Knowmads, Infocology of the future
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In Ian Morris's Big History, the Future Looms Large - The Chronicle Review - The Chronicle of Higher Education

In Ian Morris's Big History, the Future Looms Large - The Chronicle Review - The Chronicle of Higher Education | Knowmads, Infocology of the future |
His latest book analyzed 15,000 years of data to explain why the West is dominant. Now the intelligence community wants to know what will happen next.


In the summer of 2011, Ian Morris gave what most of his fellow classics professors would consider an unusual talk. The setting: CIA headquarters. The subject: humanity's future.

Until recently, intelligence analysts had taken no interest in Morris. The Stanford University professor is an authority on ancient Greece who turned to archaeology after failing as a heavy-metal guitarist. Morris makes his home as far from Washington bureaucracy as you can imagine: atop a ridge in this hippie town in the Santa Cruz Mountains, surrounded by towering redwoods and a menagerie of two dogs, two horses, and eight cats.

Yet the British-born 53-year-old is increasingly swapping this world of kale chips and hugs for the company of bankers and spooks. Their interest stems from his 2010 book Why the West Rules—for Now (Farrar, Straus & Giroux), which analyzes 15,000 years of data to explain how the West came to dominate the globe over the past two centuries. Its backbone is an attempt to quantify, going back to the end of the last Ice Age, the "social development" of Eastern and Western societies—basically, their ability to get stuff done.

If that isn't chutzpah enough, the final chapter goes further. It predicts the future.

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EU move to bring in AI laws, but reject robot tax proposal

EU move to bring in AI laws, but reject robot tax proposal | Knowmads, Infocology of the future |
The European Parliament has voted on a resolution to regulate the development of artificial intelligence and robotics across the European Union. Based on a raft of recommendations drafted in a report submitted in January to the legal affairs committee, the proposed rules include establishing ethical standards for the development of artificial intelligence, and introducing an insurance scheme to cover liability for accidents involving driverless cars.

"The EU needs to take the lead on setting these standards, so as not to be forced to follow those set by third countries," the parliament announced in a statement. The members specifically noted that legislation is urgently needed to manage the speedy introduction of driverless cars in order to legally clarify responsibility in the case of accident.

Not every element in the broad-ranging report was accepted by the Parliament though, with a recommendation to institute a "robot tax" roundly rejected. The robot tax proposal was designed to create a fund that manages the repercussions and retraining of workers made redundant through the increased deployment of industrial and service robots.

Minister Mady Delvaux, who authored the initial report, expressed disappointment that certain coalitions in the Parliament rejected the taxation proposal. "They rejected an open-minded and forward-looking debate and thus disregarded the concerns of our citizens," she said.

But those in the robotics industry were supportive of the Parliamentary rejection, with the International Federation of Robotics suggesting to Reuters a robot tax would have been harmful to the burgeoning industry, stifling innovation and competitiveness.
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Dubai Is Set to Launch the World's First Hover-Taxis Within Months

Dubai Is Set to Launch the World's First Hover-Taxis Within Months | Knowmads, Infocology of the future |
Officials from Dubai's state transport authority have announced that they aim to have hover-taxis up and running by July this year, with passengers able to get around at an altitude of 300 metres (1,000 feet), and at speeds of up to 100 km/h (60 mph).

The vehicle they're banking on, called the EHang 184, actually merges two of the biggest advancements in transport in recent years - hovering and self-driving technology.

The idea is that passengers will program their destination at the start of the ride, and the hover-taxi will get them there - no driver required.

The EHang 184, built by Chinese drone manufacturer EHang, has been in development since 2013, and was on display this week at the World Government Summit 2017 in Dubai.

"The autonomous aerial vehicle exhibited at the World Government Summit is not just a model," director general of the Dubai Road and Transport Authority, Mattar al-Tayer, told reporters.

"We have already experimented [with] the vehicle in a flight in [the] Dubai sky."

Al-Tayer also mentioned at the event that the Dubai Transport Authority was "making every effort to start the operation of the autonomous aerial vehicle in July 2017", in response to current traffic congestion issues.
prgnewshawaii's curator insight, February 14, 11:42 PM

These Hover Taxis remind me of oversized drone.  The Uber movement has taken to the air.

Russell Roberts

Hawaii Intelligence Digest

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Brain scanners allow scientists to 'read minds' – could they now enable a 'Big Brother' future?

Brain scanners allow scientists to 'read minds' – could they now enable a 'Big Brother' future? | Knowmads, Infocology of the future |
Are you lying? Do you have a racial bias? Is your moral compass intact? To find out what you think or feel, we usually have to take your word for it. But questionnaires and other explicit measures to reveal what’s on your mind are imperfect: you may choose to hide your true beliefs or you may not even be aware of them.

But now there is a technology that enables us to “read the mind” with growing accuracy: functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). It measures brain activity indirectly by tracking changes in blood flow – making it possible for neuroscientists to observe the brain in action. Because the technology is safe and effective, fMRI has revolutionised our understanding of the human brain. It has shed light on areas important for speech, movement, memory and many other processes.

More recently, researchers have used fMRI for more elaborate purposes. One of the most remarkable studies comes from Jack Gallant’s lab at the University of California. His team showed movie trailers to their volunteers and managed to reconstruct these video clips based on the subjects’ brain activity, using a machine learning algorithm.

