Tag Archives | Futurism

Longer Lives and the Alleged Tedium of Immortality

Bernard Williams - argued that immortality would be tedious

Bernard Williams – argued that immortality would be tedious

Originally published on Philosophical Disquisitions

Back in 1973, Bernard Williams published an article about the desirability of immortality. The article was entitled “The Makropulos Case: Reflections on the Tedium of Immortality”. The article used the story of Elina Makropulos — from Janacek’s opera The Makropulos Affair — to argue that immortality would not be desirable. According to the story, Elina Makropulos is given the elixir of life by her father. The elixir allows Elina to live for three hundred years at her current biological age. After this period has elapsed, she has to choose whether to take the elixir again and live for another three hundred. She takes it once, lives her three hundred years, and then chooses to die rather than live another three hundred. Why? Because she has become bored with her existence.

Of course, this is just a story, but Williams thinks that it makes a serious point.… Read the rest

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Ray Kurzweil receives Technical Grammy Award for lifetime achievement in music technology


Via KurzweilAI

Ray Kurzweil will receive the 2015 Technical Grammy Award for his lifetime of work in the field of music technology.

One of his primary inventions paved the way for re-creating acoustic instruments with electronic equivalents.

The Technical Grammy Award is a Special Merit Award presented by vote of the National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences Trustees, for contributions of outstanding technical significance to the recording field.

Grammy Foundation | Technical Grammy Award recipient Ray Kurzweil

Ray Kurzweil is a best selling author, futurist, computer scientist and inventor. He is a current director of engineering at Google. Kurzweil is credited as the principal innovator of omni-font optical character recognition, text to speech synthesis and speech recognition technology.

He founded Kurzweil Music Systems in 1982 and in 1984 introduced the Kurzweil K250, the first computer based instrument that could realistically re-create the musical response of a grand piano and other orchestra instruments.

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The Nature of Mind and the Holographic Brain

Ardonik (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Ardonik (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Via War is a Crime

The purpose of this article is to provide evidence that strongly indicates that you are not your brain, or your body for that matter, and that the nature of mind, of memory, and of our brains may actually be vastly different than we have been lead to believe.

Since time immemorial, man has been fascinated by the mind, leading great thinkers from Hippocrates to Descartes to ponder the nature of mind with wonder. Fast forward to modern times and observe how the mind is still revered and is dominating our culture. We have a lot of firm beliefs about the nature of mind, and I believe the ego — our limited perception of ourselves — and thus human ignorance, is intricately tied in with these beliefs.

But the truth of the matter is that we only understand a fraction of the mind’s potential, i.e.

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Immortality at the Click of a Mouse?

epSos .de (CC BY 2.0)

epSos .de (CC BY 2.0)

Via BrainBlogger:

Human beings have always longed for immortality. Magic potions, fountains of youth and time travelling are just some of the ideas found in fantasy and science fiction. However, the digital world is not lagging far behind. If we want to become immortal we now have another option: when we pass away we can leave our digital being behind.

That is what is being claimed by the start-up project Eterni.me. Developed as part of MIT’s Entrepreneurship Development Program, it already has thousands of registered users.

Eterni.me is a project that could integrate all the information we have produced online and use it to create a digital simulation of us as individuals. Our discourses, our possible answers to questions, and even characteristics such as our voice could become part of our digital avatar. If taken further, these kinds of digital technologies could one day even be used to develop videos or some kind of holograms of us once we are dead.

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Astronomers Simulate Universe and Galaxies on Cosmology Machine

Part of a simulated galaxy, with magnified views (credit: Joop Schaye et al.)

Part of a simulated galaxy, with magnified views (credit: Joop Schaye et al.)

Via Kurzweil AI:

An international team of astronomers has developed a simulation of the universe in which realistic galaxies are created — their mass, size, and age are similar to those of observed galaxies.

Previous computer simulations had limited success because their simulations were too old, too spherical, and either too massive or too small.

