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By Dr Llewellyn Cox, Principal, LieuLabs

On an otherwise unremarkable Saturday in June 2014, a group of computer scientists, public figures, and celebrities gathered at London’s Royal Society. They were all there for one reason — to engage in a text-based chat game to determine if a computer could pass the “iconic” Turing test.

A few hours later, the results were in. Professor Warwick of Reading University announced that a chatbot had successfully tricked 33% of the judges into thinking it was a real boy, and had therefore become the first computer to have passed the Turing test:

It is fitting that such an important landmark has been reached at the Royal Society in London, the home of British science and the scene of many great advances in human understanding over the centuries. This milestone will go down in history as one of the most exciting. — Prof. Kevin Warwick

 

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Within hours, breathless tweets, likes and pins swept across the internet, announcing this amazing result to the world, or at least across the subculture that apparently really f***ing loves science, but doesn’t seem to have much time or inclination toward actual critical analysis. A day or so later came the rebuttals and debunkings from the more inquisitive corners of the online universe. So what really happened, and what does a machine passing a Turing test mean for society?

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By Dr Llewellyn Cox, Principal, LieuLabs

Why Your Mind Will Never Be Uploadable.

The rise of computing and the exponential rate of increase in processing speed pose an intriguing questions for scientists; what happens when computers become smarter than their human masters — the so-called “Technological Singularity”. Will machines take over? Would they turn on humans and destroy us? Will we increasingly integrate computing modules into our bodies to cure disease or enhance our natural abilities? What effect does all of this technology have on issues of equality and power among the various members of the human race?

One of the popular philosophies attached to this futurist realm is the idea of transcendence (now a major motion picture!). That is, the concept that a person’s mind could be digitally uploaded to a computer, thus “transcending” the limitations of the biological body to acquire immortality. It’s a relatively widespread idea that has been written about extensively in popular science literature, even making a cameo in an episode of “The Big Bang Theory”. It is also a major theme for followers of Transhumanist philosophy. As the world focuses more and more on the implications of our technological development, transcendence is becoming one of those concepts in popular science that are so widely-known that they become accepted as inevitable, regardless of the state of current scientific knowledge regarding their actual feasibility. Fortunately, no one reading this in the early 21st Century will achieve immortality by uploading their mind to Amazon. Read More

Since the emergence of human consciousness,  mankind has been grappling with two eternal questions:

  • What is life and where did life come from?
  • What is death and what happens after death?

These questions gave rise to religion.  They also endure in works of art.

Paul Gaugain inscribed this on one of his masterpieces:

D’où Venons Nous / Que Sommes Nous / Où Allons Nous

(Where Do We Come From? What Are We? Where Are We Going?)

Woher_kommen_wir_Wer_sind_wir_Wohin_gehen_wir

“Where Do We Come From? What Are We? Where Are We Going?” by Paul Gauguin

Charlotte's Web_9780064400558

E.B. White asked in “Charlotte’s Web”:

“After all, what’s a life, anyway? We’re born, we live a little while, we die.”

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Photo by: Nathan Hunsinger

For fellow humans living in the 21st century, composer Tod Machover asks these existential questions again in a futuristic opera “Death and the Powers“, a production of the MIT Media Lab where he teaches Music and Media. Read More

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How will human behavior evolve with the inclusion of intelligent robotics? (Shutterstock)

Audio interview from The Take Away

(Dated January 30th, 2014)

Last night, scientists, roboticists and ethicists gathered at The New School in New York City to discuss the very nature of robotic progression. As artificial intelligence (AI) makes a larger space within our lives, how will human behavior evolve with the inclusion of intelligent robotics? Robot fanatics aren’t the only ones with their eyes on the future of AI. Earlier this week, Google acquired the artificial intelligence start-up DeepMind for at least $500 million. It’s Google’s eighth acquisition of a robotics company in recent months, though what they plan on doing with the the new technology remains to be seen. Joining The Takeaway to talk about the future of human interaction with robots are two panelists from last night’s Robot Dialogues. Heather Knight is a social roboticist and researcher at Carnegie Mellon. Wendell Wallach is a lecturer at the Interdisciplinary Center for Bioethics at Yale University. Together they explain what humans can expect from robots over the next decade.

GUESTS: Heather Knight and Wendell Wallach

PRODUCED BY: Ellen Frankman, Michael Peterson and Schuyler Swenson

EDITORS: T.J. Raphael

where neural understanding interacts with the rest of life

The Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education

where neural understanding interacts with the rest of life

Musings on Memory and Aging

where neural understanding interacts with the rest of life

where neural understanding interacts with the rest of life

Stanford Center on Longevity

where neural understanding interacts with the rest of life

where neural understanding interacts with the rest of life

The Beautiful Brain

a website about neuroscience and art that peaked in 2009 but is still going