Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence

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pages: 420 words: 119,928

The Three-Body Problem (Remembrance of Earth's Past) by Cixin Liu


back-to-the-land, cosmic microwave background, Deng Xiaoping, game design, Henri Poincaré, horn antenna, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, Norbert Wiener, Panamax, RAND corporation, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, Von Neumann architecture

In my view, of the four fields where technology leaps may occur, we have given the least thought to the last one. It’s worth some attention, and we should systematically analyze the matter in depth. Signed: XXX Date: XX/XX/196X II. Research Report on the Possibility of Technology Leap Due to the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence 1. Current International Research Trends [Summary] (1) The United States and other NATO states: The scientific case and the necessity for SETI are generally accepted, and strong academic support exists. Project Ozma: In 1960, the National Radio Astronomy Observatory at Green Bank, West Virginia, searched for extraterrestrial intelligence with a radio telescope 26 meters in diameter. The project examined the stars Tau Ceti and Epsilon Eridani for 200 hours using ranges near the 1.420 gigahertz frequency. Project Ozma II, which will involve more targets and a broader frequency range, is planned for 1972.

“But later, as people gained perspective, they had a better appreciation of the difficulty of the search for extraterrestrial intelligence, and the leadership lost interest in Red Coast. The first change was reducing the base’s security rating. The consensus was that the extreme secrecy around Red Coast was unnecessary, and the security detail at the base was reduced from a company to a squad, until eventually only a group of five security guards were left. Also, after that renovation, although Red Coast remained administratively within the Second Artillery Corps, management of its scientific activities was turned over to the Chinese Academy of Sciences’ Astronomy Institute, and it took on some research projects that had nothing to do with the search for extraterrestrial intelligence or the military.” “I believe you achieved most of your scientific accomplishments during that time.”

This article argues that our focus is currently on the gradualistic mode of technology development and insufficient attention is paid to the possibility of technology leaps. Starting from a higher vantage point, we should develop a comprehensive strategy and set of principles so that we can respond appropriately when technological leaps occur. Fields where technological leaps are most likely: Physics: [omitted] Biology: [omitted] Computer Science: [omitted] The Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI): Of all fields, this is the one in which the possibility for a technology leap is greatest. If a leap occurs in this field, the impact will exceed the sum of technology leaps in the other three fields. [Full Text][omitted] [Instructions from Central Leadership] Distribute this article to appropriate personnel and organize discussion groups. The article’s views will not be to the liking of some, but let’s not rush to label the author.

pages: 330 words: 99,226

Extraterrestrial Civilizations by Isaac Asimov


Albert Einstein, Cepheid variable, Columbine, Edward Charles Pickering, Harvard Computers: women astronomers, invention of radio, invention of the telescope, invention of writing, Isaac Newton, Louis Pasteur, Magellanic Cloud, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence

Will they find us if they are somewhere out there? Or have they found us already? If they have not found us, can we find them? Better yet, should we find them? Is it safe? These are the questions that must be asked once we agree that we are not alone, and astronomers are asking them. The whole matter of the search for extraterrestrial intelligence has now become so common, in fact, that it has been abbreviated to save trouble in referring to it. Astronomers now refer to it as SETI, from the initials of the phrase “the search for extraterrestrial intelligence.” The first scientific discussion of SETI that offered a hope of carrying through the search successfully came only in 1959. It is natural to suppose, then, that the question of intelligence other than our own is of recent vintage. It would seem to be entirely a twentieth-century phenomenon arising out of the advance of astronomy in recent decades.

Without evidence, there is no way of reasoning usefully. We can look for the evidence and someday, perhaps, find it, but until then, we can’t reasonably assign human intelligence to the dolphin. Besides, even if our definition of human intelligence on the basis of fire is unfair and self-serving on some abstract scale, it will prove useful and reasonable for the purposes of this book. Fire sets us on a road that ends with a search for extraterrestrial intelligence; without fire we would never have made it. The extraterrestrial intelligences we are looking for, then, must have developed the use of fire (or, to be fair, its equivalent) at some time in their history, or, as we are about to see, they could not have developed those attributes that would make it possible for them to be detected. CIVILIZATION Throughout the history of life, species of living creatures have made use of chemical energy by the slow combination of certain chemicals with oxygen within their cells.

This leaves the matter of life on Mars ambiguous. The evidence is clearcut neither for nor against and must await further and better testing. Nevertheless, if life is present, there seems very little chance that it is anything more than very primitive in nature—no more than on the level of bacterial life on Earth. Such simple life would be quite sufficient to excite biologists and astronomers, but as far as the search for extraterrestrial intelligence is concerned, we are left with what is overwhelmingly likely to be zero. We must look elsewhere. *There may be small amounts of water in the solid state (ice) held to the asteroids and other small worlds by chemical bonds that don’t depend on gravitational forces for their efficacy. Frozen water, however, is not suitable for life and even on Earth the frozen ice sheets of Greenland and Antarctica are life free in their natural state.

pages: 326 words: 97,089

Five Billion Years of Solitude: The Search for Life Among the Stars by Lee Billings


Albert Einstein, Arthur Eddington, California gold rush, Colonization of Mars, cosmological principle, cuban missile crisis, dark matter, Dava Sobel, double helix, Edmond Halley, full employment, hydraulic fracturing, index card, Isaac Newton, Kuiper Belt, Magellanic Cloud, music of the spheres, out of africa, Peter H. Diamandis: Planetary Resources, planetary scale, profit motive, quantitative trading / quantitative finance, Ralph Waldo Emerson, RAND corporation, random walk, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, Searching for Interstellar Communications, selection bias, Silicon Valley, Solar eclipse in 1919, technological singularity, the scientific method, transcontinental railway

Frank Drake and Dava Sobel, Is Anyone Out There? The Scientific Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (New York: Delacorte Press, 1992). I quote Drake from page 27. Stanislaw Lem, Summa Technologiae (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2013; first edition, 1964). Translated by Joanna Zylinska, this is the first complete English translation of Lem’s prescient classic on cosmic evolution. J. P. T. Pearman, “Extraterrestrial Intelligent Life and Interstellar Communication: An Informal Discussion,” in Interstellar Communication, A. G. W. Cameron, ed. (New York: W. A. Benjamin, 1963), pp. 287–93. Iosif Shklovskii and Carl Sagan, Intelligent Life in the Universe (San Francisco: Holden-Day, 1966). Walter Sullivan, We Are Not Alone: The Continuing Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, rev. ed. (New York: Dutton, 1993).

Three small climate-controlled greenhouses nestled alongside the house next to a diminutive citrus grove, and a satellite dish was turned to the heavens from the manicured back lawn. Sunlight filtered into the living room through a cobalt stained-glass window, splashing oceanic shades across an old man perched on a plush couch. Frank Drake looked blue. He leaned back, adjusted his large bifocal glasses, folded his hands over his belly, and assessed the fallen fortunes of his chosen scientific field: SETI, the search for extraterrestrial intelligence. “Things have slowed down, and we’re in bad shape in several ways,” Drake rumbled. “The money simply isn’t there these days. And we’re all getting old. A lot of young people come up and say they want to be a part of this, but then they discover there are no jobs. No company is hiring anyone to search for messages from aliens. Most people don’t seem to think there’s much benefit to it.

Paul Davies, The Eerie Silence: Renewing Our Search for Alien Intelligence (New York: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2010). Frank Drake, “Stars as Gravitational Lenses,” in Bioastronomy—The Next Steps, G. Marx, ed., Astrophysics and Space Science Library, vol. 144 (Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic Publishers, 1988), pp. 391–94. Frank Drake and Dava Sobel, Is Anyone Out There? The Scientific Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (New York: Delacorte Press, 1992). Drake’s calculation of how many boxes of corn flakes the Arecibo Observatory radio dish could hold appears on pages 73–74. Von R. Eshleman, “Gravitational Lens of the Sun: Its Potential for Observations and Communications Over Interstellar Distances,” Science, vol. 205 (1979), pp. 1133–35. Paul Gilster, Centauri Dreams: Imagining and Planning Interstellar Exploration (New York: Springer, 2004).

pages: 257 words: 66,480

Strange New Worlds: The Search for Alien Planets and Life Beyond Our Solar System by Ray Jayawardhana


Albert Einstein, Albert Michelson, Arthur Eddington, cosmic abundance, dark matter, Donald Davies, Edmond Halley, invention of the telescope, Isaac Newton, Kuiper Belt, Louis Pasteur, Pierre-Simon Laplace, planetary scale, Pluto: dwarf planet, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, Solar eclipse in 1919

Based on theoretical calculations regarding the internal structure of stars, he reported that if any stars were to form with masses below a certain critical value, their core temperatures and densities would be too low for hydrogen fusion. He called them black dwarfs and correctly estimated the threshold to be about 8 percent of a solar mass. A paper on his fndings appeared in the Astrophysical Journal the following year. The moniker we use today comes from Jill Tarter, better known for her pioneering efforts in the search for extraterrestrial intelligence (SETI) and often considered the role model for Jodi Foster’s character in the movie Contact. The only child of a former pro-football player, Tarter grew up a tomboy in upstate New York. She adored her father, who passed away when she was twelve. After completing a degree in engineering physics at Cornell University, she stayed on to take graduate courses. The chance enrollment in a class on star formation inspired her to switch to astronomy.

These observatories are designed to take pictures and spectra of Earth-like worlds so they do not depend on catching a planet in transit. Besides, they can target more-distant stars, thus a much larger sample of hosts. So these missions offer the best prospects for fnding a life-bearing alien world in our lifetime. Of course, our frst indication of life elsewhere could come from an entirely different endeavor: the search for extraterrestrial intelligence, or SETI, through artifcial radio (or optical) signals. The modern efforts began in 1960 with Frank Drake, then at the National Radio Astronomy Observatory. He used the 26-meter radio dish at Green Bank, Virginia, to examine two nearby stars for signals at frequencies near that emitted by neutral hydrogen, a reasonable choice because hydrogen is the most common element in the universe.

Radial velocity: The velocity of an object toward or away from the observer. Also see Doppler shift. Radiometric dating: A technique for dating materials, based on a comparison of radioactive isotopes and their decay products, given known decay rates. Red dwarf: A star with a much lower mass than the Sun (about 10-50 percent of a solar mass) but a higher mass than a brown dwarf. It is the most common type of star in the Galaxy. Seti: The Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence. Solar mass: The amount of mass in the Sun. It is a common unit for expressing masses of stars. The Sun is about a thousand times more massive than Jupiter and about 330,000 times more massive than the Earth. Spectral Lines: Bright (emission) or dark (absorption) lines superimposed on the spectrum of an object. Each element or molecule has a characteristic set of spectral lines, kind of like a fngerprint.

pages: 370 words: 97,138

Beyond: Our Future in Space by Chris Impey


3D printing, Admiral Zheng, Albert Einstein, Alfred Russel Wallace, Berlin Wall, Buckminster Fuller, butterfly effect, California gold rush, carbon-based life, Colonization of Mars, cosmic abundance, crowdsourcing, cuban missile crisis, dark matter, discovery of DNA, Doomsday Clock, Edward Snowden, Elon Musk, Eratosthenes, Haight Ashbury, Hyperloop, I think there is a world market for maybe five computers, Isaac Newton, Jeff Bezos, John von Neumann, Kickstarter, life extension, Mahatma Gandhi, Marc Andreessen, Mars Rover, mutually assured destruction, Oculus Rift, operation paperclip, out of africa, Peter H. Diamandis: Planetary Resources, phenotype, purchasing power parity, RAND corporation, Ray Kurzweil, RFID, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman: Challenger O-ring, risk tolerance, Rubik’s Cube, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, Searching for Interstellar Communications, Silicon Valley, skunkworks, Skype, Stephen Hawking, Steven Pinker, supervolcano, technological singularity, telepresence, telerobotics, the medium is the message, the scientific method, theory of mind, There's no reason for any individual to have a computer in his home - Ken Olsen, V2 rocket, wikimedia commons, X Prize, Yogi Berra

Remote sensing has let us diagnose distant planets and look for signs of microbial life. It can also let us vault over uncertainties in biological evolution and look for the hallmarks of intelligence and technology. For decades, science fiction writers have woven stories of aliens who are biologically bizarre or who have eclipsed us with their technology. Scientists play this game too, and it’s known by the acronym of SETI: Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence. In an influential paper published in Nature in 1959, “Searching for Interstellar Communications,” Giuseppe Cocconi and Philip Morrison argued that a search was warranted even though there was no evidence for life any place other than Earth. They wrote: “The reader may seek to consign these speculations wholly to the domain of science-fiction. We submit, rather, that the foregoing line of argument demonstrates that the presence of interstellar signals is entirely consistent with all we now know, and that if signals are present the means of detecting them is now at hand.”21 They argued that we target nearby Sun-like stars and look for narrow-bandwidth microwave signals.

Martin 1999 (slide presentation), online at 21. “Searching for Interstellar Communications” by G. Cocconi and P. Morrison 1959. Nature, vol. 184, pp. 844–46. 22. “The Drake Equation Revisited. Part 1,” a retrospective by Frank Drake in Astrobiology Magazine, online at 23. SETI 2020: A Roadmap for the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, ed. by R. D. Ekers, D. Culler, J. Billingham, and L. Scheffer 2003. Mountain View, CA: SETI Press. 24. “Neuroanatomy of the Killer Whale (Orcinus orca) from Magnetic Resonance Images” by L. Marino et al. 2004. The Anatomical Record Part A, vol. 281A, no. 2, pp. 1256–63. 11: Living Off-Earth 1. “Biospherics and Biosphere 2, Mission One” by J. Allen and M. Nelson 1999. Ecological Engineering, vol. 13, pp. 15–29. 2.

The feed that detects the radio waves is suspended above the dish by three towers the size of the Washington Monument. Frank Drake likes to say that the dish could hold 100 million boxes of breakfast cereal or all the beer drunk on Earth in a single day. 13. “The Great Filter—Are We Past It?” by R. Hanson 1998, an unpublished paper archived online at 14. “Where Are They? Why I Hope the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence Finds Nothing” by N. Bostrom 1998. MIT Technology Review, May/June, pp. 72–77. 14: A Universe Made for Us 1. Year Million: Science at the Far Edge of Knowledge, ed. by D. Broderick 2006. Giza, Egypt: Atlas and Company. 2. The evanescence of our civilization and cultural artifacts is sobering, given the technological prowess we exhibit. One book that conveyed this vividly was The World Without Us by A.

pages: 404 words: 131,034

Cosmos by Carl Sagan


Albert Einstein, Alfred Russel Wallace, Arthur Eddington, clockwork universe, dematerialisation, double helix, Drosophila, Edmond Halley, Eratosthenes, Ernest Rutherford, germ theory of disease, invention of movable type, invention of the telescope, Isaac Newton, Lao Tzu, Louis Pasteur, Magellanic Cloud, Mars Rover, Menlo Park, music of the spheres, pattern recognition, planetary scale, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, spice trade, Tunguska event

They believed that their audiences would be progressively disinterested as Mars was revealed to be less and less like the Earth. And yet the Martian landscapes are staggering, the vistas breathtaking. I was positive from my own experience that an enormous global interest exists in the exploration of the planets and in many kindred scientific topics—the origin of life, the Earth, and the Cosmos, the search for extraterrestrial intelligence, our connection with the universe. And I was certain that this interest could be excited through that most powerful communications medium, television. My feelings were shared by B. Gentry Lee, the Viking Data Analysis and Mission Planning Director. We decided, gamely, to do something about the problem ourselves. Lee proposed that we form a production company devoted to the communication of science in an engaging and accessible way.

Of the millions of stars that may mark the location of advanced civilizations, we have so far examined by radio no more than thousands. We have made about one-tenth of one percent of the required effort. But a serious, rigorous, systematic search will come soon. The preparatory steps are now underway, both in the United States and in the Soviet Union. It is comparatively inexpensive: the cost of a single naval vessel of intermediate size—a modern destroyer, say—would pay for a decade-long program in the search for extraterrestrial intelligence. Benevolent encounters have not been the rule in human history, where transcultural contacts have been direct and physical, quite different from the receipt of a radio signal, a contact as light as a kiss. Still, it is instructive to examine one or two cases from our past, if only to calibrate our expectations: Between the times of the American and the French Revolutions, Louis XVI of France outfitted an expedition to the Pacific Ocean, a voyage with scientific, geographic, economic and nationalistic objectives.

