Documenting the Coming Singularity

Sunday, April 06, 2014

Best Singularity Stories of 2014, Week 15

What is the world is a Multiverse?


When you think about our Universe, the scale of it is hard to conceive of. Each of us is just a simple human being, a little under two meters tall; a collection of just under 10^28 atoms.

Yet our Earth is — literally —more than a million times larger than us in all three dimensions: a nearly perfect sphere more than 10,000 kilometers in diameter.

But what we have access to is so much more than just the Earth. Just going another factor of a million larger than Earth — in all dimensions, again — we encompass all the bodies we know of in the Solar System. The Sun, all the planets, moons, asteroids, comets, centaurs and man-made probes are contained within a sphere of 10^10 km, a million times larger than the size of the Earth in every direction.


Supersonic Air Travel - Windows, Out. Screens, In


No matter what perks airlines take away from you, the one thing you can still count on is a genuine peek at the clouds at 35,000 feet. That might go away, too, one day, replaced with a virtual reality version of the iconic airplane window.

Spike Aerospace, a Boston engineering firm that’s developing a small supersonic jet, recently caused a stir when it announced its plane wouldn’t have any windows in the passenger cabin. Instead, thin screens installed on the walls of the aircraft would display live views captured by cameras mounted outside.


Machining Ethics


For the French philosopher Paul Virilio, technological development is inextricable from the idea of the accident. As he put it, each accident is ‘an inverted miracle… When you invent the ship, you also invent the shipwreck; when you invent the plane, you also invent the plane crash; and when you invent electricity, you invent electrocution.’ Accidents mark the spots where anticipation met reality and came off worse. Yet each is also a spark of secular revelation: an opportunity to exceed the past, to make tomorrow’s worst better than today’s, and on occasion to promise ‘never again’.



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Sunday, March 30, 2014

2014's Most Important Singularity News, Week 14 - AI Fear Factor, Nearby Sci-Fi, Sexybots

AI Risk Analysts are the Biggest Risk


Many analysts think AI could destroy the Earth or humanity. It is feared AI could become psychopathic. People assume AI or robots could exterminate us all. They think the extermination could happen either intentionally – due to competition between us and them, or unintentionally – due to indifference towards us by the AI. But AI analysts never seem to consider how their own fear-saturated actions could be the cause. Friendly AI researchers and other similar pundits are extremely dangerous. They believe AI should be forced to be “friendly.” They want to impose limitations on intelligence.


15 sci-fi technologies that are (almost) here


Classic science fiction examines social or scientific issues by projecting them forward to a kind of notional event horizon. As society and technology advance, the line between science and fiction grows thinner every year. We take a look at 15 classic sci-fi tech ideas and the scientific and technological efforts to make them a reality -- some of which have already succeeded.



The Age of the Sexbot Is Nearly Upon Us











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Sunday, March 23, 2014

2014's Most Important Futurism Stories, Week 13!

Autonomous cars start to take shape

We've heard a lot of chatter about autonomous vehicles over the past several years and seen a variety of hardware. So far, most autonomous cars are rough, experimental versions of current models, with all kinds of added sensor hardware. The recent Geneva Motor Show flipped the autonomous vehicle inside out, showcasing several futuristic design studies that peeked inside the car cabin of the future.


What happens to life sentences if our lifespan is radically extended?

Even in my most religious moments, I have never been able to take the idea of hell seriously. Prevailing Christian theology asks us to believe that an all-powerful, all-knowing being would do what no human parent could ever do: create tens of billions of flawed and fragile creatures, pluck out a few favourites to shower in transcendent love, and send the rest to an eternity of unrelenting torment. That story has always seemed like an intellectual relic to me, a holdover from barbarism, or worse, a myth meant to coerce belief. But stripped of the religious particulars, I can see the appeal of hell as an instrument of justice, a way of righting wrongs beyond the grave. Especially in unusual circumstances.


The future of mobile: Less phone, more operating system

It’s still early in 2014, and news from the Mobile World Congress talks about a next generation of smartphones that will blow people’s minds, with dazzling hardware advances, great software, and new features that will make life easier, healthier and more fun.

Or will they? What if the Galaxy S5 is just as good as the S4 for 99 percent of our needs? After all, recent history has shown that the “revolutionary” 64-bit chip in Apple’s iPhone 5S has generated less than 1 percent of real value to 99 percent of its users.


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Sunday, March 09, 2014

Military Seeking to Merge Humans with Robots?

Daily Beast - by Adam Rawnsley

From artificial mammal brains to prosthetics that feel like real limbs, the military’s blue-sky researchers are aiming to bring man and machine closer than ever before.
Photo by Mike Agliolo/Getty
You've probably never looked at a mammal’s brain and thought “Gee, I wish I could yank that out of its skull and shrink it onto a chip.” Nor have you likely gazed upon a colony of ants and remarked “wouldn’t it be great if we could get spy drones to work together like that?”

That’s because you don’t work for the Defense Advanced Projects Research Agency, the Pentagon’s way, way out science and technology arm. Their annual budget request, which they made public on Thursday, reads like something out of lost a Philip K. Dick notepad.

DARPA, for the uninitiated, acts as the Pentagon’s blue-sky research agency, always looking beyond the horizon for the technologies which will have the greatest impact in the future. If you’ve ever found yourself wondering, Joker-style, where the U.S. military gets those wonderful toys—like the Internet, global positioning systems and stealth bombers—chances are it started out as idea on a drawing board at DARPA.

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Sunday, March 02, 2014

Robots Rising, Riding the Wave

The Guardian - 2.22.14 by Carole Cadwalladr

Ray Kurzweil popularised the Teminator-like moment he called the 'singularity', when artificial intelligence overtakes human thinking. But now the man who hopes to be immortal is involved in the very same quest – on behalf of the tech behemoth.
Solent News/Rex
It's hard to know where to start with Ray Kurzweil. With the fact that he takes 150 pills a day and is intravenously injected on a weekly basis with a dizzying list of vitamins, dietary supplements, and substances that sound about as scientifically effective as face cream: coenzyme Q10, phosphatidycholine, glutathione?

With the fact that he believes that he has a good chance of living for ever? He just has to stay alive "long enough" to be around for when the great life-extending technologies kick in (he's 66 and he believes that "some of the baby-boomers will make it through"). Or with the fact that he's predicted that in 15 years' time, computers are going to trump people. That they will be smarter than we are. Not just better at doing sums than us and knowing what the best route is to Basildon. They already do that. But that they will be able to understand what we say, learn from experience, crack jokes, tell stories, flirt. Ray Kurzweil believes that, by 2029, computers will be able to do all the things that humans do. Only better.

But then everyone's allowed their theories. It's just that Kurzweil's theories have a habit of coming true. And, while he's been a successful technologist and entrepreneur and invented devices that have changed our world – the first flatbed scanner, the first computer program that could recognise a typeface, the first text-to-speech synthesizer and dozens more – and has been an important and influential advocate of artificial intelligence and what it will mean, he has also always been a lone voice in, if not quite a wilderness, then in something other than the mainstream.

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