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The Big Picture

The 4 billion year old story of evolution on this planet - from the slow emergence of the first organisms out of the primordial soup to the present rapid evolution of technology and beyond. 

 

From the author: 

"I cannot believe that we are at the end of this story - we are not evolution's ultimate product. There's something coming after us, and I imagine it is something wonderful. But we may never be able to comprehend it, any more than a caterpillar can comprehend turning into a butterfly."

 
The Asymptotic Leap's insight:

Written in 1998 and just as true today. Perhaps even more so.

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The Asymptotic Leap
Technology and human evolution are developing exponentially, entering the steep of an asymptotic curve. Unfortunately, so is the possibility of setting back human evolution hundreds if not millions of years. Which will prevail? It's a nail biter!
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Buddhist Extremists Vow To Unleash Tranquility On West!

Speaking in front of a nondescript altar surrounded by candles, burning sticks of incense, and a small golden statue of the Buddha, Rinpoche did not specify when or where an assault of profound inner stillness would occur, but stated in no uncertain terms that the fundamentalist Buddhist cell plans to target all Western suffering.


“In the name of the Great Teacher, we will stop at nothing to unleash a firestorm of empathy, compassion, and true selflessness upon the West,” said Rinpoche, adding that all enemies of a freely flowing, unfettered state of mind will be “besieged with pure, everlasting happiness.” “No city will be spared from spiritual harmony. We will bring about the end to all Western pain and anxiety, to all destructive cravings, to all greed, delusion, and misplaced desire. Indeed, we will bring the entire United States to its knees in deep meditation.”

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Big power out, solar in: UBS urges investors to join renewables revolution

Big power out, solar in: UBS urges investors to join renewables revolution | The Asymptotic Leap | Scoop.it

Big power stations in Europe could be redundant within 10-20 years as electric cars, cheaper batteries and new solar technologies transform the way electricity is generated, stored and distributed, say analysts at the world’s largest private bank.


Via Flora Moon
The Asymptotic Leap's insight:

Once again rapid decentralization rears its lovely head. 

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Life Found in the Harsh Vacuum of Outer Space -

Life Found in the Harsh Vacuum of Outer Space - | The Asymptotic Leap | Scoop.it
Totally baffling- there are microorganisms somehow surviving in the harsh vacuum of outer space.
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Artificial cells mimic natural protein synthesis -- Another barrier between artificial and natural falls.

Artificial cells mimic natural protein synthesis -- Another barrier between artificial and natural falls. | The Asymptotic Leap | Scoop.it

Weizmann Institute scientists have created an artificial network-like cell system that is capable of reproducing the dynamic behavior of protein synthesis.

 

This achievement could help gain a deeper understanding of basic biological processes and pave the way toward controlling the synthesis of naturally occurring and synthetic proteins for many uses.

The Asymptotic Leap's insight:

Science is getting ever closer to being godlike.

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Lantern

Lantern | The Asymptotic Leap | Scoop.it

Defeat internet censorship. Give or get access to the open internet by sharing connections through your social network.

 

Lantern's goal is access: creating fast, reliable connections to the open Internet. With Lantern, every computer can act as a server. By running Lantern, every user with uncensored access can become an access point for those without, providing gateways to censored sites like Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube.
The Asymptotic Leap's insight:

Right on.

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Homni: The new superorganism taking over Earth

Homni: The new superorganism taking over Earth | The Asymptotic Leap | Scoop.it

A new 'species' has emerged only in recent decades, says Gaia Vince, yet it is already having a huge effect on life on our planet. What is it? That new creature is us, or more precisely, what humanity is becoming. The entirety of our species, Homo sapiens, is evolving into a superorganism; I’ll call this new life force Homo omnis, or ‘Homni’.

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Upgrade Your Brain: Liquid Hard Drive Implants Could Increase Intellect

Upgrade Your Brain: Liquid Hard Drive Implants Could Increase Intellect | The Asymptotic Leap | Scoop.it
Researchers discover novel way of liquid data storage, paving way for biocompatible brain implants
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▶ Seth Lloyd on the Universe as a Quantum Computer

"Dr. Seth Lloyd, a self-described "quantum mechanic" and professor of mechanical engineering at MIT, says the universe itself is a giant quantum computer"

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Astronauts Who Had Spiritual Experiences ‘Up There’

Astronauts Who Had Spiritual Experiences ‘Up There’ | The Asymptotic Leap | Scoop.it
Several astronauts who have seen Earth from space have had profoundly awakening spiritual experiences. Here are just a few of them.
The Asymptotic Leap's insight:

Only a handful of us will have the experience like these astronauts did, but there is a remarkable facsimile thanks to the newly unveiled livestreaming HD cameras pointing at earth from the iSS: http://www.esa.int/Our_Activities/Human_Spaceflight/International_Space_Station/Where_is_the_International_Space_Station. I for one have been watching earth in real-time with perhaps some of the same wonder, contemplation, fascination and awe.

