Liquid Hard Drive Implants Could Increase Intellect
By  Anthony CuthbertsonJuly 25, 2014

Although Glotzer [chemical engineer at UMich] acknowledges that such ideas are purely speculative for the moment, these neural implants could potentially be used to assist the human brain in accessing additional information or calculating computational tasks without needing to touch a calculator. This would allow individuals to learn and absorb information at unprecedented rates.

Liquid Hard Drive Implants Could Increase Intellect

By Anthony CuthbertsonJuly 25, 2014

Although Glotzer [chemical engineer at UMich] acknowledges that such ideas are purely speculative for the moment, these neural implants could potentially be used to assist the human brain in accessing additional information or calculating computational tasks without needing to touch a calculator. This would allow individuals to learn and absorb information at unprecedented rates.

Emerging and proposed technologies such as human cloning and genetic engineering have drawn a chorus of objections from politicians, pundits, and scholars. … Russell Blackford eschews the heated rhetoric that surrounds these technological developments and examines them in the context of secular and liberal thought.

… Blackford argues … that the challenge is that fear of these technologies has created an atmosphere in which liberal tolerance itself is threatened.

Secularism, Liberalism, and the Human Future, with Russell Blackford
Dates: Nov 9, 2013
Location: London, U.K.

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Sounds intresting; hope it’s webcasted.

inthenoosphere
I see a strong parallel between the evolution of robot intelligence and the biological intelligence that preceded it. The largest nervous systems doubled in size about every fifteen million years since the Cambrian explosion 550 million years ago. Robot controllers double in complexity (processing power) every year or two. They are now barely at the lower range of vertebrate complexity, but should catch up with us within a half century.
Hans Moravec (via inthenoosphere)
Sorry Tony & Elon,
Gesture Interfaces are NOT “The Future” — for a damn good reason.

People have been trying to develop gesturing-interfaces since the 1980’s. The reason that after three decades no attempt to create such an interface has seen commercial success is because of a phenomenon known in tech-jargon as “gorilla arm”. Our human bodies were never intended to be able to execute fine finger and hand motions, while holding our arms up/out in front of us, for an extended period of time. It doesn’t take too many minutes of doing this before a user’s back, shoulder, neck and arm muscles start aching. As people observed at the time, “you start looking like a gorilla using it and feel like one when you’re done”.
In years past, the gesturing-interface was taught in the engineering classroom as a case study in non-ergonomic design.  I guess that was one of the class-days that Elon Musk must have skipped.
– wildiris

Sorry Tony & Elon,

Gesture Interfaces are NOT “The Future” — for a damn good reason.

People have been trying to develop gesturing-interfaces since the 1980’s. The reason that after three decades no attempt to create such an interface has seen commercial success is because of a phenomenon known in tech-jargon as “gorilla arm”. Our human bodies were never intended to be able to execute fine finger and hand motions, while holding our arms up/out in front of us, for an extended period of time. It doesn’t take too many minutes of doing this before a user’s back, shoulder, neck and arm muscles start aching. As people observed at the time, “you start looking like a gorilla using it and feel like one when you’re done”.

In years past, the gesturing-interface was taught in the engineering classroom as a case study in non-ergonomic design. I guess that was one of the class-days that Elon Musk must have skipped.

wildiris

GoldieBlox: an engineering toy for girls little humans who are OK with pastel colors.

Less than a year ago, Debbie Sterling’s concept of a toy that would teach engineering skills to little girls was nothing more than a prototype on Kickstarter.
Today, GoldieBlox holds the distinction as one of Amazon’s top 100 toys (top 20 as of this writing). The toy, which teaches engineering skills through the adventures of kid inventor Goldie, is available in 600 Toys “R” Us stores, and 400 other toy stores nationwide. 
But it’s not the sales that make Sterling proudest. Instead, it’s the messages from the parents that pour in every day. Stories about little girls that sing songs about building and engineering, or are inspired to build their own toys after playing with GoldieBlox.

GoldieBlox: an engineering toy for girls little humans who are OK with pastel colors.

Less than a year ago, Debbie Sterling’s concept of a toy that would teach engineering skills to little girls was nothing more than a prototype on Kickstarter.

Today, GoldieBlox holds the distinction as one of Amazon’s top 100 toys (top 20 as of this writing). The toy, which teaches engineering skills through the adventures of kid inventor Goldie, is available in 600 Toys “R” Us stores, and 400 other toy stores nationwide. 

But it’s not the sales that make Sterling proudest. Instead, it’s the messages from the parents that pour in every day. Stories about little girls that sing songs about building and engineering, or are inspired to build their own toys after playing with GoldieBlox.

I am not saying more or less technology – I am saying appropriate technology. Instead of technological excess – we should have technology that is balanced with nature. Instead of replacing nature with technology – we should balance it. Instead of replacing intelligence with artificial intelligence – we should use humanistic intelligence…
Steve Mann, on the importance of discernment.