In the new study, by astronomers based at Durham University and Leiden University in the Netherlands, the galaxies formed in the EAGLE-simulation (Evolution and Assembly of GaLaxies and their Environments) are a much closer facsimile of real galaxies, thanks to modeling strong galactic winds.

Powered by stars, supernova explosions, and supermassive black holes, the winds blow away the gas supply needed for the formation of stars. As a result, EAGLE’s galaxies are also lighter and younger because fewer stars form and they form later.

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The internet is so damn unpleasant. Do we need fewer humans and more bots?

Jess Zimmerbots

Jess Zimmerbot’s Twitter Photo

Jess Zimmerman writes at the Guardian:

In a welcome sign of the coming singularity, Buzzfeed just announced that it has built a sentence generator that mimics the turgid writing style of New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman. The auto-Friedman, which also posts to Twitter as @mot_namdeirf, operates on a principle called Markov chaining; essentially, it strings together chunks of Friedman sentences based on how often words tend to appear together.

Friedman isn’t the only writer with a Twitter bot. I’ve got one too, made using a Markov chain-related program and my tweet archives. The guy who made it, Brett O’Connor, made bots for a number of other people I know, and most of us follow each other’s. (Most of our bots follow each others’ bots, leading to some gloriously weird bot-on-bot conversations.) Interacting with the bots is a surreal experience; they seem to develop their own personalities and priorities, distinct from their parent tweeters.

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Controversial DNA startup wants to let customers create creatures

Stuart Caie (CC BY 2.0)

Stuart Caie (CC BY 2.0)

Via SFGate:

In Austen Heinz’s vision of the future, customers tinker with the genetic codes of plants and animals and even design new creatures on a computer. Then his startup, Cambrian Genomics, prints that DNA quickly, accurately and cheaply.

“Anyone in the world that has a few dollars can make a creature, and that changes the game,” Heinz said. “And that creates a whole new world.”

The 31-year-old CEO has a deadpan demeanor that can be hard to read, but he is not kidding. In a makeshift laboratory in San Francisco, his synthetic biology company uses lasers to create custom DNA for major pharmaceutical companies. Its mission, to “democratize creation” with minimal to no regulation, frightens bioethicists as deeply as it thrills Silicon Valley venture capitalists.

With the latest technology and generous funding, a growing number of startups are taking science and medicine to the edge of science fiction.

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Are volcanoes the energy source of the future?

NASA Goddard Space Flight Center (CC BY 2.0)

NASA Goddard Space Flight Center (CC BY 2.0)

via CNBC:

The Reykjanes Peninsula, a finger of black rock jutting out over the Mid-Atlantic Ridge from Iceland’s southwestern coast, has long leveraged its unique volcanic geology into economic opportunity. Its spectacularly carved edifices and vast lava fields draw naturalists from around the globe, while geothermal pools heated by deposits of steam and magma deep below ground provide the anchor for a thriving resort economy.

The region is even powered by this geology; the 12 geothermal wells feeding 600-degree steam into the two turbines at Reykjanes Power Station provide a collective 100 megawatts of power for the surrounding area, enough to power many tens of thousands of homes.

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World’s largest tidal energy power plant (269 turbines) to begin construction in Scotland

overgraeme (CC BY 2.0)

overgraeme (CC BY 2.0)

via Treehugger:

When you think about it, it’s really Moon power!

The MeyGen tidal project in Scotland will be the largest tidal power plant in the world once operational. Atlantis, the Australian company that is building it has just received the green light from the government and construction should begin this month. The tidal project will be located in an area that lies in the channel (“Inner Sound”) between the island of Stroma and the north easterly tip of the Scottish mainland, encompassing almost 3.5 square-km of fast flowing water.

When MeyGen is fully operational, it should have 269 turbines that produce 398MW of clean energy, generating enough electricity to power 175,000 Scottish homes.

Here’s a map showing where the turbines will be:

Atlantis/Promo image

Atlantis/Promo image

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