In this approach, the computer developed a model based on the subject’s brain activity rather than being fed a pre-programmed solution by the researchers. The model improved with practice and after having access to enough data, it was able to decode brain activity. The reconstructed clips were blurry and the experiment involved extended training periods. But for the first time, brain activity was decoded well enough to reconstruct such complex stimuli with impressive detail.
prgnewshawaii's curator insight, February 11, 12:56 AM

There have been amazing advances in the study of the human brain--research which will help us understand our motivations, fears, and hopes. Of course, medical advancements such as this can go both ways--good or bad, depending on who controls the technology.

Russell Roberts

Hawaii Intelligence Digest

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Why upgrading your brain could make you less human – Michael Bess | Aeon Ideas

Within the lifetimes of most children today, bioenhancement is likely to become a basic feature of human society. Personalised pharmaceuticals will enable us to modify our bodies and minds in powerful and precise ways, with far fewer side-effects than today’s drugs. New brain-machine interfaces will improve our memory and cognition, extend our senses, and confer direct control over an array of semi-intelligent gadgets. Genetic and epigenetic modification will allow us to change our physical appearance and capabilities, as well as to tweak some of the more intangible aspects of our being such as emotion, creativity or sociability.

Do you find these ideas disquieting? One of the more insidious effects of such self-editing is that it will blur the boundary between persons and things. The reason is simple: bioenhancements are products. They require machines, chemicals, tools and techniques that develop over time. They become obsolete after a number of years. They are likely to be available for purchase on the open market. Some will be better than others, and more expensive than others. Some – like cars or jewellery or your house – will confer a greater or lesser degree of prestige.
But if we’re not careful, we ignore the fact that these ‘products’ are altering key aspects of a human being’s selfhood. Without realising it, we drift into an instrumental mode of thought, which would reduce a person to the sum total of her modified or unmodified traits. We could lose sight of the individual’s intrinsic value and dignity, and start comparing people as if they were used vehicles in a car lot.
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Move over Asimov: 23 principles to make AI safe and ethical

Move over Asimov: 23 principles to make AI safe and ethical | Knowmads, Infocology of the future |
Poised to seriously disrupt the world, will the impacts of artificial intelligence be for the good of humanity, or destroy it? The question sounds like the basis of a sci-fi flick, but with the speed that AI is advancing, hundreds of AI and robotics researchers have converged to compile the Asilomar AI Principles, a list of 23 principles, priorities and precautions that should guide the development of artificial intelligence to ensure it's safe, ethical and beneficial.

The list is the brainchild of the Future of Life Institute, an organization that aims to help humanity steer a safe course through the risks that might arise from new technology. Prominent members include the likes of Stephen Hawking and Elon Musk, and the group focuses on the potential threats to our species posed by technologies and issues like artificial intelligence, biotechnology, nuclear weapons and climate change.

At the Beneficial Artificial Intelligence (BAI) 2017 conference in January, the group gathered AI researchers from universities and companies to discuss the future of artificial intelligence and how it should be regulated. Before the meeting, the institute quizzed attendees on how they thought AI development needed to be prioritized and managed in the coming years, and used those responses to create a list of potential points. The revised version was studied at the conference, and only when 90 percent of the scientists agreed on a point would it be included in the final list.

The full list of the Asilomar AI Principles reads like an extended version of Isaac Asimov's famous Three Laws of Robotics. The 23 points are grouped into three areas: Research Issues, Ethics and Values, and Longer-Term Issues.
prgnewshawaii's curator insight, February 4, 9:55 PM

This article reminds me of Isaac Asimov's "Three Laws of Robotics."  A great idea in theory, but when AI falls into the hands of hackers, criminal syndicates, and state-supported agents, morality and decency go out the window. I hope AI turns out to be "safe, ethical, and beneficial", but , given human nature, that may not be preordained. Hope for the best, but prepare for the worst.

Russell Roberts

Hawaii Intelligence Digest


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Against Willpower - Issue 45: Power - Nautilus

Against Willpower - Issue 45: Power - Nautilus | Knowmads, Infocology of the future |
Thomas1 was a highly successful and mild-mannered lawyer who was worried about his drinking. When he came to see me at my psychotherapy practice, his wine intake had crept up to six or seven glasses a night, and he was starting to hide it from his family and to feel the effects at work. We discussed treatment strategies and made an appointment to meet again. But when he returned two weeks later, he was despondent: His drinking was totally unchanged.

“I just couldn’t cut back. I guess I just don’t have the willpower.”

Another patient of mine, John, also initially came to me for help with drinking. At our first meeting, we talked about moderation-based approaches and setting a healthier limit. But one month later, he came back to my office declaring that he had changed his mind and made peace with his drinking habits. Sure, his wife wasn’t always thrilled with how much he drank, he told me, and occasionally the hangovers were pretty bad, but his relationship was still fairly solid and drinking didn’t cause any truly significant problems in his life.
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The merging of humans and machines is happening now

The merging of machine capability and human consciousness is already happening. Writing exclusively for WIRED, DARPA director Arati Prabhkar outlines the potential rewards we face in the future - and the risks we face

Peter Sorger and Ben Gyori are brainstorming with a computer in a laboratory at Harvard Medical School. Their goal is to figure out why a powerful melanoma drug stops helping patients after a few months. But if their approach to human-computer collaboration is successful, it could generate a new approach to fundamentally understanding complexities that may change not only how cancer patients are treated, but also how innovation and discovery are pursued in countless other domains.

