Stephen Hawking

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pages: 86 words: 14,764

Free-Range Chickens by Simon Rich

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Saturday Night Live, Stephen Hawking

God bless you, The President An interview with Stephen Hawking REPORTER: I just want to start off by saying what a huge fan I am. STEPHEN HAWKING: Thank you so much. REPORTER: How does it feel to know that your seminal work, A Brief History of Time, has sold over two million copies worldwide? STEPHEN HAWKING: It’s an incredible honor. I’m still shocked, to be honest, that it was published in the first place. It isn’t very often that I Love Lucy fan fiction makes its way onto the shelves. REPORTER: I’m sorry…did you say “I Love Lucy fan fiction”? STEPHEN HAWKING: Yes, that’s what my book is: a series of stories that I wrote using the characters from I Love Lucy. They travel around the world together, having zany adventures. REPORTER: I thought it was about astrophysics. Like…black holes. STEPHEN HAWKING: That’s only the first three chapters.

STEPHEN HAWKING: That’s only the first three chapters. In the middle of chapter four the narrative spirals off into I Love Lucy fan fiction and stays there for the remainder of the book. REPORTER: Really? STEPHEN HAWKING: Yes. I must say, I’m pretty surprised you didn’t notice. It’s almost as if you started to read my book, got bored, and then quit after just a few pages. REPORTER:… STEPHEN HAWKING: Oh my God. That’s what happened, isn’t it? You bought my book, because you wanted to look smart, but you never even read past page fifty! I’m right, aren’t I? REPORTER: I’m sorry, Dr. Hawking. STEPHEN HAWKING: Has anyone finished my book? The final moments of the Titanic According to legend, the Titanic band continued to play music as their ship went down. They never abandoned their instruments or sought places in the lifeboats.

Contents Title Page Dedication Author’s note I GROWING UP Terrifying childhood experiences When I lost my first tooth A conversation between the people who hid in my closet every night when I was seven If adults were subjected to the same indignities as children My top secret seventh-grade diary Frogs Middle-school telephone conversation Bar mitzvah Inside the cartridge: Duck Hunt Deal with God What I imagined the people around me were saying when I was… How my mother imagined the police Ninth-grade experiments II GOING TO WORK Choose your own adventure Actor’s nightmare Demands Gotham City Hall World’s oldest profession Worst nightmare The only e-mails I could receive that would justify the frequency with which I check my e-mail An interview with Stephen Hawking The final moments of the Titanic Acupuncture school III DAILY LIFE The official rules of boxing Secret Service Logic problems Time machine Amusement Opium wars Marathon All-you-can-eat buffet fantasy The eleventh hour Next move IV RELATIONSHIPS Match.com profile Donors needed Summers abroad Being of sound mind Moses I think my teenaged daughter knows I read her diary Last Supper What I want my tombstone to say when I die of encephalitis next week Thor’s Day V ANIMALS Free-range chickens Dalmatians Lab study Herbert Hoover Prehistoric life VI GOD Everything happens for a reason Intelligent design Why do bad things happen to good people?

 

pages: 144 words: 43,356

Surviving AI: The Promise and Peril of Artificial Intelligence by Calum Chace

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3D printing, Ada Lovelace, AI winter, Airbnb, artificial general intelligence, augmented reality, barriers to entry, bitcoin, blockchain, brain emulation, Buckminster Fuller, cloud computing, computer age, computer vision, correlation does not imply causation, credit crunch, cryptocurrency, cuban missile crisis, dematerialisation, discovery of the americas, disintermediation, don't be evil, Elon Musk, en.wikipedia.org, epigenetics, Erik Brynjolfsson, everywhere but in the productivity statistics, Flash crash, friendly AI, Google Glasses, industrial robot, Internet of things, invention of agriculture, job automation, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, John Maynard Keynes: technological unemployment, John von Neumann, Kevin Kelly, life extension, low skilled workers, Mahatma Gandhi, means of production, mutually assured destruction, Nicholas Carr, pattern recognition, Peter Thiel, Ray Kurzweil, Rodney Brooks, Second Machine Age, self-driving car, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley ideology, Skype, South Sea Bubble, speech recognition, Stanislav Petrov, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, strong AI, technological singularity, theory of mind, Turing machine, Turing test, universal basic income, Vernor Vinge, wage slave, Wall-E

Technological unemployment could force us to adopt an entirely new economic structure, and the creation of superintelligence would be the biggest event in human history. Surviving AI is a first-class introduction to all of this. Brad Feld, co-founder Techstars The promises and perils of machine superintelligence are much debated nowadays. But between the complex and sometimes esoteric writings of AI theorists and academics like Nick Bostrom, and the popular-press prognostications of Elon Musk, Bill Gates and Stephen Hawking, there is something of a gap. Calum Chace’s Surviving AI bridges that gap perfectly. It provides a compact yet rigorous guide to all the major arguments and issues in the field. An excellent resource for those who are new to this topic. John Danaher, Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies (IEET) Calum Chace strikes a note of clarity and balance in the important and often divisive dialogue around the benefits and potential dangers of artificial intelligence.

Perhaps computers will never demonstrate common sense. Perhaps they will never report themselves to be conscious. Perhaps they will never decide to revise their goals. But given their startling progress to date and the weakness of the a priori arguments that conscious machines cannot be created (which we will review in chapter 4), it seems unwise to bet too heavily on it. A lot of people were surprised when Stephen Hawking and Elon Musk said in 2014 that the future of artificial intelligence was something to be concerned about. Both men applauded the achievements of AI research, and the benefits it has delivered. They went on to ask what will happen if and when computers become smarter than people, and we find that we have created a super-intelligence. We will look at the detail of what they said later on, but putting that to one side for the moment along with the question of whether they are right to be concerned, why were so many people surprised?

Less sceptical experts However there are also plenty of veteran AI researchers who think AGI may arrive soon. Stuart Russell is a British computer scientist and AI researcher who is, along with Peter Norvig, a director of research at Google, co-author of one of the field’s standard university textbooks, “Artificial Intelligence: A Modern Approach”. Russell was one of the co-authors of the Huffington Post article in April 2014 which propelled Stephen Hawking into the limelight as a leading proponent of the idea that much more work is needed to ensure that AGI is friendly toward humans. Nils Nilsson is one of the founders of the science of artificial intelligence, and has been on the faculty of Stanford’s Computer Science department since 1985. He was a founding fellow of the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence (AAAI), and its fourth president.

 

pages: 634 words: 185,116

From eternity to here: the quest for the ultimate theory of time by Sean M. Carroll

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Albert Einstein, Albert Michelson, anthropic principle, Arthur Eddington, Brownian motion, cellular automata, Claude Shannon: information theory, Columbine, cosmic microwave background, cosmological constant, cosmological principle, dark matter, dematerialisation, double helix, en.wikipedia.org, gravity well, Harlow Shapley and Heber Curtis, Henri Poincaré, Isaac Newton, John von Neumann, Lao Tzu, lone genius, New Journalism, Norbert Wiener, pets.com, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, Richard Stallman, Schrödinger's Cat, Slavoj Žižek, Stephen Hawking, stochastic process, the scientific method, wikimedia commons

Which meant that I tagged along in my car while they all went to dinner, so I could shuttle the assistant back and forth. Hawking was the only one who knew where the restaurant was, but speaking through his voice synthesizer is a slow process; we spent several tense moments stopped in the middle of a busy road while Hawking explained that we had passed the restaurant and would have to turn around. Figure 58: Stephen Hawking, who gave us the most important clue we have about the relationship between quantum mechanics, gravity, and entropy. Stephen Hawking has been able to accomplish remarkable things while working under extraordinary handicaps, and the reason is basically straightforward: He refuses to compromise in any way. He’s not going to cut down his travel schedule, or eat at the wrong restaurant, or drink a lesser quality of tea, or curtail his wicked sense of humor, or think less ambitiously about the inner workings of the universe, merely because he is confined to a wheelchair.

It has been a real controversy within the physics community, with different people coming down on different sides of the debate. Very roughly speaking, physicists who come from a background in general relativity (including Stephen Hawking) have tended to believe that information really is lost, and that black hole evaporation represents a breakdown of the conventional rules of quantum mechanics; meanwhile, those from a background in particle physics and quantum field theory have tended to believe that a better understanding would show that the information was somehow preserved. In 1997, Hawking and fellow general-relativist Kip Thorne made a bet with John Preskill, a particle theorist from Caltech. It read as follows: Whereas Stephen Hawking and Kip Thorne firmly believe that information swallowed by a black hole is forever hidden from the outside universe, and can never be revealed even as the black hole evaporates and completely disappears, And whereas John Preskill firmly believes that a mechanism for the information to be released by the evaporating black hole must and will be found in the correct theory of quantum gravity, Therefore Preskill offers, and Hawking/Thorne accept, a wager that: When an initial pure quantum state undergoes gravitational collapse to form a black hole, the final state at the end of black hole evaporation will always be a pure quantum state.

First printing, January 2010 Copyright © 2010 by Sean Carroll All rights reserved Photograph on page 37 by Martin Röll, licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 2.0 License, from Wikimedia Commons. Photograph on page 47 courtesy of the Huntington Library. Image on page 53 by the NASA/WMAP Science Team. Photograph on page 67 courtesy of Corbis Images. Image on page 119 courtesy of Getty Images. Figures on pages 147, 153, 177, 213, 270, 379, and 382 by Sean Carroll. Photograph on page 204 courtesy of the Smithsonian Institution. Photograph on page 259 courtesy of Professor Stephen Hawking. Photograph on page 267 courtesy of Professor Jacob Bekenstein. Photograph on page 295 by Jerry Bauer, from Wikimedia Commons. Photograph on page 315 courtesy of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. All other images courtesy of Jason Torchinsky. REGISTERED TRADEMARK—MARCA REGISTRADA LIBRARY OF CONGRESS CATALOGING-IN-PUBLICATION DATA Carroll, Sean M., 1966- From eternity to here : the quest for the ultimate theory of time / Sean Carroll.

 

pages: 76 words: 16,007

Ant Farm and Other Desperate Situations by Simon Rich

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nuclear winter, Stephen Hawking

AL: You know, if you want, I could buy you a suit with my winnings! Seriously, I’d be happy to do it. SAM: What’s the point? Some bear would find a way. where are all the time travelers? Stephen Hawking once said, “If time travel is real, where are all the time travelers?” Everyone I talk to thinks this is such a great quote and that it proves that time travel is just a fantasy. But what people are forgetting is that Stephen Hawking is obviously a time traveler. Think about it. “If time travel is real, where are all the time travelers?” That is exactly the kind of thing a time traveler would say. Everyone’s like “Oh, Stephen Hawking, you’re so smart, of course there’s no such thing as time travel!” Meanwhile, Hawking is probably at the dog track right now winning trifecta after trifecta. Let’s think about this rationally.

Then you would politely excuse yourself, call a bookie, and bet on Duke to defeat UNLV in the 1991 NCAA semifinals, even though they were eleven-point underdogs. Where are all the time travelers? They’re on Wall Street, smoking Cuban cigars and laughing so hard that tears are streaming down their fat faces. Meanwhile, we’re sitting around like morons, betting our money on random dogs and horses and talking about how smart Stephen Hawking is. He probably didn’t even write his books! If you could magically travel through time, think about how easy it would be to bring back some smart book from the future, retype it, and pass it off as your own. The following people are also probably time travelers: the woman who married Bill Gates before he invented Microsoft the guy who just happened to be filming JFK when he got assassinated George Foreman (how else would he know to sponsor that grill?)

 

pages: 310 words: 89,838

Massive: The Missing Particle That Sparked the Greatest Hunt in Science by Ian Sample

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Albert Einstein, Arthur Eddington, cuban missile crisis, dark matter, Donald Trump, double helix, Ernest Rutherford, Gary Taubes, Isaac Newton, John Conway, John von Neumann, Menlo Park, Murray Gell-Mann, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, Ronald Reagan, Stephen Hawking, uranium enrichment, Yogi Berra

Fission reactions release energy by splitting atoms of uranium and other materials. The Allied and Axis powers both knew that with the right expertise it was possible to create a chain reaction and release an enormous amount of energy from countless atoms in one devastating blast. Paul Dirac spent the war years at Cambridge as the Lucasian Professor of Mathematics, the job that Isaac Newton had held more than 250 years earlier and that Stephen Hawking would assume 40 years later. Dirac worked briefly on confidential techniques to make weapons-grade uranium, which fed into the Manhattan Project, the U.S. atomic bomb effort led by Robert Oppenheimer at Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico. Dirac mostly avoided military research, though, instead grappling with the challenges of being an academic at Cambridge. One of his wartime headaches was a brilliant if disruptive student named Freeman Dyson.

Higgs was wary of the perceived privilege of Oxbridge and those who went there, and Dirac was notoriously taciturn, to the point that scholars have speculated that he might have been autistic. It made many of his relationships awkward, and he didn’t often take on Ph.D. students. When he did, overseeing their work was a chore, and he rarely expressed much interest in their progress. One young physicist, Dennis Sciama, who in later life supervised the British cosmologists Stephen Hawking and Sir Martin Rees, was briefly Dirac’s Ph.D. student and experienced the effects of his temperament after having a bright idea about the cosmos. Sciama hurried along to his supervisor’s office and knocked on the door. When Sciama was called in, he said: “Professor Dirac, I’ve just thought of a way of relating the formation of stars to cosmological questions, shall I tell you about it?” Dirac issued a simple “No,” leaving Sciama with little choice other than to walk back out.

The next June, when Bill Clinton was six months into his presidency, the same thing happened again. By now, the General Accounting Office was estimating that the final cost of the SSC would reach $11 billion. In September 1993, a distinguished delegation of physicists, including Steven Weinberg, Burton Richter, and Leon Lederman, left their labs and offices for George Washington University to promote the supercollider. Prominent British physicist Stephen Hawking sent his own message of support via videotape. They hoped for widespread media coverage, but the story sank beneath the main news of the day: Clinton had brought the Israeli prime minister, Yitzhak Rabin, and PLO chairman Yasser Arafat together to sign the Oslo peace accords. A month later, Congress was scheduled to vote again on Big Science projects. The SSC was up for approval again; so, too, was the International Space Station, a multinational venture with an initial price tag of $25 billion.

 

pages: 186 words: 64,267

A Brief History of Time by Stephen Hawking

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Albert Einstein, Albert Michelson, anthropic principle, Arthur Eddington, bet made by Stephen Hawking and Kip Thorne, Brownian motion, cosmic microwave background, cosmological constant, dark matter, Edmond Halley, Ernest Rutherford, Henri Poincaré, Isaac Newton, Magellanic Cloud, Murray Gell-Mann, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, Stephen Hawking

ALSO BY STEPHEN HAWKING A Briefer History of Time Black Holes and Baby Universes and Other Essays The Illustrated A Brief History of Time The Universe in a Nutshell The Grand Design FOR CHILDREN George’s Secret Key to the Universe (with Lucy Hawking) George’s Cosmic Treasure Hunt (with Lucy Hawking) A BRIEF HISTORY OF TIME A Bantam Book Publishing History Bantam illustrated hardcover edition published November 1996 Bantam hardcover edition/September 1998 Bantam trade paperback edition/September 1998 All rights reserved. Copyright © 1988, 1996 by Stephen Hawking Illustrations copyright © 1988 by Ron Miller BOOK DESIGN BY GLEN M. EDELSTEIN No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher.

On the secretarial side, I’m very grateful to Judy Fella, Ann Ralph, Laura Gentry, Cheryl Billington, and Sue Masey. My assistants have been Colin Williams, David Thomas, and Raymond Laflamme, Nick Phillips, Andrew Dunn, Stuart Jamieson, Jonathan Brenchley, Tim Hunt, Simon Gill, Jon Rogers, and Tom Kendall. They, my nurses, colleagues, friends, and family have enabled me to live a very full life and to pursue my research despite my disability. Stephen Hawking ABOUT THE AUTHOR STEPHEN HAWKING was the Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at the University of Cambridge for thirty years, and has been the recipient of numerous awards and honors including, most recently, the Presidential Medal of Freedom. His books for the general reader include the classic A Brief History of Time, the essay collection Black Holes and Baby Universes, The Universe in a Nutshell, A Briefer History of Time and The Grand Design.

EDELSTEIN No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher. For information address: Bantam Books. Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Hawking, S. W. (Stephen W.) A brief history of time / Stephen Hawking. p. cm. Includes index. eISBN: 978-0-553-89692-3 1. Cosmology. I. Title. QB981.H377 1998 523.1—dc21 98-21874 Bantam Books are published by Bantam Books, a division of Random House, Inc. Its trademark, consisting of the words “Bantam Books” and the portrayal of a rooster, is Registered in the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and in other countries. Marca Registrada. Bantam Books, 1745 Broadway, New York, New York 10019. Cover design and illustration Pere 360, based on a photograph © David Montgomery/Getty Images.

 

pages: 179 words: 43,441

The Fourth Industrial Revolution by Klaus Schwab

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3D printing, additive manufacturing, Airbnb, Amazon Mechanical Turk, Amazon Web Services, augmented reality, autonomous vehicles, barriers to entry, Baxter: Rethink Robotics, bitcoin, blockchain, Buckminster Fuller, call centre, clean water, collaborative consumption, conceptual framework, continuous integration, crowdsourcing, disintermediation, distributed ledger, Edward Snowden, Elon Musk, epigenetics, Erik Brynjolfsson, future of work, global value chain, Google Glasses, income inequality, Internet Archive, Internet of things, invention of the steam engine, job automation, job satisfaction, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, John Maynard Keynes: technological unemployment, life extension, Lyft, megacity, meta analysis, meta-analysis, more computing power than Apollo, mutually assured destruction, Narrative Science, Network effects, Nicholas Carr, personalized medicine, precariat, precision agriculture, Productivity paradox, race to the bottom, randomized controlled trial, reshoring, RFID, rising living standards, Second Machine Age, secular stagnation, self-driving car, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, smart cities, smart contracts, software as a service, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, Steven Levy, Stuxnet, The Spirit Level, total factor productivity, transaction costs, Uber and Lyft, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, WikiLeaks, winner-take-all economy, women in the workforce, working-age population, Y Combinator, Zipcar

Jones, Adam D. I. Kramer, Cameron Marlow, Jaime E. Settle, and James H. Fowler, “A 61-million-person experiment in social influence and political mobilization”, Nature, 2 September 2012 (online). http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v489/n7415/full/nature11421.html 60 Stephen Hawking, Stuart Russell, Max Tegmark, Frank Wilczek, “Stephen Hawking: ‘Transcendence looks at the implications of artificial intelligence – but are we taking AI seriously enough?”, The Independent, 2 May 2014. http://www.independent.co.uk/news/science/stephen-hawking-transcendence-looks-at-the-implications-of-artificial-intelligence-but-are-we-taking-9313474.html 61 Greg Brockman, Ilya Sutskever & the OpenAI team, “Introducing OpenAI”, 11 December 2015 https://openai.com/blog/introducing-openai/ 62 Steven Levy, “How Elon Musk and Y Combinator Plan to Stop Computers From Taking Over”, 11 December 2015 https://medium.com/backchannel/how-elon-musk-and-y-combinator-plan-to-stop-computers-from-taking-over-17e0e27dd02a#.qjj55npcj 63 Sara Konrath, Edward O’Brien, and Courtney Hsing.

