Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic

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pages: 72 words: 21,361

Race Against the Machine: How the Digital Revolution Is Accelerating Innovation, Driving Productivity, and Irreversibly Transforming Employment and the Economy by Erik Brynjolfsson

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Amazon Mechanical Turk, Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic, autonomous vehicles, business process, call centre, combinatorial explosion, corporate governance, crowdsourcing, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, Erik Brynjolfsson, factory automation, first square of the chessboard, Frank Levy and Richard Murnane: The New Division of Labor, hiring and firing, income inequality, job automation, John Maynard Keynes: technological unemployment, Joseph Schumpeter, Khan Academy, Kickstarter, knowledge worker, labour mobility, Loebner Prize, low skilled workers, minimum wage unemployment, patent troll, pattern recognition, Ray Kurzweil, rising living standards, Robert Gordon, self-driving car, shareholder value, Skype, too big to fail, Turing test, Tyler Cowen: Great Stagnation, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, winner-take-all economy

But this is fundamentally a book about digital technology, and when we look at the full impact of computers and networks, now and in the future, we are very optimistic indeed. These tools are greatly improving our world and our lives, and will continue to do so. We are strong digital optimists, and we want to convince you to be one, too. Chapter 2. Humanity and Technology on the Second Half of the Chessboard Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic. —Arthur C. Clarke, 1962 We used to be pretty confident that we knew the relative strengths and weaknesses of computers vis-à-vis humans. But computers have started making inroads in some unexpected areas. This fact helps us to better understand the past few turbulent years and the true impact of digital technologies on jobs. A good illustration of how much recent technology advances have taken us by surprise comes from comparing a carefully researched book published in 2004 with an announcement made in 2010.

 

pages: 374 words: 91,966

Escape from Hell by Larry Niven; Jerry Pournelle

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Albert Einstein, Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic, clean water

A mythical king/emperor, the son of Europa and Zeus, but when Zeus carried her away he was in the form of a bull. Not even Dante could have believed that story. • • • Sylvia interrupted my story. “It’s part of your education,” she said. “Eh?” “Allen, you didn’t believe in Hell. You thought this whole place was constructed by — by what? Alien engineers? Deviants from the future?” “Either. Both. But it couldn’t be. I mean, maybe it could. Clarke’s Law says that any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic, but Sylvia, it doesn’t feel like magic! And it’s not a dream, it’s a lot too real, and —” “Education,” Sylvia said. “Shock treatment. You needed all this to convince you that it is all real.” “And you didn’t?” A tree can’t shrug, but I could hear a shrug in her voice. “Not really. You were a thoroughgoing atheist. Rationalist. Believed in science and engineering and nothing else.”

“What’s your working hypothesis?” “It’s just what it seems to be,” I told him. “I started with a different theory. At first I thought this was a big construct, a science fiction Infernoland built by alien engineers, but Carl, it can’t be that. I’ve met too many people I know. Not clones, not constructs. The people themselves. Carl, this is way beyond science.” “Any sufficiently advanced technology —” “Is indistinguishable from magic. Sure, but this place goes beyond magic, too! For one thing, the scale is a problem. Dante was trying to describe a cone, or a bowl. But it seems to get bigger as you go down. Dante’s descriptions fit that, too.” “As if space were expanding downhill?” “Right. Ballooning out.” Carl said, “I haven’t seen this myself, but … would it work if souls were getting smaller?”

 

pages: 339 words: 112,979

Unweaving the Rainbow by Richard Dawkins

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Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic, Arthur Eddington, complexity theory, correlation coefficient, David Attenborough, discovery of DNA, Douglas Engelbart, I think there is a world market for maybe five computers, Jaron Lanier, Mahatma Gandhi, music of the spheres, Necker cube, p-value, phenotype, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Ronald Reagan, Solar eclipse in 1919, Steven Pinker, Zipf's Law

Or, to be more precise, things that we accept as commonplace, such as radio, would have seemed, to our ancestors, every bit as far-fetched as spectral visitation. To us, a mobile telephone may be no more than an antisocial nuisance on trains. But to our ancestors from the nineteenth century, when trains were new, a mobile telephone would have seemed pure magic. As Arthur C. Clarke, the distinguished science fiction writer and evangelist for the limitless power of science and technology, has said, 'Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.' This has been called Clarke's Third Law, and I shall return to it. William Thomson, first Lord Kelvin, was one of the most distinguished and influential of nineteenth-century British physicists. He was a thorn in Darwin's side because he 'proved', with massive authority but, as we now know, even more massive error, that the earth was too young for evolution to have occurred.

If a man claims to have witnessed his aunt in cross-legged levitation, or a Turk zooming over the minarets on a magic carpet, should we swallow his story on the grounds that those of our ancestors who doubted the possibility of radio turned out to be wrong? No, of course these are not sufficient grounds for believing in levitation or magic carpets. But why not? Clarke's Third Law does not work in reverse. Given that 'Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic', it does not follow that 'Any magical claim that anybody may make at any time is indistinguishable from a technological advance that will come in the future.' Yes, there have been occasions when authoritative sceptics have come away with egg on their pontificating faces. But a far greater number of magical claims have been made and never vindicated. A few things that would surprise us today will come true in the future.

 

pages: 366 words: 107,145

Fuller Memorandum by Stross, Charles

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Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic, Beeching cuts, British Empire, cognitive dissonance, complexity theory, congestion charging, dumpster diving, finite state, Firefox, HyperCard, invisible hand, land reform, linear programming, peak oil, security theater, sensible shoes, side project, telemarketer, Turing machine

At least, that's the name I use in these memoirs. (True names have power: even if it's only the power to attract the supernatural equivalent of a Make Money Fast spammer, I'd rather not put myself in their sights, thank you very much.) And I work for the Laundry. The Laundry is the British Government's secret agency for dealing with "magic." The use of scare-quotes is deliberate; as Sir Arthur C. Clarke said, "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic," so "magic" is what we deal with. Note that this does not involve potions, pentacles, prayers, eldritch chanting, dressing up in robes and pointy hats, or most (but not all) of the stuff associated with the term in the public mind. No, our magic is computational. The realm of pure mathematics is very real indeed, and the . . . things . . . that cast shadows on the walls of Plato's cave can sometimes be made to listen and pay attention if you point a loaded theorem at them.

So far so good: I live free in an uncaring cosmos, rather than trapped in a clockwork orrery constructed by a cosmic sadist. Unfortunately, the truth doesn't end there. The things we sometimes refer to as elder gods are alien intelligences, which evolved on their own terms, unimaginably far away and long ago, in zones of spacetime which aren't normally connected to our own, where the rules are different. But that doesn't mean they can't reach out and touch us. As the man put it: Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic. Any sufficiently advanced alien intelligence is indistinguishable from God--the angry monotheistic sadist subtype. And the elder ones . . . aren't friendly. (See? I told you I'd rather be an atheist!) I push the button on the dishwasher, straighten up, and glance at the kitchen clock. It's pushing ten thirty, but I'm wide awake and full of bleak existential rage.

