In this episode we build on our previous podcast on privacy by examining, from a philosophical point of view, what the instrumental and intrinsic benefits to privacy are. Is there some fundamental, moral reason to protect privacy, or is it simply a way to prevent various misuses of data? If misuse is the real issue, would a co-veillance society be trustworthy enough to simply give up privacy? Or is it intrinsically wrong, like torture? We also discuss how privacy and security are often at odds with each other, and how privacy can be understood as an issue of information flow.
Maria Konovalenko and team put together a list of popular science video lectures on gene therapy – one of the most promising molecular medicine directions. What makes this approach different is that nucleic acid molecules, DNA and RNA, are used as therapeutic agents.
We knew the risks. But last year, after my wife and I had our genomes sequenced, what we learned was still alarming. Amongst my wife’s results was a genetic variant associated with a significantly increased risk of Parkinson’s disease. And the matter-of-fact statistic on risk came with little information on how to reduce it.
Researchers designed the first self-folding robot based on the ancient art of origami. This is how the robot does its trick, narrated by Natasha Pinol. [Credit: Samuel Felton, Science/AAAS]
Inspired by the traditional Japanese art form of origami, researchers have coaxed flat sheets of specialized paper and plastic to self-fold into complex machines that crawl and turn.
“We demonstrated this process by building a robot that folds itself and walks away without human assistance,” said Sam Felton, a Ph.D. candidate at Harvard University’s School of Engineering and Applied Sciences and the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering. Felton is the lead author of a new report on the robots in the 8 August issue of the journal Science.
“Folding allows you to avoid the ‘nuts and bolts’ assembly approaches typically used for robots or other complex electromechanical devices and it allows you to integrate components like electronics, sensors, and actuators while flat,” said Rob Wood, the Charles River Professor of Engineering and Applied Sciences Core Faculty Member at Harvard University’s Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering and the study’s senior author.
Potential uses for these self-folding machines include search-and-rescue scenarios where they could be activated to navigate small tunnels or spaces. The fact that they could be shipped flat in large quantities, and then assembled on-site, makes them especially valuable. Other examples of their use include deployment into space for various forms of exploration or for self-folding shelters that rapidly assemble in disaster zones.
People have for some time speculated about the possibility that we’re living inside a computer simulation. But the 2003 publication of Nick Bostrom’s “Are You Living In a Computer Simulation?” brought a new level of sophistication to the topic. Bostrom’s argument is that one (or more) of the following disjuncts is true: (i) our species will go extinct before reaching an advanced posthuman stage; (ii) our species will reach a posthuman stage but decide not, for whatever reasons, to run a large number of simulations; or (iii) we are almost certainly in a simulation.
Our mission is to invest in research aimed at finding the fastest possible route to a cure. We believe that a nimble, focused and aggressive entrepreneurial model will increase the number of therapies discovered and then enable those therapies to be more rapidly driven into the clinic. We provide researchers with the pivotal support they need to make critical breakthroughs. We fund novel translational research aimed at finding the fastest possible route to a cure.
Our partners range from medical research centers to early-stage biotechnology companies to large multi-national pharmaceutical companies. These partners all share a vision of driving translational research and moving treatments as fast as possible from basic discovery to the clinic. Since brain cancer affects a relatively small portion of the population, we recognize the importance of investing in the early stages of the most novel sectors of the discovery and development pipeline in order to “buy down the risk” for our partners and speed progress of innovative new treatments to the clinic.
Is consciousness real? Could it be just an illusion manufactured in the theatre of our minds? And what use is it – why did it evolve in the first place? Professor Nicholas Humphrey explores the mystery
Consciousness is at the core of our very existence. An intangible constant that underpins our experience of the world. But for centuries it has been the frustrating source of a seemingly impenetrable explanatory gap – it is largely a scientific mystery.
As we interact with the world, stimuli trigger physical processes in our body. Nerve cells transmit messages around the body and through the brain. But how do these physical interactions give rise to the conscious sensations we experience? Can we get conscious sensation from nerve cells alone?
In this video theoretical psychologist Professor Nicholas Humphrey asks whether consciousness could all be an illusion. Could it be a mirage constructed in the theatre of our minds? Perhaps the questions we should ask are not centred on sensations themselves, but merely on the appearance of those sensations.
And why does consciousness, in any form, exist at all? How did it evolve? The answer might lie in our social interactions. Consciousness elevates our interpretation of the world and the people around us. It alters our psychological profile and breathes joy into our experiences, and makes us value life itself.
There is no writer now, perhaps ever, who is able to convey the wonder and magic of science with poetry comparable to Diane Ackerman. In some ways this makes a great deal of sense given that she is a poet by calling rather than a scientist. To mix metaphors: our knowledge of the natural world is merely Ackerman’s palette whose colors she uses to paint a picture of nature. It is a vision of the world as magical as that of the greatest worlds of fiction- think Dante’s Divine Comedy, or our most powerful realms of fable.
