In some ways, we could look upon the life of a cat and be jealous. A life full of loving attention, of warm beds and constant naps, there is something to be envied in the cat’s life. The cat needn’t fend for itself, if she’s indoors, she has everything she needs in an instant. In addition, the cat isn’t responsible for anything, it can do what it pleases with a kind of total autonomy, and at the same time we will love the cat precisely for this kind of behavior.
Let’s imagine that current trends continue, and technology continues to drive down the price of various goods. We could eventually end up with a world in which artificial intelligence equals human beings in most tasks, household devices can manufacture physical goods with atomic precision, transportation is fully automated, solar energy is plentiful, and high volumes of useful data freely flow from person to person.
In 2009, Dr. George Tiller, family doctor and abortion provider, was shot and killed in his Wichita, Kansas church by an anti-choice extremist. Before the murder, Julie Burkhart worked side by side with Dr. Tiller for eight years. Afterwards, Ms. Burkhart vowed to carry on his vision of safe, accessible abortion care for the women of Kansas. An Interview with Julie Burkhart, reproductive rights hero.
Readers of Rationally Speaking are familiar with my criticism of some scientists or scientific practices, from evolutionary psychology to claims concerning the supernatural. But, especially given my dual background in science and philosophy, I pride myself in being an equal opportunity offender. And indeed, I have for instance chastised Alvin Plantinga for engaging in seriously flawed “philosophy” in the case of his evolutionary argument against naturalism, and have more than once sympathetically referred to James Ladyman and Don Ross’ criticism of analytic metaphysics as a form of “neo-scholasticism.”
Artificial Intelligence is a set of tools that are driving forward key parts of the futurist agenda, sometimes at a rapid clip. The last few years have seen a slew of surprising advances: the IBM supercomputer Watson, which beat two champions of Jeopardy!; self-driving cars that have logged over 300,000 accident-free miles and are officially legal in three states; and statistical learning techniques are conducting pattern recognition on complex data sets from consumer interests to trillions of images. In this post, I’ll bring you up to speed on what is happening in AI today, and talk about potential future applications.
Part of the problem each of us has when it comes to realistically imagining the future is that we ultimately bring our own cognitive biases, our optimism or pessimism, to the question at hand. From the perspective of the types of small societies we evolved out of these kinds of sunny vs gloomy dispositions were no doubt a very good thing. A discovery of a rich patch of good game land followed by feasts necessitated curmudgeons who would remind the tribe that the days of full stomachs would not last. Thankfully, these complainers would not have the final word, and the group would set off again over the next hill assured by the sunnysiders that more of the riches of the world remained on the other side.
Of course, no one can forecast with 100% accuracy how the future will progress; but if we look at what experts predict might become possible over the next two-to-three decades; and then blend in some scenarios that push the envelope – an incredible future begins to take form.
The United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) wants us to eat insects. The international agency recently reported that there are more than 1,400 species of recorded edible bugs. It turns out that many varieties are rather nutritious. A serving of grasshoppers, for instance, provides nearly the same amount of protein as ground beef. And insects can be farmed more inexpensively, on much less land and using less water.
Imagine a machine that cleans house, sets the table, creates and serves meals, provides security, and expresses compliments that enhance our ego. This may sound like something out of The Jetsons, but researchers believe that we will one day share our homes with superintelligent household robots that crave to serve our every whim.
International trade has recovered since the economic crisis of 2008-2009 which initially resulted in a worldwide slump in demand and in the liquidity that fuels the movement of goods and services across borders. However, despite this global incremental recovery, slow output growth, high unemployment and economic uncertainty persist across the European Union, while other developed markets have struggled to return to their pre-crisis highs.
It is all too easy to assume that techno-optimists and techno-pessimists are diametrically opposed. But while they may have different destinations in mind, the road to get there – what they need to do to achieve their respective ends – is a shared one. Techno-optimists and technoprogressives express hope and passion for technologies’ liberating and empowering potentials, while techno-pessimists and neo-luddites* are fearful of their dystopic and dehumanizing potentials. Optimists want to spread awareness of the ways in which technology can improve self and society, while optimists seek to spread awareness of the ways in which technology can make matters worse.
Continuing from last time beyond revolutionizing physics Smolin’s goal in Time Reborn is the recovery of our human sense of time. What physics tells us is that there is no distinction between past, present and future. This, of course, collides with our natural sense of time- how we are prone to see ourselves as beings in time. For us, the past is what is behind us, over with, as mute to our desire to change it or have it to live over again as the sheer characteristics of existence such as space, light, energy. The present is where we are right now the location of our body and consciousness a fact that shoves us with it’s immediacy.