But if the message contains valuable information, the consequences for our own civilization will be stunning—insights on alien science and technology, art, music, politics, ethics, philosophy and religion, and most of all, a profound deprovincialization of the human condition. We will know what else is possible. Because we will share scientific and mathematical insights with any other civilization, I believe that understanding the interstellar message will be the easiest part of the problem. Convincing the U.S. Congress and the Council of Ministers of the U.S.S.R. to fund a search for extraterrestrial intelligence is the hard part.* In fact, it may be that civilizations can be divided into two great categories: one in which the scientists are unable to convince nonscientists to authorize a search for extraplanetary intelligence, in which energies are directed exclusively inward, in which conventional perceptions remain unchallenged and society falters and retreats from the stars; and another category in which the grand vision of contact with other civilizations is shared widely, and a major search is undertaken.

pages: 356 words: 102,224

Pale Blue Dot: A Vision of the Human Future in Space by Carl Sagan


Albert Einstein, anthropic principle, cosmological principle, dark matter, Dava Sobel, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, germ theory of disease, invention of the telescope, Isaac Newton, Kuiper Belt, linked data, nuclear winter, planetary scale, profit motive, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, Stephen Hawking, telepresence

Pollack and Carl Sagan, "Planetary Engineering," in J. Lewis and M. Matthews, editors, Near-Earth Resources (Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 1992). 192 CHAPTER 20, DARKNESS Frank Drake and Dava Sobel, Is Anyone Out There? (New York: Delacorte, 1992). Paul Horowitz and Carl Sagan, "Project META: A Five-Year All-Sky Narrowband Radio Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence," Astrophysical Journal, vol. 415 (1992), pp. 218-235. Thomas R. McDonough, The Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (New York: John Wiley and Sons, 1987). Carl Sagan, Contact: A Novel (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1985) . CHAPTER 21, TO THE SKY! J. Richard Gott III, "Implications of the Copernican Principle for Our Future Prospects," Nature, vol. 263 (1993), pp. 315-319. CHAPTER 22, TIPTOEING THROUGH THE MILKY WAY I.

We are now, on an unprecedented scale, listening for radio signals from possible other civilizations in the depths of space. Alive today is the first generation of scientists to interrogate the darkness. Conceivably it might also be the last generation before contact is made—and this the last moment before we discover that someone in the darkness is calling out to us. This quest is called the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI). Let me describe how far we've come. The first SETI program was carried out by Frank Drake at the National Radio Astronomy Observatory in Greenbank, West Virginia, in 1960. He listened to two nearby Sun-like stars for two weeks at one particular frequency. ("Nearby" is a relative term: The nearest was 12 lightyears—70 trillion miles—away.) * Surprisingly many people, including New York Times editorialists, are concerned that once extraterrestrials know where we are, they will come here and eat us.

pages: 310 words: 89,653

The Interstellar Age: Inside the Forty-Year Voyager Mission by Jim Bell


Albert Einstein, crowdsourcing, dark matter, Edmond Halley, Edward Charles Pickering,, Eratosthenes, gravity well, Isaac Newton, Kuiper Belt, Mars Rover, Pierre-Simon Laplace, planetary scale, Pluto: dwarf planet, polynesian navigation, Ronald Reagan, Saturday Night Live, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, Stephen Hawking, V2 rocket

See Golden Record Red dwarf stars, 280–281 Reducing environment, 139 Remote sensing, 19–20, 29 Reseau marks, 175 Resonance, orbital, 115, 120, 126 Rhea, 142, 150, 243 Rings Jupiter, 128, 144 Neptune, 185, 210–211 Saturn, 134–135, 142–145, 149–150 Uranus, 144, 184–186 Robotic sensors, 19–20, 29 Rocket launch technologies, 61–69 Ross 248 star, 281 Roth, Lorenz, 130–131 RTGs (radioisotope thermoelectric generators), 56–57 Ryle, Martin, 80 Sagan, Carl, 1, 2, 11–12, 21, 23–24, 34, 72–77, 79, 82–83, 84, 85, 231–237, 238, 281 Sagan, Linda Salzman, 75–76, 83, 85 Saturn atmosphere, 134, 139–141 Bell’s childhood telescope viewings, 13, 133–134 Cassini mission, 25–26, 156, 157, 158–159, 189, 237–238 Flandro’s gravity assist research, 43–46 internal structure, 208 magnetic field, 73, 135, 178 moons, 131, 135, 142, 143, 145–148, 150, 151, 158–159, 166, 241, 243 Pioneer mission, 23, 73, 135–136, 139, 149 rings, 134–135, 142–145, 149–150 Voyager mission, 23, 30, 31–32, 47, 48, 49, 133–159 Scan platform, 56, 110–111, 153–159, 173–174, 230 Scarf, Fred, 154 Schurmeier, Harris “Bud,” 48 Science, 115, 263, 265–266, 287 Science Steering Group, 16, 107, 261 Seaborg, Glenn T., 275–276 Seaborgium, 276 Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI), 75, 77, 80, 87 Sequencers, 64–69 SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence), 75, 77, 80, 87 Shapiro, Irwin, 144 Shoemaker, Gene, 35 Sirius, 113, 290 Slingshots, 41–47, 105–106 Smith, Brad, 35–36, 59–61, 118–119, 205 Soderblom, Jason, 217 Soderblom, Larry, 34, 123, 146, 182, 214–217, 219 Solar nebula, 208 Solar system formation of, 169 photographs of, 231–238 planets, 241–243 size of, 242 Solar wind definition of, 17 interstellar space boundary, 243–251, 271–272 Neptune flyby data, 200 Uranus flyby data, 37, 171, 178–179, 181, 185 Southwest Research Institute, 266 Space exploration future of, 293–296 government funding of, 21–26 Space shuttles, 195 Space travel or tourism, 289–290, 295–296 Spectrometers, 16, 252 Spilker, Linda, 66–67, 119, 157–158, 162 Spirit, 10, 19, 26, 84, 230, 238–239 Squyres, Steve, 84, 238 Stars, 280–281, 283–285, 289 Stewart, Homer Joe, 45 Stockman, David, 22 Stone, Edward C., 16–18, 36, 37, 38, 49, 77, 107, 135, 142, 148, 153–154, 159, 170–171, 175, 177, 179, 209, 235, 246–251, 253, 254, 256, 257, 258, 259–263, 265–271, 277, 292 Sun.

Top: Plaque designed by Sagan, Drake, and Salzman Sagan for the Pioneer missions. (NASA/JPL) Middle: Plaque designed by Sagan, Drake, Lomberg, and others for the Voyager missions, and engraved onto the cover of the Voyager Golden Record. (NASA/JPL) Bottom: Explanation of the symbols and markings used on the Voyager plaque. (NASA/JPL) In the early 1970s, Sagan; his wife, the artist and writer Linda Salzman Sagan; and the pioneering Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) astronomer Frank Drake acted on the idea put forward by science journalist Eric Burgess and author Richard Hoagland that humanity shouldn’t miss the opportunity to include a message of some kind on these high-tech emissaries that were about to be cast out forever into interstellar space. With access to Pioneer project officials for the technical details of the spacecraft and to NASA headquarters officials for the required permissions, but with only three weeks to get the job done, Sagan, Salzman Sagan, and Drake came up with a clever gold-anodized aluminum plaque etched with rudimentary drawings and markings based on fundamental physics and astronomy, which they hoped would enable some comparably (or more) intelligent extraterrestrial species who might intercept the spacecraft in the far future to tell where and when it came from.

pages: 239 words: 56,531

The Secret War Between Downloading and Uploading: Tales of the Computer as Culture Machine by Peter Lunenfeld


Albert Einstein, Andrew Keen, Apple II, Berlin Wall, British Empire, Brownian motion, Buckminster Fuller, Burning Man, butterfly effect, computer age, creative destruction, crowdsourcing, cuban missile crisis, Dissolution of the Soviet Union, don't be evil, Douglas Engelbart, Douglas Engelbart, Dynabook, East Village, Edward Lorenz: Chaos theory, Fall of the Berlin Wall, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, Frank Gehry, Grace Hopper, gravity well, Guggenheim Bilbao, Honoré de Balzac, Howard Rheingold, invention of movable type, Isaac Newton, Jacquard loom, Jacquard loom, Jane Jacobs, Jeff Bezos, John Markoff, John von Neumann, Mark Zuckerberg, Marshall McLuhan, Mercator projection, Metcalfe’s law, Mother of all demos, mutually assured destruction, Network effects, new economy, Norbert Wiener, PageRank, pattern recognition, peer-to-peer, planetary scale, Plutocrats, plutocrats, Post-materialism, post-materialism, Potemkin village, RFID, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, Richard Stallman, Robert Metcalfe, Robert X Cringely, Schrödinger's Cat, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, SETI@home, Silicon Valley, Skype, social software, spaced repetition, Steve Ballmer, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Ted Nelson, the built environment, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, the medium is the message, Thomas L Friedman, Turing machine, Turing test, urban planning, urban renewal, Vannevar Bush, walkable city, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, William Shockley: the traitorous eight

Twenty-five years ago, the University of California at Berkeley team would have trained a group of laboratory assistants, and set them to work for the next four or five years. But the Stardust team had another model to draw on. For more than a decade, ordinary people had been not just willing but also eager to turn part of their computer’s run cycles over to the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence project. The SETI@ home distributed computing initiative has been wildly successful for almost a decade. It sends out chunks of data (or “work units”) to computers all over the world, and the users then send the results back. Users’ willingness to share their untapped computing power means that the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) project does not need to purchase extra supercomputers or rent time on them. The distribution here is essentially a free gift, and requires little from the participants beyond their signing up, and then allowing the data chunks to flow in and the results to flow out.

pages: 208 words: 70,860

Paradox: The Nine Greatest Enigmas in Physics by Jim Al-Khalili


Albert Einstein, Albert Michelson, anthropic principle, Arthur Eddington, butterfly effect, clockwork universe, complexity theory, dark matter, Edmond Halley, Edward Lorenz: Chaos theory, Ernest Rutherford, Henri Poincaré, invention of the telescope, Isaac Newton, luminiferous ether, Magellanic Cloud, Olbers’ paradox, Pierre-Simon Laplace, Schrödinger's Cat, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, The Present Situation in Quantum Mechanics, Wilhelm Olbers

Given that we believe the laws of physics to be the same throughout the Universe, and given that one of the easiest and most versatile means of transmitting information is by using electromagnetic waves, we would expect any technologically advanced civilization to make use of this form of communication at some point in its development. And if it does, some of its signals will leak out into space, spreading through the galaxy at the speed of light. It wasn’t long before twentieth-century astronomers began seriously to consider the feasibility of listening for signals from space using their newly developed radio telescopes. And the serious search for extraterrestrial intelligence began with one man. DRAKE AND HIS EQUATION The first serious ET hunter was the astronomer Frank Drake, who worked at the National Radio Astronomy Observatory in Green Bank, West Virginia. In 1960 he set up an experiment to search for signs of life in distant solar systems by listening in to electromagnetic signals at radio-wave frequencies. The project was named Ozma, after Princess Ozma, ruler of the Emerald City of Oz in Frank Baum’s children’s books.

After many hours of recorded data over several months had been examined, no interesting signals were found apart from one, which turned out to have come from a high-flying aircraft. But Drake was not disappointed. He has always maintained that the process was like buying a lottery ticket: he knew he would have been incredibly lucky if something had been found. Undeterred, the following year he organized the very first conference on SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) and invited along every other scientist he knew to be interested in the subject at the time (all twelve of them). In order to focus their minds, he devised a mathematical formula for calculating the number of civilizations, N, in our galaxy whose radio signals would be detectable on Earth. He calculated this by multiplying seven other numbers together. The formula, which now bears his name, looked like this— —and it is actually quite straightforward to explain.

pages: 755 words: 121,290

Statistics hacks by Bruce Frey


Bayesian statistics, Berlin Wall, correlation coefficient, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, distributed generation,, feminist movement, game design, Hacker Ethic, index card, Milgram experiment, p-value, place-making, RFID, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, SETI@home, Silicon Valley, statistical model, Thomas Bayes

roulette fair payouts gambler's fallacy about overview ROUND function 2nd ROUNDDOWN function 2nd ROUNDUP function 2nd rule of four rule of two rule of two plus two Index [SYMBOL] [A] [B] [C] [D] [E] [F] [G] [H] [I] [J] [K] [L] [M] [N] [O] [P] [Q] [R] [S] [T] [V] [W] [X] [Y] [Z] Sackrowitz, Harold 2nd safe cracking Sagan, Carl 2nd Salkind, Neil 2nd sample size coin toss and effect size and 2nd sampling error and statistical significance and 2nd samples <Emphasis>t</> tests and cluster defined 2nd discrete/continuous objects in efficient extraterrestrial life inferential statistics and predicting baseball games statistical significance of sampling errors 2nd sampling frame 2nd sampling unit 2nd SAS software SAT 2nd Saxbe, Darby scale invariance scores [See also scores: (see also test scores\\] [See also scores: (see also test scores\\] central tendency of consistency in correlation coefficient defined error high level of measurement likelihood of higher observed 2nd 3rd ordinal level of measurement percentage of predicting 2nd reliability of 2nd 3rd standardized 2nd T scores 2nd true 2nd 3rd validity of Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) sensitivity serendipity, interpreting SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) Shadish, W.R. shared variance 2nd short-stacked shuffling cards significance [See statistical significance] simple linear regression [See linear regression] single substitution format six degrees of separation six-sided dice 2nd skips Skorupski, William 2nd slips SLOPE function slot machines small-world problem 2nd 3rd Smart Shuffle (iTunes) Smith, Will Soter, Steven 2nd Spears, Britney 2nd species, discovering specificity splitting hands 2nd 3rd SPSS software 2nd St.

There is so much data being collected as part of systematic efforts to scan the skies, no one person or even one computer can possibly analyze it all. You can help! SETI@home is a Berkeley University-based program that arranges for regular people with regular home or office computers to receive some of this data, so their computers can analyze it when they're not doing something else. SETI is the acronym for Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence. The program works like a screensaver and can be downloaded for free at The data won't make sense to you when you get it, but your computer will begin to use statistical analyses to sort through the signal information, looking for the telltale nonrandom narrow bandwidths that might mean another planet has reached the level of sophistication to produce something like Gomer Pyle or Melrose Place.

pages: 476 words: 118,381

Space Chronicles: Facing the Ultimate Frontier by Neil Degrasse Tyson, Avis Lang


Albert Einstein, Arthur Eddington, asset allocation, Berlin Wall, carbon-based life, centralized clearinghouse, cosmic abundance, cosmic microwave background, dark matter, Gordon Gekko, informal economy, invention of movable type, invention of the telescope, Isaac Newton, Karl Jansky, Kuiper Belt, Louis Blériot, Mars Rover, mutually assured destruction, Pluto: dwarf planet, RAND corporation, Ronald Reagan, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, SETI@home, space pen, stem cell, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, the scientific method, trade route, V2 rocket

If we consider the possibility that we may rank as primitive among the universe’s technologically competent life-forms—however rare they may be—then the best we can do is to keep alert for signals sent by others, because it is far more expensive to send than to receive. Presumably, an advanced civilization would have easy access to an abundant source of energy, such as its host star. These are the civilizations that would be more likely to do the sending. The search for extraterrestrial intelligence (affectionately known by its acronym, SETI) has taken many forms. Long-established efforts have relied on monitoring billions of radio channels in search of a radio or microwave signal that might rise above the cosmic noise. The SETI@home screensaver—downloaded by millions of people around the world—enabled a home computer to analyze small chunks of the huge quantities of data collected by the radio telescope at Arecibo Observatory, Puerto Rico.

—The review required by subsection (a) shall include (1) an assessment of the direction of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s astrobiology initiatives within the Origins program; (2) an assessment of the direction of other initiatives carried out by entities other than the National Aeronautics and Space Administration to determine the extent of life in the universe, including other Federal agencies, foreign space agencies, and private groups such as the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence Institute; (3) recommendations about scientific and technological enhancements that could be made to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s astrobiology initiatives to effectively utilize the initiatives of the scientific and technical communities; and (4) recommendations for possible coordination or integration of National Aeronautics and Space Administration initiatives with initiatives of other entities described in paragraph (2).

