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Archive for the ‘technology’ tag: Page 7

May 24, 2013

Why does Science Fiction gravitate towards Dystopia and not the Utopia that Transhumanism promises?

Posted by in categories: ethics, futurism, lifeboat, media & arts, philosophy, singularity

Memories_with_maya_dystopia_Dirrogate_small front_cover_Mwm

Of the two images above, as a typical Science Fiction reader, which would you gravitate towards? In designing the cover for my book I ran about 80 iterations of 14 unique designs through a group of beta readers, and the majority chose the one with the Green tint. (design credit: Dmggzz)

No one could come up with a satisfying reason on why they preferred it over the other, except that it “looked more sci-fi” I settled for the design on the right, though it was a very hard decision to make. I was throwing away one of the biggest draws to a book — An inviting Dystopian book cover.

As an Author (and not a scientist) myself, I’ve noticed that scifi readers seem to want dystopian fiction –exclusively. A quick glance at reader preferences in scifi on sites such as GoodReads shows this. Yet, from noticing Vampire themed fiction rule the best seller lists, and from box office blockbusters, we can assume, the common man and woman is also intrigued by Longevity and Immortality.

Continue reading “Why does Science Fiction gravitate towards Dystopia and not the Utopia that Transhumanism promises?” »

Apr 11, 2013

The Life Extension Hubris: Why biotechnology is unlikely to be the answer to ageing

Posted by in categories: biological, biotech/medical, evolution, futurism, homo sapiens, life extension

It is often said that empiricism is one of the most useful concepts in epistemology. Empiricism emphasises the role of experience acquired through one’s own senses and perceptions, and is contrary to, say, idealism where concepts are not derived from experience, but based on ideals.

In the case of radical life extension, there is a tendency to an ‘idealistic trance’ where people blindly expect practical biotechnological developments to be available and applied to the public at large within a few years. More importantly, idealists expect these treatments or therapies to actually be effective and to have a direct and measurable effect upon radical life extension. Here, by ‘radical life extension’ I refer not to healthy longevity (a healthy life until the age of 100–120 years) but to an indefinite lifespan where the rate of age-related mortality is trivial.

Let me mention two empirical examples based on experience and facts:

1. When a technological development depends on technology alone, its progress is often dramatic and exponential.

Continue reading “The Life Extension Hubris: Why biotechnology is unlikely to be the answer to ageing” »

Apr 2, 2013

Techno-Progressives and Neo-Luddites are Brothers in Arms

Posted by in category: policy

This article first appeared under the title “Techno-Optimists & Pessimists are Brothers in Arms at Transhumanity.net, where Franco is a contributing editor.

opt4It is all too easy to assume that techno-optimists and techno-pessimists are diametrically opposed. But while they may have different destinations in mind, the road to get there – what they need to do to achieve their respective ends – is a shared one. Techno-optimists, Techno-progressives, Techno-gaians and Techno-utopians express hope and passion for technologies’ liberating and empowering potentials, while techno-pessimists are fearful of their dystopic and dehumanizing potentials. Optimists want to spread awareness of the ways in which technology can improve self and society, while pessimists seek to spread awareness of the ways in which technology can make matters worse. Techno-criticism is the neutral middle, where the unbiased study of culture and technology take place, and so should not be confused with Techno-pessimism.

But they both agree on the underlying premise that technologies can and likely will have profoundly transformative effects on self and society. They agree not only that we have the power to shape the outcomes such technologies can foster, that we have the power to affect and to a large extent determine the ultimate embodiment and repercussions of such technologies, but also that such technologies impel us to make concerted efforts towards determining such repercussions and embodiments! It may not look that way from the inside-out, but they are fighting to realize their vision of Humanity’s brightest future. Until we reach the day when the majority of humanity has extensively acknowledged the expansive power such transformative technologies hold, Techno-optimists & Techno-pessimists, Transhumanists & Luddites, and Revolutionaries & Revivalists alike are on the same side! Both camps are on a campaign to alert planet earth of the titanic transformations rushing foreforth upon its horizon. Both agree on the underlying potential such technologies hold for changing the world and the self – whether encased as Prized Present or in Pandora’s Box – and both are weary for the world to wake up and smell the rising.

opt8And besides, we’re all in it together, no? At least Techno-pessimists are thinking about such issues, and putting forth their appraisals. At least they’ve begun to consider what is at stake. Is a techno-pessimist closer to a Technoprogressive or Transhumanist than one who doesn’t take a stance either way is? Maybe.

