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Aug 24, 2018

This New Tech Documentary Says We’re Totally Unprepared For The Upcoming Robot Apocalypse

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, business, education, Elon Musk, employment, robotics/AI

An early moment in the new documentary Do You Trust This Computer? is actually a shot from the Terminator franchise. Human skulls and bones rest among dust and ashes as the robotic soldiers of Skynet march through the remains of an apocalyptic war. What happens between humans and robots in the Terminator films, or other sci-fi movies like The Matrix, War Games, and Ex Machina, might feel like the far away future, but Do You Trust This Computer? suggests that that’s not the case. In fact, the doc implies that we’re much closer to sentient robots walking the Earth than we think – only they may not look exactly like we’ve always imagined, and we are woefully unprepared for the consequences of their consciousness.

Directed by Chris Paine, Do You Trust This Computer? (now playing in New York and available on VOD) explores the role of artificial intelligence in our everyday lives. The film features interviews with some of today’s top AI experts, theorists, professors, and scientists, such as Elon Musk, Westworld creator Jonathan Nolan, and futurist Ray Kurtzwiel. While some people — predominantly those on the side of tech and invention companies — think that AI can help better humanity, most of the others interviewed suggest that we’re on the cusp of something potentially world-ending. As such, the doc offers up a vision of the real near-future that is as fascinating as it is terrifying.

So, what exactly do we have to be so afraid of? After all, there’s plenty of potential good that can come from advancements in AI. Self-driving cars could potentially prevent crashes and save millions of lives around the world; robotics in the medical field can find ailments faster; surgical machines can go where human hands cannot. But automation can also lead to major job loss, the film suggests. Much like the industrial revolution put many humans out of work, so too will robotics. Just take Baxter, an industrial robot, who costs the same amount as one minimum wage worker would in a year, but lasts much longer and can do the work of three people, since he doesn’t need to eat, sleep, or take breaks. Everyone from long-haul drivers and taxi drivers to data entry workers to those in white-collar industries like business, journalism, and medicine will be affected.

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Aug 24, 2018

Research team finds evidence of matter-matter coupling

Posted by in categories: computing, particle physics, quantum physics

After their recent pioneering experiments to couple light and matter to an extreme degree, Rice University scientists decided to look for a similar effect in matter alone. They didn’t expect to find it so soon.

Rice physicist Junichiro Kono, graduate student Xinwei Li and their international colleagues have discovered the first example of Dicke cooperativity in a matter-matter system, a result reported in Science this week.

The discovery could help advance the understanding of spintronics and , Kono said. On the spintronics side, he said the work will lead to faster information processing with lower power consumption and will contribute to the development of spin-based quantum computing. The team’s findings on quantum magnetism will lead to a deeper understanding of the phases of matter induced by many-body interactions at the atomic scale.

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Aug 24, 2018

As Japan’s farmers age, drones help with heavy lifting

Posted by in categories: drones, food, life extension, sustainability

Rural communities in Japan are facing a labor shortage as farmers age and young people move to urban areas. The drones, which fly over fields quickly performing tasks strenuous to farmers, may be one part of how farms in the aging rural heartland can adapt.

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Aug 24, 2018

HUMAN SPACEFLIGHT: U.S. Vice President Mike Pence and NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine speak about plans to return astronauts to the Moon and the prospects for a mission to Mars

Posted by in category: space travel

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Aug 24, 2018

NASA Launching Advanced Laser to Measure Earth’s Changing Ice

Posted by in category: space

Preparations are underway to launch into space the most advanced laser instrument of its kind next month. It will begin a mission to measure – in unprecedented detail – changes in the heights of Earth’s polar ice. Learn more about NASA ICE’s #ICESat2:

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Aug 24, 2018

Pushing the plasma density limit

Posted by in categories: nuclear energy, particle physics

For decades, researchers have been exploring ways to replicate on Earth the physical process of fusion that occurs naturally in the sun and other stars. Confined by its own strong gravitational field, the sun’s burning plasma is a sphere of fusing particles, producing the heat and light that makes life possible on earth. But the path to a creating a commercially viable fusion reactor, which would provide the world with a virtually endless source of clean energy, is filled with challenges.

Researchers have focused on the tokamak, a device that heats and confines turbulent plasma fuel in a donut-shaped chamber long enough to create fusion. Because plasma responds to magnetic fields, the torus is wrapped in magnets, which guide the fusing plasma particles around the toroidal chamber and away from the walls. Tokamaks have been able to sustain these reactions only in short pulses. To be a practical source of energy, they will need to operate in a steady state, around the clock.

Researchers at MIT’s Plasma Science and Fusion Center (PSFC) have now demonstrated how microwaves can be used to overcome barriers to steady-state tokamak operation. In experiments performed on MIT’s Alcator C-Mod tokamak before it ended operation in September 2016, research scientist Seung Gyou Baek and his colleagues studied a method of driving current to heat the plasma called Lower Hybrid Current Drive (LHCD). The technique generates plasma current by launching microwaves into the tokamak, pushing the electrons in one direction—a prerequisite for steady-state operation.

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Aug 24, 2018

Turning agriculture waste into new industries

Posted by in categories: food, government

Increasing the value of agriculture waste and turning it into new products will be the outcome of a new $10.9 million research consortium led by the University of Adelaide.

The research – Agricultural Product Development – has been granted $4 million over four years by the State Government through its Research Consortia Program. The University of Adelaide is contributing $2.3 million (cash and in-kind) with the remaining support coming from a range of partners.

The consortium will bring together a total of 18 partners to develop high-value products from agricultural : nine South Australian-based companies from the agriculture and food sector, and another nine national and international academic institutions and partners.

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Aug 24, 2018

Scientists deliver a longer-lasting lithium-oxygen battery

Posted by in categories: mobile phones, sustainability, transportation

Packing more energy into batteries is the key to delivering electric cars with longer range, smartphones that can last days—and cheaper electronic products all around.

The promise: Lithium-oxygen batteries represent one of the more promising paths toward that end. They could boost energy density by an order of magnitude above conventional lithium-ion batteries—in theory, at least. In a paper published today in Science, researchers at the University of Waterloo identified ways of addressing some of the major hurdles to converting that potential into commercial reality.

The challenge: A critical problem has been that as a lithium-oxygen battery discharges, oxygen is converted into superoxide and then lithium peroxide, reactive compounds that corrode the battery’s components over time. That, in turn, limits its recharging ability—and any real-world utility.

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Aug 24, 2018

A Chance Encounter in a Graveyard – Part 3

Posted by in category: life extension

The following is the third and last part of a short fictional story about a man realizing for the first time his deep desire to avoid aging and death. We published the first and second parts of the story on the last two Fridays, so check them out if you missed them.

Right after you wake up, there is a brief moment when you don’t yet know how you feel. That Sunday morning, that moment was even shorter than usual. The same anxiety as the previous night assailed me even before I could get out of bed.

The clock on the shelf said it was 11:30. I had slept almost 12 hours straight, but I wasn’t rested at all. Tired and depressed, I got up with difficulty, with a constant feeling of imminent catastrophe. I cast a glance out the window, and I noticed that the sky was clear and bright again. Upon closer inspection, I noticed the streets too were perfectly dry, as if it hadn’t rained for days. Indeed, the sun seemed to be very hot.

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Aug 24, 2018

The Coming Revolution In Software Development

Posted by in category: robotics/AI

The rise of AI means a revolution is coming in the world of software development.

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