At the heart of their challenge is the crazily complicated hairball of activity going on inside a cancer cell - or in any cell. Untold thousands of interacting biochemical processes, constantly morphing, depending on which genes are most active and what's going on around them. Sorger and Gyori know from studies of cells taken from treated patients that the melanoma drug's loss of efficacy over time correlates with increased activity of two genes. But with so many factors directly or indirectly affecting those genes, and only a relatively crude model of those global interactions available, it's impossible to determine which actors in the cell they might want to target with additional drugs.

That's where the team's novel computer system comes in. All Sorger and Gyori have to do is type in a new idea they have about the interactions among three proteins, based on a mix of clinical evidence, their deep scientific expertise, and good old human intuition. The system instantly considers the team's thinking and generates hundreds of new differential equations, enriching and improving its previous analytical model of the myriad activities inside drug-treated cells. And then it spits out new results.

These don't predict all the relevant observations from tumour cells, but it gives the researchers another idea involving two more proteins - which they shoot back on their keyboard. The computer churns and responds with a new round of analysis, producing a model that, it turns out, predicts exactly what happens in patients and offers new clues about how to prevent some cases of melanoma recurrence.
prgnewshawaii's curator insight, January 31, 12:44 AM

An interesting and possibly life-saving technology that could alter the face of medicine as we know it. The evolution of human-computer collaboration is nearly here as trials continue to find the root cause of cancer and other terminal diseases.  "Cyborgs" in a somewhat subdued form have already arrived.

Russell Roberts

Hawaii Intelligence Digest

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New System Could Connect Cell Phones to Real Cells and Treat Disease

New System Could Connect Cell Phones to Real Cells and Treat Disease | Knowmads, Infocology of the future |
Microelectronics has transformed our lives. Cellphones, earbuds, pacemakers, defibrillators—all these and more rely on microelectronics’ very small electronic designs and components. Microelectronics has changed the way we collect, process and transmit information.

Such devices, however, rarely provide access to our biological world; there are technical gaps. We can’t simply connect our cellphones to our skin and expect to gain health information. For instance, is there an infection? What type of bacteria or virus is involved? We also can’t program the cellphone to make and deliver an antibiotic, even if we knew whether the pathogen was Staph or Strep. There’s a translation problem when you want the world of biology to communicate with the world of electronics.

The research we’ve just published with colleagues in Nature Communications brings us one step closer to closing that communication gap. Rather than relying on the usual molecular signals, like hormones or nutrients, that control a cell’s gene expression, we created a synthetic “switching” system in bacterial cells that recognizes electrons instead. This new technology—a link between electrons and biology—may ultimately allow us to program our phones or other microelectronic devices to autonomously detect and treat disease.
Communicating with electrons, not molecules

One of the barriers scientists have encountered when trying to link microelectronic devices with biological systems has to do with information flow. In biology, almost all activity is made possible by the transfer of molecules like glucose, epinephrine, cholesterol and insulin signaling between cells and tissues. Infecting bacteria secrete molecular toxins and attach to our skin using molecular receptors. To treat an infection, we need to detect these molecules to identify the bacteria, discern their activities and determine how to best respond.
prgnewshawaii's curator insight, January 24, 8:43 PM

The use of microelectronics to fight disease could be a major healthcare breakthrough.  This technology, loosely akin to the tech used in cellphones, could allow digital devices, such as smartphones, to detect and possibly treat disease via electrons, not molecules.

Russell Roberts

Hawaii Intelligence Digest

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Decoding the Origami That Drives All Life

Decoding the Origami That Drives All Life | Knowmads, Infocology of the future |
Robert Lang is a master of origami, known for his elegant and almost impossibly accurate sculptures. On his website, you can find his “crease patterns”—all the folds that go into his compositions, drawn out on flat sheets of paper. The patterns are beautiful in their own right, not least because it is almost impossible to look at one and divine what it will eventually become. How could you ever guess that this would become a beetle, or that this folds into a rhino, or that this is a tarantula-in-the-making?

That challenge, incidentally, is exactly what many scientists have struggled with for decades, because life—all life—depends on origami.

Specifically, it depends on proteins—essential molecular machines, which do all the critical jobs that keep us alive. They’re built according to instructions encoded in our genes, which are used to assemble a long sequence of building blocks called amino acids. This two-dimensional chain naturally folds into a complicated three-dimensional shape in a feat of spontaneous origami. It’s that shape that determines what proteins can do; it’s that shape that we need to understand. If we want to use CRISPR, the newly famous gene-editing technique, we need to know the shape of Cas9, the protein that actually does the editing. If we want to create drugs against viruses like flu or HIV, we need to know the shape of the proteins on their surface.
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Infant Brains Reveal How the Mind Gets Built | Quanta Magazine

Infant Brains Reveal How the Mind Gets Built |  Quanta Magazine | Knowmads, Infocology of the future |
ebecca Saxe’s first son, Arthur, was just a month old when he first entered the bore of an MRI machine to have his brain scanned. Saxe, a cognitive scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, went headfirst with him: lying uncomfortably on her stomach, her face near his diaper, she stroked and soothed him as the three-tesla magnet whirred around them. Arthur, unfazed, promptly fell asleep.

