… Read the rest
In Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, the Philip K. Dick novel that inspired the film Blade Runner, a bounty hunter pursues a group of androids who have been posing as human beings. He is eventually arrested and accused of being an android himself. The officers bring him to what turns out to be a counterfeit police station run entirely by androids, not all of whom are aware that they aren’t human.
“What do you do,” one of the robocops asks him, “roam around killing people and telling yourself they’re androids?”
It’s a complicated situation. But then, androids play a complicated role in Dick’s fiction. On the most obvious level, they represent the inhuman and the mechanical: People have empathy and will, while robots are rigid and soulless. It’s a familiar division in science fiction, though some storytellers prefer to put other monsters in the androids’ place.
Tag Archives | Science & Technology
The march of time spares none, neither rich, famous nor powerful. The deep, existential angst that comes part and parcel with that knowledge has, no doubt, haunted mankind from the very first moment we became self-aware. It’s also the one obstacle we’ve encountered as a species we just take for granted as the unassailable natural order of things.
It’s incredible really- we’ve walked the moon, we fly across the world and we transmit words through the air as if it’s trivial. Yet, for some reason when it comes to aging, we yield. Even the most brilliant men among us don’t consider the possibility that we might be able to circumvent becoming old and dying.
Actually, some brilliant men do.
Lizette Borreli via Medical Daily:
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Like clockwork, every night at 2 a.m. the house would ring out with gasps for air, cries for help, and screams. My parents, all too familiar with these frightening sounds, would brace themselves for what would be one of many sleepless nights. Those nights filled with terrifying images and haunting sounds never went away for me.
Fourteen years later, I found myself within the confines of the Sleep Disorder Institute in New York, looking for answers to why I still wake myself up screaming in terror.
1. Night Terrors Exposed
The rare sleep disorder goes by many names: night terrors, sleep terrors, pavor nocturnus, or AXIS I: 307.46 (The DSM’s code). It remains a medical mystery. What medical researchers do know is that night terrors are caused by an over-arousal of the central nervous system (CNS) during sleep. In children, this may be the result of the CNS still maturing — it has long been believed that the CNS’s maturation process ends in early childhood (although several recent studies suggest it may continue to develop through around age 25).
Aaron Sankin via The Kernel:
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Bruce Black had been preparing for this moment for most of his life.
Growing up, he always wanted to be a pilot. After graduating from New Mexico State University in 1984 with a degree in geology, Black was commissioned as an officer in the Air Force. He spent years as an instructor pilot before quitting to join the FBI, where he specialized in chasing down white-collar criminals, but the pull of military was too strong. He eventually found himself in the air above Afghanistan.
Black flew constantly. Once, in the spring of 2007, Black’s job was to serve as another set of eyes high above a firefight happening on the ground. An Army convoy had been patrolling near a site of a previous strike and gotten ambushed by Taliban fighters while returning to base. Black was acting as a crucial communications relay, sending life-and-death updates back and forth from the men and women on the ground to the Pentagon and a network of support staff located around the world through the military’s version of the Internet.
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What is life?
When Erwin Schrödinger posed this question in 1944, in a book of the same name, he was 57 years old. He had won the Nobel in Physics eleven years earlier, and was arguably past his glory days. Indeed, at that time he was working mostly on his ill-fated “Unitary Field Theory.” By all accounts, the publication of “What is Life?”—venturing far outside of a theoretical physicist’s field of expertise—raised many eyebrows. How presumptuous for a physicist to take on one of the deepest questions in biology! But Schrödinger argued that science should not be compartmentalized:
“Some of us should venture to embark on a synthesis of facts and theories, albeit with second-hand and incomplete knowledge of some of them—and at the risk of making fools of ourselves.”
Schrödinger’s “What is Life” has been extraordinarily influential, in one part because he was one of the first who dared to ask the question seriously, and in another because it was the book that was read by a good number of physicists—famously both Francis Crick and James Watson independently, but also many a member of the “Phage group,” a group of scientists that started the field of bacterial genetics—and steered them to new careers in biology.
