Category: science

The scene, to the average mind, is incongruous. The Supreme Court of America striking down a law backed by onetime action movie thug and then governor of California, Arnold Schwarznegger. Arnold’s people claimed that video games increase aggression, cause neurological damage and more, and were seeking to pass a bill restricting access to them for minors. They pointed to a huge corpus of peer-reviewed scientific evidence backing up this claim. Given the mainstream rhetoric about violent videogames, the pile of evidence and the conservatism of the court, the outcome seemed a foregone conclusion.

Walking into any bookshop, the science-fiction section seen, from a distance, is healthy; an island of colour and variety amidst the sad faces of the ‘misery memoirs’, the black and bone of the ‘Dark Romance’, and the silver-backed Penguin classics. Yet, get closer, and there’s something strange. The colour comes in bursts, great streaks of the same style dominating the shelves, logos iterating across shelf after shelf. Stars Wars and Star Trek are there, for sure, but they’re not in charge; video game franchises are dominating science fiction and fantasy.

I did a series of interviews for a feature for Computer Shopper way back in January; this was the most interesting of them, with Dr Stephen Thaler, a man who is either doing stuff on the edge of our current knowledge or is a charlatan. He’s nearly convinced me he’s telling the truth and just deliberately misusing language , but if that’s the case then we need to reappraise the current state of play of AI. Key points; he thinks his AIs dream

Warning: He can really talk. This is a long one.

To the tune of: Green Day – Brain Stew My preamble: One of the few blessings of attending Oxford, save for the acquisition of an archaic process of thought, was my acquaintance with my admirable friend Dr Paul Taylor. Paul is, apart from being an awesome trumpeter, a professor of Neuroscience, with a speciality in […]

(This post to the tune of…) Professional statistics-mangler Professor Cliff Arnell is conquering the news again today, for his yearly profile-raiser about this being the most depressing day of the year. As Ben Goldacre has pointed out, he was paid to produce this research by Porter Novelli, a PR firm, who pitched the idea and date […]