Documenting the Coming Singularity

Showing posts with label transhumanism. Show all posts
Showing posts with label transhumanism. Show all posts

Monday, October 20, 2014

What's Coming - The Genuine Cyborgs

The Telegraph - 10.20.14 by Arthur House

Forget wearable tech. The pioneers of our “post-human” future are implanting technology in to their bodies and brains. Should we stop them or join them?
Ian Burkhart concentrated hard. A thick cable protruded from the crown of his shaven head. A sleeve sprouting wires enveloped his right arm. The 23 - year-old had been paralysed from the neck down since a diving accident four years ago. But, in June this year, in a crowded room in the Wexner Medical Centre at Ohio State University, Burkhart’s hand spasmed into life.

At first it opened slowly and shakily, as though uncertain who its owner was. But when Burkhart engaged his wrist muscles, its upward movement was sudden and decisive. You could hear the joints – unused for years - cracking. The scientists and medical staff gathered in the room burst into applause.

The technology that made this possible, Neurobridge, had successfully reconnected Burkhart’s brain with his body. It was probably the most advanced intertwining of man and machine that had so far been achieved.

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Saturday, October 18, 2014

Genetic Engineering Will Produce Super-Intelligent Humans?

Nautilus - 10.16.14 by Stephen Hsu

Genetic engineering will one day create the smartest humans who have ever lived.
Lev Landau, a Nobelist and one of the fathers of a great school of Soviet physics, had a logarithmic scale for ranking theorists, from 1 to 5. A physicist in the first class had ten times the impact of someone in the second class, and so on. He modestly ranked himself as 2.5 until late in life, when he became a 2. In the first class were Heisenberg, Bohr, and Dirac among a few others. Einstein was a 0.5!

My friends in the humanities, or other areas of science like biology, are astonished and disturbed that physicists and mathematicians (substitute the polymathic von Neumann for Einstein) might think in this essentially hierarchical way. Apparently, differences in ability are not manifested so clearly in those fields. But I find Landau’s scheme appropriate: There are many physicists whose contributions I cannot imagine having made.

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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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Saturday, January 11, 2014

If You Get the Chance, Upload Yourself

io9 - 01.09.14 by George Dvorsky

Once you're living as a stream of 1's and 0's you'll never have to worry about body odor, going to the bathroom, or having to brush your teeth. You won't need to sleep or have sex — unless, of course, you program yourself such that you'll both want and need to do these things (call it a purist aesthetic choice).

We're still decades — if not centuries — away from being able to transfer a mind to a supercomputer. It's a fantastic future prospect that makes some people incredibly squeamish. But there are considerable benefits to living a digital life. Here's why you should seriously consider uploading.

As I've pointed out before, uploading is not a given; there are many conceptual, technological, ethical, and security issues to overcome. But for the purposes of this Explainer, we're going to assume that uploads, or digital mind transfers, will eventually be possible — whether it be from the scanning and mapping of a brain, serial brain sectioning, brain imaging, or some unknown process.

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Monday, December 30, 2013

What will it be like to exist in a virtual world?

aeon Magazine - 12.18.13 by  Michael Graziano

You wake up in a simulated welcome hall in some type of simulated body with standard-issue simulated clothes. What do you do? Maybe you take a walk and look around. Maybe you try the food. Maybe you play some tennis. Maybe go watch a movie. But sooner or later, most people will want to reach for a cell phone. Send a tweet from paradise. Text a friend. Get on Facebook. Connect through social media. But here is the quirk of uploaded minds: the rules of social media are transformed.
IGN/Playstation Home
In the late 1700s, machinists started making music boxes: intricate little mechanisms that could play harmonies and melodies by themselves. Some incorporated bells, drums, organs, even violins, all coordinated by a rotating cylinder. The more ambitious examples were Lilliputian orchestras, such as the Panharmonicon, invented in Vienna in 1805, or the mass-produced Orchestrion that came along in Dresden in 1851.