Transhumanist, Zoltan Istvan joins Midwest Real.
When it comes right down to it, we have absolutely no idea what the future will hold. Yet, between 2014’s major advances in AI, VR, AR, quantum computing and longevity science, it sure as hell seems like we’re on the cusp of something huge.
Will these unprecedented breakthroughs usher in a utopian neo-renaissance? Will technological and medical innovation enable us to live practically forever so that we’re free to pursue our passions all day long? Or, will we find ourselves an Orwellian dystopia plagued by a broken environment, thought control and murderous AI oligarch overlords who’ll invade our minds in an effort to milk us for money and energy as we jump willingly into ultra-plush matrix pods of their design?
Our guest this week, Zoltan Istvan is the author of The Transhumanist Wager. He writes for practically every major technology website (Gizmodo, Huffington Post, Motherboard Wired etc.) He’s the founder of the Transhumanist Party, which aims to draw attention and dollars to cutting-edge science and technology.… Read the rest
David Schubert via CNN:
One would expect that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has the best interests of the public in mind, but its recent decisions have cast serious doubt upon this assumption.
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One in particular could have a dramatic impact on the safety of the U.S. food supply: It is the mandate of the EPA to regulate the use of agricultural chemicals like insecticides and herbicides, as well as to determine their allowable limits in food and drinking water.
Herbicides (weed killers) are mixtures of chemicals designed to spray on weeds, where they get inside the plants and inhibit enzymes required for the plant to live. The active ingredient in the most widely used herbicide is glyphosate, while some herbicides contain 2,4D. 2,4D is best known as a component of Agent Orange, a defoliant widely employed during the Vietnam War.
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Last week, we reported on the tragic and mysterious death of film producer David Crowley, his wife and young daughter who were all found dead in their Apple Valley, MN home, weeks after the incident took place.
A few new details have been reported by the media. Hennepin County Medical Examiners report a murder-suicide saying wife Komel and their five-year-old daughter were shot, and report David’s death as a suicide. No additional marks, injuries or signs of struggle, they say.
Bodies were found close together on the front room floor with a black handgun near David. Date of death not released. Apple Valley police Capt. John Bermel said there were no signs of a scuffle, that the house was intact. Last sign of verified activity was late December. Electronics were taken from the home to be analyzed with investigators saying it could take awhile to make more determinations….
Federico Guerrini via Forbes:
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A few days ago, the World Wide Web Foundation established by Sir Tim Berners-Lee released the second edition of the Open Data Barometer, a report on the impact and prevalence of open data initiatives around the world. Turns out the UK government is the “most transparent” in the world, when it comes to public access to official data, with US and Sweden in second and third place respectively.
That’s fantastic, isn’t it? Opening the data (which already belongs to the public, as it is produced with taxpayers’ money) can expose corruption and abuse, provide new insights on sensitive topics, help engage citizens in important debates, improving, in the end, the overall quality of democracies. So, kudos to the British and God forgive the Kenyans, whose country has fallen from to 22nd to 49th in the Barometer’s rankings. Shame on them.
It’s all been swept up by the digital deluge: the way we create, consume, socialize, learn, all of it. Yet no matter how much of the analog world seeps into the digital realm, the almighty dollar continues to resist the pixel-y tide. The act of currency creation remains an esoteric, behind-the-scenes process controlled by a few privileged, monocle-clad, suit-wearers with fancy titles and special permissions.
Actually, we do have digital money and it’s called bitcoin. It does work, it’s safe and it’s easy to use. On top of that, for the first time ever, no government, corporation or human being can claim dominion over, control, destroy or create a currency. Bitcoin is decentralized, open source, peer-to-peer, lives completely online and created through a programmatic process.
Practicality wise, you can already buy basically anything using bitcoin and a growing number of merchants, services and corporations are accepting it every day.… Read the rest