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Archive for the ‘human trajectories’ category: Page 4

Dec 30, 2015

The prose at the end of the universe — By Aaron Souppouris | Engadget

Posted by in categories: bioengineering, genetics, human trajectories, media & arts, space travel

“Programming ‘indestructible’ bacteria to write poetry.”

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Dec 28, 2015

Can We Evolve Ourselves To Expand Beyond Human Potential?

Posted by in categories: bioengineering, biotech/medical, evolution, existential risks, genetics, human trajectories

At one time or another, we’ve all been encouraged to “maximize our potential.” In a recent interview, Academic and Entrepreneur Juan Enriquez said that mankind is making progress toward expanding beyond its potential. And the changes, he believes, could be profound.

To illustrate the process, Enriquez theorized what might happen if we were to bring Charles Darwin back to life and drop him in the middle of Trafalgar Square. As Darwin takes out his notebook and starts observing, Enriquez suggested he would likely see what might appear to be a different species. Since Darwin’s time, humans have grown taller, and with 1.5 billion obese people, larger. Darwin might also notice some other features too that many of us take for granted — there are more senior citizens, more people with all their teeth, a lot fewer wrinkles, and even some 70-year-olds running in marathons.

“There’s a whole series of morphologies that are just different about our bodies, but we don’t notice it. We don’t notice we’ve doubled the lifespan of humans in the last century,” Enriquez said. “We don’t notice how many more informations (sic) come into a brain in a single day versus what used to come in in a lifetime. So, across almost every part of humanity, there have been huge changes.”

Part of the difference that Darwin would see, Enriquez noted, is that natural selection no longer applies as strongly to life and death as it once did. Further, random gene mutations that led to some advantages kept getting passed down to generations and became part of the species. The largest difference, however, is our ongoing move toward intelligent design, he said.

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Dec 17, 2015

5 Steps Toward Gender Diversity Every Company Can Take Right Now — By Claudia Chan | Fast Company

Posted by in categories: business, governance, human trajectories, innovation, strategy

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“Plenty of forward-thinking companies have innovation divisions that try and predict the future, disrupt old models, and develop cutting-edge products. They don’t nest those divisions inside their human resources departments. So why shouldn’t gender diversity efforts be a part of corporate innovation?”

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Dec 15, 2015

When Will We Look Robots in the Eye?

Posted by in categories: ethics, human trajectories, robotics/AI

In the various incarnations of Douglas Adams’ Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy, a sentient robot named Marvin the Paranoid Android serves on the starship Heart of Gold. Because he is never assigned tasks that challenge his massive intellect, Marvin is horribly depressed, always quite bored, and a burden to the humans and aliens around him. But he does write nice lullabies.

While Marvin is a fictional robot, Scholar and Author David Gunkel predicts that sentient robots will soon be a fact of life and that mankind needs to start thinking about how we’ll treat such machines, at present and in the future.

For Gunkel, the question is about moral standing and how we decide if something does or does not have moral standing. As an example, Gunkel notes our children have moral standing, while a rock or our smartphone may not have moral consideration. From there, he said, the question becomes, where and how do we draw the line to decide who is inside and who is outside the moral community?

“Traditionally, the qualities for moral standing are things like rationality, sentience (and) the ability to use languages. Every entity that has these properties generally falls into the community of moral subjects,” Gunkel said. “The problem, over time, is that these properties have changed. They have not been consistent.”

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Dec 7, 2015

Can The Existential Risk Of Artificial Intelligence Be Mitigated?

Posted by in categories: ethics, existential risks, futurism, government, human trajectories, robotics/AI

It seems like every day we’re warned about a new, AI-related threat that could ultimately bring about the end of humanity. According to Author and Oxford Professor Nick Bostrom, those existential risks aren’t so black and white, and an individual’s ability to influence those risks might surprise you.

Image Credit: TED

Image Credit: TED

Bostrom defines an existential risk as one distinction of earth originating life or the permanent and drastic destruction of our future development, but he also notes that there is no single methodology that is applicable to all the different existential risks (as more technically elaborated upon in this Future of Humanity Institute study). Rather, he considers it an interdisciplinary endeavor.