But the technology had limitations. To make a convincing violin sound, one had to create a little simulacrum of a violin — quite an engineering feat. How to replicate a trombone? Or an oboe? The same way, of course. The artisans assumed that an entire instrument had to be copied in order to capture its distinctive tone. The metal, the wood, the reed, the shape, the exact resonance, all of it had to be mimicked. How else were you going to create an orchestral sound? The task was discouragingly difficult.

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Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Talk about drinking to forget!

Popular Science - 11.25.13 by Virginia Hughes

The idea of scientists manipulating memory does, naturally, sound a bit creepy. But it also points to some possible good: treatment for millions of people tormented by real memories. And that’s something worth remembering. 
Credit: Sam Kaplan
Roadside bombs, childhood abuse, car accidents—they form memories that can shape (and damage) us for a lifetime. Now, a handful of studies have shown that we’re on the verge of erasing and even rewriting memories. The hope is that this research will lead to medical treatments, especially for addiction and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Researchers have known for decades that memories are unreliable. They’re particularly adjustable when actively recalled because at that point they’re pulled out of a stable molecular state. Last spring, scientists published a study performed at the University of Washington in which adult volunteers completed a survey about their eating and drinking habits before age 16. A week later, they were given personalized analyses of their answers that stated—falsely—that they had gotten sick from rum or vodka as a teen. One in five not only didn’t notice the lie, but also recalled false memories about it and rated that beverage as less desirable than they had before. Studies like these point to possible treatments for mental health problems. Both PTSD and addiction disorders hinge on memories that can trigger problematic behaviors, such as crippling fear caused by loud noises or cravings brought about by the sight of drug paraphernalia.

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Saturday, November 09, 2013

How Will You Compete for Jobs with Cyborgs?


Scope - 11.04.13 by Bruce Goldman

Call me obstinate. To the best of my knowledge, I’m still 100 percent human. But in ten or twenty years, at the rate things are going, how will I be able to be sure you are, too?

A few weeks ago, I blogged about the past half-century’s startling advances in computer competence. Referring obliquely to the Turing test, I mused, “Makes me wonder: Just how long will it be before we can no longer tell our computers from ourselves?”

A week later, as fate would have it, I showed up in a classroom on Stanford’s quad for a discussion between UC-Berkeley philosopher John Searle, PhD, and Stanford artificial-intelligence expert Terry Winograd, PhD, concerning a similar-sounding but subtly deeper question: “Can a computer have a mind?”

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Sunday, November 03, 2013

Google Glass Will Bring Superhuman Vision

ExtremeTech - 10.24.13 by David Cardinal

Cloud-powered facial recognition is good enough to identify friends and foes alike in near-real-time. Coupled with the massive amount of information available on each of us in the cloud, it is only a small step to the otherworldly experience of never forgetting someone’s name, or knowing when to be on high alert about a person walking towards you.
Stanford professor Marc Levoy, fresh off a two-year leave to work on Google Glass, recently spoke to a packed house at Stanford’s Center for Image Engineering (SCIEN) about the new era of photography that Glass, and other increasingly powerful wearable cameras, have begun to usher in. While many of the new applications have been talked about — like first-person videos and the ability to take pictures without losing eye contact — Levoy explained that those are only the tip of the iceberg. He sees a combination of computational imaging and new-form-factor, camera-equipped devices will allow for a set of what he described as “superhero vision” capabilities.

Rapidly increasing processor power will help fuel this new world of powerful new photographic tools. Levoy, a pioneer in both computer graphics and computational imaging, noted that GPU power is growing by roughly 80% per year, while megapixels are only growing by about 20%. That means more horsepower to process each pixel — with the available cycles increasing each year. Coupled with near-real-time multi-frame image capture, the bounds of traditional photography can even be stretched beyond the borders of a single image.

