Review: Transcendence — The Disinformation Encyclopedia of Transhumanism and the Singularity
Dec20

Review: Transcendence — The Disinformation Encyclopedia of Transhumanism and the Singularity

ShareBy: Peter Rothman        December 19, 2014 Transcendence: The Disinformation Encyclopedia of Transhumanism and the Singularity is a new book by former h+ Magazine editor R.U. Sirius and Jay Cornell that will bring transhumanism to the masses. The title might be confusing; this isn’t just a book about spirituality, but is an encyclopedia of short articles on a wide range of topics related to transhumanism. The book clearly reflects R.U.’s personal take on the topic, which is brimming with cynical and somehow still fun optimism, and which is clearly influenced by the psychedelic side of the house. R.U.’s vision for a future transhuman world is a freaky party and we’re all invited. The book is organized around a list of words similarly to an encyclopedia or dictionary, and therefore each of the topics is presented in alphabetical order. This makes it relatively easy to find a topic of interest, or return to an old favorite, but the book is still fun to read linearly as well. In addition, each chapter includes one or more links to other chapter titles at the outset, a crude hypertext feature that sort of works. You will find some well known topics of interest like artificial general intelligence, cryonics, and nanotechnology that will be familiar to h+ Magazine reader,  as well as some somewhat less well known ideas such as “The Methuselarity”. My main quibble with this book is the title. The use of the title Transcendence seems like a decision from an SEO consultant looking to scarf hits from the movie release, and it has less to do with the content than the secondary title. It’s set up like an encyclopedia. But still, while this work is a fun and easy introduction to transhumanism, calling it an “encyclopedia” is a bit of an exaggeration. The book is neither large enough nor complete enough to earn this description I think, but perhaps a future version will be expanded to move in that direction. I would expect an encyclopedia to be more comprehensive and technical than this book, which is to say “encyclopedic”, but for now, this encyclopedia is fun but certainly not complete. Nevertheless, I expect that transhumanists will call this book simply “The Encyclopedia” and it will be widely read and enjoyed. Move over Ray Kurzweil. Of course any “encyclopedia” about transhumanism printed on paper is destined to be outdated rapidly or arguably immediately in the modern world. An annual update would be welcomed in addition to expanded and more technical coverage of some topics. The use of the wiki like text features here also suggests the benefits of an electronic version. But I like books too. The Encyclopedia includes a variety of short interviews or comments from well...

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Those Unattended: A short sci-fi film by Brian Garvey
Dec20

Those Unattended: A short sci-fi film by Brian Garvey

Shareby Socrates          December 18, 2014 It’s a situation we’re either celebrating or condemning… this situation of the singularity. Put simply, technology is advancing at such exponential rates it’ll soon eclipse our human intellect. What that will look like is what this short film by first time director Brian Garvey attempts to answer. Those Unattended centers on a family gathering for dinner in the not too distant future. All appears normal, despite the look of the food they’re about to eat, an homage to the 1970’s sci fi film, “Soylent Green.” As the family settles in for their meal, we see a rigid formality about them, smiles plastered on their faces. Looking through the point of view of the mother, we see her digital operating system. A HUD, (heads up display) of search engines, social network platforms, and augmented 3D reality systems. She operates her system through an inner monologue which sounds exhausted and bored. This is her digital consciousness. Our smart devices will no longer be hand held objects we gaze at, heads down, but rather operating systems implanted into our consciousness. Perhaps the hard-drives of the future will be so powerful and small, microscopic even, they’ll be injected into our blood stream to link up with the synapses or our minds. The digital consciousness feels like a phenomenon we see evolving all around us. Wearable technology and our increasing dependence on being connected digitally all suggest this. But what about the glitches… Back at the dinner table, Dad starts to ramble incoherently, the onset of a digital stroke. His operating system is crashing and something needs to be done about it, fast. If not, he’ll lose the digital crutch he’s grown to depend on and will have to rely on his human consciousness alone, with all it’s imperfections… This is a horrifying situation in our society less than one hundred years from now. Writer, Director, Producer : Brian Garvey Director of Photography : Kevin Wong csc Production Designer : Gustavo Franco Picture Editor : Thomas Lieu Motion Graphics Animator : Julian Ablaza Compositor : Colin Berry Via Singularity Weblog More Socrates on The Singularity…   Transcendence: The Disinformation Encyclopedia of Transhumanism and the...