Lets not let history say that:

“first they came for the AI,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t an AI.
Then they came for the cyborgs,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a cyborg.
Then they came for the transhumanists,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a transhumanist.
Then they came for me,
and there was no one left to speak out for me.”

Gabriel Rothblatt,
from “Steve Mann Assaulted at French McDonald’s in world’s first “Cybernetic Hate Crime”

According to Ethan Zuckerman:

The Internet promises a seemingly frictionless way of connecting individuals from around the globe. But in reality, that’s not what happens online: Instead, we clump together with people similar to ourselves, and have those affinities reinforced by tools that guide us to other people or products that resemble those we already know.

It’s not that I disagree with Zuckerman, but I wonder whether he’s considering that this isn’t just an online behavior, and thus may not be so easy to “fix”?

You know the people who never travel outside of their hometown? We do the same thing on the internet. We find or create a home, and are then loathe to move away from it. Of course people like familiarity. Doesn’t that make sense, biologically? And so, this whole “global citizen” thing is actually pretty difficult to do. There’s so damn much to know about, now. And besides that, stranger danger!

You can create fancy social media tools to connect people to others unfamiliar, but besides the members of our species who are already predisposed to be nomads, explorers, tryers of new things… it’s doubtful many others are going to be warm to it. And we have to consider that that’s a phenomenon that continues “from the ground up” — perhaps it’s even chemical or physical.

'You are not the same person you used to be, you have to admit. You’ve stuffed your brain with augmentations … When you grow the religious part of the temporal lobe, you can turn into a very different person, not to mention risking epilepsy. And that was only the start. Now you’ve got the animal stuff in there, you’ve got Pauline in there, recording everything you see—it is not insignificant. It can do damage. You end up being some kind of post-human thing. Or at least a different person.'

'Every thing I’ve done to myself I consider part of being a human being. I mean, who wouldn’t do it if they could? I would be ashamed not to! It isn’t being post human, it’s being fully human. It would be stupid not to do the good things when you can, it would be antihuman.'

2312, Kim Stanley Robinson

“Natural vs Artificial”, “Man vs Nature” — those are real points of conversation. It’s important that we begin to see through that facade, to create new mythologies that don’t pose that kind of polarity, because it’s going to be a problem if people think it’s a real thing in the world.

How many articles are there now, about how computers and the internet are changing our brains, when actually we’ve been changing our brains for much longer than that — it’s only the most obvious, accelerated changes that are noticed, and the rest pass by as if they never happened. As if we were “natural” before computers, natural before the 1950s, before the 1800s? When? Where is the line? As if these artificial things are not a part of nature…

as if We Are not Nature Itself, Creating.

Stories like Avatar (or Fern Gully, if you like) have their points, and those are important. But we need new stories — stories that contain a different point of view: that of artifice as a manifestation of nature.

Olena, RE: Steve Fuller, “It’s Time for Humanity 2.0”

Quoting myself. (lol). Had forgotten about this. It’s good, it holds true, and it needs to become something.

Since the beauty and importance of randomness has no real way of being monetized by corporate entities like Google, it is therefore in their financial interest to go in the opposite direction; in other words, to condition people to demand uniformity, order, and repeatability. *That’s* how they deliver earnings.

F
RE: DrKick on Google Maps

••••••

Aside: This may be the only time in recent browsing history that I scrolled down to the comments, and left sans regret.

"On August 27, 1783 in Paris, [Benjamin] Franklin witnessed the world’s first hydrogen balloon flight."

"Sir Joseph Banks, a leading botanist and president of the British Royal Society from 1778 to 1820, … corresponded with [Franklin] in Paris. Although ostensibly a man of science, Banks looked at ballooning from a Newtonian worldview, and wrote to Franklin that, “I see an inclination in the more respectable part of the Royal Society to guard against the Ballomania [until] some experiment likely to prove beneficial either to society or science is proposed.

Franklin had told Banks that experimenting with balloons would someday “pave the way to some discoveries in natural philosophy of which at present we have no conception.”

He answered Banks’ objection by writing that “It does not seem to me a good reason to decline prosecuting a new experiment which apparently increases the power of man over matter until we can see to what use that power may be applied. When we have learned to manage it, we may hope some time or other to find uses for it, as men have done for magnetism and electricity, of which the first experiments were mere matters of amusement.

When a spectator at one of the early balloon launchings asked Franklin what this new invention could be used for, Franklin gave his famous answer: “What is the use of a new-born baby?”

— Benjamin Franklin, on the use of hot air balloons. Quotes via The Schiller Institute & Wiki: [87].

