Menu

Blog

Page 8223

May 3, 2017

“Exercise-in-a-pill” boosts athletic endurance

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, health

The push to find exercise memetics continues.


Every week, there seems to be another story about the health benefits of running. That’s great—but what if you can’t run? For the elderly, obese or otherwise mobility-limited, the rewards of aerobic exercise have long been out of reach.

Continue reading “‘Exercise-in-a-pill’ boosts athletic endurance” »

May 3, 2017

Rejuvenation would be too expensive to create

Posted by in categories: asteroid/comet impacts, economics, existential risks, finance, life extension

Creating rejuvenation will probably be quite expensive, but that’s no reason to give up on it. We can pull it off.


The first thing to realise is that, when you wonder how much something will cost, you’re actually wondering how many resources and how many people doing how much work it will take to do that something. That’s all that really matters. The problem is that we have a sucky economic system such that even if we do have more than enough people and resources to do the job, the monetary cost of it could be so high that you can’t get the job done without creating financial problems left and right. This should be a hint that the problem, if it exists, lies in our crappy economic system, not in rejuvenation itself or whatever other thing we may create.

Apart from the obvious fact that other hysterically expensive endeavours (such as space missions) are pulled off despite their costs, we must take into account that desperate circumstances call for desperate measures. We don’t need to tear apart our economic system and replace it with another before we create rejuvenation, and neither would we if faced with another health crisis (such as a pandemic) or a planetary crisis, but we need to get the job done despite its costs and the consequences they may have. We can’t give up on rejuvenation on the grounds that it may be too expensive to create, just like we wouldn’t in the case of an existential risk. Can you imagine that? There’s a huge asteroid on a collision course with Earth, and our only hope is a spectacularly expensive space mission to destroy it before it’s too late. Just who in their right mind would step up and say: ‘Nah, too expensive. Let’s not do it.

Read more

May 3, 2017

In Case You Missed It: The themes that echoed through TED2017

Posted by in categories: information science, robotics/AI

Over the past five days, the TED2017 conference has explored the theme “The Future You.” This has spanned an incredible number of ideas on a huge array of topics. Below, a tour through some of the key themes that emerged — through the week and in the double-stuffed session of day 5.

All eyes on AI. How will artificial intelligence reshape our world? TED2017 brought many answers. The conference kicked off with a dance between a robot and human, followed by chess grandmaster Garry Kasparov’s call to add human purpose and passion to intelligent machines’ ability to calculate and parse. Then, in a session called “Our Robotic Overlords,” Noriko Arai showed the secrets of an AI that can pass a college entrance exam, Joseph Redmon revealed an algorithm (called YOLO) that lets AI identify objects accurately, Stuart Russell outlined a plan for aligning AI values with our own, and Radhika Nagpal imagined AI based on the collective intelligence of schools of fish. Later on, Martin Ford warned that, with AI mastering the ability to learn, humans are headed toward a future without work — which will require radical adjustments in society. And Robin Hanson brought us to a trippy possible future where “ems,” emulations or uploaded human minds, run the world.

The need to erase the boundary between ‘me’ and ‘us.’ Some cultures worship many gods, others one. Us? We worship the self, said Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks — we think in terms of self-realization and partake in “that newest religious ritual: the selfie.” Sacks challenged us to replace the word ‘self’ with the word ‘other’ and see what happens. “The only people that will save us from ourselves is we.” That thought boomeranged through the week. His Holiness Pope Francis delivered a beautiful message of solidarity: “If there is an ‘us,’ there is a revolution.” Anna Rosling Rönnlund took us to “Dollar Street,” where the world’s poorest people live on the left and the richest on the right. “The person staring back at us from the other side of the world actually looks like you,” she said.

Continue reading “In Case You Missed It: The themes that echoed through TED2017” »

May 3, 2017

Rep: #TheRaceforSpace

Posted by in categories: Elon Musk, solar power, space travel, sustainability

Congressman Charlie Crist on Elon Musk’s space efforts in Florida: “What Mr. Musk has been able to do [with SpaceX and solar energy] is nothing short of extraordinary.”

Read more

May 2, 2017

Russian scholars unlock the secret of the mysterious Voynich manuscript

Posted by in category: encryption

After conducting a statistical analysis of the text, Russian experts believe it’s encrypted in the following way: vowels and spaces are removed from the text. The collection of symbols is united in a new text, bestrewed with spaces beforehand. They estimate that about 60 percent of the text is written in English or German, and the other part in one of the Romance languages – possibly Italian or Spanish, or even Latin.


Experts previously thought it impossible to decipher the medieval text.

