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The Singularity and the Fixed Point

September 4, 2009

If one is trying to build an intelligent machine capable of devising more intelligent machines, a few guidelines are essential, says MIT professor Edward Boyden:

- Find a way to build in motivation, and also motivation amplification–the continued desire to build in self-sustaining motivation, as intelligence amplifies.

- Avoid paralysis of decision making from too many choices and a “societal fixed point” outcome that self-reinforces, remaining in the… read more

‘The Singularity Is Near’ now #14 on Amazon

October 2, 2005

Ray Kurzweil’s The Singularity Is Near is now ranked #14 in sales among all books, #5 among all Non-Fiction books, #1 in Science, #1 in Technology, #1 in Evolution, #1 in Science History and Philosophy, and #1 in Computers and Internet, as of Sunday Oct. 2.

New media coverage of the book includes a review, “Here It Comes,” in the Wall Street Journal, and “Rayread more

The Singularity Is Near ranks in top-selling science and tech books in 2005

December 17, 2005

After an extended run as #1 on the science, technology, and philosophy lists since its publication, Ray Kurzweil’s The Singularity Is Near: When Humans Transcend Biology ends 2005 as the fourth best-selling science book in 2005, even though published late in the year (September 26).

The book was also selected by the Amazon editors as #6 on their “Best Books of 2005: Science” list.… read more

The Singularity: A Talk With Ray Kurzweil

March 26, 2002

“We are entering a new era. I call it ‘the Singularity,’” says Ray Kurzweil in an interview just published on the Edge Web site.

The interview is available as a video, RealAudio file, and text transcript.

Excerpts from interview

The Singularity: Humanity’s Last Invention?

January 12, 2011

NPR interviewed Singularity Institute for Artificial Intelligence and Microsoft Research AI researchers for  Tuesday’s “All Things Considered.” (Audio)

The Singularity: Playing on Thursday Nights

June 16, 2010

The television show “Fringe” explores a number of Singularity-like concepts.

“There’s the idea that science will inevitably reach a point where it’s accelerating so fast that it would be out of control and mankind will either move to a higher state of consciousness or we will become destroyed,” said Joel Wyman, one of the executive producers on “Fringe.” “We don’t name this as the Singularity, but it definitely drives… read more

The sinister powers of crowdsourcing

December 23, 2009

Crowdsourcing’s power to compartmentalize and abstract away the true meaning of tasks could potentially entice people into participating in a covert project that they otherwise wouldn’t support, using a tool such as Amazon’s Mechanical Turk, says Harvard University law professor Jonathan Zittrain.

The Skinny on Fat: You’re Not Always What You Eat

June 4, 2008

University of California, San Francisco researchers have found that the neurotransmitter serotonin controls feeding rate (how much to eat) and fat storage (what is done with calories in the body) independently.

The research results, based on studies of the worm C. elegans, suggest that weight-loss drugs that increase serotonin levels could work by either suppressing the appetite or increasing metabolism.

The results may explain why two individuals with… read more

The Sky Is Falling

May 17, 2008

The odds that a potentially devastating space rock will hit Earth this century may be as high as one in 10. So why isn’t NASA trying harder to prevent catastrophe?

We will soon have a new president, and thus an opportunity to reassess NASA’s priorities. Whoever takes office will decide whether the nation commits to spending hundreds of billions of dollars on a motel on the moon, or invests… read more

The sky is falling, really

March 19, 2007

Two potential deflection techniques for asteroids appear to work nicely together.

First we would deflect the asteroid with kinetic impact from a missile (that is, running into it); then we would use the slight pull of a “gravity tractor” — a satellite that would hover near the asteroid — to fine-tune its new trajectory to our liking.

The bad news? NASA doesn’t plan to do it.

The sleeping brain behaves as if it’s remembering something

Working-memory-like persistent activity occurred in the entorhinal cortex during sleep and even under anesthesia
October 8, 2012

In the background is an entorhinal cortex neuron that was studied. The blue-green trace shows neocortical slow oscillation while the yellow trace shows the persistent activity of entorhinal cortical neuron, even when the inputs from neocortex were silent. (Credit: Thomas T. G. Hahn, et al/UCLA)

UCLA researchers have discovered that the activity of a brain region known to be involved in learning, memory and Alzheimer’s disease behaves as if it’s remembering something during sleep, even under anesthesia — a finding that counters conventional theories about memory consolidation during sleep.

The research team simultaneously measured the activity of single neurons from multiple parts of the brain involved in memory formation. The technique allowed them to… read more

The Slow Rise of the Robot Surgeon

March 24, 2010

Surgeons are looking for smaller and cheaper alternates to the da Vinci robotic surgical system for simpler surgeries.

The slower you grow, the longer you live

Fish study may also apply to humans
January 3, 2013


New research from the University of Glasgow suggests that lifespan is affected by the rate at which bodies grow early in life: manipulating growth rates in stickleback fish can extend their lifespan by nearly a third or reduce it by 15 percent.

A team from the University’s Institute of Biodiversity, Animal Health and Comparative Medicine altered the growth rate of 240 fish by exposing… read more

The Smallest Electric Motor

April 8, 2005

The smallest electric motor in the world, devised by physicists at UC Berkeley, is based on the shuttling of atoms between two metal droplets—one large and one small—residing on the back of a carbon nanotube.

Courtesy Zettl Research Group, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and University of California at Berkeley

The smallest nanoswitch

December 13, 2011

Nano Switch

Technische Universitaet Muenchen (TUM) researchers have developed a novel molecular switch that uses the position of a single proton in a porphyrin ring to set four distinct states on demand at 500 times per second.

They removed one of the two protons from the inside of the porphyrin ring. The remaining proton could now take on any one of four positions. A tiny current that… read more

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