Barb Jacobson (Basic Income UK), Duncan McCann (NEF) and Ben Baumberg (Kent University)
Coordinator of the European Citizens’ Initiative in the UK. And author of Basic Income UK a group promoting an unconditional basic income as a progressive policy towards an emancipatory welfare state for the UK and beyond.
“Unconditional basic income, a regular payment to each individual without work or other requirements, is an old idea which has come back into prominence this past year. Not just about technological unemployment, it affirms everyone’s right to exist, to participate in society and to do work the market doesn’t pay for.”
Duncan works as a researcher at NEF working on issues of monetary reform, complementary currencies and financial system innovation.
“Money should be created as a public utility with all the benefits of that process accruing to the people rather than commercial banks who currently create about 97% of the money that we use in the economy. Returning money to a public utility would have a number of benefits including reducing asset price bubbles, improve economic stability, reduce overall debt, reduce pressures on constant economic growth and eliminate banks runs and bank subsidies.”
Ben Baumberg: “Social Security: towards a ‘real utopia’”
Senior Lecturer in Sociology and Social Policy at the University of Kent.Ben also helped set up the collaborative research blog Inequalities, where he regularly write articles and short blog posts. he has a wide range of research interests, currently focusing on disability, the workplace, inequality, deservingness and the future of the benefits system, and the relationship between evidence and policy.
University of London, Institute of Education, University of London, 20 Bedford Way, London WC1H 0AL, UK
Jamie Wheal speaks at TEDx Black Rock City. "It's never been easier to get high, and it's just as hard as it's always been to stay that way." In this talk, Jamie Wheal, Executive Director the Flow Genome Project, details how rapid advancements in technology, psychology and pharmacology have led to an unprecedented uptick in our access to peak states, and how we might be able to use those moments of clarity and inspiration to learn, do and be much more than we thought possible.
Sam Harris: Can Psychedelics Help You Expand Your Mind?
Richard Davidson, Ph.D., presenting his talk, The Emergence of Contemplative Neuroscience, at a Meng Wu Lecture.
From Amazon on The Emotional Life of Your Brain: How Its Unique Patterns Affect the Way You Think, Feel, and Live—and How You Can Change Them:
What is your emotional fingerprint?
Why are some people so quick to recover from setbacks? Why are some so attuned to others that they seem psychic? Why are some people always up and others always down? In his thirty-year quest to answer these questions, pioneering neuroscientist Richard J. Davidson discovered that each of us has an Emotional Style, composed of Resilience, Outlook, Social Intuition, Self-Awareness, Sensitivity to Context, and Attention. Where we fall on these six continuums determines our own “emotional fingerprint.”
Sharing Dr. Davidson’s fascinating case histories and experiments, The Emotional Life of Your Brain offers a new model for treating conditions like autism and depression as it empowers us all to better understand ourselves—and live more meaningful lives.
In order to think effectively about a problem, we must first properly define it. “World peace” is an inevitably nebulous concept, meaning a lot of different things to different people. Most obviously it means finding ways to avoid war and other forms of destructive conflict, and the impulse underlying that idea is to reduce involuntary suffering as much as possible. Taking that perspective, we can also see that we should also seek to reduce structural violence, which is to say suffering caused by systematic conditions which may not have anything to do with war.
Roughly (I’ll refine later on) the “technological singularity” (or “singularity” for short, and in the right context) is the name given to point in time at which greater-than-human superintelligent machines are created. The concept (and name) was popularised by the science fiction author Vernor Vinge in the 1980s and 90s, though its roots can be traced further back in time to the work of John Von Neumann and I.J. Good.
How do we chart a path forward toward the effective and responsible development and use of new technologies? For the next two years, the World Economic Forum Meta-Council on Emerging Technologies will be tackling this and other questions as it develops ways of supporting informed decisions on technology innovation in today’s rapidly changing world.
Advances in robotics and artificial intelligence are going to play an increasingly important role in human society. Over the past two years, I’ve written several posts about this topic. The majority of them focus on machine ethics and the potential risks of an intelligence explosion; others look at how we might interact with and have duties toward robots.
“I am 30 years old and I am struggling to find sanity. Between the Christian schools, homeschooling, the Christian group home (indoctrinating work camp) and different churches in different cities, I am a psychological, emotional and spiritual mess.” –A former Evangelical. If a former believer says that Christianity made her depressed, obsessive, or post-traumatic, she is likely to be dismissed as an exaggerator. She might describe panic attacks about the rapture; moods that swung from ecstasy about God’s overwhelming love to suicidal self-loathing about repeated sins; or an obsession with sexual purity.
Dr. Valter Longo hold the record of yeast lifespan extension. He was able to increase longevity of this species 10 fold. This a one of the most remarkable results in longevity science. Here Dr. Longo is giving us a lecture on yeast genetics. Let me summarize what he told us.
An Intelligence Explosion is the idea that a greater-than-human intelligent machine will quickly design a greater-than-itself intelligent machine, and so on, until very rapidly the intelligence of artificial systems greatly outstrips that of humanity. Is this hard takeoff scenario realistic? Is it possible? Is there any way to encourage future super-intelligent machines to be friendly?
