Hangout on Air: The Naked Future - A World That Anticipates Your Every Move
Sunday, Dec 15, 2013, 7:00 PM
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48 futurists Attending
What kind of privacy will be left for people, in a near-future world of ubiquitous computing, with sensors everywhere, and with "big data" algorithms that draw alarmingly reliable inferences about our intentions and plans?
How will human psychology cope, with the "always-on" scrutiny of our every action?
Can legislation keep pace with the challenge...
Evolution does not operate with a goal in mind; it does not have foresight. But organisms that have a greater capacity to evolve may fare better in rapidly changing environments. This raises the question: does evolution favor characteristics that increase a species' ability to evolve?
For several years, biologists have attempted to provide evidence that natural selection has acted on evolvability. Now a new paper by University of Pennsylvania researchers offers, for the first time, clear evidence that the answer is yes.
The senior author on the study, published in the journal PLOS Pathogens, is Dustin Brisson, an assistant professor in the School of Arts and Sciences' Department of Biology. His coauthors include Penn's Christopher J. Graves, Vera I. D. Ros and Paul D. Sniegowski, and the University of Kentucky's Brian Stevenson.
"It's not controversial that populations evolve and that some traits are more apt to evolve than others," Brisson said. "What we were asking is whether the ability of an organism to evolve is a trait that natural selection can pick."
We surf the net, stream our films and save stuff in the cloud. Can we get all the nature we need from the digital world?
But what do we mean when we refer to ‘nature’? It’s a common term that seems to have an assumed collective meaning, often romanticised and sentimental. We speak of ‘getting back to nature’ as if there was once a prelapsarian baseline before we humans interfered and spoiled it. Gary Snyder, the American poet and environmentalist, offers alternative definitions from which we can choose. In The Practice of the Wild (1990), he distils down to two ways in which the term ‘nature’ is usually interpreted. One, he argues, is the outdoors: ‘the physical world, including all living things. Nature by this definition is a norm of the world that is apart from the features or products of civilisation and human will. The machine, the artefact, the devised, or the extraordinary (like a two-headed calf) is spoken of as “unnatural”.’The other meaning is much broader, taking the first and adding to it all the products of human action and intention. Snyder calls it the material world and all its collective objects and phenomena. ‘Science and some sorts of mysticism rightly propose that everything is natural,’ he writes. In this sense, ‘there is nothing unnatural about New York City, or toxic wastes, or atomic energy, and nothing — by definition — that we do or experience in life is “unnatural”.’ That, of course, includes the products of technology. This is Snyder’s preferred definition — and mine too. However, though it’s not always made clear, I’d venture a guess that environmental psychologists might have a preference for the former, human-free definition of nature.
What do 24,000 ideas look like? Ecologist Eric Berlow and physicist Sean Gourley apply algorithms to the entire archive of TEDx Talks, taking us on a stimulating visual tour to show how ideas connect globally.
Just over three months ago I found an organization called “Lifeboat.” I’d been interviewing experts from a variety fields about the issues and opportunities of moving beyond our present human potential (technologically or otherwise), and decided to...
Bitcoin is a digital currency, meaning it's money controlled and stored entirely by computers spread across the internet, and this money is finding its way to more and more people and businesses around the world.
For more than half a century scientists have looked on the DNA molecule as life's blueprint, but biological engineers are beginning to see the molecule not as a static plan, but more like a snippet of life's computer code that they can program.