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Comment AI will be just around the corner when... (Score 1) 564

... we develop low-cost, fast-charging, quiet and low-polluting portable power sources with enough capacity to power a human-sized android to walk around untethered for a few days.

That's it. That's the major remaining bottleneck for the development of general machine intelligence that can start to compete with humans and other animals. I expect this WILL happen in the next 3 decades.

Once those power sources are developed, we will see a proliferation of robots walking around all over the place. Production and deployment of large numbers of robots that can walk around and interact with the outside world is the *key* remaining step for developing powerful machine intelligence. These are the reasons why:

1) Sensors and Perception
Being free to interact in the external environment will require a much richer array of sensors and actuators on the robot armature. Sensors will measure things like temperature, moisture and pressure in addition to current inputs like position, acceleration, sound and light. Along with the richer sensor networks will come the computational subsystems for processing and integrating them. These subsystems will be the perceptual circuits of the robot mind.

2) Emotions
When robots are free to roam around in the real world (not just driving along streets, but almost everywhere that humans and other animals can go), they will acquire capabilities for monitoring damage and preventing harm to themselves. In order for a robot to protect itself and survive outside, it must be able to identify, prioritize, categorize and compare all sorts of unexpected stimuli, threats and opportunities. As with animals, these low-level circuits will be the foundation for emotional behavior, which is a requirement for true intelligence. Until a robot has a well-developed capacity to sense and react to sudden and unexpected stimuli, it feels *nothing*. Current robot 'emotions' are simulations, nothing more.

3) Large Numbers
Once you have perceptual and emotional networks in machines that can move almost everywhere in the outside world, only then do you have the playing field to develop true, general-purpose intelligence. Intelligence that includes the ability to model the outside world, to make predictions and solve unusual and difficult problems. Once you have the playing field, all it takes are large numbers - large-scale and widespread deployment of millions of mobile robots to produce the rapid cycles of technological innovation and evolution, such as we have already seen in many other areas.

Only this time, the end result will be able to compete with human beings and that's *not* good for us, despite what you may hear from techno-optimists promising a future of global human leisure and luxury. Sorry, but it's not going to work out that way. If you need convincing, start considering what happened in the past when superior biological and technological groups encountered and competed with inferior ones for resources and space in the environment.

There's plenty more to this story, including the inherent dynamics of our current economic systems, energy issues and the trajectory of autonomous industrial manufacturing systems, but that will require quite a bit more explanation.

Comment Atavistic: YES, Easy Cure: NO (Score 1) 223

I've always thought it obvious that the proliferative capabilities of cancer cells resulted from leveraging ancient genes but I give the authors credit for stating it explicitly. However, I believe their conclusions that this improves hope for a cure are dead wrong, for the following reasons:

1. One billions years old is not very old biochemically. Most of the intracellular biochemical tricks are already old hat to the one-billion year old cell - they are not the gullible rubes you think they are.

2. You might expect cancer cells to be predictable because they fall back on early evolved mechanisms. Your expectations are just as likely to be wrong because proto-multicellular life could be a lot more mutable and adaptable than later, highly-constrained organisms. An analogy would be the greater speed and flexibility of older, smaller and simpler human cities and governments to form and adapt compared to the modern regulation-bound and bureaucratic ones.

In fact, if mutability itself turns out to be a 'tunable' property of ancient life, we can expect to be continually surprised by those 'primitive' cancer cells.


Irish ISP Wins Major Legal Victory Against Record Companies 96

An anonymous reader writes "The High Court in Dublin ruled today that there was no precedent in Irish law to force ISPs to identify and disconnect people accused of illegally downloading copyrighted files. The court case was spurred by objections to the recording industry's three-strikes system from Irish internet provider UPC. Earlier this year, Eircom, one of Ireland's other large ISPs, gave in and implemented the system, as we discussed previously. This resulted in many of the more 'technical' users leaving that ISP in droves. Nice to see an ISP willing to take a stand."

Comment Re:Autotools do not need a book (Score 1) 148

That's like saying an airline that flies to everywhere in the world except the US, India and China is not really an 'international' airline. Not correct. Cross-platform essentially means that it runs on multiple important platforms, not necessarily including the largest one.

Comment The paper does not advocate banning (Score 1) 689

The statement in megamerican's summary,

" Sunstein admits that 'some conspiracy theories, under our definition, have turned out to be true' Sunstein has also recently advocated banning websites which post 'right-wing rumors'"

is false. I read the linked pdf and banning websites is explicitly _not_ a part of Sunstein and Vermeule's policy recommendations (page 14, paragraph 3). RTFA before you make false and inflammatory statements.


Submission + - Role of endogenous retroviruses in human evolution

mhackarbie writes: The current edition of the New Yorker magazine has a fascinating story about endogenous retroviruses in the genomes of humans and other species. Although researchers have known about such non-functional retroviral 'fossils' in the human genome for some time, the large amount of recent genomic data underscores just how pervasive they are, in a compelling tale that involves humans, their primate cousins, and a variety of viral invaders. Some researchers are even bringing back non-functional viral remnants from the dead by fixing their broken genes.

Submission + - Professor Takes His Scholarship to YouTube

An anonymous reader writes: There's a new video report about a Kansas State professor who got 2 million + hits with his video on YouTube that's basically a video version of his scholarly paper about Web 2.0. Will scholars start to make their points via online video instead of just print papers? (article)

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