 

Geek Wisdom by Stephen H. Segal

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Ada Lovelace, Albert Einstein, Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic, battle of ideas, fear of failure, Henri Poincaré, Jacquard loom, Jacquard loom, Mark Zuckerberg, mutually assured destruction, Saturday Night Live, Vernor Vinge

But isn’t it likely that new intelligences will look upon us “old” earthlings—so biased, change resistant, and irrational that we don’t even need to wait for tomorrow’s people to enthusiastically slaughter groups of our fellow humans today—and find us much scarier? When the Borg debuted on Star Trek in 1989, Doctor Who fans immediately lamented that they were an improved rip-off of Who’s Cybermen, first introduced in 1966. Both spacefaring cyborg races would ultimately be pwned by the badassery of the reimagined Battlestar Galactica’s Cylons (2005). “ANY SUFFICIENTLY ADVANCED TECHNOLOGY IS INDISTINGUISHABLE FROM MAGIC.” —CLARKE’S LAW SOMEDAY, history will look back and name science-fiction author Arthur C. Clarke one of the twentieth century’s most visionary thinkers. Never mind that he invented the concept of the modern satellite communication network back in 1945 (and not just in a work of fiction; he formally proposed it in a technical paper). Clarke’s Law posits a truth that ought to remind atheists and believers alike to be humble about their philosophies.

 

pages: 523 words: 143,639

Red November: Inside the Secret U.S.-Soviet Submarine War by W. Craig Reed

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Albert Einstein, Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic, cable laying ship, cuban missile crisis, en.wikipedia.org, nuclear winter, operation paperclip, Ronald Reagan, Saturday Night Live, Silicon Valley, upwardly mobile

Until governments are willing to expose the truth, the official U.S. Navy position as to Scorpion’s demise remains as “cause unknown.” If the conspiracy theorists are correct, then the lessons learned from allowing the greed of John Walker to manipulate entire nations will stay buried, and the cause-and-effect results of this act remain as a black stain on the pages of history. CHAPTER THIRTEEN Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic. —ARTHUR C. CLARKE THE SOVIETS FINALLY GAVE UP THE search for their lost K-129 and went home in May 1968, not long after the sinking of the Scorpion. The U.S. Navy let another month go by and then called in the cavalry. Captain James F. Bradley Jr., from the Office of Undersea Warfare, had already spearheaded the creation of the perfect platform to undertake the mission of finding the missing Golf II–class boat.

Rejoicing, the fishermen called the Coast Guard and said that God had saved the sunken ship, miracles do happen, and as changed men, they had sworn off liquor and women for life, or at least the weekend. Duckett knew nothing of the affair until Mr. P. read the story in the paper the following day. When informed about the incident, Duckett smiled and quoted Arthur C. Clarke, who once said that “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” Armed with new “magical” deep-diving cameras designed by Joe Houston, the research vessel Sea Scope steamed to the K-129 site. Sea Scope once sailed the seas as the USS Harrier (AM-366), a U.S. Navy Admirable Class Minesweeper commissioned in 1945. The Harrier received a name and designation change not long after World War II. Although reclassified as an oceanographic and research vessel, the Sea Scope came chockful of deep-sea reconnaissance toys, including sonar, ESM, underwater television and photographic equipment, and a magnetic and seabed exploration grappling system.

 

pages: 478 words: 142,608

The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins

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

Whether we ever get to know about them or not, there are very probably alien civilizations that are superhuman, to the point of being god-like in ways that exceed anything a theologian could possibly imagine. Their technical achievements would seem as supernatural to us as ours would seem to a Dark Age peasant transported to the twenty-first century. Imagine his response to a laptop computer, a mobile telephone, a hydrogen bomb or a jumbo jet. As Arthur C. Clarke put it, in his Third Law: ‘Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.’ The miracles wrought by our technology would have seemed to the ancients no less remarkable than the tales of Moses parting the waters, or Jesus walking upon them. The aliens of our SETI signal would be to us like gods, just as missionaries were treated as gods (and exploited the undeserved honour to the hilt) when they turned up in Stone Age cultures bearing guns, telescopes, matches, and almanacs predicting eclipses to the second.

The pattern is the same for all of them, from the earliest cults in the nineteenth century to the more famous ones that grew up in the aftermath of the Second World War. It seems that in every case the islanders were bowled over by the wondrous possessions of the white immigrants to their islands, including administrators, soldiers and missionaries. They were perhaps the victims of (Arthur C.) Clarke’s Third Law, which I quoted in Chapter 2: ‘Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.’ The islanders noticed that the white people who enjoyed these wonders never made them themselves. When articles needed repairing they were sent away, and new ones kept arriving as ‘cargo’ in ships or, later, planes. No white man was ever seen to make or repair anything, nor indeed did they do anything that could be recognized as useful work of any kind (sitting behind a desk shuffling papers was obviously some kind of religious devotion).

 

pages: 220 words: 57,974

Inferno by Niven, Larry, Pournelle, Jerry

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Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic

It wouldn’t have worked if we hadn’t been massless or nearly so. Even then I kept wondering about that. It chewed at my soul the way a ragged tooth attracts the tongue. How could we have weight and no mass? The wrong weight, and . . . Infernoland. Disneyland of the Damnable. How long had they kept me in that bottle? Clarke’s Law kept running through my head, an old axiom of science fiction: “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” In my time it would take magic, the supernatural, to make that many people, not weightless, but massless. It wasn’t even possible in theory to extract the inertia and leave the weight. But they could do it, the Builders, the God Corporation. Why? It must have cost a lot. Just how big a paying audience did they have? Who was watching us now? I heaved against the plane, and then there was no room for thought.

