Tag Archives | Technology

Nick Bostrom & Ray Kurzweil – Could Our Universe Be a Fake?

A word from the experts…

Robert Lawrence Kuhn, creator and host, “Closer To Truth” via Space.com:

It’s like the movie “The Matrix,” Bostrom said, except that “instead of having brains in vats that are fed by sensory inputs from a simulator, the brains themselves would also be part of the simulation. It would be one big computer program simulating everything, including human brains down to neurons and synapses.”

Bostrom is not saying that humanity is living in such a simulation. Rather, his “Simulation Argument” seeks to show that one of three possible scenarios must be true (assuming there are other intelligent civilizations):

  1. All civilizations become extinct before becoming technologically mature;
  2. All technologically mature civilizations lose interest in creating simulations;
  3. Humanity is literally living in a computer simulation.

His point is that all cosmic civilizations either disappear (e.g., destroy themselves) before becoming technologically capable, or all decide not to generate whole-world simulations (e.g., decide such creations are not ethical, or get bored with them).

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Army Has Plans For Real, Live Killer Robot Swarms

Leading scientists including Stephen Hawking, Elon Musk, and Steve Wozniak penned an open letter last week demanding a ban on autonomous weapons (i.e. killer robots). If the smartest minds of our time are demanding this, shouldn’t we think about it? On top of that, new information has come forward that the military is planning to have killer robots that act in swarms by 2050. They would be devoid of human oversight and act as judge, jury, and execution. This video by Redacted Tonight puts a little comedy into the subject – but that doesn’t mean this is a joke! 

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Ashes & Thugs



I’m back in the office of Citizen’s Cab. And there’s drama.

Ol’ Kojak is alone working the office and dispatch, as drivers the likes of me are all milling about the small space waiting for our keys and medallions, and poised to throw Koj our $5 bribes in the hopes of securing an airport. But Koj is all preoccupied, frantic, while he’s trying to appease some irate passenger phoning-in a complaint about how they were just badly berated by a driver. All snicker and make fun as gathered ’round the speakerphone like a warm fire. Well, all snicker, but Kojak!

“I’m very sorry that happened to you, sir. Yes… Yes… No, that shouldn’t happen to you, sir. I’ll tell the management he called you a ‘fucking bitch’, sir. But you should know, sir, that 130 is a lease driver. No… We just rent lease drivers their taxi monthly. Citizen’s Cab has very little affiliation outside of that.

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Obama signs executive order authorizing new supercomputing research initiative

President Barack Obama has signed an executive order to help create the world’s fastest computer. The new initiative, known as National Strategic Computing Initiative (NSCI), will begin working on “the first exaflop supercomputer—something that’s about 30 times faster than today’s fastest machines.”

Klint Finley at Wired has the scoop:

Supercomputers are at the heart of a huge number of important scientific and defense research projects. They’re used by aerospace engineers to model planes and weapons, and by climatologists to predict the the near-term impact of hurricanes and the long-term effects of climate change. Researchers involved in the White House’s Precision Medicine initiative believe exaflop speed supercomputers could aid the creation of personalized drugs, while the European Commission’s Human Brain Project hopes they will help unlock the secrets of the human brain.

Several government agencies, most notably the Department of Energy, have been deeply involved in the development of supercomputers over the last few decades, but they’ve typically worked separately.

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Beam Me Up? Teleporting Is Real, Even If Trekkie Transport Isn’t

Geoff Brumfiel via NPR:

“I have a hard time saying this with a straight face, but I will: You can teleport a single atom from one place to another,” says Chris Monroe, a biophysicist at the University of Maryland.

His lab’s setup in a university basement looks nothing like the slick transporters that rearrange atoms and send them someplace else on Star Trek. Instead, a couple million dollars’ worth of lasers, mirrors and lenses lay sprawled across a 20-foot table.

“What they do in the TV show is, they send the atoms over a long distance,” says David Hucul, who recently got his Ph.D. with Monroe. “But, really — if you could build anything, you wouldn’t send the atoms.”