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Friday, November 01, 2013

By 2020 You'll Connect to the Internet via an Implant

Infowars - 10.30.13 by Michael Snyder

Would you like to have your brain “rebooted” by a chip inside your head?
Wikimedia Commons
Would you like to surf the Internet, make a phone call or send a text message using only your brain?  Would you like to “download” the content of a 500 page book into your memory in less than a second?  Would you like to have extremely advanced nanobots constantly crawling around in your body monitoring it for disease?  Would you like to be able to instantly access the collective knowledge base of humanity wherever you are?

All of that may sound like science fiction, but these are technologies that some of the most powerful high tech firms in the world actually believe are achievable by the year 2020.  However, with all of the potential “benefits” that such technology could bring, there is also the potential for great tyranny.  Just think about it.  What do you think that the governments of the world could do if almost everyone had a mind reading brain implant that was connected to the Internet?  Could those implants be used to control and manipulate us?  Those are frightening things to consider.

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Tuesday, July 02, 2013

A Zoom Lens in your Contacts

ExtremeTech - 7.1.13 by Sebastian Anthony

While these telescopic lenses are obviously intended for people who suffer from AMD, there’s nothing to prevent a healthy person from wearing them and achieving better-than-human (superhuman?) vision.
An international team of researchers have created the first telescopic contact lens; a contact lens that, when it’s equipped, gives you the power to zoom your vision almost three times. Yes, this is the first ever example of a bionic eye that effectively gives you Superman-like eagle-eye vision.

As you can see in the photo above, the telescopic contact lens has two very distinct regions. The center of the lens allows light to pass straight through, providing normal vision. The outside edge, however, acts as a telescope capable of magnifying your sight by 2.8x. This is about the same as looking through a 100mm lens on a DSLR. For comparison, a pair of bird-watching binoculars might have a magnification of 15x. The examples shown in the image below give you a good idea of what a 2.8x optical zoom would look like in real life.

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Friday, June 28, 2013

What's Your Problem with Human Enhancement?

IEET - 6.27.13 by George Deane

There is another reason we might want to meddle with the work evolution has done so far; a discordance between human values and the values of evolution.
An ardent objection common to human enhancement and transhumanism is that it is both perilous and foolhardy to try to ‘play God’, or to question the wisdom of Mother Nature. As with most mental shortcuts, there is some truth in the ‘nature knows best’ argument. Cognitive enhancement, perhaps the most challenging and promising of all, is no mean feat. Na├»ve intervention into the mechanisms of the most complex system in the known universe could disrupt the delicately poised equilibrium struck by evolution over millions of years with unknown consequences.

"What are we here for if not to enjoy life eternal, solve what problems we can, give light, peace and joy to our fellow-man, and leave this dear fucked-up planet a little healthier than when we were born." - Henry Miller

Undoubtedly caution should be deployed, but isn’t outright disregard for the ‘unnatural’ both hasty and hypocritical? Tool making and technology is one of the things that sets human beings apart.

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Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Google: Immortality Is Approaching

NBC News - 6.17.13 by Cadle Thompson

Tech bringing immortality closer, Google expert says
GABRIEL BOUYS / AFP/Getty Images
Immortality may not be a reality yet, but rapidly evolving technology is making it more realistic, Google's engineering director says.

"The life expectancy was 20, 1,000 years ago. ... We doubled it in 200 years. This will go into high gear within 10 and 20 years from now, probably less than 15, we will be reaching that tipping point where we add more time than has gone by because of scientific progress," said Ray Kurzweil. "Somewhere between 10 and 20 years, there is going to be tremendous transformation of health and medicine."

By treating biology as software and reprogramming cells to treat diseases and other ailments, humans have already made tremendous progress in medicine, Kurzweil told the Global Future 2045 World Congress on Sunday.

