Was human evolution inevitable or a matter of luck? – Dan Falk In the movie Sliding Doors (1998), a woman named Helen, played by Gwyneth Paltrow, rushes to catch a train on the London Underground, but just misses it, watching helplessly from the platform as the doors slide shut. The film explores two alternative universes, comparing the missed-train universe to a parallel reality in which she caught the train just in time. It wasn’t a cinematic masterpiece – the critics aggregated at Rotten Tomatoes give it only a 63 per cent ‘fresh’ rating – but it vividly confronts a question that many of us have asked at one time or another: if events had unfolded slightly differently, what would the world be like? This question, applied to the history of life on our planet, has long beguiled thinkers of all stripes. Was the appearance of intelligent life an evolutionary fluke, or was it inevitable?
Hidden Smiles and the Desire of a Conscious Machine Malcolm Ramsay Conscious machines are everywhere in popular culture – countless books, films and TV shows are based in a future where humans have robot or computer companions. A world with intelligent machines is something nearly everyone can readily picture and, while we may not know how to create these machines at present, it is generally assumed that we will recognize them if they come around. If a conscious machine were created, the argument goes, it could simply tell us itself. Or if it were sneaky, and chose not to, then we would quickly realize it was in our midst because of the way it acted.
Are Artificial Intelligence Doomsayers like Skeptical Theists? - h+ Media Some of you may have noticed my recently-published paper on existential risk and artificial intelligence. The paper offers a somewhat critical perspective on the recent trend for AI-doomsaying among people like Elon Musk, Stephen Hawking and Bill Gates. Of course, it doesn’t focus on their opinions; rather, it focuses on the work of the philosopher Nick Bostrom, who has written the most impressive analysis to date of the potential risks posed by superintelligent machines. I want to try and summarise the main points of that paper in this blog post. This summary comes with the usual caveat that the full version contains more detail and nuance.
On Immortal Being and Nothingness Matt Swayne Imagine you could live forever. I'm talking about an infinitely-long lifespan. Imagine you could do whatever you wanted during that timeless stretch. Biblical fever = influenza. You're kidding me, right? : Aetiology Via Bob O’H and Cath Ennis comes this truly bizarre article from the Virology Journal: “Influenza or not influenza: Analysis of a case of high fever that happened 2000 years ago in Biblical time”. Now, regular readers will know that I normally love this type of thing; digging back through history to look at Lincoln’s smallpox; Cholera in Victorian London; potential causes of the Plague of Athens, the origin of syphilis, or whether Yersinia pestis really caused the Black Plague. I’ve even written a bit about the history of influenza. So analysis of a 2000-year old potential flu case?
What is Open Foresight We recently introduced the concept of ‘Open Foresight’ as a process we’re developing to analyze complex issues in an open and collaborative way, and to raise the bar on public discourse and forward-focused critical thinking. It’s a work in progress and constantly evolving, but here are some of the basic principles we’ve developed so far.1) What is Open Foresight? In simple terms, open foresight is a process for building visions of the future together. 2) The Big Picture Context If you look around, it’s undeniable that there’s a new global narrative emerging in the way we fundamentally understand ourselves as humanity – how we do business, how we learn, how we generate value together, how we interact.
Inviting Machines Into Our Bodies Chris Arkenberg In what amounts to a fairly shocking reminder of how quickly our technologies are advancing and how deeply our lives are being woven with networked computation, security researchers have recently reported successes in remotely compromising and controlling two different medical implant devices. Such implanted devices are becoming more and more common, implemented with wireless communications both across components and outward to monitors that allow doctors to non-invasively make changes to their settings. Until only recently, this technology was mostly confined to advanced labs but it is now moving steadily into our bodies. As these procedures become more common, researchers are now considering the security implications of wiring human anatomy directly into the web of ubiquitous computation and networked communications. There are now numerous examples of in-the-field connected implants.
wellcometrust's Channel Science Learning+ is an international initiative established in partnership with the US-based National Science Foundation and the UK-based Economic and Social Research Council, and in collaboration with the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, the MacArthur Foundation and the Noyce Foundation. Science Learning+ supports research to explore and understand the power of informal learning experiences inside and outside of school. Learning can happen anywhere and at any time. Trends of the 2010s decade - Framework by futurist Ross Dawson Click on the image to see full-size pdfEXATRENDS OF THE DECADE:2010s AUGMENTED HUMANS More than ever before, we can transcend our human abilities. Traditional memory aids are supplemented by augmented reality glasses or contact lenses, thought interfaces allow us to control machines, exoskeletons give us superhuman power. Machines will not take over humanity… because they will be us. BIO DESTINY Now that biological and genomic technologies are largely driven by information technologies, they are on the same exponential trajectory. Medicines personalized to the individual, genetic modification of our children, drugs to increase intelligence, and life extension will all become commonplace.