273 posts tagged future
Humans are currently the most intelligent beings on the planet – the result of a long history of evolutionary pressure and adaptation. But could we some day design and build machines that surpass the human intellect? This is the concept of superintelligence, a growing area of research that aims to improve understanding of what such machines might be like, how they might come to exist, and what they would mean for humanity’s future. Oxford philosopher Nick Bostrom’s recent book Superintelligence: Paths, Dangers, Strategies discusses a variety of technological paths that could reach superintelligent artificial intelligence (AI), from mathematical approaches to the digital emulation of human brain tissue. And although it sounds like science fiction, a group of experts, including Stephen Hawking, wrote an article on the topic noting that “There is no physical law precluding particles from being organised in ways that perform even more advanced computations than the arrangements of particles in human brains.”
Brain as computer
The idea that the brain performs “computation” is widespread in cognitive science and AI since the brain deals in information, converting a pattern of input nerve signals to output nerve signals.
Another well-accepted theory is that physics is Turing-computable: that whatever goes on in a particular volume of space, including the space occupied by human brains could be simulated by a Turing machine, a kind of idealised information processor. Physical computers perform these same information-processing tasks, though they aren’t yet at the level of Turing’s hypothetical device.
These two ideas come together to give us the conclusion that intelligence itself is the result of physical computation. And, as Hawking and colleagues go on to argue, there is no reason to believe that the brain is the most intelligent possible computer.
In fact, the brain is limited by many factors, from its physical composition to its evolutionary past. Brains were not selected exclusively to be smart, but to generally maximise human reproductive fitness. Brains are not only tuned to the tasks of the hunter gatherer, but also designed to fit through the human birth canal; supercomputing clusters or data-centres have no such constraints.
Synthetic hardware has a number of advantages over the human brain both in speed and scale, but the software is what creates the intelligence. How could we possibly get smarter-than-human software?
An elevated network of hover cars is to be built in Tel Aviv.
A 500m loop will be built on the campus of Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) followed by a commercial network, according to skyTran, the company that will build it. Two-person vehicles will be suspended from elevated magnetic tracks, as an alternative transport method to congested roads, the firm promised. The system should be up and running by the end of 2015. The firm hopes the test track will prove that the technology works and lead to a commercial version of the network. The plan is to allow passengers to order a vehicle on their smartphone to meet them at a specific station and then head directly to their destination. The vehicles will achieve speeds of up to 70km/h (43mph) although the commercial rollout is expected to offer much faster vehicles. A number of skyTran projects are planned globally, including in India and the US, but will depend upon the success of the Israeli pilot. SkyTran, based at the Nasa research park in California, hopes to revolutionise public transport. Chief executive Jerry Sanders described the agreement to build a test track with IAI as a “breakthrough” for the project. Joe Dignan, an independent smart city expert, said the system represented “a hybrid between existing infrastructure and autonomous vehicles”. “It will get the market in the mood for autonomous vehicles - it is not too scary, is cheaper than building out a train line and uses part of the urban landscape, 20 feet above ground, that isn’t currently used.” (via BBC News - Hover cars to be built in Tel Aviv)
read of the day: A doping manifesto (why most forms of doping in sport should be legalized)
The rules on doping in sport are incoherent – should we change them to allow the right kind of performance enhancement?
Nothing is more reviled in sport now than doping. The US cyclist Lance Armstrong is not just bad – in the eyes of the media he is practically a monster: ‘singularly evil’, and ‘worse than shameless’. His body, once a modern miracle for beating cancer and winning the Tour de France seven times, is now ‘worthless’ and his founding of a successful anti-cancer charity is just ‘part of the shell game of appearance’. Last year, the Australian Crime Commission reported widespread use of performance-enhancing drugs in Australia. Richard Ings, former head of the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority, pronounced: ‘This is not a black day in Australian sport, this is the blackest day in Australian sport.’ The same year, a report by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) highlighted the lack of effectiveness of drug-testing programmes. Dick Pound, the former head of WADA and the report’s author, added his own pugnacious gloss to its findings: ‘It ought to be a wake-up call. It ought to be a call to arms.’
We don’t know how common doping is, but we have some clues. Of 21 podium finishers in the Tour de France for the period 1999-2005, 20 are suspected or proven to have used illegal substances. For the longer period 1996-2010, the figure is 36 out of 45. Ahead of the London 2012 Olympics, 107 athletes tested positive for doping, and numerous athletes who passed tests throughout London 2012 have since been found to be doping, including the Russian swimmer Yulia Efimova, the US sprinter Tyson Gay (who admitted to it), and the Jamaicans Asafa Powell and Sherone Simpson. Other successful athletes were drawn from the pool of previously convicted drug cheats, including Alexander Vinokourov (Russia/cycling), Tatyana Lysenko (Russia/the hammer), Aslı Çakır Alptekin (Turkey/women’s 1,500-metre race), and Sandra Perković (Croatia/women’s discus) – all of them gold medallists in 2012.
keep on reading..