 

pages: 138 words: 40,787

The Silent Intelligence: The Internet of Things by Daniel Kellmereit, Daniel Obodovski

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3D printing, Airbnb, Amazon Web Services, Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic, autonomous vehicles, barriers to entry, business intelligence, call centre, Clayton Christensen, cloud computing, connected car, crowdsourcing, data acquisition, en.wikipedia.org, Erik Brynjolfsson, first square of the chessboard, Freestyle chess, Google X / Alphabet X, Internet of things, Network effects, Paul Graham, Ray Kurzweil, RFID, self-driving car, Silicon Valley, smart cities, smart grid, software as a service, Steve Jobs, web application, Y Combinator, yield management

(Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Second_Life.) 18 Peer-to-peer car-sharing services like Getaround, JustShareIt, and others are in operation. We don’t know if they’ll be successful, but this type of service would not be possible without M2M. 19 After this interview and just before this book was published, BodyMedia was acquired by Jawbone. Chapter 4 CORE APPLICATION DOMAINS Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic. ~ Arthur C. Clarke In 1998, when the World Wide Web was on the rise and many companies wondered how it would affect their businesses, Nicholas Negroponte wrote in the foreword to Unleashing the Killer App:20 You can see the future best through peripheral vision. Sometimes, looking straight ahead — even with the most dedicated attention and seasoned experience — just misses both the big picture and the new ideas, because they often come at you from those outlying areas affectionately called “left field.”

 

pages: 266 words: 67,272

Fun Inc. by Tom Chatfield

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Alexey Pajitnov wrote Tetris, Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic, cloud computing, cognitive dissonance, computer age, credit crunch, game design, invention of writing, Silicon Valley, Skype, stem cell, upwardly mobile

And yet, as the next chapter explores their own brief history represents an evolution of incredible rapidity and scope: one that has from the beginning lain at the cutting edge of the computer revolution, and that is now beginning to remould our actions everywhere from the classroom to the boardroom to the arenas of twenty-first century warfare. CHAPTER 2 Technology and magic ‘Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic’ wrote the science fiction novelist Arthur C Clarke in 1973, giving the computer age one of its most memorable maxims. Had Clarke, who died in 2008, lived just a year longer, he would have been able to see a piece of technology being demonstrated at a 2009 Expo in Los Angeles that looked, to many in the audience, very close to magic indeed. The machine, perched on a black conical stand, looked like nothing so much as an oversized television remote control.

 

pages: 238 words: 73,824

Makers by Chris Anderson

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3D printing, Airbnb, Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic, Apple II, autonomous vehicles, barriers to entry, Buckminster Fuller, Build a better mousetrap, business process, crowdsourcing, dark matter, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, dematerialisation, Elon Musk, factory automation, Firefox, future of work, global supply chain, global village, industrial robot, interchangeable parts, Internet of things, inventory management, James Hargreaves, James Watt: steam engine, Jeff Bezos, job automation, Joseph Schumpeter, Kickstarter, Lean Startup, manufacturing employment, Mark Zuckerberg, means of production, Menlo Park, Network effects, profit maximization, race to the bottom, self-driving car, side project, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, Skype, slashdot, South of Market, San Francisco, spinning jenny, Startup school, stem cell, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Steven Levy, Stewart Brand, supply-chain management, The Nature of the Firm, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, transaction costs, trickle-down economics, Whole Earth Catalog, X Prize, Y Combinator

And there’s nothing self-assembling about the way a 3-D printer works: it does all the assembling itself, with the brute force of a laser solidifying a powder or liquid resin, or melting plastic and spreading it down in a fine line. But you get the point. We can imagine something, draw it on a computer, and a machine can make it real. We can push a button and an object will appear (eventually). As Arthur C. Clarke put it, “any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” This is getting close. Four Desktop Factories 1) 3-D PRINTER: A 3-D printer and the paper printer you’ve probably already got on your desktop play similar roles. The traditional laser (or inkjet) printer is a 2-D printer: it takes pixels on a screen and turns them into dots of ink or toner on a 2-D medium, usually paper. A 3-D printer, however, takes “geometries” onscreen (3-D objects that are created with the same sorts of tools that Hollywood uses to make CG movies) and turns them into objects that you can pick up and use.

 

pages: 208 words: 67,288

The Magic of Reality: How We Know What's Really True by Richard Dawkins

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Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic, Buckminster Fuller, Ernest Rutherford, false memory syndrome, Fellow of the Royal Society, if you see hoof prints, think horses—not zebras, phenotype, the scientific method

In Holmes’s world, a suspect in a murder case who could prove that he was in New York the evening after the murder was committed in London would have a perfect alibi, because in the late nineteenth century it was impossible to be in New York and in London on the same day. Anyone who claimed otherwise would seem to be invoking the supernatural. Yet modern jet planes make it easy. The eminent science-fiction writer Arthur C. Clarke summed the point up as Clarke’s Third Law: Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic. If a time machine were to carry us forward a century or so, we would see wonders that today we might think impossible – miracles. But it doesn’t follow that everything we might think impossible today will happen in the future. Science-fiction writers can easily imagine a time machine – or an anti-gravity machine, or a rocket that can carry us faster than light. But the mere fact that we can imagine them is no reason to suppose that such machines will one day become reality.

 

pages: 247 words: 71,698

Avogadro Corp by William Hertling

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Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic, cloud computing, crowdsourcing, Hacker Ethic, hive mind, invisible hand, natural language processing, Netflix Prize, private military company, Ray Kurzweil, recommendation engine, Richard Stallman, technological singularity, Turing test, web application

Each example justification already incorporated details gleaned from the original email, like the project name and timeline. David waited quietly while the thirty second video played. He heard some soft exclamations in the background from the group. He knew this was incredibly impressive the first time someone saw it. He smiled to himself. It was Arthur C. Clarke who said, “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” Well, this was magic. David paused to let the video sink in before resuming. “It’s not enough to provide a general set of recommendations. Different people are motivated by different kinds of language, different styles of communication, different reasons. Let’s use another example. An employee is going to ask his manager for extended vacation time. He’d probably like to make a compelling case for granting that vacation request.

 

pages: 229 words: 67,599

The Logician and the Engineer: How George Boole and Claude Shannon Created the Information Age by Paul J. Nahin

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Alan Turing: On Computable Numbers, with an Application to the Entscheidungsproblem, Albert Einstein, Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic, Claude Shannon: information theory, conceptual framework, Fellow of the Royal Society, finite state, four colour theorem, Georg Cantor, John von Neumann, knapsack problem, New Journalism, reversible computing, Schrödinger's Cat, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, thinkpad, Turing machine, Turing test, V2 rocket

” — In a profile of Claude Shannon, Scientific American (January 1990) 5.1 DIGITAL TECHNOLOGY: RELAYS VERSUS ELECTRONICS Today’s digital circuitry is built with electronic technology that the telephone engineers of the 1930s and the pioneer computer designers of the 1940s would have thought to be magic. And I mean that literally: to quote science fiction writer Arthur C. Clarke’s famous third law: “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.”1 An example of this is the ordinary radio, which while commonplace to us (modern kids probably find AM radio just a bit boring!) would have been magic to the greatest of the Victorian scientists, including James Clerk Maxwell, himself who first wrote the equations that give life to radio. In the Middle Ages such a gadget would have gotten its owner burned at the stake —what else, after all, could a “talking box” be but the work of the devil?