., 196 Presidential Commission on Implementation of United States Space Exploration Policy, 59–60, 146 President’s Commission on Higher Education, 125 Prince (singer), 203 Principia (Newton), 113 Project Prometheus, 169–70 propulsion: alternate fuels for, 157–59 antimatter drive and, 170–71 chemical fuel for, 163 electricity and, 165 in-space, 170 ion-thruster engine and, 164–65, 170 nuclear power and, 159, 168–69 rocket equation and, 153–54, 157 and slowing down, 155–56 solar sails and, 159, 165–67, 170 third law of motion and, 153, 158 xenon gas and, 164–65 Proxima Centauri, 195–96 Ptolemy, Claudius, 34, 65 pulsars, 29 Qatar, 5 quasars, 91 R-7 rocket, 126 racism, 66–67 radioisotope thermoelectric generators (RTGs), 168–69 radio telescopes, 91 radio waves, 28–29, 30, 31, 39, 90–91 radium, 96 RAND Corporation, 218 Ranger 7 spacecraft, 70 Reagan, Ronald, 5, 6 relativity, general theory of, 94–95, 101, 248, 250 relativity, special theory of, 195–96 Republicans, 4–5, 15, 17, 224–25 Resnik, Judith, 243 robots, 129, 134 in space exploration, 57, 89–90, 128, 130–32, 187, 198, 199, 202 rocket equation, 153–54, 157 rockets: flybys and, 157 liquid-fueled, 192 phallic design of, 222–23 propulsion of, see propulsion Rodriguez, Alex, 114 Röntgen, Wilhelm, 94, 96, 135 Royal Society, 216 Russia, xiv, 6, 22, 162, 168 ISS and, 319 Star City training center of, 73, 74, 207 Sagan, Carl, 27, 28, 43, 193, 256 Salyut space module, 6 Sarge (comedian), 234 satellites, xiii, xiv, 60, 71, 94 communication, 129 first US, 124–25 Saturn, 31, 82, 112, 115, 119, 138, 157, 168, 210, 225, 245 radio emissions from, 90–91 Saturn V rocket, 15, 127, 154, 158, 172, 214, 219, 220, 229 as a wonder of the modern world, 232–33 Schmitt, Harrison, 69, 132 Schwarzenegger, Arnold, 153 science, 206, 226 Arabs and, 205–6 discovery and, 98 emerging markets and, 209–10 literacy in, 57–59, 230–31, 235–36 multiple disciplines and, 209–10 Scientific American, 223 scientific method, 86 Scobee, Dick, 242 Seeking a Human Spaceflight Program Worthy of a Great Nation, 146 Senate, US, 5, 146, 328 Aeronautical and Space Sciences Committee of, 272 and appointments to Commission on Future of Aerospace Industry, 316 Appropriations Committee of, 321, 329 Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee of, 288, 321, 323, 324, 329 sense of wonder, 64–65 September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, 206 Sesame Street (TV show), 257 SETI (search for extraterrestrial intelligence), 41, 325 Shapley, Harlow, 98–101 Shatner, William, 180 Shaw, Brewster, 221 Shepard, Alan B., 114 short-period comets, 46 Siberia, 50 Sims, Calvin, 55–62 Sirius, 178 Skylab 1 (space station), 214 slingshot effect, 119–20 Smith, George O., 175 Smith, Michael, 242 Smithsonian Institution, 216 solar sails, 159, 165–67, 170 solar system, 34, 259 many-body problem and, 117–18 perturbation theory and, 118 solar wind, 176, 235, 245 solid rocket boosters, 155 Soter, Steven, 256 sound, speed of, 108–9 sound barrier, 109 South Africa, xiv South Pole, 76 Soviet Union, xiii, 8, 94, 133, 194, 215, 218 US rivalry with, 5–6, 59, 79, 87, 121–27, 133, 192, 219 see also Sputnik space, space exploration: colonization of, 57, 60, 102–3 cosmic microwave background in, 92, 94–95 cross-discipline endeavor in, 24–25, 230 culture and, 72–74, 147–48, 210–11 early attitudes toward, 217–18 economic motivation for, 200–201 factions against, 8–10 in Galef/Pigliucci interview of author, 75–83 inventions statute and, 311 justification for funding of, 78–81 militarization of, 60 numbers employed in, 236–37 politics and, 3–5 proposed programs and missions for, 201–2 robots and, 57, 89–90, 128, 130–32, 187, 198, 199, 202 significance of, 102 Soviet achievements in, 122–26 special interests and, 5, 236–37 stellar nurseries in, 93 technological innovation and, 12 US-Soviet rivalry and, 5–6, 59, 79, 87, 121–27, 133, 192, 219 war as driver of, 219–20 Space Cowboys (film), 162 Space Exploration Initiative, 8 Space Foundation, 221–22 Spaceguard Survey, The: Report of the NASA International Near-Earth Object Detection Workshop, 50 space junk, 176 space shuttle, 7, 12, 25, 109, 160–62, 165, 201, 202, 228, 281 contingency funding for, 321–22 fuel of, 158 launch costs of, 320–22 main parts of, 154–55 pricing policy for, 314 retirement of, 14–16, 143, 214 speed of, 222 use policy for, 312–13 weight of, 155 see also specific vehicles Space Station Freedom, 6, 8 Space Studies Board, 169 Space Technology Hall of Fame, 221, 230–31, 237 Space Telescope Science Institute, 10, 23, 135–36 Space Transportation System, 314 space travel, 191–98 coasting in, 247 in Colbert–author interview, 186–88 danger of, 198 financing of, 193–94 in Hollywood movies, 194–95 Moon missions and, 192–93 robots and, 198 special relativity and, 195–96 Space Travel Symposium, 111 Spain, 7, 87 spectroscopy, 30 Spirit (Mars exploration rover), 130–33, 138 Spitzer Space Telescope, 139 Sputnik, xiii, 5, 59, 79, 113–14, 133, 192, 218 50th anniversary of, 226 US response to, 122–24 Star City (training center), 73, 74, 207 Stars & Atoms (Eddington), 107 Star Trek (TV series), 3, 164, 170 45th anniversary of, 178–81 human behavior and, 180 technology of, 179 Star Trek: The Motion Picture (film), 37–38 Star Wars (film series), 131 State Department, US, 312 Stewart, Jon, 4 Stone, Sharon, 203 subatomic particles, 94 Sugar, Ron, 221 Sun, 27, 28, 29, 33, 46, 58, 72, 97, 112, 117, 118, 138, 195, 245 Copernican principle and, 34 energy emitted by, 93 fusion in, 101 neutrinos emitted by, 94 planets’ orbits and, 115 Superconducting Super Collider, 6–7, 80–81 Sweden, 7 Swift, Philip W., 223 Swift Gamma Ray Burst Explorer, 139 Switzerland, 7 Sykes, Wanda, 17 Systems of the World, The (Newton), 113 Taj Mahal, 88 Tamayo-Méndez, Arnaldo, 122 TASS, 123 Taylor, Charles E., 219 technology, 89, 200, 226 aero-space integration plan for, 323–24 in alien observation of Earth, 29–32 CRDAs policy on transfer of, 304–6 energy conservation and, 96 engineering, 95 Industrial Revolution and, 95 information, 95 leadership and, 23 multiple disciplines and, 135–37 nonsectarian philosophies and, 206 predicting future of, 215–16 progress in, 218–19 space exploration and, 135 of Star Trek, 179 US lag in, 21–22 telescopes, 71, 82, 85–86, 94, 141, 225 microwave, 91–92 radio, 91 ultraviolet, 93 Tereshkova, Valentina, 122 Texas, 6 Thompson, David, 221 three-body problem, 116–17 Three Gorges Dam, 22, 233 Three Mile Island meltdown, 168 Titan, 31 Huygens probe to, 138–39 methane on, 138–39 Today Show (TV show), 210–11 Tonight Show (TV show), 144–45 Toth, Viktor, 250 Townsend, W.

The Singularity Is Near: When Humans Transcend Biology by Ray Kurzweil


additive manufacturing, AI winter, Alan Turing: On Computable Numbers, with an Application to the Entscheidungsproblem, Albert Einstein, anthropic principle, Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic, artificial general intelligence, Asilomar, augmented reality, autonomous vehicles, Benoit Mandelbrot, Bill Joy: nanobots, bioinformatics, brain emulation, Brewster Kahle, Brownian motion, business intelligence,, call centre, carbon-based life, cellular automata, Claude Shannon: information theory, complexity theory, conceptual framework, Conway's Game of Life, cosmological constant, cosmological principle, cuban missile crisis, data acquisition, Dava Sobel, David Brooks, Dean Kamen, disintermediation, double helix, Douglas Hofstadter,, epigenetics, factory automation, friendly AI, George Gilder, Gödel, Escher, Bach, informal economy, information retrieval, invention of the telephone, invention of the telescope, invention of writing, Isaac Newton, iterative process, Jaron Lanier, Jeff Bezos, job automation, job satisfaction, John von Neumann, Kevin Kelly, Law of Accelerating Returns, life extension, lifelogging, linked data, Loebner Prize, Louis Pasteur, mandelbrot fractal, Mikhail Gorbachev, mouse model, Murray Gell-Mann, mutually assured destruction, natural language processing, Network effects, new economy, Norbert Wiener, oil shale / tar sands, optical character recognition, pattern recognition, phenotype, premature optimization, randomized controlled trial, Ray Kurzweil, remote working, reversible computing, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, Robert Metcalfe, Rodney Brooks, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, selection bias, semantic web, Silicon Valley, Singularitarianism, speech recognition, statistical model, stem cell, Stephen Hawking, Stewart Brand, strong AI, superintelligent machines, technological singularity, Ted Kaczynski, telepresence, The Coming Technological Singularity, Thomas Bayes, transaction costs, Turing machine, Turing test, Vernor Vinge, Y2K, Yogi Berra

Townes, "At What Wavelength Should We Search for Signals from Extraterrestrial Intelligence?" Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA 80 (1983): 1147–51. S. A. Kingsley in The Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence in the Optical Spectrum, vol. 2, S. A. Kingsley and G. A. Lemarchand, eds. (1996) Proc. WPIE 2704: 102–16. 67. N. S. Kardashev, "Transmission of Information by Extraterrestrial Civilizations," Soviet Astronomy 8.2 (1964): 217–20. Summarized in Guillermo A. Lemarchand, "Detectability of Extraterrestrial Technological Activities," SETIQuest 1:1, pp. 3–13, 68. Frank Drake and Dava Sobel, Is Anyone Out There? (New York: Dell, 1994); Carl Sagan and Frank Drake, "The Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence," Scientific American (May 1975): 80–89. A Drake-equation calculator can be found at 69.

JACK NG62 Our naive view of the cosmos, dating back to pre-Copernican days, was that the Earth was at the center of the universe and human intelligence its greatest gift (next to God). The more informed recent view is that, even if the likelihood of a star's having a planet with a technology-creating species is very low (for example, one in a million), there are so many stars (that is, billions of trillions of them), that there are bound to be many (billions or trillions) with advanced technology. This is the view behind SETI—the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence—and is the common informed view today. However, there are reasons to doubt the "SETI assumption" that ETI is prevalent. First, consider the common SETI view. Common interpretations of the Drake equation (see below) conclude that there are many (as in billions) of ETls in the universe, thousands or millions in our galaxy. We have only examined a tiny portion of the haystack (the universe), so our failure to date to find the needle (an ETI signal) should not be considered discouraging.

Many of the descriptions of the Drake equation express fL as the fraction of the planet's life during which radio transmission takes place, but this should properly be expressed as a fraction of the life of the universe, as we don't really care how long that planet has been around; rather, we care about the duration of the radio transmissions. 70. Seth Shostak provided "an estimate of between 10,000 and one million radio transmitters in the galaxy." Marcus Chown, "ET First Contact 'Within 20 Years,' " New Scientist 183.2457 (July 24, 2004). Available online at 71. T. L. Wilson, "The Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence," Nature, February 22, 2001. 72. Most recent estimates have been between ten and fifteen billion years. In 2002 estimates based on data from the Hubble Space Telescope were between thirteen and fourteen billion years. A study published by Case Western Reserve University scientist Lawrence Krauss and Dartmouth University's Brian Chaboyer applied recent findings on the evolution of stars and concluded that there was a 95 percent level of confidence that the age of the universe is between 11.2 and 20 billion years.

pages: 913 words: 265,787

How the Mind Works by Steven Pinker

affirmative action, agricultural Revolution, Alfred Russel Wallace, Buckminster Fuller, cognitive dissonance, Columbine, combinatorial explosion, complexity theory, computer age, computer vision, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, delayed gratification, double helix, experimental subject, feminist movement, four colour theorem, Gordon Gekko, greed is good, Henri Poincaré, income per capita, information retrieval, invention of agriculture, invention of the wheel, John von Neumann, lake wobegon effect, Machine translation of "The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak." to Russian and back, Mikhail Gorbachev, Murray Gell-Mann, mutually assured destruction, Necker cube, out of africa, pattern recognition, phenotype, Plutocrats, plutocrats, random walk, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, Ronald Reagan, Rubik’s Cube, Saturday Night Live, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, sexual politics, Steven Pinker, theory of mind, Thorstein Veblen, Turing machine, urban decay, Yogi Berra

If they understood it, how would they respond? By ignoring us? By coming over to enslave us or eat us? Or by starting an interplanetary dialogue? In a Saturday Night Live skit, the long-awaited reply from outer space was “Send more Chuck Berry.” These are not just questions for late-night dorm-room bull sessions. In the early 1990s NASA allocated a hundred million dollars to a ten-year Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI). Scientists were to listen with radio antennas for signals that could have come only from intelligent extraterrestrials. Predictably, some congressmen objected. One said it was a waste of federal money “to look for little green men with mis-shapen heads.” To minimize the “giggle factor,” NASA renamed the project the High-Resolution Microwave Survey, but it was too late to save the project from the congressional ax.

Lower-tech animals can be much quicker; some insects can bite in less than a millisecond. Perhaps this answers the rhetorical question in the sporting equipment ad: The average man’s IQ is 107. The average brown trout’s IQ is 4. So why can’t a man catch a brown trout? Intelligence isn’t for everyone, any more than a trunk is, and this should give SETI enthusiasts pause. But I am not arguing against the search for extraterrestrial intelligence; my topic is terrestrial intelligence. The fallacy that intelligence is some exalted ambition of evolution is part of the same fallacy that treats it as a divine essence or wonder tissue or all-encompassing mathematical principle. The mind is an organ, a biological gadget. We have our minds because their design attains outcomes whose benefits outweighed the costs in the lives of Plio-Pleistocene African primates.

Under no circumstances can the food be omitted. Of course no one really knows whether these four habits formed the base camp for the ascent of human intelligence. And no one knows whether there are other, untried gradients to intelligence in biological design space. But if these traits do explain why our ancestors were the only species out of fifty million to follow that route, it would have sobering implications for the search for extraterrestrial intelligence. A planet with life may not be enough of a launching pad. Its history might have to include a nocturnal predator (to get stereo vision), with descendants that switched to a diurnal lifestyle (for color) in which they depended on fruit and were vulnerable to predators (for group living), which then changed their means of locomotion to swinging beneath branches (for hands and for precursors to upright posture), before a climate shift sent them from the forest into grasslands (for upright posture and hunting).

pages: 294 words: 81,292

Our Final Invention: Artificial Intelligence and the End of the Human Era by James Barrat


3D printing, AI winter, Amazon Web Services, artificial general intelligence, Asilomar, Automated Insights, Bayesian statistics, Bernie Madoff, Bill Joy: nanobots, brain emulation, cellular automata, Chuck Templeton: OpenTable, cloud computing, cognitive bias, commoditize, computer vision, cuban missile crisis, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, Danny Hillis, data acquisition, don't be evil, drone strike, Extropian, finite state, Flash crash, friendly AI, friendly fire, Google Glasses, Google X / Alphabet X, Isaac Newton, Jaron Lanier, John Markoff, John von Neumann, Kevin Kelly, Law of Accelerating Returns, life extension, Loebner Prize, lone genius, mutually assured destruction, natural language processing, Nicholas Carr, optical character recognition, PageRank, pattern recognition, Peter Thiel, prisoner's dilemma, Ray Kurzweil, Rodney Brooks, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, self-driving car, semantic web, Silicon Valley, Singularitarianism, Skype, smart grid, speech recognition, statistical model, stealth mode startup, stem cell, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, strong AI, Stuxnet, superintelligent machines, technological singularity, The Coming Technological Singularity, Thomas Bayes, traveling salesman, Turing machine, Turing test, Vernor Vinge, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, zero day

Radio waves travel at the speed of light, so the Arecibo message won’t get there for 25,000 years, and even then it won’t get there. That’s because M13 will have moved from its 1974 location, relative to Earth. Of course the Arecibo team knew this, but milked the press opportunity anyway. Still, other star systems might be more profitable targets for radio telescope probes. And what intelligence they detect might not be biological. This assertion came from SETI (which stands for the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence). Headquartered in Mountain View, California, just a few blocks from Google, the now fifty-year-old organization tries to detect signs of alien intelligence coming from as far away as 100 trillion miles. To catch alien radio transmissions, they’ve planted forty-two giant dish-shaped radio telescopes three hundred miles north of San Francisco. SETI listens for signals—it doesn’t send them—and in a half century they’ve heard nothing from ET.