All parents wonder what’s going on inside their baby’s mind; few have the means to find out. When Saxe got pregnant, she’d already been working with colleagues for years to devise a setup to image brain activity in babies. But her due date in September 2013 put an impetus on getting everything ready.

Over the past couple of decades, researchers like Saxe have used functional MRI to study brain activity in adults and children. But fMRI, like a 19th-century daguerreotype, requires subjects to lie perfectly still lest the image become hopelessly blurred. Babies are jittering bundles of motion when not asleep, and they can’t be cajoled or bribed into stillness. The few fMRI studies done on babies to date mostly focused on playing sounds to them while they slept.

But Saxe wanted to understand how babies see the world when they’re awake; she wanted to image Arthur’s brain as he looked at video clips, the kind of thing that adult research subjects do easily. It was a way of approaching an even bigger question: Do babies’ brains work like miniature versions of adult brains, or are they completely different? “I had this fundamental question about how brains develop, and I had a baby with a developing brain,” she said. “Two of the things that were most important to me in life temporarily had this very intense convergence inside an MRI machine.”
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Engineers Have Released Plans for a 5-Km-High Skyscraper That Eats Smog

Engineers Have Released Plans for a 5-Km-High Skyscraper That Eats Smog | Knowmads, Infocology of the future |
2017 only just arrived, but one manufacturing company is already looking 45 years into the future.

Arconic, a materials science company, has envisioned a 3-mile-high (4.8-km) skyscraper built from materials that are either in-development or have already been brought to market, including smog-eating surfaces and retractable balconies.

The tower was concocted as part of the company’s larger campaign known as The Jetsons, an homage to the 1962 cartoon set in 2062. Arconic’s engineers worked alongside futurists to imagine the technologies that will be most useful several decades from now.

Sherri McCleary, one of Arconic’s chief materials scientists, says one of the most exciting and immediate projects is EcoClean, a special coating that helps buildings self-clean and purify the surrounding air.

It was first released in 2011 and offers a number of benefits over traditional pane glass windows, McCleary says.

"The functional coating provides aesthetics, it provides maintenance benefits, and it also provides a benefit to the surrounding environment by reducing the content of pollutants around it," she tells Business Insider.

EcoClean works with help from light and water vapour, which mix with the chemicals in the coating to produce atoms known as free radicals.

These free radicals pull in pollutants from the air and break them down to get sloughed off the side of the building along with dirt and grime - almost like dead skin.
prgnewshawaii's curator insight, January 16, 4:48 PM

I hope this ambitious project "gets off the ground."  Human-cause pollution will eventually kill us if we don't figure out a way to mitigate its damage.  This futuristic skyscraper is just one of many ideas advanced to control the waste that is devastating our planet.

Russ Roberts

Hawaii Intelligence Digest


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We Might Finally Have Found Where Complex Life Came From

We Might Finally Have Found Where Complex Life Came From | Knowmads, Infocology of the future |
It sounds like something out of Norse mythology, but new evidence suggests that all complex life on Earth, including humans, might have evolved from Asgard - a large group of microbes that were once found all over the world.

These microbes have been named Loki, Thor, Odin, and Heimdall, after the gods of Norse mythology, and a new study suggests that they could be part of the family tree from which we all evolved. These Asgard microbes might even be our oldest ancestors.

The debate over how complex life started on Earth has been raging for centuries. On our planet, there are three kingdoms of life: bacteria, archaea (which includes thermophiles and other extremophiles), and eukaryotes.

We belong to that third kingdom, the eukaryotes, along with all other multicellular life, including animals, fungi, and protists. Not only are eukaryotes more complex than the other two kingdoms, we're also a lot newer.

While bacteria and archaea both seem to have arisen around 3.7 billion years ago - not too long after the planet was formed - it was roughly another 1.5 billion years or so before eukaryotes appeared, and no one is quite sure where they came from.

The leading hypothesis is that, at some point, an archaea host took up a bacterium, and the symbiotic relationship between the two ultimately led to eukaryotes.

That bacterium is suspected to belong to a class called alphaproteobacteria, which, over time, ended up becoming mitochondria - the 'powerhouse' of the cell.

But, until recently, no one had any idea about the archaea species that swallowed this bacteria.

And that's important, because the big, lingering, question is this: was it a primitive archaeon that took on the bacterium, or had the archaeon already become more complex? Was this symbiosis the cause of eukaryotism, or a consequence of it?

That's an important question, because the answer will ultimately tell us where we came from. And we might finally be getting closer to figuring it out.

The first clue came in 2015, when Thijs Ettema from Uppsala University in Sweden discovered a new type of archaean called Lokiarchaeota - or Loki for short - in sediment at the bottom of the ocean between Greenland and Norway.

They didn't actually find any of these microbe cells themselves, but they discovered traces of its DNA at depths of 2,300 metres (7,545 feet), and an analysis of their genome revealed that they were the closest living relatives of all eukaryotes, as Ed Yong reports for The Atlantic.

Then, last year, a team from the University of Texas in Austin found traces of DNA from a closely related archaeon, which they called Thorarchaeota (or Thor), in North Carolina.

Now, in a paper published this week in Nature, a collaboration between Ettema, the Texan team, and other researchers from around the world, has found the DNA of even more of Loki's relatives in some of the most remote corners of the world, including Yellowstone National Park, deep-sea vents near Japan, and a hot spring in New Zealand.
prgnewshawaii's curator insight, January 13, 10:17 PM

Fascinating study about our most distant relatives.  Apparently, we're all related to what is called the "Asgard" microbe group.  I wonder if Marvel Comic's chief Stan Lee has picked up on this.