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The Scientist planning to upload his brain to a  computer
Dec19

The Scientist planning to upload his brain to a computer

ShareBy MARK PRIGG FOR MAILONLINE It is a plan taken straight from the pages of a science fiction novel – and potentially a way to exist forever. A San Francisco inventor has revealed plans for a system to upload his brain to a computer.He hopes to be able to replicate the human brain as a mechanical system. Randal Koene says the key to this is the SIM – a ‘Substrate-Independent Mind.’By mapping the brain, reducing its activity to computations, and reproducing those computations in code, Koene argued, humans could live indefinitely, emulated by silicon. ‘When I say emulation, you should think of it, for example, in the same sense as emulating a Macintosh on a PC,’ he told a recent San Francisco conference. ‘It’s kind of like platform-independent code.’The thing that makes all of this possible is a ‘Substrate-Independent Mind.’This, according to Koene, is not merely an artificial intelligence, but a human mind downloaded to a computer. Neuroscientists are 99.9% percent convinced that the brain is a mechanism, he says. It is something that computes, something that carries out functions. If you can figure out how it works, you can build a replacement for it. ‘The idea that you can take a small piece of the brain and build a replica for it is very mainstream and well understood,’ he recently told Vice. ‘Why not do that with the whole brain? And then why not upload that to a computer so that we can process more data and store it better, the way a computer does, organizing thoughts into folders that we can access whenever we choose?’ ‘It would be interesting to inhabit a more virtual world. ‘Or perhaps bodies that aren’t built to survive in this environment, but somewhere else, like space.’ He has set up an organisation, carboncopies to work on the technical and ethical issues around the project. ‘We support practical approaches toward what we descriptively term “advanced substrate-independent minds (ASIM), i.e. transferring mind functions from the biological substrate to another substrate on which those functions can be performed,’ it says. ‘Carboncopies initially takes a technology agnostic stance. We organise workshops and conferences where interested parties can exchange ideas, network with others, and keep updated on the latest developments in the field’ HOW IT WILL WORK According to Koene’s site, :‘The functions of mind that we experience are originally implemented through neurobiological mechanisms, the neural circuitry of our brains. ‘If the same functions are implemented in a different operating substrate, populated with parameters and operating such that they produce the same results as they would in the brain, then that mind has become substrate-independent. ‘It is a substrate-independent mind (SIM) by being able to...

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How Technology Brought Us Closer to the Future in 2014
Dec17