Continue reading “Techno-Progressives and Neo-Luddites are Brothers in Arms” »

Mar 22, 2013

Robots for Japan’s Future: talk with them, move with them, live with them… All in time.

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, futurism, human trajectories, robotics/AI

NOT.GRANDMAS.ROBOT.NO.IS
Japanese People are Getting Old — Fast. So… Robots!

Japan is one of those great examples of how, when a society reaches a certain stage of development, population can stabilize itself based simply on quality of life (economic well-being, healthcare, community, Golden Rule morality, etc.). There is a challenge, however: population decline. In arguably one of the world’s most advanced capitalist nations, where 70% of GDP is based on the services economy and nearly all national debt is public held, a big die-off is… big problematic. Sure, the population decline will be gradual — but it’s inexorable, and Japan has to prepare now.

Make Robots, Not Babies?
A (perhaps questionable) study from the Japan Family Planning Association found that 1/3 of Japanese youth have no desire to get their groove on. They just don’t wanna hump each other. And as many of us know, it’s not just an enjoyable hobby, it’s where babies come from! Realistically, a decent number of respondents were probably lying, though. Because in Japan being fake polite and feigning ignorance to the nastiness & porno of human life is… a way of life (that’s a compliment — fake polite is far better than honest rude).

But actually, whether a large segment of the youth truly don’t want to make sweet love, or do, it doesn’t change the fact that Japan’s going to be running out of people. Factor in a rising women’s liberation, the destigmatization of birth control, and perceived economic instability — who knows what the actual equation looks like, but the answer is a birthrate of 1.39. And in case it’s not obvious, a birthrate of at least 2 is a replacement set for the parents; a population at stasis. Ain’t happening.

So, at the end of the day, replacing the lost population with robots, thereby replacing a lost labor force and augmenting the consumer economy — well, seems like a decent enough course of action.

Continue reading “Robots for Japan's Future: talk with them, move with them, live with them... All in time.” »

Mar 20, 2013

An Upside to Fukushima: Japan’s Robot Renaissance

Posted by in categories: engineering, existential risks, nuclear energy, robotics/AI

FUKUSHIMA.MAKES.JAPAN.DO.MORE.ROBOTS
Fukushima’s Second Anniversary…

Two years ago the international robot dorkosphere was stunned when, in the aftermath of the Tohoku Earthquake and Tsunami Disaster, there were no domestically produced robots in Japan ready to jump into the death-to-all-mammals radiation contamination situation at the down-melting Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.

…and Japan is Hard at Work.
Suffice it to say, when Japan finds out its robots aren’t good enough — JAPAN RESPONDS! For more on how Japan has and is addressing the situation, have a jump on over to AkihabaraNews.com.

Oh, and here’s some awesome stuff sourced from the TheRobotReport.com:


Larger Image
- PDF With Links

Mar 4, 2013

Human Brain Mapping & Simulation Projects: America Wants Some, Too?

Posted by in categories: biological, biotech/medical, complex systems, ethics, existential risks, homo sapiens, neuroscience, philosophy, robotics/AI, singularity, supercomputing

YANKEE.BRAIN.MAP
The Brain Games Begin
Europe’s billion-Euro science-neuro Human Brain Project, mentioned here amongst machine morality last week, is basically already funded and well underway. Now the colonies over in the new world are getting hip, and they too have in the works a project to map/simulate/make their very own copy of the universe’s greatest known computational artifact: the gelatinous wad of convoluted electrical pudding in your skull.

