THE news of the day often includes an item about some development in artificial intelligence: a machine that smiles, a program that can predict human tastes in mates or music, a robot that teaches foreign languages to children. This constant stream of stories suggests that machines are becoming smart and autonomous, a new form of life, and that we should think of them as fellow creatures instead of as tools. But such conclusions aren’t just changing how we think about computers — they are reshaping the basic assumptions of our lives in misguided and ultimately damaging ways.
It’s odorless, doesn’t pump any harmful chemicals into the air, and isn’t governed by the laws that have pushed smokers literally out into the cold. Theoretically, you could suck on a Ploom on the subway or in a restaurant and no one could do anything about it. The Ploom is either the solution to all of smokers’ problems, or the tobacco industry’s version of the Segway. I recently got my hands on one and called James at his San Francisco office to learn more.
A paralysed woman was still able to accurately control a computer cursor with her thoughts 1000 days after having a tiny electronic device implanted in her brain, say the researchers who devised the system. The achievement demonstrates the longevity of brain-machine implants.
In the beginning, there was a GDC presentation. Just a quiet little talk between developers, and a what-if experiment wherein a one-off, modded version of Minecraft was personally passed by Passage/Sleep Is Death/Inside A Star-Filled Sky creator Jason Rohrer to a curious audience member, who would then be the only person to see what Rohrer had built inside the game. The rules: you do not talk about Chain World. You do not keep on playing Chain World once you die in it. You then pass it on to someone who has ‘expressed interest,’ and to no other.The moment I sent USB stick out into the world, it became totally out of my control. That was, in part, the point—each person in the chain does her part, but has no control—or knowledge—of what happens after she passes. Those mechanisms invest your one, personal play through the game with an extreme amount of gravity. This is it, my one chance. As I said during my talk, the one Chain World game that I played ended with the most heart-breaking death in my entire video game life. I was left with a deep sense of loss over what I had failed to accomplish, but I was somewhat comforted in the knowledge that others might carry on where I left off. In other words, it was a sense of beautiful loss.
Two key pieces of research were released on either side of the Atlantic this week, shedding new light on what we can do to live longer — and why experts will be squabbling over the secrets of longevity long after most of us have turned up our toes.
This tiny sensor can be injected into the body during a biopsy to keep a constant vigil on tumor growth. Developed at MIT, the device is packed with magnetic nanoparticles and proteins that bind to particular molecules that are associated with certain cancers. The device is “read” via MRI scan but a future sensor may be interrogated with a magnetic wand waved over the body. The system may also have applications in heart disease.
When I say that we are a new species — as I did in the Manifesto — I mean that we are the new revolution. We have created an anti-utopia-utopia full of freethinkers on the fringe (or completely outside) of human society. Some of us have cybernetic implants, while some of us don’t. This isn’t about appearance for us, and this isn’t about being cool. We come from all different areas of the political spectrum.
I’ve come to believe that these failures spring from a single failure: reliance on an overly simplistic view of human nature. We have a prevailing view in our society — not only in the policy world, but in many spheres — that we are divided creatures. Reason, which is trustworthy, is separate from the emotions, which are suspect. Society progresses to the extent that reason can suppress the passions. This has created a distortion in our culture. We emphasize things that are rational and conscious and are inarticulate about the processes down below. We are really good at talking about material things but bad at talking about emotion.
A truly random game of rock-paper-scissors would result in a statistical tie with each player winning, tying and losing one-third of the time. However, people are not truly random and thus can be studied and analyzed. While this computer won’t win all rounds, over time it can exploit a person’s tendencies and patterns to gain an advantage over its opponent.
“I never have anything go wrong,” he said later. “Never have a backache. Never have a headache. Never have anything else.” This would make him a lucky man no matter his age. Because he is 87, it makes him an unusually robust specimen, which is what he must be if he is to defy the odds (and maybe even the gods) and live as long as he intends to. He wants to reach 125, and sees no reason he can’t, provided that he continues eating the way he has for the last quarter century: with a methodical, messianic correctness that he believes can, and will, ward off major disease and minor ailment alike.
A surgeon specializing in regenerative medicine on Thursday “printed” a real kidney using a machine that eliminates the need for donors when it comes to organ transplants. “It’s like baking a cake,” Anthony Atala of the Wake Forest Institute of Regenerative Medicine said as he cooked up a fresh kidney on stage at a TED Conference in the California city of Long Beach.