Read more

May 2, 2017

A gym, spa, and restaurants…on a plane

Posted by in category: transportation

We’re LIVE at the San Jose airport checking out Airbus’ new swappable jet interiors. Can’t get enough?

Read more

May 2, 2017

Why Silicon Valley Can’t “Disruptively” Vote Its Way To Digital Immortality

Posted by in categories: existential risks, governance, life extension, lifeboat, Ray Kurzweil, robotics/AI, singularity

You’ve probably heard about billionaires’ Plan B for when the end of the world comes, much of it centering around property in New Zealand. It’s not exactly a bad plan as far as doomsday prepping goes; buy a nice bunker somewhere in Middle Earth and wait out the chaos in luxury on one of two fairly isolated islands. Now, you may have noticed that front and center for such planning is Silicon Valley billionaire and Trump backer Peter Thiel of the pay-to-sue-Gawker-into-oblivion fame to the public at large, and ultra-libertarian venture capitalist with some crazy ideas about the future to the techies who know him. His backing of seasteading and support for Trump just because he got bored with Obama, are but a warmup to what he really has in mind for the future: immortality as a sentient super-AI.

No, you didn’t read that wrong, and no, this is not hyperbole. In fact, yours truly was once invited to an event where Thiel was a featured speaker after a rather public spat with the president of the Singularity Institute. I did not take up the offer because I had to be in class to learn how to build actual AI systems. And for full disclosure, I was invited to join an advisory board for a group of futurists called The Lifeboat Foundation, but like Groucho Marx, I didn’t want to be involved in a club that would accept someone like me as a member, much less as an advisor based on little more than me being a grad student at the time. So Thiel’s involvement with a group of futurists and an occasional computer scientist who thinks we’re on the verge of something a lot like the plot of Transcendence, is extremely well known in tech.

In fact, the belief that at some point, artificial intelligence and the march of technology will create a singularity that will alter humanity forever, has an alarming number of adherents in Silicon Valley. The face of the Singularity today, Ray Kurzweil, works at Google and runs Singularity University where it’s preached thanks to a multimillion commitment from his employer. And the fact that this belief is so popular in the world’s biggest tech hub isn’t all that surprising if we consider its followers. They’re told that their code and the technology they’re developing is changing the world, or they’re devoted followers of popular science news ready for the incredible future promised to us by the glossy magazines and sci-fi movies to arrive. To be told that by 2035 or 2045 we may become immortal through technology is appealing to say the least, and empowering for those who think they can help.

Continue reading “Why Silicon Valley Can’t ‘Disruptively’ Vote Its Way To Digital Immortality” »

May 2, 2017

CellAge announces a seed fundraising round

Posted by in categories: bioengineering, biotech/medical, information science, life extension

The CellAge project hosted last year with Lifespan.io has now joined up with Michael Greve and Kizoo to develop this technology. Community support for the project has helped move the project foward and will hopefully speed up progress as a result.


April 2017, Edinburgh. CellAge Limited (“CellAge”) has raised a seed round backed by Michael Greve´s Kizoo Technology Capital and a group of angel investors.

CellAge, a privately held synthetic biology start-up aiming to develop tools and therapies for age-related diseases, has successfully completed a seed fundraising round. In this round Kizoo Technology Capital and a number of angel investors have joined the effort to develop synthetic promoters which will make senescent cells identification and removal safer and more efficient. To achieve this, CellAge is planning to analyze transcriptional profiles of a wide range of senescent cell types using proprietary algorithm and construct novel promoters from candidate regulatory elements identified in this screen. The joint expertise in senescence, synthetic biology and bioinformatics gives CellAge a unique angle on improving ways how gene therapies could be targeted to senescent cells.

Read more

May 2, 2017

Is a dream a lie if it don’t come true?

Posted by in category: space

What happens if we never settle space?

“Never” is a really long time. So, for the sake of discussion, let’s define it as a human lifetime plus some margin—say, within this century. What if humanity has not built a space settlement anywhere in the solar system—not the Moon, Mars, or free space—within that time? Does that matter? Should it matter to any of the people who are currently interested in space settlement? Should they, will they, abandon their interest and enthusiasm?

Read more

May 2, 2017

Our Future Space Colonies Could Be Built Using Super-Strong Martian Bricks

Posted by in categories: materials, space travel

Scientists have created bricks harder than concrete by compressing simulated Martian soil. Hypothetically, this means we could significantly bring down the cost of constructing shelters when we finally reach Mars.

The world is intent on sending humans to Mars, but the feasibility of Martian travel is dependent on cost. That’s why staying within budget is potentially the biggest challenge facing NASA’s recently released five-year plan detailing how humans will get to Mars. It’s also the reason SpaceX is pushing to make reusable rockets.

Read more