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Emerging Technologies and the Future of Humanity ( 120

Lasrick writes: Brad Allenby, Lincoln Professor of Engineering and Ethics and founding chair of the Consortium for Emerging Technologies, Military Operations and National Security at Arizona State University, delivers a fascinating examination of resistance to technological developments over time. Allenby starts by breaking down discussions into 3 categories, and then focuses on the third: the "apocalyptic" discussions. "[T]echnological evolution is accelerating, which has significant implications. Past rates of technological change were slow enough that psychological, social, and institutional adjustments were possible, but today technology changes so rapidly that technology systems decouple from governance mechanisms of all kinds. All these factors, operating together, synergistically increase the impact, speed, and depth of change.

Alva Noe: Don't Worry About the Singularity, We Can't Even Copy an Amoeba 455

An anonymous reader writes "Writer and professor of philosophy at the University of California, Berkeley Alva Noe isn't worried that we will soon be under the rule of shiny metal overlords. He says that currently we can't produce "machines that exhibit the agency and awareness of an amoeba." He writes at NPR: "One reason I'm not worried about the possibility that we will soon make machines that are smarter than us, is that we haven't managed to make machines until now that are smart at all. Artificial intelligence isn't synthetic intelligence: It's pseudo-intelligence. This really ought to be obvious. Clocks may keep time, but they don't know what time it is. And strictly speaking, it is we who use them to tell time. But the same is true of Watson, the IBM supercomputer that supposedly played Jeopardy! and dominated the human competition. Watson answered no questions. It participated in no competition. It didn't do anything. All the doing was on our side. We played Jeopordy! with Watson. We used 'it' the way we use clocks.""

Nanoscale 3D Printer Now Commercially Available 127

kkleiner writes "Now the field of 3D printing has advanced so far that a company called Nanoscribe is offering one of the first commercially available 3D printers for the nanoscale. Nanoscribe's machine can produce tiny 3D printed objects that are only the width of a single human hair. Amazingly this includes 3D printed objects such as spaceships, micro needles, or even the empire state building."

German Laser Destroys Targets More Than 1Km Away 338

kkleiner writes "A German company has brought us one step closer to the kinds of shootouts only seen in Sci-Fi films. Düsseldorf-based Rheinmetall Defense recently tested a 50kW, high-energy laser at their proving ground facility in Switzerland. First, the system sliced through a 15mm- (~0.6 inches) thick steel girder from a kilometer away. Then, from a distance of two kilometers, it shot down a handful of drones as they nose-dived toward the surface at 50 meters per second."

EU Working On Most Powerful Laser Ever Built 83

kkleiner writes "On the coattails of CERN's success with the Large Hadron Collider, Europeans and the world at large have another grand science project to be excited about: the Extreme Light Infrastructure project to build the most powerful laser ever constructed. These lasers will be intense enough to perform electron dynamics experiments at very short time scales or venture into relativistic optics, opening up an entirely new field of physics for study. Additionally, the lasers could be combined to generate a super laser that would shoot into space, similar to the combined laser effect of the Death Star in the Star Wars trilogy, though the goal is to study particles in space, not annihilate planets."
The Internet

Intelligence Agencies Turn To Crowdsourcing 41

An anonymous reader writes "IARPA — the sister agency to DARPA — is sponsoring researchers to examine crowdsourcing as a method to derive better intelligence predictions. This research will eventually be transitioned to the intelligence community to improve national intelligence estimates. From the article: 'Like Darpa, its better-known counterpart in the Pentagon, Iarpa funds far-out research ideas. However, Iarpa works on ideas that could eventually be used by the likes of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), rather than the military. “The goal that Iarpa has is to eventually transition this to the intelligence community, and use it for something like the National Intelligence Estimates,” says Jenn Carter, who works on the project.'"