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▶ Global Brain: Web as Self-organizing Distributed Intelligence - Francis Heylighen

Distributed intelligence is an ability to solve problems and process information that is not localized inside a single person or computer, but that emerges from the coordinated interactions between a large number of people and their technological extensions. The Internet and in particular the World-Wide Web form a nearly ideal substrate for the emergence of a distributed intelligence that spans the planet, integrating the knowledge, skills and intuitions of billions of people supported by billions of information-processing devices. This intelligence becomes increasingly powerful through a process of self-organization in which people and devices selectively reinforce useful links, while rejecting useless ones. This process can be modeled mathematically and computationally by representing individuals and devices as agents, connected by a weighted directed network along which "challenges" propagate. Challenges represent problems, opportunities or questions that must be processed by the agents to extract benefits and avoid penalties. Link weights are increased whenever agents extract benefit from the challenges propagated along it. My research group is developing such a large-scale simulation environment in order to better understand how the web may boost our collective intelligence. The anticipated outcome of that process is a "global brain", i.e. a nervous system for the planet that would be able to tackle both global and personal problems.

 

Summer School in cognitive Science: Web Science and the Mind Institut des sciences cognitives, UQAM, Montréal, Canada http://www.summer14.isc.uqam.ca/

http://www.isc.uqam.ca/ ;

FRANCIS HEYLIGHEN, Vrije Universiteit Brussel, ECCO - Evolution, Complexity and Cognition research group

Towards a Global Brain: the Web as a Self-organizing, Distributed Intelligence

http://youtu.be/w2sznrVtiLg


Via Complexity Digest
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Tom Cockburn's curator insight, July 17, 4:06 AM

Apart from outraging some religious groups and upsetting some neo- luddites,this sounds interesting,provided we have some checks and balances/ failsafe options too

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The Technium - A Study of Technology and Evolution - Kevin Kelly

The Technium - A Study of Technology and Evolution - Kevin Kelly | The Asymptotic Leap | Scoop.it

" There is a network of different supporting technologies, and that the whole web of all these things I call the technium. The technium is that largest network of all the technologies working together to support each other...there is a sense in which the technium as a whole exhibits life-like behaviors in the same way that your neuron doesn't really think, but the network of neurons in your brain can make an idea.

 

And so I look at the network of all the technology in the world, past and present, as forming a system that seems to have its own urges and tendencies. Like any kind of a system, it will have certain ways that it's biased to,"

The Asymptotic Leap's insight:

This article (really a speech by Kelly) nicely summarizes the remarkable ideas about the relationship between humans and technology that are detailed in his book, "What Technology Wants"

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We Are From the Future

"Greetings. We are from the future. Everything is going to be alright. The future is a beautiful place. But you will need some training in order to get there...
The Asymptotic Leap's insight:

Yes! Go Garret John Lo Porto. A marketer (among other things), that is using his talents and resources to communicate that which begs to be communicated more clearly, more widely, more often. I am inspired.

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Nanopixel displays with 150 times higher resolution – and they’re flexible, too

Nanopixel displays with 150 times higher resolution – and they’re flexible, too | The Asymptotic Leap | Scoop.it

Researchers at Oxford University in England have created nanopixels that measure just 300-by-300 nanometers. Compare this to a modern smartphone with a 400 ppi display, where each pixel is about 150 times larger (about 50 microns across).


Via LeapMind
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Echo: Economy Of Hours | Banking Time | An Alternative to Currency

Echo: Economy Of Hours | Banking Time | An Alternative to Currency | The Asymptotic Leap | Scoop.it
The Asymptotic Leap's insight:

Echo puts a whole new spin on business by trading in time and skills, not pounds and pence. You give what you have, you get what you need, an hour for an hour. We call it the Economy of Hours

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Temporary tattoos could make electronic telepathy and telekinesis possible

Temporary tattoos could make electronic telepathy and telekinesis possible | The Asymptotic Leap | Scoop.it

Temporary electronic tattoos could soon help people fly drones with only thought and talk seemingly telepathically without speech over smartphones, researchers say. Electrical engineer Todd Coleman at the University of California at San Diego is devising noninvasive means of controlling machines via the mind, techniques virtually everyone might be able to use.

