In this essay, I want to continue the discussion about our relationship with the technology we use. Adapting and extending Anthony Giddens’ Consequences of Modernity, I will argue that an essential part of the cyborganic transformation we experience when we equip Modern, sophisticated technology is deeply tied to trust in expert systems. It is no longer feasible to fully comprehend the inner workings of the innumerable devices that we depend on; rather, we are forced to trust that the institutions that deliver these devices to us have designed, tested, and maintained the devices properly. This bargain—trading certainty for convenience—however, means that the Modern cyborg finds herself ever more deeply integrated into the social circuit. In fact, the cyborg’s connection to technology makes her increasingly socially dependent because the technological facets of her being require expert knowledge from others.
Cyborgs always see the social in the technological; the “technology is neutral” trope is a laugh line.
Nowhere are mutual trust and co-dependency more apparent than with social media. Few of us have any clue how the Internet’s infrastructure delivers our digital representations across the world in an instant. This lack of knowledge means simply that we must trust that platforms such as Facebook or Google are delivering information accurately. As the Turing test has demonstrated, computers can easily fool us into believing we are communicating with someone who is not present or who does not even exist, if the system allows. Moreover, on platforms such as Facebook, we also must trust the system to enforce a norm of honesty. If we cannot trust that other users are honestly representing themselves, we become unsure of how to respond. Honesty and accuracy of information are preconditions to participation. And because, as individuals, we lack the capacity to ensure either, we must place our trust in experts. We users do not understandthe mechanics of Facebook, we simply accept it as reality; that is to say, Facebook is made possible through widespread suspension of disbelief. Thus, use social media is a commitment to pursuit the benefits of participation, despite the risk that we could be fooled or otherwise taken advantage of. Facebook is not merely social because it involves mutual interaction, it is social because trust in society’s expert systems is a precondition to any such interaction.
The Cyborg Foundation is a nonprofit organization created in 2010 by cyborg activist Neil Harbisson and choreographer Moon Ribas. The foundation is an institution for the research, creation and promotion of projects related to extending and creating new senses and perceptions by applying technology to the human body.
Robot obeys. Robot does what human Master wants. Robot is Slave. Androids today are quite “primitive” - they don’t look convincingly “human” - not yet. But soon, they’ll be indistinguishable from us….
Important to note, is that there is a difference between “robot” and AI. The difference being, that robots aren’t conscious, while AIs are. A robot does not experience, it’s just a machine, but an AI is alive in the mental sense rather than biological.
Abusing a robot is like abusing a blender, but abusing an AI is like animal abuse or abusing a person.
To prevent AI abuse, there must be some easily observable distinguishing trait or lack of a trait that differentiates them from robots, besides consciousness. Perhaps, AIs have total free will, while robots do not? Potentially dangerous as of now, but what I personally would prefer them to have.
Robots must execute a series of maneuvers given a simple command such as ‘robot?’
Over three days in December, four research groups announced progress on a quantum-computing proposal made two years ago by MIT researchers.
In early 2011, a pair of theoretical computer scientists at MIT proposed an optical experiment that would harness the weird laws of quantum mechanics to perform a computation impossible on conventional computers. Commenting at the time, a quantum-computing researcher at Imperial College London said that the experiment “has the potential to take us past what I would like to call the ‘quantum singularity,’ where we do the first thing quantumly that we can’t do on a classical computer.”
Body and Tool: An Enactive Approach to Perceptual Entrainment in Fiction and Science Fiction by Joshua, Judith, Ph.D., University of California, Irvine, 2012, 319 pages;
Body and Tool explores representations of perception in fiction, science fiction, and science fiction film by using two key ideas from cognitive science: a) perception is the embodied exploration of the environment, and b) tool use impacts perception. I argue that it is crucial to examine fictional representations of perception at the body-tool interface . My focus on tool use counters the pervasive view in both fiction and literary criticism that perception is a function of "brain-processing"--our current version of the Cartesian mind/body split. I also argue that the less we examine the tool as mediator of perception, the greater the ideological power of the tool over us. Fiction and film offer copious evidence of the selective filtering of perception through tool use; by making tool-interaction my object of study, I demonstrate the embodied nature of cognition and probe what is foreclosed when tools themselves are used to amplify the belief in the mind/body split. Beginning with Samuel Richardson's canny use of the letter in his epistolary novel, Clarissa , I track the under-examined body-tool interface to show how novelists use human-tool interactions to demonstrate the limitations of overreliance on information purveyed by tools.
Biological network data, such as metabolic-, signaling- or physical interaction graphs of proteins are increasingly available in public repositories for important species. Tools for the quantitative analysis of these networks are being developed today. Protein network-based drug target identification methods usually return protein hubs with large degrees in the networks as potentially important targets. Some known, important protein targets, however, are not hubs at all, and perturbing protein hubs in these networks may have several unwanted physiological effects, due to their interaction with numerous partners. Here, we show a novel method applicable in networks with directed edges (such as metabolic networks) that compensates for the low degree (non-hub) vertices in the network, and identifies important nodes, regardless of their hub properties. Our method computes the PageRank for the nodes of the network, and divides the PageRank by the in-degree (i.e., the number of incoming edges) of the node. This quotient is the same in all nodes in an undirected graph (even for large- and low-degree nodes, that is, for hubs and non-hubs as well), but may differ significantly from node to node in directed graphs. We suggest to assign importance to non-hub nodes with large PageRank/in-degree quotient. Consequently, our method gives high scores to nodes with large PageRank, relative to their degrees: therefore non-hub important nodes can easily be identified in large networks. We demonstrate that these relatively high PageRank scores have biological relevance: the method correctly finds numerous already validated drug targets in distinct organisms (Mycobacterium tuberculosis, Plasmodium falciparum and MRSA Staphylococcus aureus), and consequently, it may suggest new possible protein targets as well. Additionally, our scoring method was not chosen arbitrarily: its value for all nodes of all undirected graphs is constant; therefore its high value captures importance in the directed edge structure of the graph.
See Part One here. This essay was originally posted in John Niman’s blog - Boydfuturist. That blog entry is located HERE. Returning to our Deus Ex graphic, the next three categories are the torso, back, and skin.
The hottest new field in biotech is synthetic biology: Scientists can now re-program life at the cellular level, just like a computer program. Syn-bio experts (also known as bio-hackers) are re-programming the DNA in viruses and creating novel life forms that can replicate and grow just like natural single cell organisms.
Joining Robert Tercek in the discussion are Andrew Hessel, Distinguished Research Scientist with the Bio/Nano Programmable Matter Group at Autodesk, and Dr. William Hurlbut, Physician and Consulting Professor at Stanford University.
Inventing the Future is a live news program featuring coming trends that will shape society. In today's world, success means knowing "What's Next After What's Next?" Lead by Robert Tercek, Inventing the Future offers insight into the future of the world after tomorrow.
Scientists, futurists, and other experts describe how we've begun to blur the lines between humans and technology.
Doug Wolens's recent documentary takes on the complex, abstract concept of the singularity, which predicts a moment when technology will give rise to intelligence beyond the scope of human imagination. It sounds like sci-fi but, Wolens and others argue, there's no denying the sweeping impact of technology on human existence and the implications are worth thinking about. In the trailer for the film, below, scientists, futurists, and other experts describe what the singularity might have in store.
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