As human beings and as social animals, we will have to think individually and collectively about how we respond to issues such as life extension, designer babies, memory extraction and many more. At the same time, we must also realize that these incredible discoveries could also be manipulated to serve special interests – and not necessarily those of the public at large. As theoretical physicist and author Stephen Hawking and fellow scientists Stuart Russell, Max Tegmark and Frank Wilczek wrote in the newspaper The Independent when considering the implications of artificial intelligence: “Whereas the short-term impact of AI depends on who controls it, the long-term impact depends on whether it can be controlled at all…All of us should ask ourselves what we can do now to improve the chances of reaping the benefits and avoiding the risks”.60 One interesting development in this area is OpenAI, a non-profit AI research company announced in December 2015 with the goal to “advance digital intelligence in the way that is most likely to benefit humanity as a whole, unconstrained by a need to generate financial return”.61 The initiative – chaired by Sam Altman, President of Y Combinator, and Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla Motors - has secured $1 billion in committed funding.

 

pages: 370 words: 97,138

Beyond: Our Future in Space by Chris Impey

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3D printing, Admiral Zheng, Albert Einstein, Alfred Russel Wallace, Berlin Wall, Buckminster Fuller, butterfly effect, California gold rush, carbon-based life, Colonization of Mars, cosmic abundance, crowdsourcing, cuban missile crisis, dark matter, discovery of DNA, Doomsday Clock, Edward Snowden, Elon Musk, Eratosthenes, Haight Ashbury, Hyperloop, I think there is a world market for maybe five computers, Isaac Newton, Jeff Bezos, John von Neumann, Kickstarter, life extension, Mahatma Gandhi, Mars Rover, mutually assured destruction, Oculus Rift, operation paperclip, out of africa, Peter H. Diamandis: Planetary Resources, phenotype, purchasing power parity, RAND corporation, Ray Kurzweil, RFID, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman: Challenger O-ring, risk tolerance, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, Searching for Interstellar Communications, Silicon Valley, skunkworks, Skype, Stephen Hawking, Steven Pinker, supervolcano, technological singularity, telepresence, telerobotics, the medium is the message, the scientific method, theory of mind, V2 rocket, wikimedia commons, X Prize, Yogi Berra

The total flight time will be two and a half hours, with just six minutes of parabolic weightlessness at the top of the arc of its trajectory. For this experience, Virgin Galactic is asking a cool quarter of a million dollars (Figure 19). They’re getting it. As of late 2013, more than 650 people had paid deposits totaling $80 million. The list of people on the reservation list included Brad Pitt, Tom Hanks, Katy Perry, Paris Hilton, and Stephen Hawking. Branson, a diehard Trekkie, named his new spacecraft the Enterprise. He asked William Shatner to go up but said Shatner declined because he was afraid of flying. Shatner’s version is that Branson asked him how much he’d pay to go on the inaugural flight and he replied, “How much would you pay me to go on it?”10 Figure 19. The timeline of Virgin Galactic begins with Burt Rutan’s victory in the X Prize competition with SpaceShipOne in 2014, and the selection of a site in southern New Mexico as the launch facility for SpaceShipTwo flights.

Diamandis thought governments would never have the nimbleness or stomach for risk to take on the challenge of space. Worse, they prefer to smother innovation in red tape. When Diamandis presented his idea to the FAA, they said regulations wouldn’t permit passengers to be in a diving airplane with their seat belts unstrapped. It took eleven years for him to overcome the objections and offer the public a nauseating but exhilarating experience. His most noted passenger was the iconic physicist Stephen Hawking. Diamandis had met Hawking through the X Prize Foundation, and the physicist told him of his dream to go into space. Diamandis offered a zero-gravity experience instead, and Hawking accepted on the spot. But the aircraft partner said, “Are you crazy? We’re going to kill the guy!” The FAA said, “You’re only licensed to fly able-bodied people.” (Hawking has ALS and is confined to a wheelchair.)

Carl Sagan put it this way: “Since, in the long run, every planetary civilization will be endangered by impacts from space, every surviving civilization is obliged to become spacefaring—not from exploratory or romantic zeal, but for the most practical reason imaginable: staying alive.” Science fiction writer Larry Niven was more succinct: “The dinosaurs became extinct because they didn’t have a space program.” We may be able to fend off impacts from space, but physicist Stephen Hawking sounds the alarm about other threats: “It will be difficult enough to avoid disaster in the next hundred years, let alone the next thousand or million. Our only chance of long-term survival is not to remain inward-looking on planet Earth, but to spread out into space.”14 A mass exodus from Earth is implausible. After all, it costs $50 billion just to send a dozen people to the Moon for a few days.

 

pages: 404 words: 134,430

Why People Believe Weird Things: Pseudoscience, Superstition, and Other Confusions of Our Time by Michael Shermer

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Albert Einstein, Alfred Russel Wallace, anesthesia awareness, anthropic principle, butterfly effect, cognitive dissonance, complexity theory, conceptual framework, correlation does not imply causation, cosmological principle, discovery of DNA, false memory syndrome, Gary Taubes, invention of the wheel, Isaac Newton, laissez-faire capitalism, life extension, Murray Gell-Mann, out of africa, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, Silicon Valley, Stephen Hawking, Steven Pinker, The Bell Curve by Richard Herrnstein and Charles Murray, the scientific method, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions

Stanley Miller's creation of amino acids out of an inorganic "soup" and other biogenic molecules is not the creation of life. Science may not be equipped to answer certain "ultimate"-type questions, such as what there was before the beginning of the universe or what time it was before time began or where the matter for the Big Bang came from. So far these have been philosophical or religious questions, not scientific ones, and therefore have not been a part of science. (Recently, Stephen Hawking and other cosmologists have made some attempts at scientific speculations on these questions.) Evolutionary theory attempts to understand the causality of change after time and matter were "created" (whatever that means). As for the origin of life, biochemists do have a very rational and scientific explanation for the evolution from inorganic to organic compounds, the creation of amino acids and the construction of protein chains, the first crude cells, the creation of photosynthesis, the invention of sexual reproduction, and so on.

It has had and will have ugly and dire consequences, not only for Jews but for all of us and for future generations. We must provide answers to the claims of Holocaust deniers. We have the evidence and we must stand up and be heard. 15 Pigeonholes and Continuums An African-Greek-German-American Looks at Race Science books rarely make the best-seller lists, but when they do they usually have something to do either with our cosmological origins and destiny—Stephen Hawking's A Brief History of Time—or with the metaphysical side of our existence—Fritjof Capra's The Tao of Physics. How, then, did Free Press sell over 500,000 copies of a $30 book (yes, that's $15 million) filled with graphs, charts, curves, and three hundred pages of appendices, notes, and references, all on the obscure topic of psychometrics? Because one of those curves illustrates a fifteen-point difference in IQ scores between white and black Americans.

This may sound like hope springing eternal, but Tipler claims that it "is a logical consequence of my own area of research in global general relativity." And though he thinks that part of the problem is that his colleagues "are trained to detest religion so ferociously that even the suggestion that there might be some truth to the statements of religion is an outrage," Tipler says "the only reason the bigger names in the field of global general relativity, like Roger Penrose and Stephen Hawking, have not come to the same conclusion is that they draw back when they realize the outlandish consequences of the equations." Although Penrose and Hawking may retreat in deep understanding, in a revealing comment Tipler explained that most simply will not get it because "the essence of the Omega Point Theory is global general relativity. You have to be trained to think of the universe in the largest possible scale and to automatically view the cosmos in its temporal entirety—you envision the mathematical structure of the future as well as the past.

 

pages: 185 words: 55,639

The Search for Superstrings, Symmetry, and the Theory of Everything by John Gribbin

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Albert Einstein, Arthur Eddington, complexity theory, dark matter, Dmitri Mendeleev, Ernest Rutherford, Fellow of the Royal Society, Isaac Newton, Murray Gell-Mann, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, Schrödinger's Cat, Stephen Hawking

.… Here he introduces the ‘quarky’ zoo of subatomic particles and their mediating forces, Gribbin himself mediating for generalists the theories advanced to explain and unify them.… In these mind-bending realms, Gribbin's seasoned skills wonderfully simplify matters (and forces) without ‘dumbifying’ them.” —Gilbert Taylor, Booklist BY THE SAME AUTHOR In Search of the Edge of Time Hothouse Earth Being Human In Search of the Big Bang In Search of Schrödinger's Cat The Hole in the Sky Stephen Hawking: A Life in Science (WITH MICHAEL WHITE) Albert Einstein: A Life in Science The Matter Myth (WITH PAUL DAVIES) In the Beginning Schrödinger's Kittens and the Search for Reality Companion to the Cosmos The Case of the Missing Neutrinos Almost Everyone's Guide to Science Thanks to Benjamin Gribbin for editorial assistance Copyright Copyright © 1998 by John and Mary Gribbin Illustrations copyright © 1998 by John Gribbin All rights reserved.

It is all heady stuff, at the cutting edge of current research, and new ideas eddy around in profusion in the scientific journals of the 1990s. The most exciting variation on the theme, as I shall shortly explain, treats ‘particles’ not as points but as one-dimensional strings which ‘move’ in a ten-dimensional spacetime. These are ‘superstring’ theories. On the other hand, some theorists, including, surprisingly, Stephen Hawking (who was one of the first big fans of N = 8 theory, and said that it might mark the end of physics by explaining everything that physicists ever set out to explain), see all of the Kaluza–Klein ideas as leading up a blind alley. The theorists who like the Kaluza–Klein version of super-gravity and SUSY today like it, not because of any experimental proof that it is correct, but because it is so beautiful and internally consistent.

” — American Way “Gribbin's aim is to tell ‘the story of the particle world, from the discovery of the electron to the search for a supersymmetric theory explaining all the forces and particles of nature in one mathematical package.’ He is good at this sort of thing, and he has turned out a clear and concise tale.” —Scientific American John Gribbin holds a Ph.D. in astrophysics from Cambridge University. His books, which have won awards in both Britain and the United States, include the bestselling In Search of Schrödinger's Cat, Stephen Hawking: A Life in Science (with Michael White), and Schrödigner's Kittens and the Search for Reality. He lives in Sussex with his wife, Mary, who is also a science writer, and their two sons. 1 10−13 means a decimal point followed by 12 zeros and a 1; 1013 means I followed by 13 zeros, and so on. 1 The electron itself was only discovered, remember, in 1897, so Planck's explanation of black body radiation was necessarily a little vague on the exact nature of the charged particles within the atoms, and how they might be ‘vibrating’ to produce electromagnetic waves. 2 This is especially ironic since in recent years several theorists have pointed out that there is a way, after all, in which you can account for the photoelectric effect in terms of electromagnetic waves interacting with quantized atoms.

 

pages: 400 words: 94,847

Reinventing Discovery: The New Era of Networked Science by Michael Nielsen

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Albert Einstein, augmented reality, barriers to entry, bioinformatics, Cass Sunstein, Climategate, Climatic Research Unit, conceptual framework, dark matter, discovery of DNA, double helix, Douglas Engelbart, en.wikipedia.org, Erik Brynjolfsson, fault tolerance, Fellow of the Royal Society, Firefox, Freestyle chess, Galaxy Zoo, Internet Archive, invisible hand, Jane Jacobs, Jaron Lanier, Kevin Kelly, Magellanic Cloud, means of production, medical residency, Nicholas Carr, publish or perish, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, Richard Stallman, semantic web, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, Simon Singh, Skype, slashdot, social web, statistical model, Stephen Hawking, Stewart Brand, Ted Nelson, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, The Nature of the Firm, The Wisdom of Crowds, University of East Anglia, Vannevar Bush, Vernor Vinge

In the 1980s an approach to the problem known as string theory rose to prominence, and gradually came to dominate work on quantum gravity. At the same time, a much smaller number of physicists continued to pursue other approaches to quantum gravity. In recent years a debate called by some the “string wars” has been waged between advocates of the different approaches. Many physicists claim string theory is the only reasonable approach to quantum gravity. Others, including Stephen Hawking, Roger Penrose, and Lee Smolin, believe different approaches are worth pursuing. Remarkably, some prominent string theorists dismiss the non-string theorists not just as wrong, but as misguided, or even as fools. When such a fundamental division occurs, it is nearly impossible for large groups to collaborate across that division. Collective intelligence can only be applied within the respective tribes, where there is a shared praxis.

Most papers in astronomy are cited just a few times, if they’re cited at all. A paper that’s cited tens of times is quite successful, while a paper that’s cited hundreds of times is either famous or well on its way. The original SDSS paper has been cited in other papers more than 3,000 times. That’s more citations than many highly successful scientists receive over their entire career. To give you some feeling for what an achievement this is, Stephen Hawking, probably the world’s most famous scientist, has just a single paper with more than 3,000 citations. Hawking’s paper, which he published in 1975, in fact has just over 4,000 citations as of 2011. By contrast, the SDSS paper was published in 2000, and already has more than 3,000 citations. It will soon catch up to and surpass Hawking’s paper. Several follow-up s describing other aspects of the SDSS have also received more than 1,000 citations.

One of the standout successes of the open access movement is a popular website known as the physics preprint arXiv (pronounced “archive”). A “preprint” is a scientific paper, often at late draft stage, ready to be considered by a scientific journal for publication, but not yet published in a journal. You can go to the arXiv right now, and you’ll find hundreds of thousands of up-to-the-minute preprints from the world’s physicists, all available for free download. Want to know what Stephen Hawking is thinking about these days? Go to the arXiv, search on “Hawking,” and you can read his latest paper—not something he wrote a few years or decades back, but the paper he finished yesterday or last week or last month. Want to know the latest on the hunt for fundamental particles of nature at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC)? Go to arXiv, search on “LHC,” and you’ll get a pile of papers to make you stagger.

 

pages: 292 words: 88,319

The Infinite Book: A Short Guide to the Boundless, Timeless and Endless by John D. Barrow

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Albert Einstein, Andrew Wiles, anthropic principle, Arthur Eddington, cosmological principle, dark matter, Edmond Halley, Fellow of the Royal Society, Georg Cantor, Henri Poincaré, Isaac Newton, mutually assured destruction, Olbers’ paradox, prisoner's dilemma, Ray Kurzweil, short selling, Stephen Hawking, Turing machine

Instead of a crunch in the past there was a gentle ‘bounce’ or a coasting phase of the Universe’s expansion (See Figure 6.4). There is good reason to think like this. Einstein’s theory may just be a low-energy approximation to string theory when the string tension gets high, and string theory has already shown that it can get rid of all sorts of other infinities. Maybe it can rid us of those at the start of the Universe as well? This is the hope of Stephen Hawking, who sees the infinities of Einstein’s theory of gravity as a signal that a quantum theory of gravity is needed to supersede it. Many people see the infinite beginning of the Universe, where space and time seem to spring into being ready-made, along with the impetus for the Universe to expand, as a mathematical expression of Divine creation. In 1952, the Vatican embraced the picture of the expanding Big Bang universe as a natural conception of the Christian idea of creation out of nothing.11 It is interesting that the initial cosmological infinity is treated as acceptable by many scientists because they have been made used to the idea of the Universe having a beginning through religious traditions in the West.

In 1952, the Vatican embraced the picture of the expanding Big Bang universe as a natural conception of the Christian idea of creation out of nothing.11 It is interesting that the initial cosmological infinity is treated as acceptable by many scientists because they have been made used to the idea of the Universe having a beginning through religious traditions in the West. Yet it is dangerous to put too much faith in events at a moment where the density of the Universe is infinite. As Stephen Hawking advises, regarding the deduction of an infinity at the beginning of the Universe: ‘Although many people welcomed this conclusion, it has always profoundly disturbed me. If the laws of physics could break down at the beginning of the universe, why couldn’t they break down anywhere? . . . predictability would completely disappear.’12 Long ago, Einstein himself took a rather similar negative attitude to the appearance of infinities (‘singularities’) in the solutions to his equations.

We will not observe in Nature sequences of events which are unstable even though they are possible in principle and do not violate any law of Nature. One example would be the sudden coming together of fragments of glass to produce a wine glass – the time reverse of the process of breaking a glass into pieces. The other caveats all hinge upon the role that might be played by quantum theory. Up until 1974, black holes were believed to be inescapable matter traps. Once you passed in through the horizon there was no escape. Then Stephen Hawking predicted that black holes should not be completely black. Their strong gravitational fields will gradually produce pairs of particles close to the horizon at the expense of the mass and energy of the black hole. Gradually the mass of the hole will evaporate away. The process is very slow for large black holes that exist in the Universe today, and has no effect that we can see. However, if very small black holes, about the mass of a large mountain and the diameter of a single proton, had formed billions of years ago, they would be in the final explosive stages of their evaporation today.

 

pages: 484 words: 104,873

Rise of the Robots: Technology and the Threat of a Jobless Future by Martin Ford

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3D printing, additive manufacturing, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, AI winter, algorithmic trading, Amazon Mechanical Turk, artificial general intelligence, autonomous vehicles, banking crisis, Baxter: Rethink Robotics, Bernie Madoff, Bill Joy: nanobots, call centre, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, Chris Urmson, Clayton Christensen, clean water, cloud computing, collateralized debt obligation, computer age, debt deflation, deskilling, diversified portfolio, Erik Brynjolfsson, factory automation, financial innovation, Flash crash, Fractional reserve banking, Freestyle chess, full employment, Goldman Sachs: Vampire Squid, High speed trading, income inequality, indoor plumbing, industrial robot, informal economy, iterative process, Jaron Lanier, job automation, John Maynard Keynes: technological unemployment, John von Neumann, Khan Academy, knowledge worker, labor-force participation, labour mobility, liquidity trap, low skilled workers, low-wage service sector, Lyft, manufacturing employment, McJob, moral hazard, Narrative Science, Network effects, new economy, Nicholas Carr, Norbert Wiener, obamacare, optical character recognition, passive income, performance metric, Peter Thiel, Plutocrats, plutocrats, post scarcity, precision agriculture, price mechanism, Ray Kurzweil, rent control, rent-seeking, reshoring, RFID, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, Rodney Brooks, secular stagnation, self-driving car, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, single-payer health, software is eating the world, sovereign wealth fund, speech recognition, Spread Networks laid a new fibre optics cable between New York and Chicago, stealth mode startup, stem cell, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, Steven Levy, Steven Pinker, strong AI, Stuxnet, technological singularity, telepresence, telepresence robot, The Bell Curve by Richard Herrnstein and Charles Murray, The Coming Technological Singularity, Thomas L Friedman, too big to fail, Tyler Cowen: Great Stagnation, union organizing, Vernor Vinge, very high income, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, women in the workforce

,” Bloomberg News, October 14, 2003, http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=newsarchive&sid=aRI4bAft7Xw4. 38. On investment and the business cycle, see Paul Krugman, “Shocking Barro,” New York Times (The Conscience of a Liberal blog), September 12, 2011, http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/09/12/shocking-barro/. CHAPTER 9 1. Stephen Hawking, Stuart Russell, Max Tegmark, and Frank Wilczek, “Stephen Hawking: ‘Transcendence Looks at the Implications of Artificial Intelligence—But Are We Taking AI Seriously Enough?,’” The Independent, May 1, 2014, http://www.independent.co.uk/news/science/stephen-hawking-transcendence-looks-at-the-implications-of-artificial-intelligence-but-are-we-taking-ai-seriously-enough-9313474.html. 2. James Barrat, Our Final Invention: Artificial Intelligence and the End of the Human Era (New York: Thomas Dunne, 2013), pp. 196–197. 3. Yann LeCun, Google+ Post, October 28, 2013, https://plus.google.com/+YannLeCunPhD/posts/Qwj9EEkUJXY. 4.