Russ Roberts

Hawaii Intelligence Digest

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Japanese insurance firm replaces 34 staff with AI - BBC News

Japanese insurance firm replaces 34 staff with AI - BBC News | Knowmads, Infocology of the future |
Science fiction has long imagined a future in which humans are ousted from their jobs by machines.

For 34 staff at a Japanese insurance firm, that vision just became a reality.

Fukoku Mutual Life Insurance is laying off the employees and replacing them with an artificial intelligence (AI) system that can calculate insurance payouts.

The firm believes it will increase productivity by 30%.

It expects to save around 140m yen (£979,500 / $1.2m) a year in salaries after the 200m yen AI system is installed later this month.

Maintenance of the set-up is expected to cost about 15m yen annually.

Japan's Mainichi reports that the system is based on IBM Japan Ltd's Watson, which IBM calls a "cognitive technology that can think like a human".

IBM says it can "analyze and interpret all of your data, including unstructured text, images, audio and video".

Fukoku Mutual will use the AI to gather the information needed for policyholders' payouts - by reading medical certificates, and data on surgeries or hospital stays.

According to The Mainichi, three other Japanese insurance companies are considering adopting AI systems for work like finding the optimal cover plan for customers.
prgnewshawaii's curator insight, January 6, 10:00 PM

A scary sci-fi prediction for the future is coming true in Japan, as a major insurance company has replaced 34 employees with Artificial Intelligence.  If you want to stay employed, think seriously about increasing your skill set.  Manual, repetitive jobs will disappear in time, and your cubicle partner may be an AI-designed robot.

Russ Roberts

Hawaii Intelligence Digest

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Elon Musk thinks humans need to become cyborgs or risk irrelevance

Elon Musk thinks humans need to become cyborgs or risk irrelevance | Knowmads, Infocology of the future |
Human beings are in danger of being eclipsed by artificial intelligence and need to evolve the ability to communicate directly with machines or risk irrelevance, Elon Musk said in a typically heartwarming speech from everyone’s favorite billionaire technologist.

“Over time I think we will probably see a closer merger of biological intelligence and digital intelligence," Musk told an audience at the World Government Summit in Dubai, where he also launched Tesla in the United Arab Emirates, according to CNBC. "It's mostly about the bandwidth, the speed of the connection between your brain and the digital version of yourself, particularly output."
prgnewshawaii's curator insight, February 14, 11:47 PM

A scary glimpse of the's coming whether we like it or not. Your best friend could be the cyborg in the carrel next to you. Musk believes humans will become irrelevant if we don't mesh our brains with our machine creations.  I keep thinking of such sci-fi thrillers as "Terminator", "Bladerunner", and "I, Robot."  Suddenly, I feel the end of our species is near if we don't figure a way out of this quandary.

Russell Roberts

Hawaii Intelligence Digest

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Love Is Like Cocaine - Issue 45: Power - Nautilus

Love Is Like Cocaine - Issue 45: Power - Nautilus | Knowmads, Infocology of the future |
George Bernard Shaw knew the power of romantic love and attachment. Both, I will maintain, are addictions—wonderful addictions when the relationship is going well; horribly negative addictions when the partnership breaks down. Moreover, these love addictions evolved a long time ago, as Lucy and her relatives and friends roamed the grass of east Africa some 3.2 million years ago.

Take romantic love. Even a happy lover shows all of the characteristics of an addict. Foremost, besotted men and women crave emotional and physical union with their beloved. This craving is a central component of all addictions. Lovers also feel a rush of exhilaration when thinking about him or her, a form of “intoxication.” As their obsession builds, the lover seeks to interact with the beloved more and more, known in addiction literature as “intensification.” They also think obsessively about their beloved, a form of intrusive thinking fundamental to drug dependence. Lovers also distort reality, change their priorities and daily habits to accommodate the beloved, and often do inappropriate, dangerous, or extreme things to remain in contact with or impress this special other.
frostyyttrium's comment, February 11, 4:27 AM
This is so great!
Arron Saini's comment, February 11, 8:01 AM
All true...but the how can we equate having an addiction with love? If you are addicted to something it cannot be called love, can it? Love sets you free, doesn't bind you. The love of addiction here sounds more like obsession. Just my thoughts. I found a really unique definition of love and it has just stuck with me.
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Embrace Authenticity: How to Break Free from the Tyranny of Positivity | Heleo

Embrace Authenticity: How to Break Free from the Tyranny of Positivity

“This incessant focus on ‘just be positive’ actually undermines our resilience.”

By Heleo Editors Feb 8, 2017


Susan David is the author of Emotional Agility, a leading psychologist at Harvard Medical School, and the co-founder and co-director of the Institute of Coaching at McLean Hospital. She recently joined Maria Shriver—award-winning journalist, bestselling author of six books, and former First Lady of California—for a conversation on why relentless positivity doesn’t lead to happiness, and how being emotionally honest can help us connect with our values and gain resilience.

This conversation has been edited and condensed.

Maria: You are a counter voice to so many people telling us, “Be positive, be happy, have a great mood, and everything will be fine.”