., III Machine Intelligence Research Institute (MIRI) Singularity Summit machine learning Madoff, Bernie malware Mazzafro, Joe McCarthy, John McGurk, Sean military battlefield robots and drones DARPA, see DARPA energy infrastructure and nuclear weapons, see nuclear weapons Mind Children (Moravec) Minsky, Marvin Mitchell, Tom mobile phones see also iPhone Monster Cat Moore, Gordon Moore’s Law morality see also Friendly AI Moravec, Hans Moravec’s Paradox mortality, see immortality mortgage crisis Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD) nano assemblers nanotechnology “gray goo” problem and natural language processing (NLP) natural selection Nekomata (Monster Cat) NELL (Never-Ending-Language-Learning system) neural networks neurons New Scientist New York Times Newman, Max Newton, Isaac Ng, Andrew 9/11 attacks Normal Accidents: Living with High-Risk Technologies (Perrow) normalcy bias North Korea Norvig, Peter Novamente nuclear fission nuclear power plant disasters nuclear weapons of Iran Numenta Ohana, Steve Olympic Games (cyberwar campaign) Omohundro, Stephen OpenCog Otellini, Paul Page, Larry paper clip maximizer scenario parallel processing pattern recognition Pendleton, Leslie Perceptron Perrow, Charles Piaget, Jean power grid Precautionary Principle programming bad evolutionary genetic ordinary self-improving, see self-improvement Rackspace rational agent theory of economics recombinant DNA Reflections on Artificial Intelligence (Whitby) resource acquisition risks of artificial intelligence apoptotic systems and Asilomar Guidelines and Busy Child scenario and, see Busy Child scenario defenses against lack of dialogue about malicious AI Precautionary Principle and runaway AI Safe-AI Scaffolding Approach and Stuxnet and unintended consequences robots, robotics Asimov’s Three Laws of in dangerous and service jobs in sportswriting Rosenblatt, Frank Rowling, J. K. Rubin, Andrew “Runaround” (Asimov) Safe-AI Scaffolding Approach Sagan, Carl SCADA (supervisory control and data acquisition) systems Schmidt, Eric Schwartz, Evan Scientist Speculates, The (Good, ed.) Searle, John self-awareness Self-Aware Systems self-improvement self-preservation September 11 attacks serial processing SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) Shostak, Seth Silicon Valley Singularitarians Singularity definitions of Kurzweil and technological Singularity Is Near, The (Kurzweil) Singularity Summit Singularity University Sir Groovy Siri 60 Minutes Skilling, Jeffrey Smart Action smart phones see also iPhone software complexity of malware see also programming solar energy space exploration “Speculations Concerning the First Ultraintelligent Machine” (Good) speech recognition SRI International stealth companies Sterrit, Roy Stibel, Jeff Stuxnet subprime mortgage crisis Symantec SyNAPSE Technological Risk (Lewis) technology journalism Terminator movies terrorism 9/11 attacks Thiel, Peter Thinking Machines, Inc.

pages: 380 words: 104,841

The Human Age: The World Shaped by Us by Diane Ackerman


23andMe, 3D printing, additive manufacturing, airport security, Albert Einstein, augmented reality, back-to-the-land, carbon footprint, clean water, dark matter, dematerialisation, double helix, Drosophila, epigenetics, Google Earth, Google Glasses, haute cuisine, Internet of things, Loebner Prize, Louis Pasteur, Masdar, mass immigration, megacity, microbiome, nuclear winter, personalized medicine, phenotype, Ray Kurzweil, refrigerator car, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, SETI@home, skunkworks, Skype, stem cell, Stewart Brand, the High Line, theory of mind, urban planning, urban renewal, Whole Earth Catalog

The Buddhist mandala-makers may live in a cosmos dancing with colorful deities, just as they always have. But now they and the Dalai Lama (a science aficionado) are also aware, from mindful moment to moment, of an invisible dimension that includes neurons, quarks, Higgs bosons, MRIs, condensation nuclei, white dwarfs, DNA, and a googolplex of others. Elsewhere on Earth, over 5.2 million Internet-connected computers, citizen scientists are helping SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) monitor radio telescope data through the SETI@home project, hoping to catch a message from alien life forms in some distant star system. SETI’s senior astronomer, Seth Shostak, believes that the first calling card from aliens may well be detected on home computers, not by official scientists at radio telescopes arrayed in India, Australia, Puerto Rico, or Chile. More than ever, our technology allows us to peer into worlds far beyond our outmoded senses, into a realm where cells loom large as lakes, pores are chasms, the body is just another kind of ecosystem, and the idea of cartography no longer applies only to landforms.

Luke’s Hospital, 78 Salem witch trials, 207 salmon, 60, 65 salt deposits, 31 sandhill cranes, 161 San Diego Zoo, 151 sand mandala, 174–75 Sandy, Hurricane, 31, 43, 44–47 oyster beds smothered by, 57 Sanjay Gandhi National Park, 78 Santiago, 77 Sapolsky, Robert, 298 Sapsucker Woods Bird Sanctuary, 193–94 scallops, 57, 60 schizophrenia, 176, 282, 285 science, 11 scientific reasoning, 219–20 Scotland, 132 Scots pine, 132 Scripps Research Institute, 151 sea grapes, 61 sea levels, 32, 41, 51 sea lions, 144, 147 Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI), 175 sea squirt, 61 seaweed, 61 sediment, 31–32 sedum, 83, 87–88 self-awareness, 216–17, 219 self-cleaning clothes, 181 sensory overload, 197 Seoul, 192 sepsis, 183 Serengeti, 126 Seurat, Georges, 246 sex, biology of, 293–96 Shakespeare, William, 259 Shanghai, China, 192 sharks, 147 Shark Valley, 129, 315 sheep, 71, 267 Shelley, Mary, 212–13 shellfish, 60 Shidhulai Swanirvar Sangstha, 52 Shostak, Seth, 175 shrews, 115 shrikes, 74 Siberia, 161 Siju-Rewak Coridor, 124 silicon retinas, 13 silver, 182–83 Singapore, 78 singing, 93 Sinhyung Cho, 102 skin, 257 Skinner, B.

pages: 661 words: 169,298

Coming of Age in the Milky Way by Timothy Ferris


Albert Einstein, Albert Michelson, Alfred Russel Wallace, anthropic principle, Arthur Eddington, Atahualpa, Cepheid variable, Chance favours the prepared mind, Commentariolus, cosmic abundance, cosmic microwave background, cosmological constant, cosmological principle, dark matter, delayed gratification, Edmond Halley, Eratosthenes, Ernest Rutherford, Gary Taubes, Harlow Shapley and Heber Curtis, Harvard Computers: women astronomers, Henri Poincaré, invention of writing, Isaac Newton, John Harrison: Longitude, Karl Jansky, Lao Tzu, Louis Pasteur, Magellanic Cloud, mandelbrot fractal, Menlo Park, Murray Gell-Mann, music of the spheres, planetary scale, retrograde motion, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, Searching for Interstellar Communications, Solar eclipse in 1919, source of truth, Stephen Hawking, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions, Thomas Malthus, Wilhelm Olbers

It is to employ radiotelescopes to listen for electromagnetic signals—radio or television transmissions—beamed into space by alien civilizations. Such a signal, transmitted using only a few cents’ worth of electricity, travels at the speed of light and could be intercepted by radiotelescopes on Earth across distances of many thousands of light-years. This was the realization behind what came to be called SETI—the search for extraterrestrial intelligence. SETI was first proposed in 1959 by two scientists, Giuseppe Cocconi and Philip Morrison. “The probability of success is difficult to estimate,” they noted, “but if we never search, the chance of success is zero.”9 The first SETI experiment, Project Ozma, was conducted in the early 1970s by the American astronomer Frank Drake. Drake observed a total of 659 stars over a three-year period, listening at but a single frequency with radio dish antennae of 300 and 140 feet in diameter.

Their dominance in the universities, which had been founded largely to study Aristotle, constituted an obstacle to acceptance of the Copernican system advocated by Kepler and Galileo. Science. Systematic study of nature, based upon the presumption that the universe is based upon rationally intelligible principles and that its behavior can therefore be predicted by subjecting observational data to logical analysis. SETI. The Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, by using radiotelescopes to listen for signals transmitted by intelligent alien beings. Sextant. Instrument employed to measure the elevation of astronomical objects above the horizon. Based upon an arc equal to a sixth of a circle, sextants are more compact and easier to use than are the quadrants that preceded them. Shadow matter. Theoretical classes of particles, their existence intimated by supersymmetry theory, that participate in few if any of the four known fundamental forces.

.), 124 measuring distances via micrometry and triangulation, 125–126, 127 Newton’s laws and, 107, 117, 120–121 retrograde motion of, 23, 24, 25, 26–27 spacecraft missions to, 370, 371 transit of, 130–136 See also names of planets Plato, 19, 25–26, 27, 31, 62, 64, 65, 75, 145, 217 Pleiades (star cluster), 259, 263 Hertzsprung-Russell diagram for, 269–270 Plutarch, 33, 39, 40 Poincaré, Henri, 181–182, 193, 201 Polaris (North Star), 57 Pole star, 52 Political power, use of astronomy for, 22 Polo, Marco, 47, 49–50, 54 Popper, Karl, 383 Portable telescopes, 163 Positrons, 308 Pound, James, 137, 153 Precession of equinoxes, 23n Primordial atom, 211, 212 Principia (Newton), 103, 115–118, 120–121 publication of, 118–119, 120 Printing press, invention of, 62–63 Probes in interstellar flight, 374–375, 376 Project Ozma (SETI experiment), 372 Proton accelerators, 319–326 Proton-antiproton collider, 324–326 Proton-proton chain reaction for stellar nuclear fusion, 263–265, 272, 278 Protons, 262, 264–265 as fermions, 292 half-life of, 327 heat of stars and, 260–261 penetration of the Coulomb barrier by, 262, 264–265 quarks and, 338, 340 symmetry and, 307 Ptolemy, Claudius, 28–31, 33, 34, 38, 40, 62, 63, 69, 72, 124, 145 Islamic astronomy and, 43 Pythagoras, 35, 217 Pythagorean doctrine of celestial harmony, 75–77 Q and A time for interstellar radio signals, 376, 377, 378 Quantum chromodynamics (QCD), 297, 311, 312, 313 Quantum electrodynamics (QED), 297, 315–316 Quantum field theory relativistic, 297, 337 string theory and, 328 symmetry and, 312–313 Quantum genesis hypothesis, 351, 362–365 Quantum indeterminacy, 287–288 Einstein and, 290–291 proton action and, 262 quantum genesis hypothesis and, 365 Quantum leap, 288 Quantum mechanics, 200, 257 string theory and, 330, 331 Quantum numbers, 31 Quantum physics, 178, 183, 186, 200, 286–299, 367 four fundamental forces in, 293–294, 295 standard model theories for, 292–299 symmetry and, 307–309 Quantum principle, 286–287 Quantum tunneling, 262–263 Quantum vacuum, 351–352 Quarks, 293, 294–295, 350 antiquarks and, 344 big bang and, 338, 339, 340 inflationary universe hypothesis and, 360 symmetry and, 312 Quasars, 174, 390 Radioactive decay, 293 Radioactivity, 248, 249–254, 255, 256 Radio astronomy, 213–214 Radiometric age-dating, 250–252 age of the solar system by, 266 Radio telescopes, 213, 347 SETI projects and, 371–372, 374, 376 Radium, 249, 250 Red giant stars, 269, 270 Redshift-distance relation of galaxies, 207–208, 209–211, 214 Reflecting telescope, 110–112, 154, 168 Refracting telescope, 152–157, 158 Relativistic quantum field theories, 297, 337 Relativistic time dilation, 192–193 Relativity (term), 193, 285–286 See also General theory of relativity; Special theory of relativity Renaissance, 47–59 Retrograde motion of planets, 23, 24, 25 Eudoxus and, 26–27 Roman Catholic Church Copernicus’s heliocentric theory and, 67 persecution of Galileo by, 11, 84, 96–100 Rubbia, Carlo, 322–323, 324–326 Russell, Henry Norris, 168, 259–260, 261 Rutherford, Ernest, 249–250, 256, 282 Salam, Abdus, 313, 314, 316, 317, 321, 326 Sandage, Allan, 174, 351 Saturn, 23, 43, 73, 117 mean distance from the sun (est.), 124 Saturn (cont.) rings of, 81 satellites of, 156 triangulation of, 136 Scientific age-dating, 221–229 Second law of thermodynamics, 247 SETI (search for extraterrestrial intelligence), 371–372, 374 Shapley, Harlow, 168–172, 208 Silver, 277, 279 Slipher, Vesto, 206–208, 210 Smith, William, 221, 222 Sodium, 165 Solar fusion, 263–265 Solar system age of, 266 comets as products of, 69n Copernicus’s model of, 65–66, 123, 124 Galileo and, 88–90, 123, 132 Kepler and, 75, 78–82, 123 location of Milky Way in, 168–175 mean distances of planets from the sun in (est.), 124 measuring proportions of, 123–126 Newton’s laws and, 117, 120–121, 123 origin of (computer model), 167n space probes from other stars in, 374–375, 376 Tycho and, 73, 123 Solar telescopes, 168 Spacecraft, 81, 104, 252, 370–371 Space probes in interstellar flight, 374–375, 376 Spacetime continuum, 31, 32 four-dimensional, 197, 198, 199–202 Spacetime geometry, 364–365 Special theory of relativity, 11, 178, 183, 185, 191–194, 197, 200 Lorentz contraction as key element in, 181, 191 quantum physics and, 297 symmetry and, 307 Spectroscopy, 144, 162–166 Bohr and, 257–259 Spiral nebulae, 144, 162, 165–166 Milky Way galaxy and, 171, 172, 175 redshifts of, 207–208, 209–210 Star clusters, 259, 263, 270, 271 age of, 269 globular, 170–171 Stars, 19–25 aberration of starlight, 139 double, 168 exploding, 167 Galileo’s observation of, 89, 90 lifetime of, 265–271, 280 quantum tunneling and, 262–263 spectral classes of, 258–260 tree of, 260, 267–270 Hertzsprung-Russell diagram for, 259–260 triangulation of, 127, 136–141 variable, 168–169, 170, 172, 173, 208, 274 Stellar energy, 256–266, 280 Stellar nuclear fusion, 263–271 as source of elements, 271–272, 275–280 String theory, 328–332, 347n, 391 Strong nuclear force, 292, 294, 295, 296, 297, 346 quantum chromodynamics and, 311, 312 symmetry of, 309 Sun, 65 age of nuclear fusion and, 248, 252–254 thermodynamics and, 246–248 ancient astronomy and, 22 composition of, 164–165, 265–266 lifetime of, 265–266, 270–271 See also Heliocentric universe Superconducting super collider, 326, 340 Supernovae, 61, 70–71, 167, 268, 270, 276, 327, 391–392 Superstring concept, 332–333 Supersymmetry, 312, 328–334 early-universe theory and, 345, 348 inflationary universe theory and, 359 Symmetry, 320–334, 348 asymmetries and, 313 GUTs and, 327–328, 332–334 mystery of the universe and, 385–386 string theory and, 328–332 supersymmetry and, 328–334 unified electroweak theory and, 313–314, 317–318, 321–326 Telescopes Galileo’s improvement on, 84, 86–88, 95–96 Herschel and, 152–157, 158 Newton and, 110–112 radiotelescopes, 213, 347 reflecting, 110–112, 154, 168 refracting, 152–157, 158 zenith, 137 Teller, Edward, 212, 263 Thermodynamics, 246–248, 254 symmetry of law of, 307 Thermonuclear fusion, 261–262 Tides, Newton’s laws and, 117 Time cyclical, 217–220 imaginary, 363, 364 linear, 220–225 lookback time, 174 particle physics-cosmology link and, 337–348 special theory of relativity and, 191, 192–193 timekeeping by the stars, 21–22 Tin, 275, 279 Toscanelli, Paolo dal Pozzo, 49, 55, 58, 59 Transit of the planets, 130–136 Translational symmetries, 304 Tree of life, 238–239 Triangulation, see Parallax Tryon, Edward, 353–355, 361 Tycho (Tycho Brahe), 61, 69, 70–73, 74, 77, 97, 124, 167 Kepler and, 77–79 solar system and, 73, 123 Unified electroweak theory, 313–314, 317–318, 321–326, 345 big bang and, 336–337 Unified field theory, 186, 299, 308–309, 332–333 experimental versions of, 346–348 Uniformitarianism, 225–229, 233 “Up” quarks, 296, 312 Uranium, 249, 250 Uranus, 155–156 Ussher, James, 220, 224 Vacuum genesis of the universe, 351–356, 361, 362, 393–394 Variable stars, 168–169, 170, 172, 173, 208, 274 Venus, 68 angular diameter of, 154 death of the sun and, 270 Galileo’s observation of, 88–89 mean distance from the sun (est.), 124 parallax of, 130–131 spacecraft mission to, 370–371 transit of, 131, 132, 133, 135 Vinci, Leonardo da, 59, 67n, 381 Virtual particles, 351–352, 353 Weak nuclear force, 293, 294, 295, 296, 298 electromagnetism and, 315, 316–318, 326, 337, 345 quantum chromodynamics and, 312, 313 Weinberg, Steven, 313–314, 317–318, 321, 326, 331–332, 333, 334, 336 Wheeler, John Archibald, 346, 364, 365 White dwarf stars, 267, 268, 269 Wigner, Eugene, 273, 307, 308 Wilkinson, David, 391 Wilson, Robert, 213, 320, 322 WMAP, 391 W particles, 317, 318, 321–322, 326, 337, 345, 352–353, 356 Wren, Christopher, 112, 113 Wright, Thomas, 145–146, 147 X rays, 248, 293, 297 Yang, Chen Ning, 302, 309–310, 311, 312–313 Yang-Mills gauge field theory, 309–313 string theory and, 330 Zenith telescope, 137 Z particles, 317, 318, 321–322, 326, 337, 345, 352–353, 356 About the Author TIMOTHY FERRIS, called “perhaps the best popular-science writer in the English language today” by the Christian Science Monitor and “the best science writer of his generation” by the Washington Post, is the bestselling author of Seeing in the Dark, The Whole Shebang, and The Red Limit, among other books.