“If you’re wondering about asteroids, we have telescopes, we can study them with, we can look at past crater impacts and derive hard statistical data on that,” he said. “We find that the risk of asteroids is extremely small and likewise for a few of the other risks that arrive from nature. But other really big existential risks are not in any direct way susceptible to this kind of rigorous quantification.”

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Oct 28, 2015

Humanity on a Budget, or the Value-Added of Being ‘Human’

Posted by in categories: automation, economics, futurism, governance, human trajectories, law, philosophy, policy, posthumanism, theory, transhumanism

This piece is dedicated to Stefan Stern, who picked up on – and ran with – a remark I made at this year’s Brain Bar Budapest, concerning the need for a ‘value-added’ account of being ‘human’ in a world in which there are many drivers towards replacing human labour with ever smarter technologies.

In what follows, I assume that ‘human’ can no longer be taken for granted as something that adds value to being-in-the-world. The value needs to be earned, it can’t be just inherited. For example, according to animal rights activists, ‘value-added’ claims to brand ‘humanity’ amount to an unjustified privileging of the human life-form, whereas artificial intelligence enthusiasts argue that computers will soon exceed humans at the (‘rational’) tasks that we have historically invoked to create distance from animals. I shall be more concerned with the latter threat, as it comes from a more recognizable form of ‘economistic’ logic.

Economics makes an interesting but subtle distinction between ‘price’ and ‘cost’. Price is what you pay upfront through mutual agreement to the person selling you something. In contrast, cost consists in the resources that you forfeit by virtue of possessing the thing. Of course, the cost of something includes its price, but typically much more – and much of it experienced only once you’ve come into possession. Thus, we say ‘hidden cost’ but not ‘hidden price’. The difference between price and cost is perhaps most vivid when considering large life-defining purchases, such as a house or a car. In these cases, any hidden costs are presumably offset by ‘benefits’, the things that you originally wanted — or at least approve after the fact — that follow from possession.

Now, think about the difference between saying, ‘Humanity comes at a price’ and ‘Humanity comes at a cost’. The first phrase suggests what you need to pay your master to acquire freedom, while the second suggests what you need to suffer as you exercise your freedom. The first position has you standing outside the category of ‘human’ but wishing to get in – say, as a prospective resident of a gated community. The second position already identifies you as ‘human’ but perhaps without having fully realized what you had bargained for. The philosophical movement of Existentialism was launched in the mid-20th century by playing with the irony implied in the idea of ‘human emancipation’ – the ease with which the Hell we wish to leave (and hence pay the price) morphs into the Hell we agree to enter (and hence suffer the cost). Thus, our humanity reduces to the leap out of the frying pan of slavery and into the fire of freedom.

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Oct 23, 2015

Landmark Is Working On A Virtual Reality World’s Fair — By Stephanie Topacio Long | Digital Trends

Posted by in categories: business, education, human trajectories, media & arts, virtual reality

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“Technology is finally catching up with Landmark Entertainment Group’s big ideas. The global entertainment design firm announced Thursday that it is collaborating with Pavilion of Me to create a virtual reality experience called the Virtual World’s Fair that will launch in 2017.”

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Sep 29, 2015

Joe Rogan Interviews Aubrey de Grey

Posted by in categories: human trajectories, innovation, science

Published on YouTube in April 2015.

Sep 7, 2015

Ground-penetrating radar reveals huge monument near Stonehenge — By Nick Summers | Engadget

Posted by in category: human trajectories

“Stonehenge is an iconic and mysterious English landmark, but it’s not the only place to attract the interest of local archaeologists. Nearly 100 stone monoliths have been discovered at a site called the Durrington Walls, about two miles north-east of Stonehenge. For the average visitor, there’s little to see at ground level — just the grassy remains of a sloping bank. But with ground-penetrating radar, researchers have mapped the area and discovered evidence of up to 90 stones three feet underground. Around 30 remain intact, measuring up to 4.5 meters tall, while fragments of a further 60 lay beside them.”

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Aug 23, 2015

End of Suffering

Posted by in category: human trajectories

The ABOLITION of human suffering.

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