science + technology news

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Why artificial general intelligence has failed and how to fix it

October 4, 2012

(Credit: iStockphoto)

The field of “artificial general intelligence” or AGI has made no progress whatever during the entire six decades of its existence, says Oxford University physicist David Deutsch in this abridged version of an essay in aeon magazine. — Ed.

It is uncontroversial that the human brain has capabilities that are, in some respects, far superior to those of all other known objects in the cosmos. It is the… read more

IBM creating pocket-sized Watson in $16 billion sales push

August 28, 2012


IBM researchers are working on incorporating Watson  capabilities in smart phones, Bloomberg Business Week reports.

Bernie Meyerson, IBM’s vice president of innovation, envisions a voice-activated Watson that answers questions, like a supercharged version of Apple’s Siri personal assistant. A farmer could stand in a field and ask his phone, “When should I plant my corn?” He would get a reply in seconds, based on location data, historical… read more

The Google Glass feature no one is talking about

March 3, 2013

When everything is connected --- a scene from Watchdogs, a future PS4 game (credit: Ubisoft)

“Google Glass might change your life, but not in the way you think. There’s something else Google Glass makes possible that no one — no one — has talked about yet, and so today I’m writing this blog post to describe it,” says Mark Hurst on Creative Good.

“It’s lifebits, the ability to record video of the people, places, and events around you, at all times. with a… read more

Atlas Shrugged Part II

September 6, 2012


The global economy is on the brink of collapse. Unemployment has risen to 24%. Gas is now $42 per gallon. Brilliant creators, from artists to industrialists, continue to mysteriously disappear at the hands of the unknown.

Dagny Taggart, Vice President in Charge of Operations for Taggart Transcontinental, has discovered what may very well be the answer to a mounting energy crisis — found abandoned among the ruins… read more

Expanding beyond 3D printed guns

March 13, 2013


At a panel discussion at SXSW Monday, Defense Distributed (DEFCAD) founder Cody Wilson unveiled that DEFCAD is working on plans to expand its efforts beyond just firearms to any controversial object users feel like uploading, including grenades and patented ones, VentureBeat reports.

Can 3D printing be subversive? If it can, it will be because it allows us to make the important things — not trinkets, not lawn gnomes,… read more

Cryonics movement in Brevard soldiers on after loss of key figure

September 14, 2012


The cryonics movement in Brevard lost one of its guiding lights earlier this year — at least temporarily, Florida Today reports..

Fred Chamberlain III was declared legally dead at about 12:50 a.m. on March 22 at a Scottsdale, Ariz., hospice.

Moments later, a specially trained team from Alcor began preparing Chamberlain — who founded Alcor with his wife, Linda, in 1972 in Southern California — for his… read more

NSA taps in to Internet giants’ systems to mine user data, secret files reveal

June 6, 2013


UPDATE June 9, 2013: Edward Snowden: the whistleblower behind the NSA surveillance revelationsThe Guardian, June 9, 2013

The National Security Agency has obtained direct access to the systems of Google, Facebook, Apple and other U.S. Internet giants, according to a top secret document, dated April 2013, obtained by the Guardian.

UPDATE June 8, 2013: “Sources challenge reports alleging National Security Agency is ‘tapping directly into the centralread more

A cheap and easy plan to stop global warming

February 8, 2013

Phytoplankton bloom as a form of geoengineering (credit: Wikimedia Media)

Here is the plan. Customize several Gulfstream business jets with military engines and with equipment to produce and disperse fine droplets of sulfuric acid. Fly the jets up around 20 kilometers-significantly higher than the cruising altitude for a commercial jetliner but still well within their range. At that altitude in the tropics, the aircraft are in the lower stratosphere, reports MIT Technology Review.

The planes spray the… read more

Study predicts imminent irreversible planetary collapse

June 11, 2012


Using scientific theories, toy ecosystem modeling and paleontological evidence as a crystal ball, 21 scientists predict we’re on a much worse collision course with Mother Nature than currently thought.

In Approaching a state-shift in Earth’s biosphere, a paper just published in Nature, the authors, whose expertise spans a multitude of disciplines, suggest our planet’s ecosystems are careenng towards an imminent, irreversible collapse.

Earth’s accelerating loss of biodiversity,… read more

Humanity must populate a new planet within 100 years, warns Stephen Hawking, PhD

May 11, 2017


“The human species will have to populate a new planet within 100 years if it is to survive,” famed physicist Stephen Hawking, PhD says in “Expedition New Earth” a documentary that debuts this summer as part of the BBC’s forthcoming Tomorrow’s World TV series.

He cites “climate change, overdue asteroid strikes, epidemics and population growth” as reasons to leave.

That 100 figure is dramatically lower that… read more

Rise of the machines

July 18, 2012

Jaan Tallinn

Machines are becoming so intelligent that they could pose an existential threat, argues Skype founder Jaan Tallinn, Sydney Morning Herald reports.

Tallinn says human-driven technological progress has largely replaced evolution as the dominant force shaping our future as machines are becoming smarter than we are, so if we are not careful this could lead to a “sudden global ecological catastrophe”.

Computers to be better than us… read more

This robot could transform manufacturing

A smarter, safer new industrial robot
September 19, 2012


Baxter, is six feet tall, 300 pounds, and a robot. It could bring automation to new areas of manual work and help many U.S. manufacturers regain a competitive edge, Technology Review reports.

Almost anyone, literally, can in very short order be shown how to program it,” says Chris Budnick, president of Vanguard Plastics. “It’s a matter of a couple of minutes.”

Baxter is the first of a new… read more

Hacking your own education

October 20, 2012


Dale J. Stephens‘ Hacking Your Education: Ditch the Lectures, Save Tens of Thousands, and Learn More Than Your Peers Ever Will is now available for pre-order on

In Hacking Your Education, Stephens speaks to a new culture of “hackademics” who think college diplomas are antiquated.

Hackademics abandon society’s linear path to success and bend institutions to fit their own reality.… read more

What technology from science fiction would you most like to see as science fact?

June 17, 2012

Stargate (credit: MGM)

Friday, @DARPA asked the twitterverse, “What technology from science fiction would you most like to see as science fact?

Amusing answers, ranging from Stargate to “very tiny Rick Moranis” and Andy Levy’s “Black goo that tears apart your DNA.”

Your ideas?


TED removes TEDxWestHollywood license: ideas that have ‘failed to gain scientific acceptance’

April 1, 2013


TED has removed the license of TEDxWestHollywood for their planned “Brother, Can You Spare a Paradigm?” event, says the TEDxWestHollywood blog.

The takedown was only a couple of weeks before the April 14 event (and after they had spent more than a year preparing), the blog says.

In an email to Suzanne Taylor, the organizer of TEDxWestHollywood, a representative of TED outlined the objections: “And when… read more

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