The Art of Scalability: Scalable Web Architecture, Processes, and Organizations for the Modern Enterprise by Martin L. Abbott, Michael T. Fisher

always be closing, anti-pattern, barriers to entry, Bernie Madoff, business climate, business continuity plan, business intelligence, business process, call centre, cloud computing, combinatorial explosion, commoditize, Computer Numeric Control, conceptual framework, database schema, discounted cash flows,, fault tolerance, finite state, friendly fire, hiring and firing, Infrastructure as a Service, inventory management, new economy, packet switching, performance metric, platform as a service, Ponzi scheme, RFC: Request For Comment, risk tolerance, Rubik’s Cube, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, SETI@home, shareholder value, Silicon Valley, six sigma, software as a service, the scientific method, transaction costs, Vilfredo Pareto, web application, Y2K

Private networks include dedicated farms of small commodity servers used with grid middleware to allow for parallel computing. Other private networks include corporate offices where personal computers are used after hours for parallel computing. One of the most well known public network examples of grid computing is the SETI@home project. This project uses computers connected to the Internet in the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI). Individuals can participate by running a program on their personal computers that downloads and analyzes radio telescope data. It then sends the results back to the central system that aggregates completed jobs. This type of public network grid computing is known as CPU scavenging. As we mentioned previously, there are several middleware providers for building grid systems.

Grid computing implementations vary, and some are wholly dedicated to grid computing all day, whereas others are utilized as other types of computers during the day and connected to the grid at night when no one is using them. For grids that are utilizing surplus capacity, this approach is known as CPU scavenging. One of the most well-known grid scavenging programs has been SETI@home that utilizes unused CPU cycles on volunteers’ computers in a search for extraterrestrial intelligence in radio telescope data. There are obviously drawbacks of utilizing spare capacity that include unpredictability of the number of hosts and the speed or capacity of each host. When dealing with large corporate computer networks or standardized systems that are idle during the evening, these drawbacks are minimized. Cost A fourth benefit that can come from grid computing is in terms of cost.

Servers, optimal number for data centers, 491–492 Service behavior during failure, stress testing, 265 Service providers, clouds, 435–436 Services, splitting work responsibility by, 331–332 Services affecting performance, identifying for stress testing, 265 Session environments, saving, 403–404 Session storage avoiding, 403–404, 405 centralizing, 404, 405 decentralizing, 404, 405 Set method, 382 SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence), 429 SETI@home project, 429 Sharding, definition, 311 Shards, definition, 311 Shared infrastructure, grid benefit, 457 Shareholder test, 24 Shareholder value, dilution by data cost, 415 Shareholder values, leadership alignment with, 74–75 ShareThis, case studies, 507–508 Slavery, abolition of, 80 Slivers, definition, 311 SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, Timely) criteria, postmortem review, 145 goals, 80–81, 83 guidelines, architectural principles, 198 Software as a Service (SaaS), 427–428 Software engineers, roles and responsibilities, 33–34 Specific architectural principles, 198 Speed cloud computing benefit, 441–442 tradeoffs in business, 287 Splitting databases by customer, 365–367.

pages: 404 words: 134,430

Why People Believe Weird Things: Pseudoscience, Superstition, and Other Confusions of Our Time by Michael Shermer


Albert Einstein, Alfred Russel Wallace, anesthesia awareness, anthropic principle, butterfly effect, cognitive dissonance, complexity theory, conceptual framework, correlation does not imply causation, cosmological principle, discovery of DNA, false memory syndrome, Gary Taubes, invention of the wheel, Isaac Newton, laissez-faire capitalism, life extension, moral panic, Murray Gell-Mann, out of africa, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, Silicon Valley, Stephen Hawking, Steven Pinker, The Bell Curve by Richard Herrnstein and Charles Murray, the scientific method, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions

Pseudoscience and Pseudohistory Okay, so ghosts are bunk, along with most claims that fall under the heading of pseudoscience, by which I mean claims presented so that they appear scientific even though they lack supporting evidence and plausibility. The search for extraterrestrial life is not pseudoscience because it is plausible, even though the evidence for it thus far is nonexistent (the SETI—Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence—program looks for extraterrestrial radio signals). Alien abduction claims, however, are pseudoscience. Not only is physical evidence lacking but it is highly implausible that aliens are beaming thousands of people into spaceships hovering above the Earth without anyone detecting the spacecrafts or reporting the people missing. But what about historical events? How do we know they happened since they do not repeat, either in nature or in the laboratory?

This was most clearly expressed in the careers of paleontologist Stephen Jay Gould and astronomer Carl Sagan (Shermer, in press). They were nearly off the scale in both conscientiousness and openness to experience, giving them that balance between being open-minded enough to accept the occasional extraordinary claim that turns out to be right, but not so open that one blindly accepts every crazy claim that anyone makes. Sagan, for example, was open to the search for extraterrestrial intelligence which, at the time, was considered a moderately heretical idea; but he was too conscientious to accept the even more controversial claim that UFOs and aliens have actually landed on earth (Shermer 2001). The psychologist David Wulff (2000), in a general survey of the literature on the psychology of mystical experiences (a subset of weird things), concluded that there were some consistent personality differences: Persons who tend to score high on mysticism scales tend also to score high on such variables as complexity, openness to new experience, breadth of interests, innovation, tolerance of ambiguity, and creative personality.

pages: 696 words: 143,736

The Age of Spiritual Machines: When Computers Exceed Human Intelligence by Ray Kurzweil


Ada Lovelace, Alan Turing: On Computable Numbers, with an Application to the Entscheidungsproblem, Albert Einstein, Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic, Buckminster Fuller, call centre, cellular automata, combinatorial explosion, complexity theory, computer age, computer vision, cosmological constant, cosmological principle, Danny Hillis, double helix, Douglas Hofstadter, Everything should be made as simple as possible, first square of the chessboard / second half of the chessboard, fudge factor, George Gilder, Gödel, Escher, Bach, I think there is a world market for maybe five computers, information retrieval, invention of movable type, Isaac Newton, iterative process, Jacquard loom, Jacquard loom, John Markoff, John von Neumann, Lao Tzu, Law of Accelerating Returns, mandelbrot fractal, Marshall McLuhan, Menlo Park, natural language processing, Norbert Wiener, optical character recognition, ought to be enough for anybody, pattern recognition, phenotype, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Ray Kurzweil, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, Robert Metcalfe, Schrödinger's Cat, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, self-driving car, Silicon Valley, speech recognition, Steven Pinker, Stewart Brand, stochastic process, technological singularity, Ted Kaczynski, telepresence, the medium is the message, There's no reason for any individual to have a computer in his home - Ken Olsen, traveling salesman, Turing machine, Turing test, Whole Earth Review, Y2K

Eggermont, “Firing Rate and Firing Synchrony Distinguish Dynamic from Steady State Sound,” NeuroReport 8, issue 12, 2709-2713. 26 Hugo de Garis maintains a web site on his research for ATR’s Brain Builder Group at <>. 27 For an intriguing account of this research, read Carver Mead, Analog VSLI and Neural Systems (Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley, 1989), 257-278. Synaptics is briefly highlighted in Carol Levin, “Here’s Looking at You,” PC Magazine (December 20, 1994): 31. Carver Mead’s web site also provides detailed information on this research at the “Physics of Computation-Carver Mead’s Group” at <>. 28 The SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) Institute conducts research on other signs of life in the Universe, its primary goal being the search for extraterrestrial intelligence. The institute is a nonprofit research organization, funded by government agencies, private foundations, and individuals, which in turn provides funding for several dozen projects. For more information, see the SETI Institute web site, <>. 29 The author is dictating portions of this book to his computer through the continuous speech recognition program called Voice Xpress Plus from the dictation division of Lernout & Hauspie (formerly Kurzweil Applied Intelligence).

pages: 523 words: 148,929

Physics of the Future: How Science Will Shape Human Destiny and Our Daily Lives by the Year 2100 by Michio Kaku


agricultural Revolution, AI winter, Albert Einstein, Asilomar, augmented reality, Bill Joy: nanobots, bioinformatics, blue-collar work, British Empire, Brownian motion, cloud computing, Colonization of Mars, DARPA: Urban Challenge, delayed gratification, double helix, Douglas Hofstadter,, friendly AI, Gödel, Escher, Bach, hydrogen economy, I think there is a world market for maybe five computers, industrial robot, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), invention of movable type, invention of the telescope, Isaac Newton, John Markoff, John von Neumann, life extension, Louis Pasteur, Mahatma Gandhi, Mars Rover, mass immigration, megacity, Murray Gell-Mann, new economy, oil shale / tar sands, optical character recognition, pattern recognition, planetary scale, postindustrial economy, Ray Kurzweil, refrigerator car, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, Rodney Brooks, Ronald Reagan, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, Silicon Valley, Simon Singh, speech recognition, stem cell, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, telepresence, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas L Friedman, Thomas Malthus, trade route, Turing machine, uranium enrichment, Vernor Vinge, Wall-E, Walter Mischel, Whole Earth Review, X Prize

As we mentioned, the transition from Type 0 to Type I is the most dangerous one, since we still have all the savagery, fundamentalism, racism, and so on of the past. It is possible that one day, when we visit the stars, we may find evidence of Type 0 civilizations that failed to make the transition to Type I (for example, their atmospheres may be too hot, or too radioactive, to support life). SETI (SEARCH FOR EXTRATERRESTRIAL INTELLIGENCE) At the present time, the people of the world are certainly not conscious of the march toward a Type I planetary civilization. There is no collective self-awareness that this historic transition is taking place. If you take a poll, some people might be vaguely aware of the process of globalization, but beyond that there is no conscious awareness that we are headed to a specific destination.

Quantum computers Quantum dot computers Quantum theory computers and, 1.­1, 4.­1, 4.­2, 4.­3 medicine and nanotechnology and superconductors and Railroad industry Ramjet fusion propulsion system Rasputin, Grigori Rattner, Justin, 4.­1, 4.­2 Reagan, Ronald Recession of 2008, 7.­1, 7.­2, 8.­1 Reeve, Christopher Relativity, theory of Remodeling in 2100 Replicators Cave Man Principle and, 4.­1, 4.­2 creation of anything with feasibility issue gray-­goo scenario living tissue, creation of plastic 3-­D images, creation of self-­assembly (bottom-­up approach) to social impact of Resurrecting extinct life-­forms Resveratrol Richter, Ronald Robotics/­AI ASIMO robot, 2.­1, 2.­2, 2.­3 bodily enhancements brain science and Cave Man Principle and, 2.­1, 2.­2 common sense and, 2.­1, 2.­2, 2.­3 consciousness and, 2.­1, 2.­2 driverless cars emotional robots expert systems and far future (2070) friendly AI history of human job market and human-­robot merger human-robot social interaction, 2.­1, 2.­2, 2.­3 immediate recognition and medicine and, 2.­1, 2.­2, 2.­3 midcentury (2030) mind control of robots by humans modular robots, 2.­1, 4.­1 musical robots nanobots, 4.­1, 4.­2, 4.­3 near future (present to 2030) pattern recognition and, 2.­1, 2.­2, 2.­3 remote-­controlled and autonomous robots reverse engineering the brain for self-replicating robots, 2.­1, 8.­1, 8.­2 singularity and software limitations on soldier robots space travel and, 2.­1, 6.­1, 6.­2, 6.­3, 6.­4 surrogates and avatars “takeover” threat posed by robots, 2.­1, 2.­2 top-down and bottom-up approaches to, 2.­1, 2.­2 Rohrer, Heinrich Rose, Michael RP-­6 mobile robot Rubin, Gerry Rutan, Burt, 6.­1, 6.­2 Sagan, Carl, 6.­1, 8.­1, 8.­2 Scanning tunneling microscope Schentag, Jerome Schopenhauer, Arthur Schrö­dinger, Erwin Schultz, Tanja Schuster, Stephan C.­ Schwabl, Mike Schwartz, Peter Schwarzenegger, Arnold Second Life (Website) Self-­assembly Self-­awareness Self-replicating robots, 2.­1, 8.­1, 8.­2 Sen, Ayusman SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) program Severe combined immunodeficiency (SCID) Shakespeare, William Shape-­shifting technology Shaw, George Bernard Shen, Weimin Shopping in 2100, 9.­1, 9.­2 Shostak, Seth Silicon chips, limitations of, 1.­1, 1.­2, 4.­1 Silva, Alcino Simon, Herbert Simon, Julian Simonyi, Charles Sinclair, David, 3.­1, 3.­2, 3.­3 Singapore Singularity Sirtuins SixthSense project 6th Day, The (movie) Sketch for a Historical Picture of the Progress of the Human Mind (Condorcet) Slingatron Smalley, Richard, 4.­1, 4.­2, 4.­3 Smart dust Smith, Adam Smith, Gerald Social robotics Solar power Solar sail propulsion system Sonograms Sonoluminescence Space elevator SpaceShip spacecraft, 6.­1, 6.­2, 6.­3 Space solar power (SSP) Space travel, itr.­1, 6.­1 asteroid landing big bang research booster-­rocket technologies cost of Europa exploration far future (2070) genetic engineering of humans for human-­robot merger and life in space, search for, 6.­1, 8.­1 Mars landing/­colonization Martian moon landing midcentury (2030) moon landing/colonization, 6.­1, 6.­2 nanotechnology and, 6.­1, 6.­2 near future (present to 2030) planets outside the solar system, search for private initiatives robotics and, 2.­1, 6.­1, 6.­2, 6.­3, 6.­4 space elevator tourism water in space, search for, 6.­1, 6.­2 weightlessness problem See also Starships Spinal cord injury treatments Sports and games, 8.­1, 9.­1 STAIR (Stanford artificial intelligence robot), 2.­1, 2.­2 Starships antimatter rocket propulsion system nanoships nuclear rocket propulsion system ramjet fusion propulsion system solar sail propulsion system Star Trek series, itr.­1, 1.­1, 1.­2, 1.­3, 1.­4, 1.­5, 2.­1, 2.­2, 3.­1, 4.­1, 8.­1, 8.­2 Star Wars saga, 1.­1, 1.­2, 1.­3, 1.­4, 2.­1, 8.­1 Steam power Steffens, John Stem cell technology Stewart, Potter Stock, Greg, 2.­1, 3.­1, 3.­2 Stormer, Horst Stratton, Mike Sullivan, Mark Superconductors telekinesis and Surgery Surrogates Surrogates (movie), 1.­1, 2.­1, 2.­2 Sussman, Gerald Swarming behavior, 6.­1, 6.­2 Tachi, Susumu Taleyarkhan, Rusi Taylor, Doris, 3.­1, 3.­2 Taylor, Theodore Technologies as utilities Technology, four stages of Telekinesis Telepresence Telomeres of a cell Terminator movies, 1.­1, 2.­1, 2.­2, 4.­1 Terraforming of Mars Terrestrial Planet Finder Terrorism, 3.­1, 8.­1 Tesla Roadster Test tube babies Things to Come (movie) 3-­D technology Three Mile Island nuclear accident Thurow, Lester, 7.­1, 7.­2, 7.­3, 7.­4 Tidman, Derek Time Machine, The (Wells) Tissue engineering, 3.­1, 3.­2 Toffler, Alvin and Heidi Total Recall (movie) Tour, James Tourism industry Tourism in space Trains, maglev Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (movie) Transistors, 1.­1, 4.­1 Tsien, Joseph Tsiolkovsky, Konstantin Tundra, melting of Turing, Alan Twister (movie) 2001 (movie) Type 0-IV civilizations.

pages: 428 words: 121,717

Warnings by Richard A. Clarke

active measures, Albert Einstein, algorithmic trading, anti-communist, artificial general intelligence, Asilomar, Asilomar Conference on Recombinant DNA, Bernie Madoff, cognitive bias, collateralized debt obligation, complexity theory, corporate governance, cuban missile crisis, data acquisition, discovery of penicillin, double helix, Elon Musk, failed state, financial thriller, fixed income, Flash crash, forensic accounting, friendly AI, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Internet of things, James Watt: steam engine, Jeff Bezos, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, knowledge worker, Maui Hawaii, megacity, Mikhail Gorbachev, money market fund, mouse model, Nate Silver, new economy, Nicholas Carr, nuclear winter, pattern recognition, personalized medicine, phenotype, Ponzi scheme, Ray Kurzweil, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman: Challenger O-ring, risk tolerance, Ronald Reagan, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, self-driving car, Silicon Valley, smart grid, statistical model, Stephen Hawking, Stuxnet, technological singularity, The Future of Employment, the scientific method, The Signal and the Noise by Nate Silver, Tunguska event, uranium enrichment, Vernor Vinge, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, women in the workforce, Y2K

The message of Morrison’s book was that the 1908 Tunguska event was not as anomalous as we would like to think, and a strike of equal or greater magnitude could happen again. Morrison, who was born just before World War II, is an astronomer with a Ph.D. from Harvard and decades of experience leading space-exploration projects at NASA. He is also generally regarded as the person who focused the world’s attention on the threat from asteroids and is a leader in the search for extraterrestrial intelligence (SETI). In Cosmic Catastrophes, he slowly made the case for worrying about asteroid impact in the way a good prosecutor would carefully and convincingly lay out his evidence to a jury. He began off-planet. For over three centuries, humans had been looking at the moon through telescopes. What they saw was a great pockmarked expanse, a surface covered in craters. For centuries astronomers had assumed that the Moon had gone through a tumultuous period of volcanic explosions, causing the craters, before settling down to being the dead rock we now know.

