25 September, 2013
21 January, 2013
The Daily Mail is reporting on a call put out by a Harvard professor for a surrogate mother to give birth to a human embryo injected with artificially created DNA based on genetic code found in the fossil remains of Neanderthals.
Whilst there are obvious legal, ethical and moral frontiers being pioneered here as well as biological ones, I have to admit my curiosity overrides any objection I might have to this experiment.
Naturally, the civil rights of the newborn, if successful, would be heavily debated. I personally think that it should have full human rights with heavy advisory supervision by the scientific team behind this, assuming it wasn’t suffering heavily from its modified genetics and was being fostered by caring and competent parents.
Imagine disclosing their genetic background to it after it became conscious and intelligent enough to fathom it.
Brave new world indeed.
16 December, 2012
2 December, 2012
Modeled on the billions of neurons in the human brain and built to be as much of a replica of its bioelectrical nature as possible, Canadian scientists were able to make their virtual brain engage in some basic human cognitive activity such as reading and memorizing lists of things then using them in other activities.
In 10 years, we might see robots on wheels doing courier deliveries in cities.
His team reports that the virtual brain can perform eight tasks that involve recognizing, remembering and writing down numbers.
They say Spaun can shift from task to task, “just like the human brain,” recognizing an object one moment and memorizing a list of numbers the next.
And like humans, Spaun is better at remembering numbers at the beginning and end of the list than the ones in the middle.
Spaun’s cognition and behaviour is very basic, but it can learn patterns it has never seen before and use that knowledge to figure out the best answer to a question. “So it does learn,” says Eliasmith.
But it is not – at least not yet – a match for the real thing.
“Spaun is not as adaptive as a real brain, as the model is unable to learn completely new tasks,” the team reports in Science. “In addition, both attention and eye position of the model is fixed, making Spaun unable to control its own input.”
Observers say the Waterloo brain captures key aspects of perception, cognition and behaviour. It sets a “new benchmark” for large-scale simulation of the brain, Christian Machens, of the Champalimaud Centre for the Unknown, a research institute in Portugal, says in a review of the Waterloo work also published in Science. Machens was not involved in the research.
19 November, 2012
In one set of experiments using this technique, participants were asked to pronounce numbers that appeared on a computer’s screen. These numbers were preceded with unconscious arithmetic equations. The results of the experiments showed that participants could more quickly pronounce the conscious number if it had been the result of the unconscious equation. For example, when 9-5-1 was shown non-consciously, the participants were faster in pronouncing 3 than 4, even though they did not consciously see the equation.
30 October, 2012
Once the domain of dystopian science fiction and the blockbuster Hollywood movies that butcher them, a brave new world is emerging on the horizon with exciting and creepy implications alike. From microscopic RFID tags that paint an entire chapter of your life in terms of consumption habits and the implied psychology behind them, tiny insectoid cyborg surveillance drones in the shape of dragonflies to bioengineering viruses targeted specifically for genetic weaknesses in an enemy based on their peculiarities and defects, we are indeed on the cusp of some crazy fucking shit.
By way of Catherine Austin Fitts’ Solari blog, I started reading “Hacking the President’s DNA”, an article in the Atlantic about some of the biological advances in this area and how they can be used to modify human biology not in an indirect way like psychology and propaganda have had to do (even combined with electronics) but directly through bioengineering.
When I read about “garage geneticists” from the boingboing/make crowd, I thought, “Oh gee, nothing could go wrong here…” Well, the kinds of biotech being discussed in this article are several orders of magnitude more developed as the author is keen to point out with his comparison to Moore’s Law and chip manufacturing.
This is probably a good time to start investing in bioinformatics, biogenetics and biological sciences in general. Also, in nutrition and dietetics, since this is probably the first line of biological self-defense, just like with the antivirus market and digital self-defense.
Also, don’t use antibacterial soap and antibiotics unless you really have to. Probiotics are good! I might have to semi-crosspost this line of thinking to my nutrition blog.
For starters, while most criminals might think twice about mass slaughter, murder is downright commonplace. In the future, politicians, celebrities, leaders of industry—just about anyone, really—could be vulnerable to attack-by-disease. Even if fatal, many such attacks could go undetected, mistaken for death by natural causes; many others would be difficult to pin on a suspect, especially given the passage of time between exposure and the appearance of symptoms.
Moreover—as we’ll explore in greater detail—these same scientific developments will pave the way, eventually, for an entirely new kind of personal warfare. Imagine inducing extreme paranoia in the CEO of a large corporation so as to gain a business advantage, for example; or—further out in the future—infecting shoppers with the urge to impulse-buy.
3 October, 2012
Ask her to bring these things with her from the store: Six spoons of fresh snow peas, five thick slabs of blue cheese, and maybe a snack for her brother Bob. We also need a small plastic snake and a big toy frog for the kids. She can scoop these things into three red bags, and we will go meet her Wednesday at the train station.
This is the stanza used in the George Mason University speech accent archive due to its diverse use of linguistic constructs in English.
A note about the Tower of Babel, Snowcrash and the importance of compartmentalization in areas as diverse as city-state governments, spoken language, information security and resistance movements. Actually, I think I just summed it up in one sentence. On top of that, life would be pretty boring if everything was all Borg’d up. Unity in diversity.