We Need to Save Ignorance From AI

DRIVER’S ED: The website moralmachine.mit.edu tests human moral intuition in cases where machines will soon be making decisions, using data types of our own choosing.MIT In an age of all-knowing algorithms, how do we choose not to know? BY CHRISTINA LEUKER & WOUTER VAN DEN BOS After the fall of the Berlin Wall, East German citizens were offered the chance to read the files kept on them by the Stasi, the much-feared Communist-era secret police service. To date, it is estimated that only 10 percent have taken the opportunity. In 2007, James Watson, the co-discoverer of the structure of DNA, asked that he … Continue reading We Need to Save Ignorance From AI

Are there limits to the truths science can discover?

Science has revealed much, but it can’t tell us everything. (Credit: Image Editor via Flickr/Big Think)  by TEODORA ZAREVA Dr. Alex Berezow is the author of Little Black Book of Junk Science, an easy to read pocket guide to debunking the most widespread anti-science myths out there, from the threat of artificial sweeteners to autism-causing vaccines. In his second book, Science Left Behind, Berezow argues that anti-science sentiment is not preserved exclusively for conservatives, but is also widespread amongst progressives who hold positions like aversion to clean energy programs (nuclear) or the unhealthiness of the “unnatural” (GMOs). (Credit: CNN) With a Ph.D. in … Continue reading Are there limits to the truths science can discover?

We Have No Idea What Having Sex With Robots Might Do to Us

 Realbotix/Esaias Tan/Victor Tangermann by Kristin Houser  There are so many ways the future might play out. Maybe we’ll have flying cars, but maybe we won’t. Maybe we’ll live on Mars, but, heck, who knows. But one thing is pretty clearly going to happen: we’re gonna be banging robots. There are lots of people who, even now, are working to make this happen. And it’s not hard to picture how that might go, you know, in a physical sense. But we actually have pretty much no idea how that would affect our psyches. To try to understand what the effects might be before having sex … Continue reading We Have No Idea What Having Sex With Robots Might Do to Us

Want to Change Society’s Views? Here’s How Many People You’ll Need on Your Side

 Gan Khoon Lay / Emily Cho by Kristin Houser  How many social activists does it take to change the world? No, this isn’t the setup for some lame joke. It’s a question no one really knew the answer to. Until now. We’ve seen plenty of shifts in society’s views — in just the last hundred years in America, the majority’s opinion on everything from gay rights to gender equality changed dramatically. However, we’ve never really nailed down if there was a “tipping point” for this social change — a specific number of people needed to push a belief from the fringes … Continue reading Want to Change Society’s Views? Here’s How Many People You’ll Need on Your Side

The Future of Television Will Be Shaped by Viewer Intention, Not Attention

An employee arranges discarded televisions at an electronic waste recycling factory in Wuhan, China, in 2011.REUTERS To understand how viewing habits have changed, consider the difference between the couch show and the phone show. by DANIEL H. PINK At 10 p.m. on the final Wednesday of May, shrouded in the darkness of our basement, my wife and I did something we used to do quite often, but now—in the 23rd year of our marriage—we do only rarely.We sat on our couch and watched a television show at the time it aired. The occasion: The series finale of The Americans, FX’s gripping … Continue reading The Future of Television Will Be Shaped by Viewer Intention, Not Attention

What if ET is an AI?

The Little Sombrero galaxy NGC 7814.Photo courtesy ESA/Hubble & NASA After centuries searching for extraterrestrial life, we might find that first contact is not with organic creatures at all by Caleb Scharf is director of astrobiology at Columbia University in New York. He is the author of Extrasolar Planets and Astrobiology (2009), which won the Chambliss Astronomical Writing Award. His latest book is The Zoomable Universe: An Epic Tour Through Cosmic Scale, from Almost Everything to Nearly Nothing (2017). by Edited by Pam Weintraub We have a problem. In a 10-billion-year-old galaxy there should have been ample opportunity for at least one species to escape its … Continue reading What if ET is an AI?

Bitcoin Is Going To Use As Much Electricity As Austria By The Year’s End

image edited by Fernando Kaskais WRITTEN BY Dan Robitzski At this point, mining Bitcoin requires such intensive, specific hardware that the only way for most people to get in on the crypto game is to simply purchase the coin via an exchange. But that doesn’t mean mining has slowed down. Rather, the opposite has been happening, giving environmentalists (and anyone but the most adamant cryptobros) cause for concern. Between cooling fans, manufacturing hardware, and the outrageous, ever-rising energy costs needed to operate a bitcoin mining rig, the world’s Bitcoin network is expected to use as much as 7.67 gigawatts of … Continue reading Bitcoin Is Going To Use As Much Electricity As Austria By The Year’s End