It's another blow for immersive virtual reality. University of California researchers have shown that even people with perfect eyesight navigate the world by relying on a lot more than what they see. Here's why VR won't really work until we go beyond visual cues and fancy treadmills.
Biologists have successfully extended the life spans of some mice by as much as 70%, leading many to believe that ongoing experimentation on our mammalian cousins will eventually lead to life-extending therapies in humans. But how reliable are these studies? And do they really apply to humans? We asked the experts.
Many kids and teens paint or spray irreverent, subversive drawings on walls, doors and everywhere else. One subject has always been a favorite, and now our Spirit has drawn it in the sand of Mars! The story is all over the Internet. Space.comsays: “Has juvenile humor landed on Mars? The Internet is buzzing today (April 24) over a phallic design etched into the Red Planet’s surface nine years ago by NASA’s Spirit rover, with some folks suggesting the robot’s drivers drew it on purpose out of boredom, mischievousness or some combination of the two.”
Artificial wombs are a staple of science fiction, but could we really build one? As time passes, we’re inching closer and closer to the day when it will finally become possible to grow a baby entirely outside the human body. Here’s what we’ll need to do to pull it off.
In what might be the first documented case of technologically-assisted interspecies telepathy, an international team of researchers has successfully created a non-invasive brain-to-brain interface that allows humans to make a rat move involuntarily. The breakthrough could lead to more advanced techniques in which a person can control the parts of another person’s body with their thoughts.
Nearly 1.4 million babies are born surgically in the United States each year. That’s a third of all births, and the numbers are only getting bigger. The trend is due in part to an increase in elective cesarean sections, or surgical births that aren’t medically necessary. Why are women in the United States being encouraged to undergo unnecessary surgery?
Slate writer Will Oremus has put together a fairly revealing article about how easy it’s becoming to supercharge our brains, prompting him to wonder why there’s still so much push-back against the idea of technologically enhancing ourselves.
All seems to indicate that the next decade, the 20s, will be the magic decade of the brain, with amazing science but also amazing applications. With the development of nanoscale neural probes and high speed, two-way Brain-Computer interfaces (BCI), by the end of the next decade we may have our iPhones implanted in our brains and become a telepathic species. Ramez Naam’s great sci-fi novel NEXUS is a fascinating preview.
Brown University researchers have developed a fully implantable and rechargeable wireless brain sensor capable of transmitting neural data to an external receiver. The system, which has performed remarkably well in monkeys and pigs for over a year, could eventually allow humans to control external devices with their thoughts.
It’s not quite Rise of the Planet of the Apes, but it may not be too far off, either. By grafting human glial cells into the brains of mice, neuroscientists were able to “sharply enhance” their cognitive capacities. These improvements included augmentations to memory, learning, and adaptive conditioning. It’s a breakthrough that could yield important insights into the treatment of human brain disorders.
An associate professor from the University of Mississippi Medical Center has uncovered what is quite possibly the grandaddy of all oversights. Even though the Thirteenth Amendment was adopted 148 years ago, the state of Mississippi never officially ratified the amendment on account of some sloppy paperwork. It’s an oversight that has since been corrected, making it really and truly official: slavery is indeed illegal in that state.
Elyn Saks first started noticing that something was wrong when she was 16. One day, and without reason, she suddenly left her classroom and started walking home. It turned into an agonizing journey in which she believed all the houses in her neighborhood were transmitting hostile and insulting messages directly into her brain. Five years later, while attending law school at Oxford, she experienced her first complete schizophrenic break. Saks struggled over the course of the next decade, but she came through thanks to medication, therapy, and the support of friends and family.
Most science fictional and futurist visions of the future tend towards the negative — and for good reason. Our environment is a mess, we have a nasty tendency to misuse technologies, and we’re becoming increasingly capable of destroying ourselves. But civilizational demise is by no means guaranteed. Should we find a way to manage the risks and avoid dystopic outcomes, our far future looks astonishingly bright. Here are seven best-case scenarios for the future of humanity.
Fitness trends come and go, but weight training in particular never seems to come into style. Part of the problem is that most people associate it with bodybuilding culture, and women in particular are reluctant to join the guys at the back of the gym.