The psychology of your future self
"Human beings are works in progress that mistakenly think they’re finished." Dan Gilbert shares recent research on a phenomenon he calls the "end of history illusion," where we somehow imagine that the person we are right now is the person we’ll be for the rest of time. Hint: that’s not the case.
Voluntary Cybernetic Enhancement - Boydfuturist Special
IEET Affiliate Scholar, John Niman talks about “Cyborg by Choice: Human Enhancement and Cosmetic Surgery” on this episode of Boydfuturist. He highlights and goes over the history of artificial and biological limbs. He notes that legal regulations, law, and policy do not really exist today and proposes some ideas for what we will see in the future.
h\t to IEET
(by John Niman)
In the near future, companies, hell even the NSA, could be mining our brainwaves for data. It’s bad enough the private details about our lives that are revealed in hoovered up emails and phone calls; imagine if Big Brother was literally reading our minds? That’s some dystopian shit. We’re heading in that direction. Brainwave-tracking is becoming increasingly common in the consumer market, with the gaming industry at the forefront of the trend. “Neurogames” use brain-computer interfaces and electroencephalographic (EEG) gadgets like the Emotiv headset to read brain signals and map them to in-game actions, basically giving the player virtual psychic superpowers. Now there’s a fear that we’re not doing enough to protect our raw thoughts from getting hacked with “brain spyware” or being tracked and gathered like the rest of our personal data. The concern was raised last month at the 2014 Neurogaming Conference in San Francisco, NPR reported. “We may wake up in a few years and say, ‘Oh, we should have done something. We should have thought about the privacy of this data,’” Arek Stopczynski, a neuroinformatics researcher at MIT told me in an interview.
Here’s How People 100 Years Ago Thought We’d Be Living Today
In 100 years, there will be flying taxis and people will travel to the moon routinely. Knowledge will be instilled into students through wires attached to their heads. These may sound like the predictions of modern-day futurists, but they’re how people a century ago saw the future–otherwise known to you and me as the present. These vintage European postcards illustrate a view of the 21st century that is remarkably prescient in some ways and hilariously wrong in others, says Ed Fries, who selected them from his private collection. In the 10 years since he left Microsoft, where he was co-founder of the Xbox project, Fries has worked on what he calls “a random collection of futuristic projects.” He’s advised or served on the board of companies working on 3-D printing, depth-sensing cameras (like those used in Kinect), and headsets for reading brain waves. Earlier this month, he presented some of his favorite postcards at a neurogaming conference in San Francisco, using them to illustrate pitfalls in predicting the future that remain relevant today. One thing you see in the cards is a tendency to assume some things won’t change, even though they undoubtedly will. In one image, a couple flags down an aerotaxi. That’s futuristic enough, but the man is wearing spats and carrying a cane, while she has a parasol and an enormous hat with a feather. Did they really think transportation would undergo a revolution while fashion stayed frozen in time? “In every one of these you see a mix of a futuristic concept with stuff that looks to us to be very old fashioned,” Fries said. At the same time, there’s virtually no hint in the postcards of the truly transformative technologies of the last century–namely personal computers and the internet. Sure, there are video phones, but the image is projected on a screen or a wall. Moving pictures were just coming into existence, Fries says, so that wasn’t a huge leap. But the idea of a screen illuminated from within seems to have been beyond their imagination. (via Here’s How People 100 Years Ago Thought We’d Be Living Today | Science | WIRED)
Come on Feel the Data (And Smell It)
Digital interaction will engage all of our senses simultaneously, including smell and taste, to help us feel the impact of information in our guts
The Internet of Things promises to bring network connectivity and ubiquitous digital sensors in a wide variety of everyday materials and devices. This plethora of inputs produces data, and lots of it. We already stretched to the limit processing, internalizing, and understanding the data we have today. In the future, the sophisticated data visualizations—graphs, flowcharts, and infographics—that are staples of contemporary digital media products will become increasingly insufficient. Instead, the burgeoning Internet of Things will rely increasingly on what I call “data visceralizations.” Data visceralizations are representations of information that don’t rely solely and primarily on sight or sound, but on multiple senses including touch, smell, and even taste, working together to stimulate our feelings as well as our thoughts. (via Come on Feel the Data (And Smell It) - Luke Stark - The Atlantic)
Michio Kaku (2014) “The Future of the Mind” (by Michio Kaku)