Tag Archives | Technology

Are we entering a digital dark age?


This podcast explores the risks of humanity storing as much info as it is on digital formats. Of interesting note, when NASA turned off Voyager 1‘s camera to save on battery usage, no computer remained in existence which could decode the date from the satellite’s camera system.

It is possible for the cameras to be turned on, but it is not a priority for Voyager’s Interstellar Mission. After Voyager 1 took its last image (the “Solar System Family Portrait” in 1990), the cameras were turned off to save power and memory for the instruments expected to detect the new charged particle environment of interstellar space. Mission managers removed the software from both spacecraft that controls the camera. The computers on the ground that understand the software and analyze the images do not exist anymore.

From OnTheMedia’s website:

On this week’s episode of On the Media, we’re engaging in some chillingly informed speculation: what would happen if we, as a species, lost access to our electronic records?

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Virtual Reality is the Future of Religion

Dali_Crucifixion_hypercubeRev. Dr. Christopher Benek via H+mag:

25 years ago most people didn’t imagine that the Internet would reshape the way that they existed on a day-to-day basis. 25 years from now people will think about Virtual Reality the same way we think about the Internet today – we won’t even be able to imagine our global existence without it.

One of the largest beneficiaries of this technological development could be the global church because VR is going to change the way that Christians participate in worship.

The main impact that VR is going to have on the global church is that it is going to, one-day, enable Christians to easily gather from a variety of places without being in the same physical location.   This will enable persons who are homebound, sick, caregivers, without transportation, on vacation, or severely disabled to participate in worship with the larger community of faith without needing to leave the place where they are physically residing.

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A robot passed a self-awareness test

A robot solved the “wise men puzzle” at the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in New York.

Duncan Geere via TechRadar:

Roboticists at the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in New York have built a trio of robots that were put through the classic ‘wise men puzzle’ test of self-awareness – and one of them passed.

In the puzzle, a fictional king is choosing a new advisor and gathers the three wisest people in the land. He promises the contest will be fair, then puts either a blue or white hat on each of their heads and tells them all that the first person to stand up and correctly deduce the colour of their own hat will become his new advisor.

Selmer Bringsjord set up a similar situation for the three robots – two were prevented from talking, then all three were asked which one was still able to speak. All attempt to say “I don’t know”, but only one succeeds – and when it hears its own voice, it understands that it was not silenced, saying “Sorry, I know now!”

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The Exoskeletons Are Coming

Dual Arm Power Amplification Robot by ActiveLink

Dual Arm Power Amplification Robot by ActiveLink

Panasonic and other manufacturers will soon be offering mechanical exoskeletons that workers can put on in order to become, um, better workers, or something like that. From MIT Technology Review:

Even if you lack the resources of Tony Stark, you can obtain a high-tech suit to enhance your natural abilities, or at least help you avoid a backache. Mechanical outfits, known as exoskeletons, are gaining a foothold in the real world.

The Japanese company Panasonic announced recently that it will start selling an exoskeleton designed to help workers lift and carry objects more easily and with less risk of injury. The suit was developed in collaboration with a subsidiary company called ActiveLink. It weighs just over 13 pounds and attaches to the back, thighs, and feet, enabling the wearer to carry 33 pounds of extra load. The device has been tested by warehouse handlers in Osaka, Japan, and is currently in trials with forestry workers in the region.

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Electronic Frontier Foundation celebrates 25 years of defending online privacy

EFF Photos (CC BY 2.0)

EFF Photos (CC BY 2.0)

Maria Korolov via CSO Online:

The Electronic Frontier Foundation is the digital world’s top watchdog when it comes to privacy and free expression.

But while cops and firefighters are often ready to retire after 25 years on the job, protecting citizens, the EFF has a full agenda as it celebrates its 25th anniversary today.

The EFF was founded in 1990, when the Web still had just one webpage. Its first major case was one in which the U.S. Secret Service, hunting a stolen document, raided a company’s computers, computers that were also used to run an online bulletin board, and read and deleted those users’ messages.

The company, Steve Jackson Games, and some of the users of that bulletin board, thought that the government overstepped its warrant.