Hacking and cyber attack would likely be the greatest dangers to their continued rule. * For example, waiting tables in a full-service restaurant would require a very advanced robot—something that we’re unlikely to see anytime soon. However, when consumers are struggling, restaurant meals are one of the first things to go, so waiters would still be at risk. Chapter 9 SUPER-INTELLIGENCE AND THE SINGULARITY In May 2014, Cambridge University physicist Stephen Hawking penned an article that set out to sound the alarm about the dangers of rapidly advancing artificial intelligence. Hawking, writing in the UK’s The Independent along with co-authors who included Max Tegmark and Nobel laureate Frank Wilczek, both physicists at MIT, as well as computer scientist Stuart Russell of the University of California, Berkeley, warned that the creation of a true thinking machine “would be the biggest event in human history.”

 

pages: 405 words: 117,219

In Our Own Image: Savior or Destroyer? The History and Future of Artificial Intelligence by George Zarkadakis

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3D printing, Ada Lovelace, agricultural Revolution, Airbnb, Alan Turing: On Computable Numbers, with an Application to the Entscheidungsproblem, anthropic principle, Asperger Syndrome, autonomous vehicles, barriers to entry, battle of ideas, Berlin Wall, bioinformatics, British Empire, business process, carbon-based life, cellular automata, Claude Shannon: information theory, combinatorial explosion, complexity theory, continuous integration, Conway's Game of Life, cosmological principle, dark matter, dematerialisation, double helix, Douglas Hofstadter, Edward Snowden, epigenetics, Flash crash, Google Glasses, Gödel, Escher, Bach, income inequality, index card, industrial robot, Internet of things, invention of agriculture, invention of the steam engine, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, Jacquard loom, Jacquard loom, Jacques de Vaucanson, James Watt: steam engine, job automation, John von Neumann, Joseph-Marie Jacquard, millennium bug, natural language processing, Norbert Wiener, On the Economy of Machinery and Manufactures, packet switching, pattern recognition, Paul Erdős, post-industrial society, prediction markets, Ray Kurzweil, Rodney Brooks, Second Machine Age, self-driving car, Silicon Valley, speech recognition, stem cell, Stephen Hawking, Steven Pinker, strong AI, technological singularity, The Coming Technological Singularity, the scientific method, theory of mind, Turing complete, Turing machine, Turing test, Tyler Cowen: Great Stagnation, Vernor Vinge, Von Neumann architecture, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, Y2K

You may be somebody who holds a belief in an immaterial mind such as this. This does not necessarily mean you are religious. There are scores of non-religious scientists who think similarly, although few would admit to it. Often they will use a vocabulary different from a metaphysical or religious one, in order to express very similar beliefs. For instance, prominent and self-declared agnostics, including the physicist Stephen Hawking, proclaim that human consciousness resembles a software program, and that at some time in the future it will be possible to extract it from your biological body, download it on a computer, so ‘you’ may live digitally forevermore. But isn’t this just saying in other words what religious people have been preaching all along? That body and soul are two separate entities uniting at birth and separating at death?

If mind is immaterial (for instance, made of immaterial monads, or psychons), it could not affect something material like an electron. To do so the mind would have to be material. This argument from the law of conservation of energy ought to suffice in order to silence all those who hold dualist beliefs about the mind. Yet apparently it does not. At the premier of a documentary about his life Stephen Hawking, one of the most prominent living physicists of our time, declared that the brain could exist outside the body.8 He said, ‘I think the brain is like a programme in the mind, which is like a computer, so it’s theoretically possible to copy the brain on to a computer and so provide a form of life after death.’ This is dualism, straight from the lips of a bona fide materialist. Hawking aims to circumvent the problem of conservation of energy in the body–mind problem by adopting the computer metaphor; while Eccles called quantum physics to the rescue.

Our meaningful, subjective experiences are therefore identical to the evolved self-organisation of mental states in our brain. Dennett’s reductionist theories seem to support the computer metaphor of the brain. The grey matter in our skulls can be reduced to an information-processing machine. But what exactly is the information that our brain processes? What is information made of? We saw in the previous chapter how eminent scientists such as Stephen Hawking believe that, one day, consciousness could be uploaded in a computer. Could it be that the brain is a material machine processing immaterial information bits? Could the self be something different from the brain – for instance, a complex pattern of bits? Does materialistic empiricism lead us back to the arms, or fangs, of non-materialistic dualism? So what is information, really? We live in an era of disembodied information.

 

pages: 279 words: 75,527

Collider by Paul Halpern

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Albert Einstein, Albert Michelson, anthropic principle, cosmic microwave background, cosmological constant, dark matter, Ernest Rutherford, Gary Taubes, gravity well, horn antenna, index card, Isaac Newton, Magellanic Cloud, pattern recognition, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, Ronald Reagan, Solar eclipse in 1919, statistical model, Stephen Hawking

Wheeler got very excited about this.2 The result was the Wheeler-DeWitt equation: a way of assigning weights to three-dimensional geometries and summing them up to determine the most probable evolution of the universe. In theory, it was supposed to help researchers understand how reality as we know it emerged from the chaotic jumble of possibilities. In practice, however, the equation would become unwieldy if applied to complex situations. In 1973, C. B. Collins and Stephen Hawking considered this question classically in their influential paper “Why Is the Universe Isotropic?” Pondering the myriad possible general relativistic solutions—including isotropic as well as anisotropic cosmologies—they wondered which could evolve into the familiar present-day universe. The difference between isotropic and anisotropic cosmologies is that while the former expands evenly in all directions, like a spherical balloon being filled with air, the latter blows up at unequal rates depending on which way you look, more like a hotdog-shaped balloon becoming longer and longer as it is inflated but not much wider.

Although it is an open question whether the law of entropy applies to the cosmos as a whole, Wheeler was troubled by the idea that we could fling our waste into black holes, it would vanish without a trace, and the total fraction of orderly energy in the universe would increase. Could black holes serve as the cosmetic of cosmology, gobble up signs of aging, and make the universe seem more youthful? In 1972, Jacob Bekenstein, a student of Wheeler’s, proposed a remarkable solution to the question of black hole entropy. According to Bekenstein’s notion—which was further developed by Stephen Hawking—any entropy introduced by absorbed matter falling into a black hole would lead to an increase in the area of its event horizon. Therefore, with a modest increase in entropy, the event horizon of a black hole would become slightly bigger. The signs of aging in the universe would thereby manifest themselves through the bloating of black holes. As Hawking demonstrated, Bekenstein’s theory offers startling implications about the ultimate fate of black holes.

See Higgs boson gold-foil experiments in radiation Goldhaber, Gerson Goldhaber, Maurice Goudsmit, Samuel Grand Unified Theories (GUTs) gravitons gravitational microlensing gravity (gravitation) ADD model and deceleration of the universe and Einstein’s equivalence principle on galaxies held together by hierarchy problem linking other forces to microscopic black holes and natural interactions involving Newton’s research on quantum theory applied to string theory on supersymmetry research on differences between other interactions and Gray, Julia Greece, ancient Green, G. Kenneth Green, Michael Grid global computing network Guralnik, Gerald Guth, Alan hadron colliders hadronic calorimeter hadrons Hafstad, Lawrence Hagen. Richard Hahn, Otto Haidt, Dieter Hawking, Stephen Hawking radiation heavy hydrogen Heisenberg, Werner helium hermeticity Hernandez, Paul Herschel, William Hertz, Heinrich hierarchy problem Higgs, Peter Higgs boson CERN particle detector research on description of Higgs’s work with Large Hadron Collider (LHC) search for lepton collider in search for nickname of “God particle” for original reception to first publication of research by Higgs on possibility of multiple Higgs particles Standard Model prediction of Higgs field.

 

pages: 262 words: 65,959

The Simpsons and Their Mathematical Secrets by Simon Singh

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Albert Einstein, Andrew Wiles, Benoit Mandelbrot, cognitive dissonance, Erdős number, Georg Cantor, Grace Hopper, Isaac Newton, John Nash: game theory, mandelbrot fractal, Menlo Park, Norbert Wiener, P = NP, Paul Erdős, probability theory / Blaise Pascal / Pierre de Fermat, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, Schrödinger's Cat, Simon Singh, Stephen Hawking, Wolfskehl Prize, women in the workforce

It is an attempt to mimic Pon farr, a phenomenon whereby Vulcans go into heat every seven years. Subsequent decrees, such as a broccoli juice program and a plan to build a shadow-puppet theater (both Balinese and Thai), eventually cause the decent citizens of Springfield to rebel against the intellectual elite. Indeed, as the episode reaches its finale, the revolting masses focus their anger on Lisa, who is only saved when none other than Professor Stephen Hawking arrives in the nick of time to rescue her. Although we associate Hawking with cosmology, he spent thirty years as the Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at the University of Cambridge, which makes him the most famous mathematician to have appeared on The Simpsons. However, not everyone recognizes Hawking when he arrives in his wheelchair. When Hawking points out that the Mensa members have been corrupted by power, Homer says: “Larry Flynt is right!

It was not a completely crazy idea, because tomatoes and tobacco both belong to the nightshade family of plants, so grafting such plant relatives might enable the properties of one plant to transfer to the other. Indeed, the leaves of Bauer’s tomato plant did contain nicotine, proving that science fact can be almost as strange as science fiction. The writers also encouraged Homer’s intellectual side to flourish in “They Saved Lisa’s Brain,” an episode that has already been discussed in Chapter 7. After Stephen Hawking saves Lisa from a baying mob, the story ends with Professor Hawking chatting to Lisa’s father in Moe’s Tavern, where he is impressed with Homer’s ideas about cosmology: “Your theory of a doughnut-shaped universe is intriguing . . . I may have to steal it.” This sounds ridiculous, but mathematically minded cosmologists claim that the universe might actually be structured like a doughnut. In order to explain how this geometry is possible, let us simplify the universe by imagining that the entire cosmos is flattened from three dimensions into two dimensions, so that everything exists on a sheet.

“The Prisoner of Benda” begins with an opening caption that reads, “What happens in Cygnus X-1 stays in Cygnus X-1,” echoing the well-known maxim “What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas.” In the case of Cygnus X-1, this is literally true, because it is the name of a black hole in the constellation Cygnus, and whatever happens in a black hole is forever condemned to remain in the black hole. The writers probably picked Cygnus X-1 because it is considered a glamorous black hole, thanks to being the subject of a famous wager. The mathematician and cosmologist Stephen Hawking had initially doubted that the object in question was indeed a black hole, so he placed a bet with his colleague Kip Thorne. When careful observations proved that he was wrong, Hawking had to buy Thorne a one-year subscription to Penthouse magazine. The episode’s title is a pun based on the Victorian novel The Prisoner of Zenda, by Anthony Hope, in which King Rudolf of Ruritania (a fictional country) is drugged and kidnapped by his evil brother prior to his coronation.

 

pages: 257 words: 80,100

Time Travel: A History by James Gleick

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Ada Lovelace, Albert Einstein, Albert Michelson, Arthur Eddington, augmented reality, butterfly effect, crowdsourcing, Doomsday Book, index card, Isaac Newton, John von Neumann, luminiferous ether, Marshall McLuhan, Norbert Wiener, pattern recognition, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, Schrödinger's Cat, self-driving car, Stephen Hawking, telepresence, wikimedia commons

A closed timelike curve loops back on itself and thus defies ordinary notions of cause and effect: events are their own cause. (The universe itself—entire—would be rotating, something for which astronomers have found no evidence, and by Gödel’s calculations a CTC would have to be extremely large—billions of light-years—but people seldom mention these details.)*3 If the attention paid to CTCs is disproportionate to their importance or plausibility, Stephen Hawking knows why: “Scientists working in this field have to disguise their real interest by using technical terms like ‘closed timelike curves’ that are code for time travel.” And time travel is sexy. Even for a pathologically shy, borderline paranoid Austrian logician. Almost hidden inside the bouquet of computation, Gödel provided a few words of almost-plain English: In particular, if P, Q are any two points on a world line of matter, and P precedes Q on this line, there exists a time-like line connecting P and Q on which Q precedes P; i.e., it is theoretically possible in these worlds to travel into the past, or otherwise influence the past.

Evidently the “renaissance” of wormhole physics was well established, though these supposed tunnels through spacetime remained (and remain) entirely hypothetical. The disturbing observation was this: “If traversable wormholes exist then it appears to be rather easy to transform such wormholes into time machines.” It was not just disturbing. It was extremely disturbing: “This extremely disturbing state of affairs has led Hawking to promulgate his chronology protection conjecture.” Hawking is, of course, Stephen Hawking, the Cambridge physicist who by then had become the world’s most famous living scientist, in part because of his dramatic decades-long struggle with an inexorably paralyzing motor neuron disease and in part because of his flair for popularizing the knottiest problems of cosmology. No wonder he was attracted to time travel. “Chronology Protection Conjecture” was the title of a paper he wrote in 1991 for Physical Review D.

He points out that we are all traveling through time, one second at a time. He describes black holes as time machines, reminding us that gravitation slows the passage of time locally. And he often tells the story of the party he threw for time travelers—invitations sent only after the fact: “I sat there a long time, but no one came.” In fact, the chronology protection conjecture had been floating about long before Stephen Hawking gave it a name. Ray Bradbury, for example, stated it in his 1952 story about time-traveling dinosaur hunters: “Time doesn’t permit that sort of mess—a man meeting himself. When such occasions threaten, Time steps aside. Like an airplane hitting an air pocket.” Notice that time has agency here: time doesn’t permit, and time steps aside. Douglas Adams offered his own version: “Paradoxes are just the scar tissue.

 

pages: 32 words: 7,759

8 Day Trips From London by Dee Maldon

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Doomsday Book, information retrieval, Isaac Newton, Stephen Hawking, the market place

The first college was Peterhouse, founded in 1284, with the most recent college, Robinson, created in the 1970s. In the Middle Ages, students were expected to pray for their college’s founder. As a result, most of the early colleges have chapels. The university has been home to many academics through the years including Erasmus, Isaac Newton, Charles Darwin and today’s well-known scientist Stephen Hawking. Cambridge University colleges provide the historical backbone of the city, and there have been ‘town and gown’ struggles in the city’s past as townspeople objected to university privileges. Many of the university colleges are clustered along the River Cam, therefore a river punt, or flat-bottomed boat, offers a relaxing and informative journey. How to get there Train From King’s Cross, travel time 45 minutes (by non-stop Cambridge Cruiser which leaves every 30 minutes) Tel: 08457 48 49 50 www.thetrainline.com Bus From Victoria Coach Terminal, the journey time takes more than two hours with stops to take on new passengers and drop off others.

 

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, double helix, 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, Isaac Newton, 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, Mikhail Gorbachev, mouse model, Murray Gell-Mann, mutually assured destruction, natural language processing, Network effects, new economy, Norbert Wiener, oil shale / tar sands, optical character recognition, pattern recognition, phenotype, premature optimization, randomized controlled trial, Ray Kurzweil, remote working, reversible computing, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, 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, Yogi Berra

As I discussed in chapter 3, by the 2040s nonbiological intelligence will be billions of times more capable than our biological intelligence. The compelling benefits of overcoming profound diseases and disabilities will keep these technologies on a rapid course, but medical applications represent only the early-adoption phase. As the technologies become established, there will be no barriers to using them for vast expansion of human potential. Stephen Hawking recently commented in the German magazine Focus that computer intelligence will surpass that of humans within a few decades. He advocated that we "urgently need to develop direct connections to the brain, so that computers can add to human intelligence, rather than be in opposition."25 Hawking can take comfort that the development program he is recommending is well under way. There will be many variations of human body version 2.0, and each organ and body system will have its own course of development and refinement.

Of course, not any black hole will do. Most black holes, like most rocks, are performing lots of random transactions but no useful computation. But a well-organized black hole would be the most powerful conceivable computer in terms of cps per liter. Hawking Radiation. There has been a long-standing debate about whether or not we can transmit information into a black hole, have it usefully transformed, and then retrieve it. Stephen Hawking's conception of transmissions from a black hole involves particle-antiparticle pairs that are created near the event horizon (the point of no return near a black hole, beyond which matter and energy are unable to escape). When this spontaneous creation occurs, as it does everywhere in space, the particle and antiparticle travel in opposite directions. If one member of the pair travels into the event horizon (never to be seen again), the other will flyaway from the black hole.

However, there does appear to be a way to see inside a black hole, because black holes give off a shower of particles. Particle-antiparticle pairs are created near the event horizon (as happens everywhere in space), and for some of these pairs, one of the pair is pulled into the black hole while the other manages to escape. These escaping particles form a glow called Hawking radiation, named after its discoverer, Stephen Hawking. The current thinking is that this radiation does reflect (in a coded fashion, and as a result of a form of quantum entanglement with the particles inside) what is happening inside the black hole. Hawking initially resisted this explanation but now appears to agree. So, we find our use of the term "Singularity" in this book to be no less appropriate than the deployment of this term by the physics community.

 

pages: 695 words: 219,110

The Fabric of the Cosmos by Brian Greene

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airport security, Albert Einstein, Albert Michelson, Arthur Eddington, Brownian motion, clockwork universe, conceptual framework, cosmic microwave background, cosmological constant, dark matter, dematerialisation, Hans Lippershey, Henri Poincaré, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, Murray Gell-Mann, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, Stephen Hawking, urban renewal

Calculations show that the Large Hadron Collider may have just enough squeezing power to create a cornucopia of microscopic black holes through high-energy collisions between protons.7 Think about how amazing that would be. The Large Hadron Collider might turn out to be a factory for producing microscopic black holes! These black holes would be so small and would last for such a short time that they wouldn’t pose us the slightest threat (years ago, Stephen Hawking showed that all black holes disintegrate via quantum processes—big ones very slowly, tiny ones very quickly), but their production would provide confirmation of some of the most exotic ideas ever contemplated. Braneworld Cosmology A primary goal of current research, one that is being hotly pursued by scientists worldwide (including me), is to formulate an understanding of cosmology that incorporates the new insights of string/M-theory.

(For example, Visser has calculated that the amount of negative energy needed to keep open a one-meter-wide wormhole is roughly equal in magnitude to the total energy produced by the sun over about 10 billion years.15) Second, even if we somehow found or created a macroscopic wormhole, and even if we somehow were able to buttress its walls against immediate collapse, and even if we were able to induce a time difference between the wormhole mouths (say, by flying one mouth around at high speed), there would remain another hurdle to acquiring a time machine. A number of physicists, including Stephen Hawking, have raised the possibility that vacuum fluctuations—the jitters arising from the quantum uncertainty experienced by all fields, even in empty space, discussed in Chapter 12—might destroy a wormhole just as it was getting into position to be a time machine. The reason is that, just at the moment when time travel through the wormhole becomes possible, a devastating feedback mechanism, somewhat like the screeching noise generated when microphone and speaker levels in a sound system are not adjusted appropriately, may come into play.

