The inventor of the world wide web believes an online "Magna Carta" is needed to protect and enshrine the independence of the medium he created and the rights of its users worldwide. Sir Tim Berners-Lee told the Guardian the web had come under increasing attack from governments and corporate influence and that new rules were needed to protect the "open, neutral" system. Speaking exactly 25 years after he wrote the first draft of the first proposal for what would become the world wide web, the computer scientist said: "We need a global constitution – a bill of rights." Berners-Lee's Magna Carta plan is to be taken up as part of an initiative called "the web we want", which calls on people to generate a digital bill of rights in each country – a statement of principles he hopes will be supported by public institutions, government officials and corporations.
During 2010-12, noted AI researcher and long-time Humanity+ Board member Ben Goertzel conducted a series of textual interviews with researchers in various areas of cutting-edge science — artificial general intelligence, nanotechnology, life extension, neurotechnology, collective intelligence, mind uploading, body modification, neuro-spiritual transformation, and more. These interviews were published online in H+ Magazine, and are here gathered together in a single volume. The resulting series of dialogues treats a variety of social, futurological and scientific topics in a way that is accessible to the educated non-scientist, yet also deep and honest to the subtleties of the topics being discussed.
Between Ape and Artilect is a must-read if you want the real views, opinions, ideas, muses and arguments of the people creating our future.
The promise that each generation will be better off than the last is a fundamental tenet of modern society. By and large, most advanced economies have fulfilled this promise, with living standards rising over recent generations, despite setbacks from wars and financial crises. In the developing world, too, the vast majority of people have started to experience sustained improvement in living standards and are rapidly developing similar growth expectations. But will future generations, particularly in advanced economies, realize such expectations? Though the likely answer is yes, the downside risks seem higher than they did a few decades ago.
A new study from the IEC (International Electrotechnical Commission) and the Fraunhofer Institute for Systems and Innovation Research ISI has found that nanotechnology will bring significant benefits to the energy sector, especially to energy storage and solar energy. Improved materials efficiency and reduced manufacturing costs are just two of the real economic benefits that nanotechnology already brings these fields and that’s only the beginning. Battery storage capacity could be extended, solar cells could be produced cheaper, and the lifetime of solar cells or batteries for electric cars could be increased, all thanks to continued development of nanotechnology.
A qualitative change in our information environment that is every bit as seismic as the meteor that marked the end of the dinosaurs. Deity-scale information capability. Complexity driving cognition to ever more competent techno-human networks. Perceptual, conscious, and subconscious processing increasingly outsourced to technology systems. Fragmentation of self across avatars in various increasingly engaging virtual realities. But any such list is misleadingly simplistic. The technological evolution impacting the self is not simply a case of interesting but isolated case studies but, rather, represents profound and accelerating evolution across the entire technological frontier. And the conscious self is where these must be integrated, or at least collated.
An augmented reality game has helped an amputee suffering from phantom limb pain (PLP) enjoy a good night's sleep for the first time in 48 years.
The system, which works by translating muscular electrical signals picked up by electrodes at the site of the amputation into movements onscreen, was developed by a team at the Chalmers University of Technology in Gothenburg and nearby Sahlgrenska University Hospital. It is an offshoot of work done by Max Ortiz Catalan, who in 2012 developed and trialled a groundbreaking technique for implanting thought-controlled robotic arms and their electrodes directly to the bones and nerves of amputees. He says the idea for the AR phantom pain system came from listening to the struggles of amputee patients at his own clinic. When he decided to trial it, there was one individual whose case was known to be particularly difficult.
The effects of the trial, have been transformative for that individual.
Dr. Gabor Forgacs is a theoretical physicist turned tissue-engineer turned entrepreneur. His companies are pioneering 3D bio-printing technologies that will produce tissues for medical and pharmaceutical uses, as well as for consumption, in the form of meat and leather.
Expect Labs, makers of the MindMeld app for dynamically suggesting content in response to the topics in a spoken conversation, is opening its artificial intelligence engine to the world via the new MindMeld API. It’s the latest example of just how powerful APIs are becoming and offers yet another glimpse into how intelligent we will expect applications to be in the years to come.
When three continents witnessed food riots in 2007 and 2008, we saw the international food system is not as stable as it looks. There’s unprecedented competition for food due to population growth and changing diets. Experts predict that by 2050, if things don't change, we will see mass starvation across the world.
In this documentary, George Alagiah travelled the world to unravel the complicated web of links that binds the world's food together, bringing it from farm to table. It reveals a growing global food crisis that could affect the planet in the years ahead. What can we do to avert this?
We live in an era of accelerating change, when scientific and technological advancements are arriving rapidly. As a result, we are developing a new language to describe our civilization as it evolves. Here are 20 terms and concepts that you'll need to navigate our future.
Inspired by the space physics behind solar flares and the aurora, a team of researchers from the University of Michigan and Princeton has uncovered a new kind of magnetic behavior that could help make nuclear fusion reactions easier to start.