Susan: From a very young age, I became interested in this central question: what does it take internally in the way we deal with our thoughts, emotions, and stories, to help us thrive in the world? I’m a psychologist at Harvard Medical School. The broader research [shows] that this incessant focus on “just be positive” actually undermines our resilience.

Maria: Telling people, “Just be happy. What’s wrong with you? Have a good attitude.” That actually hurts.
frostyyttrium's comment, February 11, 4:27 AM
Really good
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Physicists Make the Case That Our Brains' Learning Is Controlled by Entropy

Physicists Make the Case That Our Brains' Learning Is Controlled by Entropy | Knowmads, Infocology of the future |
The way our brains learn new information has puzzled scientists for decades - we come across so much new information daily, how do our brains store what's important, and forget the rest more efficiently than any computer we've built?

It turns out that this could be controlled by the same laws that govern the formation of the stars and the evolution of the Universe, because a team of physicists has shown that, at the neuronal level, the learning process could ultimately be limited by the laws of thermodynamics.

"The greatest significance of our work is that we bring the second law of thermodynamics to the analysis of neural networks," lead researcher Sebastian Goldt from the University of Stuttgart in Germany told Lisa Zyga from

The second law of thermodynamics is one of the most famous physics laws we have, and it states that the total entropy of an isolated system always increases over time.

Entropy is a thermodynamic quantity that's often referred to as a measure of disorder in a system. What that means is that, without extra energy being put into a system, transformations can't be reversed - things are going to get progressively more disordered, because it's more efficient that way.

Entropy is currently the leading hypothesis for why the arrow of time only ever marches forwards. The second law of thermodynamics says that you can't un-crack an egg, because it would lower the Universe's entropy, and for that reason, there will always be a future and a past.

But what does this have to do with the way our brains learn? Just like the bonding of atoms and the arrangement of gas particles in stars, our brains are designed to find the most efficient way to organise themselves.

"The second law is a very powerful statement about which transformations are possible - and learning is just a transformation of a neural network at the expense of energy," Goldt explained to Zyga.

If you keep in mind the fact that learning in its most simplistic form is controlled by billions of neurons firing inside our brains, then finding patterns in that energy output becomes a little easier.

To model how this works, Goldt and his team set up a neural network - a computer system that models the activity of neurons in the human brain.

"Virtually every organism gathers information about its noisy environment and builds models from those data, mostly using neural networks," the team writes in Physical Review Letters.

What the researchers were looking for is how neurons filter out the noise, and only respond to impor
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How Time Rules Your Body—and Your Social Life

How Time Rules Your Body—and Your Social Life | Knowmads, Infocology of the future |
We can’t smell it, we can’t taste it, we can’t hear it or touch it, but time is with us every second of our lives. And for thousands of years, philosophers and psychologists, from St. Augustine to William James, have pondered its meaning and how we perceive it. For his book Why Time Flies: A Mostly Scientific Investigation, Alan Burdick, who refused to wear a watch for much of his life, set off on a journey in search of time, which took him from a research station in the Arctic to the office of Coordinated Universal Time in Paris. [See an ancient portable sundial shaped like a ham.]

Speaking from his home in Hastings-on-Hudson, New York, Burdick explains how having twins changed his ideas about time, why as far back as the Romans people have complained about being slaves to time, and how new discoveries in neuroscience show that our bodies are filled with clocks.
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Researchers Are Debating Whether to Privatise Endangered Species

Researchers Are Debating Whether to Privatise Endangered Species | Knowmads, Infocology of the future |
Earth is currently in the midst of a mass extinction. Experts suggest that by the middle of the century, as many as two-thirds of the planet’s species could be extinct.

The most likely cause of this sobering phenomenon is climate change, which is throwing off the balance of natural ecosystems and forcing animals to migrate or adapt to changing weather conditions.

Despite these facts, Republican leaders in the US have signalled that they intend to roll back the influence of the Endangered Species Act, claiming it is not being used as Congress intended when it passed the law in 1973.

An Australian professor has suggested a different approach to the problem: privatising wildlife.

George Wilson, an adjunct professor at the Australian National University, recently published a paper in the journal Conservation Letters proposing that his country take a page from southern Africa by giving private landowners authority over the wildlife on their property – in a limited trial.

Since the late 1960s, the nations of Zimbabwe, Namibia, Botswana, and South Africa have – at various times and to varying degrees – granted people who own land that’s home to wildlife full legal control over the animals on that property.

That means that instead of the government taking the lead in regulating hunting, eco-tourism, or conservation programs, that power is handed over to land owners.

The underlying philosophy behind these policies is the concept of tragedy of the commons.

The logic goes like this: when wildlife is considered a public good, and the government takes on the duty of protecting it, humans don’t have any incentive to help in that effort – and might even resent the regulations enacted in order to protect animals (as GOP lawmakers seem to).

But if land owners are given control over the animals on their property, and are even offered ways to profit from tourism or hunting, then they will have a reason to invest in growing and maintaining the animal populations.

Since such policies were instituted in Africa, a few studies have shown that wildlife privatisation likely contributed to a boom in tourism.

An article published in 2000 estimated that as many as 20 percent of all the ranches in Zimbabwe, Namibia, and South Africa at the time were managed at least in part for wildlife tourism.

The paper also suggests that in Zimbabwe, an estimated 63 percent of giraffe and 56 percent of cheetah were found on commercial ranch properties.