The (speculated but not yet public) Brain Activity Map of America
About 300 different news sources are reporting that a Brain Activity Map project is outlined in the current administration’s to-be-presented budget, and will be detailed sometime in March. Hoards of journalists are calling it “Obama’s Brain Project,” which is stoopid, and probably only because some guy at the New Yorker did and they all decided that’s what they had to do, too. Or somesuch lameness. Or laziness? Deference? SEO?

For reasons both economic and nationalistic, America could definitely use an inspirational, large-scale scientific project right about now. Because seriously, aside from going full-Pavlov over the next iPhone, what do we really have to look forward to these days? Now, if some technotards or bible pounders monkeywrench the deal, the U.S. is going to continue that slide toward scientific… lesserness. So, hippies, religious nuts, and all you little sociopathic babies in politics: zip it. Perhaps, however, we should gently poke and prod the hard of thinking toward a marginally heightened Europhobia — that way they’ll support the project. And it’s worth it. Just, you know, for science.

Going Big. Not Huge, But Big. But Could be Massive.
Both the Euro and American flavors are no Manhattan Project-scale undertaking, in the sense of urgency and motivational factors, but more like the Human Genome Project. Still, with clear directives and similar funding levels (€1 billion Euros & $1–3 billion US bucks, respectively), they’re quite ambitious and potentially far more world changing than a big bomb. Like, seriously, man. Because brains build bombs. But hopefully an artificial brain would not. Spaceships would be nice, though.

Continue reading “Human Brain Mapping & Simulation Projects: America Wants Some, Too?” »

Feb 23, 2013

Keeping Humans Safe in Space: Meet Robot Torsos Justin, Robonaut, SAR-400, & AILA

Posted by in categories: fun, human trajectories, robotics/AI, space

JUSTIN.SPACE.ROBOT.GUY
A Point too Far to Astronaut

It’s cold out there beyond the blue. Full of radiation. Low on breathable air. Vacuous.
Machines and organic creatures, keeping them functioning and/or alive — it’s hard.
Space to-do lists are full of dangerous, fantastically boring, and super-precise stuff.

We technological mammals assess thusly:
Robots. Robots should be doing this.

Enter Team Space Torso
As covered by IEEE a few days ago, the DLR (das German Aerospace Center) released a new video detailing the ins & outs of their tele-operational haptic feedback-capable Justin space robot. It’s a smooth system, and eventually ground-based or orbiting operators will just strap on what look like two extra arms, maybe some VR goggles, and go to work. Justin’s target missions are the risky, tedious, and very precise tasks best undertaken by something human-shaped, but preferably remote-controlled. He’s not a new robot, but Justin’s skillset is growing (video is down at the bottom there).

Now, Meet the Rest of the Gang:SPACE.TORSO.LINEUPS
NASA’s Robonaut2 (full coverage), the first and only humanoid robot in space, has of late been focusing on the ferociously mundane tasks of button pushing and knob turning, but hey, WHO’S IN SPACE, HUH? Then you’ve got Russia’s elusive SAR-400, which probably exists, but seems to hide behind… an iron curtain? Rounding out the team is another German, AILA. The nobody-knows-why-it’s-feminized AILA is another DLR-funded project from a university robotics and A.I. lab with a 53-syllable name that takes too long to type but there’s a link down below.

Continue reading “Keeping Humans Safe in Space: Meet Robot Torsos Justin, Robonaut, SAR-400, & AILA” »

Feb 8, 2013

Machine Morality: a Survey of Thought and a Hint of Harbinger

Posted by in categories: biological, biotech/medical, engineering, ethics, evolution, existential risks, futurism, homo sapiens, human trajectories, robotics/AI, singularity, supercomputing

KILL.THE.ROBOTS
The Golden Rule is Not for Toasters

Simplistically nutshelled, talking about machine morality is picking apart whether or not we’ll someday have to be nice to machines or demand that they be nice to us.