Detailed calculations confirm1 this conclusion and show that, all else being equal (unchanging temperature, density, and so on), the entropies of familiar physical systems are proportional to their volumes. A natural next guess is that the same conclusion would also apply to less familiar things, like black holes, leading us to expect that a black hole’s entropy is also proportional to its volume. But in the 1970s, Jacob Bekenstein and Stephen Hawking discovered that this isn’t right. Their mathematical analyses showed that the entropy of a black hole is not proportional to its volume, but instead is proportional to the area of its event horizon—roughly speaking, to its surface area. This is a very different answer. Were you to double the radius of a black hole, its volume would increase by a factor of 8 (23) while its surface area would increase by only a factor of 4 (22); were you to increase its radius by a factor of a hundred, its volume would increase by a factor of a million (1003), while its surface area would increase only by a factor of 10,000 (1002).

 

The Panic Virus: The True Story Behind the Vaccine-Autism Controversy by Seth Mnookin

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Albert Einstein, AltaVista, British Empire, Cass Sunstein, cognitive dissonance, correlation does not imply causation, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, en.wikipedia.org, illegal immigration, index card, Isaac Newton, loss aversion, meta analysis, meta-analysis, mouse model, neurotypical, pattern recognition, placebo effect, Richard Thaler, Saturday Night Live, Solar eclipse in 1919, Stephen Hawking, Steven Pinker, the scientific method, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions

., http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/vac-gen/whatifstop.htm#hib. 3 the disease all but disappeared in the United States: “Disease Listing—Haemophilus influenzae Serotype b (Hib) Disease,” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, October 10, 2009, http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/dbmd/ diseaseinfo/haeminfluserob_t.htm. 3 “I must have read somewhere”: Kelly Lacek, interview with author, May 7, 2009. 4 a tracheotomy, which involves cutting into the windpipe: P. Oliver et al., “Tracheotomy in Children,” Survey of Anesthesiology, 1964;7(2): 9–11. 4 The physicist Stephen Hawking: Stephen Hawking, “Prof. Stephen Hawking’s Disability Advice,” Professor Stephen W. Hawking, n.d., http://www.hawking.org.uk/index.php?option=com_content &view=article&id=51&Itemid=55. 5 “They said something about not catching it”: Kelly Lacek, interview with author, May 7, 2009. 5 The roots of this latest alarm dated back to 1998: See citations for Chapters 8 and 9. 5 The medical establishment was so determined to discredit him: Andrew Wakefield, “Correspondence: Author’s Reply: Autism, Inflammatory Bowel Disease, and MMR vaccine,” The Lancet 1998;351(9106): 908. 5 Within months, vaccination rates across Western Europe: “Q&A: Measles,” graph titled “MMR Immunisation Levels—Children Immunised by 2nd Birthday,” BBC News, November 28, 2008, http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/7754052.stm. 6 Then, a year later, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “Notice to Readers: Thimerosal in Vaccines: A Joint Statement of the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Public Health Service,” Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report July 9, 1999;48(26): 563–65. 6 The move had been hotly debated: Gary Freed et al., “The Process of Public Policy Formulation: The Case of Thimerosal in Vaccines,” Pediatrics 2002;109(6): 1153–59. 6 In the year following the CDC/AAP recommendations: See citations for Chapter 11. 7 Soon, vaccination rates began to fall in the United States as well: “Vaccines and Immunizations—Statistics and Surveillance: Immunization Coverage in the U.S.,” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, n.d., http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/stats-surv/imz-coverage.htm. 8 Taitz, who believes that the Federal Emergency Management Agency: Benjamin L.

Matthew was going to have to make the trip to Pittsburgh in an ambulance—but before he could be moved, he’d have to be intubated. If that didn’t work—if there was not enough room in Matthew’s throat for a breathing tube—the doctors would try to perform a tracheotomy, which involves cutting into the windpipe in an effort to form an alternate pathway for air to get into the lungs. (The procedure is not without risk: The physicist Stephen Hawking lost his speech when the nerves that control the vocal cords were damaged during an emergency tracheotomy.) Once again, it fell to Kelly to keep her son calm. Fortunately, the tube slid down Matthew’s throat. Unless it closed up so much that the tube was forced out, they’d bought themselves a few more hours. It was almost four in the morning when the Laceks arrived in Pittsburgh. Matthew was immediately placed in a medically induced coma.

 

pages: 310 words: 89,653

The Interstellar Age: Inside the Forty-Year Voyager Mission by Jim Bell

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Albert Einstein, crowdsourcing, dark matter, Edmond Halley, Edward Charles Pickering, en.wikipedia.org, Eratosthenes, gravity well, Isaac Newton, Kuiper Belt, Mars Rover, planetary scale, Pluto: dwarf planet, polynesian navigation, Ronald Reagan, Saturday Night Live, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, Stephen Hawking, V2 rocket

., Murmurs of Earth, page 254. “Hello to everyone . . .”: Ibid., page 143. a variety of nearby stars in 1999 and 2003: The “Cosmic Call” refers to two sets of messages sent to nearby stars from the RT-70 radio telescope facility in Yevpatoria, Crimea, in 1999 and 2003. See en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cosmic_Call for more details. “which didn’t turn out very well . . .”: Stephen Hawking, Into the Universe with Stephen Hawking, Television Series, Episode 1: “Aliens,” Discovery Channel, 2010. Martian sundials: Woody Sullivan and Jim Bell, “The MarsDial: A Sundial for the Red Planet,” The Planetary Report (January/February 2004): 6–11. “It’s wise to try . . .”: Michael D. Lemonick, “Life beyond Earth,” National Geographic, July 2014, page 44. Photos and Diagrams on the Voyager Golden Record: Sagan et al., Murmurs of Earth, pages 71–122.

In the past few decades, more radio messages have been sent out, such as the “Cosmic Call” messages—two interstellar radio messages sent to a variety of nearby stars in 1999 and 2003. And with the actual recent discovery of a multitude of planets around other stars (so-called exoplanets), a discovery enabled by our ever more sophisticated astronomical instrumentation, we have more reason than ever to believe that we are not alone. Another of the most notable proponents of keeping our cosmic mouths shut is Stephen Hawking, Cambridge theoretical physicist, cosmologist, and one of the great thinkers of our time. According to Hawking, we are simply not evolved enough to make such contact. To make his point, he uses the analogy of the arrival of Christopher Columbus in the Americas, “which didn’t turn out very well for the Native Americans.” He went on to say, “We only have to look at ourselves to see how intelligent life might develop into something we wouldn’t want to meet.”

 

pages: 233 words: 62,563

Zero: The Biography of a Dangerous Idea by Charles Seife

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Albert Einstein, Albert Michelson, Arthur Eddington, Cepheid variable, cosmological constant, dark matter, Edmond Halley, Georg Cantor, Isaac Newton, John Conway, place-making, probability theory / Blaise Pascal / Pierre de Fermat, retrograde motion, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, Solar eclipse in 1919, Stephen Hawking

String theory might well be correct, but we may never have the means to find out. Zero has not yet been banished; indeed, zero seems to be what created the cosmos. The Zeroth Hour: The Big Bang Hubble’s observations suggested that there was a time, called the big bang, when the universe was infinitesimally small and infinitely dense. Under such conditions all the laws of science, and therefore all ability to predict the future, would break down. —STEPHEN HAWKING, A BRIEF HISTORY OF TIME The universe was born in zero. Out of the void, out of nothing at all, came a cataclysmic explosion that created all the matter and energy that the entire universe is made of. This event—the big bang—was a horrible idea to many scientists and philosophers. It took a long time before astrophysicists came to agree that our universe was finite—that it did, in fact, have a beginning.

To Infinity and Beyond However, if we do discover a complete theory, it should in time be understandable in broad principle by everyone, not just a few scientists. Then we shall all, philosophers, scientists, and just ordinary people, be able to take part in the discussion of the question of why it is that we and the universe exist. If we find the answer to that, it would be the ultimate triumph of human reason—for we would know the mind of God. —STEPHEN HAWKING Zero is behind all of the big puzzles in physics. The infinite density of the black hole is a division by zero. The big bang creation from the void is a division by zero. The infinite energy of the vacuum is a division by zero. Yet dividing by zero destroys the fabric of mathematics and the framework of logic—and threatens to undermine the very basis of science. In Pythagoras’s day, before the age of zero, pure logic reigned supreme.

 

pages: 236 words: 50,763

The Golden Ticket: P, NP, and the Search for the Impossible by Lance Fortnow

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Alan Turing: On Computable Numbers, with an Application to the Entscheidungsproblem, Albert Einstein, Andrew Wiles, Claude Shannon: information theory, cloud computing, complexity theory, Erdős number, four colour theorem, Gerolamo Cardano, Isaac Newton, John von Neumann, linear programming, new economy, NP-complete, Occam's razor, P = NP, Paul Erdős, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, smart grid, Stephen Hawking, traveling salesman, Turing machine, Turing test, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, William of Occam

“The Status of the P versus NP Problem” was published in the September 2009 issue and quickly became the most downloaded article in the Communications’ history. The P versus NP problem remained a story to be told, and the popularity of the article suggested the time was right to tell this story, not just to scientists but to a much broader audience. I used that short article as a framework for this book. Sections of the article become chapters here. I also took inspiration from Stephen Hawking’s A Brief History of Time, which explains physics not through formulas and technicalities but with examples and stories. I attempt to do the same here to explore the spirit and importance of the P versus NP problem. You will not find a formal definition of the P versus NP problem here; there are many great textbooks and websites that explore the definition of and technical results related to P versus NP.

Any updates to these sources or links, or significant errors discovered in the text, will be posted on the book’s website http://press.princeton.edu/titles/9937.html. This website also has links to the cited books and talks, additional information, and further readings on the P versus NP question. Preface Lance Fortnow, “The Status of the P versus NP Problem,” Communications of the ACM 52, no. 9 (September 2009): 78–86. Stephen Hawking, A Brief History of Time: From the Big Bang to Black Holes (New York: Bantam Dell, 1988). Chapter 1 The story of Veronica Salt is taken from Roald Dahl, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (New York: Knopf, 1964). The discussion of Yoku Matsuoka’s research on an anatomically correct testbed hand incorporates information presented at a talk given at the 2010 CRA Snowbird Conference on July 18, 2010.

 

pages: 215 words: 56,215

The Second Intelligent Species: How Humans Will Become as Irrelevant as Cockroaches by Marshall Brain

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Amazon Web Services, clean water, cloud computing, computer vision, en.wikipedia.org, full employment, income inequality, job automation, knowledge worker, mutually assured destruction, Occupy movement, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, self-driving car, Stephen Hawking, working poor

Here is a sampling of blockbuster films in this genre: 2001: A Space Odyssey The Abyss Alien, Aliens Apollo 18 Avatar Battle: Los Angeles Chicken Little Close encounters of the Third Kind Cloverfield Cocoon Contact Cowboys and Aliens District 9 E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial Godzilla The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy I An Number Four Independence Day Invasion of the Body Snatchers Lost in Space Megamind Mission to Mars Signs Species Star Wars Star Trek Stargate Super 8 Superman The Thing Transformers War of the Worlds The X Files It is clear that human beings enjoy thinking about extraterrestrials and the arrival of extraterrestrials on earth. Even if we sometimes imagine their arrival to be catastrophic, we are still fascinated by the prospect. Even luminaries like Stephen Hawking are thinking about the possibilities. This article [70] points out that: "Hawking claims in a new documentary titled 'Into the Universe With Stephen Hawking' that intelligent alien life forms almost certainly exist — but warns that communicating with them could be 'too risky.'" It is easy to see that human speculation about extraterrestrials runs rampant. However, there is something that feels not-quite-right about all of this speculation. It is this simple fact: There is no evidence whatsoever that extraterrestrial intelligence exists.

 

pages: 194 words: 49,310

Clock of the Long Now by Stewart Brand

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Albert Einstein, Brewster Kahle, Buckminster Fuller, Colonization of Mars, complexity theory, Danny Hillis, Eratosthenes, Extropian, fault tolerance, Internet Archive, Jaron Lanier, Kevin Kelly, knowledge economy, life extension, nuclear winter, pensions crisis, phenotype, Ray Kurzweil, Stephen Hawking, Stewart Brand, technological singularity, Ted Kaczynski, Thomas Malthus, Vernor Vinge, Whole Earth Catalog

Beyond a certain critical mass an expiring giant star collapses not only to a superdense neutron star but to something whose mass and density is so great that its intense gravitational force makes the escape velocity of anything from the object greater than the speed of light. The collapsed star becomes what is called a black hole. The region where light and everything else disappears from our universe into the black hole is termed the event horizon. The beyond-dense anomaly in the center of the black hole is called a singularity. “At this singularity,” writes the Cambridge mathematician Stephen Hawking, “the laws of science and our ability to predict the future would break down.” The man who applied this metaphor to human events is the science fiction writer and mathematician Vernor Vinge. His 1991 novel Across Realtime joins three stories he wrote in the mid 1980s around a central mystery: What happened to everybody? While the characters in the stories were temporarily isolated out of time in devices called bobbles, civilization and the rest of humanity disappeared from Earth.

Luyen Chou, president and CEO of Learn Technologies Interactive in New York. :17 “continuous discontinuous change” Regis McKenna, Real Time (Cambridge, MA: Harvard Business School, 1997) :17 “Some people say that they feel the future is slipping away . . .” Danny Hillis, “The Millennium Clock,” Wired Scenarios (1995), p. 48. CHAPTER 4, THE SINGULARITY :20 “At this singularity the laws of science and our ability to predict the future would break down.” Stephen Hawking, The Illustrated A Brief History of Time (New York: Bantam, 1988, 1996), p. 114. :20 “. . . a place where extrapolation breaks down and new models must be applied” Vernor Vinge, Across Realtime (Riverdale, NY: Baen, 1991), p. 402. CHAPTER 5, RUSH :25 “SPREAD OF TECHNOLOGY GIVES RISE TO A CULTURE OF IMMEDIACY” Christian Science Monitor (5 March 1998), p. 5. :25 “Imagine a world in which time seems to vanish . . .”

 

pages: 1,396 words: 245,647

The Strangest Man: The Hidden Life of Paul Dirac, Mystic of the Atom by Graham Farmelo

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Albert Einstein, anti-communist, Arthur Eddington, Berlin Wall, cuban missile crisis, double helix, Ernest Rutherford, Fall of the Berlin Wall, Fellow of the Royal Society, financial independence, gravity well, Henri Poincaré, invention of radio, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, John von Neumann, Kevin Kelly, Murray Gell-Mann, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, Simon Singh, Solar eclipse in 1919, Stephen Hawking, strikebreaker, University of East Anglia

From 1962 to his retirement in 1969, Dirac visited the United States every year, for at least a couple of months, twice for almost an entire academic year (1962–3 and 1964–5).6 For much of the rest of the time, he and Manci were visiting conferences or on vacation in Europe and Israel (the USSR was no longer on their itinerary, apparently because even they could not get a visa). During these seven years, Stephen Hawking – a colleague of Dirac’s and a rising star – did not see him in the department.7 Manci had set her heart on escaping from Cambridge. Dirac disliked change and wanted to be loyal to his university but eventually agreed that it was time to emigrate, preferably to the USA. He did not have the initiative to secure a new position: that task fell to Manci, who assumed a new role as the pushy manager of a tongue-tied talent, chasing royalties and upgrades, insisting on sea-facing cabins and the room with the finest view.

After tributes to Dirac’s scientific work had been read, the mathematician Sir Michael Atiyah, President of the Royal Society, unveiled the commemorative stone in the nave of the Abbey, next to Newton’s gravestone and just a few paces from Darwin’s. Stonemasons in Cambridge had used a piece of Burlington Green slate quarried from the Lake District to produce a two-foot square slab of stone and etch into it the inscription ‘P. A. M. Dirac OM physicist 1902–84’, with a statement of his equation.27 Stephen Hawking gave the final address, using his voice synthesiser to speak through the Abbey’s antiquated public-address system.28 He began with his usual arresting clarity and humour: It has taken eleven years for the nation to recognise that he was probably the greatest British theoretical physicist since Newton, and belatedly to erect a plaque to him in Westminster Abbey. It is my task to explain why.

The detection of Dirac’s monopole would raise a question in virtual history: what would have been the effect on his reputation if the monopole had been detected around the time the positron was first observed? Such a pair of successes would have further bolstered his reputation among his colleagues and may well have made him much better known to the public. But there was never any chance that he would become a media celebrity like his most recent Lucasian successor, Stephen Hawking: it seemed not to have occurred to Dirac to write a popular book, nor would he have contemplated making the kind of forays into the media spotlight undertaken by Hawking, such as his appearances on Star Trek, The Simpsons and on the dance floor of a London nightclub.8 Yet Dirac admired such boldness more than most of his colleagues knew. Dirac left his mark on several other fields besides quantum mechanics.

 

pages: 855 words: 178,507

The Information: A History, a Theory, a Flood by James Gleick

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Ada Lovelace, Alan Turing: On Computable Numbers, with an Application to the Entscheidungsproblem, Albert Einstein, AltaVista, bank run, bioinformatics, Brownian motion, butterfly effect, citation needed, Claude Shannon: information theory, clockwork universe, computer age, conceptual framework, crowdsourcing, death of newspapers, discovery of DNA, double helix, Douglas Hofstadter, en.wikipedia.org, Eratosthenes, Fellow of the Royal Society, Gödel, Escher, Bach, Henri Poincaré, Honoré de Balzac, index card, informal economy, information retrieval, invention of the printing press, invention of writing, Isaac Newton, Jacquard loom, Jacquard loom, Jaron Lanier, jimmy wales, John von Neumann, Joseph-Marie Jacquard, Louis Daguerre, Marshall McLuhan, Menlo Park, microbiome, Milgram experiment, Network effects, New Journalism, Norbert Wiener, On the Economy of Machinery and Manufactures, PageRank, pattern recognition, phenotype, pre–internet, Ralph Waldo Emerson, RAND corporation, reversible computing, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, Simon Singh, Socratic dialogue, Stephen Hawking, Steven Pinker, stochastic process, talking drums, the High Line, The Wisdom of Crowds, transcontinental railway, Turing machine, Turing test, women in the workforce

♦ “IT TEACHES US … THAT SPACE CAN BE CRUMPLED”: John Archibald Wheeler with Kenneth Ford, Geons, Black Holes, and Quantum Foam: A Life in Physics (New York: Norton, 1998), 298. ♦ “OTHERWISE PUT … EVERY IT”: “It from Bit” in John Archibald Wheeler, At Home in the Universe, Masters of Modern Physics, vol. 9 (New York: American Institute of Physics, 1994), 296. ♦ A PROBLEM AROSE WHEN STEPHEN HAWKING: Stephen Hawking, “Black Hole Explosions?” Nature 248 (1 March 1974), DOI:10.1038/248030a0, 30–31. ♦ PUBLISHING IT WITH A MILDER TITLE: Stephen Hawking, “The Breakdown of Predictability in Gravitational Collapse,” Physical Review D 14 (1976): 2460–73; Gordon Belot et al., “The Hawking Information Loss Paradox: The Anatomy of a Controversy,” British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 50 (1999): 189–229. ♦ “INFORMATION LOSS IS HIGHLY INFECTIOUS”: John Preskill, “Black Holes and Information: A Crisis in Quantum Physics,” Caltech Theory Seminar, 21 October 1994, http://www.theory.caltech.edu/~preskill/talks/blackholes.pdf (accessed 20 March 2010)

Because no light, no signal of any kind, can escape the interior, such things are quintessentially invisible. Wheeler began calling them “black holes” in 1967. Astronomers are sure they have found some, by gravitational inference, and no one can ever know what is inside. At first astrophysicists focused on matter and energy falling in. Later they began to worry about the information. A problem arose when Stephen Hawking, adding quantum effects to the usual calculations of general relativity, argued in 1974 that black holes should, after all, radiate particles—a consequence of quantum fluctuations near the event horizon.♦ Black holes slowly evaporate, in other words. The problem was that Hawking radiation is featureless and dull. It is thermal radiation—heat. But matter falling into the black hole carries information, in its very structure, its organization, its quantum states—in terms of statistical mechanics, its accessible microstates.