That’s because atoms are big and heavy, and you don’t really need them, he explains. The laws of physics say that any atom of carbon is identical to any other atom of carbon.

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Hackers Can Disable A Sniper Rifle – Or Change Its Target

tp750 rifle

TrackingPoint self-aiming rifle.

Hot off their success at forcing Jeep to recall 1.4 million vehicles due to their vulnerability to being taken over by hackers, the gang at Wired is focusing on sniper rifles that can be hacked. Yes you read that right…

Put a computer on a sniper rifle, and it can turn the most amateur shooter into a world-class marksman. But add a wireless connection to that computer-aided weapon, and you may find that your smart gun suddenly seems to have a mind of its own—and a very different idea of the target.

At the Black Hat hacker conference in two weeks, security researchers Runa Sandvik and Michael Auger plan to present the results of a year of work hacking a pair of $13,000 TrackingPoint self-aiming rifles. The married hacker couple have developed a set of techniques that could allow an attacker to compromise the rifle via its Wi-Fi connection and exploit vulnerabilities in its software.

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EmDrive Back in the News


Paul Gilster via Centauri Dreams:

Martin Tajmar (Dresden University of Technology) offers a paper entitled “Direct Thrust Measurements of an EmDrive and Evaluation of Possible Side-Effects” in his presentation on apparent thrust produced by the test device. As he told WIRED (which announced that The ‘impossible’ EmDrive could reach Pluto in 18 months), the current work will not close the story. From the paper itself:

The nature of the thrusts observed is still unclear… Our test campaign can not confirm or refute the claims of the EmDrive but intends to independently assess possible side-effects in the measurements methods used so far. Nevertheless, we do observe thrusts close to the magnitude of the actual predictions after eliminating many possible error sources that should warrant further investigation into the phenomena. Next steps include better magnetic shielding, further vacuum tests and improved EmDrive models with higher Q factors and electronics that allow tuning for optimal operation.

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Chrysler recalls 1.4 million vehicles due to hacking danger

We all pretty much saw this one coming. You have cars that can switch into automated drive. This poses a danger in which unscrupulous tech-wizards can hack vehicles while you’re driving. We have already seen cases where loan agents can disable an individual’s vehicle by smartphone if the owner of the vehicle misses a payment. We have seen the conspiracy theories that the death of journalist Michael Hastings was brought about by the CIA taking control of his car through computer devices and causing it to crash. Now here is a first — Chrysler recalls 1.4 million vehicles so their onboard computers can be upgraded for the purpose of reducing the chances they can be hacked.

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What do machines sing of?

What do machines sing of? from Martin Backes on Vimeo.

“What do machines sing of?” is a fully automated machine, which endlessly sings number-one ballads from the 1990s. As the computer program performs these emotionally loaded songs, it attempts to apply the appropriate human sentiments. This behavior of the device seems to reflect a desire, on the part of the machine, to become sophisticated enough to have its very own personality.

What do machines sing of? (90s Version)
Size: 170 x 55 x 45 cm
Material: metal stand, mic stand, mic, cable, 2 screens, computer, custom-made computer program

More information:

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Canary App Tells You If You’re Too Stoned To Drive

If you’re a stoner and a driver you might want to check out the new app Canary being touted by NORML. Fast Company reviews:

Last week, NORML, a group dedicated to legalizing marijuana announced a new iPhone app designed to prevent stoned driving.

The app, called Canary, allows users to determine whether they’re in a suitable condition to drive. It runs through a battery of tests: remembering a sequence of numbers, balancing on one foot, playing a digital whack-a-mole game, and then estimating a time period of 20 seconds. By comparing the results against a personal baseline or a collective average, users receive a green, yellow, or red light assessing their level of functioning.

Drivers can be impaired by factors as diverse as fatigue, alcohol, or legal medications, but NORML is plugging it as a way for potential drivers to determine whether they are too high to drive, which has proven to be a confounding issue as more states allow medical and recreational marijuana.

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