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Dec 3, 2015

Elon Musk: Only a Carbon Tax Will Accelerate the World’s Exit from Fossil Fuels — By Kirsten Korosec | Fortune

Posted by in categories: Elon Musk, environmental

Elon Musk, CEO of US automotive and energy storage company Tesla, presents his outlook on climate change at the Paris-Sorbonne University in Paris on December 2, 2015. / AFP / ERIC PIERMONT        (Photo credit should read ERIC PIERMONT/AFP/Getty Images)

“[O]nly a carbon tax—not innovation, conservation, or renewable energy—will accelerate the transition from carbon-producing fossil fuels to sustainable energy.”

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Dec 3, 2015

Junk-Eating Rocket Engine Could Clear Space Debris

Posted by in category: space

The risks associated with space debris are rising. An efficient way to clear the skies of junk is desperately needed, and a team of Chinese engineers think they have the answer.

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Dec 3, 2015

Cambridge University launches £10 million AI research centre, to ‘move away from science fiction’

Posted by in categories: futurism, robotics/AI

What will happen when machines become smarter than us?

It used to be a question purely for science fiction writers, but with experts predicting human-level AI could become a reality within this century, it’s become a pressing issue for scientists and philosophers, as they try to predict how our world will change.

Keen not to be left behind, Cambridge University has been at the forefront of the issue, and today announced the launch of a brand new centre, dedicated to answering the very real questions once seen solely as the preserve of Doctor Who or Stanley Kubrick’s HAL.

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Dec 3, 2015

Google makes ‘largest purchase’ of renewable energy to power data centers: 842 MW across 3 countries

Posted by in categories: business, finance, sustainability

Google says it wants to power 100% of its operations from renewable energy.

Google has announced a slew of renewable energy projects, as it moves to meet its commitment to power 100 percent of its business from green energy sources.

In what it calls the “largest, and most diverse, purchase of renewable energy ever made by a non-utility company,” Google said it has added 842 megawatts (MW) of renewable energy to its data centers, which nearly doubles the amount of clean energy it has already bought. Most of the renewable energy has been purchased for locations in the U.S., but Google said it has added more than 150 megawatts from a solar plant in Chile and a wind farm in Sweden.

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Dec 3, 2015

A Short History of AI, and Why It’s Heading in the Wrong Direction

Posted by in categories: computing, information science, military, robotics/AI

Sir Winston Churchill often spoke of World War 2 as the “Wizard War”. Both the Allies and Axis powers were in a race to gain the electronic advantage over each other on the battlefield. Many technologies were born during this time – one of them being the ability to decipher coded messages. The devices that were able to achieve this feat were the precursors to the modern computer. In 1946, the US Military developed the ENIAC, or Electronic Numerical Integrator And Computer. Using over 17,000 vacuum tubes, the ENIAC was a few orders of magnitude faster than all previous electro-mechanical computers. The part that excited many scientists, however, was that it was programmable. It was the notion of a programmable computer that would give rise to the ai_05idea of artificial intelligence (AI).

As time marched forward, computers became smaller and faster. The invention of the transistor semiconductor gave rise to the microprocessor, which accelerated the development of computer programming. AI began to pick up steam, and pundits began to make grand claims of how computer intelligence would soon surpass our own. Programs like ELIZA and Blocks World fascinated the public and certainly gave the perception that when computers became faster, as they surely would in the future, they would be able to think like humans do.

But it soon became clear that this would not be the case. While these and many other AI programs were good at what they did, neither they, or their algorithms were adaptable. They were ‘smart’ at their particular task, and could even be considered intelligent judging from their behavior, but they had no understanding of the task, and didn’t hold a candle to the intellectual capabilities of even a typical lab rat, let alone a human.

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Dec 3, 2015

Risks of mass toying with genes addressed at Cambridge conference

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, engineering, evolution, robotics/AI

While the global academic discussion focuses on the coverage of existential risks associated with the rise of a Skynet equivalent artificial intelligence; it is worth mentioning that there are divergent advances in biotech whichare as alarming and urgent as the rise of an all omnipotent and omnipresent AI. Those issues should be directed and scanned under a microscope because they are at our doorstep. We should note that the application of “wind tunnelling” towards new technologies is necessary to prepare for the future, and subsequently, we should mitigate the risks and anticipate the greatest threats associated with technology XYZ as well as the biggest opportunities.

If we recall the year 2011, virologist Ron Fouchier presented his enhanced version of the H5N1 which could create a pandemic of massive impact wiping out half the world population if not more. Fouchier was experimenting with the avian flu virus searching for virulence enhancing evolution paths. What he did is spread the virus throughout a population of ferrets, and it reproduced with an increase in its ability to adapt at each transformation; in ten generations, the airborne version gained so much in virility that it had the potential power to kill half of the human population.

A year after that, in 2012, CRISPR/Cas9 genome engineering/editing tool was first shown to work in human cell culture. It allows scientists to edit genomes which binds and splices DNA at specific locations. The complex can be programmed to target a problematic gene, which is then replaced or repaired by another molecule introduced at the same time. A highly precise method. In the past years there has been much researchwere many researches conducted, e.g. the first monkeys with targeted mutations were born, and even editing methods for preventing HIV-1 infection in humans. What this means is the introduction of a complex randomness factor. If in the past a handful of people had access to genomic iterations and experimentation; now this fact is about to be change, releasing the proverbial genie from the bottle, with little ability to control it.

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Dec 3, 2015

HGST’s helium-filled Ultrastar He10 is the first 10TB hard drive for common storage

Posted by in category: computing

HGST’s 10 TB helium hard drive is the first that’s ready for routine recording.

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Dec 3, 2015

Amazon wants augmented reality to be headset-free

Posted by in category: augmented reality

Augmented reality (AR) isn’t all headsets and funny glasses. Amazon wants to turn it into something that you can interact with in your living room, judging by a couple of the company’s recently approved patents. The “object tracking” patent shows how a system of projectors and cameras could beam virtual images onto real objects, and track your hand while you interact with them. The other, called “reflector-based depth mapping,” would use a projector to transform your room into a kind of holodeck, mapping the depth of objects and bodies in a room.

If all of this sounds familiar, it certainly is — Microsoft has a very similar concept called “RoomAlive” (originally “IllumiRoom”) that used a combination of projectors and Kinect depth sensors to turn your room into a virtual environment (below). In demos, Microsoft showed how the system could generate a virtual room that would enhance videos and even let you interact with /shoot at game objects projected on your walls. Microsoft appears to have put the RoomAlive concept on the backburner for now (though you can try to hack one together yourself) while it focuses on its Hololens headset-based AR concept.

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Dec 2, 2015

CGI VFX Shorts HD: “Story of R32”

Posted by in categories: entertainment, media & arts, robotics/AI

Check out this short film Directed by the talented Vladimir Vlasenko, about a lonely robot who just tries to attract attention to himself. For more information, please see the details and links below:

Director & CG — Vladimir Vlasenko.
Director of photography — Igor Guryev.
Sound & music — Nikita Troepolskiy, Igor Smirnov, Danil Varakuta.
Rotoskopy — Maxim Artemenko.
Actors — Nadya Vecherya, Nastya Borsh, Alexandr Sheweiko, Alexandr Koval.

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Dec 2, 2015

PROTO — Sci-Fi Short Film (Full Length)

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

A little bit of smile inducing, starry eyed optimism to balance out the post-apocalyptic horror-show version of the Singularity depicted in the other shot film I posted.

‘PROTO’ is a short film, produced by Eye Candy Film as an international co-production between Screen South based in the UK and Film Fyn based in Denmark.

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