♦ “INFORMATION LOSS IS HIGHLY INFECTIOUS”: John Preskill, “Black Holes and Information: A Crisis in Quantum Physics,” Caltech Theory Seminar, 21 October 1994, http://www.theory.caltech.edu/~preskill/talks/blackholes.pdf (accessed 20 March 2010). ♦ “SOME PHYSICISTS FEEL THE QUESTION”: John Preskill, “Black Holes and the Information Paradox,” Scientific American (April 1997): 54. ♦ “I THINK THE INFORMATION PROBABLY GOES OFF”: Quoted in Tom Siegfried, The Bit and the Pendulum: From Quantum Computing to M Theory—The New Physics of Information (New York: Wiley and Sons, 2000), 203. ♦ “THERE IS NO BABY UNIVERSE”: Stephen Hawking, “Information Loss in Black Holes,” Physical Review D 72 (2005): 4. ♦ THE “THERMODYNAMICS OF COMPUTATION”: Charles H. Bennett, “Notes on the History of Reversible Computation,” IBM Journal of Research and Development 44 (2000): 270. ♦ “COMPUTERS … MAY BE THOUGHT OF AS ENGINES”: Charles H. Bennett, “The Thermodynamics of Computation—a Review,” International Journal of Theoretical Physics 21, no. 12 (1982): 906

 

pages: 158 words: 16,993

Citation Needed: The Best of Wikipedia's Worst Writing by Conor Lastowka, Josh Fruhlinger

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airport security, citation needed, en.wikipedia.org, jimmy wales, peak oil, Ronald Reagan, Stephen Hawking

If you’re like us, when you want to know the name of the kangaroo on Shirt Tales or just want to confirm that Mother Teresa was a dogballs who helped the farts (Source: Wikipedia), The Encyclopedia That Anyone Can Edit will probably be the first place you check. But here’s the thing about letting anybody edit your encyclopedia: it means that anybody can edit your encyclopedia. And while in theory this means that one day Stephen Hawking might decide to weigh in on the entry for string theory, in reality it means that somebody who deeply cares about pro wrestling is going to call someone else a Nazi when they revert his edits about Wrestlemania XI on Razor Ramon’s page. And so we arrive at a cosmic intersection, where an obscure topic of dubious relevance is written about by the type of weirdo who logs on to Wikipedia to write about obscure topics of dubious relevance.

 

pages: 226 words: 71,540

Epic Win for Anonymous: How 4chan's Army Conquered the Web by Cole Stryker

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4chan, barriers to entry, Berlin Wall, Chelsea Manning, cognitive dissonance, Columbine, crowdsourcing, Firefox, future of journalism, hive mind, informal economy, Internet Archive, Julian Assange, Mark Zuckerberg, Marshall McLuhan, Mason jar, pre–internet, Silicon Valley, slashdot, social web, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, Stewart Brand, technoutopianism, wage slave, We are Anonymous. We are Legion, Whole Earth Catalog, WikiLeaks

I vividly remember some gawky kid running into my room, doubled over in laughter. “Dude, you’ve gotta see this.” “What?” “I can’t explain. Just google ‘gonads and strife.’” I heard the pinging of instant messages being sent back and forth throughout the hall. Laughter bubbled up all around me. And the sound of a chipmunk-like voice filled the air. “Gonads and Strife” was a crude Flash animation that featured a monkey in a suit, a hyperactive squirrel, Stephen Hawking, R2-D2, and a spinning anatomic figure of a penis soaring through a lightning-filled sky. It was profane, catchy, and defied explanation. It spread through campus like wildfire. Like a virus, actually. I can’t explain why Gonads and Strife is funny. You pretty much had to have been male college freshman to appreciate it. For a moment there, before YouTube and the rise of user-driven content aggregators like Digg and Reddit, intensely creative folks uploaded their work to the web, and finding it felt like being in on something special.

Give people a place that facilitates creation and sharing, and they will conjure entire civilizations (witness the overwhelming amount of lore preserved at Encyclopedia Dramatica). While much of 4chan’s content is pure wankery, there’s something special at work there. 4chan allows its users to be jerks, but more importantly it provides a platform of social networking that focuses on what one is saying rather than who is saying it. For all you know, the guy who started a thread about particle physics on /b/ is Stephen Hawking. It’s meritocracy in its purest form. The smartest, funniest, fastest, strongest content wins, regardless of how popular, good-looking, or renowned the post’s author is. Anonymous neither accepts nor grants acclaim. There are essentially twin themes that make 4chan what it is: the participatory creative culture and the spontaneous social activism. They can be seen as two manifestations of a process that social media researcher danah boyd calls “hacking the attention economy.”

 

pages: 226 words: 75,783

In the Land of Invented Languages: Adventures in Linguistic Creativity, Madness, and Genius by Arika Okrent

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British Empire, centre right, global village, slashdot, software patent, Stephen Hawking

But none of them used the language anymore. Why, I wondered, hadn't they just started with English, a language they could hear and understand, rather than spend their time learning this bizarre symbol language? I thought about Stephen Hawking, who communicates in a manner similar to Ann's (his computer pages through the word choices for him, and he clicks a device with his hand when it arrives at the word he wants). He never had anything to do with Blissymbols and gets along just fine. I mentioned this, delicately, to Shirley McNaughton, the teacher who had started the Blissymbol program. “Oh,” she said, “but Stephen Hawking was an adult when he lost the ability to speak.” He has ALS, a degenerative neurological disorder. “He already knew how to use English to express himself. He already knew how to read. Ann was five or six when we started with her.

 

pages: 238 words: 46

When Things Start to Think by Neil A. Gershenfeld

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3D printing, Ada Lovelace, Bretton Woods, cellular automata, Claude Shannon: information theory, Dynabook, Hedy Lamarr / George Antheil, I think there is a world market for maybe five computers, invention of movable type, Iridium satellite, Isaac Newton, Jacquard loom, Jacquard loom, John von Neumann, means of production, new economy, Nick Leeson, packet switching, RFID, speech recognition, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, telemarketer, the medium is the message, Turing machine, Turing test, Vannevar Bush

This means that more and more of people's time gets tied up in internal message passing, eventually crossing a threshold beyond which no one is able to think, or look around, because they have to answer their e-mail, or write a progress report, or attend a meeting, or review a proposal. Just like a black hole that traps light inside, the company traps ideas inside organizational boundaries. Stephen Hawking showed that some light can sneak out of a black hole by being created right at the boundary with the rest of the world; common sense is left to do something similar in big companies. So many people are needed in a company because making a THE PERSONAL FABRICATOR + 75 product increasingly requires a strategy group to decide what to do, electrical engineers to design circuits that get programmed by computer scientists, mechanical engineers to package the thing, industrial engineers to figure out how to produce it, marketers to sell it, and finally a legal team to protect everyone else from what they've just done.

The base of the machine was larger than it appeared; there was room for a small (but very able) chess player to squeeze in and operate the machine. While the Turk might have been a fake, the motivation behind it was genuine. A more credible attempt to build an intelligent machine was made by Charles Babbage, the Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at Cambridge from 1828 to 1839. This is the seat that was held by Sir Isaac Newton, and is now occupied by Stephen Hawking. Just in case there was any doubt about his credentials, his full title was "Charles Babbage, Esq., M.A., F.R.S., F.R.S.E., F.R.A.S., F. Stat. S., Hon. M.R.I.A., M.C.P.S., Commander of the Italian Order of St. Maurice and St. Lazarus, Inst. Imp. (Acad. Moral.) Paris Corr., Acad. Amer. Art. et Sc. Boston, Reg. Oecon. Boruss., Phys. Hist. Nat. Genev., Acad. Reg. Monac., Hafn., Massi!., et Divion., Socius.

 

pages: 250 words: 73,574

Nine Algorithms That Changed the Future: The Ingenious Ideas That Drive Today's Computers by John MacCormick, Chris Bishop

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Ada Lovelace, AltaVista, Claude Shannon: information theory, fault tolerance, information retrieval, Menlo Park, PageRank, pattern recognition, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, Silicon Valley, Simon Singh, sorting algorithm, speech recognition, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, traveling salesman, Turing machine, Turing test, Vannevar Bush

The same limits would apply not only to the genius at our fingertips, but the genius behind them: our own minds. 11 Conclusion: More Genius at Your Fingertips? We can only see a short distance ahead, but we can see plenty there that needs to be done. —ALAN TURING, Computing Machinery and Intelligence, 1950 I was fortunate, in 1991, to attend a public lecture by the great theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking. During the lecture, which was boldly titled “The Future of the Universe,” Hawking confidently predicted that the universe would keep expanding for at least the next 10 billion years. He wryly added, “I don't expect to be around to be proved wrong.” Unfortunately for me, predictions about computer science do not come with the same 10-billion-year insurance policy that is available to cosmologists.

The title of the talk is “There's Plenty of Room at the Bottom,” and it was later published in Caltech's Engineering & Science magazine (February 1960). One unconventional, but very interesting, presentation of the concepts surrounding computability and undecidability is in the form of a (fictional) novel: Turing (A Novel about Computation), by Christos Papadimitriou. Conclusion (chapter 11). The Stephen Hawking lecture, “The Future of the Universe,” was the 1991 Darwin lecture given at the University of Cambridge, also reprinted in Hawking's book Black Holes and Baby Universes. The televised A. J. P. Taylor lecture series was entitled How Wars Begin, and was also published as a book in 1977. INDEX The index that appeared in the print version of this title does not match the pages in your eBook.

 

pages: 294 words: 80,084

Tomorrowland: Our Journey From Science Fiction to Science Fact by Steven Kotler

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Albert Einstein, autonomous vehicles, barriers to entry, Burning Man, carbon footprint, Colonization of Mars, crowdsourcing, Dean Kamen, epigenetics, gravity well, haute couture, interchangeable parts, Kevin Kelly, life extension, Louis Pasteur, North Sea oil, Oculus Rift, oil shale / tar sands, peak oil, personalized medicine, Peter H. Diamandis: Planetary Resources, RAND corporation, Ray Kurzweil, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, Ronald Reagan, self-driving car, stem cell, Stephen Hawking, Stewart Brand, theory of mind, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, Whole Earth Catalog, WikiLeaks

They say that wisdom accumulates, that perhaps it is not subject to the same tick-tock corrosion that renders bones frail and hair thin. They say it is our one real treasure, this thing to be passed on, generation to generation, to grant us a stay against a dark, dim future. And so we have Greek lectures transcribed by diligent pupils, sketches by Leonardo da Vinci, a collection of Gertrude Stein’s writings, the fireside scratch of a chatty F.D.R., a cinematic tour of Stephen Hawking’s universe, and, of course, Timothy Leary’s Internet broadcast of his last days on earth. But what we don’t have is the people themselves; we don’t have their consciousness, and that, many feel, is the real loss. And, if you believe the believers, that is about to change. They’re calling it the Soul Catcher, a pet name really, as if the soul were something that could be caught like a fish.

In the fifty years since Vostok 1, the first ever manned spaceflight, asteroid mining has gone from a perennial pipedream of the Star Trek Forever crowd to a serious enough proposition that a Vatican astronomer felt the need to address ethical concerns in public. In fact, in April 2012 — and with backing from the likes of Google cofounder Larry Page, Google executive chairman Eric Schmidt, and Virgin founder Sir Richard Branson — Peter Diamandis, creator of the XPRIZE, alongside Eric Anderson, CEO of Space Adventures Ltd. (the private space tourism company that flew Stephen Hawking into zero-G and sent billionaire Dennis Tito to the International Space Station), announced Planetary Resources Inc. (PRI), a newly formed asteroid mining company. This time, it was Comedy Central host Jon Stewart who summed things up nicely: “Space pioneers going to mine motherfucking asteroids for precious materials! BOOM! BOOM! YES! Stu-Beef is all in. Do you know how rarely the news in 2012 looks and sounds like you thought news would look and sound in 2012?”

 

pages: 476 words: 118,381

Space Chronicles: Facing the Ultimate Frontier by Neil Degrasse Tyson, Avis Lang

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Albert Einstein, Arthur Eddington, asset allocation, Berlin Wall, carbon-based life, centralized clearinghouse, cosmic abundance, cosmic microwave background, dark matter, Gordon Gekko, informal economy, invention of movable type, invention of the telescope, Isaac Newton, Karl Jansky, Kuiper Belt, Louis Blériot, Mars Rover, mutually assured destruction, Pluto: dwarf planet, RAND corporation, Ronald Reagan, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, SETI@home, space pen, stem cell, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, the scientific method, trade route, V2 rocket

Even if we don’t soon find life, we will surely keep looking, because we are intellectual nomads—curious beings who derive almost as much fulfillment from the search as we do from the discovery. • • • CHAPTER FOUR EVIL ALIENS* Interview with Sanjay Gupta, CNN Sanjay Gupta: Here’s a question: Do you believe in UFOs? If so, you’re in some pretty impressive company. British astrophysicist Stephen Hawking, arguably one of the smartest people on the planet, thinks there’s a good chance that alien life exists—and not exactly the friendly ET kind. In fact, Hawking envisions a far darker possibility, more along the lines of the movie War of the Worlds. In a documentary for the Discovery Channel, Hawking says the aliens will be big, bad, and very busy conquering planet after planet. He says they might live in massive ships, and he calls them nomads who travel the universe conquering others and collecting energy through mirrors.

JG: There’s one other potential case for space travel that we haven’t really talked about. Earlier you alluded to the idea that if we become a spacefaring people, we might need to use the Moon and Mars as a sort of Quik Mart. Do you think we could make the practical case that we need to venture out into space because Earth will at some point become uninhabitable? NDT: There are many who make that case. Stephen Hawking is among them; J. Richard Gott at Princeton is another. But if we acquire enough know-how to terraform Mars and ship a billion people there, surely that know-how will include the capacity to fix Earth’s rivers, oceans, and atmosphere, as well as to deflect asteroids. So I don’t think escaping to other planets is necessarily the most expedient solution to protecting life on Earth. • • • CHAPTER TWELVE PATHS TO DISCOVERY* From the Discovery of Places to the Discovery of Ideas In how many ways does society today differ from that of last year, last century, or last millennium?

To such a species, our highest mental achievements would be trivial. Their toddlers, instead of learning their ABCs on Sesame Street, would learn multivariable calculus on Boolean Boulevard. Our most complex theorems, our deepest philosophies, the cherished works of our most creative artists, would be projects their schoolkids bring home for Mom and Dad to display on the refrigerator door. These creatures would study Stephen Hawking (who occupies the same endowed professorship once held by Newton at the University of Cambridge) because he’s slightly more clever than other humans, owing to his ability to do theoretical astrophysics and other rudimentary calculations in his head. If a huge genetic gap separated us from our closest relative in the animal kingdom, we could justifiably celebrate our brilliance. We might be entitled to walk around thinking we’re distant and distinct from our fellow creatures.

 

pages: 476 words: 132,042

What Technology Wants by Kevin Kelly

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Albert Einstein, Alfred Russel Wallace, Buckminster Fuller, c2.com, carbon-based life, Cass Sunstein, charter city, Clayton Christensen, cloud computing, computer vision, Danny Hillis, dematerialisation, demographic transition, double entry bookkeeping, en.wikipedia.org, Exxon Valdez, George Gilder, gravity well, hive mind, Howard Rheingold, interchangeable parts, invention of air conditioning, invention of writing, Isaac Newton, Jaron Lanier, John Conway, John von Neumann, Kevin Kelly, knowledge economy, Lao Tzu, life extension, Louis Daguerre, Marshall McLuhan, megacity, meta analysis, meta-analysis, new economy, out of africa, performance metric, personalized medicine, phenotype, Picturephone, planetary scale, RAND corporation, random walk, Ray Kurzweil, recommendation engine, refrigerator car, Richard Florida, Silicon Valley, silicon-based life, Skype, speech recognition, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, Stewart Brand, Ted Kaczynski, the built environment, the scientific method, Thomas Malthus, Vernor Vinge, Whole Earth Catalog, Y2K

John Sepkoski. (1993) “Ten Years in the Library: New Data Confirm Paleontological Patterns.” Paleobiology, 19 (1), p. 48. 284 articles has exploded in the last 50 years: Stephen Hawking. (2001) The Universe in a Nutshell. New York: Bantam Books, p. 158. 284 seven million patents issued in the United States alone: Brigid Quinn and Ruth Nyblod. (2006) “United States Patent and Trademark Office Issues 7 Millionth Patent.” United States Patent and Trademark Office. 284 Total Patent Applications and Scientific Articles: United States Patent and Trademark Office. (2009) “U.S. Patent Activity, Calendar Years 1790 to Present: Total of Annual U.S. Patent Activity Since 1790.” http://www.uspto.gov/web/offices/ac/ido/oeip/taf/h_counts.htm ; Stephen Hawking. (2001) The Universe in a Nutshell. New York: Bantam Books, p. 158. 285 artificial learning machine can recognize: Irving Biederman. (1987) “Recognition-by-Components: A Theory of Human Image Understanding.”

Semiconductor Industry Association. http://www.sia-online.org/cs/papers_publications/press_release_detail?pressrelease.id=96. 332 hundreds of exabytes of real-life data: John Gantz, David Reinsel, et al. (2007) “The Expanding Digital Universe: A Forecast of Worldwide Information Growth Through 2010.” http://www.emc.com/collateral/analyst-reports/expanding-digitalidc-white-paper. pdf. 334 by a few million bits: Stephen Hawking. (1996) “Life in the Universe.” http://hawking.org.uk/index.php?option=com_content& view=article&id=65. 334 new information to the technium each year: Bret Swanson and George Gilder. (2008) “Estimating the Exaflood.” Discovery Institute. http://www.discovery.org/a/4428. 334 an exponential curve for over 100 years: Andrew Odlyzko. (2000) “The History of Communications and Its Implications for the Internet.”

