“The Terminator” is clearly science fiction, but it speaks to a deep intuition that the robotization of warfare is a slippery slope—the endpoint of which can neither be predicted nor fully controlled. Two reports released soon after the November 2012 election have propelled the issue of autonomous killing machines onto the political radar.
In the absence of state or federal laws, localities around the United States are proceeding to put unmanned aerial vehicles in our skies as they see fit. The federal government has authorized the flight of 30,000 drones, and the use of drones up to 400 feet by police departments, at least 300 of which already have surveillance drones in operation.
“If animal behavior is mostly instinctual, why do animals need to communicate? Is it possible that there is a universal language spoken and understood by all animals on earth, including humans? Do barks, growls, rumbles, chirps, yips, and meows have communicative meanings?” - Amazon
In December of 2011 a podcast produced by Radiolab discussed a legal issue involving Marvel characters, including the X-Men, the Fantastic Four, and Spider-Man (although the episode focuses on the X-Men). The "attorneys for a company that imported Marvel character action figures noticed that imported dolls were subject to a higher tax than toys, per the Harmonized Tariff Schedule. More importantly, dolls were distinguished from toys by “representing only human beings and parts and accessories thereof.”
In gambling casinos, cameras spot a card counter, thief, or blacklisted player, and a database instantly confirms identification. The suspect is quickly escorted from the facility, or arrested. Intelligent cameras that can observe people and react to events are advancing exponentially. At a White House briefing, counterterrorism adviser John Brennan said, thanks to the U.S. military's latest facial recognition technology, he was "99 percent" certain that the commando team had killed bin Laden.
We’re toast. Among hydrogen bombs, asteroid strikes, supervolcanoes, rogue artificial intelligence, nanotechnological war, grey goo, superviruses, biological weapons, runaway global warming, strangelets, mini-black holes, probabilities will eventually catch up to us and we’ll become extinct. It is an impossible obstacle course.
The connection between poor sleep, memory loss and brain deterioration as we grow older has been elusive. But for the first time, scientists at the University of California, Berkeley, have found a link between these hallmark maladies of old age. Their discovery opens the door to boosting the quality of sleep in elderly people to improve memory.
Lately, I’ve had superorganisms on the brain. My initial plan for my post this week was to do a piece comparing earthly superorganisms like the Leaf Cutter Ant with the most well known of science-fiction superorganisms- the Borg. Two things happened that diverted me from this path. First, the blogger and minimalist beekeeper, James Cross, shared with me an article he wrote that largely said what I wanted to say about the Borg and insects as well or better than I could have. Second, during the course of my research I ran into a recent article that stuck in my craw, which I felt compelled to address.
I have been asked to post a few “David Brin Classics”.... some of my older riffs and rants… here online for a new generation to share and ponder. I’ve been mulling which ones. Then the topic of the Second Amendment and gun control recently came up. Along with the observation that some liberals are starting to nurse fantasies of needing to be armed, themselves, in the era that they see coming down the road.
The IEET is delighted to announce the appointment of Professor Kevin LaGrandeur as a Fellow. Kevin is author of the 2012 cultural history of the idea of artificial intelligence in premodern thought, Androids and Intelligent Networks in Early Modern Literature and Culture (Routledge, 2012).
What is time? In this Cosmic Query, astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson answers a fan who wonders whether time is more like Ray Bradbury’s linear depiction of time in “A Sound of Thunder,” the branching timestream depicted in 2009’s “Star Trek” or the way Doctor Who describes it in the classic episode “Blink”: “a big ball of wibbly, wobbly, timey-wimey…stuff.” Enjoy this “Behind the Scenes” video with comic co-host Colin Jost.
Can we get a better understanding of what gravity is, assuming mass is a composite of time, as suggested? And, in doing so, can we gain some insight into possible deficiencies in the theory of General Relativity?
The bizarre phenomena of the quantum world, “action at a distance”, can account for the mechanism of gravity, when the Inclusion Principle is included within the definition of Quantum Entanglement.
Seems just like yesterday that Prof.Kevin Warwick of the University of Reading, UK took that bold step to implant a BrainGate device onto his median nerve in his forearm to be able to control electronic devices.
Our ancestors struggled to get enough calories just to stay alive. But as food supplies have become reliable and rich, people around the world face the opposite problem. Now, as we try to keep our weight in a healthy range, we look at all kinds of factors: diet, exercise, sleep, supplements, meditation, hypnosis, psychotherapy, prayer, or even surgery that might help us tip the scales a little less.
X Prize Chairman and CEO Peter Diamandis talks at the CIO Network about a future where the cost of living becomes essentially free, giving a shout-out to my book “Robots Will Steal Your Job, But That’s OK: How to Survive the Economic Collapse and Be Happy”.
The projections for Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia are alarming, but not all the news is bad. The second installment in this series from UCLA assesses the progress researchers have made in understanding the disease and highlights some promising clinical trials and diagnosis techniques that could slow its progression, possibly the first step towards prevention and cure. Series: “Alzheimer’s Disease Programs”
My brain contains approximately 100 billion neurons, each connecting to other nerve cells through synapses. These interactions process signals entering the nervous system, and then produce output responses that stimulate my bodily functions, everything from thinking to walking to kissing.
Laparoscopic surgery uses minimally invasive incisions—which means less pain and shorter recovery times for patients. But Steven Schwaitzberg has run into two problems teaching these techniques to surgeons around the world—language and distance. He shares how a new technology, which combines video conferencing and a real-time universal translator, could help. (Filmed at TEDxBeaconStreet.)
In a number of developing countries, the relationship between increased resource allocation to the education sector and improved education outcomes is fairly weak. A major finding is that “traditional” education inputs fail to yield the expected positive influence.
There has been a debate on morality brewing of late over at LessWrong. As readers of this blog know, I am not particularly sympathetic to that outlet (despite the fact that two of my collaborators here are either fans or even involved in major ways with them — see how open minded I am?). Largely, this is because I think of the Singularity and related ideas as borderline pseudoscience, and have a hard time taking too seriously a number of other positions and claims made at LW. Still, in this case by friend Michael DeDora, who also writes here [Rationally Speaking], pointed me to two pieces by Eliezer Yudkowsky and one of the other LW authors that I’d like to comment on.