Well, it’s always a good time to address human & machine morality vis-à-vis both the engineering and philosophical issues intrinsic to the qualification and validation of non-biological intelligence and/or consciousness that, if manifested, would wholly justify consideration thereof.

Uhh… yep!

But, whether at run-on sentence dorkville or any other tech forum, right from the jump one should know that a single voice rapping about machine morality is bound to get hung up in and blinded by its own perspective, e.g., splitting hairs to decide who or what deserves moral treatment (if a definition of that can even be nailed down), or perhaps yet another justification for the standard intellectual cul de sac:
“Why bother, it’s never going to happen.“
That’s tired and lame.

Continue reading “Machine Morality: a Survey of Thought and a Hint of Harbinger” »

Jan 20, 2013

Activelink Power Loader Gives HAL Some Competition, but Who’s Going to Fukushima?

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, defense, military, nuclear energy, robotics/AI


LEFT: Activelink Power Loader Light — RIGHT: The Latest HAL Suit

New Japanese Exoskeleton Pushing into HAL’s (potential) Marketshare
We of the robot/technology nerd demo are well aware of the non-ironically, ironically named HAL (Hybrid Assistive Limb) exoskeletal suit developed by Professor Yoshiyuki Sankai’s also totally not meta-ironically named Cyberdyne, Inc. Since its 2004 founding in Tsukuba City, just north of the Tokyo metro area, Cyberdyne has developed and iteratively refined the force-amplifying exoskeletal suit, and through the HAL FIT venture, they’ve also created a legs-only force resistance rehabilitation & training platform.

Joining HAL and a few similar projects here in Japan (notably Toyota’s & Honda’s) is Kansai based & Panasonic-owned Activelink’s new Power Loader Light (PLL). Activelink has developed various human force amplification systems since 2003, and this latest version of the Loader looks a lot less like its big brother the walking forklift, and a lot more like the bottom half & power pack of a HAL suit. Activelink intends to connect an upper body unit, and if successful, will become HAL’s only real competition here in Japan.
And for what?

Well, along with general human force amplification and/or rehab, this:

Continue reading “Activelink Power Loader Gives HAL Some Competition, but Who's Going to Fukushima?” »

Nov 20, 2012

Google’s 100,000 Stars & the Paradigmatic Disruption of Large-Scale Innovation Revisited

Posted by in categories: cosmology, general relativity, human trajectories, information science, physics, scientific freedom, space


The 100,000 Stars Google Chrome Galactic Visualization Experiment Thingy

So, Google has these things called Chrome Experiments, and they like, you know, do that. 100,000 Stars, their latest, simulates our immediate galactic zip code and provides detailed information on many of the massive nuclear fireballs nearby.


Zoom in & out of interactive galaxy, state, city, neighborhood, so to speak.

It’s humbling, beautiful, and awesome. Now, is 100, 000 Stars perfectly accurate and practical for anything other than having something pretty to look at and explore and educate and remind us of the enormity of our quaint little galaxy among the likely 170 billion others? Well, no — not really. But if you really feel the need to evaluate it that way, you are a unimaginative jerk and your life is without joy and awe and hope and wonder and you probably have irritable bowel syndrome. Deservedly.

The New Innovation Paradigm Kinda Revisited
Just about exactly one year ago technosnark cudgel Anthrobotic.com was rapping about the changing innovation paradigm in large-scale technological development. There’s chastisement for Neil deGrasse Tyson and others who, paraphrasically (totally a word), have declared that private companies won’t take big risks, won’t do bold stuff, won’t push the boundaries of scientific exploration because of bottom lines and restrictive boards and such. But new business entities like Google, SpaceX, Virgin Galactic, & Planetary Resources are kind of steadily proving this wrong.

Continue reading “Google's 100,000 Stars & the Paradigmatic Disruption of Large-Scale Innovation Revisited” »

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