., 213 Roper, William, 214 Ross, Bill, 136 Ross, Lee, 184 Royal Academy, 345 Royal Air Force, 10 Royal Navy, 9 Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute, 253 Rubenstein, Ariel, 380n Ruby, Jack, 99 Rumsfeld, Donald, 28–29 Russo, Rene, 219 Rutgers University, 261 Sagan, Carl, 273–77 Sago Mine disaster, 129–30 Salling, John Peter, 122 Samuel, Arthur, 381n San Bruno pipeline explosion of 2010, 293–94 Sandler O’Neill & Partners, 154 Sandworm, 285 Sanriku earthquake of 869, 77–81, 91, 97–98 Sarbanes-Oxley Act (SOX), 157 Sarin, 23, 230 Satisficing, 116, 117, 180–81, 319, 322, 359 Savage, Stefan, 297–98 Scacco, Gus, 149 Scanning for problems, 354–56 Scarface (movie), 99 Scenario modeling, 360, 363–64 Schapiro, Mary, 118–19 Schlesinger, Michael, 240–41 Schneider, Stephen, 241 Science (journal), 242 Science Story (show), 226 Scientific American, 278–79 Scientific method, 248–49 Scientific reticence, 79–80, 186–87, 234, 248–49, 259, 335 “Scope neglect,” 174 Sea-level rise, 238, 244–60, 360 Search for extraterrestrial intelligence (SETI), 304 Seawalls, and Fukushima nuclear disaster, 77, 85, 89–90, 92–93 Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), 100, 105–12, 114–20, 189–90 Security by obscurity, 270 Seismologist Warns, A (Ishibashi), 91–92 Selection effect, 380n Self-confidence, 184, 240, 365 Self-interest, of critics, 187–88 Sendai, Japan, 80, 81, 82 Sentinel intelligence, 3, 16, 356 “Separation of parts” policy, 270 September 11 attacks, 7–9, 230, 361–62 Seven Pillars of Wisdom: A Triumph (Lawrence), 57 Sextus Empiricus, 185 Shearson Lehman, 162 Shia Muslims, 63 Shoemaker, Gene, 306–7 Shultz, George, 280 Siberian Unified Dispatch Control Center (SUDCC), 290 Siegel, Jeremy, 157–58 Siegfried Line, 10 Sieur de Bienville, Jean-Baptiste Le Moyne, 41 Signal and the Noise, The (Silver), 15 Signal from noise, separating, 356–58 Silver, Nate, 13, 15 Silver mining, 128–29 Simon, Herbert, 180–81, 322 Simons, Daniel, 175 Singularity, the, 209 60 Minutes (TV show), 119, 162, 244 Skepticism, 151–53, 168, 185, 240, 248–49 Skynet, 205 Smith & Wesson, 99, 109 Snowden, Edward, 211 Solid rocket boosters, and Challenger disaster, 11–13 Somalia, 65 Soothsayers, 1–2 “Sophistication effect,” 187 South Africa, 42–43 Soviet Union, 25–26, 266, 267–68, 271, 273–74, 277–78 Spaceguard goal, 312–17, 319 Space Shuttle Challenger disaster, 11–13 SpaceX, 202 Spanish flu pandemic of 1918, 195, 198, 217, 221–24 Spielberg, Steven, 101 Split-strike conversion, 103–5 SSH (Sayano-Shushenskaya Hydro), 289–2917 Stalin, Joseph, 174, 213 Standard project hurricane (SPH), 52–53 “Standing start,” 266 Stanford University, 89, 184, 192, 226, 337, 338 Steam engine, 174–75 Stock trading.

pages: 261 words: 10,785

The Lights in the Tunnel by Martin Ford


Albert Einstein, Bill Joy: nanobots, Black-Scholes formula, call centre, cloud computing, collateralized debt obligation, commoditize, creative destruction, credit crunch, double helix,, factory automation, full employment, income inequality, index card, industrial robot, inventory management, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, job automation, John Markoff, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, John Maynard Keynes: technological unemployment, knowledge worker, low skilled workers, mass immigration, moral hazard, pattern recognition, prediction markets, Productivity paradox, Ray Kurzweil, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, Silicon Valley, Stephen Hawking, strong AI, superintelligent machines, technological singularity, Thomas L Friedman, Turing test, Vernor Vinge, War on Poverty

Advances in this area have the potential to provide future solutions for cancer and for diseases such as Huntington’s and Parkinson’s. Another major player in this area is the Berkeley Open Infrastructure for Network Computing (BOINC). This special software, developed at the University of California, Berkeley, Copyrighted Material – Paperback/Kindle available @ Amazon Acceleration / 43 allows individuals to donate unused computer time to a variety of scientific projects, including SETI (The Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence), climate prediction, cancer research, astrophysics, and many others. The software to participate in these programs can be downloaded from the web.* In the future, we can anticipate that grid computing will become increasingly important. In addition, it is already evolving into what computer scientists refer to as “cloud computing.” Essentially this will amount to a new architecture for leveraging the power of huge numbers of computers on an as needed basis: computational capability, together with specific applications, will be delivered as though it were a utility much like electric power.

pages: 239 words: 45,926

As the Future Catches You: How Genomics & Other Forces Are Changing Your Work, Health & Wealth by Juan Enriquez


Albert Einstein, Berlin Wall, bioinformatics, borderless world, British Empire, Buckminster Fuller, creative destruction, double helix, global village, half of the world's population has never made a phone call, Howard Rheingold, Jeff Bezos, Joseph Schumpeter, Kevin Kelly, knowledge economy, more computing power than Apollo, new economy, personalized medicine, purchasing power parity, Ray Kurzweil, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, Robert Metcalfe, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, SETI@home, Silicon Valley, spice trade, stem cell, the new new thing

Geological Survey NASA JET PROPULSION LABORATORY The International Astronomical Union ARGONNE NATIONAL LABORATORY The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation THE DAVID AND LUCILE PACKARD FOUNDATION The Paul G. Allen Foundation THE MOORE FOUNDATION The Universities Space Research Association THE PACIFIC SCIENCE CENTER The Foundation for Microbiology SUN MICROSYSTEMS Hewlett-Packard. Those who founded Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) hoped 100,000 global citizens would sign up … More than two million did. And SETI@home is now the world’s largest community computer project … With 280,000 years of processing time available … And a network that grows every week.10 AIDS researchers soon copied this model, linking more than 100,000 PCs in over eighty countries … Creating the world’s largest academic computing site … Designed to understand and attack a virus that mutates very rapidly.11 (And of course, volunteer networks can morph into business networks.

pages: 271 words: 52,814

Blockchain: Blueprint for a New Economy by Melanie Swan


23andMe, Airbnb, altcoin, Amazon Web Services, asset allocation, banking crisis, basic income, bioinformatics, bitcoin, blockchain, capital controls, cellular automata, central bank independence, clean water, cloud computing, collaborative editing, Conway's Game of Life, crowdsourcing, cryptocurrency, disintermediation, Edward Snowden,, ethereum blockchain, fault tolerance, fiat currency, financial innovation, Firefox, friendly AI, Hernando de Soto, intangible asset, Internet Archive, Internet of things, Khan Academy, Kickstarter, lifelogging, litecoin, Lyft, M-Pesa, microbiome, Network effects, new economy, peer-to-peer, peer-to-peer lending, peer-to-peer model, personalized medicine, post scarcity, prediction markets, QR code, ride hailing / ride sharing, Satoshi Nakamoto, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, SETI@home, sharing economy, Skype, smart cities, smart contracts, smart grid, software as a service, technological singularity, Turing complete, unbanked and underbanked, underbanked, web application, WikiLeaks

Blockchain 3.0: Efficiency and Coordination Applications Beyond Currency, Economics, and Markets Blockchain Science: Gridcoin, Foldingcoin As blockchain technology could revolutionize the operation of other fields, innovators are starting to envision how the concepts might apply to science. So far, the main thread is related to peer-to-peer distributed computing projects for which individual volunteers provide unused computing cycles to Internet-based distributed computing projects. Two notable projects are SETI@home (the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, which uses contributed computing cycles to help analyze radio signals from space, searching for signs of extraterrestrial intelligence), and Folding@home (a Stanford University project for which computing cycles are used to simulate protein folding, for computational drug design and other molecular dynamics problems). Per blockchain technology, remunerative coin has been set up to reward participants in both the SETI@home and Folding@home projects.

pages: 219 words: 63,495

50 Future Ideas You Really Need to Know by Richard Watson


23andMe, 3D printing, access to a mobile phone, Albert Einstein, artificial general intelligence, augmented reality, autonomous vehicles, BRICs, Buckminster Fuller, call centre, clean water, cloud computing, collaborative consumption, computer age, computer vision, crowdsourcing, dark matter, dematerialisation, digital Maoism, digital map, Elon Musk, energy security, failed state, future of work, Geoffrey West, Santa Fe Institute, germ theory of disease, happiness index / gross national happiness, hive mind, hydrogen economy, Internet of things, Jaron Lanier, life extension, Mark Shuttleworth, Marshall McLuhan, megacity, natural language processing, Network effects, new economy, oil shale / tar sands, pattern recognition, peak oil, personalized medicine, phenotype, precision agriculture, profit maximization, RAND corporation, Ray Kurzweil, RFID, Richard Florida, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, self-driving car, semantic web, Skype, smart cities, smart meter, smart transportation, statistical model, stem cell, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, Steven Pinker, Stewart Brand, strong AI, Stuxnet, supervolcano, telepresence, The Wisdom of Crowds, Thomas Malthus, Turing test, urban decay, Vernor Vinge, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, web application, women in the workforce, working-age population, young professional

Clarke novel 2003 Liftport Group is formed to develop space elevators 2011 First European Space Elevator challenge takes place 2070 Japanese scientists claim to have developed a working elevator 40 Alien intelligence Have you ever wondered what would happen if scientists discovered compelling evidence of intelligent life existing on another planet? Or how we’d respond to an intelligent civilization that decided to pay us a visit in person? Believe it or not, some sensible people at SETI—an organization dedicated to finding other forms of intelligent life out in space—have been thinking about this. The SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) Institute is a fascinating organization full of hugely intelligent and ferociously curious people. Their job is to find out whether or not there is intelligent life on other planets, which, as Arthur C. Clarke once pointed out, is one of the most fascinating and important questions that we can ask. “All civilizations become either spacefaring or extinct.” Carl Sagan, Pale Blue Dot: A Vision of the Human Future in Space, 1994.

pages: 215 words: 56,215

The Second Intelligent Species: How Humans Will Become as Irrelevant as Cockroaches by Marshall Brain


Amazon Web Services, basic income, clean water, cloud computing, computer vision, digital map,, full employment, income inequality, job automation, knowledge worker, mutually assured destruction, Occupy movement, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, self-driving car, Stephen Hawking, working poor

This is the subject of the next chapter... Chapter 10 - Why Are There No Extraterrestrials? Human beings love to imagine the arrival of extraterrestrials to our small planet. As a species we have created hundreds of books, stories and movies about extraterrestrial arrival. Every day there is a new report of a UFO somewhere in the world. And there is a very well known effort called SETI - the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence - that hopes to intercept radio signals from intelligent life on other planets. Just think of all of the popular movies that have explored the possibility of extraterrestrials. Here is a sampling of blockbuster films in this genre: 2001: A Space Odyssey The Abyss Alien, Aliens Apollo 18 Avatar Battle: Los Angeles Chicken Little Close encounters of the Third Kind Cloverfield Cocoon Contact Cowboys and Aliens District 9 E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial Godzilla The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy I An Number Four Independence Day Invasion of the Body Snatchers Lost in Space Megamind Mission to Mars Signs Species Star Wars Star Trek Stargate Super 8 Superman The Thing Transformers War of the Worlds The X Files It is clear that human beings enjoy thinking about extraterrestrials and the arrival of extraterrestrials on earth.

pages: 411 words: 80,925

What's Mine Is Yours: How Collaborative Consumption Is Changing the Way We Live by Rachel Botsman, Roo Rogers


Airbnb, barriers to entry, Bernie Madoff, bike sharing scheme, Buckminster Fuller, carbon footprint, Cass Sunstein, collaborative consumption, collaborative economy, commoditize, Community Supported Agriculture, credit crunch, crowdsourcing, dematerialisation, disintermediation,, experimental economics, George Akerlof, global village, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, information retrieval, iterative process, Kevin Kelly, Kickstarter, late fees, Mark Zuckerberg, market design, Menlo Park, Network effects, new economy, new new economy, out of africa, Parkinson's law, peer-to-peer, peer-to-peer lending, peer-to-peer rental, Ponzi scheme, pre–internet, recommendation engine, RFID, Richard Stallman, ride hailing / ride sharing, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Ronald Coase, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, SETI@home, Simon Kuznets, Skype, slashdot, smart grid, South of Market, San Francisco, Stewart Brand, The Nature of the Firm, The Spirit Level, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, The Wisdom of Crowds, Thorstein Veblen, Torches of Freedom, transaction costs, traveling salesman, ultimatum game, Victor Gruen, web of trust, women in the workforce, Zipcar

The number of images and amount of data on the Red Planet returned by spacecraft since the 1960s are now so large that scientists cannot hope to study all the material by themselves. NASA has turned the project into a game where you earn points for “being a mapmaker” or “counting impact craters.” As these projects are voluntary, they attract only participants passionate about the subject and motivated to engage with a group of people to help solve real challenges. The same principle applies to SETI@home, which stands for “Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence,” set up in 1999 by Space Sciences Laboratory at the University of California, Berkeley. In the essay “Sharing Nicely,” Yale Law School Professor Yochai Benkler pointed to the world’s largest distributed computer network to highlight the trend toward sharing and to prove the potential of a distributed network. The goal of SETI was to apply collective power to look for intelligent life outside Earth.

pages: 351 words: 96,780

Hegemony or Survival: America's Quest for Global Dominance by Noam Chomsky


anti-communist, Berlin Wall, Bretton Woods, British Empire, capital controls, cuban missile crisis, declining real wages, Doomsday Clock, facts on the ground, Fall of the Berlin Wall, invisible hand, liberation theology, long peace, market fundamentalism, Monroe Doctrine, RAND corporation, Ronald Reagan, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, Thomas L Friedman, uranium enrichment

War on Terrorism, 2001- I. Title. E902.C47 2003 327.73‘009‘0511—dc22 2003058195 First Edition 2003 Designed by Paula Russell Szafranski Printed in the United States of America 13579 10 8642 Chapter 1 Priorities and Prospects A few years ago, one of the great figures of contemporary biology, Ernst Mayr, published some reflections on the likelihood of success in the search for extraterrestrial intelligence.1 He considered the prospects very low. His reasoning had to do with the adaptive value of what we call “higher intelligence,” meaning the particular human form of intellectual organization. Mayr estimated the number of species since the origin of life at about fifty billion, only one of which “achieved the kind of intelligence needed to establish a civilization.” It did so very recently, perhaps 100,000 years ago.

pages: 376 words: 110,796

Realizing Tomorrow: The Path to Private Spaceflight by Chris Dubbs, Emeline Paat-dahlstrom, Charles D. Walker


Berlin Wall, call centre, desegregation, Donald Trump, Doomsday Book, Elon Musk, high net worth, Iridium satellite, iterative process, Jeff Bezos, Mark Shuttleworth, Mikhail Gorbachev, multiplanetary species, Norman Mailer, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, Ronald Reagan, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, Silicon Valley, Skype, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, technoutopianism, V2 rocket, X Prize, young professional

