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The End of Human Nature

April 24, 2003

“We’re headed toward an era when human beings will be as casually “enhanced” as chickens or marigolds, with higher IQs, better looks, longer lives.”

In his book, Enough: Staying Human in an Engineered Age, Bill McKibben “indicts germline technology, the so-called designer baby science that aims to let parents improve their offspring by pasting desirable genes into their kid’s DNA.”

The end of microbial resistance?

March 19, 2012

whobook

Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) has evolved to become a worldwide health threat — every antibiotic ever developed is at risk, says the World Health Organization (WHO) in a new book, The evolving threat of antimicrobial resistance — Options for action.

The book showcases examples of actions to slow down drug resistance and preserve the ability of medicine to effectively treat many infectious diseases.

Over several decades, powerful medicines… read more

The End of Snail Mail?

October 14, 2001

Is the threat of a deadly disease enough to kill off postal deliveries? Expect a dip in mail volume similar to the one that hit the stock market –without the expectation that the bounce-back will eventually surpass the present status. The reason is simple: when compared to anthrax bacilli, computer viruses don’t seem so threatening.

The End of the Oil Industry

November 7, 2003

Advances in technology are allowing the developed world to diversify supplies of energy and reduce their demand for petroleum, thus loosening the grip of oil and the countries that produce it.

The end of the quantum road?

September 26, 2011

Physicist Caslav Brukner at the University of Vienna in Austria is researching whether quantum physics provides the ultimate description of reality or there are other more fundamental theories lying in wait, FQXi blogger Bob Swarup reports.

Some physicists hope to retrieve a classical concept of realism in which properties of the world about us exist regardless of whether or not we observe them. Brukner thinks information theory is… read more

The Enlightened Universe

July 13, 2005

The challenging task of keeping pace with the exponential rate of technological change is the subject of two online audio interviews with Ray Kurzweil on WIE Unbound, a streaming media service of What is Englightment? magazine.

A free one-month trial subscription to WIE Unbound is available, providing access to all audio recordings on the site.

The Enthusiast

August 17, 2007

David Sinclair, a controversial Harvard biologist, claims he can extend life span and treat diseases of aging.

He discovered that resveratrol, a chemical found in red wine, extends life span in mice by up to 24 percent and in other animals, including flies and worms, by as much as 59 percent. Sinclair hopes that resveratrol will bump up the life span of people, too.

Sinclair thinks resveratrol works… read more

The ethics of brain science: Open your mind

May 26, 2002

Advances in neurotechnology raise ethical and legal questions.

  • Neuroscientists will soon be able to screen people’s brains to assess their mental health; functional MRI can identify depressed individuals and other personality traits and detect lies. That information could be available to employers or insurers.
  • Faulty personality traits, brain deficiencies and psychological ailments can be enhanced with drugs or implants, leading to haves and have-nots.
  • The Ethics of Creating Consciousness

    June 14, 2005

    Next month, IBM is set to activate the most ambitious simulation of a human brain yet conceived. It’s a model they say is accurate down to the molecule.

    No one claims the “Blue Brain” project will be self-aware. But this project, and others like it, uses electrical patterns in a silicon brain to simulate the electrical patterns in the human brain — patterns which are intimately linked to thought.… read more

    The Evelyn Wood of Digitized Book Scanners

    May 13, 2003

    New book-scanning robots can turn the pages of small and large books as well as bound newspaper volumes and scan more than 1,000 pages an hour — speed and quality control unattainable by manual systems.

    The Even-More-Compact Disc

    August 30, 2002

    The new miniaturized DataPlay digital media offers CD performance and 500 MB storage at a tiny size but at expensive prices initially for media and players.

    DataPlay discs will be available in blank, recordable form as well as prerecorded, copy-protected albums.

    The evolution of life, on a wall

    July 8, 2010

    A wall-painted animation created by the street artist Blu tries to illustrate the history of the universe since the big bang, with a particular focus on the evolution of life on Earth.

    BIG BANG BIG BOOM – the new wall-painted animation by BLU from blu on Vimeo.

    The evolution of robot soccer

    February 13, 2012

    robocup2011

    “By mid-21st century, a team of fully autonomous humanoid robot soccer players shall win the soccer game, complying with the official rule[s] of the FIFA [Fédération Internationale de Football Association], against the winner of the most recent World Cup.”

    This is the official goal of the RoboCup soccer competition, IEEE Spectrum Automaton reports.

    The new version of Honda’s ASIMO kicks a soccer ball in… read more

    The evolution of Web search

    December 18, 2007

    Integration of various kinds of content, speech recognition, and phone interfaces are among the coming new directions for Google search, says Google director of research and AI expert Peter Norvig.

    The Evolution Will Be Mechanized

    September 8, 2004

    “A singularity looks great in special f/x, but is there any substance in the idea?” asks writer Bruce Sterling.

    “When Vinge first posed the problem, he was concerned that the imminent eruption in artificial intelligence would lead to ubermenschen of unfathomable mental agility. More than a decade later, we still can’t say with any precision what intelligence is, much less how to build it. If you fail to define… read more

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