 

pages: 281 words: 79,958

Denialism: How Irrational Thinking Hinders Scientific Progress, Harms the Planet, and Threatens Our Lives by Michael Specter

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agricultural Revolution, Anne Wojcicki, Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic, carbon footprint, Cass Sunstein, clean water, Drosophila, food miles, invention of gunpowder, placebo effect, profit motive, randomized controlled trial, Richard Feynman: Challenger O-ring, Ronald Reagan, Simon Singh, Skype, stem cell, Ted Kaczynski, the scientific method, Thomas Malthus, Upton Sinclair, X Prize

We may be a nation of immigrants, but more than that we are the nation that invents: from refrigerators to resistors, antibiotics, jets, and cell phones, to the computer software that governs much of our lives and the genetic sequencing technology that will soon begin to do so. What would have seemed like sorcery a century ago is now regarded simply as fact. In 1961, Arthur C. Clarke famously wrote that “any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” Who could make such a statement today? What would magic look like to us? It has become routine to deliver babies months before they are considered alive—not to mention to keep people breathing long after they are, in any meaningful sense, dead. My grandfather died in 1962 at the age of sixty-six. That was exactly how long men born at the turn of the twentieth century were “expected” to live, and while he was mourned, nobody considered his death premature.

 

pages: 268 words: 75,850

The Formula: How Algorithms Solve All Our Problems-And Create More by Luke Dormehl

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3D printing, algorithmic trading, Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic, augmented reality, big data - Walmart - Pop Tarts, call centre, Cass Sunstein, Clayton Christensen, computer age, deferred acceptance, Edward Lorenz: Chaos theory, Erik Brynjolfsson, Filter Bubble, Flash crash, Florence Nightingale: pie chart, Frank Levy and Richard Murnane: The New Division of Labor, Google Earth, Google Glasses, High speed trading, Internet Archive, Jaron Lanier, Jeff Bezos, job automation, Kevin Kelly, Kodak vs Instagram, Marshall McLuhan, means of production, Nate Silver, natural language processing, Netflix Prize, pattern recognition, price discrimination, recommendation engine, Richard Thaler, Rosa Parks, self-driving car, sentiment analysis, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, Slavoj Žižek, social graph, speech recognition, Steve Jobs, Steven Levy, Steven Pinker, Stewart Brand, the scientific method, The Signal and the Noise by Nate Silver, upwardly mobile, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, Y Combinator

As it happens, Google may actually be telling the truth here: their users really do seem to trust in their objectivity. According to a survey of web users carried out in 2005, only 19 percent of individuals expressed a lack of trust in their search engines, while more than 68 percent considered the search engines they used regularly to be fair and unbiased.17 Science-fiction author Arthur C. Clarke famously wrote, “any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” Just like photography appeared to people over 100 years ago, so too does the speed with which algorithms work make us view them as authoritative and unaffected by human fallibility. Paste a block of text into Google’s translation services and in less than a second its algorithms can transform the words into any one of 58 different languages. The same is true of Google’s search algorithms, which, as a result of its “knowledge” about individual users, allow our specific desires and requirements to be predicted with an almost preternatural ability.

 

pages: 270 words: 79,992

The End of Big: How the Internet Makes David the New Goliath by Nicco Mele

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3D printing, 4chan, A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace, Airbnb, Amazon Web Services, Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic, Apple's 1984 Super Bowl advert, barriers to entry, Berlin Wall, big-box store, bitcoin, call centre, Cass Sunstein, centralized clearinghouse, Chelsea Manning, citizen journalism, cloud computing, collaborative consumption, collaborative editing, cross-subsidies, crowdsourcing, David Brooks, Donald Trump, Douglas Engelbart, en.wikipedia.org, Exxon Valdez, Fall of the Berlin Wall, Filter Bubble, Firefox, Galaxy Zoo, global supply chain, Google Chrome, Gordon Gekko, Hacker Ethic, Jaron Lanier, Jeff Bezos, jimmy wales, Julian Assange, Kevin Kelly, Khan Academy, Kickstarter, Lean Startup, Mark Zuckerberg, minimum viable product, Mohammed Bouazizi, Mother of all demos, new economy, Occupy movement, Peter Thiel, pirate software, Ronald Reagan, Ronald Reagan: Tear down this wall, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, Skype, social web, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Stewart Brand, Ted Nelson, Telecommunications Act of 1996, telemarketer, The Wisdom of Crowds, transaction costs, Whole Earth Catalog, WikiLeaks, Zipcar

Imagine if instead of typing E you typed the letter in zeros and ones, or binary code. It would look like this—01000101. That seems silly and inefficient, but in another sense, it is simply amazing. Every thing you do on your computer—every YouTube video you watch, every Skype call you make, every e-mail you send—is broken down into its requisite zeros and ones and then reassembled somewhere else. As Arthur C. Clarke says, “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.”22 Software was created in part to offer an abstraction of “electricity–no electricity,” so that you could use a mouse or type Shift + e to get E. Computer hardware—the physical parts of the computer that you can touch—would use software to provide efficiency to human beings, so that we would be able to communicate with machines in our language rather than the electricity–no electricity of their language.

 

pages: 797 words: 227,399

Robotics Revolution and Conflict in the 21st Century by P. W. Singer

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agricultural Revolution, Albert Einstein, Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic, Atahualpa, barriers to entry, Berlin Wall, Bill Joy: nanobots, blue-collar work, borderless world, clean water, Craig Reynolds: boids flock, cuban missile crisis, en.wikipedia.org, Ernest Rutherford, failed state, Fall of the Berlin Wall, Firefox, Francisco Pizarro, Frank Gehry, friendly fire, game design, George Gilder, Google Earth, I think there is a world market for maybe five computers, if you build it, they will come, illegal immigration, industrial robot, interchangeable parts, invention of gunpowder, invention of movable type, invention of the steam engine, Jacques de Vaucanson, job automation, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Law of Accelerating Returns, Menlo Park, New Urbanism, pattern recognition, private military company, RAND corporation, Ray Kurzweil, RFID, robot derives from the Czech word robota Czech, meaning slave, Rodney Brooks, Ronald Reagan, Schrödinger's Cat, Silicon Valley, speech recognition, Stephen Hawking, strong AI, technological singularity, The Coming Technological Singularity, The Wisdom of Crowds, Turing test, Vernor Vinge

“Naval customers just assume it will happen,” explains Thomas McKenna at ONR. Likewise, the military funders tend to want the cooler technologies, while the mundane are less likely to get funded. One U.S. Army researcher working on nonlethal weapons systems complains, “You have to beg for money for things like beanbags or acoustics. But say it’s for a laser or a lightsaber and the money is no problem.” THE LENS OF THE LOOKING GLASS “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic,” famously argued English physicist and science fiction author Arthur C. Clarke. Indeed, when the warriors of the Hehe tribe in Tanzania surrounded a single German colonist in 1891, they seemingly had little to fear. But he had a magic box that killed almost a thousand spear-armed warriors by spitting out death faster than they ever imagined possible, the machine gun.

