Author Archive | dangerousmeme

Nothing Relieves the Pain Like a Few Benjamins

Who cares if money can't buy you love? It can still be your BFF. Jay MacDonald writes:

Who cares if money can’t buy you love? It can still be your best friend forever.

That’s one of the surprising findings in a new Chinese-American academic research paper, “The Symbolic Power of Money,” published in the journal Psychological Science.

Like any best friend forever, money demonstrated to researchers its ability to soothe us, reduce our sense of social exclusion and even lessen life’s painful moments.

As researcher Xinyue Zhou of the psychology department at Sun Yat-Sen University in Guangzhou, China, puts it, money acts as a substitute for another of life’s pain buffers: love.

“I was surprised,” says Katherine Vohs, co-author and marketing professor at the University of Minnesota’s Carlson School of Management. “The findings were surprising because no one had connected the symbolic meaning of money to pain. The money wasn’t buying the subjects more friends or a soothing cream; it was only psychologically helpful.”

Like any best friend forever worthy of the BFF acronym.

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Machines Can Be Conscious in the Same Sense as Humans

Ben Goertzel, H+
Can bots feel joy? Robot heads being programed to feel emotion

This is a separate question from whether machines can be intelligent, or whether they can act like they feel. The question is whether machines — if suitably constructed and programmed — can have awareness, passion, subjective experience … consciousness?

I certainly think so, but generally speaking there is no consensus among experts. It’s fair to say that — even without introducing machines into the picture — consciousness is without doubt one of the most confused notions in the lexicon of modern science and philosophy.

Given the thorny and contentious nature of the subject, I’m not quite sure why I took it upon myself to organize a workshop on Machine Consciousness… but earlier this year, that’s exactly what I did. The Machine Consciousness Workshop was held on June 14, in Hong Kong, as part of the larger Toward a Science of Consciousness conference and Asia Consciousness Festival. The TSC conference as a whole attracted hundreds of participants, but only a couple dozen deigned to venture into the riskier domain of machine consciousness.

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Increase In ‘Academic Doping’ Could Spark Routine Student Drug Tests


The increasing use of smart drugs or “nootropics,” to boost academic performance, could mean that exam students will face routine doping tests in future, suggests an article in the Journal of Medical Ethics.

Despite raising many dilemmas about the legitimacy of chemically enhanced academic performance, these drugs will be near impossible to ban, says Vince Cakic of the Department of Psychology, University of Sydney.

He draws several parallels with doping in competitive sports, where it is suggested that “95%” of elite athletes have used performance enhancing drugs.

“It is apparent that the failures and inconsistencies inherent in anti doping policy in sport will be mirrored in academia unless a reasonable and realistic approach to the issue of nootropics is adopted,” he claims.

But what this should be is far from clear, especially given the ready availability of these types drugs for therapeutic use, says Mr Cakic, conjuring up the prospect of urine tests for exam students.

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‘Invisibility Cloak’ Could Protect Against Earthquakes

ScienceDaily :

Research at the University of Liverpool has shown it is possible to develop an ‘invisibility cloak’ to protect buildings from earthquakes.

The seismic waves produced by earthquakes include body waves which travel through the earth and surface waves which travel across it. The new technology controls the path of surface waves which are the most damaging and responsible for much of the destruction which follows earthquakes.

The technology involves the use of concentric rings of plastic which could be fitted to the Earth’s surface to divert surface waves. By controlling the stiffness and elasticity of the rings, waves travelling through the ‘cloak’ pass smoothly into the material and are compressed into small fluctuations in pressure and density. The path of the surface waves can be made into an arc that directs the waves outside the protective cloak. The technique could be applied to buildings by installing the rings into foundations.… Read the rest

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Census Reveals Extinction Threat

Koala bearBBC News reports:

Almost 10% of the World’s mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians and fish are at risk of extinction, says an Australian report.

The animals face threats including habitat loss and climate change.

The report comes from Australia’s Biological Resources Study, a project aiming to document all of the planet’s known animal and plant species.

The study found that almost 1% of the World’s 1.9 million classified species were threatened. This included 9.2% of major vertebrate species.

The publication, Numbers of Living Species in Australia and the World, is part of a major effort to document the entire planet’s animal and plant life.

Almost 5% of reptiles were considered threatened, along with 4% of fish species.

Peter Garrett, Australian Minister for the Environment, Heritage and the Arts, said: “We need this essential information to do a better job of managing our biodiversity against the threats of invasive species, habitat loss and climate change.”

Mr Garrett also announced a partnership between the the Australian Biological Resources Study, and the mining company BHP Billiton to name and describe 500 reef species over the next three years.

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