Commanding machines using the brain is no longer the stuff of science fiction. In recent years, brain implants have enabled people to control robotics using only their minds, raising the prospect that one day patients could overcome disabilities using bionic limbs or mechanical exoskeletons.

But brain implants are invasive technologies, probably of use only to people in medical need of them. Instead, Coleman and his team are developing wireless flexible electronics one can apply on the forehead just like temporary tattoos to read brain activity.

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Scientists Find a Way to Transmit Brain Waves Across Internet

An international team of researchers was able to use electroencephalography (EEG) to convert the words “hola” and “ciao” from a person's brain waves into binary. That data was transmitted from a subject in India to another subject in France, where the process was successfully reversed. In other words, the researchers say they've created a brain-to-brain communication system.

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Scientists bypass spinal column non-invasively to trigger walking | KurzweilAI

Scientists bypass spinal column non-invasively to trigger walking | KurzweilAI | The Asymptotic Leap | Scoop.it

The illustration shows how a computer  can connects the brain directly to the locomotion center in the spine via a magnetic device

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Message From the Future — "Life vs. Entropy"

"Greetings. We are from the future… In the future, promoting entropy is the cardinal crime… Every organism is a brief upwelling of structure against chaos......
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"Zero Point" - A 360-Degree Immersive Film

"Zero Point" - A 360-Degree Immersive Film | The Asymptotic Leap | Scoop.it

"Zero Point is a documentary from Danfung Dennis on how virtual reality has, and will, change our lives--and it's being produced entirely for Oculus Rift...

 

"Yes, it all sounds like a hell of a headtrip, but if you're into technology or film, it's hard not share some of Dennis's excitement in the project. "We know that this is a fundamentally new form of communication, it's this new visual language, and we need to invent the syntax and the grammar for how to effectively communicate a narrative and experience when you have no control over where the user could be looking."

The Asymptotic Leap's insight:

Much more than mere entertainment.

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Powerful Genetic Engineering Technique Could Modify Entire Wild Populations

Powerful Genetic Engineering Technique Could Modify Entire Wild Populations | The Asymptotic Leap | Scoop.it

A new technology has the potential to wipe out diseases, turn back evolutionary clocks, and reengineer entire ecosystems, for better or worse.

 

Today, researchers aren’t just dropping in new genes, they’re deftly adding, subtracting, and rewriting them using a series of tools that have become ever more versatile and easier to use. In the last few years, our ability to edit genomes has improved at a shockingly rapid clip. So rapid, in fact, that one of the easiest and most popular tools, known as CRISPR-Cas9, is just two years old. Researchers once spent months, even years, attempting to rewrite an organism’s DNA. Now they spend days.

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Jason Tozer – Photographer

Jason Tozer – Photographer | The Asymptotic Leap | Scoop.it
The Asymptotic Leap's insight:

And now for something completely different...close ups of soap bubbles that are truly striking.

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Discovery Of 'Electric Bacteria' Hints At The Potential For Alien Life

Discovery Of 'Electric Bacteria' Hints At The Potential For Alien Life | The Asymptotic Leap | Scoop.it
Microbiologists have learned that certain strains of bacteria are capable of using energy in its purest form by eating and breathing electrons. It's a discovery that demonstrates an entirely new mode of life on Earth — and possibly beyond.
The Asymptotic Leap's insight:

Wow!

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There Is Some Hope That We Aren't Living Inside a Computer Simulation

There Is Some Hope That We Aren't Living Inside a Computer Simulation | The Asymptotic Leap | Scoop.it
Philosopher Nick Bostrom's famous Simulation Argument suggests it's highly probable that we live inside a supercomputer. But one philosopher takes this hypothesis to task, arguing in a new paper that there are other post-human scenarios that need to be taken into account.
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The Wayseer Manifesto

"ATTENTION: All you rule-breakers, you misfits & troublemakers, all you free-spirits & pioneers... Everything the establishment has told you is wrong with you - is actually what's right with you..."

The Asymptotic Leap's insight:

An older video by Garret John Lo Porto, produced in 2011 during the Occupy movement...as relevant now as ever.

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MindRDR lets Google Glass users take photos and post them using only concentration

MindRDR lets Google Glass users take photos and post them using only concentration | The Asymptotic Leap | Scoop.it
A team at interactive studio company This Place has announced the development of an app for Google Glass that provides a bridge between the wearable device (via Bluetooth) and a Neurosky EEG biosensor headset—allowing the wearer of both to take a photograph and post it to Facebook or Twitter using ...
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