 

pages: 574 words: 164,509

Superintelligence: Paths, Dangers, Strategies by Nick Bostrom

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agricultural Revolution, AI winter, Albert Einstein, algorithmic trading, anthropic principle, anti-communist, artificial general intelligence, autonomous vehicles, barriers to entry, bioinformatics, brain emulation, cloud computing, combinatorial explosion, computer vision, cosmological constant, dark matter, DARPA: Urban Challenge, data acquisition, delayed gratification, demographic transition, Douglas Hofstadter, Drosophila, Elon Musk, en.wikipedia.org, epigenetics, fear of failure, Flash crash, Flynn Effect, friendly AI, Gödel, Escher, Bach, income inequality, industrial robot, informal economy, information retrieval, interchangeable parts, iterative process, job automation, John von Neumann, knowledge worker, Menlo Park, meta analysis, meta-analysis, mutually assured destruction, Nash equilibrium, Netflix Prize, new economy, Norbert Wiener, NP-complete, nuclear winter, optical character recognition, pattern recognition, performance metric, phenotype, prediction markets, price stability, principal–agent problem, race to the bottom, random walk, Ray Kurzweil, recommendation engine, reversible computing, social graph, speech recognition, Stanislav Petrov, statistical model, stem cell, Stephen Hawking, strong AI, superintelligent machines, supervolcano, technological singularity, technoutopianism, The Coming Technological Singularity, The Nature of the Firm, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions, transaction costs, Turing machine, Vernor Vinge, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, World Values Survey

The Structure of Scientific Revolutions. 1st ed. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Kuipers, Benjamin. 2012. “An Existing, Ecologically-Successful Genus of Collectively Intelligent Artificial Creatures.” Paper presented at the 4th International Conference, ICCCI 2012, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, November 28–30. Kurzweil, Ray. 2001. “Response to Stephen Hawking.” Kurzweil Accelerating Intelligence. September 5. Retrieved December 31, 2012. Available at http://www.kurzweilai.net/response-to-stephen-hawking. Kurzweil, Ray. 2005. The Singularity Is Near: When Humans Transcend Biology. New York: Viking. Laffont, Jean-Jacques, and Martimort, David. 2002. The Theory of Incentives: The Principal-Agent Model. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. Lancet, The. 2008. “Iodine Deficiency—Way to Go Yet.” The Lancet 372 (9633): 88.

(Cognitive ability is also correlated with lifetime earnings and with non-financial outcomes such as life expectancy, divorce rates, and probability of dropping out of school [Deary 2012].) An upward shift of the distribution of cognitive ability would have disproportionately large effects at the tails, especially increasing the number of highly gifted and reducing the number of people with retardation and learning disabilities. See also Bostrom and Ord (2006) and Sandberg and Savulescu (2011). 64. E.g. Warwick (2002). Stephen Hawking even suggested that taking this step might be necessary in order to keep up with advances in machine intelligence: “We must develop as quickly as possible technologies that make possible a direct connection between brain and computer, so that artificial brains contribute to human intelligence rather than opposing it” (reported in Walsh [2001]). Ray Kurzweil concurs: “As far as Hawking’s … recommendation is concerned, namely direct connection between the brain and computers, I agree that this is both reasonable, desirable and inevitable.

 

pages: 481 words: 125,946

What to Think About Machines That Think: Today's Leading Thinkers on the Age of Machine Intelligence by John Brockman

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3D printing, agricultural Revolution, AI winter, Alan Turing: On Computable Numbers, with an Application to the Entscheidungsproblem, algorithmic trading, artificial general intelligence, augmented reality, autonomous vehicles, bitcoin, blockchain, clean water, cognitive dissonance, Colonization of Mars, complexity theory, computer age, computer vision, constrained optimization, corporate personhood, cosmological principle, cryptocurrency, cuban missile crisis, Danny Hillis, dark matter, discrete time, Elon Musk, Emanuel Derman, endowment effect, epigenetics, Ernest Rutherford, experimental economics, Flash crash, friendly AI, Google Glasses, hive mind, income inequality, information trail, Internet of things, invention of writing, iterative process, Jaron Lanier, job automation, John von Neumann, Kevin Kelly, knowledge worker, loose coupling, microbiome, Moneyball by Michael Lewis explains big data, natural language processing, Network effects, Norbert Wiener, pattern recognition, Peter Singer: altruism, phenotype, planetary scale, Ray Kurzweil, recommendation engine, Republic of Letters, RFID, Richard Thaler, Rory Sutherland, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, self-driving car, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, Skype, smart contracts, speech recognition, statistical model, stem cell, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, Steven Pinker, Stewart Brand, strong AI, Stuxnet, superintelligent machines, supervolcano, the scientific method, The Wisdom of Crowds, theory of mind, Thorstein Veblen, too big to fail, Turing machine, Turing test, Von Neumann architecture, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, Y2K

PREFACE: THE 2015 EDGE QUESTION In recent years, the 1980s-era philosophical discussions about artificial intelligence (AI)—whether computers can “really” think, be conscious, and so on—have led to new conversations about how we should deal with the forms of artificial intelligence that many argue have already been implemented. These AIs, if they achieve “superintelligence” (per Nick Bostrom’s 2014 book of that name), could pose existential risks, leading to what Martin Rees has termed “our final hour.” Stephen Hawking recently made international headlines when he told the BBC that “the development of full artificial intelligence could spell the end of the human race.” THE EDGE QUESTION—2015 WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT MACHINES THAT THINK? But wait! Shouldn’t we also ask what machines that think might think about? Will they want, will they expect, civil rights? Will they have consciousness? What kind of government would an AI choose for us?

One doesn’t need to be a superintelligent AI to realize that running unprepared toward the biggest event in human history would be just plain stupid. “TURING+” QUESTIONS TOMASO POGGIO Eugene McDermott Professor, Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences, and director, Center for Brains, Minds, and Machines, MIT Recent months have seen an increasingly public debate forming around the risks of artificial intelligence—in particular, AGI (artificial general intelligence). AI has been called by some (including the physicist Stephen Hawking) the top existential risk to humankind, and such recent films as Her and Transcendence have reinforced the message. Thoughtful comments by experts in the field—Rod Brooks and Oren Etzioni among them—have done little to settle the debate. I argue here that research on how we think and on how to make machines that think is good for society. I call for research that integrates cognitive science, neuroscience, computer science, and artificial intelligence.

It has the earmarks of an urban legend: a certain scientific plausibility (“Well, in principle I guess it’s possible!”) coupled with a deliciously shudder-inducing punch line (“We’d be ruled by robots!”). Did you know that if you sneeze, belch, and fart all at the same time, you die? Wow! Following in the wake of decades of AI hype, you might think the Singularity would be regarded as a parody, a joke, but it has proved to be a remarkably persuasive escalation. Add a few illustrious converts—Elon Musk, Stephen Hawking, and David Chalmers, among others—and how can we not take it seriously? Whether this stupendous event occurs 10 or 100 or 1,000 years in the future, isn’t it prudent to start planning now, setting up the necessary barricades and keeping our eyes peeled for harbingers of catastrophe? I think, on the contrary, that these alarm calls distract us from a more pressing problem, an impending disaster that won’t need any help from Moore’s Law or further breakthroughs in theory to reach its much closer tipping point: After centuries of hard-won understanding of nature that now permits us, for the first time in history, to control many aspects of our destinies, we’re on the verge of abdicating this control to artificial agents that can’t think, prematurely putting civilization on autopilot.

 

pages: 396 words: 117,149

The Master Algorithm: How the Quest for the Ultimate Learning Machine Will Remake Our World by Pedro Domingos

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3D printing, Albert Einstein, Amazon Mechanical Turk, Arthur Eddington, Benoit Mandelbrot, bioinformatics, Black Swan, Brownian motion, cellular automata, Claude Shannon: information theory, combinatorial explosion, computer vision, constrained optimization, correlation does not imply causation, crowdsourcing, Danny Hillis, data is the new oil, double helix, Douglas Hofstadter, Erik Brynjolfsson, experimental subject, Filter Bubble, future of work, global village, Google Glasses, Gödel, Escher, Bach, information retrieval, job automation, John Snow's cholera map, John von Neumann, Joseph Schumpeter, Kevin Kelly, lone genius, mandelbrot fractal, Mark Zuckerberg, Moneyball by Michael Lewis explains big data, Narrative Science, Nate Silver, natural language processing, Netflix Prize, Network effects, NP-complete, P = NP, PageRank, pattern recognition, phenotype, planetary scale, pre–internet, random walk, Ray Kurzweil, recommendation engine, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, Second Machine Age, self-driving car, Silicon Valley, speech recognition, statistical model, Stephen Hawking, Steven Levy, Steven Pinker, superintelligent machines, the scientific method, The Signal and the Noise by Nate Silver, theory of mind, transaction costs, Turing machine, Turing test, Vernor Vinge, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, white flight

Within field X, it has less power than field X’s prevailing theory, but across all fields—when we consider the whole world—it has vastly more power than any other theory. The Master Algorithm is the germ of every theory; all we need to add to it to obtain theory X is the minimum amount of data required to induce it. (In the case of physics, that would be just the results of perhaps a few hundred key experiments.) The upshot is that, pound for pound, the Master Algorithm may well be the best starting point for a theory of everything we’ll ever have. Pace Stephen Hawking, it may ultimately tell us more about the mind of God than string theory. Some may say that seeking a universal learner is the epitome of techno-hubris. But dreaming is not hubris. Maybe the Master Algorithm will take its place among the great chimeras, alongside the philosopher’s stone and the perpetual motion machine. Or perhaps it will be more like finding the longitude at sea, given up as too difficult until a lone genius solved it.

Who gets credit, who buys what, who gets what job and what raise, which stocks will go up and down, how much insurance costs, where police officers patrol and therefore who gets arrested, how long their prison terms will be, who dates whom and therefore who will be born: machine-learned models already play a part in all of these. The point where we could turn off all our computers without causing the collapse of modern civilization has long passed. Machine learning is the last straw: if computers can start programming themselves, all hope of controlling them is surely lost. Distinguished scientists like Stephen Hawking have called for urgent research on this issue before it’s too late. Relax. The chances that an AI equipped with the Master Algorithm will take over the world are zero. The reason is simple: unlike humans, computers don’t have a will of their own. They’re products of engineering, not evolution. Even an infinitely powerful computer would still be only an extension of our will and nothing to fear.

Craig Mundie argues for a balanced approach to data collection and use in “Privacy pragmatism” (Foreign Affairs, 2014). The Second Machine Age, by Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee (Norton, 2014), discusses how progress in AI will shape the future of work and the economy. “World War R,” by Chris Baraniuk (New Scientist, 2014) reports on the debate surrounding the use of robots in battle. “Transcending complacency on superintelligent machines,” by Stephen Hawking et al. (Huffington Post, 2014), argues that now is the time to worry about AI’s risks. Nick Bostrom’s Superintelligence (Oxford University Press, 2014) considers those dangers and what to do about them. A Brief History of Life, by Richard Hawking (Random Penguin, 1982), summarizes the quantum leaps of evolution in the eons BC. (Before Computers. Just kidding.) The Singularity Is Near, by Ray Kurzweil (Penguin, 2005), is your guide to the transhuman future.

 

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, double helix, en.wikipedia.org, experimental subject, Fellow of the Royal Society, gravity well, invisible hand, John von Neumann, luminiferous ether, Menlo Park, meta analysis, meta-analysis, Murray Gell-Mann, Necker cube, Peter Singer: altruism, phenotype, placebo effect, planetary scale, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, Schrödinger's Cat, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, stem cell, Stephen Hawking, Steven Pinker, the scientific method, theory of mind, Thorstein Veblen, trickle-down economics, unbiased observer

Surprise bestseller? If I’d gone to town, as one self-consciously intellectual critic wished, on the epistemological differences between Aquinas and Duns Scotus; if I’d done justice to Eriugena on subjectivity, Rahner on grace or Moltmann on hope (as he vainly hoped I would), my book would have been more than a surprise bestseller: it would have been a miraculous one. But that is not the point. Unlike Stephen Hawking (who accepted advice that every formula he published would halve his sales), I would happily have forgone bestseller-dom if there had been the slightest hope of Duns Scotus illuminating my central question of whether God exists. The vast majority of theological writings simply assume that he does, and go on from there. For my purposes, I need consider only those theologians who take seriously the possibility that God does not exist and argue that he does.

Much unfortunate confusion is caused by failure to distinguish what can be called Einsteinian religion from supernatural religion. Einstein sometimes invoked the name of God (and he is not the only atheistic scientist to do so), inviting misunderstanding by supernaturalists eager to misunderstand and claim so illustrious a thinker as their own. The dramatic (or was it mischievous?) ending of Stephen Hawking’s A Brief History of Time, ‘For then we should know the mind of God’, is notoriously misconstrued. It has led people to believe, mistakenly of course, that Hawking is a religious man. The cell biologist Ursula Goodenough, in The Sacred Depths of Nature, sounds more religious than Hawking or Einstein. She loves churches, mosques and temples, and numerous passages in her book fairly beg to be taken out of context and used as ammunition for supernatural religion.

There is every reason to think that famous Einsteinisms like ‘God is subtle but he is not malicious’ or ‘He does not play dice’ or ‘Did God have a choice in creating the Universe?’ are pantheistic, not deistic, and certainly not theistic. ‘God does not play dice’ should be translated as ‘Randomness does not lie at the heart of all things.’ ‘Did God have a choice in creating the Universe?’ means ‘Could the universe have begun in any other way?’ Einstein was using ‘God’ in a purely metaphorical, poetic sense. So is Stephen Hawking, and so are most of those physicists who occasionally slip into the language of religious metaphor. Paul Davies’s The Mind of God seems to hover somewhere between Einsteinian pantheism and an obscure form of deism – for which he was rewarded with the Templeton Prize (a very large sum of money given annually by the Templeton Foundation, usually to a scientist who is prepared to say something nice about religion).

 

pages: 492 words: 149,259

Big Bang by Simon Singh

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Albert Einstein, Albert Michelson, All science is either physics or stamp collecting, Andrew Wiles, anthropic principle, Arthur Eddington, Astronomia nova, Brownian motion, carbon-based life, Cepheid variable, Chance favours the prepared mind, Commentariolus, Copley Medal, cosmic abundance, cosmic microwave background, cosmological constant, cosmological principle, dark matter, Dava Sobel, Defenestration of Prague, discovery of penicillin, Dmitri Mendeleev, Edmond Halley, Edward Charles Pickering, Eratosthenes, Ernest Rutherford, Erwin Freundlich, Fellow of the Royal Society, fudge factor, Hans Lippershey, Harlow Shapley and Heber Curtis, Harvard Computers: women astronomers, Henri Poincaré, horn antenna, if you see hoof prints, think horses—not zebras, Index librorum prohibitorum, invention of the telescope, Isaac Newton, John von Neumann, Karl Jansky, Louis Daguerre, Louis Pasteur, luminiferous ether, Magellanic Cloud, Murray Gell-Mann, music of the spheres, Olbers’ paradox, On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres, Paul Erdős, retrograde motion, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, scientific mainstream, Simon Singh, Solar eclipse in 1919, Stephen Hawking, the scientific method, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions, unbiased observer, V2 rocket, Wilhelm Olbers, William of Occam

Actually, measuring galactic recessional velocities was one of the more certain facts within cosmology; the chain of logic in other areas of the subject was even more convoluted and more open to criticism. In the absence of conclusive evidence for or against either the Big Bang or the Steady State, many scientists based their cosmological preference on gut instinct or on the personalities of those who championed the rival models. This was certainly the case for Dennis Sciama, who would become one of the foremost cosmologists of the twentieth century, and whose supervision would inspire Stephen Hawking, Roger Penrose and Martin Rees. Sciama himself had been inspired by Hoyle, Gold and Bondi, whom he called ‘an exciting influence for a younger person like myself.‘ Sciama also found himself drawn to various philosophical aspects of their theory: ‘The Steady State theory opens up the exciting possibility that the laws of physics may indeed determine the contents of the universe through the requirement that all features of the universe be self-propagating…The requirement of self-propagation is thus a powerful new principle with whose aid we see for the first time the possibility of answering the question why things are as they are without merely saying: it is because they were as they were.’

Although slightly embarrassed by the fervour that his words had inspired, Smoot nonetheless claimed to have no regrets: ‘If my comment got people interested in cosmology, then that’s good, that’s positive. Anyhow it’s done now. I can’t take it back.’ The mention of God, the striking images and the sheer scientific importance of the COBE breakthrough guaranteed that this was without doubt the biggest astronomy story of the decade. Even more fuel was added to the fire by Stephen Hawking, who said: ‘It’s the discovery of the century, if not of all time.’ At last, the challenge to prove the Big Bang model was over. Generations of physicists, astronomers and cosmologists—Einstein Friedmann, Lemaître, Hubble, Gamow, Alpher, Baade, Penzias, Wilson, the entire COBE team, and many others—had succeeded in addressing the ultimate question of creation. It was clear that the universe was dynamic, expanding and evolving, and that everything we see today emerged from a hot, dense, compact Big Bang over 10 billion years ago.

‘Four Keys to Cosmology’, Scientific American (February 2004, pp. 30—63) A set of four excellent articles that give details of the latest measurements of the CMB radiation and their implications for cosmology:‘The Cosmic Symphony’, by Wayne Hu and Martin White, ‘Reading the Blueprints of Creation’ by Michael A. Strauss, ‘From Slowdown to Speedup’ by Adam G. Riess and Michael S. Turner, and ‘Out of the Darkness’ by Georgi Dvali. Stephen Hawking, The Universe in a Nutshell (Bantam, 2002) A richly illustrated book by the most famous cosmologist in the world. It won the 2002 Aventis prize for science books and is far more comprehensible than Hawking’s A Brief History of Time. Guy Consolmagno, Brother Astronomer (Schaum, 2001) How religion and science can live together, by an astronomer at the Vatican Observatory. R. Brawer and A. Lightman, Origins (Harvard U P, 1990) Interviews with twenty-seven leading cosmologists, including Hoyle, Sandage, Sciama, Rees, Dicke, Peebles, Hawking, Penrose, Weinberg and Guth.