In South Africa today, Wilson notes in his paper, high-value wildlife species are traded to help land owners populate and restock their properties and establish new populations.
Daniar Sancho's curator insight, February 4, 8:48 PM


Daniar Sancho's curator insight, February 4, 8:50 PM

Researchers Are Debating Whether to Privatise Endangered Species 

8B KellyC's curator insight, February 9, 1:33 PM

This article was about the wildlife of Africa. In Africa, there are many wildlife that isn’t very common in many other places. In another word, there are endangered species living Africa. Nowadays most of the animals are getting endangered or extinct because of the climate change and the loss of their shelter. Therefore, these wildlife is very precious to the humanity. However, the places the animals live in is not always the perfect place for the animal and the human. In Africa when it lives on somebody’s territory, the landowner has the right to breed them or kill them. Most of the landowners breed them and make the endangered  species more commons in this world. On the other hand, when the government is in charge, they reduce the amount of animals. So the idea that was expressed by this article and the author is, that humans can be helpful to bring back the endangered to common.


This article helped me understand Africa more because this shows that individual is better than the government. Sometimes governments can do things that is bad for their citizen. However, the individual citizens can do a great job on helping the humanity with their tiniest support. This also helped me understand how endangered animals can come back to life again.


The wildlife of Africa was spoken through this article and it was clearly shown that some things out there is getting better and better for the wildlife to survive from some cruel humans who destroys their shelter and other important things. This also shows that not all human is cruel. It shows how we can help the number to increase. I felt very proud of those landowners who did a role in saving the animals. This also interested me because we were learning about the animals at the desert of Africa. There is some animals that live in the desert and is a endangered specie such as Saharan Cheetah, Egyptian Tortoise, and Gazelle etc. I hope that one day we could find a way for the animals to stay with us longer.

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A 3D bioprinter that prints fully functional human skin | KurzweilAI

A 3D bioprinter that prints fully functional human skin | KurzweilAI | Knowmads, Infocology of the future |
A prototype 3D bioprinter that can create totally functional human skin has been developed by scientists from Universidad Carlos III de Madrid (UC3M) and BioDan Group in Spain. The skin has been used to treat burns as well as traumatic and surgical wounds in a large number of patients in Spain, according to the scientists.

The system provides two processes.

Autologous skin (from the patient’s own cells to generate human collagen) for therapeutic use, such as in the treatment of severe burns, instead of the animal collagen used in other methods. The researchers have applied for approval by various European regulatory agencies to guarantee that the skin that is produced is adequate for use in transplants on burn patients and on those with other skin problems.
prgnewshawaii's curator insight, January 26, 11:30 PM

A tremendous move forward in developing human-like skin for burn and accident victims. The medical applications are practically endless.

Russell Roberts

Hawaii Intelligence Digest

anniekingston's comment, January 27, 12:55 AM
all the best
culturesoinker's comment, January 27, 2:33 AM
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New Organisms Have Been Formed Using the First Ever 6-Letter Genetic Code

New Organisms Have Been Formed Using the First Ever 6-Letter Genetic Code | Knowmads, Infocology of the future |
Scientists have engineered the first ever 'semi-synthetic' organisms, by breeding E. coli bacteria with an expanded, six-letter genetic code.

While every living thing on Earth is formed according to a DNA code made up of four bases (represented by the letters G, T, C and A), these modified E. coli carry an entirely new type of DNA, with two additional DNA bases, X and Y, nestled in their genetic code.

The team, led by Floyd Romesberg from the Scripps Research Institute in California, engineered synthetic nucleotides - molecules that serve as the building blocks of DNA and RNA - to create an additional base pair, and they’ve successfully inserted this into the E. coli’s genetic code.

Now we have the world’s first semi-synthetic organism, with a genetic code made up of two natural base pairs and an additional 'alien' base pair, and Romesberg and his team suspect that this is just the beginning for this new form of life.

"With the virtually unrestricted ability to maintain increased information, the optimised semi-synthetic organism now provides a suitable platform [to] ... create organisms with wholly unnatural attributes and traits not found elsewhere in nature," the researchers report.
prgnewshawaii's curator insight, January 24, 9:20 PM

While this technology is fascinating, the door has now been opened to possible abuse in the form of synthetic organisms that could spread incurable infections and be resistant to drugs. Perhaps we are creating "monsters" that will get out of control. The next step would be to bioengineer humans that would be physically stronger than their creators. The age of the "cyborg" is approaching. Be careful of what you wish for.

Russell Roberts

Hawaii Intelligence Digest

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Complex Life Could Have Existed on Earth at Least Once Before

Complex Life Could Have Existed on Earth at Least Once Before | Knowmads, Infocology of the future |
Complex life might have come and gone on Earth long before the multicellular organisms we're familiar with today arose, a new study suggests.

It's generally thought that the evolution of complex life was a rare, once-in-4.5-billion-years event. But new research suggests that conditions were right for complex cells to evolve and die off at least once - or perhaps several times - before our lineage even got started.

What does that mean? Billions of years ago, there could have been other complex life forms on the planet, totally unrelated to anything we see on Earth today.

But let's backtrack for a second. Earth has been around for an estimated 4.5 billion years. Around 3.7 billion years ago, while the planet was still relatively fresh, two of the three kingdoms of life we see on Earth today - bacteria and archaea - arose.