The captured emperor then offered the visitors a ransom to set him free, enough gold to fill a room twenty-two feet long, seventeen feet wide, and eight feet high. The visitors agreed. But after these strange, fearsome men had their gold, they reneged. They executed Atahuallpa and took over his empire. As the science fiction writer Arthur C. Clarke of 2001: A Space Odyssey fame once observed, “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” Nowhere is this more true than in war. Time and again, warring sides have used new technologies not only to kill more efficiently than their foe, but also to dazzle them into submission. The case of Atahuallpa, unlucky enough to become emperor just before the arrival of Francisco Pizarro and his tiny band of Spanish conquistadors, is a powerful example of just how shocking and powerful new weapons of war can be.

 

pages: 398 words: 100,679

The Knowledge: How to Rebuild Our World From Scratch by Lewis Dartnell

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agricultural Revolution, Albert Einstein, Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic, clean water, Dava Sobel, decarbonisation, Dmitri Mendeleev, global village, Haber-Bosch Process, invention of movable type, invention of radio, invention of writing, iterative process, James Watt: steam engine, John Harrison: Longitude, lone genius, nuclear winter, technology bubble, the scientific method, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions, trade route

The device sits as the capstone on the very tip of a vast pyramid of enabling technologies: the mining and refining of the rare element indium for the touch screen, high-precision photolithographic manufacturing of microscopic circuitry in the computing processor chips, and the incredibly miniaturized components in the microphone, not to mention the network of cell phone towers and other infrastructure necessary to maintain telecommunications and the functioning of the phone. The first generation born after the Fall would find the internal mechanisms of a modern phone absolutely inscrutable, the pathways of its microchip circuits invisibly small to the human eye and their purpose utterly mysterious. The sci-fi author Arthur C. Clarke said in 1961 that any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic. In the aftermath of the Fall, the rub is that this miraculous technology would have belonged not to some star-faring alien species, but to people just a generation in our own past. Even quotidian artifacts of our civilization that aren’t particularly high-tech still require a diversity of raw materials that must be mined or otherwise gathered, processed in specialized plants, and assembled in a manufacturing facility.

 

pages: 339 words: 88,732

The Second Machine Age: Work, Progress, and Prosperity in a Time of Brilliant Technologies by Erik Brynjolfsson, Andrew McAfee

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2013 Report for America's Infrastructure - American Society of Civil Engineers - 19 March 2013, 3D printing, access to a mobile phone, additive manufacturing, Airbnb, Albert Einstein, Amazon Mechanical Turk, Amazon Web Services, American Society of Civil Engineers: Report Card, Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic, autonomous vehicles, barriers to entry, Baxter: Rethink Robotics, British Empire, business intelligence, business process, call centre, clean water, combinatorial explosion, computer age, computer vision, congestion charging, corporate governance, crowdsourcing, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, employer provided health coverage, en.wikipedia.org, Erik Brynjolfsson, factory automation, Filter Bubble, Frank Levy and Richard Murnane: The New Division of Labor, Freestyle chess, full employment, game design, global village, happiness index / gross national happiness, illegal immigration, immigration reform, income inequality, income per capita, industrial robot, informal economy, inventory management, James Watt: steam engine, Jeff Bezos, jimmy wales, job automation, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, John Maynard Keynes: technological unemployment, Joseph Schumpeter, Kevin Kelly, Khan Academy, knowledge worker, Kodak vs Instagram, law of one price, low skilled workers, Lyft, Mahatma Gandhi, manufacturing employment, Mark Zuckerberg, means of production, Nate Silver, natural language processing, Network effects, new economy, New Urbanism, Nicholas Carr, Occupy movement, oil shale / tar sands, oil shock, pattern recognition, payday loans, price stability, Productivity paradox, profit maximization, Ralph Nader, Ray Kurzweil, recommendation engine, Report Card for America’s Infrastructure, Robert Gordon, Rodney Brooks, Ronald Reagan, Second Machine Age, self-driving car, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, six sigma, Skype, software patent, speech recognition, statistical model, Steve Jobs, Steven Pinker, supply-chain management, TaskRabbit, technological singularity, telepresence, The Signal and the Noise by Nate Silver, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, total factor productivity, transaction costs, Tyler Cowen: Great Stagnation, Vernor Vinge, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, winner-take-all economy, Y2K

* We refer to the Industrial Revolution as the first machine age. However, “the machine age” is also a label used by some economic historians to refer to a period of rapid technological progress spanning the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. This same period is called by others the Second Industrial Revolution, which is how we’ll refer to it in later chapters. “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” —Arthur C. Clarke IN THE SUMMER OF 2012, we went for a drive in a car that had no driver. During a research visit to Google’s Silicon Valley headquarters, we got to ride in one of the company’s autonomous vehicles, developed as part of its Chauffeur project. Initially we had visions of cruising in the back seat of a car that had no one in the front seat, but Google is understandably skittish about putting obviously autonomous autos on the road.

 

pages: 394 words: 108,215

What the Dormouse Said: How the Sixties Counterculture Shaped the Personal Computer Industry by John Markoff

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Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic, Apple II, back-to-the-land, Bill Duvall, Bill Gates: Altair 8800, Buckminster Fuller, California gold rush, card file, computer age, computer vision, conceptual framework, cuban missile crisis, Douglas Engelbart, Dynabook, El Camino Real, general-purpose programming language, Golden Gate Park, Hacker Ethic, hypertext link, informal economy, information retrieval, invention of the printing press, Jeff Rulifson, John Nash: game theory, John von Neumann, Kevin Kelly, knowledge worker, Mahatma Gandhi, Menlo Park, Mother of all demos, packet switching, Paul Terrell, popular electronics, QWERTY keyboard, RAND corporation, RFC: Request For Comment, Richard Stallman, Robert X Cringely, Sand Hill Road, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, South of Market, San Francisco, speech recognition, Steve Crocker, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Steven Levy, Stewart Brand, Ted Nelson, Thorstein Veblen, Turing test, union organizing, Vannevar Bush, Whole Earth Catalog, William Shockley: the traitorous eight

The two men were down the hall at the same conference, giving a competing demonstration in which Earnest presented a film of a robot that could see and hear, based on a paper that he had written with Reddy and another researcher. Afterward, no one remembered the talk, which was lost in the brilliance of Engelbart’s NLS creation. Indeed, it was the moment the tables turned, and computer science, which had until then been primarily concerned with the esoteric problem of automating human intelligence, would never be the same. Arthur C. Clarke once said, “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” For many people who saw Doug Engelbart bombing through cyberspace and dealing lightning with both hands in December 1968, that was certainly true. But one young programmer who watched from the audience had a stronger reaction. Charles Irby had been a student at the University of California at Santa Barbara, where he had worked for Glen Culler, a math professor who independently designed interactive computers for mathematical applications before anyone knew what the word “interactive” meant in that context.