Earlier this month, a report funded by the Greenwall Foundation examined the legal and ethical implications of using biologically enhanced humans on the battlefield. Given the Pentagon's open acknowledgement that it's working to create super-soldiers, this is quickly becoming a pertinent issue. We wanted to learn more, so we contacted one of the study's authors. He told us that the use of cyber-soldiers could very well be interpreted as a violation of international law. Here's why.
Bruce Sterling wrote influential works like Schismatrix and Islands in the Net, plus he practically invented cyberpunk (with all due respect, of course, to William Gibson and Rudy Rucker). We are serious fans of his work. And if his recent comments about the potential risks of greater-than-human artificial intelligence — or lack thereof — are any indication, he's itching to start a giant fight among futurists.
Though pain has clearly served an important evolutionary purpose, not everyone is convinced that we still need it. A growing number of forward-looking thinkers are suggesting that we need to get rid of it — and that we’ll soon have the technological know-how to do this. But should we choose to embark on such a radical experiment, we’ll need to pay close attention to the risks and those aspects of humanity we might risk losing.
The human brain is capable of 1016 processes per second, which makes it far more powerful than any computer currently in existence. But that doesn't mean our brains don't have major limitations. The lowly calculator can do math thousands of times better than we can, and our memories are often less than useless — plus, we're subject to cognitive biases, those annoying glitches in our thinking that cause us to make questionable decisions and reach erroneous conclusions.
Wired’s Kevin Kelly has penned an article in which he argues that we should let robots take our jobs — a welcome development that will help us to “dream up new work that matters.” Moreover, it will be through this process that humanity can liberate itself from dangerous and demeaning work, and allow us to become “more human than we already are.”
I recommend watching the one-hour film Knocking on Heaven’s Door, by George Carey, aired by the BBC in 2011, to all space enthusiasts interested in the history of the Russian space program and our future out there in the universe. The film zeroes in on the powerful role that religion can play in advancing radical scientific visions.
I fell totally in love with Second Life one minute after joining in 2005. A few weeks later I left a very boring but very well paid senior management post in the public sector to became a technology entrepreneur.
Political scientists and science fiction writers alike have long been taken with the idea that humans would one day form a global government. Yet few of us take this prospect very seriously, often dismissing it as an outright impossibility or very far off in the future. Given the rapid pace of globalization, however, it would seem that humanity is inexorably headed in this direction. So how long will it take us to build a world government? We talked to an expert to find out
Let’s build a Dyson sphere! By enveloping the sun with a massive array of solar panels, humanity would graduate to a Type 2 Kardashev civilization capable of utilizing nearly 100% of the sun’s energy output.
I’m getting increasingly annoyed by all the anti-religious propaganda that litters my Facebook newsfeed. Look, as a fellow humanist and atheist, I get it. Organized religion is a problem on so many levels that I don’t even know where to begin. I’d be the first person to say that something needs to be done about it and I’m delighted to see atheism become normalized in our society and culture. But seriously, folks, what are you hoping to achieve by posting such facile and inflammatory material?
“We will not become immortal cyborgs with superintelligent computer friends in the next twenty years,” writes Annalee Newitz on io9. “There is strong evidence that humans first began exploring the oceans by boat about 50 thousand years ago… What if our space probes and the Curiosity rover are the equivalent of those reed boats thousands of years ago? It’s worth pondering. We may be at the start of a long, slow journey whose climactic moment comes thousands of years from now.” My short answer: So what?
Our Earth feels like a warm and welcoming place for us life forms, but beyond our little planet, the majority of the solar system is too cold for us to live comfortably. But a new study suggests that planets in other solar systems might be more habitable than our own because, on the whole, they would be warmer — up to 25 % warmer.
On December 1, 2012, the American Psychiatric Association officially approved the final diagnostic criteria for the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-V). The new ‘psychiatric bible’ features a number of important changes to the existing canon, including the elimination and alteration of many familiar disorders. Here’s what you need to know about the new guidebook.
One of the most challenging tasks for the modern day creationist to is reconcile the belief in a 6,000 year old Earth with the ever-growing mountain of scientific evidence pointing to a vastly different conclusion — namely a universe that’s 13.5 billion years old and an Earth that formed 4.5 billion years ago. So, given these astoundingly dramatic discrepancies, biblical literalists and ‘young Earth creationists’ have had no choice but to get pretty darned imaginative when brushing science aside. Here are 10 arguments creationists have made to counter scientific theories.