Videogames, digital pens, holograms and tactile learning platforms could all become the norm as education looks set to change dramatically over the next 30 years. With technology dominating in and outside the classroom, interconnectivity is likely to play a key role in helping students adapt to the changing world around them
Imagine a ribbon roughly one hundred million times as long as it is wide. If it were a meter long, it would be 10 nanometers wide, or just a few times thicker than a DNA double helix. Scaled up to the length of a football field, it would still be less than a micrometer across — smaller than a red blood cell. Would you trust your life to that thread? What about a tether 100,000 kilometers long, one stretching from the surface of the Earth to well past geostationary orbit (GEO, 22,236 miles up), but which was still somehow narrower than your own wingspan?
The idea of climbing such a ribbon with just your body weight sounds precarious enough, but the ribbon predicted by a new report from the International Academy of Astronautics (IAA) will be able to carry up to seven 20-ton payloads at once. It will serve as a tether stretching far beyond geostationary (aka geosynchronous) orbit and held taught by an anchor of roughly two million kilograms. Sending payloads up this backbone could fundamentally change the human relationship with space — every climber sent up the tether could match the space shuttle in capacity, allowing up to a “launch” every couple of days.
Craig Venter, the U.S. scientist who raced the U.S. government to map the human genome over a decade ago and created synthetic life in 2010, is now on a quest to treat age-related disease. Venter has teamed up with stem cell pioneer Dr Robert Hariri and X Prize Foundation founder Dr Peter Diamandis to form Human Longevity Inc, a company that will use both genomics and stem cell therapies to find treatments that allow aging adults to stay healthy and functional for as long as possible. "We're hoping to make numerous new discoveries in preventive medicine. We think this will have a huge impact on changing the cost of medicine," Venter said on a conference call announcing his latest venture.
Physicists led by ion-trapper Christopher Monroe at the JQI have proposed a modular quantum computer architecture that promises scalability to much larger numbers of qubits. The components of this architecture have individually been tested and are available, making it a promising approach. In the paper, the authors present expected performance and scaling calculations, demonstrating that their architecture is not only viable, but in some ways, preferable when compared to related schemes.
Following up on the success of cochlear and retinal prostheses for people who have lost sensory function, neuroscientists see a limitless horizon for related devices that are able to read electrical and chemical signals from the nervous system to stimulate capability and restore quality of life in persons suffering injury and disease.
In the future, according to researchers, the devices – known as neural prosthetics – will help epileptics, persons with treatment-resistant depression and chronic pain, victims of Alzheimer’s disease, wounded war veterans suffering post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury, persons with speech disabilities, and individuals who have sustained spinal cord injury and loss of limbs, among other applications in the research pipeline.
But before neural prosthetics can advance, engineers will be called on to make innovative use of materials to design and fabricate devices that allow sustained electronic functioning in the harsh environment of the human body, without causing tissue infection and other serious adverse conditions. Research efforts have focused on enhancing the performance of various types of materials used in neural prosthetics, in addition to developing interface technologies that enable the micro devices to be safely implanted in human tissue for long periods.
Engineers like to make things that work. And if one wants to make something work using nanoscale components—the size of proteins, antibodies, and viruses—mimicking the behavior of cells is a good place to start since cells carry an enormous amount of information in a very tiny packet. As Erik Winfree, professor of computer science, computation and neutral systems, and bioengineering, explains, "I tend to think of cells as really small robots. Biology has programmed natural cells, but now engineers are starting to think about how we can program artificial cells. We want to program something about a micron in size, finer than the dimension of a human hair, that can interact with its chemical environment and carry out the spectrum of tasks that biological things do, but according to our instructions."
As technology speeds forward, humans are beginning to imagine the day when robots will fill the roles promised to us in science fiction. But what should we be thinking about today, as robots like military and delivery drones become a real part of our society? How should robots be programmed to interact with us? How should we treat robots? And who is responsible for a robot's actions? As we look at the unexpected impact of new technologies, we are obligated as a society to consider the moral and ethical implications of robotics.
With each new generation of microchips, transistors are being placed closer and closer together. This can only go on so long before there’s no more room to improve, or something revolutionary has to come along to change everything. One of the materials that might be the basis of that revolution is none other than graphene. Researchers at the University of California at Berkeley are hot on the trail of a form of so-called nanoribbon graphene that could increase the density of transistors on a computer chip by as much as 10,000 times.
The advances we’ve seen in the past few years—cars that drive themselves, useful humanoid robots, speech recognition and synthesis systems, 3D printers,Jeopardy!-champion computers—are not the crowning achievements of the computer era. They’re the warm-up acts. As we move deeper into the second machine age we’ll see more and more such wonders, and they’ll become more and more impressive.
How can we be so sure? Because the exponential, digital, and recombinant powers of the second machine age have made it possible for humanity to create two of the most important one-time events in our history: the emergence of real, useful artificial intelligence (AI) and the connection of most of the people on the planet via a common digital network.
Either of these advances alone would fundamentally change our growth prospects. When combined, they’re more important than anything since the Industrial Revolution, which forever transformed how physical work was done.
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