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Apr 13, 2016

Facebook says VR headsets will look like Ray-Bans in 10 years

Posted by in categories: futurism, virtual reality

Virtual Reality is awesome, but having to wear a huge headset isn’t fun.

Facebook knows that, so while unveiling its roadmap for the next 10 years, Mark Zuckerberg said future VR headsets would basically be the size of a normal pair of glasses.

Some of the biggest names in tech are coming to TNW Conference in Amsterdam this May.

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Apr 13, 2016

The era of AI-human hybrid intelligence

Posted by in categories: drones, Elon Musk, neuroscience, Ray Kurzweil, robotics/AI

You hear a lot these days about the potential for impending doom as AI becomes ever smarter.

Indeed, big names are calling for caution: the futurist optimism of protagonists like Ray Kurzweil is outweighed by the concern expressed by Bill Gates, Elon Musk and Stephen Hawking. And Swedish philosopher Nick Bostrom’s scary thought experiments around what AI might lead to could well sustain a new strain of Nordic noir. There are, indeed, reasons to be concerned.

The fictional Hal’s refusal to open the pod bay doors in Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey seems a lot less like fiction than it did when the movie came out almost 50 years ago. Today, we have real reason to be concerned about the potential for autonomous drones making decisions about who to take out, or self-driving cars making a choice between hitting a roadside tree and hitting a child.

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Apr 13, 2016

Are We On The Verge Of Eliminating Jet Lag?

Posted by in category: futurism

New lighting plans on airlines are helping passengers adjust to new schedules. But how close are we to eliminating jet lag altogether?

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Apr 13, 2016

Pitch black: Ford’s autonomous cars don’t care whether it’s day or night

Posted by in categories: robotics/AI, transportation

Night testing in the desert goes surprisingly well, the company says.

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Apr 12, 2016

NASA funds Direct Drive Fusion Propulsion

Posted by in categories: energy, information science, physics, space travel

The Direct Fusion Drive (DFD) concept provides game-changing propulsion and power capabilities that would revolutionize interplanetary travel. DFD is based on the Princeton Field-Reversed Configuration (PFRC) fusion reactor under development at the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory. The mission context we are proposing is delivery of a Pluto orbiter with a lander. The key objective of the proposal is to determine the feasibility of the proposed Pluto spacecraft using improved engine models. DFD provides high thrust to allow for reasonable transit times to Pluto while delivering substantial mass to orbit: 1000 kg delivered in 4 to 6 years. Since DFD provides power as well as propulsion in one integrated device, it will also provide as much as 2 MW of power to the payloads upon arrival. This enables high-bandwidth communication, powering of the lander from orbit, and radically expanded options for instrument design. The data acquired by New Horizons’ recent Pluto flyby is just a tiny fraction of the scientific data that could be generated from an orbiter and lander. We have evaluated the Pluto mission concept using the Lambert algorithm for maneuvers with rough estimates of the engine thrust and power. The acceleration times are sufficiently short for the Lambert approximation, i.e. impulsive burns, to have some validity. We have used fusion scaling laws to estimate the total mission mass and show that it would fit within the envelope of a Delta IV Heavy launch vehicle. Estimates of the amount of Helium 3 required to fuel the reactor are within available terrestrial stores.

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Apr 12, 2016

Jeff Bezos wants to open the way for millions to live, work in space

Posted by in categories: asteroid/comet impacts, existential risks

COLORADO SPRINGS — Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon.com, could not be more clear about what he believes is mankind’s future.

“I want millions of people living and working in space. I want us to be a space-faring civilization,” Bezos told a packed audience at the Space Symposium on Tuesday in Colorado Springs.

“My motivation is, I don’t want Plan B to be, ‘Good news, Earth got destroyed by a big comet but we live on Mars.’ I think we need to explore and utilize space in order to save the Earth,” he said, referring to the need to shift industrial manufacturing to space to limit the impact on Earth’s resources.

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Apr 12, 2016

TechInsurance Cites Microsoft’s Tay Glitch As Classic Technology E&O Risk

Posted by in categories: business, law, robotics/AI

Although this article is over 5 days old plus talks about the risks identified by TechInsurance company; it does highlight the potential new wave of lawsuits in the years to come that we could see flood the law offices and courts around AI. Also, it will be interested to see over the next 5 years how laws, reg. compliance, etc. will evolve with the deployment of AI.


Technology insurance provider reminds IT businesses that technical glitches and customer behavior are significant sources of risk.

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Apr 12, 2016

Can Silly Patents Help Fight Frivolous Lawsuits?

Posted by in category: futurism

Critics of the patent system say it’s too easy for people to save a slew of semi-realistic ideas, then sue when a firm separately tries to make something similar. A new website fights fire with fire.

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Apr 12, 2016

How the brain produces consciousness in ‘time slices’

Posted by in categories: biological, neuroscience

EPFL scientists propose a new way of understanding of how the brain processes unconscious information into our consciousness. According to the model, consciousness arises only in time intervals of up to 400 milliseconds, with gaps of unconsciousness in between.

The driver ahead suddenly stops, and you find yourself stomping on your breaks before you even realize what is going on. We would call this a reflex, but the underlying reality is much more complex, forming a debate that goes back centuries: Is consciousness a constant, uninterrupted stream or a series of discrete bits — like the 24 frames-per-second of a movie reel? Scientists from EPFL and the universities of Ulm and Zurich, now put forward a new model of how the brain processes unconscious information, suggesting that consciousness arises only in intervals up to 400 milliseconds, with no consciousness in between. The work is published in PLOS Biology.

Continuous or discrete?

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Apr 12, 2016

Scientists discover how the brain repurposes itself to learn scientific concepts

Posted by in categories: energy, neuroscience, physics

The human brain was initially used for basic survival tasks, such as staying safe and hunting and gathering. Yet, 200,000 years later, the same human brain is able to learn abstract concepts, like momentum, energy and gravity, which have only been formally defined in the last few centuries.

New research from Carnegie Mellon University has now uncovered how the brain is able to acquire brand new types of ideas. Published in Psychological Science, scientists Robert Mason and Marcel Just used neural-decoding techniques developed at CMU to identify specific physics concepts that advanced students recalled when prompted. The brain activation patterns while thinking about the physics concepts indicated that all of the students’ brains used the ancient brain systems the same way, and the patterns revealed how the new knowledge was formed — by repurposing existing neural systems.

The findings could be used to improve science instruction.

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