Robots are poised to eliminate millions of jobs over the coming decades. We have to address the coming epidemic of “technological unemployment” if we’re to avoid crippling levels of poverty and societal collapse. Here’s how a guaranteed basic income will help — and why it’s absolutely inevitable.
As Election Day approaches, two reports show us exactly how corrupted our political system has become. Unless voters come out in force, it looks like corporate money is about to buy itself another house of Congress.
Published on Oct 28, 2014, a new visualization system developed by MIT researchers, combines ceiling-mounted projectors with motion-capture technology and animation software to project a robot’s intentions in real time. (Learn more about the system: http://bit.ly/1thQBSQ) The researchers say the system may help speed up the development of self-driving cars, package-delivering drones, and other autonomous, route-planning vehicles.
Norah O’Donnell looks into a controversial procedure that could stop the spread of dangerous genes that have stalked families for generations
The following is a script of “Breeding out Disease” which aired on Oct. 26, 2014. Norah O’Donnell is the correspondent. Tanya Simon, producer.
There are few fields of medicine that are having a bigger impact on how we treat disease than genetics. The science of genetics has gotten so sophisticated so quickly that it can be used to not only treat serious diseases but prevent thousands of them well before pregnancy even begins. Diseases that have stalked families for generations - like breast cancer - are being literally stopped in their tracks. Scientists can do that by creating and testing embryos in a lab, then implanting into a mother’s womb only the ones which appear healthy. While the whole field is loaded with controversy, those who are worried about passing on defective and potentially dangerous genes see the opportunity to breed out disease.
Norah O’Donnell: Did you ever envision that you would have the capability you have today?
Dr. Mark Hughes: No, but that’s the fun of science. It’s constantly surprising you.
When international agencies started noticing that new technologies would soon cause a dramatic shift in the oil market, one country took notice and, well, panicked: Saudi Arabia. Its wealth and relatively new political power are entirely due to the oil that sits under its soil.
A recent poll showed that more than half of all people in this country don’t believe that the American dream is real. Fifty-nine percent of those polled in June agreed that “the American dream has become impossible for most people to achieve.” More and more Americans believe there is “not much opportunity” to get ahead.
The onset of transhumanism, political or not may rally many people against technological innovations such as the integration of the human species with computers and re-designing of our specie’s DNA for enhancement purposes. The people of the world need to cooperate and value education so that we never see any of the dystopian posthumanist scenarios play out the way many think they might.
With the increasing attention Transhumanism is gaining in the media, there are numerous articles focusing on the gadgetry and cutting edge innovations on the horizon. We seldom turn our attention to pick apart the results of many current and older inventions. With respect the mental health, I believe Transhumanists have just as much responsibility to emphatically state their promise of a future rich with cutting edge technologies as they do to formulate exceptional approaches to breach barriers surrounding current notions of mental health.
The Global Gender Gap Report, published by the World Economic Forum, provides a framework for capturing the magnitude and scope of gender-based disparities around the world. Published on Oct 27, 2014
The Global Gender Gap Report 2014 benchmarks national gender gaps of 142 countries on economic, political, education- and health-based criteria.
This year is the 9th edition of the Index, allowing for time-series analysis on the changing patterns of gender equality around the world and comparisons between and within countries.
The rankings are designed to create greater awareness among a global audience of the challenges posed by gender gaps and the opportunities created by reducing them. The methodology and quantitative analysis behind the rankings are intended to serve as a basis for designing effective measures for reducing gender gaps.
The Global Gender Gap Report 2014 emphasizes persisting gender gap divides across and within regions. Based on the nine years of data available for the 111 countries that have been part of the report since its inception, the world has seen only a small improvement in equality for women in the workplace. According to the Global Gender Gap Report 2014, launched today, the gender gap for economic participation and opportunity now stands at 60% worldwide, having closed by 4% from 56% in 2006.
The gender gap is narrowest in terms of health and survival with a gap standing at 96% globally, with 35 countries having closed the gap entirely. Despite all this, it is the only subindex which declined over the course of the past nine years. The educational attainment gap is the next narrowest, standing at 94% globally. Here, 25 countries have closed the gap entirely. While the gender gap for economic participation and opportunity lags stubbornly behind, the gap for political empowerment, the fourth pillar measured, remains wider still, standing at 21%, although this area has seen the most improvement since 2006.
This year’s findings show that Iceland continues to be at the top of the overall rankings in The Global Gender Gap Index for the sixth consecutive year. Finland ranks in second position, and Norway holds the third place in the overall ranking. Sweden remains in fourth position and Denmark gains three places and ranks this year at the fifth position. Northern European countries dominate the top 10 with Ireland in the eighth position and Belgium (10) Nicaragua (6), Rwanda (7) and Philippines (9) complete the top 10.
The index continues to track the strong correlation between a country’s gender gap and its national competitiveness. Because women account for one-half of a country’s potential talent base, a nation’s competitiveness in the long term depends significantly on whether and how it educates and utilizes its women.