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Archive for the ‘Futurism’ Category

Sorry I haven’t blogged anything lately but with the run-up to Pesach my mind has been rather uncreative and unexpressive recently. This would be a good subject to blog about in itself, but many others have spilled many liters of ink on the subject already. Maybe I’ll manage to have a think about it and come up with some origianl thoughts…

This morning I saw an interesting short article in Technology Review about a robot that designs and performs scientific experiments. It is credited with original work identifying genetic origins of several yeast enzymes. Sounds cool and reminds me of Kurzweil’s singularity. However could a robot have sudden flashes of insight? The use of “miraculous” induction that makes all the difference between a mediocre and and a great engineer or scientist? Maybe it wouldn’t need them.

I generally have my inspiration when I’m trying to go to sleep or when I’m davening. Others have thenm in the shower. What would a robot do when he’s looking for inspiration? Data-mine?

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MRI Mind Reading

An article appears this morning in Technology Review about fMRI (that’s functional magnetic resonance imaging whatever that may be) being used to determine the contents of short term memory stored in people’s brains.

Subjects were shown one of two pictures and then using the fMRI, researchers attempted to determine which one they had seen. They isolated the the region of brain used for visual memory and successfully determined which picture the subject was remembering in 80% of cases.

Impressive, amazing, but kind of frightening. I was relieved to read the final paragraph in the article:

No need to worry yet about Big Brother reading your mind. For now, real-world applications remain limited, says Frank Tong, an associate professor of psychology and senior author on the study. The ability to reconstruct from scratch a complex memory or imagined scenario is a long way off. “We’re still just discriminating a simple binary state,” Tong says. “If you increase the number of options, this would get progressively more difficult.”

However science has a habit of progressing exponentially, ao I’m sure they”ll have solutions for that as well.

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The future of mankind

So tell me; are we all going to die or live for ever? Or maybe we’re going to mutate into super-computers?

Whichever, it looks like the next century is going to be an interesting one.

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