Harvard Creates Cyborg Tissues 108

MrSeb writes "Bioengineers at Harvard University have created the first examples of cyborg tissue: Neurons, heart cells, muscle, and blood vessels that are interwoven by nanowires and transistors. These cyborg tissues are half living cells, half electronics. As far as the cells are concerned, they're just normal cells that behave normally — but the electronic side actually acts as a sensor network, allowing a computer to interface directly with the cells. In the case of cyborg heart tissue, the researchers have already used the embedded nanowires to measure the contractions (heart rate) of the cells. So far, the researchers have only used the nanoelectric scaffolds to read data from the cells — but according to lead researcher Charles Lieber, the next step is to find a way of talking to the individual cells, to 'wire up tissue and communicate with it in the same way a biological system does.' Suffice it to say, if you can use a digital computer to read and write data to your body's cells, there are some awesome applications."

MIT Professor Pushes the Envelope of 3D Art and Manufacturing 58

kkleiner writes "Professor at MIT Neri Oxman's creations are demonstrating the powerful combination of 3D printing and new design algorithms inspired from nature. Just as a computer printer makes copies of 2D images, 3D printers have copied an impressive variety of objects, such as robots, chairs, prosthetics, kidneys, and jaw bones, to mention a few. But Oxman and her colleagues are discovering new design and engineering principles that will help to mature 3D printing into a technology capable of producing complex and beautiful structures impossible by other manufacturing techniques."

Neal Stephenson Takes Blame For Innovation Failure 448

itwbennett writes "Neal Stephenson is shouldering some of the blame for discouraging budding scientists and engineers, saying in a interview that perhaps the dark turn science fiction has taken is 'discouraging budding scientists and engineers.' For his part, Stephenson has vowed to be more optimistic. From the article: 'Speaking before a packed lecture theater at MIT yesterday, Neal Stephenson worried that the gloomy outlook prevalent in modern science fiction may be undermining the genre's ability to inspire engineers and scientists. Describing himself as a "pessimist trying to turn himself into an optimist," and acknowledging that some of his own work has contributed to the dystopian trend, he added "if every depiction of the future is grim...then it doesn't create much of an incentive to building the future."'"

Brain Implants Can Detect What Patients Hear 75

kkleiner writes "A group of 15 patients suffering from either epileptic seizures or brain tumors volunteered to allow scientists to insert electrodes into their brains. After neurosurgeons cut a hole in their skulls, the research team placed 256 electrodes over the part of the brain that processes auditory signals called the temporal lobe. The scientists then played words, one at a time, to the patients while recording brain activity in the temporal lobe. A computer was able to reconstruct the original word 80 to 90 percent of the time."

The Rise of Robotic Labor 308

kkleiner wrote in with a link to a singularityhub story about the increase of automated manufacturing world-wide. The article reads: "The accelerating rise in robot labor of the past decade, and its expansion into all areas of production, have led many to worry about the future of human workers. Yet how extensive is the robotic take over of labor? Our friends at Mezzmer Eyeglasses did some impressive research and created an even more impressive infographic explaining the present and future of robots in the workplace."

Predictions of the Future...From the 1960s 278

kkleiner writes "Jetpacks, flying cars, death rays — the future isn't quite what the past hoped it would be. Of course, when predictions do come true it can be really shocking. Check out some of the more entertaining and eye-opening videos that show classic predictions from the 1960s. The Jet Age couldn't imagine the Age of Social Media clearly, but they got a few things right. And many more hilariously wrong."

The Fall of Traditional Entertainment Conglomerates 204

Advocatus Diaboli writes "We no longer live in the era of 'plantation-type' movie studios or recording houses. However large private companies still have considerable power over content production, distribution and promotion. Technology has been slowly changing this state of affairs for almost 30-40 years, however certain new technological advances, enabling systems and cost considerations will change the entertainment industry as we know it within 5 years."
The Internet

Bittorrent To Replace Standard Downloads? 591

Max Sayre writes "Have you ever tried to download an operating system update only to have it fail and have to start all over? What about patches for your favorite games? World of Warcraft already uses Bittorrent technology as a way to distribute large amounts of content at a lower cost to the company and faster speeds to all of their clients. So why haven't they replaced the standard downloading options built into any major OS? Companies like Opera are including the downloading of torrents in their products already and extensions have been written for Firefox to download torrents in-browser. Every day Bittorrent traffic is growing. Sites like OpenBittorrent already exist and DHT doesn't even require a tracker. So why isn't everyone doing it? Is it finally time to see all downloads replaced with Bittorrent?"

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