merbs writes: Joe Haldeman wrote what is hailed by many as the best military science fiction novel ever written, 1974's 'The Forever War'. In this interview, Haldeman discusses what's changed since he wrote his book, what hasn't, and what the future of war will really look like.
merbs writes: Supporters of a basic income have finally organized a proper political movement. Basic Income Action is, according to co-founder Dan O’Sullivan, “the first national organization educating and organizing the public to support a basic income.”He tells me that “Our goal is to educate and organize people to take action to win a basic income here in the US.”
“Our idea was to raise awareness regarding the omnipresence of surveillance equipment, and the current state of technological advancement with artificial intelligence,” Ross Goodwin said. “We wanted to create an entity with its own sense of social awareness, its own eyes, and an ability to communicate with humans, albeit with some glitchiness that underscores the limitations of the current technology.”
merbs writes: Climate change wasn’t created equal. Rich, industrialized nations have contributed most of the pollution and gone way over their carbon budgets—while smaller, poorer, and more agrarian countries are little to blame. The subsequent warming will, naturally, impact everyone, often hitting the poorer countries harder. So should rich countries pay up? Researcher Damon Matthews has quantified how much historically polluting nations owe their global neighbors—and it's a lot.
merbs writes: Given that Labor Day is just about our least-understood national holiday—today, we know it better as one of our most reliable three-day-weekend enablers, a proto Black Friday retail sale stretch, or the subject of outdated jokes about the temporal limits of wearing white—its Wikipedia page is now the portal through which most of us learn anything at all about the supposed worker’s holiday. And over the last decade, the 'Labor Day' page has struggled to even mention the labor movement that it supposedly honors.
merbs writes: Water access is going to be one of the most pressing issues of the 21st century. As climate change dries out the already dry areas and makes the wet ones wetter, we’re poised to see some radical civilizational shifts. For one, a number of densely populated areas will come under serious water stress—which analysts fear will lead to strife, thirst, and even violent conflict. With that in mind, the World Resource Institute has assembled a new report projecting which nations are most likely to be hardest hit by water stress in coming decades—nations like Bahrain, Israel, Palestine, and Spain lead the pack.
merbs writes: The ocean is in the midst of radical, manmade change. It can seem kind of crazy that one of the most immense properties on Earth—the ocean washes over 71 percent of the planet—could be completely transformed by a swarm of comparatively tiny, fleshy mammals. But humans are indeed remaking the ocean, in almost every conceivable way. The ocean we know today—that billions swim, fish, float, and surf in—that vast planetary body of water will be of an entirely different character by the end of the century: hotter, higher, trashier, and more acidic.
merbs writes: Tthe biggest oil spill in US history, despite incurring the largest environmental fine on the books—$18.7 billion, handed down this month—has done almost nothing to change the nation’s relationship to oil. Five years after the spill, and, by BP’s count, $54 billion in projected total expenses, there have been no serious legislative efforts to improve the oversight or regulation of the United States’ still-expanding offshore oil operations. Public opinion of deepwater drilling barely budged during the ordeal; today, a majority of Americans favor doing even more of it.
merbs writes: Reed Milewicz, a computer science researcher, wowed a major online Magic: The Gathering forum when he posted the results of an experiment to “teach” a weak AI to auto-generate Magic cards. Milewicz had trained a deep, recurrent neural network—a kind of statistical machine learning model designed to emulate the neural networks of animal brains—to "learn" the text of every Magic card currently in existence. Then he had it generate thousands of its own.
He shared a number of the bizarre “cards” his program had come up with, replete with their properly fantastical names (“Shring the Artist,” “Mided Hied Parira's Scepter”) and freshly invented abilities (“fuseback”). Players devoured—and cheered—the results.