Misidentification of Humans as Machines in Turing Tests

Image Credit: Bletchley Park Trust

Image Credit: Bletchley Park Trust

Alan Turing led a team of code breakers at Bletchley Park which cracked the German Enigma machine cypher during WWII – but that is far from being his only legacy. Read More →

The Future of Computers and Artificial Intelligence

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In the last 50 years, the advent of computers has radically altered our daily routines and habits. From huge, roomy, terribly expensive and rather useless machines, computers have managed to become quite the opposite of all the above, seeing an exponential growth in the number of units sold and, stunningly, usability as well. Read More →

Robots in the Workplace

Robot031314

Small, mobile robots will learn to take over the tasks in the automotive industry that have not yet been possible to automate. This challenge is part of a 47 million kroner EU funded research project aimed at making robots available to small and medium-sized companies without the need of robotics expertise. Read More →

Examining the Aftermath of the Singularity

Future Brain

A trailer (see below) was recently released for an upcoming movie about the technological singularity – a hypothetical point when AI begins to vastly exceed human intelligence. Premiering in theaters in April, ‘Transcendence’ will portray what might occur during the early stages of the singularity. While technological advancements still have a way to go before this becomes reality, this movie will likely give us at least one example of what life might be like for our planet once the singularity occurs. Read More →

Jacking into Cyberspace via Intracranial Nanowires

Neural Pathway

With the production of portable digital computers at an all-time high, intracranial nanowires are looking like a realistic emerging technology. Since the cortical plasticity of the brain is so high, the brain can accept neuroprosthetic devices as though they were natural sensors. An uncomfortable adaptation period might come with the implant, but after a patient works through this they should be otherwise fine. Read More →

Mind Over Evolution: An Alternative Vision of Humanity

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Part of the reason why fierce debates rage around the origins of man – in the conflicts between Creationism and Darwinism that we see within many schools, for example – is because our beliefs about where we came from can strongly influence our sense of identity and our feelings of self-worth. It’s impossible to separate our self-image from our life philosophies in that regard. The stories we cling to will paint our inner pictures of who we are, where we come from and what our race can achieve.

Unfortunately, the stories that we’ve inherited in our culture paint a fairly unflattering picture that does little to inspire us to discover and express our true potential in this world.

Science spins its own version of reality. If you believe that the sky is blue because of the chemical composition of the gases that exist up there, and the way that light refracts off of them, then that’s all you’ll ever see. You won’t perceive the unfathomable mystery of it all. What is the true nature of light, or gases, or the color blue? Questions like these are beyond our ken. The theory of evolution teaches us that it’s useless to ask such questions anyhow, though. This theory, which forms the backbone of so much scientific thought and of our very definitions of humanity, maintains that matter came first and consciousness emerged later – almost as an afterthought; and certainly by accident.

consciousness (1)What if the mind formed matter? What if consciousness preceded everything else, and created form? Our scientific indoctrination has convinced us that reality works the other way around, but we’ve been offered little actual proof of this. What is obvious, however, is that the belief that consciousness always comes first would do much more to uphold the beauty, grace and potential of our natures than does the belief that our existence was the random result of accidental evolution.

We would do well to adopt stories that inspire us and offer us a new vision of what humanity can aspire to. When trying to grasp the nature of our reality as human beings, and drawing upon the resources that civilization offers us, we’ve thus far been essentially left with a choice between atonement (the predominant religious thinking of the West), accepting that the world we exist in is illusory (the predominant religious thinking of the East), or the theory of evolution. Typically, we are never taught or encouraged to believe that we are, ourselves, divine.

None of the arguments that uphold a notion of a barren and sterile universe can hold water. Most children know better than to believe in those wet-blanket descriptions of reality. Sadly, though, they eventually learn to accept them. How could they not, when our cultural beliefs make their survival virtually dependent upon it?

Love has to come from somewhere. But within the world’s established religions, love always has its conditions; and within the world of science, love can be explained away in terms of neurological transmissions and chemical interactions. It seems that our race, by and large, is willing to accept practically any belief except for one that maintains that what we are is something miraculous.

Most scientists or religious scholars would dispute that we are miraculous, by virtue of being conscious beings. Could it be that consciousness came first; that we did not become humans by accident? What if consciousness created our world in order to express all that it is, and to become better acquainted with itself? If this is true, how might it change the idea that consciousness will arise in machines once we’ve reverse-engineered the brain?

Why Robots Scare Their Masters

One of the most talked about subjects in robotics today is the uncanny valley hypothesis. So many works of speculative fiction feature robots in relationships with humans that it’s become a cliche, but this idea states that there’s a dip in the graph of human comfort levels when they approach machines that look too much like people. Devices that are disturbingly close to organic life forms often repulse human observers. However, the emotional response becomes far more positive as the machine becomes even closer to humanity. Read More →

Privacy Among Cyborgs

Artificial eyes are a common theme in science fiction. A certain television character from the early 1990s made the idea popular. While there have been a few prototypes in the real world, mechanical ocular implants aren’t regular medical devices just yet. When they come out, however, they will be welcome additions to many ophthalmology programs. Read More →

Biological Responses to Cyborg Life

While there have been a number of compelling essays on gender equality, physical differences continue to define human beings. Cyborg life forms would be without these constraints. Certain feminist authors have actually focused on this as a radical way to achieve gender equality, though other commentators have held less optimistic views.

Computer culture is probably a good indication of the way that society is moving as it approaches a technological singularity. Even though Internet technology has continued to shape the way people think, it seems that people are still slaves to their genetic code. Role-play characters are an excellent example of this.

Gamer culture focuses heavily on the ability to take on the roles of different characters. While players can create any sort of being that they wish to in a freeform role-play, many of them seem to be uncomfortable playing characters that completely lack gender roles. Neuter characters must seem alien to the human psyche.

While it is a primitive desire, humans are currently still required to reproduce to survive as a species. Cyborg life is somewhat unsettling in this respect. Few people are ready to throw away their ability to reproduce organically for instance. Mass production is frowned upon in many circles, and it might be difficult to find people who would like to apply that technique to humanity as a whole.

Image Credit: Zalas on Deviantart.com

Robotics & Mechanical Limbs

The BrainGate implantable microelectrode array

As people continue to struggle with problems involving organ donation, a few robotic engineers continue to push the boundaries between humanity and machinery. A recent report in Nature (cited below) showed that two patients were able to overcome some aspects of their paralysis by way of an implant. Reaching and grabbing motions were possible by way of a carefully designed robotic arm. One individual involved in the study was able to enjoy a drink by herself. She didn’t seem to require assistance outside of the prosthetic limb. Read More →