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Singularity: Kurzweil on 2045, When Humans, Machines Merge

Singularity: Kurzweil on 2045, When Humans, Machines Merge
On Feb. 15, 1965, a diffident but self-possessed high school student named Raymond Kurzweil appeared as a guest on a game show called I've Got a Secret. He was introduced by the host, Steve Allen, then he played a short musical composition on a piano. The idea was that Kurzweil was hiding an unusual fact and the panelists — they included a comedian and a former Miss America — had to guess what it was. On the show (see the clip on YouTube), the beauty queen did a good job of grilling Kurzweil, but the comedian got the win: the music was composed by a computer. Kurzweil then demonstrated the computer, which he built himself — a desk-size affair with loudly clacking relays, hooked up to a typewriter. But Kurzweil would spend much of the rest of his career working out what his demonstration meant. That was Kurzweil's real secret, and back in 1965 nobody guessed it. Computers are getting faster. True? Probably. Related:  TranshumanismCyborgenic Reengineering the Human BodyTranshumanism

Memory implantation is now officially real The movie Inception is getting closer to reality. By planting false memories into the minds of mice, neuroscientists at MIT have created the first artificially implanted memories. And they've brought us closer to understanding the fallibility of human recollection. When we experience something, say a trip to the park, a memory of the event is stored in a constellation of interconnected neurons in our brains called an "engram," or memory trace. In the 1940s, Canadian neurosurgeon Wilder Penfield delivered electrical shocks to the temporal lobes of patients about to undergo brain surgery, and his subjects reported the sudden recollection of specific memories. How To Implant a Memory In a study published in the latest issue of Science, a team of researchers led by MIT neuroscientist and Nobel Laureate Susumu Tonegawa demonstrates its ability to isolate and activate engrams in a mouse's memory-rich hippocampus. Here's the brilliant bit. Next comes the memory implantation.

3D Printed Body Parts Go Mainstream 3D printing technology has been around for two decades, but the price has come down in recent years and more people have been able to make use of it. Consequently, we've started to be able to really tap into its vast potential. 3D printed products are being spewed out left, right and center; from the building blocks of houses to replica shark skin. It almost seems as though the capabilities are endless, and the technology is not anticipated to slow down any time soon. One really exciting application of 3D printing is the generation of body parts. The level of detail that this technology can produce often supersedes that of traditional methods, offering patients a superior fit or design, and they can often be produced at an impressively low cost. Researchers have turned to 3D printing to produce a wide variety of body parts. Image credit: Washington University in St Louis. Image credit: Not Impossible/ Project Daniel. Image credit: UMC Utrecht.

Michael Anissimov: Transhumanism Has Already Won I just spent 10 minutes reading this excellent article on Michael Anissimov’s Accelerating Future blog and had to re-post it in full — it is that good! Enjoy: Transhumanism Has Already Won by Michael Anissimov It’s 2010, and transhumanism has already won. At their base, the world’s major two largest religions — Christianity and Islam — are transhumanistic. Humanity, as it stands today, is a seed, a bridge. The mainstream has embraced transhumanism. Everything is Not Alright I am tremendously sympathetic to transhumanism’s critics and detractors, more so than most transhumanists I have met. People are basically nice when they’re well-fed, and damn evil when they’re hungry. Even technologies readily available today, but rarely used — such as the direct electrical stimulation of the pain and pleasure centers of the human brain — could become fearsome new plagues on humanity if in the hands of the wrong political or religious fanatics. They Like Us? Good and evil are ideas.

I get email – Singularity edition The major cataclysm that struck my inbox was, of course, that silly incident with a cracker. I still get hate mail from Catholics, and intermittently still receive politely horrified regular mail from little old Catholic ladies who want to pray for me. But the second biggest outrage I ever perpetrated may not have caught the attention of most readers: I criticized Ray Kurzweil! I still get angry email from people who stumble across this post I originally wrote in 2005, and are really pissed off that I think Saint Kurzweil is a charlatan. “Singularly silly singularity” – You have much in common with the creationist you so despise.For a PhD and self-proclaimed intellectual you show an utterly remarkable incapability to understand what the Singularity even is, though this does not stop you from attacking it in the cocksure fashion of the creationist attacking evolution as what he believes is the direct conversion of ape into man. It’s familiarity and recency.

Exploiting Bacteria to Produce "Living Materials" A group of researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have unveiled a system whereby bacterial cells are engineered in such a way that they incorporate specific non-living materials into their biofilms, creating a "living material". Biofilms are generated when bacteria cluster together and stick onto a surface. Often the bacteria will secrete substances that assist in this adherence, such as proteins and carbohydrate polymers (called polysaccharides) which form a slime. Researchers have generated a system whereby they can exploit these biofilm producers by cajoling the bacteria into incorporating non-living materials into their biofilms, such as gold nanoparticles. In a paper published in Nature, researchers led by Timothy Lu selected the common bacterial species E. coli on the basis that it produces biofilms that contain "curli fibers", which are chains composed of a curlin subunit called CsgA. But that's not all they did.

Spray-On Nanofibres Bind Surgical Wounds Polymer nanofibres can be sprayed onto surgical incisions, sealing them to prevent infection. The process may be used in addition to sutures, but may also remove the need for them in some cases. The potential of mats of polymer nanofibers has been recognized for some time. They can seal up wounds, biodegrade so they don't need to be removed, and be impregnated with slow release drugs. Nanofiber mats also have potential as scaffolds on which to grow tissue from stem cells. Mats can be made through electrospinning where fine fibers are drawn from a liquid with an electric field, but t​he University of Maryland's Professor Peter Kofinas notes this “requires specialized equipment, high voltages and electrically conductive targets”. To idea itself is not new. Macro Letters reports the mats capacity to seal not only cuts to the skin, but also the lungs, intestines and livers of pigs. A technique using a related concept, aerosol delivery of skin cells to burn victims, is under clinical trial.

Transhumanism For the United Nations, relevance may be almost as perilous as irrelevance. In the span of a year, the Bush administration went from taunting the world body to begging for its help. A beefed-up U.N. team will soon arrive in Baghdad to advise the Iraqi government on reconstruction, social services, and human rights and directly assist with elections. At the same time, U.N. peacekeeping missions are sprouting or expanding in Burundi, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Haiti, and Ivory Coast. Indeed, by the end of 2004, more blue helmets will likely be in action than at any time in history. Although some U.N. backers revel in the growing global reliance on the world body, now is no time to get smug. The idea that the United Nations can stumble along in its atrophied condition has powerful appeal in capitals around the world -- and even in some offices at U.N. headquarters. Regrettably, most of those who could change the organization have an interest in resisting reform. Much U.N.

Exploring The "Singularity" JAMES JOHN BELL /The Futurist 1may03 JAMES JOHN BELL /The Futurist 1may03 The point in time when current trends may go wildly off the charts—known as the "Singularity"— is now getting serious attention. What it suggests is that technological change will soon become so rapid that we cannot possibly envision its results. Technological change isn't just happening fast. The near-future results of exponential technological growth will be staggering: the merging of biological and nonbiological entities in biorobotics, plants and animals engineered to grow pharmaceutical drugs, software-based "life," smart robots, and atom-sized machines that self-replicate like living matter. A number of scientists believe machine intelligence will surpass human intelligence within a few decades, leading to what's come to be called the Singularity. Singularity is technically a mathematical term, perhaps best described as akin to what happens on world maps in a standard atlas. There is no concise definition for the Singularity. The Singularity