Okay. You got me. I can’t really tell you everything you need to know about big data. The one thing I discovered last week – as I joined more than 2,500 data junkies from around the world for the O’Reilly Strata conference in rainy Santa Clara California—is that nobody can, not Google, not Intel, not even IBM. All I can guarantee you is that you’ll be hearing a lot more about it.
From the Transparency front: Taser Inc—best known for its generally non-lethal but controversial “stun-gun” devices—has released a mini-camera (about the size of a cigar stub) that clips on to a police officer’s sunglasses or collar. The camera can record two hours of video during an officer’s shift. “Testimony is interesting; Video is compelling,” says the Taser site. The information is then transferred and eventually stored in a cloud-computing system that uses Taser’s online evidence management system.
In science fiction novels like River of Gods by Ian McDonald , an artificial intelligence finds a way to boot-strap its own design into a growing super-intelligence. This cleverness singularity is sometimes referred to as FOOM . In this piece I will give an argument that a single instance of intelligence may be self-limiting and that FOOM collapses in a “MOOF.”
Global fertility is declining so fast that, at current linear trends, global population would stabilize in this century at 9 or 10 billion. Progress in agriculture, energy and manufacturing technologies will hopefully make it possible to support these numbers in an increasingly ecologically sustainable way. But accelerating progress in the treatment of disease and slowing of aging will also be pressing down mortality rates, keeping unsustainable population growth a threat. Some have suggested that draconian controls on fertility would be an acceptable trade-off for the benefits of longer lives. This short story by Daniel Hero suggests another possible adaptation to the longevity-population dilemma. - J.
IEET Board Member George Dvorsky was recently interviewed by Stephen Euin Cobb at The Future and You Podcast. They spoke for nearly three hours, so the interview was broken into three separate episodes.
Artificial Intelligence Computer Algorithms compete with each other in a Game Show setting where they attempt to pass the ‘Turing Test’ and be accepted as human. The work represents a new paradigm in computer generated filmmaking. The realistic 3D human-like digital actors were recorded in real-time directly from the display of a standard PC.
Topics for this week’s episode include the Turing Test, artificial consciousness, and machine ethics; Avi Rubin’s recent TED Talk on our increasingly hackable world; nootropics, cognitive liberty and limits to the bio-libertarian impulse.
Few things strike human beings with such intuitive force as the right to life and the pursuit of well being, principles so pervasive that we take them for granted. However, large numbers of people do not accept that “right to life” is not simply a right to exist, but a right to live with quality and value. Once we accept seeking a pain-free life as justifiable, than so is seeking a pain-free death. If the act of living is protected as a fundamental principle of human autonomy, then so is the right to choose the time, place and circumstances of its ending.
Google has announced the final line-up of teams vying for the $30 million moon exploration prize. The prize goes by the name of Google Lunar X PRIZE. It is given to teams that successfully land a rover on the moon and send back video
Venice, Italy is sinking. To save it, Rachel Armstrong says we need to outgrow architecture made of inert materials and, well, make architecture that grows itself. She proposes a not-quite-alive material that does its own repairs and sequesters carbon, too.
Western Buddhists, taking Asian Buddhism and attempting to shape a modern Buddhism from it, have different challenges and opportunities. For instance, for better or worse, we do not have strong norms to guide the relations of the sexes as in Buddhist countries. Sadly, we must even beware of the sexual abuse of power by Buddhist teachers.
In a few months it will be 40 years since the last man walked on the Moon. Unless, of course, one wants to believe in the Apollo 18 story. I don’t, but the 70s retro look of the film and its beautiful lunar images made me remember that night 43 years ago, in 1969, when we watched Neil Armstrong walking on the Moon.
While many of the world’s developing countries are becoming better off, almost a billion people, mainly in sub-Saharan Africa, are falling further and further behind. In his book - “The Bottom Billion” - Oxford University economist and government adviser Paul Collier calls for dramatic changes to improve conditions for the world’s poorest countries.
More than half of Brazil’s population is of African descent and strong cultural and social ties, as well as shared geological and climatic conditions, bind the two regions. Because of this, Sub-Saharan Africa and Brazil are natural partners for trade, investment and knowledge exchange.
Why do academic tomes like Wealth and the IQ of Nations insist that the average Sub-Saharan African’s IQ is 30-40 points lower than an East Asian’s IQ? How can that book give Hong Kong an IQ of 106 and Equatorial Guinea a mere 59?
When the Hindu Tantric tradition began to seep into Buddhism, with its complicated sexual yogas and meditation, it had a radical effect on certain Buddhists’ attitude toward women. The earthiness and sensuality attributed to women, which the sexist side of Buddhism saw as their spiritual weakness, became a spiritual power in Tantric Buddhism. The female yogi, “yogini”, who channels her sexual energy into meditation in the midst of the sex act was seen as one of the most important teachers a Tantric monk could have (an idea reflected in Herman Hesse’s novel SIDDHARTHA). For instance, the Tantric master Marpa, and his wife, shared a “long and highly fruitful relationship” with the consort-guruess Da-me-ma, and the Tantrist Savari was taught by two sisters, Logi and Guni, who, As Tantric consorts, helped him to important breakthroughs on his path.
It’s been hard to avoid the buzz surrounding nano quadrotors, following the posting of Vijay Kumar’s jaw-dropping TED talk – and the associated viral video of the semi-autonomous machines playing the James Bond theme.
I’m in this world, okay, and the people identify each other by sex. All the time. No kidding. It’s like ‘Female Person Jenkins ‘ and ‘Male Person Ellis’ or ‘Person-with-Uterus Jenkins’ and ‘Person-with-Penis Ellis’, I don’t know the exact translation. But sex-identity is a mandatory prefix. They distinguish males from females. Before they do anything else.
To modern feminists who have grown up in an era of relative sexual freedom it is difficult to understand that till the present virtually the only way a woman could be free of being a sex object for males was to renounce sexuality altogether. As this song from the Therigatha illustrates, the Buddhist teachings helped empower women to cut through the tangle of humiliating sexuality:
I was raised in the Unitarian Universalist tradition, which combines an openness to the wisdom of all faiths, Enlightenment skepticism about the supernatural, and a commitment to liberal and egalitarian political values. When I became a Buddhist (Tibetan originally) and political radical (Yippie, then socialist) in high school I brought along a very UU orientation. I began trying to puzzle out what the relationship could be between my socialist-feminism and Buddhism’s proposals of overcoming suffering through moral and psychological reform, a concern with connecting the micro and macro that I am still working on in various ways.
JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon recently said that he felt safer in Lebanon than he did when Occupy marched past his house. If nothing else, it proves that Wall Street bankers haven’t gotten any better at risk management—the art of knowing where danger lies and avoiding it—than they were when their bad bets crashed the economy and caused the Great Recession.
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