Will We Merge With Machines? – Popular Science

Will We Merge With Machines? – Popular Science:

“Telekinesis Tech

• • • 11 – 15 years

Researchers at Brown University and Cyberkinetics in Foxborough, Massachusetts, are devising brain implants that will enable us to communicate with machines. A microchip implanted in the motor cortex just beneath your skull will intercept nerve signals and reroute them to a computer, which will then wirelessly send the command to any of various electronic devices, including computers, stereos and electric wheelchairs.”

An interesting article on the next generation of human-integrated technology, and how far off each piece is. More fantastical was Ray Kurzweil’s article in this month’s New Scientist, which pointed to the information singularity as key to Man 2.0. This is due in the next fifty years, when our (exponentially-increasing) ability to acquire, process and retain information reaches a critical point so that the collective ‘we’ understands pretty much everything about our world; his only fear is that government regulation will slow down our progress.

I’m reminded of those daft science books from the 1970s, which pointed to enormous egalitarian machines conducing to all our happiness and saving the planet. Our modern-day scientists are more realistic, yet still there is the oft-ignored question; “where’s the profit?” Moreover, is the projected profit more than the profit from existing alternative investments? Because if it isn’t, banks aren’t going to put their money in and the project will remain a full-colour illustration in a kid’s textbook.

When The Weatherbot Says It’s Raining…

It appears as though the arguments of linguists and philosophers are about to be answered, and that our language is to be regulated. I read in New Scientist that weathermen have been roundly condemned. A bit Wittgensteinian, but it appears that they were deriving entirely different conclusions from the same data. Apparently, their language was too fluffy, resulting in ‘morning’ varying from midnight to midday and evening taking up the whole afternoon and night, with conditions described in, well, cloudy language.

So big business, which needs accurate weather predictions to ensure the safety of its oil rigs (and their personnel, of course; there can be very expensive lawsuits if someone dies) stepped in, and now weather data is fed straight into a computer which has been programmed with a fixed syntax, meaning that morning, evening and so on are all decided and regulated. No more of “nones” varying with the dawn, now all our words must be scientifically defined. As a philosophy and economics student, I’m both happy and sad; we need concrete definitions for efficiency but we also need accuracy, which I worry about; as a writer I worry about the richness of language that is lost as the loose beauty of words is drawn down.

Find the Brownie – Journal

Find the Brownie – Journal: “Game objective

The objective of the game, as defined by NY Times columnist Paul Krugman, is to find an important government job occupied by a person with no apparent qualifications other than strong personal, political, or business ties to a member of the administration.

The game was inspired by the compliment that President Bush paid to Michael Brown, the former head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), a few days after Hurricane Katrina had hit New Orleans. After Bush said ‘Brownie, you’re doing a heck of a job’, reporters focused on Brown and his complete lack of qualifications for the important job he held.

As the Katrina fiasco proved, unqualified political appointees constitute a grave threat to all Americans. This blog will try to find the hidden Brownies before they cause any more harm.”

We really need one of these for Quangos over here…

Cthulhu Round-up.

A Shoggoth on the Roof
“There are some things that man was not meant to adapt to musical theatre, and A Shoggoth on the Roof has long been regarded as a musical that cannot and must not be produced. Since 1979, every attempt to produce this monster of a musical has ended in disaster, horror, agony and madness. Yet in spite of this hellish track record, seldom does a month pass when the HPLHS doesn’t hear from some intrepid band of thespians who think they have what it takes to put A Shoggoth on the Roof. Most are never heard from again. If you’re crazy enough to consider the notion, we want to hear from you.”

Yes, combining Fiddler on the Roof and Lovcraft’s Cthuluian Mythos gives you… Shoggoth on the roof! (I always said Cthulu was Jewish anyway; It was the curly nine-dimensional, many-angled hair that gave it away…)

Edit: Better though, is this astounding Abba parody “Do you hear the pipes, Cthulhu?”

“Do you hear the pipes, Cthulhu?
They were being played by shoggoths on the shores of Carcosa
Can you hear our prayers, Cthulhu?
Deep in sunken R’lyeh waiting for the rightness of a star?
Where the Deep Ones worship Dagon, Mother Hydra in sea chambers built afar?”

Grab the MP3

Armed Dolphins Freed By Katrina?: Science Fiction in the News

Armed Dolphins Freed By Katrina?: Science Fiction in the News:

“Accident investigator Leo Sheridan, 72, said he had received intelligence from sources close to the US government’s marine fisheries service confirming dolphins had escaped.

‘My concern is that they have learnt to shoot at divers in wetsuits who have simulated terrorists in exercises. If divers or windsurfers are mistaken for a spy or suicide bomber and if equipped with special harnesses carrying toxic darts, they could fire,’ he said.”

Which of the following do you feel generally POSITIVE or OPTIMISTIC about at the moment? (Please tick all that apply)

Your health
– No exercise, fatty food and an environs polluted with fumes and long-term untested electromagnetic emissions of all sorts, spent in an entirely sedentary manner. Doomed.

Your relationships with family
– tick, though was speaking to my stepmum this morning and sounds like her and my dad may be splitting up (why they ever got together, I don’t know. Completely incompatible, both mild sociopaths. Hmm. Maybe that’s why.)

Your relationships with friends – tick; everyone in London, Bath and elsewhere is lovely, even if they don’t contact me enough.

Your love life – let’s not go there, forumites might be reading…

Your work or work prospects (if you work or are looking for work) – tick; though the magazine isn’t what I would like it to be yet, I don’t feel my own contribution’s been terrible.

Your financial situation – tick strangely not bad, until the crash comes and people stop caring about games/magazines/ the service sector, my three potential sources of revenue.

The way things are going in your neighbourhood – tick; hah, the roads are a mess, the people are scary, there’s more poundsavers than pounds. London’s great!

The way things are going in this country – England’s not going downhill, it’s just never been uphill. Hideous idiots proliferate at every level of society, creating stupid rules and maintaining aoutrageously bigotted laws. But at least we’re not the US, eh?

The way things are going in the world – can anyone be optimistic when half the world is starving, and the other half is on the brink of collapse due to overreliance on a single resource? Jeez. I’d better start hordeing beans.