Nick Bostrom & Ray Kurzweil – Could Our Universe Be a Fake?

A word from the experts…

Robert Lawrence Kuhn, creator and host, “Closer To Truth” via Space.com:

It’s like the movie “The Matrix,” Bostrom said, except that “instead of having brains in vats that are fed by sensory inputs from a simulator, the brains themselves would also be part of the simulation. It would be one big computer program simulating everything, including human brains down to neurons and synapses.”

Bostrom is not saying that humanity is living in such a simulation. Rather, his “Simulation Argument” seeks to show that one of three possible scenarios must be true (assuming there are other intelligent civilizations):

  1. All civilizations become extinct before becoming technologically mature;
  2. All technologically mature civilizations lose interest in creating simulations;
  3. Humanity is literally living in a computer simulation.

His point is that all cosmic civilizations either disappear (e.g., destroy themselves) before becoming technologically capable, or all decide not to generate whole-world simulations (e.g., decide such creations are not ethical, or get bored with them).

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Human Rights Organisation Calls for Decriminalizing Prostitution

el-toro (CC BY 2.0)

el-toro (CC BY 2.0)

Michaela Whitton via antimedia:

(ANTIMEDIAUnited Kingdom —Amnesty International is facing an intense backlash after announcing its intention to adopt a policy supporting the decriminalization of sex work. The organisation’s recently released “Draft Policy on Sex Work” will be considered at Amnesty’s main decision making forum, the International Council Meeting (ICM), in Dublin later this week.

The policy essentially endorses the full decriminalization of the sex industry, including the legalisation of pimps, brothels and the purchase of sex. It also acknowledges that Amnesty’s position on trafficking and the criminalisation of forced prostitution has not changed.

Within 24 hours of the proposed policy being announced, an international grassroots campaign was launched urging Amnesty to stand with those exploited in the sex trade. A wave of scathing criticism and dismay was unleashed by an array of human rights groups, celebrities, and organisations.

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Ahimsa for All the Cecil-the-Lions of the World

This post originally appeared on Consciousness is Everything.

The Cecil the Lion issue happening in the news has had a predictably polarizing effect. Here’s what this swami thinks. Below I quote a Facebook friend who prompted me to address the issue:

I don’t understand the desire to kill an animal for sport. It’s not an accomplishment; you’ve got a gun.

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My response:

I understand it. I disapprove, but I understand. As a kid with a bb gun, a logical leap (even if based on poor logic) of testing my skills was shooting birds. The first time I ever shot a bird, it was a robin. When I had hit it, I ran up to it and picked it up. Seeing and feeling this other creature die in my hands because of me, my stomach sank and I knew everything about it was wrong. But I also had this conflicting sense of urgency to hone hunting and survival skills; for what reason I don’t know.… Read the rest

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Army Has Plans For Real, Live Killer Robot Swarms

Leading scientists including Stephen Hawking, Elon Musk, and Steve Wozniak penned an open letter last week demanding a ban on autonomous weapons (i.e. killer robots). If the smartest minds of our time are demanding this, shouldn’t we think about it? On top of that, new information has come forward that the military is planning to have killer robots that act in swarms by 2050. They would be devoid of human oversight and act as judge, jury, and execution. This video by Redacted Tonight puts a little comedy into the subject – but that doesn’t mean this is a joke! 

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From kitsch to Park Avenue: the cultural history of the plastic pink flamingo

Ryan Hyde (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Don Featherstone, the creator of the iconic lawn ornament, died in June. Ryan Hyde (CC BY-SA 2.0)

In 1957, a 21-year-old art school graduate named Don Featherstone created his second major design for the Massachusetts-based lawn and garden decoration manufacturer Union Products: a three-dimensional plastic pink flamingo propped up by two thin, metal legs that could be plunged into soft dirt.

Featherstone’s duck and flamingo ornaments sold in pairs for US$2.76, and were advertised as “Plastics for the Lawn.” They became simultaneously popular and derided in the late 1950s and remain a recognizable species of American material culture.

Featherstone died this past June, but over five decades after he submitted his design, the plastic pink flamingo continues to grace American lawns and homes. While many are quick to label the plastic ornament as the epitome of kitsch, the flamingo has actually taken a rather tumultuous flight through an ever-changing landscape of taste and class.… Read the rest

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The Future Will Be Full of Lab Grown Meat

Here’s another one of those lab-grown meat boosting articles, this time from Gizmodo. I think I’ll stick to tofu.

In 2013, the world’s first lab-grown burger was unveiled to the world. It carried a $330,000 price tag, and apparently, it wasn’t all that tasty. But the scientists behind the idea have been hard at work, and artificial meat that’s both cost-effective and palatable may arrive sooner than we think.

Meat-grinder-30701283801918LoLK

It’s not just cow-free beef burgers on the future menu — several groups around the world are attempting to clone chicken breasts and fish fillets, as well. Why do scientists want to grow meat in vats instead of on animals, and how close are we to actually accomplishing it?

The Big Resource Hog

The arguments for growing so-called ‘cultured’ meat are as wide-ranging as the reasons people decide to become vegetarian or vegan. If you’re not vegetarian or vegan, you’ve probably received a mouthful on this subject from a friend or family member before, so I’m going to keep it brief and focus on the argument cultured meat proponents seem to embrace the most: Sustainability.

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Walter Palmer’s Options: Freedom, Prison in Zimbabwe, or Suicide?

walter palmer

Patrick Quinlan, author of Sexbot, runs down our favorite dentist’s options. Originally published in  Thee Optimist.

You don’t need me to tell you about Walter Palmer, do you?

In case you’ve been living at the bottom of a deep well, he’s the American dentist that paid over $50,000 to hunt and kill a beautiful, regal male lion named Cecil, who lived under protection in a Zimbabwean national park.

For our American audience, Zimbabwe is a country in Africa. Africa is a continent, kind of like Europe or Asia. There is no country simply called “Africa.”

And as an aside, the country known as “Mexico” is located in North America. Yes.

Geography is damn confusing. I know it.

So the hunt for Cecil the Lion took place at night, with a spotlight. Walter Palmer and his Zimbabwean guide tied a dead animal to their jeep. The smell of fresh meat lured Cecil off protected lands, at which point Palmer shot Cecil with a bow and arrow.… Read the rest

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Capitalism-Loving Disease: Xinjiang’s hidden HIV epidemic

Raising community awareness of HIV/AIDS in China, 2006. Photo: AusAID via Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Australia

Raising community awareness of HIV/AIDS in China, 2006. Photo: AusAID via Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Australia

Casey Halter via Hopes&Fears:

Last January, one of Western China’s foremost HIV/AIDS advocates was arrested by the People’s Republic of China on charges of “endangering state security.” Human rights activists say no one has heard from—or about—him ever since.

The man who disappeared was Akbar Imin, one of the country’s 11-15 million Muslim Uyghur minorities, a Turkic-speaking ethnic population located on the fringes of secular Chinese society. Born in the Xinjiang Autonomous Region in China’s far Northwest, Imin had been working since 2009 for the PRC government’s Development Research Center in Beijing, tasked with gearing up drug abuse and HIV/AIDS prevention strategies among Uyghur migrants in the nation’s capital up until he was thrown in jail.

Official reports about Akbar Imin’s detainment didn’t even come out until two full months after his arrest, Greg Fay, project manager at the Washington D.C.-based Uyghur Human Rights Project, told Hopes&Fears.

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