 

pages: 317 words: 100,414

Superforecasting: The Art and Science of Prediction by Philip Tetlock, Dan Gardner

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Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic, availability heuristic, Black Swan, butterfly effect, cloud computing, cuban missile crisis, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, desegregation, Edward Lorenz: Chaos theory, forward guidance, Freestyle chess, fundamental attribution error, hindsight bias, index fund, Jane Jacobs, Jeff Bezos, Mohammed Bouazizi, Nash equilibrium, Nate Silver, obamacare, pattern recognition, performance metric, placebo effect, prediction markets, quantitative easing, random walk, randomized controlled trial, Richard Thaler, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Ronald Reagan, Saturday Night Live, Silicon Valley, Skype, statistical model, stem cell, Steve Ballmer, Steve Jobs, Steven Pinker, the scientific method, The Signal and the Noise by Nate Silver, The Wisdom of Crowds, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!

Vast, proliferating information-technology networks churn out staggering quantities of information that can be analyzed by data scientists armed with powerful computers and arcane math. Order and meaning are extracted. Reality is seen and foreseen like never before. And most of us—let’s be honest with ourselves—don’t have the dimmest idea how data scientists do what they do. We find it a little intimidating, if not dazzling. As the scientist and science fiction writer Arthur C. Clarke famously observed, “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” As an assistant professor of mathematics at Cornell, Lionel Levine is one of the magicians. His résumé lists an AB in math from Harvard, a PhD in math from Berkeley, a string of prestigious grants and fellowships, and a longer string of papers with occult titles like “Scaling Limits for Internal Aggregation Models with Multiple Sources.” As one expects of math wizards, he is young.

 

pages: 397 words: 102,910

The Idealist: Aaron Swartz and the Rise of Free Culture on the Internet by Justin Peters

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4chan, Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic, Brewster Kahle, corporate governance, crowdsourcing, disintermediation, don't be evil, global village, Hacker Ethic, hypertext link, index card, informal economy, information retrieval, Internet Archive, invention of movable type, invention of writing, Lean Startup, Paul Buchheit, Paul Graham, profit motive, RAND corporation, Republic of Letters, Richard Stallman, semantic web, Silicon Valley, social web, Steve Jobs, Steven Levy, Stewart Brand, strikebreaker, Vannevar Bush, Whole Earth Catalog, Y Combinator

The real reason is because I want to save the world.”27 Since the days of Jean-Jacques Rousseau, young men and women have yearned to save the world: to live according to their ideals and spend their days fighting social injustice and effecting substantive change. This dream is usually abandoned with age, deferred into idle bar-stool radicalism and the occasional protest vote. The world has many problems, and even the most effective individual would be unlikely to solve all of them absent divine intervention or black magic. The novelist Arthur C. Clarke’s famous Third Law states, “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” It is also true that any sufficiently advanced technology encourages magical thinking. New technologies are indistinguishable from magic wands, imbued with great and implausible powers that can transcend societal barriers and the laws of thermodynamics. Silicon Valley is rife with examples of aspiring messiahs touting the world-historical potential of their products.

 

pages: 336 words: 92,056

The Battery: How Portable Power Sparked a Technological Revolution by Henry Schlesinger

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Albert Einstein, Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic, British Empire, Copley Medal, Fellow of the Royal Society, index card, invention of the telegraph, invisible hand, James Watt: steam engine, Livingstone, I presume, Menlo Park, popular electronics, Ralph Waldo Emerson, RFID, Stephen Hawking, the scientific method, transcontinental railway, Upton Sinclair, Vannevar Bush

The intent of this book is to draw together those disparate and seemingly unrelated elements to tell the story. If there are detours, it is only because the facts uncovered were either too interesting or too much fun to leave out. As an author, I’d like to believe this is the first book in which Wolfman Jack, Michael Faraday, Lord Byron, and the band Metallica appear between the same covers. 1 A World without Science “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” —Arthur C. Clarke In the early 1800s, the Danish curator and archaeologist Christian Jürgensen Thomsen hit on a novel idea for classifying prehistory artifacts. By dividing them into three categories—Stone Age, Bronze Age, and Iron Age—he was able to make some sense of his museum’s collection and shed light on civilizations long vanished. What he had done, of course, was create a technological time line with each of the three classifications defined not only by materials, but also by technical skill sets and accumulated knowledge base.

 

pages: 329 words: 95,309

Digital Bank: Strategies for Launching or Becoming a Digital Bank by Chris Skinner

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algorithmic trading, Amazon Web Services, Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic, augmented reality, bank run, Basel III, bitcoin, business intelligence, business process, business process outsourcing, call centre, cashless society, clean water, cloud computing, corporate social responsibility, credit crunch, crowdsourcing, cryptocurrency, demand response, disintermediation, don't be evil, en.wikipedia.org, fiat currency, financial innovation, Google Glasses, high net worth, informal economy, Infrastructure as a Service, Internet of things, Jeff Bezos, Kevin Kelly, Kickstarter, M-Pesa, margin call, mass affluent, mobile money, Mohammed Bouazizi, new economy, Northern Rock, Occupy movement, platform as a service, Ponzi scheme, prediction markets, pre–internet, quantitative easing, ransomware, reserve currency, RFID, Satoshi Nakamoto, Silicon Valley, smart cities, software as a service, Steve Jobs, strong AI, trade route, unbanked and underbanked, underbanked, upwardly mobile, We are the 99%, web application, Y2K

We are already living in a world where the internet of things intellisenses our buying habits and, if we’re buying, we’re paying for things. This means the bank that ties itself into the value chain of intellisense, is the bank that will be at the heart of the next generation of retail payments. And that means being the bank that mines data to provide predictive, proactive, proximity based payments. This also means that the augmented economy is already a reality. The Augmented Economy “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” Arthur C. Clarke, 1917 - 2008 The augmented economy, where everything is connected and communicating and transacting non-stop, became a reality in 2013 when Google launched Google Glass. Google Glass is a pair of wifi glasses that allow you to see enhanced information about all that is around you in real-time. Google and influential commentators such as Robert Scoble believe this technology will change people’s lives forever.