A host of luminary scientists rounded out the passenger list: Carl Sagan, NASA adviser and director of Cornell's Laboratory for Planetary Studies; German-born rocket designer and space visionary Krafft Ehricke; Marvin Minsky, the man breaking ground with artificial intelligence at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT); radio astronomer Frank Drake, director of the Arecibo Observatory, who was pioneering the search for extraterrestrial intelligence; and physicist Robert Enzmann, who had developed ideas about nuclear-powered rockets. As Asimov would later explain in one of his regular articles in The Magazine ofFantasy and Science Fiction, he had been recruited the previous spring by Richard Hoagland, "who was aflame to lead a party of idealists" to see the launch of Apollo 17. Hoagland's vision was to gather scientists, artists, astronauts, visionaries, science fiction writers-the best space minds-to watch the final Apollo moon mission, then engage in seminars to discuss man's future in space.

pages: 379 words: 109,612

Is the Internet Changing the Way You Think?: The Net's Impact on Our Minds and Future by John Brockman


A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace, Albert Einstein, AltaVista, Amazon Mechanical Turk, Asperger Syndrome, availability heuristic, Benoit Mandelbrot, biofilm, Black Swan, British Empire, conceptual framework, corporate governance, Danny Hillis, Douglas Engelbart, Douglas Engelbart, Emanuel Derman, epigenetics, Flynn Effect, Frank Gehry, Google Earth, hive mind, Howard Rheingold, index card, information retrieval, Internet Archive, invention of writing, Jane Jacobs, Jaron Lanier, John Markoff, Kevin Kelly, lifelogging, lone genius, loss aversion, mandelbrot fractal, Marc Andreessen, Marshall McLuhan, Menlo Park, meta analysis, meta-analysis, New Journalism, Nicholas Carr, out of africa, Paul Samuelson, peer-to-peer, Ponzi scheme, pre–internet, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, Rodney Brooks, Ronald Reagan, Schrödinger's Cat, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, SETI@home, Silicon Valley, Skype, slashdot, smart grid, social graph, social software, social web, Stephen Hawking, Steve Wozniak, Steven Pinker, Stewart Brand, Ted Nelson, telepresence, the medium is the message, the scientific method, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, theory of mind, trade route, upwardly mobile, Vernor Vinge, Whole Earth Catalog, X Prize

And we’ve already been able to solve those more tractable equations well enough to guide several revolutions in the material foundations of microelectronics, laser technology, and magnetic imaging. But all these computational adventures, while impressive, are clearly warm-up exercises. To make a definitive leap into artificial reality, we’ll need both more ingenuity and more computational power. Fortunately, both could be at hand. The SETI@home project has enabled people around the world to donate their idle computer time to sift radio waves from space, advancing the search for extraterrestrial intelligence. In connection with the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) project, CERN—where, earlier, the World Wide Web was born—is pioneering the GRID computer project, a sort of Internet on steroids that will allow many thousands of remote computers and their users to share data and allocate tasks dynamically, functioning in essence as one giant brain. Only thus can we cope—barely!—with the gush of information that collisions at the LHC will generate.

pages: 502 words: 107,657

Predictive Analytics: The Power to Predict Who Will Click, Buy, Lie, or Die by Eric Siegel


Albert Einstein, algorithmic trading, Amazon Mechanical Turk, Apple's 1984 Super Bowl advert, backtesting, Black Swan, book scanning, bounce rate, business intelligence, business process, call centre, commoditize, computer age, conceptual framework, correlation does not imply causation, crowdsourcing, dark matter, data is the new oil,, Erik Brynjolfsson, Everything should be made as simple as possible, experimental subject, Google Glasses, happiness index / gross national happiness, job satisfaction, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, lifelogging, Machine translation of "The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak." to Russian and back, mass immigration, Moneyball by Michael Lewis explains big data, Nate Silver, natural language processing, Netflix Prize, Network effects, Norbert Wiener, personalized medicine, placebo effect, prediction markets, Ray Kurzweil, recommendation engine, risk-adjusted returns, Ronald Coase, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, self-driving car, sentiment analysis, software as a service, speech recognition, statistical model, Steven Levy, text mining, the scientific method, The Signal and the Noise by Nate Silver, The Wisdom of Crowds, Thomas Bayes, Turing test, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, X Prize, Yogi Berra, zero-sum game

By leveraging blogs in a new way, you could say Eric and Karrie’s work makes hay of oversharing. People blog whatever the heck suits their fancy. If someone blogs, “I feel awesome today! Just wanted to share,” you might assume it interests only the blogger’s friends and family, and there’s no value for the rest of the world. Such remarks just get thrown out there to an imaginary audience, like search for extraterrestrial intelligence (SETI) transmissions, scattered to oblivion in an attempt to reach nonhuman yet attentive ears, somewhere, someday, maybe, if they exist. Bloggers shout, unheard, into the void. As with most applications of predictive analytics (PA), Eric and Karrie’s system repurposes data. Whatever the intended purpose and target audience of the bloggers, they are delivering a wellspring of raw material that lies dormant, waiting to be reinterpreted by listening to it in a new way that uncovers new meaning and insight.

pages: 330 words: 91,805

Peers Inc: How People and Platforms Are Inventing the Collaborative Economy and Reinventing Capitalism by Robin Chase


3D printing, Airbnb, Amazon Web Services, Andy Kessler, banking crisis, barriers to entry, basic income, Benevolent Dictator For Life (BDFL), bitcoin, blockchain, Burning Man, business climate, call centre, car-free, cloud computing, collaborative consumption, collaborative economy, collective bargaining, commoditize, congestion charging, creative destruction, crowdsourcing, cryptocurrency, decarbonisation, don't be evil, Elon Musk,, ethereum blockchain, Ferguson, Missouri, Firefox, frictionless, Gini coefficient, hive mind, income inequality, index fund, informal economy, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Internet of things, Jane Jacobs, Jeff Bezos, jimmy wales, job satisfaction, Kickstarter, Lean Startup, Lyft, means of production, megacity, Minecraft, minimum viable product, Network effects, new economy, Oculus Rift, openstreetmap, optical character recognition, pattern recognition, peer-to-peer, peer-to-peer lending, peer-to-peer model, Richard Stallman, ride hailing / ride sharing, Ronald Coase, Ronald Reagan, Satoshi Nakamoto, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, self-driving car, shareholder value, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, six sigma, Skype, smart cities, smart grid, Snapchat, sovereign wealth fund, Steve Crocker, Steve Jobs, Steven Levy, TaskRabbit, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, The Future of Employment, The Nature of the Firm, transaction costs, Turing test, turn-by-turn navigation, Uber and Lyft, Zipcar

It emerged out of who I am”—a tenacious, thoughtful, hardworking, enterprising young woman that employers overlooked. If Peers Inc rewards the exceptional, what about the mediocre? Is there room for them? Merit is sometimes based wholly on impersonal attributes, such as the precise location of your 3-D printer (for local manufacturing) or home Wi-Fi router (so someone can connect), how much processing capability you have on your server (for use by an organization such as SETI in its search for extraterrestrial intelligence), or whether you are available to work at an awkward time (for taxi, delivery, or emergency service). Indeed, there is a whole range of Peers Inc collaborations where location or timing is the attribute of greatest importance, and still others where no money is transacted or where the “peer” is a device. The autonomy that a Peers Inc environment offers comes with many benefits.

pages: 375 words: 106,536

Lost at Sea by Jon Ronson

Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, Columbine, computer age, credit crunch, Douglas Hofstadter, Downton Abbey, East Village, Etonian, false memory syndrome, Gödel, Escher, Bach, income inequality, Internet Archive, Jeff Bezos, late fees, Louis Pasteur, obamacare, Peter Thiel, Saturday Night Live, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, Skype, telemarketer

We’d be doing our materialize dance. But let’s not do that while Jon’s here. He’ll think I’m weird.” They carry on looking at the night sky. “No,” Robbie says, finally, “I don’t think there’s anything up there tonight.” First Contact If we are ever contacted by aliens, the man I’m having lunch with will be one of the first humans to know. His name is Paul Davies and he’s chair of the SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) Post-Detection Science and Technology Task-group. They’re a group of distinguished scientists and will be, come the big day, the planet’s alien welcome committee. His is an awesome responsibility, and one he doesn’t take lightly. “Imagine a civilization that’s way in advance of us wants to communicate with us and assist us in our development,” Paul says. He pushes his mackerel across his plate.

pages: 302 words: 82,233

Beautiful security by Andy Oram, John Viega


Albert Einstein, Amazon Web Services, business intelligence, business process, call centre, cloud computing, corporate governance, credit crunch, crowdsourcing, defense in depth, Donald Davies,, fault tolerance, Firefox, loose coupling, Marc Andreessen, market design, Monroe Doctrine, new economy, Nicholas Carr, Nick Leeson, Norbert Wiener, optical character recognition, packet switching, peer-to-peer, performance metric, pirate software, Robert Bork, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, security theater, SETI@home, Silicon Valley, Skype, software as a service, statistical model, Steven Levy, The Wisdom of Crowds, Upton Sinclair, web application, web of trust, x509 certificate, zero day, Zimmermann PGP

OPEN SOURCE HONEYCLIENT: PROACTIVE DETECTION OF CLIENT-SIDE EXPLOITS 145 The Future of Honeyclients There are over 240 million websites on the Internet today (and of course the number keeps growing by leaps and bounds), and there’s not one group that can cover all of those websites with honeyclient technology. To better fight these attackers that damage our machines and steal our data, we need to band together and learn from each other. We should envision a future where honeyclients take a SETI@home (“Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence at home”) approach, in which each honeyclient is able to process its own data and send it back to a central database repository that can more effectively correlate the data. This can help us identify targeted domains: for example, if company A’s employees are being targeted by company B in order to compromise someone’s computer and steal corporate documents. For now, we’re supporting mainly web browsers, but I’m interested in seeing a peer-to-peer (P2P) honeyclient.

pages: 205 words: 18,208

The Transparent Society: Will Technology Force Us to Choose Between Privacy and Freedom? by David Brin


affirmative action, airport security, Ayatollah Khomeini, clean water, cognitive dissonance, corporate governance, data acquisition, death of newspapers, Extropian, Howard Rheingold, illegal immigration, informal economy, information asymmetry, Iridium satellite, Jaron Lanier, John Markoff, John von Neumann, Kevin Kelly, means of production, mutually assured destruction, offshore financial centre, open economy, packet switching, pattern recognition, pirate software, placebo effect, Plutocrats, plutocrats, prediction markets, Ralph Nader, RAND corporation, Robert Bork, Saturday Night Live, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, Steve Jobs, Steven Levy, Stewart Brand, telepresence, trade route, Vannevar Bush, Vernor Vinge, Whole Earth Catalog, Whole Earth Review, Yogi Berra, zero-sum game, Zimmermann PGP

Revel, Oliver “Buck,” on terrorism Rheingold, Howard Right to Privacy Risk analysis of perception of Robots, miniature Rome, ancient Ronfeldt, David Roosevelt, Franklin Rotenberg, Marc Rothkopf, David Royalties, defined RSA encryption cracking of RSA Public Key Safire, William Sagan, Dorian Schaeffer, Rebecca Schneier, Bruce Schwartz, Peter Scientology, Church of Secrecy allure of importance of temporary value of Self-deception Self-monitored society, possibilities for Self-righteousness SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) Seuss, Dr. Shakespeare Shareware Shimomura, Tsutomu Shockwave Rider Signatures Simulated experience Singapore freedom vs. order in video surveillance in Singleton, Solveig Smart highways SMART satellite tracking Smith, Janna Malamud Smith, Robert Ellis Social Security number characteristics of as name threat to privacy of use as password usefulness of Society error correction in tenets of Software, piracy of Solitude, defined Soros, George Soviet Union, repression in Spammers Speaking tours Spinoza, Baruch Stack, Jack Stalin, Josef Stalking e-mail Star Trek II: Wrath of Khan Star Trek III: The Search for Spock Steganography Stephenson, Neal Sterling, Bruce Steve Jackson Games Stevens, John Paul Stock, Gregory Stock market, accountability of Stock market expert swindle Stoll, Clifford Subjective, triumph of the Subornation Supermarket discount cards Surveillance acceptance of audio of authority current uses of defense against elites engendered by ethical issues regarding future uses of mutually assured obsession with overload of radio tracking video views on workplace Surveillance dust Sweden, privacy issues in Swift, Jonathan Swire, Peter P.

pages: 436 words: 140,256

The Rise and Fall of the Third Chimpanzee by Jared Diamond


agricultural Revolution, assortative mating, Atahualpa, Columbian Exchange, correlation coefficient, double helix, Drosophila, European colonialism, invention of gunpowder, invention of the wheel, invention of writing, out of africa, phenotype, Scientific racism, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, the scientific method, trade route, V2 rocket

There is no direct way to prove whether creatures capable of language, art, agriculture, or drug abuse exist elsewhere in the universe, because from Earth we could not detect the existence of those traits on planets of other stars. However, we might be able to detect high technology elsewhere in the universe if it included our own capacity to send out space probes and interstellar electromagnetic signals. In Chapter Twelve I shall examine the on-going search for extraterrestrial intelligent life. I shall argue that evidence from a quite different field—studies of woodpecker evolution on Earth—instructs us about the inevitability of evolving intelligent life, and hence about our uniqueness, not only on Earth but also in the accessible universe. EIGHT BRIDGES TO HUMAN LANGUAGE The gulf between animal vocal communication and human speech has traditionally been viewed as unbridgeable.

pages: 538 words: 147,612

All the Money in the World by Peter W. Bernstein


Albert Einstein, anti-communist, Berlin Wall, Bill Gates: Altair 8800, call centre, corporate governance, corporate raider, creative destruction, currency peg, David Brooks, Donald Trump, estate planning, family office, financial innovation, George Gilder, high net worth, invisible hand, Irwin Jacobs: Qualcomm, Jeff Bezos, job automation, job-hopping, John Markoff, Long Term Capital Management, Marc Andreessen, Martin Wolf, Maui Hawaii, means of production, mega-rich, Menlo Park, Mikhail Gorbachev, new economy, Norman Mailer, PageRank, Peter Singer: altruism, pez dispenser, popular electronics, Renaissance Technologies, Rod Stewart played at Stephen Schwarzman birthday party, Ronald Reagan, Sand Hill Road, school vouchers, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, shareholder value, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, stem cell, Stephen Hawking, Steve Ballmer, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, the new new thing, Thorstein Veblen, too big to fail, traveling salesman, urban planning, wealth creators, William Shockley: the traitorous eight, women in the workforce

Researchers will keep close track of the number of new organisms identified, and their discoveries will be cited in scientific journals. The couple is also a major supporter of Conservation International, a group that seeks to preserve the earth’s “hot spots.” These areas make up only 1.4 percent of land surface but contain some 60 percent of terrestrial plant and animal species. Gordon Moore, Paul Allen, William Hewlett, David Packard65: Congress ridiculed NASA’s controversial Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence program and cut its funding in the mid-1990s. At that point, SETI managers ran to the Forbes 400 list to find potential funders. Moore, Allen, Hewlett, and Packard were among those willing to fund the search for alien life within our galaxy. They put up a cumulative $20 million to extend the program, but the search is proving painstakingly slow. Steven Spielberg66: Filmmaker Spielberg donated $70 million, partly profits from his 1993 Oscar-winning movie, Schindler’s List (the true story of Oskar Schindler, who saved more than one thousand Jews from concentration camps during the Holocaust), to fund his Righteous Persons Foundation (RPF), which supports Jewish life and tolerance issues.

pages: 481 words: 125,946

What to Think About Machines That Think: Today's Leading Thinkers on the Age of Machine Intelligence by John Brockman


3D printing, agricultural Revolution, AI winter, Alan Turing: On Computable Numbers, with an Application to the Entscheidungsproblem, algorithmic trading, artificial general intelligence, augmented reality, autonomous vehicles, basic income, bitcoin, blockchain, clean water, cognitive dissonance, Colonization of Mars, complexity theory, computer age, computer vision, constrained optimization, corporate personhood, cosmological principle, cryptocurrency, cuban missile crisis, Danny Hillis, dark matter, discrete time, Douglas Engelbart, Elon Musk, Emanuel Derman, endowment effect, epigenetics, Ernest Rutherford, experimental economics, Flash crash, friendly AI, functional fixedness, Google Glasses, hive mind, income inequality, information trail, Internet of things, invention of writing, iterative process, Jaron Lanier, job automation, John Markoff, John von Neumann, Kevin Kelly, knowledge worker, loose coupling, microbiome, Moneyball by Michael Lewis explains big data, natural language processing, Network effects, Norbert Wiener, pattern recognition, Peter Singer: altruism, phenotype, planetary scale, Ray Kurzweil, recommendation engine, Republic of Letters, RFID, Richard Thaler, Rory Sutherland, Satyajit Das, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, self-driving car, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, Skype, smart contracts, speech recognition, statistical model, stem cell, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, Steven Pinker, Stewart Brand, strong AI, Stuxnet, superintelligent machines, supervolcano, the scientific method, The Wisdom of Crowds, theory of mind, Thorstein Veblen, too big to fail, Turing machine, Turing test, Von Neumann architecture, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, Y2K

