Tag Archives | Google

Google’s New Moonshot Project: the Human Body

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A brave new world beckons as Google boldly goes towards a new frontier… From the Wall Street Journal:

Google Inc. has embarked on what may be its most ambitious and difficult science project ever: a quest inside the human body.

Called Baseline Study, the project will collect anonymous genetic and molecular information from 175 people—and later thousands more—to create what the company hopes will be the fullest picture of what a healthy human being should be.

The early-stage project is run by Andrew Conrad, a 50-year-old molecular biologist who pioneered cheap, high-volume tests for HIV in blood-plasma donations.

Dr. Conrad joined Google X—the company’s research arm—in March 2013, and he has built a team of about 70-to-100 experts from fields including physiology, biochemistry, optics, imaging and molecular biology.

Other mass medical and genomics studies exist. But Baseline will amass a much larger and broader set of new data. The hope is that this will help researchers detect killers such as heart disease and cancer far earlier, pushing medicine more toward prevention rather than the treatment of illness.

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Media Roots Radio – Occupy Silicon Valley

Abby and Robbie Martin discuss the potentiality of an ‘Occupy Silicon Valley’ protest movement in a similar mold to ‘Occupy Oakland’ taking place in California’s San Francisco Bay Area. They address the ethical issues revolving around tech-companies like Facebook, Google, Apple, Microsoft, Soundcloud and debunk the notion that private corporations will install privacy safeguards on their own without the pressure of public consumer outrage. Robbie goes into the history of Silicon Valley’s roots, which tie directly to the Pentagon’s post-WWII defense industry private sector push.
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Yes, Google works with “former military operations people.” But they won’t tell us who, or from where

alg_google-flamesDo you trust Google? Consider this from PandoDaily:

Last week, I wrote about how Google’s working with a mysterious set of “former military operations people” on Project Loon  — the company’s zany and rather frightening attempt to have an army of WiFi/surveillance balloons that are constantly circling the globe way up in the atmosphere.

The information came via a report by Wired’s Steven Levy. Given Google’s history of close collaboration with the military-industrial complex, it wasn’t terribly surprising. Hell, Google’s DC office is crammed to the brim with former spooks, intelligence officials and revolving door military contractors.

But I was still curious: What kind of “former military operations people” are we talking about here? Are they on loan from a government agency? Are they private military contractors? Independent agents? And what country’s military did they come from?

So I put the question to Google’s PR department.

Google refused to confirm or deny the information, replying that “we don’t comment on specific personnel issues” and “sorry, but we don’t have any additional details to share.”

In other words: Yes, Google does work with “former military operations.” But as to who they are?

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The Right to be Forgotten

Body painting - Search boxMuch has been written this week about the so-called “Right to be Forgotten” in the wake of the Court of Justice of the European Union decision requiring Google to “listen and sometimes comply when individuals request the removal of links to newspaper articles or websites containing their personal information.

But what exactly is this “right”? Jeffrey Rosen, Professor of Law, The George Washington University and Legal Affairs Editor, The New Republic, wrote an article addressing exactly that question in the Stanford Law Review in 2012 (remember to think about who the author and publisher are!):

At the end of January, the European Commissioner for Justice, Fundamental Rights, and Citizenship, Viviane Reding, announced the European Commission’s proposal to create a sweeping new privacy right—the “right to be forgotten.” The right, which has been hotly debated in Europe for the past few years, has finally been codified as part of a broad new proposed data protection regulation.

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Google X Looked Into Building a Space Elevator

PIC: Superborusk (CC)

PIC: Superborusk (CC)

Richard DeVaul, the head of Google X’s Rapid Evaluation Team told Fast Company that the secretive lab had made some serious inquiries into the feasibility of building a space elevator:

Via Fast Company:

“It would be a massive capital investment,” he said in this month’s issue of Fast Company. But once this hypothetical machine was built, “it could take you from ground to orbit with a net of basically zero energy. It drives down the space-access costs, operationally, to being incredibly low.”

Unfortunately, our current technological landscape has its limitations:

The team knew the cable would have to be exceptionally strong– “at least a hundred times stronger than the strongest steel that we have,” by ­[Google X researcher Dan Piponi]’s calculations. He found one material that could do this: carbon nanotubes. But no one has manufactured a perfectly formed carbon nanotube strand longer than a meter. And so elevators “were put in a deep freeze,” as [Google X researcher Mitch Heinrich] says, and the team decided to keep tabs on any advances in the carbon nanotube field.