The situation inspired former Lotus president Mitch Kapor, Sun Microsystems employee John Gilmore and John Perry Barlow, cattle rancher and Greatful Dead lyricist to form the EFF and represent Steve Jackson Games and their users against the U.S.

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New ‘Iron Man’ augmented reality technology could help surgeons and firefighters

Continuing the Star Trek trend of inventions in science fiction becoming science reality, it’s Iron Man’s turn with holographic augmented reality displays, reports the Independent:

Scientists have developed a method of projecting 3D holographic images into the field of view of an observer in an “augmented reality” breakthrough that could one day allow the likes of surgeons and firefighters to benefit from seeing the world through technology similar to that used by comic-book superhero Iron Man.

Iron Man (Tony Stark)

Source: marvelousRoland (CC)

The researchers said it would be possible to use the holographic projections to provide extra information on objects in a person’s visual field in real time in order to supplement their normal sense of vision using  augmented-reality headsets – just like Iron Man’s suit.

Details of the research will be released at this week’s summer science exhibition at the Royal Society, which highlights the best of British scientific research and technical innovation – from the latest studies into the origins of life to robots with human-like hearing.

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E-waste: What we throw away doesn’t go away

Curtis Palmer (CC BY 2.0)

Curtis Palmer (CC BY 2.0)

Griffith University via EurekAlert:

In the life of almost every household appliance, there comes that moment of out with the old and in with the new.

However, while electrical and electronic equipment have never been more efficient, economical or in demand, consumers’ desire to own the best and the latest is contributing to an environmental issue of increasing seriousness and concern.

“E-waste is one of the fastest growing waste streams in developing, emerging and developed regions and it covers all electrical and electronic equipment and parts discarded by consumers,” says Dr Sunil Herat, Associate Editor of the journal Waste Management & Researchand a Senior Lecturer in the School of Engineering at Griffith University in Queensland, Australia.

“According to figures published in the Global E-waste Monitor 2014 and compiled by the United Nations University, last year an estimated 41.8 million metric tonnes of e-waste was discarded throughout the world.

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Is effective regulation of AI possible? Eight potential regulatory problems

artificial brain

This post was originally published on Philosophical Disquisitions.

The halcyon days of the mid-20th century, when researchers at the (in?)famous Dartmouth summer school on AI dreamed of creating the first intelligent machine, seem so far away. Worries about the societal impacts of artificial intelligence (AI) are on the rise. Recent pronouncements from tech gurus like Elon Musk and Bill Gates have taken on a dramatically dystopian edge. They suggest that the proliferation and advance of AI could pose a existential threat to the human race.

Despite these worries, debates about the proper role of government regulation of AI have generally been lacking. There are a number of explanations for this: law is nearly always playing catch-up when it comes to technological advances; there is a decidedly anti-government libertarian bent to some of the leading thinkers and developers of AI; and the technology itself would seem to elude traditional regulatory structures.… Read the rest

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Czech Artist Installs Surveillance Cameras in Public Places

geltner-jakub_art-01

via Ignant:

Czech artist Jakub Geltner installs sculptures of surveillance cameras into public spaces. As an “intervention into the very character of a city”, he’s been working on the ‘Nest’ project since 2011. Living and working in Prague, he created his first installation directly in the center of the city, perfectly assimilating into the surrounding architecture and design of the contemporary urban landscape.

Read more about “Nest” here.

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The value of unplugging in the Age of Distraction

Small device, but very demanding. aciej_ie/flickr, CC BY-NC-ND

Small device, but very demanding. aciej_ie/flickr, CC BY-NC-ND

A common experience: you are walking down the street and someone is walking in the opposite direction toward you. You see him but he does not see you. He is texting or looking at his cellphone. He is distracted, trying to do two things at the same time, walking and communicating.

There is also the telltale recognition of a car driver on a phone; she’s driving either too slowly or too fast for the surrounding conditions, only partly connected to what is going on around her. Connected to someone else in another place, she is not present in the here and now.

These types of occurrences are now common enough that we can label our time as the age of distraction.

A dangerous condition

The age of distraction is dangerous. A recent report by the National Safety Council showed that walking while texting increases the risk of accidents.… Read the rest

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