I believe that we have almost no freedom to make those decisions. Human curiosity has proved time and again to be an unstoppable drive, and these two endeavors—the development of AI and the search for ET—will undoubtedly continue at full speed. Which one will get to its target first? To even attempt to address this question, we have to note that there’s one important difference between the search for extraterrestrial intelligent civilizations and the development of artificial intelligence. Progress toward the “Singularity” (AI matching or surpassing humans) will almost certainly take place, since the development of advanced AI has the promise of producing enormous profits. On the other hand, the search for life requires funding at a level that can usually be provided only by large national space agencies, with no immediate prospects for profits in sight.

pages: 494 words: 142,285

The Future of Ideas: The Fate of the Commons in a Connected World by Lawrence Lessig


AltaVista, Andy Kessler, barriers to entry, business process, Cass Sunstein, commoditize, computer age, creative destruction, dark matter, disintermediation, Donald Davies, Erik Brynjolfsson, George Gilder, Hacker Ethic, Hedy Lamarr / George Antheil, Howard Rheingold, Hush-A-Phone, HyperCard, hypertext link, Innovator's Dilemma, invention of hypertext, inventory management, invisible hand, Jean Tirole, Jeff Bezos, Joseph Schumpeter, Kenneth Arrow, Larry Wall, Leonard Kleinrock, linked data, Marc Andreessen, Menlo Park, Network effects, new economy, packet switching, peer-to-peer, peer-to-peer model, price mechanism, profit maximization, RAND corporation, rent control, rent-seeking, RFC: Request For Comment, Richard Stallman, Richard Thaler, Robert Bork, Ronald Coase, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, SETI@home, Silicon Valley, smart grid, software patent, spectrum auction, Steve Crocker, Steven Levy, Stewart Brand, Ted Nelson, Telecommunications Act of 1996, The Chicago School, transaction costs, zero-sum game

The character of what can happen is changing, and the potential—if left free to develop—is extraordinary. Napster is the most famous peer-to-peer technology, even though it is not exactly peer-to-peer. (There is a central server that keeps a database of who has what; the music itself is kept on other people's machines.) But Napster is the horse and buggy in this transportation system. It is only the beginning. Consider the SETI project. SETI—the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence—scans the radio waves for evidence of intelligent life somewhere else in the universe. It does this by recording the noise of the radio spectrum that we receive on planet Earth. This noise is then analyzed by computers, looking for telltale signs of something unexplained.28 Who cares about wandering X-Files types?, you might ask. Is this really it? But the point is the potential that SETI evinces.

pages: 478 words: 142,608

The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins


Albert Einstein, anthropic principle, Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic, Ayatollah Khomeini, Brownian motion, cosmological principle, David Attenborough, Desert Island Discs, double helix,, experimental subject, Fellow of the Royal Society, gravity well, invisible hand, John von Neumann, luminiferous ether, Menlo Park, meta analysis, meta-analysis, Murray Gell-Mann, Necker cube, Peter Singer: altruism, phenotype, placebo effect, planetary scale, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, Schrödinger's Cat, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, stem cell, Stephen Hawking, Steven Pinker, the scientific method, theory of mind, Thorstein Veblen, trickle-down economics, unbiased observer

We don’t immediately scent extreme improbability. We can have an interesting argument based on incomplete evidence, and we can write down the kind of evidence that would decrease our uncertainty. We’d be outraged if our government invested in expensive telescopes for the sole purpose of searching for orbiting teapots. But we can appreciate the case for spending money on SETI, the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, using radio telescopes to scan the skies in the hope of picking up signals from intelligent aliens. I praised Carl Sagan for disavowing gut feelings about alien life. But one can (and Sagan did) make a sober assessment of what we would need to know in order to estimate the probability. This might start from nothing more than a listing of our points of ignorance, as in the famous Drake Equation which, in Paul Davies’s phrase, collects probabilities.

pages: 434 words: 135,226

The Music of the Primes by Marcus Du Sautoy


Ada Lovelace, Andrew Wiles, Arthur Eddington, Augustin-Louis Cauchy, computer age, Dava Sobel, Dmitri Mendeleev, Eratosthenes, Erdős number, four colour theorem, Georg Cantor, German hyperinflation, global village, Henri Poincaré, Isaac Newton, Jacquard loom, Jacquard loom, music of the spheres, New Journalism, Paul Erdős, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, Rubik’s Cube, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, Simon Singh, Solar eclipse in 1919, Stephen Hawking, Turing machine, William of Occam, Wolfskehl Prize, Y2K

Mathematics, Connes declares, ‘is unquestionably the only universal language’. One can imagine a different chemistry or biology on the other side of the universe, but prime numbers will remain prime whichever galaxy you are counting in. In Carl Sagan’s classic novel Contact, aliens use prime numbers to contact life on earth. Ellie Arroway, the book’s heroine, has been working at SETI, the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, listening to the crackle of the cosmos. One night, as the radio telescopes are turned towards Vega, they suddenly pick up strange pulses through the background noise. It takes Ellie no time to recognise the drumbeat in this radio signal. Two pulses are followed by a pause, then three pulses, five, seven, eleven, and so on through all the prime numbers up to 907. Then it starts all over again.

pages: 437 words: 113,173

Age of Discovery: Navigating the Risks and Rewards of Our New Renaissance by Ian Goldin, Chris Kutarna


2013 Report for America's Infrastructure - American Society of Civil Engineers - 19 March 2013, 3D printing, Airbnb, Albert Einstein, AltaVista, Asian financial crisis, asset-backed security, autonomous vehicles, banking crisis, barriers to entry, battle of ideas, Berlin Wall, bioinformatics, bitcoin, Bonfire of the Vanities, clean water, collective bargaining, Colonization of Mars, Credit Default Swap, crowdsourcing, cryptocurrency, Dava Sobel, demographic dividend, Deng Xiaoping, Doha Development Round, double helix, Edward Snowden, Elon Musk,, epigenetics, experimental economics, failed state, Fall of the Berlin Wall, financial innovation, full employment, Galaxy Zoo, global supply chain, Hyperloop, immigration reform, income inequality, indoor plumbing, industrial cluster, industrial robot, information retrieval, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), intermodal, Internet of things, invention of the printing press, Isaac Newton, Islamic Golden Age, Khan Academy, Kickstarter, labour market flexibility, low cost carrier, low skilled workers, Lyft, Malacca Straits, mass immigration, megacity, Mikhail Gorbachev, moral hazard, Network effects, New Urbanism, non-tariff barriers, Occupy movement, On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres, open economy, Panamax, Pearl River Delta, personalized medicine, Peter Thiel, post-Panamax, profit motive, rent-seeking, reshoring, Robert Gordon, Robert Metcalfe, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, Second Machine Age, self-driving car, Shenzhen was a fishing village, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, Skype, smart grid, Snapchat, special economic zone, spice trade, statistical model, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, Stuxnet, TaskRabbit, The Future of Employment, too big to fail, trade liberalization, trade route, transaction costs, transatlantic slave trade, uranium enrichment, We are the 99%, We wanted flying cars, instead we got 140 characters, working poor, working-age population, zero day

Retrieved from 39. Abbott, Alison (2011). “Novartis to Shut Brain Research Facility.” Nature In Focus News 480: 161–162. 40. Pew Research Center (2014). Economies of Emerging Markets Better Rated During Difficult Times. Global Attitudes Project. Washington, D.C.: Pew Research Center. Chapter 3, “Inequality and Economic Mobility.” 41. Merali, Zeeya (2015, July 20). “Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence Gets a $100-Million Boost.” Nature. Retrieved from 42. United Nations Development Programme (2010). The Real Wealth of Nations: Pathways to Human Development. Human Development Report 2010. New York: United Nations. 43. The Economist (1997, May 8). “In Search of the Perfect Market.” The Economist. Retrieved from 44. Young, Anne L. (2006).

pages: 1,263 words: 371,402

The Year's Best Science Fiction: Twenty-Sixth Annual Collection by Gardner Dozois


augmented reality, clean water, computer age, cosmological constant, David Attenborough, Deng Xiaoping, double helix, financial independence, game design, gravity well, jitney, John Harrison: Longitude, Kuiper Belt, Mahatma Gandhi, mass immigration, Paul Graham, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman: Challenger O-ring, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, Skype, stem cell, theory of mind, Turing machine, Turing test, urban renewal, Wall-E

Clarke, The Light of Other Days and Time’s Eye, a Time Odyssey. His short fiction has been collected in Vacuum Diagrams: Stories of the Xeelee Sequence, Traces, and Hunters of Pangaea, and he has released a chapbook novella, Mayflower II. Coming up are several new novels, including Weaver, Flood, and Ark. As the disquieting story that follows suggests, perhaps it’s better if the search for extraterrestrial intelligence doesn’t succeed. . . . Near the centre of the Moon’s far side there is a neat, round, well-defined crater called Daedalus. No human knew this existed before the middle of the twentieth century. It’s a bit of lunar territory as far as you can get from Earth, and about the quietest. That’s why the teams of astronauts from Europe, America, Russia and China went there. They smoothed over the floor of a crater ninety kilometres wide, laid sheets of metal mesh over the natural dish, and suspended feed horns and receiver systems on spidery scaffolding.

And, there in the churchyard, he actually pulled a handheld computer out of his inside jacket pocket and brought up a specification. “Of course you understand the importance of it being on Farside.” For the millionth time in my life he had set his little brother a pop quiz, and he looked at me as if I was catastrophically dumb. “Radio shadow,” I said. To be shielded from Earth’s noisy chatter was particularly important for SETI, the search for extraterrestrial intelligence to which my brother was devoting his career. SETI searches for faint signals from remote civilisations, a task made orders of magnitude harder if you’re drowned out by very loud signals from a nearby civilisation. He actually applauded my guess, sarcastically. He often reminded me of what had always repelled me about academia—the barely repressed bullying, the intense rivalry.

pages: 678 words: 216,204

The Wealth of Networks: How Social Production Transforms Markets and Freedom by Yochai Benkler


affirmative action, barriers to entry, bioinformatics, Brownian motion, call centre, Cass Sunstein, centre right, clean water, commoditize, dark matter, desegregation, East Village, fear of failure, Firefox, game design, George Gilder, hiring and firing, Howard Rheingold, informal economy, invention of radio, Isaac Newton, iterative process, Jean Tirole, jimmy wales, John Markoff, Kenneth Arrow, market bubble, market clearing, Marshall McLuhan, New Journalism, optical character recognition, pattern recognition, peer-to-peer, pre–internet, price discrimination, profit maximization, profit motive, random walk, recommendation engine, regulatory arbitrage, rent-seeking, RFID, Richard Stallman, Ronald Coase, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, SETI@home, shareholder value, Silicon Valley, Skype, slashdot, social software, software patent, spectrum auction, technoutopianism, The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid, The Nature of the Firm, transaction costs, Vilfredo Pareto

As of mid-2004, Folding@home had amassed contributions of about 840,000 processors contributed by more than 365,000 users. 169 SETI@home and Folding@home provide a good basis for describing the fairly common characteristics of Internet-based distributed computation projects. First, these are noncommercial projects, engaged in pursuits understood as scientific, for the general good, seeking to harness contributions of individuals who wish to contribute to such larger-than-themselves goals. SETI@home helps in the search for extraterrestrial intelligence. Folding@home helps in protein folding research. Fightaids@home is dedicated to running models that screen compounds for the likelihood that they will provide good drug candidates to fight HIV/AIDS. Genome@home is dedicated to modeling artificial genes that would be created to generate useful proteins. Other sites, like those dedicated to cryptography or mathematics, have a narrower appeal, and combine "altruistic" with hobby as their basic motivational appeal.

Atlas Obscura: An Explorer's Guide to the World's Hidden Wonders by Joshua Foer, Dylan Thuras, Ella Morton


anti-communist, Berlin Wall, British Empire, Buckminster Fuller, centre right, colonial rule, Colonization of Mars, cosmic microwave background, cuban missile crisis, dark matter, double helix, East Village, Exxon Valdez, Fall of the Berlin Wall, Frank Gehry, germ theory of disease, Golden Gate Park, Google Earth, Haight Ashbury, horn antenna, Ignaz Semmelweis: hand washing, index card, Jacques de Vaucanson, Kowloon Walled City, Louis Pasteur, Mahatma Gandhi, mass immigration, mutually assured destruction, phenotype, Pluto: dwarf planet, Ronald Reagan, Rubik’s Cube, Sapir-Whorf hypothesis, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, trade route, transatlantic slave trade, transcontinental railway, Tunguska event, urban sprawl, Vesna Vulović, white picket fence, wikimedia commons, working poor

Cornell University professor William E. Gordon opened the observatory in 1963, aiming to study the scattering of radio waves off molecules in the Earth’s upper atmosphere. Since then, significant astronomical discoveries have been made at Arecibo, including the detection of the first planets outside our solar system. The telescope has also been at the center of several projects in the search for extraterrestrial intelligence. In 1974, astronomers Frank Drake and Carl Sagan wrote the Arecibo message, a binary string that was beamed from the telescope toward the star cluster M13 some 25,000 light-years away. If the message is eventually decoded by an intelligent race, the extraterrestrial recipients will be greeted with a 23-by-73-pixel bitmap image depicting a human being, chemical formulas, the solar system, and even the telescope itself.

pages: 551 words: 174,280

The Beginning of Infinity: Explanations That Transform the World by David Deutsch


agricultural Revolution, Albert Michelson, anthropic principle, artificial general intelligence, Bonfire of the Vanities, conceptual framework, cosmological principle, dark matter, David Attenborough, discovery of DNA, Douglas Hofstadter, Eratosthenes, Ernest Rutherford, first-past-the-post, Georg Cantor, Gödel, Escher, Bach, illegal immigration, invention of movable type, Isaac Newton, Islamic Golden Age, Jacquard loom, Jacquard loom, John Conway, John von Neumann, Joseph-Marie Jacquard, Kenneth Arrow, Loebner Prize, Louis Pasteur, pattern recognition, Pierre-Simon Laplace, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, Stephen Hawking, supervolcano, technological singularity, The Coming Technological Singularity, the scientific method, Thomas Malthus, Thorstein Veblen, Turing test, Vernor Vinge, Whole Earth Review, William of Occam, zero-sum game

Here we have physical objects very unlike each other, and whose behaviour is dominated by different laws of physics, embodying the same mathematical and causal structures – and doing so ever more accurately over time. Of all the physical processes that can occur in nature, only the creation of knowledge exhibits that underlying unity. In Arecibo, Puerto Rico, there is a giant radio telescope, one of whose many uses is in the Search For Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI). In an office in a building near the telescope there is a small domestic refrigerator. Inside that refrigerator is a bottle of champagne, sealed by a cork. Consider that cork. It is going to be removed from the bottle if and when SETI succeeds in its mission to detect radio signals transmitted by an extraterrestrial intelligence. Hence, if you were to keep a careful watch on the cork, and one day saw it popping from the bottle, you could infer that an extraterrestrial intelligence exists.

Caribbean Islands by Lonely Planet

Bartolomé de las Casas, big-box store, British Empire, buttonwood tree, call centre, car-free, carbon footprint, clean water, colonial rule, cuban missile crisis, discovery of the americas, Donald Trump, glass ceiling, haute cuisine, income inequality, intermodal, jitney, microcredit, offshore financial centre, place-making, Ronald Reagan, Rubik’s Cube, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, sustainable-tourism, urban planning, urban sprawl, white picket fence

Resembling an extraterrestrial spaceship grounded in the middle of karst country, the Arecibo Observatory looks like something out of a James Bond movie – probably because it is; 007 aficionados will recognize the saucer-shaped dish and craning antennae from the 1995 film Goldeneye . In reality this 20-acre ‘dish’, set in a sinkhole among clusters of haystack-shaped mogotes, is planet earth’s ear into outer space. Involved in the SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) programme, the telescope, which is supported by 50-story cables weighing more than 600 tons, is used by on-site scientists to prove the existence of pulsars and quasars, the so-called ‘music of the stars.’ Parque De Las Cavernas Del Río Camuy UNDERGROUND CAVERNS ( 898-3100; Hwy 129 Km 18.9; adult/child US$12/6, parking US$2; 8am-5pm Wed-Sun & holidays) This park is home to one of the largest cave systems in the world and is definitely worth a stop (but call ahead if it’s been raining – too much water causes closures).