It's thought that these simple, single-celled organisms survived for billions of years on their own, until around 1.75 billion years ago, when the third kingdom of life, eukaryotes, appeared.

The eukaryote family tree encompasses all complex organisms on the planet, including animals (that's us), plants, fungi, and protists.

It's still debated exactly how eukaryotes arose, but the most accepted hypothesis is that a archea swallowed an bacterial cell, and the two developed a symbiotic relationships that allowed them to work together to become more complex.

Eventually, the bacteria became the mitochondria we see in our cells today.

Whether that scenario is true or not, researchers think the event could only happen thanks to its timing - the reason we didn't see eukaryotes before that is because there simply wasn't enough oxygen in our atmosphere as yet.

Oxygen began building up billions of years ago thanks to cyanobacteria, but it took a long time - until approximately 1.6 billion years ago - to get up to levels that were suitable for complex life. Or, at least, that what we've always thought.

Now, a new study by the University of Washington has found evidence that there was enough oxygen in Earth's atmosphere between 2.4 and 2 billion years ago before it dropped off again suddenly.

This suggests that the ingredients for complex life were present before the first fossil evidence of eukaryotes.
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EU to debate robot legal rights, mandatory "kill switches"

EU to debate robot legal rights, mandatory "kill switches" | Knowmads, Infocology of the future |
A draft report submitted to the European Parliament's legal affairs committee has recommended that robots be equipped with a "kill switch" in order to manage the potential dangers in the evolving field of self-learning autonomous robotics.

The broad-ranging report, recently approved by the legal affairs committee, contains a variety of proposals designed to address possible legal and ethical issues that could arise through the development of autonomous artificial intelligences. These include the establishment of a European Agency for robotics and AI, plus a call for discussing the implementation of a universal basic income as a strategy to address the possible mass unemployment that could result from robotics replacing large portions of the workforce.

In a supreme case of life imitating art, the report opens by referencing Mary Shelley's Frankenstein and later suggests Issac Asimov's Three Laws of Robotics as a general principle that designers and producers of robotics should abide by.

Issues of identifying legal liability in regards to the potential harmful actions of robots are prominently discussed in the report. As robots develop cognitive abilities that give them the ability to learn from experience and make independent decisions, the question of legal responsibility becomes an urgent one to address. The report asks how a robot could be held responsible for its actions, and at what point that responsibility falls on either the manufacturer, owner or user.

Interestingly, a proportionate scale of responsibility is proposed that takes into account the capacity of a robot's self-learning abilities. The report states,

"the greater a robot's learning capability or autonomy is, the lower other parties' responsibility should be, and the longer a robot's 'education' has lasted, the greater the responsibility of its 'teacher' should be."
nukem777's curator insight, January 16, 1:51 PM
Bound to happen
prgnewshawaii's curator insight, January 16, 4:43 PM

The union of science fiction and science fact is upon us.  The wonders and cautions described by Isaac Asimov in a series of novels ("I,Robot" among them) are soon to become a part of our daily lives.  The potential dangers and opportunities afforded by self-learning autonomous robots are now so serious that the European Union is debating robot legal rights and the use of mandatory "kill switches" to stop robots from displacing humans. Be careful what you wish for.  The singularity is sitting next to us.

Are we prepared for how our lives will forever change?  I don't think so.

Russ Roberts

Hawaii Intelligence Digest

toupeekidd's comment, January 16, 11:40 PM
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Aging and Death Are the Evolutionary Price of Complexity

Aging and Death Are the Evolutionary Price of Complexity | Knowmads, Infocology of the future |
Life’s ever-repeating cycles of birth and death are among the most fundamental principles of nature. An organism starts out as a single cell that grows and divides, develops into an embryo, matures and reaches adulthood, but then ages, deteriorates, and eventually succumbs to death.

But why does life have to be cyclic, and why does it have to end in senescence and death?

After all, animals like corals and marine sponges live for thousands of years and are capable of virtually infinite regeneration and cell repair. Even in more complex animals, offspring do not inherit their parents’ age: every new generation starts with cells in a pristine state, with no trace of aging. If senescence is somehow suppressed in reproductive cells, why do the rest of the organism’s tissues end up deteriorating and dying?
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How a computer sees history after "reading" 35 million news stories

How a computer sees history after "reading" 35 million news stories | Knowmads, Infocology of the future |
So far, humans have relied on the written word to record what we know as history. When artificial intelligence researchers ran billions of those words from decades of news coverage through an automated analysis, however, even more patterns and insights were revealed.

A team from the University of Bristol ran 35 million articles from 100 local British newspapers spanning 150 years through both a simple content analysis and more sophisticated machine learning processes. By having machines "read" the nearly 30 billion words, the simple analysis allowed researchers to easily and accurately identify big events like wars and epidemics.

Similar systems have allowed computers to learn visually about art and even argue a topic.

Perhaps most interesting, the techniques also allowed the researchers to see the rise and fall of different trends during the study range from the years 1800 - 1950. For example, they could track the decline of steam and corresponding rise of electricity – the opposing trajectories crossed each other in 1898. Similarly, they saw when trains overtook horses in popularity in 1902.
prgnewshawaii's curator insight, January 13, 12:23 AM

A most interesting application of artificial intelligence. AI can be a helpful research tool for historians and social scientists.

Russ Roberts

Hawaii Intelligence Digest