 

pages: 330 words: 88,445

The Rise of Superman: Decoding the Science of Ultimate Human Performance by Steven Kotler

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Albert Einstein, Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic, Clayton Christensen, data acquisition, delayed gratification, deliberate practice, fear of failure, Google Earth, haute couture, impulse control, Jeff Bezos, jimmy wales, Kevin Kelly, life extension, Maui Hawaii, pattern recognition, Ray Kurzweil, risk tolerance, rolodex, Silicon Valley, Steve Jobs, Walter Mischel, X Prize

LEARNING TO LEARN FASTER Albert Heim fell off a mountain in the Swiss Alps in the late nineteenth century; Felix Baumgartner fell out of the stratosphere in the early twenty-first century, and in between an exceptional group of athletes and an extraordinary state of consciousness have teamed up to do the impossible—over and over again. It’s been a real magical mystery tour. Danny Way jumped over the Great Wall of China on a shattered limb; Ian Walsh paddled into a wave the size of an apartment building; Dean Potter caught hold of a climbing rope while falling at terminal velocity into the Cellar of Swallows. “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic,” Arthur C. Clarke famously told us. Hopefully one thing is now clear—flow is that advanced technology. It is also very disruptive technology—which is exactly what we need right now. In 2011, I cowrote a book with X Prize founder and Singularity University cofounder Peter Diamandis called Abundance. In it, we explore how exponentially growing technology combined with three other emerging forces gives humanity the power to significantly raise global standards of living over the next two to three decades.

 

Pandora's Brain by Calum Chace

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3D printing, AI winter, Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic, artificial general intelligence, brain emulation, Extropian, friendly AI, hive mind, Ray Kurzweil, self-driving car, Silicon Valley, Singularitarianism, Skype, speech recognition, stealth mode startup, Stephen Hawking, strong AI, technological singularity, Turing test

All the others have gone extinct, probably because Homo Sapiens Sapiens was just a nose ahead in the competition for resources. ‘And competition with the AI is just one of the scenarios which don’t work out well for humanity. Even if the AI is well-disposed towards us it could inadvertently enfeeble us simply by demonstrating vividly that we have become an inferior species. Science fiction writer Arthur C Clarke’s third law famously states that any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic. A later variant of that law says that any sufficiently advanced benevolence may be indistinguishable from malevolence.’ As Professor Montaubon drew breath, Ross took the opportunity to introduce a change of voice. ‘How about you, Professor Christensen? Are you any more optimistic?’ ‘Optimism and pessimism are both forms of bias, and I try to avoid bias.’ Ross smiled uncertainly at this remark, not sure whether it was a joke.

 

pages: 696 words: 143,736

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

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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, Douglas Hofstadter, fudge factor, George Gilder, Gödel, Escher, Bach, I think there is a world market for maybe five computers, information retrieval, invention of movable type, iterative process, Jacquard loom, Jacquard loom, John von Neumann, Law of Accelerating Returns, mandelbrot fractal, Marshall McLuhan, Menlo Park, natural language processing, optical character recognition, pattern recognition, phenotype, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Ray Kurzweil, 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, traveling salesman, Turing machine, Turing test, Whole Earth Review, Y2K

Their DNA is 98.6 percent the same as the lowland gorilla, and 97.8 percent the same as the orangutan.12 The story of evolution since that time now focuses in on a human-sponsored variant of evolution: technology. TECHNOLOGY: EVOLUTION BY OTHER MEANS When a scientist states that something is possible, he is almost certainly right. When he states that something is impossible, he is very probably wrong. The only way of discovering the limits of the possible is to venture a little way past them into the impossible. Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic. —Arthur C. Clarke’s three laws of technology A machine is as distinctively and brilliantly and expressively human as a violin sonata or a theorem in Euclid. —Gregory Vlastos Technology picks right up with the exponentially quickening pace of evolution. Although not the only tool-using animal; Homo sapiens are distinguished by their creation of technology.13 Technology goes beyond the mere fashioning and use of tools.

 

pages: 500 words: 146,240

Gamers at Work: Stories Behind the Games People Play by Morgan Ramsay, Peter Molyneux

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Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic, augmented reality, collective bargaining, game design, index card, Mark Zuckerberg, oil shock, pirate software, RAND corporation, risk tolerance, Silicon Valley, Skype, Steve Jobs, Von Neumann architecture

By the time I thought seriously of changing the name to something more unique, I decided against it. We had developed a very loyal following who knew us by that name, and so the die was cast. Ramsay: What other names did you consider? Weaver: I dabbled with the idea of using a name that incorporated the word “magic” out of respect for Arthur C. Clarke, who said, “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” But, in the end, Bethesda Softworks stuck. Ramsay: Location is important to some businesses. How did you choose the commercial space? Where was it? Weaver: A commercial location became important because the original place where I started the company was my house, which was not zoned for a commercial enterprise. I lived in Bethesda at the time, and chose a space in Rockville that was convenient to the closest major highway, but in a direction opposite to normal morning commuter traffic.

 

pages: 496 words: 154,363

I'm Feeling Lucky: The Confessions of Google Employee Number 59 by Douglas Edwards

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Albert Einstein, AltaVista, Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic, barriers to entry, book scanning, Build a better mousetrap, Burning Man, business intelligence, call centre, crowdsourcing, don't be evil, Elon Musk, Googley, invisible hand, Jeff Bezos, job-hopping, Menlo Park, microcredit, music of the spheres, Network effects, P = NP, PageRank, performance metric, pets.com, Ralph Nader, risk tolerance, second-price auction, side project, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, slashdot, stem cell, Y2K

Instead, we looked at what other sites did and hypothesized what would be most effective by drawing on our own experience. Truth could not be objectively and rationally derived until we had actually made a decision and implemented it. When we guessed wrong, usage dropped and user email increased. "Why can't I change my display font?" people demanded to know. "Isn't this still America?" Arthur C. Clarke once postulated, "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic." Our job on the UI team was to set the stage for the technological marvel that happened whenever someone conducted a search—to make Google's interface supernaturally simple to use. The choices we made may look painfully obvious, but that's a mark of the team's success. We didn't try to distract users with anything showy or ostentatious or follow the portal path of flashing colors, dazzling displays, and other hocus pocus.

