled bricks of cocaine from a secret compartment in his Audi sedan, while state troopers dragged a stove-size safe onto the lawn and went at it with a sledgehammer.

In the coming weeks, the net widened to include caches of assault rifles, a Mexico-bound 18-wheeler with drug money hidden in fresh produce, and a crooked Texas sheriff who helped traffic narcotics through his county. In Mexico City, a financier was arrested for laundering drug money through a minor-league soccer team named the Raccoons (and an avocado farm). After one especially large bust, when it came time for a “dope on the table” photo, there was in fact no table big enough to support the thousands of tightly bundled kilos of confiscated cocaine. They had to be stacked in the back parking lot of a police station.

The raids and arrests were the final stage of a DEA-led investigation called Project Reckoning—18 months, 64 cities, 200 agencies—intended to cripple Mexico’s Gulf Cartel. Over the past two decades, the organization had built a drug empire that spanned across Mexico and into the U.S. It had become pervasive, hyper-violent, brazen. Cartel operatives had smuggled billions of dollars’ worth of narcotics into the U.S. They had assassinated Mexican politicians and corrupted entire police departments. One of the organization’s leaders had famously brandished a gold-plated .45 at two agents from the DEA and FBI traveling through northeastern Mexico. The cartel had even formed its own paramilitary unit, a band of former Mexican police and special-forces soldiers called the Zetas, to seize territory and dispatch rivals. The notorious syndicate became known as La Compañia, or The Company.

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Mar 26, 2014

Who’s More Luddite?

Posted by in categories: economics, government, surveillance, transparency

By Harry J. Bentham

Originally published at h+ Magazine

Who is more “luddite”: the individual or the state?

Continue reading “Who’s More Luddite?” »

Mar 26, 2014

Immortality, biotechnology, and the woefully unprepared criminal justice system

Posted by in categories: law, life extension

- Extremetech

Han Solo in carbonite, in Jabba's lair

Here’s an interesting thought experiment for you: What happens to life imprisonment — for murder and other heinous crimes — if the human lifespan is increased? If we live until 150 or 250 or 350 (which is very possible, given the direction of recent efforts into life extension) how many more prisons will we have to build to hold all of those murderers and rapists who just won’t die? Even if we can build enough prisons to hold them, will it be economically viable to do so? What about parole? Right now, many life sentences are up for parole after 15 or 20 years — but if we live for 350 years, doesn’t a 15-year incarceration seem a little bit on the lenient side for a serious crime?

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Mar 25, 2014

Genetically Engineered T Cells Used as a Weapon Against HIV/AIDS

Posted by in category: biotech/medical

Cameron Scott — Singularity Hub
Carl June and his colleagues at the University of Pennsylvania have been making waves since they published some successes fighting leukemia with a revolutionary new method. They removed patients’ T cells and genetically modified them to target and kill the cancer. When the T cells were reintroduced into the patients’ bloodstreams, their cancer was often sent into complete remission.

Could similar modifications to the immune system’s fighter pilots provide revolutionary cures for other cancers and even other diseases?

The U. Penn researchers are applying a similar technique to that other hardest-to-treat disease, HIV/AIDS. They recently completed a Phase 1 clinical trial in which they removed HIV-positive patients’ T cells and genetically modified a portion of them to include a rare HIV-resistant genetic mutation of the CCR5 gene (called delta 32).

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Mar 25, 2014

More News Is Being Written By Robots Than You Think

Posted by in category: robotics/AI

— Jason Dorrier
robot-scribe-pens-gutenberg-bible (1)
It’s easy to praise robots and automation when it isn’t your ass on the line. I’ve done it lots. But I may have to eat my own Cheerios soon enough.

Software is writing news stories with increasing frequency. In a recent example, an LA Times writer-bot wrote and posted a snippet about an earthquake three minutes after the event. The LA Times claims they were first to publish anything on the quake, and outside the USGS, they probably were.

The LA Times example isn’t special because it’s the first algorithm to write a story on a major news site. With the help of Chicago startup and robot writing firm, Narrative Science, algorithms have basically been passing the Turing test online for the last few years.

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Mar 25, 2014

Bitcoin goes national with Scotcoin and Auroracoin

Posted by in category: bitcoin

The Aurora Borealis or Northern Lights in Iceland.

The promise of bitcoin is a universal currency free from the control of any nation or government. But a new generation of cryptocurrencies are focusing on the opposite goal: building money to solve problems specific to one country.

On midnight Monday, Auroracoin, a bitcoin clone which is the fourth most valuable cryptocurrency being traded today, entered the second phase of its life, with a “helicopter drop” of 30 auroracoins to every citizen of Iceland.

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