Jibo, the “world’s first family robot,” hit the media hype machine like a bomb. From a Katie Couric profile to coverage in just about every outlet, folks couldn’t get enough of this little robot with a big personality poised to bring us a step closer to the world depicted in “The Jetsons” where average families have maids like Rosie. In the blink of an eye, pre-orders climbed passed $1.8 million and blew away the initial fundraising goal of $100k.
Dr. Lynn Parramore, founding editor of New Deal 2.0, discusses the possibility - and ethics of - of human/robot sexual interactions in the near future.
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Some of the music bumpers featuring Lettuce, http://lettucefunk.com.
The ability to think clearly and make good decisions is on almost every society’s list of virtues. In this essay I discuss the debate over different aspects of intelligence, the degree to which they are shaped by genes, chemistry and society, and the role of intelligence in other virtues.
Can consciousness be created in a machine? Is the mind/brain simply a computational system? IEET Fellow and University of Connecticut philosopphy professor, Susan Schneider, was interviewed by The Humanist on these pressing topics. What kind of technology will exist in a transhumanist world the humanists are starting to question…
Ever wished you could unlock doors, turn on your lights, or log into your computer with a simple swipe of your hand? Amal Graafstra does just that as one of the first and most well-known “do-it-yourself” RFID (radio-frequency identification) implantees in the world. In this talk, Amal talks about his journey as a pioneer in RFID implementation and what you should know about biohacking.
Wired has a long form interview with Edward Snowden: The Most-Wanted Man in the World. A must-read… as far as it goes. Only keep ahold of your ability to parse complexities and contradictions, because my reflex is always to point out aspects that were never raised. I refuse to choose one "side's" purist reflex. So should you.
Pick up a jar of chili powder, and the chances are it will contain a small amount of fumed silica – an engineered nanomaterial that’s been around for over half a century. The material – which is formed from microscopically small particles of amorphous silicon dioxide – has long been considered to be non-toxic.
Pope Francis’s remarks on poverty, inequality and capitalism — most recently at his open air mass in Seoul — don’t sit well with many conservatives and right-leaning libertarians. The Pope’s remarks include criticism of growing economic inequality and a call to “hear the voice of the poor.”
We can encourage empathy and compassion through social policy and individual practices. But fully realizing our capacities for empathy and compassion will require careful, nuanced neurotechnological intervention.
Street defends a form of constructivist antirealism, which I find quite attractive. I was thus pleasantly surprised to find that she had also recently written a paper dealing with one of my favourite topics in the philosophy of religion: the problem of evil and its moral implications. It’s a very good paper too, one that I’m sure will provide plenty of fodder for discussion.
Published on Nov 12, 2013
Krauss’ final lecture of his 2013/2014 lecture series he takes NCH students to the frontiers of their existence.
Following a summary of his previous lectures where Krauss emphasizes the value of the tools of a scientist he presented to our students, Krauss discusses the puzzling discovery that velocity remains constant even at the edge of our galaxy, and the profound implication that Newton’s laws must break down in order to accommodate this fact. Krauss then moves from demonstrating how we can weigh the universe, to finding out the curvature of the universe and the its total energy. We are then guided through the exciting implications of conclusions drawn from these calculations. One of these could be realisation of Krauss’ depressing prediction of our miserable future.
Published on Jan 22, 2014
Professor Steven Pinker takes an hour and twenty minutes to discuss the exciting field of the neuroscience with NCH students. He opens with an introduction to the ‘astonishing hypothesis’ - the hypothesis that our cognition and sensibility are results of neuro-physiological activity in the tissues of the brain. That is, there is a material basis for our consciousness. Pinker displays his intellect - literally, in this lecture - and in doing so he furnishes our students with the basic principals of the human brain and then guides them through more complex conclusions found from scientific experiments. This is a fascinating lecture worth watching for those who are looking for an introduction to neuroscience.
Published on Jan 22, 2014
Yes, yes he did. Einstein did write a love poem to Spinoza. But why? This is the question that Rebecca Goldstein attempts to answer in her lecture given during the 2013/14 academic year at New College of Humanities. Following an overview of Baruch Spinoza, Goldstein discusses the doctrine of Rationalism and provides an exposition of Spinoza’s account of the nature of the world. Einstein was exposed to Spinoza’s views and Spinoza’s philosophy of science is a view that Einstein took very seriously. It was in this exposure that a passion was born.
