Tag Archives | Futurism
Louisa Walker via Den of Geek:
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Indiana Jones is a great movie character, but a terrible scientist. Here are 19 more for your consideration…
Scientists can get a bad rap in films and TV. As Sheldon from The Big Bang Theory utters “it’s amazing how many supervillains have advanced degrees.” They are often the source of a lot of the troubles that the heroes face, either through lab accidents or a slight megalomania problem. As science is being increasingly used in films to explain strange goings-on, I thought it worth looking for the examples of scientists in films who give our job a bad name.
So, some ground rules first.
The definition of “worst” in this list can relate to simply being bad at science. However, there is an inherent understanding in the world of science that your work should be conducted to an ethical code. Science in general is geared towards helping people or improving the world, through things such as finding ways to cure diseases or developing technology to make people’s lives easier.
Philippe Gastonne via The Daily Bell:
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A few lines in a seemingly routine RAND Corp. report on the future of technology and law enforcement last week raised a provocative question: Should police have the power to take control of a self-driving car?
Human drivers are required to pull over when a police officer gestures for them to do so. It’s reasonable to expect that self-driving cars would do the same. To look at it another way: Self-driving cars are programmed to stop at red lights and stop signs. Surely they should also be programmed to stop when a police officer flags them down. It is, after all, the law.
It’s clear, then, that police officers should have some power over the movements of self-driving cars. What’s less clear is where to draw the line. If a police officer can command a self-driving car to pull over for his own safety and that of others on the road, can he do the same if he suspects the passenger of a crime?
By piecing together an increasing number of clues, cosmologists are getting closer to understanding what the future and ultimate fate of the universe will be. And I’m afraid the news is not good. Star formation will cease and black holes will take over until they eventually evaporate into nothingness. There could even be a “Big Rip” on the horizon. But for those who don’t mind waiting another 101050 years or so, things may start to look up as a number of bizarre events could take place.
But before we consider random events in the very far future, let’s start with what we know about the past and the present.
The reason we can investigate the past evolution of the universe is that, in some regards, astronomy is analogous to archaeology.… Read the rest
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Since the end of World War Two the Central Intelligence Agency has been a major force in US and foreign news media, exerting considerable influence over what the public sees, hears and reads on a regular basis. CIA publicists and journalists alike will assert they have few, if any, relationships, yet the seldom acknowledged history of their intimate collaboration indicates a far different story–indeed, one that media historians are reluctant to examine.
When seriously practiced, the journalistic profession involves gathering information concerning individuals, locales, events, and issues. In theory such information informs people about their world, thereby strengthening “democracy.” This is exactly the reason why news organizations and individual journalists are tapped as assets by intelligence agencies and, as the experiences of German journalist Udo Ulfkotte (entry 47 below) suggest, this practice is at least as widespread today as it was at the height of the Cold War.
Ethan Indigo Smith via Waking Times:
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“Just because you do not take an interest in politics doesn’t mean politics won’t take an interest in you.” ~ Pericles
Everything is ultimately political these days, but everything is firstly biological. Yet, ignoring our biology and our humanity, the military-industrial complex, with all its toxic modalities, still claims to operate in our best interests.
The fact is, modern politics has become the imposition of institutional formality where individuals and truth once were. Increasingly favoring institutional privilege over individual rights, politicians on all sides of the game act to reinforce and advance the standing of corporations at the expense of our physical world. They embark on resource wars for profit, destroy our environment for energy, construe zealotry as patriotism, and steer a culture of social competition – not cooperation – all the while hiding behind veils of secrecy and meaningless rhetoric.
It does not matter what caste you were born into, whether you are wealthy or poor, victor or victim of the system; as far as the big picture goes, we live in a world where commerce, politics and war are dominant and inseparable forces.
Transhumanism, the movement which aims to use science fiction-esque methods such as brain uploading, cyborgism, and cryogenics to achieve immortality and/or a higher state of evolution, is strongly associated with atheism. Not only is there a strong emphasis on science, which is often considered to be at odds with religion to a certain extent, but this particular brand of science seems particularly opposed to the notion that God should have control over life and death. But according to transhumanist Micah Redding, there’s a growing contingent of Christians in the transhumanist movement who are seeking a slightly different type of eternal life than the one touted in the Bible.
In a recent article for Motherboard, Redding, who is the executive director of the Christian Transhumanist Organization, claims that religion and transhumanism are much more compatible than most people believe, and that the Christian transhumanism movement is growing rapidly.… Read the rest
Paul Saffo via Pacific Standard:
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The latest entry in a special project in which business and labor leaders, social scientists, technology visionaries, activists, and journalists weigh in on the most consequential changes in the workplace.
This is not the first time society has fretted over the impact of ever-smarter machines on jobs and work—and not the first time we have overreacted. In the Depression-beset 1930s, labor Jeremiahs warned that robots would decimate American factory jobs. Three decades later, mid-1960s prognosticators offered a hopeful silver lining to an otherwise apocalyptic assessment of automation’s dark cloud: the displacement of work and workers would usher in a new “leisure society.”
Reality stubbornly ignored 1930s and 1960s expectations. The robots of extravagant imagination never arrived. There was ample job turbulence but as Keynes forecast in 1930, machines created more jobs than they destroyed. Boosted by a World War, unemployment dropped from a high of 25 percent in 1933 to under two percent in 1944.
“Every now and then an idea comes along that upends how we see ourselves and our place in the cosmos. The rumblings of the next revolutions in our thinking may already have started. Here are four potential ‘what ifs’ with the potential to change us forever.”
Paul Gilster via Centauri Dreams:
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Martin Tajmar (Dresden University of Technology) offers a paper entitled “Direct Thrust Measurements of an EmDrive and Evaluation of Possible Side-Effects” in his presentation on apparent thrust produced by the test device. As he told WIRED (which announced that The ‘impossible’ EmDrive could reach Pluto in 18 months), the current work will not close the story. From the paper itself:
The nature of the thrusts observed is still unclear… Our test campaign can not confirm or refute the claims of the EmDrive but intends to independently assess possible side-effects in the measurements methods used so far. Nevertheless, we do observe thrusts close to the magnitude of the actual predictions after eliminating many possible error sources that should warrant further investigation into the phenomena. Next steps include better magnetic shielding, further vacuum tests and improved EmDrive models with higher Q factors and electronics that allow tuning for optimal operation.