Tag Archives | Science & Technology

Humans are Infinitely more Dangerous than Robots

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Michael Lee Via IEET/World Future Society:

Innovator Elon Musk was widely reported in the media when he described artificial intelligence (AI) as probably the most serious threat to the survival of the human race. [1] But while artificial intelligence systems will certainly take over an increasing range and number of jobs formerly carried out by people, humans will remain infinitely more dangerous than robots for generations to come.

It is humans who have masterminded organised crime and its global empire of fraud and sex slavery. It is people who are behind today’s worldwide scourge of domestic violence. It was two brothers who raided the Paris offices of Charlie Hebdo, the French satirical weekly magazine, in which 12 people were killed. It was a young man with suicidal inclinations who co-piloted the Germanwings plane into the French Alps at 430mph, killing all 150 people on board. It was Al-Shabaab gunmen who stormed the residences of the Garissa University College in Northern Kenya while the students were sleeping, murdering at least 148 people in cold blood and injuring 79 others.

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Reason Magazine Subpoena Stomps on Free Speech

Stephen Melkisethian (CC BY-NC 2.0)

Stephen Melkisethian (CC BY-NC 2.0)

Virginia Postrel Via Bloomberg View:

Wielding subpoenas demanding information on anonymous commenters, the government is harassing a respected journalism site that dissents from its policies. The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York claims these comments could constitute violent threats, even though they’re clearly hyperbolic political rhetoric.

This is happening in America — weirdly, to a site I founded, and one whose commenters often earned my public contempt.

Los Angeles legal blogger Ken White has obtained a grand jury subpoena issued to Reason.com, the online home of the libertarian magazine I edited throughout the 1990s. The subpoena seeks information about commenters who posted in response to an article by the site’s editor Nick Gillespie about the letter that Silk Road founder Ross Ulbricht wrote to Judge Katherine B. Forrest before she sentenced him to life in prison without parole. Ulbricht was convicted of seven felony charges, included conspiracies to traffic in narcotics and launder money, and faced a minimum sentence of 20 years in prison.

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Which Life Form Dominates Earth?

Springtails can be smaller than a pinhead (Credit: Sinclair Stammers / NPL)

Springtails can be smaller than a pinhead (Credit: Sinclair Stammers / NPL)

Nic Fleming Via BBC:

We humans tend to assume we rule the Earth. With our advanced tool making, language, problem solving and social skills, and our top predator status, we like to think of ourselves as the dominant life form on the planet.

But are we?

There are organisms that are significantly more numerous, cover more of the Earth’s surface and make up more of its living biomass than us. We are certainly having major impacts in most corners of the globe and on its other inhabitants.

But are there are other living things that are quietly having greater, more significant influences? Who or what is really in charge?

If world domination is a numbers game, few can compare with tiny six-legged, shrimp-like springtails, or Collembola. Ranging from 0.25-10mm in length, there are typically around 10,000 per square metre of soil, rising to as many as 200,000 per square metre in some places.

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The Good, The Bad and The Robot: Experts Are Trying to Make Machines Be “Moral”

I, Robot coverCoby McDonald Via California Magazine:

Good vs. bad. Right vs. wrong. Human beings begin to learn the difference before we learn to speak—and thankfully so. We owe much of our success as a species to our capacity for moral reasoning. It’s the glue that holds human social groups together, the key to our fraught but effective ability to cooperate. We are (most believe) the lone moral agents on planet Earth—but this may not last. The day may come soon when we are forced to share this status with a new kind of being, one whose intelligence is of our own design.

Robots are coming, that much is sure. They are coming to our streets as self-driving cars, to our military as automated drones, to our homes as elder-care robots—and that’s just to name a few on the horizon (Ten million households already enjoy cleaner floors thanks to a relatively dumb little robot called the Roomba).

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You Can’t Really Dust For Vomit

SFO

Thursday

5am:
I slept in.

I’m just now shuffling up all zombie-like to the bullet-proof glass window to slide my five “tip” thru the metal tray to Sammy in exchange for 137’s key and medallion. I’m still feeling the generic brand nighttime cough syrup that I’ve been abusing to put myself down at my prescribed 8pm bedtime. My head is fuzzy still.

I passed 137, my regular Prius, en route to the window and noted that her windows are all down. Bad omen. Are we talking vomit?

5:05am:
I’m done with the window and cordial niceties with Sammy, the new-ish office worker that Citizen’s Cab poached from Arrow. Sammy and I have finally gotten a groove on it seems. But he’s a little out of it this morning, complaining about some serious bruising due to a boating accident over unspecified body parts that he promises I do not want to see.