Hannu Rajaniemi is a Ph. D. in string theory and fellow SU alumni best known for his popular science fiction trilogy The Quantum Thief [Jean Le Flambeur]. His work has risen to prominence both because of its own merits but also because of the legend surrounding his signing up with a major book publisher. Rajaniemi has been suggested numerous times as a strong guest-candidate for my Singularity 1 on 1 podcast and I am extremely happy to have had the opportunity to finally fulfill those requests.
I have to admit that I enjoyed immensely reading Hannu’s Jean Le Flambeur trilogy and took that as an excuse to interview him on a variety of topics for over 90 min. During our conversation with Rajaniemi we cover: his math background, writing passion and entrepreneurial ventures; ethics, science and science fiction; the Higgs Boson, the multiverse and other cosmological models; the definition of science fiction and the distinction between sci fi and fantasy; the importance of “constraints and suffering” for creativity; how he sold the Quantum Thief trilogy to a major publisher; tips and tools for novice sci fi writers; determinism, free will and the quest for self-knowledge; his take on transhumanism and the technological singularity…
Please note that the first 3 people who share the most interesting quotes from this interview with Hannu [on twitter or within the comments section of either this blog post or on YouTube] will receive a free copy of his latest book – The Causal Angel!
As always you can listen to or download the audio file above or scroll down and watch the video interview in full.
Hannu Rajaniemi is the author of science fiction novels The Quantum Thief (Jean Le Flambeur), The Fractal Prince and The Causal Angel, as well as several short stories. He holds a Ph.D. in string theory from the University of Edinburgh and co-founded a mathematics company whose clients included the UK Ministry of Defence and the European Space Agency. Currently, he divides his time between writing fiction and working as a co-founder at Helix Nanotechnologies, a biotechnology startup.
Center for Computer Research in Music and Acoustics
The Stanford Laptop Orchestra (SLOrk) presents new works for electronic chamber music, by members of the SLOrk ensemble and seminar. You are cordially invited to an evening of new music crafted for laptops, humans, and hemispherical speaker arrays!
Douglas Hofstadter talks at the Stanford Symbolic Systems Distinguished Speaker Lecture about “The Nature of Categories and Concepts” and cognitive science.
Douglas Hofstadter, College of Arts and Sciences Distinguished Professor of Cognitive Science and Comparative Literature. Indiana University What is a quintessential category? Bird, perhaps? Or maybe chair? And what is a quintessential concept? Two? Number? Prime number? I’m not trying to put words into your mouth—I’m just trying to get you to ask yourself these questions. Also, I wonder if by any chance you thought that these are really exactly the same question, in which case you might have wondered why I asked you the same question twice. Or did you perhaps think something along these lines: “A category is a set of objects
out there in the real world, whereas a concept is a mental entity that gets activated whenever one sees a member of the corresponding category”? In that case, you would essentially be equating a category with the extension of a set, and a concept with the intension of a set. (Those are notions borrowed from mathematical logic and set theory.) Actually, none of the notions above is at all close to the viewpoint that I wish to convey to you about concepts and categories. My viewpoint is, I think, quite unorthodox and quite radical, and it claims that concepts and categories include many extremely commonplace, dime-a-dozen notions that you might never have thought of as being categories or concepts. (Sorry—I’m not going to list any of them here; you’ll have to come to the talk to find out what I mean!) I will try to convince you that, despite any initial skepticism, these are primordial, quintessential cases, and I hope that this novel view will have a serious impact on what you think thinking is.
The growing body of work in the new field of “affective robotics” involves both theoretical and practical ways to instill – or at least imitate – human emotion in Artificial Intelligence (AI), and also to induce emotions toward AI in humans. The aim of this is to guarantee that as AI becomes smarter and more powerful, it will remain tractable and attractive to us. Inducing emotions is important to this effort to create safer and more attractive AI because it is hoped that instantiation of emotions will eventually lead to robots that have moral and ethical codes, making them safer; and also that humans and AI will be able to develop mutual emotional attachments, facilitating the use of robots as human companions and helpers. This paper discusses some of the more significant of these recent efforts and addresses some important ethical questions that arise relative to these endeavors.
