Why alien life will probably be engineered life

Martin Rees has an interesting article at Nautilus: When We Find Aliens, We Might Find Something Like the Borg This September, a team of astronomers noticed that the light from a distant star is flickering in a highly irregular pattern.1 They considered the possibility that comets, debris, and impacts could account for their observations, but each of … Continue reading Why alien life will probably be engineered life

A darker vision of the post-singularity: The Quantum Thief trilogy

I just finished reading Hannu Rajaniemi's Quantum Thief trilogy: 'The Quantum Thief', 'The Fractal Prince', and 'The Causal Angel'.  (The official name of the trilogy is the Jean le Flambeur series, named after one of the chief protagonists, but everyone seems to call it the Quantum Thief trilogy instead.) Most visions of society after the singularity … Continue reading A darker vision of the post-singularity: The Quantum Thief trilogy

Greg Egan’s Amalgam is close to the most likely interstellar civilization

The other day, I did a post engaging in speculation on, assuming we don't discover a completely new physics, what I thought an interstellar civilization might look like.  In summary: Given special relativity, travel faster than the speed of light is impossible.  This has been verified by innumerable experiments, and nothing in nature has been observed to … Continue reading Greg Egan’s Amalgam is close to the most likely interstellar civilization

Worm ‘Brain’ uploaded into robot, which then behaves like a worm

Steve Morris clued me in to this article: Worm ‘Brain’ Uploaded Into Lego Robot | Singularity HUB. Can a digitally simulated brain on a computer perform tasks just like the real thing? For simple commands, the answer, it would seem, is yes it can. Researchers at the OpenWorm project recently hooked a simulated worm brain to … Continue reading Worm ‘Brain’ uploaded into robot, which then behaves like a worm

X-Men: Days of Future Past, and multiple instances of a mind

This weekend, I watched X-Men: Days of Future Past, which I enjoyed.  This post discusses some aspects of that movie, most notably the ending, so if you haven't seen it yet and don't want to be spoiled, you might consider skipping it until later. In the movie, mankind is in a devastating war with the mutants, … Continue reading X-Men: Days of Future Past, and multiple instances of a mind

Enthusiasts and Skeptics Debate Artificial Intelligence

Kurt Anderson has an interesting article at Vanity Fair that looks at the debate among technologists about the singularity: Enthusiasts and Skeptics Debate Artificial Intelligence | Vanity Fair. Machines performing unimaginably complicated calculations unimaginably fast—that’s what computers have always done. Computers were called “electronic brains” from the beginning. But the great open question is whether a … Continue reading Enthusiasts and Skeptics Debate Artificial Intelligence

Biology uses quantum effects.

When I first saw this article by Jim Al-Khalili and Johnjoe McFadden, my skeptical reflex kicked and I was, well, skeptical.  Often when quantum mechanics gets mentioned with biology, it's questionable material.  But I've seen enough of Al-Khalili's other work, and as President of the British Humanist Association, I'm not inclined to think he's subject to being … Continue reading Biology uses quantum effects.

Massimo Pigliucci’s pessimistic view of mind uploading

Massimo Pigliucci wrote a paper on his skepticism of the possibility of mind uploading, the idea that our minds are information which it might be possible someday to copy into a computer virtual reality system or some other type of technology.  His paper appears to be one chapter in a broader book, 'Intelligence Unbound: The Future … Continue reading Massimo Pigliucci’s pessimistic view of mind uploading

Saying that mind uploading will never be possible is unwarranted

This question came up on Quora: 3 What percent chance is there that whole brain emulation or mind uploading to a neural prosthetic will be feasible by 2048? - Quora. After seeing a number of skeptical responses, many claiming that mind uploading was inherently impossible or even incoherent, I posted the following reply: I think mind … Continue reading Saying that mind uploading will never be possible is unwarranted