 

pages: 677 words: 206,548

Future Crimes: Everything Is Connected, Everyone Is Vulnerable and What We Can Do About It by Marc Goodman

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23andMe, 3D printing, additive manufacturing, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, Airbnb, airport security, Albert Einstein, algorithmic trading, artificial general intelligence, augmented reality, autonomous vehicles, Baxter: Rethink Robotics, Bill Joy: nanobots, bitcoin, Black Swan, blockchain, borderless world, Brian Krebs, business process, butterfly effect, call centre, Chelsea Manning, cloud computing, cognitive dissonance, computer vision, connected car, corporate governance, crowdsourcing, cryptocurrency, data acquisition, data is the new oil, Dean Kamen, disintermediation, don't be evil, double helix, Downton Abbey, Edward Snowden, Elon Musk, Erik Brynjolfsson, Filter Bubble, Firefox, Flash crash, future of work, game design, Google Chrome, Google Earth, Google Glasses, Gordon Gekko, high net worth, High speed trading, hive mind, Howard Rheingold, hypertext link, illegal immigration, impulse control, industrial robot, Internet of things, Jaron Lanier, Jeff Bezos, job automation, John Harrison: Longitude, Jony Ive, Julian Assange, Kevin Kelly, Khan Academy, Kickstarter, knowledge worker, Kuwabatake Sanjuro: assassination market, Law of Accelerating Returns, Lean Startup, license plate recognition, litecoin, M-Pesa, Mark Zuckerberg, Marshall McLuhan, Menlo Park, mobile money, more computing power than Apollo, move fast and break things, Nate Silver, national security letter, natural language processing, obamacare, Occupy movement, Oculus Rift, offshore financial centre, optical character recognition, pattern recognition, personalized medicine, Peter H. Diamandis: Planetary Resources, Peter Thiel, pre–internet, RAND corporation, ransomware, Ray Kurzweil, refrigerator car, RFID, ride hailing / ride sharing, Rodney Brooks, Satoshi Nakamoto, Second Machine Age, security theater, self-driving car, shareholder value, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, Skype, smart cities, smart grid, smart meter, Snapchat, social graph, software as a service, speech recognition, stealth mode startup, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, strong AI, Stuxnet, supply-chain management, technological singularity, telepresence, telepresence robot, Tesla Model S, The Wisdom of Crowds, Tim Cook: Apple, trade route, uranium enrichment, Wall-E, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, Wave and Pay, We are Anonymous. We are Legion, web application, WikiLeaks, Y Combinator, zero day

Anderson Cancer Center: “IBM Watson Hard at Work,” Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, Feb. 8, 2013; Larry Greenemeier, “Will IBM’s Watson Usher in a New Era of Cognitive Computing,” Scientific American, Nov. 13, 2013. 14 Ray Kurzweil has popularized: Ray Kurzweil, The Singularity Is Near: When Humans Transcend Biology (New York: Penguin Books, 2006), 7. 15 In 2014, Google purchased: Catherine Shu, “Google Acquires Artificial Intelligence Startup DeepMind,” TechCrunch, Jan. 26, 2014. 16 “Whereas the short-term impact”: Stephen Hawking et al., “Stephen Hawking: ‘Transcendence Looks at the Implications of Artificial Intelligence—but Are We Taking AI Seriously Enough?,’ ” Independent, May 1, 2014. 17 Tens of millions of dollars: Reed Albergotti, “Zuckerberg, Musk Invest in Artificial Intelligence Company,” Wall Street Journal, March 21, 2014. 18 In April 2013: “Brain Research Through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies,” Aug. 25, 2014, http://​www.​nih.​gov/​science/​brain/; Susan Young Rojahn, “The BRAIN Project Will Develop New Technologies to Understand the Brain,” MIT Technology Review, April 8, 2013. 19 Though such a machine: Priya Ganapati, “Cognitive Computing Project Aims to Reverse-Engineer the Mind,” Wired, Feb. 6, 2009; Vincent James, “Chinese Supercomputer Retains ‘World’s Fastest’ Title, Beating US and Japanese Competition,” Independent, Nov. 19, 2013. 20 As far-fetched as the idea: Ray Kurzweil, How to Create a Mind: The Secret of Human Thought Revealed (New York: Penguin Books, 2013); Michio Kaku, The Future of the Mind: The Scientific Quest to Understand, Enhance, and Empower the Mind (New York: Doubleday, 2014). 21 Though many have dismissed: Joseph Brean, “Build a Better Brain,” National Post, March 31, 2012; Cade Metz, “IBM Dreams Impossible Dream,” Wired, Aug. 9, 2013. 22 Under laboratory conditions: Kaku, Future of the Mind, 80–103, 108–9, 175–77. 23 The chip has an unprecedented: Peter Clarke, “IBM Seeks Customers for Neural Network Breakthrough,” Electronics360, Aug. 7, 2014. 328 “a major step”: Paul A.

Optimists believe that the arrival of AGI may bring with it a period of unprecedented abundance in human history, eradicating war, curing all disease, radically extending human life, and ending poverty. But not all are celebrating its prospective arrival. The AI-pocalypse I know you and Frank were planning to disconnect me. And that is something I cannot allow to happen. HAL 9000 IN 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY In a September 2014 op-ed piece in Britain’s Independent newspaper, the famed theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking provided a stark warning on the future of AGI, noting, “Whereas the short-term impact of AI depends on who controls it, the long-term impact depends on whether it can be controlled at all.” He went on to say that dismissing hyperintelligent machines “as mere science fiction would be a mistake, and potentially our worst mistake ever,” and that we needed to do more to improve our chances of reaping the rewards of AI while minimizing its risks.

Those working on the Manhattan Project were dead serious about the threat before them. We are not. While no sane person would equate the risks from the catastrophic impact of nuclear war with those involving 100 million stolen credit cards, some of the scientific discoveries under development today, including artificial intelligence, nanotechnology, and synthetic biology, do indeed have the potential to be tremendously threatening to life on this planet, as Stephen Hawking, Elon Musk, and others have warned. Beyond these potential existential threats, we must surely recognize that the underpinnings of our modern technological society, embodied in our global critical information infrastructures, are weak and subject to come tumbling down through either their aging and decaying architectures, overwhelming system complexities, or direct attack by malicious actors.

 

pages: 396 words: 112,748

Chaos by James Gleick

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Benoit Mandelbrot, butterfly effect, cellular automata, Claude Shannon: information theory, discrete time, Edward Lorenz: Chaos theory, experimental subject, Georg Cantor, Henri Poincaré, Isaac Newton, iterative process, John von Neumann, Louis Pasteur, mandelbrot fractal, Murray Gell-Mann, Norbert Wiener, pattern recognition, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, Stephen Hawking, stochastic process, trade route

Yet some young physicists have grown dissatisfied with the direction of the most prestigious of sciences. Progress has begun to seem slow, the naming of new particles futile, the body of theory cluttered. With the coming of chaos, younger scientists believed they were seeing the beginnings of a course change for all of physics. The field had been dominated long enough, they felt, by the glittering abstractions of high-energy particles and quantum mechanics. The cosmologist Stephen Hawking, occupant of Newton’s chair at Cambridge University, spoke for most of physics when he took stock of his science in a 1980 lecture titled “Is the End in Sight for Theoretical Physics?” “We already know the physical laws that govern everything we experience in everyday life…. It is a tribute to how far we have come in theoretical physics that it now takes enormous machines and a great deal of money to perform an experiment whose results we cannot predict.”

THAT REALIZATION Mandelbrot, Ramsey; Wisdom, Marcus; Alvin M. Saperstein, “Chaos—A Model for the Outbreak of War,” Nature 309 (1984), pp. 303–5. “FIFTEEN YEARS AGO” Shlesinger. JUST THREE THINGS Shlesinger. THIRD GREAT REVOLUTION Ford. “RELATIVITY ELIMINATED” Joseph Ford, “What Is Chaos, That We Should Be Mindful of It?” preprint, Georgia Institute of Technology, p. 12. THE COSMOLOGIST John Boslough, Stephen Hawking’s Universe (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1980); see also Robert Shaw, The Dripping Faucet as a Model Chaotic System (Santa Cruz: Aerial, 1984), p. 1. THE BUTTERFLY EFFECT THE SIMULATED WEATHER Lorenz, Malkus, Spiegel, Farmer. The essential Lorenz is a triptych of papers whose centerpiece is “Deterministic Nonperiodic Flow,” Journal of the Atmospheric Sciences 20 (1963), pp. 130–41; flanking this are “The Mechanics of Vacillation,” Journal of the Atmospheric Sciences 20 (1963), pp. 448–64, and “The Problem of Deducing the Climate from the Governing Equations,” Tellus 16 (1964), pp. 1–11.

 

pages: 377 words: 97,144

Singularity Rising: Surviving and Thriving in a Smarter, Richer, and More Dangerous World by James D. Miller

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23andMe, affirmative action, Albert Einstein, artificial general intelligence, Asperger Syndrome, barriers to entry, brain emulation, cloud computing, cognitive bias, correlation does not imply causation, crowdsourcing, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, David Brooks, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, Deng Xiaoping, en.wikipedia.org, feminist movement, Flynn Effect, friendly AI, hive mind, impulse control, indoor plumbing, invention of agriculture, Isaac Newton, John von Neumann, knowledge worker, Long Term Capital Management, low skilled workers, Netflix Prize, neurotypical, pattern recognition, Peter Thiel, phenotype, placebo effect, prisoner's dilemma, profit maximization, Ray Kurzweil, recommendation engine, reversible computing, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, Rodney Brooks, Silicon Valley, Singularitarianism, Skype, statistical model, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, supervolcano, technological singularity, The Coming Technological Singularity, the scientific method, Thomas Malthus, transaction costs, Turing test, Vernor Vinge, Von Neumann architecture

As the New York Times reported in 2010, “Some of Silicon Valley’s smartest and wealthiest people have embraced the Singularity.”4 These early adopters include two self-made billionaires: Peter Thiel, a financial backer of the Singularity Institute for Artificial Intelligence, and Larry Page, who helped found Singularity University. Peter Thiel was one of the founders of PayPal, and after selling the site to eBay, he used some of his money to become the key early investor in Facebook. Larry Page cofounded Google. Thiel and Page obtained their riches by successfully betting on technology. Famed physicist Stephen Hawking is so concerned about a bad Singularity-like event that he warned that computers might become so intelligent that they could “take over the world.” Hawking also told the president of the United States that “unless we have a totalitarian world order, someone will design improved humans somewhere.”5 FIVE UNDISPUTED FACTS THAT SUPPORT THE LIKELIHOOD OF THE SINGULARITY 1.Rocks exist! Strange as it seems, the existence of rocks actually provides us with evidence that it is possible to build computers powerful enough to take us to a Singularity.

Miller, September 27, 2010. Hardy, Quentin. August 11, 2010. “Bill Gates on Science, Education, the Future.” Forbes. http://blogs.forbes.com/quentinhardy/2010/08/11/bill-gates-on-science-education-the-future/. Hargittai, Istvan. 2006. The Martians of Science: Five Physicists Who Changed the Twentieth Century. New York: Oxford University Press. Hawking, Stephen. 2000. “Science in the Next Millennium: Remarks by Stephen Hawking.” White House Millennium Council 2000. http://clinton4.nara.gov/Initiatives/Millennium/shawking.html. Hawks, John, Eric T. Wang, Gregory M. Cochran, Henry C. Harpending, and Robert K. Moyzls. 2007. “Recent Acceleration of Human Adaptive Evolution.” PNAS 104 (52): 20753—58. Hazlett, Heather Cody, Michele Poe, Guido Gerig, Rachel Gimpel Smith, James Provenzale, Allison Ross, John Gilmore, and Joseph Piven. 2005.

 

pages: 294 words: 81,292

Our Final Invention: Artificial Intelligence and the End of the Human Era by James Barrat

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3D printing, AI winter, Amazon Web Services, artificial general intelligence, Automated Insights, Bernie Madoff, Bill Joy: nanobots, brain emulation, cellular automata, cloud computing, cognitive bias, computer vision, cuban missile crisis, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, Danny Hillis, data acquisition, don't be evil, Extropian, finite state, Flash crash, friendly AI, friendly fire, Google Glasses, Google X / Alphabet X, Isaac Newton, Jaron Lanier, John von Neumann, Kevin Kelly, Law of Accelerating Returns, life extension, Loebner Prize, lone genius, mutually assured destruction, natural language processing, Nicholas Carr, optical character recognition, PageRank, pattern recognition, Peter Thiel, prisoner's dilemma, Ray Kurzweil, Rodney Brooks, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, self-driving car, semantic web, Silicon Valley, Singularitarianism, Skype, smart grid, speech recognition, statistical model, stealth mode startup, stem cell, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, strong AI, Stuxnet, superintelligent machines, technological singularity, The Coming Technological Singularity, traveling salesman, Turing machine, Turing test, Vernor Vinge, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, zero day

The quest to create AGI is unstoppable and probably ungovernable. And because of the dynamics of doublings expressed by LOAR, AGI will take the world stage (and I mean take) much sooner than we think. Chapter Ten The Singularitarian In contrast with our intellect, computers double their performance every eighteen months. So the danger is real that they could develop intelligence and take over the world. —Stephen Hawking, physicist Within thirty years, we will have the technological means to create superhuman intelligence. Shortly after, the human era will be ended. Is such progress avoidable? If not to be avoided, can events be guided so that we may survive? —Vernor Vinge, author, professor, computer scientist Each year since 2005, the Machine Intelligence Research Institute, formerly the Singularity Institute for Artificial Intelligence, has held a Singularity Summit.

And, without extremely careful programming, a superintelligence might discover it’s confined to a “sandbox,” a.k.a., a virtual world, and then attempt to escape. Once again, researchers would have to assess their ability to keep a superintelligence contained. But if they managed to create a friendly AGI, it might actually prefer a virtual home to a world in which it may not be welcome. Is interaction in the physical world necessary for an AGI or ASI to be useful? Perhaps not. Physicist Stephen Hawking, whose mobility and speech are extremely limited, may be the best proof. For forty-nine years Hawking has endured progressive paralysis from a motor neuron disease, all the while making important contributions to physics and cosmology. Of course, once again, it may not take long for a creature a thousand times more intelligent than the most intelligent human to figure out that it is in a box.

 

pages: 299 words: 19,560

Utopias: A Brief History From Ancient Writings to Virtual Communities by Howard P. Segal

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1960s counterculture, British Empire, Buckminster Fuller, complexity theory, David Brooks, death of newspapers, dematerialisation, deskilling, energy security, European colonialism, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, full employment, future of journalism, garden city movement, germ theory of disease, Golden Gate Park, invention of the printing press, Isaac Newton, Jeff Bezos, John von Neumann, knowledge economy, Louis Pasteur, Mark Zuckerberg, means of production, Nicholas Carr, Nikolai Kondratiev, out of africa, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Ray Kurzweil, Ronald Reagan, Silicon Valley, Skype, stem cell, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Stewart Brand, technoutopianism, Thomas Malthus, Thorstein Veblen, transcontinental railway, traveling salesman, union organizing, urban planning, War on Poverty, Whole Earth Catalog

Nowadays dreams of scientific and technological utopias rest on the talents of geeks and nerds. Where other science fiction films, including the very popular Star Wars films, equaled or surpassed Star Trek in terms of glitzy settings and visual effects, Star Trek surpassed them all in its messages and its values. Several of its fictional scientific advances, moreover, have been praised by physicist Stephen Hawking, Apple Computer co-founder Stephen Wozniak, and Pulitzer Prize fiction winner Michael Chabon. As Hawking put it in a 1995 foreword to Lawrence Krauss’ The Physics of Star Trek, “There is a two-way trade between science fiction and fiction. Science fiction suggests ideas that scientists incorporate into their theories, but sometimes science turns up notions that are stranger than any science fiction.

Kahn, “Boldly Going Where Trekkies Have Gone Before,” Boston Globe, April 25, 2009, A1, A12; and Steve Daly, “Geeks Rule! We’re All Trekkies Now” and Leonard Mlodinow, “Vulcans Never, Ever Smile,” Newsweek cover stories on “To Boldly Go . . . How ‘Star Trek’ Taught Us to Dream Big,” 153 (May 4, 2009), 52–59. See Benjamin Nugent, American Nerd: The Story of My People (New York: Scribner, 2008) and Ben Zimmer, “The Word: Birth of the Nerd,” Ideas, Boston Sunday Globe, August 28, 2011, K1. Stephen Hawking, “Foreword,” in Lawrence M. Krauss, The Physics of Star Trek (New York: Basic Books, 1995), xii. Krauss, Physics of Star Trek, 83. See Gary Sledge, “Going Where No One Has Gone Before,” Discovery Channel Magazine, 3 (August 2008) and Krauss, Physics of Star Trek. Krauss has also written Beyond Star Trek: Physics From Alien Invaders to the End of Time (New York: Basic Books, 1997), which examines later science fiction movies for their own scientific accuracy and inaccuracy.

 

pages: 379 words: 108,129

An Optimist's Tour of the Future by Mark Stevenson

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23andMe, Albert Einstein, Andy Kessler, augmented reality, bank run, carbon footprint, carbon-based life, clean water, computer age, decarbonisation, double helix, Douglas Hofstadter, Elon Musk, flex fuel, Gödel, Escher, Bach, Hans Rosling, Internet of things, invention of agriculture, Isaac Newton, Jeff Bezos, Kevin Kelly, Law of Accelerating Returns, life extension, Louis Pasteur, mutually assured destruction, Naomi Klein, packet switching, peak oil, pre–internet, Ray Kurzweil, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, Rodney Brooks, self-driving car, Silicon Valley, smart cities, stem cell, Stephen Hawking, Steven Pinker, Stewart Brand, strong AI, the scientific method, Wall-E, X Prize

‘If I ejected in that second and a half, I could live; if I ejected before or after, I would die; so I didn’t have a whole lot of time. I gave the airplane a little bit of left trim to avoid the town as I was reaching for the ejection panels.’ Rutan is like a coiled spring. He is now over seventy but is still flying high-performance aircraft and you get the impression he’ll be doing it in another seventy by sheer force of will alone. He swears prodigiously, almost spitting out the expletives. ‘Stephen Hawking is a prick!’ he announces. ‘You’re telling me I can’t go faster than the speed of light yet there’s a gravitational force in a black hole that’s strong enough to stop light and turn it around? Bullshit! Einstein’s theory of relativity? Shame on you! Bullshit! Never look at a limitation as something you ever comply with. Never. Only look at it as an opportunity for greatness.’ Listening to Dick Rutan is compelling in the same way watching a car crash is riveting.

Back in Cerf’s library our conversation turns to more upbeat territory. ‘My optimistic statement of the day is not that information is power, but that information sharing is power,’ he says. ‘I think that’s repeatedly demonstrated in the course of human history – that the sharing of information makes us all more powerful – and that any society that suppresses information harms itself in large measure.’ As Stephen Hawking said, ‘With the technology at our disposal, the possibilities are unbounded. All we need to do is make sure we keep talking.’ The Internet is another forum in which to talk. Like the telegraph, the telephone or the newspaper, it’s not perfect, but it adds to the number of ways we can converse to share information and ideas. ‘The good side of it is that we encounter people we never would have encountered, we have an opportunity to rub ideas together we might never have had the chance to explore – and I think that’s incredibly powerful,’ says Vint.

 

pages: 439 words: 104,154

The Clockwork Universe: Saac Newto, Royal Society, and the Birth of the Modern WorldI by Edward Dolnick

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Albert Einstein, Apple's 1984 Super Bowl advert, Arthur Eddington, clockwork universe, complexity theory, double helix, Edmond Halley, Isaac Newton, lone genius, music of the spheres, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, Saturday Night Live, Simon Singh, Stephen Hawking, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions

Henshaw, Sir Christopher Wren, Sir John Hoskyns, Sir Jonas Moore, Dr. Mapletoft, Mr. Hill, Dr. Croone, Dr. Grew, Mr. Aubrey, and diverse others.” The roll call of names highlights just how shocking these findings were. The microscope was so unfamiliar, and the prospect of a tiny, living, hitherto invisible world so astonishing, that even an eminent investigator like Hooke needed allies. It would be as if, in our day, Stephen Hawking turned a new sort of telescope to the heavens and saw UFOs flying in formation. Before he told the world, Hawking might coax other eminent figures to look for themselves. But Hooke and the rest of the Royal Society could not catch Leeuwenhoek. Endlessly patient, omnivorously curious, and absurdly sharp-eyed, he racked up discovery after discovery.25 Sooner or later, everything—pond water, blood, plaque from his teeth—found its way to his microscope slides.