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Google’s CEO Larry Page on Improving the World, NSA, Security, and Tesla

via chycho

The following TED Talks interview with Google CEO Larry Page will either give you a warm fuzzy feeling all over, or turn your stomach making you feel nauseous to the point where you want to projectile vomit all over your screen.

Larry Page: Where’s Google going next?

I. Larry Page on Improving the World

Now don’t get me wrong, Google has done some good, but why are we expected to dismiss the bad? For example, when Larry Page so valiantly smiles and states that:

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OWS Founder Calls on Obama to Appoint Google’s Eric Schmidt ‘CEO of America’

Eric SchmidtOK, so who can sort this one out: the founder of Occupy Wall Street wants the President of the United States to resign and appoint her boss, Google’s Chairman Eric Schmidt, to a new post, CEO of America. The Guardian reports but let’s hear from you in the comments if any of it makes sense:

One of the co-founders of the Occupy Wall Street movement has called on Barack Obama to resign as president, and “appoint Eric Schmidt CEO of America”.

Justine Tunney, a self-styled “champagne tranarchist”, is now a software engineer at Google, but remains involved with Occupy Wall Street, through the occupywallst.org website, which she created.

In the petition, which currently has two signatures (a far cry from the 195,000 who follow the Occupy Wall Street twitter account Tunney started in 2011), she calls on Obama to arrange a national referendum to:

  1. Retire all government employees with full pensions.
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A Transhumanist Wants to Teach Kids That “Death Is Wrong”

Science Fiction League (March 1958) ... The Re...

Science Fiction League (March 1958) … The Real You (July 6, 2011 / 4 Tammuz 5771) … (Photo credit: marsmet541) (CC)

What do  you think disinfonaughts. Is death wrong, and should we teach the children that it is?

via Motherboard

Gennady Stolyarov is afraid to die, and not afraid to say so. He also strongly believes that human beings don’t have to die, or at least, will live much, much longer in the future. A writer and transhumanist activist, Stolyarov sees death as something that can be “solved” by technology and science, and one day it will possible to extend life indefinitely. To that end, he’s trying to buck the cultural perception that mortality is inevitable, and he’s starting with kids.

Stolyarov published the children’s book Death Is Wrong in November, and Zoltan Istvan, author of The Transhumanist Wager, unearthed the story in a post on Psychology Today. Now Stolyarov is promoting the book with an Indiegogo campaign, trying to crowdfund $5,000 to print and distribute 1,000 copies of the book and get the anti-death word out.

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Ray Kurzweil Wants to Make Google Sentient

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Man’s best friend?

What is smarter than hoovering up the personal information and innermost thoughts of every person on the planet and then stuffing it into a single database?  Creating an artificial intelligence system capable of understanding it.  From The Guardian:

Google has bought almost every machine-learning and robotics company it can find, or at least, rates. It made headlines two months ago, when it bought Boston Dynamics, the firm that produces spectacular, terrifyingly life-like military robots, for an “undisclosed” but undoubtedly massive sum. It spent $3.2bn (£1.9bn) on smart thermostat maker Nest Labs. And this month, it bought the secretive and cutting-edge British artificial intelligence startup DeepMind for £242m.

And those are just the big deals. It also bought Bot & Dolly, Meka Robotics, Holomni, Redwood Robotics and Schaft, and another AI startup, DNNresearch. It hired Geoff Hinton, a British computer scientist who’s probably the world’s leading expert on neural networks.… Read the rest

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The Coming Backlash Against Silicon Valley

facebookVia the Economist, Adrian Wooldridge on seeing the giant tech corporations for what they really are:

Geeks have turned out to be some of the most ruthless capitalists around. A few years ago the new economy was a wide-open frontier. Today it is dominated by a handful of tightly held oligopolies. Google and Apple provide over 90% of the operating systems for smartphones. Facebook counts more than half of North Americans and Europeans as its customers.

The lords of cyberspace have done everything possible to reduce their earthly costs. They employ remarkably few people: with a market cap of $290 billion Google is about six times bigger than GM but employs only around a fifth as many workers.

At the same time the tech tycoons have displayed a banker-like enthusiasm for hoovering up public subsidies and then avoiding taxes. The American government laid the foundations of the tech revolution by investing heavily in the creation of everything from the internet to digital personal assistants.

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