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Sep 19, 2017

Hurricane Irma’s impact on the BVI and what now needs to happen

Posted by in category: climatology

Hurricane Irma has left behind a trail of unimaginable destruction and has caused the entire British Virgin Islands (BVI) infrastructure to collapse. People need help rebuilding their lives and there is an immediate and critical need for food, water and shelter.

Thanks to Producer Rob Sorrenti for the Hurricane Irma BVI appeal film with voiceover from Kate Winslet.

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Sep 18, 2017

GE Working on Robot That It Says Can Save $200 Billion of Power

Posted by in category: robotics/AI

General Electric Co. is working on a way to use artificial intelligence in electricity grids, a technology that it expects will save $200 billion globally by improving efficiency.

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Sep 18, 2017

The “Science Will Not Defeat Aging in my Lifetime so Why Bother?” Argument, and Why We Should be More Optimistic

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

For much of human history, living up to a ripe old age was seen as a gift from the gods, an aberration, or just the product of sheer luck. Given that up to the beginning of the twentieth century many of us succumbed to disease at an early age, being extremely fortunate to live anywhere past the age of forty, it should be no surprise that living a long life is still beatified today as something akin to winning the lottery.

Even when confronted with the galloping pace of scientific advances in human longevity, our historical sensibilities have led us to take a defeatist stance towards the subject: “Even if longevity interventions become available during my lifetime, I am already too late to take advantage of them, so why bother?”

Indeed, this hesitation to see human life extension as a real possibility in our lifetime, dismissing it as a dream belonging to the realms of science fiction[1] and futuristic utopias[2] is not an uncommon one, and as long as tangible rejuvenation therapies do not become available, we will feel validated in our pragmatism.

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Sep 18, 2017

No, We Cannot Shoot Down North Korea’s Missiles

Posted by in category: existential risks

It’s time national leaders speak realistically about missile defense.

The number one reason we don’t shoot down North Korea’s missiles is that we cannot.

Officials like to reassure their publics about our defense to these missiles. Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told his nation after last week’s test, “We didn’t intercept it because no damage to Japanese territory was expected.”

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Sep 18, 2017

Google’s New Mobile Payment System Sends Money via Sound

Posted by in categories: economics, mobile phones

The new digital payment app, called Tez, allows people in India to use a phone to pay for goods in physical stores and online, or make payments to other bank accounts. It’s different to the (already incredibly popular) Indian service PayTM in the respect that it links a phone directly with a bank account, rather than having the user regularly top up a wallet with money.

The Financial Times reports ($) that, unlike many other mobile payment systems which rely on NFC to make payments, Google offers users the ability to make use of a technology called AudioQR to transfer money. The approach allows any two phones with mics and speakers to communicate with each other using ultrasound, above the range of human hearing, to arrange a transaction. That will be particularly useful in a country where not everyone has a high-spec device.

According to TechCrunch, Google has also trademarked the name Tez in other Asian countries, including Indonesia and the Philippines. That suggests that, in the longer term, it has bigger ambitions for the service.

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Sep 18, 2017

I Tried Direct Neurofeedback and the Results Surprised Me

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, cyborgs, robotics/AI, transhumanism

My new story for my #transhumanism column at Psychology Today on Direct Neurofeedback:

Transhumanism—the movement of using science and technology to improve the human being—covers many different fields of research. There are exoskeleton suits to help the disabled; there are stem cell treatments to cure disease; there are robots and AI to perform human chores. The field is wide open and booming as humanity uses more and more tech in its world.

It’s not that often I get to participate directly in these radical technologies, but I did so recently when Grant Rudolph, Clinical Director at Echo Rock Neurotherapy in Mill Valley, California invited me to try his Direct Neurofeedback techniques. Via his computer and EEG wire hookups, Mr. Rudolph echoed my brainwave information back into my head at an imperceptible level. I did two sessions of Direct Neurofeedback.

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Sep 18, 2017

Aubrey de Grey Joins LEAF Scientific Advisory Board

Posted by in category: life extension

We are delighted to announce that Dr. Aubrey de Grey has accepted our offer to join the LEAF scientific advisory board, and he joins the other luminaries whose expertise we already benefit from.

The majority of you already know about Dr. Aubrey de Grey and his work at the SENS Research Foundation, but for those who are not familiar with him, here is a short introduction.

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Sep 18, 2017

Philip K Dick’s Electric Dreams, Channel 4

Posted by in category: entertainment

Decades on, his work remains an irresistible trove of ideas for film-makers to plunder. Philip K Dick’s Electric Dreams, which begins on Sunday (Channel 4, 9pm), is an ambitious series of 10 one-hour films based on his stories, with different casts and creative teams.

An ambitious series of 10 one-hour films based on the stories of the sci-fi writer.

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Sep 18, 2017

Hospital Captures First Commercial Volta GPU Based DGX-1 Systems

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

At well over $150,000 per appliance, the Volta GPU based DGX appliances from Nvidia, which take aim at deep learning with framework integration and 8 Volta-accelerated nodes linked with NVlink, is set to appeal to the most bleeding edge of machine learning shops.

Nvidia has built its own clusters by stringing several of these together, just as researchers at Tokyo Tech have done with the Pascal generation systems. But one of the first commercial customers for the Volta based boxes is the Center for Clinical Data Science, which is part of the first wave of hospitals set to use deep learning for MR and CT image analysis.

The center, which is based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, has secured a whopping four DGX-1 Volta appliances, which sport the latest GPUs with eight per node with the NVlink interconnect. The Next Platform talked with Neil Tenenholtz, senior data scientist at the center, about where deep learning will yield results for hospitals and medical research and about their early experiences with the four machines.

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Sep 18, 2017

In 2015, the Allen Institute for Artificial Intelligence (AI2) ran its first Allen AI Science Challenge, which tested machines on an ostensibly difficult task—answering eighth-grade science questions

Posted by in categories: robotics/AI, science

Doing well on such a challenge would appear to require significant advances in AI technology, making it a potentially powerful way to advance the field. In this video, Carissa Schoenick discusses “Moving Beyond the Turing Test with the Allen AI Science Challenge,” in the September 2017 CACM.

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