Author Archive | JacobSloan

Choosing An Autonomous Ethics System For Your Robot

In ten years, how will the machines that run your daily existence respond when confronted with life-or-death decisions? Matthieu Cherubini at the Royal College of Art offers prototypes of Humanist, Protector, and Profit-Based moral parameters for self-driving cars:

Many car manufacturers are projecting that by 2025 most cars will operate on driveless systems. How can such systems be designed to accommodate the complicatedness of ethical and moral reasoning? Just like choosing the color of a car, ethics can become a commodified feature in autonomous vehicles that one can buy, change, and repurchase, depending on personal taste.

Three distinct algorithms have been created – each adhering to a specific ethical principle/behaviour set-up – and embedded into driverless virtual cars that are operating in a simulated environment, where they will be confronted with ethical dilemmas.

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Cross Miraculously Appears Inside Sliced Potato In Albuquerque

New Mexico’s KOAT has your daily dose of irrefutable evidence of the divine hand at work on Earth:

An anonymous Action 7 News viewer sent in a photo of a sliced potato divided by what he calls Lenten crosses. The viewer wishes to remain anonymous. The potato sighting is far from the first time viewers have claimed to see the divine in everyday objects and things.

potato

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A 1969 Visit To The Shoreditch Experimental Music School

Welcome to the Shoreditch Experimental Music School – I would give anything to have had an elementary school experience along these lines. This amazing Peter Fletcher-hosted BBC program from 1969 reveals the cutting edge of experimental art education. Highlights include kids learning about tape loops, a music piece about the concept of heat, and a deeply disturbing masked group performance about cholera death:

Children from infant, secondary modern & comprehensive schools apply methods of contemporary music, including demonstrations of simple tape & electronic techniques. The children discuss with teacher how different sounds may be produced and experiment with electric circuits and loops on the tape recorder.

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On Self-Consciousness And Revolution

typeGlimpses from a fascinating interview which the New Statesman conducted with Adam Curtis on the state of our culture:

When everyone is self-conscious you are stuck in your place, because you’re always aware of everything, and you will never make the big leap like falling in love or creating a revolution or doing anything really radical because you are so aware of yourself…we think we are somewhere radical but actually we are deeply, deeply, deeply conservative at the moment. And what has a veneer of radicalism is actually possibly the most conservative force at the moment. By that I mean radical culture…[is] stuck with a nostalgia for a radicalism of the past and that’s not the radicalism that’s necessary.”

I have a theory that people might get fed up with computers, quite simply. I think the interesting thing about the Edward Snowden case is it makes you realise how much the cloud thing on the Internet is a surveillance system.

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Gazing Inside The Deep State That Controls The American Empire

pentagonVia BillMoyers.com, Mike Lofgren describes the branches of the structure that actually rules us:

Yes, there is another government concealed behind the one that is visible at either end of Pennsylvania Avenue, a hybrid entity of public and private institutions ruling the country according to consistent patterns in season and out, connected to, but only intermittently controlled by, the visible state whose leaders we choose.

As a congressional staff member for 28 years specializing in national security and possessing a top secret security clearance, I was at least on the fringes of the world I am describing. Like virtually every employed person, I became, to some extent, assimilated into the culture of the institution I worked for.

The Deep State is a hybrid of national security and law enforcement agencies: the Department of Defense, the Department of State, the Department of Homeland Security, the Central Intelligence Agency and the Justice Department.

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Pot-Smoking Teenagers Do Better In School Than Cigarette Smokers

drug_teensAre you telling me that drugs don’t ruin your life? Canada’s CTV News reports:

Students who only smoke marijuana do better at school than classmates who smoke just tobacco, says a new study, which tracked substance use among teens over 30 years.

Researchers from the University of Toronto’s Dalla Lana School of Public Health analyzed data from a survey administered to nearly 39,000 Ontario students between 1981 and 2011. The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health asked students in Grades 7, 9 and 11 about their tobacco and marijuana use, and their academic performance.

The study found that marijuana-only users did better at school than their counterparts who smoked only cigarettes or who smoked both cigarettes and marijuana. Marijuana users don’t outperform non-users, Chaiton says.

“Social norms have changed and the population of people who use marijuana are more like the general population.”

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How Magic Mushrooms Alter Your Brain

magic mushroomsVia Ultraculture, Jason Louv on how magic mushrooms temporarily quiet portions of the brain that normally constrain us:

According to two new studies released this week, psilocybin mushrooms apparently work by decreasing activity in key areas of the brain, rather than increasing it. Blood flow decreases to the medical prefrontal cortex (mPFC) and posterior cingulate cortex (PCC). Overactivity in the mPFC is associated with depression, one reason why psilocybin can be associated with antidepressant effects; the PCC is often associated with consciousness and identity.

Researchers suggest that what may actually be happening with psychedelics is decreased blood flow to brain areas that constrain our sensory experience of the world and our sense of identity—allowing the brain to relax its grip on ordering reality and open up to a broader spectrum.

Professor David Nutt, from the Department of Medicine at Imperial College London, said: “We found that psilocybin actually caused activity to decrease in areas that… constrain our experience of the world and keep it orderly.

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Nearly 1,000 Workers Have Already Died Building Qatar’s World Cup Infastructure

qatarOur global sporting championship has a higher blood toll than the Hunger Games. Via the Smithsonian:

In 2022, Qatar will host the World Cup. Since 2012, about 900 workers have died while working on infrastructure in Qatar, in a building boom anticipating the World Cup.

A report by the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) says that if conditions don’t get any better, by the time the World Cup kicks off, at least 4,000 migrant workers will have died on the job. For comparison, only six workers have died during construction for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil that starts this summer.

Workers described forced labour in 50C (122F) heat, employers who retain salaries for several months and passports making it impossible for them to leave and being denied free drinking water. The investigation found sickness is endemic among workers living in overcrowded and insanitary conditions and hunger has been reported.

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The Ancient Art Of Self-Induced Hallucination

colorVia Nautilus, Rose Eveleth on meditation as an ancient method of harnessing one’s senses to open new doors of perception:

After five years of practicing meditation, subject number 99003 began to see the lights: “My eyes were closed, [and] there would be what appeared to be a moon-shaped object in my consciousness directly above me… When I let go I was totally enveloped inside this light… I was seeing colors and lights and all kinds of things going on… Blue, purple, red.”

Buddhist literature refers to lights and visions in myriad ways. The Theravada tradition refers to nimitta, an vision of a series of lights seen during meditation that can be taken to represent everything from the meditator’s pure mind to a visual symbol of a real object.

Hallucinations are relatively well-documented in the world of sensory deprivation, and they dovetail with the lights seen by meditators. Where meditators see shimmering ropes, electrical sparks, and rays of light, the sensory deprived might see visual snow, bright sunsets, and luminous fog.

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