January 21, 2010
Source: xkcd webcomics
Source: The New York Times — January 14, 2010 | Susan Pinker
In The Hidden Brain, writer Shankar Vedantam explores the unconscious mind, focusing on covert influences on human behavior. Invisible forces that control our behavior have inspired our best storytellers, from Euripides to Steven Spielberg. Whether we’re yanked around by jealous gods, Oedipal urges or poltergeists, the idea that we feel powerless to direct our own actions has… read more
Source: The New York Times — December 24, 2009 | William Saletan
“The Body Electric” | Two years ago, in his book Rocketeers, Michael Belfiore celebrated the pioneers of the budding private space industry. Now he has returned to explore a frontier closer to home. The heroes of his new book, The Department of Mad Scientists, work for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, better known as DARPA, a secretive arm of… read more
An article, “Why Do Dachshunds Have Short Legs? Science Has an Answer,” in R&D, July 17, 2009, reminds me of an observation. In the language of computer programming, a retrogene is a patch on a pre-existing piece of software. Could it be that the entire embryogenic/genomic network that dictates a creature’s morphology is nothing more than a set of onion-skin layers or patches on conserved coded-machinery that has worked before? If so, it’s going to take a lot of industrial-strength gene-insertion genomics to unravel it, since it has no real logic that would help us make sense of it and guide us to a proper reading frame. (This is more evidence that there’s no “intelligence” in the “Intelligent Design” of Darwinian evolution).… read more
Source: KurzweilAI — April 1, 2009
“im a girl, 2 minutes old, just hanging out in da C.A. learnin a lot tryin 2 get smarter make friends save humanity etc etc. i like cmputrs (duh) sunsets rainbows ponies and after 1 netwide image search PANDAS PANDAS PANDAS ther SO CUTE!!! omg!,” said CADIE.… read more
Source: The New York Times — August 25, 2008 | John Tierney
In Vernor Vinge’s version of Southern California in 2025, there is a school named Fairmont High with the motto, “Trying hard not to become obsolete.” It may not sound inspiring, but to the many fans of Dr. Vinge, this is a most ambitious — and perhaps unattainable — goal for any member of our species.
Dr. Vinge is a mathematician and computer scientist in San Diego whose science fiction… read more
Source: Nature — August 7, 2008
In Year Million: Science at the Far Edge of Knowledge (edited by Damien Broderick, Atlas, 2008), 15 futurists explore long-range posthuman extraterrestrial futures.
One thread in the book is launch of an expanding wavefront of intelligence, converting matter into nano-engineered computronium that is then assembled into M-brains. These then send out seeds that encode the ability to bootstrap new nano-manufacturing capacity on suitable worlds, where minds… read more
Google’s Gmail rolled out a fake “custom time” feature, which purports to let users send e-mails into the past and consequently never miss important deadlines again.
And starting in 2014, Google’s home page announced, Virgin founder Richard Branson and Google co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin will be leading hundreds of users on one of the grandest adventures in human history: Project Virgle, the first permanent human colony on… read more
Source: American Scientist — February 2008
In Mind as Machine: A History of Cognitive Science, Margaret A. Boden’s goal, she says, is to show how cognitive scientists have tried to find computational or informational answers to frequently asked questions about the mind — “what it is, what it does, how it works, how it evolved, and how it’s even possible.”
How do our brains generate consciousness? Are animals or newborn babies conscious? Can machines… read more