The growth of our empathetic ability may have been key for the growth of civilization, and civilization may have selected for it. Two social policies that we can implement today to further empathy are reducing inequality, and screening and treating autism and psychopathy.
This book offers a colossal synthesis of history, biology, philosophy, psychology and neurophysiology. Surprisingly, the latter is the least plausible region of the book (we still know too little about the brain). But by mixing historical facts and evolutionary theories and using a bit of logical thinking, Pinker comes up with great insights into human nature. Pinker synthesizes the work of (literally) hundreds of thinkers and researchers and draws his own original conclusions.
Without clear rules for cyberwarfare, technology workers could find themselves fair game in enemy attacks and counterattacks. If they participate in military cyberoperations—intentionally or not—employees at Facebook, Google, Apple, Microsoft, Yahoo!, Sprint, AT&T, Vodaphone, and many other companies may find themselves considered “civilians directly participating in hostilities” and therefore legitimate targets of war, according to the legal definitions of the Geneva Conventions and their Additional Protocols.
The 2014 Ebola outbreak in West Africa is the largest since records began. To learn more about how the virus has spread and how it’s mutating, a team of scientists sequenced viral genomes from 78 patients in Sierra Leone.
Jennifer French is the 2012 Rolex Yachtswoman of the Year, a silver medalist in sailing, and a quadriplegic. She is the first woman to receive the implanted Stand and Transfer system, an experimental device that uses implanted electrodes and an external control device. French injured her spinal cord when snowboarding in 1998, but has since become an advocate for access to neurotechnological therapies, devices, and treatments. She is a co-founder and executive director of Neurotech Network, a non-profit organization focused on education and advocacy. French told her story in her book, On My Feet Again: My Journey Out of the Wheelchair Using Neurotechnology.
While other media outlets bring you news as it happens, only the Onion News Network has the power to bring you the news before it happens. In the year 2137 a catastrophe has reduced the world to a lawless wasteland — food and water are scarce, social institutions have crumbled, and a screaming, tattooed thug has been installed as the president of what remains of the United States.
The police response to protests and riots in Ferguson, Missouri were filled with images that have become commonplace all over the world in the last decade. Police dressed in once futuristic military gear confronting civilian protesters as if they were a rival army. The uniforms themselves put me in mind of nothing so much as the storm-troopers from Star Wars. I guess that would make the rest of us the rebels.
Continuing our series on co-veillance, sousveillance and general citizen empowerment, on our streets… last time we discussed our right and ability to use new instrumentalities to expand our ability to view, record and hold others accountable, with the cameras in our pockets.
Peter Singer on Effective Altruism & Cause Prioritization - this is a short from a longer interview I did recently with Peter Singer - the longer form is forthcoming!
Effective altruism is a philosophy and social movement which applies evidence and reason to working out the most effective ways to improve the world. Effective altruists consider all causes and actions, and then act in the way that brings about the greatest positive impact. It is this broad evidence-based approach that distinguishes effective altruism from traditional altruism or charity. Effective altruism sometimes involves taking actions that are less intuitive or emotionally salient. The philosopher Peter Singer is a notable supporter of effective altruism. - Adam Ford
Empathy draws on both mammalian circuits that we share with other animals and cognitive abilities that only appear to be present in our closest relatives, the great apes and and cetaceans, and ourselves. As with happiness and self-control, there is strong evidence that differences in our capacity for compassion and empathy are tied to differences in the brain structures and neurochemistries that they depend on.
Published on Aug 4, 2014
A Panel Discussion for the Public and Healthcare Professionals
Death: Why the Brain Matters
Alex Capron, LL.B Professor, Law and Medicine
James Hynds, Ph.D. Senior Clinical Ethicist, UCLA Health System
Paul Vespa, M.D. Director, Neuro ICU, RRUCLA Medical Center
Wednesday, April 16, 2014
Ronald Reagan Medical Center