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Tuesday, June 04, 2013

No More Cog in the Wheel, Now You'll Be a Node in the Internet

GigaOM - 6.3.13 by Kevin Fitchard

A group of French researchers believe that the sensors and transmitters we wear will route and relay data, not just collect it. We won’t just be connected to the network. We’ll be the network.
Photo: Shutterstock/higyou
Ever wonder what the network infrastructure of the future will be? Try looking in the mirror.

Some day our bodies — or at least the clothing or accessories that adorn them — could become key network nodes in the internet of things. European researchers think that sensors and transmitters on our bodies can be used to form cooperative ad hoc networks that could be used for group indoor navigation, crowd-motion capture, health monitoring on a massive scale and especially collaborative communications. Last week, French institute CEA-Leti and three French universities have launched the Cormoran project, which aims to explore the use of such cooperative interpersonal networks.

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Monday, June 03, 2013

Man Plans to be a Cyborg by 2045

New York Times - 6.1.13 by David Segal

What Mr. Itskov is striving for makes wearable computers, like Google Glass, seem as about as futuristic as Lincoln Logs.
GET right up close to Dmitry Itskov and sniff all you like — you will not pick up even the faintest hint of crazy. He is soft-spoken and a bit shy, but expansive once he gets talking, and endearingly mild-mannered. He never seems ruffled, no matter what question you ask. Even if you ask the obvious one, which he has encountered more than a few times since 2011, when he started “this project,” as he sometimes calls it.

Namely: Are you insane?

“I hear that often,” he said with a smile, over lunch one recent afternoon in Manhattan. “There are quotes from people like Arthur C. Clarke and Gandhi saying that when people come up with new ideas they’re called ‘nuts.’ Then everybody starts believing in the idea and nobody can remember a time when it seemed strange.”

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Monday, April 29, 2013

Brain-Computer Interface Coming Closer

New York Times - 4/28/13 by Nick Bilton

“The current brain technologies are like trying to listen to a conversation in a football stadium from a blimp,” said John Donoghue, a neuroscientist and director of the Brown Institute for Brain Science. “To really be able to understand what is going on with the brain today you need to surgically implant an array of sensors into the brain.” 
Last week, engineers sniffing around the programming code for Google Glass found hidden examples of ways that people might interact with the wearable computers without having to say a word. Among them, a user could nod to turn the glasses on or off. A single wink might tell the glasses to take a picture.

But don’t expect these gestures to be necessary for long. Soon, we might interact with our smartphones and computers simply by using our minds. In a couple of years, we could be turning on the lights at home just by thinking about it, or sending an e-mail from our smartphone without even pulling the device from our pocket. Farther into the future, your robot assistant will appear by your side with a glass of lemonade simply because it knows you are thirsty.

Researchers in Samsung’s Emerging Technology Lab are testing tablets that can be controlled by your brain, using a cap that resembles a ski hat studded with monitoring electrodes, the MIT Technology Review, the science and technology journal of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, reported this month.


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Sunday, March 03, 2013

Connecting Computers to your Brain, Wirelessly

Kurzweil News - 3.3.13

“This new wireless system addresses a major need for the next step in providing a practical brain-computer interface."
David A Borton et al./J. Neural Eng.

A team of neuroengineers at Brown University has developed a fully implantable and rechargeable wireless brain sensor capable of relaying real-time broadband signals from up to 100 neurons in freely moving subjects.

Several copies of the novel low-power device, described in the open-access Journal of Neural Engineering, have been performing well in animal models for more than year, a first in the brain-computer interface field.

Brain-computer interfaces could help people with severe paralysis control devices with their thoughts.

Neuroscientists can use such a device to observe, record, and analyze the signals emitted by scores of neurons in particular parts of the animal model’s brain.


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Thursday, February 21, 2013

Would You Take Advantage of Brain Implant Enhancements?

