November 30, 2011 Leave a comment
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Mining the internet for psychedelic beeswax since 1997
February 13, 2011 4 Comments
On Feb. 15, 1965, a diffident but self-possessed high school student named Raymond Kurzweil appeared as a guest on a game show called I’ve Got a Secret. He was introduced by the host, Steve Allen, then he played a short musical composition on a piano. The idea was that Kurzweil was hiding an unusual fact and the panelists — they included a comedian and a former Miss America — had to guess what it was.
On the show (see the clip on YouTube), the beauty queen did a good job of grilling Kurzweil, but the comedian got the win: the music was composed by a computer. Kurzweil got $200. (See TIME’s photo-essay “Cyberdyne’s Real Robot.”)
Kurzweil then demonstrated the computer, which he built himself — a desk-size affair with loudly clacking relays, hooked up to a typewriter. The panelists were pretty blasé about it; they were more impressed by Kurzweil’s age than by anything he’d actually done. They were ready to move on to Mrs. Chester Loney of Rough and Ready, Calif., whose secret was that she’d been President Lyndon Johnson’s first-grade teacher.
But Kurzweil would spend much of the rest of his career working out what his demonstration meant. Creating a work of art is one of those activities we reserve for humans and humans only. It’s an act of self-expression; you’re not supposed to be able to do it if you don’t have a self. To see creativity, the exclusive doma
in of humans, usurped by a computer built by a 17-year-old is to watch a line blur that cannot be unblurred, the line between organic intelligence and artificial intelligence.
That was Kurzweil’s real secret, and back in 1965 nobody guessed it. Maybe not even him, not yet. But now, 46 years later, Kurzweil believes that we’re approaching a moment when computers will become intelligent, and not just intelligent but more intelligent than humans. When that happens, humanity — our bodies, our minds, our civilization — will be completely and irreversibly transformed. He believes that this moment is not only inevitable but imminent. According to his calculations, the end of human civilization as we know it is about 35 years away. (See the best inventions of 2010.)
Computers are getting faster. Everybody knows that. Also, computers are getting faster faster — that is, the rate at which they’re getting faster is increasing.
January 20, 2011 2 Comments
December 25, 2010 Leave a comment
Is Death the End? Experiments Suggest You Create Time
Robert Lanza, M.D.
When I was young, I stayed at my neighbor’s house. They had a grandfather clock. Between the tick and the tock of the pendulum, I lay awake thinking about the perverse nature of time. Mr. O’Donnell is gone now. His wife Barbara, now in her nineties, greets me with her cane when I go back to visit.
We watch our loved ones age and die, and we assume that an external entity called time is responsible for the crime. But experiments increasingly cast doubt on the existence of time as we know it. In fact, the reality of time has long been questioned by philosophers and physicists. When we speak of time, we’re usually referring to change. But change isn’t the same thing as time.
To measure anything’s position precisely is to “lock in” on one static frame of its motion, as in a film. Conversely, as soon as you observe movement, you can’t isolate a frame, because motion is the summation of many frames. Sharpness in one parameter induces blurriness in the other. Consider a film of a flying arrow that stops on a single frame. The pause enables you to know the position of the arrow with great accuracy: it’s 20 feet above the grandstand. But you’ve lost all information about its momentum. It’s going nowhere; its path is uncertain.
January 2, 2010 Leave a comment
John Major Jenkins – On 2012 & The Galactic Alignment
John Major Jenkins is an independent researcher who has devoted himself to reconstructing ancient Mayan cosmology and philosophy. In these short clips, Jenkins talks about the difference between his areas of research, including the galactic alignment. Jenkins also discusses his thoughts of 2012 as an “endpoint” of history as we know it.