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Harmonia Macrocosmica — History’s Most Beautiful Star Maps

The Harmonia Macrocosmica is a star atlas written by Andreas Cellarius and published in 1660 by Johannes Janssonius.

The Harmonia Macrocosmica is a star atlas written by Andreas Cellarius and published in 1660 by Johannes Janssonius.

The Harmonia Macrocosmica is a star atlas written by Andreas Cellarius and published in 1660 by Johannes Janssonius.

 

The first part of the atlas contains copper plate prints depicting the world systems of Claudius Ptolemy, Nicolaus Copernicus and Tycho Brahe. At the end are star maps of the classical and Christian constellations, the latter ones as introduced by Julius Schiller in his Coelum stellatum christianum of 1627. The translations are by dr. Henry A.I. Stadhouders (Theological Institute, University of Utrecht).

In the foreword to his Chronologica, Gerard Mercator stated the intention to publish an atlas which would cover everything of the then-known cosmos, geography and history of the earth. During his life, Mercator published five volumes of his atlas, the last one being published by his son Rumold. After Mercator’s death, the Amsterdam cartographerJohannes Janssonius took over the project.… Read the rest

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In the Beginning there were Simple Chemicals – New Evidence on the Origins of Life

Via Phys.org:

In the beginning, there were simple chemicals. And they produced amino acids that eventually became the proteins necessary to create single cells. And the single cells became plants and animals. Recent research is revealing how the primordial soup created the amino acid building blocks, and there is widespread scientific consensus on the evolution from the first cell into plants and animals. But it’s still a mystery how the building blocks were first assembled into the proteins that formed the machinery of all cells. Now, two long-time University of North Carolina scientists – Richard Wolfenden, PhD, and Charles Carter, PhD – have shed new light on the transition from building blocks into life some 4 billion years ago.

“Our work shows that the close linkage between the of amino acids, the , and protein folding was likely essential from the beginning, long before large, sophisticated molecules arrived on the scene,” said Carter, professor of biochemistry and biophysics at the UNC School of Medicine.

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NYMZA Aeros – Charles Dellschau and The Secret Airships of the 1850’s

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Charles A.A. Dellschau (1830 – 1923), untitled watercolor on paper c. 1898 – 1900 approx. 8 x 10 inches.

 

NYMZA Aeros – Charles Dellschau and The Secret Airships of the 1850’s

by Jimmy Ward & Pete Navarro
Posted on 15 May 2015 by Olav Phillips

Have you heard of Schultz’ Hydrowhir Auto, also known as the “Cripel Wagon”? If not, perhaps you have heard or read somewhere about Peter Mennis’ “Aero Goosey”? How about Schoetler’s “Aero Dora”, which was built in 1858 and was destroyed in a fire which consumed the town of Columbia, California that same year? Chances are you never heard or read about any of the above or the many other “Aeros’, or aircraft that were designed and actually built and flown
by members of the Sonora Aero Club around the middle of the last century in California.

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Can Transhumanism Overcome a Widespread Deathist Culture?

Mort

Zoltan Istvan via IEET:

The rapidly growing field of transhumanism—an international social movement whose highest immediate priority is overcoming human death via science and technology—is facing a colossal challenge. About 85 percent of the world’s population believes in life after death, and much of that population is perfectly okay with dying because it gives them an afterlife with their perceived deity or deities—something transhumanists often refer to as “deathist” culture.

In fact, four billion people on Earth—mostly Muslims and Christians—see the overcoming of death through science as potentially blasphemous, a sin involving humans striving to be godlike. Some holy texts say blasphemy is unforgivable and will end in eternal punishment.

So what are transhumanists to do in a world where science and technology are quickly improving and will almost certainly overcome human mortality in the next 30 years? Will there be a great civil rights debate and clash around the world?

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Next Jobs Automation Will Kill

liz west (CC BY 2.0)

liz west (CC BY 2.0)

Barb Darrow via Forbes:

Most of us watched as automation displaced factory workers and other laborers; but now many “skilled” workers are getting anxious as the robot overlords come for us.

When automated factories started erasing jobs at manufacturing companies, most of us shrugged: Great, better products cheaper, was the general line of thinking

But as automation keeps creeping up the stack, taking over more of what most would call “skilled” positions, well that’s getting some folks—who consider themselves skilled professionals—nervous.

Take airplane pilots for example. That’s now a dead-end job according to Mary “Missy” Cummings, director of the Humans and Autonomy Lab (HAL) at Duke University (and a former Naval fighter pilot.) She said that “in all honesty” she could not recommend that anyone become a commercial airline pilot going forward, given the current state of the art.

“Commercial pilots today touch the stick for three to seven minutes per flight—and that’s on a tough day,” she told an audience at the MIT CIO Symposium on Wednesday.

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