IEET - 2.19.13 by Dick Pelletier

More than 80,000 Parkinson's sufferers have found relief using a deep brain stimulator, and brain electronics were implanted into Alzheimer's patients this year in hopes to slow down this insidious killer.
Our brain is the source of everything that makes us human: language, creativity, rationality, emotion, communication, culture, and politics. Now, researchers are set to repair brain functions, to create mind-machine interfaces, and enhance human mental capacities in radical ways.

Today we enjoy basic conversations with our smartphone, desktop PC, games console, TV and, soon, our car; but voice recognition, many believe, should not be viewed as an endgame technology. Although directing electronics with voice and gestures may be considered state-of-the-art today, we will soon be controlling entertainment and communications equipment not by talking or waving; but just by thinking!

Forget Siri, if future-thinking researchers have their way, your brain could soon be chatting away on the phone. A new implant developed by UC-Berkeley neuroscientist, Robert Knight, could create a game-changing relationship between you and your machines. You may soon be able to transmit thoughts via the Internet using a translator chip implanted in the brain that converts thoughts into synthesized words.

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Saturday, February 02, 2013

Steering Spacecraft Via Mind-Meld (2 Brains Better Than 1)

New Scientist - 2.1.13 by Paul Marks

TURNS out two heads really are better than one. Two people have successfully steered a virtual spacecraft by combining the power of their thoughts - and their efforts were far more accurate than one person acting alone. One day groups of people hooked up to brain-computer interfaces (BCIs) might work together to control complex robotic and telepresence systems, maybe even in space.

A BCI system records the brain's electrical activity using EEG signals, which are detected with electrodes attached to the scalp. Machine-learning software learns to recognise the patterns generated by each user as they think of a certain concept, such as "left" or "right". BCIs have helped people with disabilities to steer a wheelchair, for example.

Researchers are discovering, however, that they get better results in some tasks by combining the signals from multiple BCI users. Until now, this "collaborative BCI" technique has been used in simple pattern-recognition tasks, but a team at the University of Essex in the UK wanted to test it more rigorously.


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Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Want a Whole New Body?

Futurizon - 12.17.12

Many engineers, including me, think that some time around 2050, we will be able to make very high quality links between the brains and machines. To such an extent that it will thereafter be possible (albeit expensive for some years) to arrange that most of your mind – your thinking, memories, even sensations and emotions, could reside mainly in the machine world. Some (perhaps some memories that are rarely remembered for example) may not be suited to such external accessibility, but the majority should be.

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 The main aim of this research area is to design electronic solutions to immortality. But actually, that is only one application, and I have discussed electronic immortality a few times now :

http://timeguide.wordpress.com/2012/01/29/how-to-live-forever/

http://timeguide.wordpress.com/2012/01/21/increasing-longevity-and-electronic-immortality-3bn-people-to-live-forever/

What I want to focus on this time is that you don’t have to die to benefit. If your mind is so well connected, you could inhabit a new body, without having to vacate your existing one. Furthermore, there really isn’t much to stop you getting a new body, using that, and dumping your old one in a life support system. You won’t do that, but you could. Either way, you could get a new body or an extra one, and as I asked in passing in my last blog, what will your new body look like?


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Sunday, October 28, 2012

Maybe We CAN Tell if We're in a Simulation

MIT Technology Review - October 10, 2012

One of modern physics' most cherished ideas is quantum chromodynamics, the theory that describes the strong nuclear force, how it binds quarks and gluons into protons and neutrons, how these form nuclei that themselves interact. This is the universe at its most fundamental.

So an interesting pursuit is to simulate quantum chromodynamics on a computer to see what kind of complexity arises. The promise is that simulating physics on such a fundamental level is more or less equivalent to simulating the universe itself.

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There are one or two challenges of course. The physics is mind-bogglingly complex and operates on a vanishingly small scale. So even using the world's most powerful supercomputers, physicists have only managed to simulate tiny corners of the cosmos just a few femtometers across. (A femtometer is 10^-15 metres.

That may not sound like much but the significant point is that the simulation is essentially indistinguishable from the real thing (at least as far as we understand it).

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