•••••••
This is a long one, but please try to read. It’s important.
A couple of weeks ago I attended a round table about “Ignorance and Curiosity" — a discussion about how the former fuels the latter. In light of recent political / educational events, the events that transpired couldn’t be more appropriate:
Inevitably the conversation turned toward education, and how (or whether) any teacher can inspire curiosity in their students, despite handling large classes of various types of learners and in the face of budget cuts and systematic constraints.
The very last question of the day was the best — a man asked (and I quote somewhat loosely): “I understand that there’s a fraction of you, of your personality type, who cannot help but be curious and intellectual… but why do you want to expand that fraction? Why do you want others to be like you?"
A great question. One that many people wouldn’t even think to ask. After all, who doesn’t want to live in an intelligent, educated society — the ideal society of the ancient Greek philosophers? (Don’t answer that. It’s incredible, but I could think of a few people, too.) It’s funny that the inquisitor must be a curious man himself, to have challenged them thus.
After some initial difficulty, two of the speakers finally worked it out. Stuart Firestein (Chair of Columbia University’s Department of Biological Sciences) illustrated with the story above (of Ben Franklin and the hot air balloons) and Heather Berlin agreed: the point is hope.
The investigation of our world — science — works by Trial and Error. Especially in the beginnings of such an investigation, one cannot know what will work, what will be important, what it will be used for, how it may change our lives… So many people seem to have too little understanding of this. Unfortunately that’s especially true of those in powerful positions, who have the ability to affect human curiosity, education, progress, livelihood:
Recently, the Head of the US’s House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology, Lamar Smith, has begun preparing a bill to “revise criteria for science funding and research grants”:
According to ScienceInsider, the bill would require the NSF director to certify that every grant met the following conditions:
  • The grant must “advance the national health, prosperity, or welfare, and… secure the national defense by promoting the progress of science”
  • It must also be “the finest quality, groundbreaking, and answer questions or solve problems that are of utmost importance to society at large”
  • The grant should not be “duplicative of other research projects being funded by the Foundation or other Federal science agencies”

How does a person such as Smith — who clearly misunderstands the scientific process, who, by making such requests, denies the fact that “groundbreaking” discoveries take many teams, errors, and a wealth  of time, and that one cannot always be sure which will be “of utmost importance to society at large” — become Head of The House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology?

This is why we want to “expand the fraction” of the curious. Of those who are not simply ignorant, but who are motivated by their own ignorance to continue to be life-long learners, no matter their day-job description, and whether their scope of influence includes a single child or an entire country.

••••••

Images via Wiki & PCA.

Kurtzweil AI:

"Amazingly realistic digital screen characters are finally here"

[I beg to differ.]

Meet Zoe: a digital talking head. She can express a range of human emotions on demand with “unprecedented realism” and could herald a new era of human-computer interaction …

Zoe, or her offspring, could be used as a visible version of Siri, as a personal assistant in smartphones, or to replace mobile phone texting with “face messaging” in which you “face-message” friends.

[What? Why?]

The lifelike face can display emotions such as happiness, anger, and fear, and changes its voice to suit any feeling the user wants it to simulate.

Dear, sweet Jesus. Watch the video. Not because it’s “unprecedentedly realistic” but because it’s actually really frightening. The part where she recites “Don’t forget mum’s birthday!” in an angry tone… *shudder*

Oh well. WIP, I suppose.

P.S.
According to Kurtzeil’s Law of Accelerating Returns, it may be possible to see such avatars mature in just two years. Once can only hope.

Dmitry Itskov thinks we can have inhabitable avatars for our minds by 2045.
I’m not convinced. Our understanding of the brain is limited, and even what we think we know is constantly in flux.
Besides that, we have no idea what it is to be a brain without a body. Is it really possible to extract thoughts, emotions, personality, etc. — all of which are epiphenomena? Perhaps it’s possible to map something that mimics neuron activities (we don’t even have that figured out) but how will that thing fare without the rest of what those neurons are normally connected to (the body)?
There’s also the question of The Uncanny Valley. It’s not unreasonable to think that this can be solved by 2045, but personally I doubt I’m going to want to interact with an avatar in 2015. A robot is fine, but when there’s supposed to be a “human” inside and one should take whatever face it has seriously, that’s a different story.

Dmitry Itskov thinks we can have inhabitable avatars for our minds by 2045.

I’m not convinced. Our understanding of the brain is limited, and even what we think we know is constantly in flux.

Besides that, we have no idea what it is to be a brain without a body. Is it really possible to extract thoughts, emotions, personality, etc. — all of which are epiphenomena? Perhaps it’s possible to map something that mimics neuron activities (we don’t even have that figured out) but how will that thing fare without the rest of what those neurons are normally connected to (the body)?

There’s also the question of The Uncanny Valley. It’s not unreasonable to think that this can be solved by 2045, but personally I doubt I’m going to want to interact with an avatar in 2015. A robot is fine, but when there’s supposed to be a “human” inside and one should take whatever face it has seriously, that’s a different story.