 

pages: 382 words: 120,064

Bank 3.0: Why Banking Is No Longer Somewhere You Go but Something You Do by Brett King

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3D printing, additive manufacturing, Albert Einstein, Amazon Web Services, Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic, augmented reality, barriers to entry, bitcoin, bounce rate, business intelligence, business process, business process outsourcing, call centre, capital controls, citizen journalism, Clayton Christensen, cloud computing, credit crunch, crowdsourcing, disintermediation, en.wikipedia.org, George Gilder, Google Glasses, high net worth, I think there is a world market for maybe five computers, Infrastructure as a Service, invention of the printing press, Jeff Bezos, jimmy wales, London Interbank Offered Rate, M-Pesa, Mark Zuckerberg, mass affluent, microcredit, mobile money, more computing power than Apollo, Northern Rock, Occupy movement, optical character recognition, performance metric, platform as a service, QWERTY keyboard, Ray Kurzweil, recommendation engine, RFID, risk tolerance, self-driving car, Skype, speech recognition, stem cell, telepresence, Tim Cook: Apple, transaction costs, underbanked, web application

While still largely in development, imagine what the 3D printer will do to the world’s manufacturing sector. There will be a huge business in manufacturing 3D printers at least! Well, that is, until we can print a new 3D printer using your old one . . . A great quote to illustrate the concept of the realisation of such technological advancement is one from the late science fiction author, Arthur C. Clarke: “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” An iPad would certainly have appeared magical to someone living in the 18th century. While 25 years is a long way away, let’s think about the devices we’ll be using in 2016, just four years away, and how those devices will enable the banking experience. The technology of 2016 should inform the type of services and technology utilisation required for banking in four years’ time.

 

pages: 433 words: 127,171

The Grid: The Fraying Wires Between Americans and Our Energy Future by Gretchen Bakke

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Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic, autonomous vehicles, back-to-the-land, big-box store, Buckminster Fuller, demand response, dematerialisation, distributed generation, energy security, energy transition, full employment, illegal immigration, Internet of things, laissez-faire capitalism, Menlo Park, Negawatt, new economy, post-oil, profit motive, Ronald Reagan, self-driving car, Silicon Valley, smart grid, smart meter, the built environment, too big to fail, washing machines reduced drudgery, Whole Earth Catalog

Contents Introduction CHAPTER 1 The Way of the Wind CHAPTER 2 How the Grid Got Its Wires CHAPTER 3 The Consolidation of Power CHAPTER 4 The Cardigan Path CHAPTER 5 Things Fall Apart CHAPTER 6 Two Birds, One Stone CHAPTER 7 A Tale of Two Storms CHAPTER 8 In Search of the Holy Grail CHAPTER 9 American Zeitgeist Afterword: Contemplating Death in the Afternoon Acknowledgments Notes Index A Note on the Author Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic. —ARTHUR C. CLARKE Right now there’s three power companies in New York City: there is ConEd in Manhattan, there is the Brooklyn power company Brooklyn Union Gas up in Brooklyn, and there is a windmill here on 519 East Eleventh Street. —INTERVIEW FROM THE 1978 FILM VIVA LOISAIDA Introduction Energy is a hot-button issue these days. From the marble halls of state to Louisiana’s once-battered and besmeared coastline, we as a nation keep hearing about the need to make the transition to green, clean, sustainable energy.

 

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

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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, augmented reality, autonomous vehicles, Benoit Mandelbrot, Bill Joy: nanobots, bioinformatics, brain emulation, Brewster Kahle, Brownian motion, business intelligence, c2.com, 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, Douglas Hofstadter, en.wikipedia.org, 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, iterative process, Jaron Lanier, Jeff Bezos, job automation, job satisfaction, John von Neumann, Kevin Kelly, Law of Accelerating Returns, life extension, linked data, Loebner Prize, Louis Pasteur, mandelbrot fractal, mutually assured destruction, natural language processing, Network effects, new economy, oil shale / tar sands, optical character recognition, pattern recognition, phenotype, premature optimization, randomized controlled trial, Ray Kurzweil, reversible computing, Rodney Brooks, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, 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, transaction costs, Turing machine, Turing test, Vernor Vinge, Y2K

A word on magic: when I was reading the Tom Swift Jr. books, I was also an avid magician. I enjoyed the delight of my audiences in experiencing apparently impossible transformations of reality. In my teen years, I replaced my parlor magic with technology projects. I discovered that unlike mere tricks, technology does not lose its transcendent power when its secrets are revealed. I am often reminded of Arthur C. Clarke's third law, that "any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic." Consider J. K. Rowling's Harry Potter stories from this perspective. These tales may be imaginary, but they are not unreasonable visions of our world as it will exist only a few decades from now. Essentially all of the Potter "magic" will be realized through the technologies I will explore in this book. Playing quidditch and transforming people and objects into other forms will be feasible in full-immersion virtual-reality environments, as well as in real reality, using nanoscale devices.

 

pages: 798 words: 240,182

The Transhumanist Reader by Max More, Natasha Vita-More

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23andMe, Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic, artificial general intelligence, augmented reality, Bill Joy: nanobots, bioinformatics, brain emulation, Buckminster Fuller, cellular automata, clean water, cloud computing, cognitive bias, cognitive dissonance, combinatorial explosion, conceptual framework, Conway's Game of Life, cosmological principle, data acquisition, discovery of DNA, Drosophila, en.wikipedia.org, experimental subject, Extropian, Flynn Effect, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, Frank Gehry, friendly AI, game design, hypertext link, impulse control, index fund, John von Neumann, joint-stock company, Kevin Kelly, Law of Accelerating Returns, life extension, Louis Pasteur, Menlo Park, meta-analysis, moral hazard, Network effects, P = NP, pattern recognition, phenotype, positional goods, prediction markets, Ray Kurzweil, reversible computing, RFID, Ronald Reagan, silicon-based life, Singularitarianism, stem cell, stochastic process, superintelligent machines, supply-chain management, supply-chain management software, technological singularity, Ted Nelson, telepresence, telepresence robot, telerobotics, the built environment, The Coming Technological Singularity, the scientific method, The Wisdom of Crowds, transaction costs, Turing machine, Turing test, Upton Sinclair, Vernor Vinge, Von Neumann architecture, Whole Earth Review, women in the workforce

This means that “traditional” technologically based ideas about the future might remain confined to a very small minority of the technically oriented.2 Evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins, in a recent interview in the New York Times (Powell 2011), said “it’s highly plausible that in the universe there are God-like creatures.” Further, in his book The God Delusion, Dawkins wrote: “[T]here are very probably alien civilizations that are superhuman, to the point of being god-like in ways that exceed anything a theologian could possibly imagine. … As Arthur C. Clarke put it, in his Third Law: “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” In what sense would they be superhuman but not supernatural? In a very important sense, which goes to the heart of this book. The crucial difference between gods and god-like extraterrestrials lies not in their properties but in their provenance. Entities that are complex enough to be intelligent are products of an evolutionary process. No matter how god-like they may seem when we encounter them, they didn’t start that way.