How Technology Brought Us Closer to the Future in 2014

ShareBY JASON DORRIER       DECEMBER 17 2014 As the year draws to a close, it’s worth glancing over our shoulder. What technologies and themes were brightest in 2014? Read on. (And keep in mind, attempting such a summation is ambitious to the extreme—let us know what we missed!) Illumina Breaks DNA Reading ‘Sound Barrier’  In January, Illumina announced that their latest DNA sequencing machine can transcribe 18,000 human genomes a year for $1,000 each—down from hundreds of millions a decade ago. The $1,000 genome enables broad genomic studies that may yield insights into the origins of disease. To date, some 225,000 genomes have been sequenced, and genomic pioneer Craig Venter believes we’ll sequence 5 million by 2020. Next steps include perfecting intelligent software to analyze all that data. Mars Ambitions, Reusable Rockets, and 3D Space Printers According to Elon Musk, billionaire space entrepreneur, humans have to become a multi-planetary species if we’re to survive. Musk hopes to begin colonizing Mars in the 2030s, but we’ll have to first reduce the cost of space travel. He believes reusable rockets, which the firm began testing in 2014, may slash launch costs by a factor of 100. Beyond cutting cost, space explorers need greater independence from the ground. Singularity University space startup, Made In Space launched, installed, and began testing the first 3D printer in orbit this year. Astronauts will use the printer to make tools and parts—kicking off space manufacturing and setting a 3D printing precedent for future space explorers. Wearables Struggle, Virtual Reality Attracts Big Bets Tech is officially searching for the next big computer interface, the next smartphone revolution. Despite high expectations, Google Glass struggled to find its footing. Glass is half price on eBay, lost its lead developer (and others), app developers are losing interest—and even Sergey Brin forgot to wear his at a big tech event. Though Glass is finding niche uses (hospitals, for example, are adopting Glass for use by surgeons), the lesson seems to be miniaturization isn’t sufficient for the mainstream. Design and practicality matter. Glass may need a redesign, a must-have use, or both. Other wearables also searched for the golden formula. Though everyone seemed to release a smartwatch, none wowed. A recent poll found only 20% of respondents wanted a smartwatch. The most common reason (51%) folks weren’t interested? They didn’t see the point. Apple weighed in with the much-anticipated Apple Watch. The watch is expensive and isn’t particularly novel (though well designed)—out next year, its success remains uncertain. Meanwhile, thanks to its virtual reality Rift headset (still under development), 18-month-old Oculus was acquired by Facebook for a whopping $2 billion. Google made its own VR contribution—a stripped down, smartphone-basedcardboard headset—while Oculus worked with Samsung to finish its more polished smartphone-based Gear VR goggles (now on sale). Will Oculus release their...

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Proof that The End of Moore’s Law is Not The End of The Singularity
Dec05

Proof that The End of Moore’s Law is Not The End of The Singularity

Share Posted by Eric Klien During the last few years, the semiconductor industry has been having a harder and harder time miniaturizing transistors with the latest problem being Intel’s delayed roll-out of its new 14 nm process. The best way to confirm this slowdown in progress of computing power is to try to run your current programs on a 6-year-old computer. You will likely have few problems since computers have not sped up greatly during the past 6 years. If you had tried this experiment a decade ago you would have found a 6-year-old computer to be close to useless as Intel and others were able to get much greater gains per year in performance than they are getting today. Many are unaware of this problem as improvements in software and the current trend to have software rely on specialized GPUs instead of CPUs has made this slowdown in performance gains less evident to the end user. (The more specialized a chip is, the faster it runs.) But despite such workarounds, people are already changing their habits such as upgrading their personal computers less often. Recently people upgraded their ancient Windows XP machines only because Microsoft forced them to by discontinuing support for the still popular Windows XP operating system. (Windows XP was the second most popular desktop operating system in the world the day after Microsoft ended all support for it. At that point it was a 12-year-old operating system.) It would be unlikely that AIs would become as smart as us by 2029 as Ray Kurzweil has predicted if we depended on Moore’s Law to create the hardware for AIs to run on. But all is not lost. Previously, electromechanical technology gave way to relays, then to vacuum tubes, then to solid-state transistors, and finally to today’s integrated circuits. One possibility for the sixth paradigm to provide exponential growth of computing has been to go from 2D integrated circuits to 3D integrated circuits. There have been small incremental steps in this direction, for example Intel introduced 3D tri-gate transistors with its first 22 nm chips in 2012. While these chips were slightly taller than the previous generation, performance gains were not great from this technology. (Intel is simply making its transistors taller and thinner. They are not stacking such transistors on top of each other.) But quietly this year, 3D technology has finally taken off. The recently released Samsung 850 Pro which uses 42 nm flash memory is competitive with competing products that use 19 nm flash memory. Considering that, for a regular flat chip, 42 nm memory is (42 × 42) / (19 × 19) = 4.9 times as big and therefore 4.9 times less productive to...

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