Time to reconsider the relationship between science and the supernatural. A number of colleagues in both science and philosophy argue that the supernatural is nothing special, that god-related hypotheses can be tested by ordinary scientific methods, and that — given the repeated failure of such tests — the only rational conclusion is that science has pretty much shown that there is no such thing as the supernatural.
Prior to this weekend, (#)Sharknado took audiences by storm (sorry for audacious puns, but they’re all in the spirit of this new phenomenon). Listed under IMDB as ‘TV Movie’ is probably the first clue of its outrageous premise, acting, and cinematic delivery.
Do-It-Yourself scientists working in hackerspaces are positioned to make significant contributions with low overhead and little formal training (becoming necessary and valuable apprenticeship sites as the current higher education system deteriorates). The state has yet to heavily clamp down, but, because such freedom threatens the status quo, we can expect intervention to intensify.
I was a bit perplexed, to say the least, when I read Big Think blogger John N. Gray’s article “Immortality is a Waste of Time.” His entire argument revolved around the notion that, because of unknown contingencies throughout life, the act of curtailing death’s inevitability and infinity is thus a waste of time, money, thought and anxiety.
‘Making words illegal violates our freedom of speech!’ Of course it does. But that freedom, like many others, isn’t absolute. Our freedoms are limited freedoms. They are limited by several things (Joel Feinberg identifies six liberty-limiting principles), one of which is the harm principle. That is, when our action harms another person or society in general, it is limited. It is illegal.
“The year is 2032. You have just celebrated your 80th birthday and you have some tough decisions ahead. You can keep repairing your current body or move into a new one. The growing of ‘blank’ bodies has become one of the fastest advancing health industries in the world, and by using your own genetic material, body farmers can recreate your biological condition at age 20.” The above scenario was taken from “When Death Becomes Optional,” written by Google’s top-rated Futurist, Thomas Frey in a recent K21st article.
Of late, I’ve been thinking alot about time. I thought this was just a reflection of age until I stumbled across two recent books that see the question of time and our perception of it to be essential to solving many of the problems that plague us from the level of the individual all the way up to those of our global civilization.
Doc Searls makes a great talk on the State of the Net in which he explains how we are reaching the personal data cloud. And also how, also this time, like in the past, with computers, mainframe, networks, mobiles, the corporate world is trying to control those data. And in doing so they limit their usefulness. What gets built outside always becomes more valuable than what is being built inside. Inevitably ending to support those corporations prefer to interface with what is outside than build their own walled gardens.
Although today, technologies that can accurately simulate a deceased person’s life experience, their consciousness, emotions, and memories do not exist, many experts believe that exponential advances in computers, artificial intelligence, and communications technologies could bring this dream into reality by mid-century or before.
In what is perhaps the most absurd attack on transhumanism to date, Mike Adams of NaturalNews.com equates this broad philosophy and movement with “the entire idea that you can ‘upload your mind to a computer’” and further posits that the only kind of possible mind uploading is the destructive kind, where the original, biological organism ceases to exist. Adams goes so far as calling transhumanism a “death cult much like the infamous Heaven’s Gate cult led by Marshal Applewhite.”
During our current technological age of the 21st century, topics like robotics, AI, mind uploading, and indefinite life extension are no longer topics of science-fiction, but rather of science-facts and possibilities. The most common one being heavily debated at the current moment is mind uploading. Once we’re able to artificially replicate the human brain, and then begin uploading ourselves into said artificial brain, will we lose consciousness?
Technological innovation and information communication technologies (ICTs) represent a way for developing world nations to foster economic growth and development, improve levels of education and training, as well as address gender issues within society.
Centenarians, people who have reached 100 years of age boast about 450,000 members worldwide; but super-centenarians, those 110 years and older, total just 58 as of May 5, 2013. Current title of the world's oldest person goes to Japan's Misao Okawa at 115. See Wikipedia Oldest People List.
My conviction is that humanity has become trapped in a completely unsustainable economic and post-industrial system. The problems we face are complex and can no means be exhaustive listed, but I’ll limit it to seven main problem areas. These traps are financial, petrochemical, atmospherical, complexity, political, employment and overpopulation.
The idea that the world itself could be considered an overarching form of mind can trace its roots deep into the religious longings of pantheism- the idea that the universe itself is God, or the closest thing we will ever find to our conception of God. In large part, I find pantheists to be a noble group.