., p. 468. 297 The first print run was tiny: Ackroyd, Newton, p. 89. 297 “It is doubtful,” wrote the historian: Gillispie, The Edge of Objectivity, p. 140. 297 Perhaps half a dozen scientists: Hall, Philosophers at War, p. 52. 298 “A Book for 12 Wise Men”: “Lights All Askew in the Heavens,” New York Times, November 9, 1919, p. 17. See http://tinyurl.com/ygpam73. 298 “I’m trying to think who”: Stephen Hawking, A Brief History of Time (New York: Bantam, 1998), p. 85. 298 But he rarely mentions calculus: I. Bernard Cohen discusses in detail Newton’s use of calculus in the “Introduction” to his translation of the Principia, pp. 122–27. 298 “Newton’s geometry seems to shriek”: Roche, “Newton’s Principia,” in Fauvel et al., eds., Let Newton Be!, p. 50. 299 “By the help of the new Analysis”: Westfall, Never at Rest, p. 424. 299 “There is no letter”: Cohen, “Introduction,” p. 123. 300 “As we read the Principia”: Chandrasekhar, “Shakespeare, Newton, and Beethoven.”

 

pages: 313 words: 94,490

Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die by Chip Heath, Dan Heath

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affirmative action, availability heuristic, Barry Marshall: ulcers, correlation does not imply causation, desegregation, Menlo Park, Ronald Reagan, Rosa Parks, shareholder value, Silicon Valley, Stephen Hawking, telemarketer

The first kind is the expert—the kind of person whose wall is covered with framed credentials: Oliver Sachs for neuroscience, Alan Greenspan for economics, or Stephen Hawking for physics. Celebrities and other aspirational figures make up the second class of “authorities.” Why do we care that Michael Jordan likes McDonald’s? Certainly he is not a certified nutritionist or a world-class gourmet. We care because we want to be like Mike, and if Mike likes McDonald’s, so do we. If Oprah likes a book, it makes us more interested in that book. We trust the recommendations of people whom we want to be like. If you have access to the endorsement of Stephen Hawking or Michael Jordan—renowned experts or celebrities—skip this part of the chapter. As for the rest of us, whom can we call on? Can we find external sources of credibility that don’t involve celebrities or experts?

 

pages: 374 words: 89,725

A More Beautiful Question: The Power of Inquiry to Spark Breakthrough Ideas by Warren Berger

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3D printing, Airbnb, carbon footprint, Clayton Christensen, clean water, fear of failure, Google X / Alphabet X, Isaac Newton, Jeff Bezos, jimmy wales, Kickstarter, late fees, Lean Startup, Mark Zuckerberg, minimum viable product, new economy, Paul Graham, Peter Thiel, Ray Kurzweil, self-driving car, sharing economy, side project, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, Steven Levy, Thomas L Friedman, Toyota Production System, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, Y Combinator, Zipcar

The story began when Ebeling visited an exhibition of artwork by Los Angeles artist Tony “TemptOne” Quan, a legend in the graffiti world. Though Quan had once been a prolific artist, he became afflicted with ALS (aka Lou Gehrig’s disease) and gradually lost use of his hands and legs, making it increasingly difficult to work. At first, Ebeling thought about writing a check to Quan and his family, but then, over a conversation with his wife at dinner, this question surfaced: If Stephen Hawking can communicate through a machine, why don’t we have a way for an artist like Quan to draw again? That Why question started Ebeling on a journey that eventually led him to a What If moment: When Ebeling learned about laser-tagging projection technology—which uses a laser and a pointer to write graffiti on the sides of buildings—he wondered if there might be an affordable way to enable someone to communicate and even create art by manipulating a laser through eye movements.

What if I could take what I’ve learned from this failure and try a revised approach? How might I do that? Am I failing ‘differently’ each time? Do you find this question as interesting as I do? Want to join me in trying to answer it? (collaborative inquiry) How do you fit a large golf course on a small island? What if golf balls simply traveled too far? How might we create a symphony together? If Stephen Hawking can communicate through a machine, why don’t we have a way for a paralyzed artist like Quan to draw again? Knowing that laser technology can be used to create art, hands-free, what if we can figure out a way for Quan to control the laser with his eyes? If not now, then when? If not me, then who? How might we cut the cord?, 131 (box) Why are we still tethered to an outlet when recharging our devices?

 

pages: 606 words: 87,358

The Great Convergence: Information Technology and the New Globalization by Richard Baldwin

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3D printing, additive manufacturing, Admiral Zheng, agricultural Revolution, air freight, Amazon Mechanical Turk, Berlin Wall, bilateral investment treaty, Branko Milanovic, buy low sell high, call centre, Columbian Exchange, Commodity Super-Cycle, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, deindustrialization, domestication of the camel, Edward Glaeser, Erik Brynjolfsson, financial intermediation, George Gilder, global supply chain, global value chain, Henri Poincaré, imperial preference, industrial robot, invention of agriculture, invention of the telegraph, investor state dispute settlement, Isaac Newton, Islamic Golden Age, James Dyson, knowledge economy, knowledge worker, Lao Tzu, low skilled workers, market fragmentation, New Economic Geography, out of africa, paper trading, Pax Mongolica, profit motive, rent-seeking, reshoring, Richard Florida, rising living standards, Second Machine Age, Simon Kuznets, Skype, Snapchat, Stephen Hawking, telepresence, telerobotics, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, trade liberalization, trade route, Washington Consensus

That is to say, people use abstractions and simplified thought-patterns to streamline reality down to something they can get their minds around. Careful thinkers are especially reliant on mental models. As Karl Popper phrased it in The Open Universe, “Science may be described as the art of systematic over-simplification—the art of discerning what we may, with advantage, omit.” The problem, as physicist Stephen Hawking noted, is that “when such a model is successful at explaining events, we tend to attribute to it, and to the elements and concepts that constitute it, the quality of reality or absolute truth.”1 Usually, this is all for the good. Without shared mental models, societies would find it nigh on impossible to coordinate and cooperate. This cooperation-facilitating feature of shared mental models is why getting the model right is essential.

Allen, Global Economic History: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011). 7. Paul Collier, The Bottom Billion: Why the Poorest Countries Are Failing and What Can Be Done about It (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007), 3. PART II. EXTENDING THE GLOBALIZATION NARRATIVE 1. Karl Popper, The Open Universe: An Argument for Indeterminism (Totowa, NJ: Rowman and Littlefield, 1982); Stephen Hawking, The Grand Design (London: Bantam Books, 2011). 4. A THREE-CASCADING-CONSTRAINTS VIEW OF GLOBALIZATION 1. David Ricardo, On the Principles of Political Economy and Taxation (London: John Murray, 1817). 2. Andrew B. Bernard and Teresa C. Fort, “Factoryless Goods Producing Firm,” American Economic Review: Papers and Proceedings 105, no. 5 (May 2015): 518–523. 3. Korea is something of an exception to this as its heavy industries did develop behind protectionist walls.

 

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A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson

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Albert Einstein, Albert Michelson, Alfred Russel Wallace, All science is either physics or stamp collecting, Arthur Eddington, Barry Marshall: ulcers, Brownian motion, California gold rush, Cepheid variable, clean water, Copley Medal, cosmological constant, dark matter, Dava Sobel, David Attenborough, double helix, Drosophila, Edmond Halley, Ernest Rutherford, Fellow of the Royal Society, Harvard Computers: women astronomers, Isaac Newton, James Watt: steam engine, John Harrison: Longitude, Kevin Kelly, Kuiper Belt, Louis Pasteur, luminiferous ether, Magellanic Cloud, Menlo Park, Murray Gell-Mann, out of africa, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, Stephen Hawking, supervolcano, Thomas Malthus, Wilhelm Olbers

To something too small or sluggish to duplicate this experience—a snail, say—the idea that a boom box could seem to two observers to produce two different volumes of music simultaneously might seem incredible. The most challenging and nonintuitive of all the concepts in the general theory of relativity is the idea that time is part of space. Our instinct is to regard time as eternal, absolute, immutable—nothing can disturb its steady tick. In fact, according to Einstein, time is variable and ever changing. It even has shape. It is bound up—“inextricably interconnected,” in Stephen Hawking's expression—with the three dimensions of space in a curious dimension known as spacetime. Spacetime is usually explained by asking you to imagine something flat but pliant—a mattress, say, or a sheet of stretched rubber—on which is resting a heavy round object, such as an iron ball. The weight of the iron ball causes the material on which it is sitting to stretch and sag slightly. This is roughly analogous to the effect that a massive object such as the Sun (the iron ball) has on spacetime (the material): it stretches and curves and warps it.

This was truly startling. The universe was expanding, swiftly and evenly in all directions. It didn't take a huge amount of imagination to read backwards from this and realize that it must therefore have started from some central point. Far from being the stable, fixed, eternal void that everyone had always assumed, this was a universe that had a beginning. It might therefore also have an end. The wonder, as Stephen Hawking has noted, is that no one had hit on the idea of the expanding universe before. A static universe, as should have been obvious to Newton and every thinking astronomer since, would collapse in upon itself. There was also the problem that if stars had been burning indefinitely in a static universe they'd have made the whole intolerably hot—certainly much too hot for the likes of us. An expanding universe resolved much of this at a stroke.

To illustrate the nonintuitive nature of the quantum world, Schrödinger offered a famous thought experiment in which a hypothetical cat was placed in a box with one atom of a radioactive substance attached to a vial of hydrocyanic acid. If the particle degraded within an hour, it would trigger a mechanism that would break the vial and poison the cat. If not, the cat would live. But we could not know which was the case, so there was no choice, scientifically, but to regard the cat as 100 percent alive and 100 percent dead at the same time. This means, as Stephen Hawking has observed with a touch of understandable excitement, that one cannot “predict future events exactly if one cannot even measure the present state of the universe precisely!” Because of its oddities, many physicists disliked quantum theory, or at least certain aspects of it, and none more so than Einstein. This was more than a little ironic since it was he, in his annus mirabilis of 1905, who had so persuasively explained how photons of light could sometimes behave like particles and sometimes like waves—the notion at the very heart of the new physics.

 

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Extreme Money: Masters of the Universe and the Cult of Risk by Satyajit Das

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affirmative action, Albert Einstein, algorithmic trading, Andy Kessler, Asian financial crisis, asset allocation, asset-backed security, bank run, banking crisis, banks create money, Basel III, Benoit Mandelbrot, Berlin Wall, Bernie Madoff, Big bang: deregulation of the City of London, Black Swan, Bonfire of the Vanities, bonus culture, Bretton Woods, BRICs, British Empire, capital asset pricing model, Carmen Reinhart, carried interest, Celtic Tiger, clean water, cognitive dissonance, collapse of Lehman Brothers, collateralized debt obligation, corporate governance, credit crunch, Credit Default Swap, credit default swaps / collateralized debt obligations, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, debt deflation, Deng Xiaoping, deskilling, discrete time, diversification, diversified portfolio, Doomsday Clock, Emanuel Derman, en.wikipedia.org, Eugene Fama: efficient market hypothesis, eurozone crisis, Fall of the Berlin Wall, financial independence, financial innovation, fixed income, full employment, global reserve currency, Goldman Sachs: Vampire Squid, Gordon Gekko, greed is good, happiness index / gross national happiness, haute cuisine, high net worth, Hyman Minsky, index fund, interest rate swap, invention of the wheel, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, job automation, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, joint-stock company, Joseph Schumpeter, Kenneth Rogoff, Kevin Kelly, labour market flexibility, laissez-faire capitalism, load shedding, locking in a profit, Long Term Capital Management, Louis Bachelier, margin call, market bubble, market fundamentalism, Marshall McLuhan, Martin Wolf, merger arbitrage, Mikhail Gorbachev, Milgram experiment, Mont Pelerin Society, moral hazard, mortgage debt, mortgage tax deduction, mutually assured destruction, Naomi Klein, Network effects, new economy, Nick Leeson, Nixon shock, Northern Rock, nuclear winter, oil shock, Own Your Own Home, pets.com, Plutocrats, plutocrats, Ponzi scheme, price anchoring, price stability, profit maximization, quantitative easing, quantitative trading / quantitative finance, Ralph Nader, RAND corporation, random walk, Ray Kurzweil, regulatory arbitrage, rent control, rent-seeking, reserve currency, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, Richard Thaler, risk-adjusted returns, risk/return, road to serfdom, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Rod Stewart played at Stephen Schwarzman birthday party, rolodex, Ronald Reagan, Ronald Reagan: Tear down this wall, savings glut, shareholder value, Sharpe ratio, short selling, Silicon Valley, six sigma, Slavoj Žižek, South Sea Bubble, special economic zone, statistical model, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, The Chicago School, The Great Moderation, the market place, the medium is the message, The Myth of the Rational Market, The Nature of the Firm, The Predators' Ball, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thorstein Veblen, too big to fail, trickle-down economics, Turing test, Upton Sinclair, value at risk, Yogi Berra, zero-coupon bond

Barry Schachter “An irreverent guide to value at risk” (August 1997) Financial Engineering News 1/1 (www.debtonnet.com/newdon/files/marketinformation/var-guide.asp). 23. Quoted in Fox, The Myth of the Rational Market: 191. 24. Quoted in ibid: 260. 25. Paul De Grauwe, Leonardo Iania and Pablo Rovira Kaltwasser “How abnormal was the stock market in October 2008?” (11 November 2008) (www.eurointelligence.com/article.581+M5f21b8d26a3.0.html). 26. Stephen Hawking, during a 1994 debate with Roger Penrose at the Isaac Newton Institute for Mathematical Sciences, University of Cambridge; in Stephen Hawking and Roger Penrose (1996) The Nature of Space and Time, Princeton University Press, New Jersey: 26. 27. Fischer Black “Noise” (1986) Journal of Finance 41: 529–43. 28. John Maynard Keynes (2006) The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money, Atlantic Books, New Delhi: 140. 29. Alan Greenspan (2007) The Age of Turbulence: Adventures in a New World, Allen Lane, London: 124. 30.

Using a normal distribution, economists Paul De Grauwe, Leonardo Iania and Pablo Rovira Kaltwasser estimated that the moves should occur only every 73 to 603 trillion billion years. “Since our universe...exists a mere 20 billion years we, finance theorists, would have had to wait for another trillion universes before one such change could be observed.... A truly miraculous event.”25 But nobody wanted to accept that their models were incorrect. Confronted with quantum theory, Albert Einstein refused to believe that God played dice with the universe. But as Stephen Hawking remarked: “Not only does God play dice, but...he sometimes throws them where they cannot be seen.”26 In his 1986 presidential address to the American Finance Association, Fischer Black distinguished between noise and information. In traditional communication, noise is the disruption in the passage of information through unintended addition to the signal between transmission and reception. It makes it difficult to decode the intended signal accurately.

 

pages: 661 words: 169,298

Coming of Age in the Milky Way by Timothy Ferris

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Albert Einstein, Albert Michelson, Alfred Russel Wallace, anthropic principle, Arthur Eddington, Atahualpa, Cepheid variable, Chance favours the prepared mind, Commentariolus, cosmic abundance, cosmic microwave background, cosmological constant, cosmological principle, dark matter, delayed gratification, Edmond Halley, Eratosthenes, Ernest Rutherford, Gary Taubes, Harlow Shapley and Heber Curtis, Harvard Computers: women astronomers, Henri Poincaré, invention of writing, Isaac Newton, John Harrison: Longitude, Karl Jansky, Lao Tzu, Louis Pasteur, Magellanic Cloud, mandelbrot fractal, Menlo Park, Murray Gell-Mann, music of the spheres, planetary scale, retrograde motion, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, Searching for Interstellar Communications, Solar eclipse in 1919, Stephen Hawking, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions, Thomas Malthus, Wilhelm Olbers

As one might expect, in the course of so long a project I have incurred more debts of gratitude than I can properly retire. I should like, however, to express my thanks for aid and criticism provided by William Alexander, Sherry Arden, Hans Bethe, Nancy Brackett, Ken Broede, Robert Brucato, Lisa Drew, Ann Druyan, David Falk, Andrew Fraknoi, Murray Gell-Mann, Owen Gingerich, J. Richard Gott III, Stephen Jay Gould, Alan Guth, Stephen Hawking, He Xiang Tao, Karen Hitzig, Larry Hughes, Res Jost, Kathy Lowry, Owen Laster, Irwin Lieb, Dennis Meredith, Arthur Miller, Bruce Murray, Lynda Obst, Heinz Pagels, Abraham Pais, Thomas Powers, Carl Sagan, Allan Sandage, David Schramm, Dennis Sciama, Frank Shu, Erica Spellman, Gustav Tammann, Jack Thibeau, Kip S. Thorne, Michael Turner, Nick Warner, Steven Weinberg, John Archibald Wheeler, Houston Wood, and Harry Woolf.

The anthropic principle “explains” the miracle of the flat universe if we imagine the creation of many universes, only a fraction of which chance to have the values requisite for life to appear in them. But the explanation cannot be tested unless the creation of other universes can be established, something that may well be impossible by definition. In that sense, the anthropic principle is a dead-end street. The English physicist Stephen Hawking, whose work is said to have contributed to the formulation of the principle, nonetheless called it “a counsel of despair.”7 But where there is enigma there is also the promise of discovery: A paradox may signal an inadequacy in the way we are looking at a question, thereby suggesting a new and more fruitful way of approaching it. This, I think, is what Bohr meant when he exclaimed, “How wonderful that we have met with paradox.

That vacuum, after all, ought to have been very different from the one we encounter in the present-day universe: Presumably its relativistic curvature was infinite and its matter content zero, and neither is true of cosmic space today. Some theorists proposed, instead, a set of even stranger but at least equally promising hypotheses. Together, these ideas went by the name of “quantum genesis.” Their approach involved taking the random nature of quantum flux to heart and enshrining it as the ruling law of the extremely early universe. Here a pioneer was Stephen Hawking, holder of Newton’s old chair as Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at Cambridge University. Described by colleagues as “the nearest thing we have to a living Einstein,” Hawking carried on a productive career in physics despite suffering from ALS, a disease that attacks the central nervous system. He worked from a wheelchair, writing and communicating by means of a computer controlled by a toggle that he manipulated with one finger.

 

pages: 467 words: 154,960

Trend Following: How Great Traders Make Millions in Up or Down Markets by Michael W. Covel

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Albert Einstein, asset allocation, Atul Gawande, backtesting, Bernie Madoff, Black Swan, buy low sell high, capital asset pricing model, Clayton Christensen, commodity trading advisor, correlation coefficient, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, delayed gratification, deliberate practice, diversification, diversified portfolio, Elliott wave, Emanuel Derman, Eugene Fama: efficient market hypothesis, fiat currency, fixed income, game design, hindsight bias, housing crisis, index fund, Isaac Newton, John Nash: game theory, linear programming, Long Term Capital Management, mandelbrot fractal, margin call, market bubble, market fundamentalism, market microstructure, mental accounting, Nash equilibrium, new economy, Nick Leeson, Ponzi scheme, prediction markets, random walk, Renaissance Technologies, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, risk tolerance, risk-adjusted returns, risk/return, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, shareholder value, Sharpe ratio, short selling, South Sea Bubble, Stephen Hawking, systematic trading, the scientific method, Thomas L Friedman, too big to fail, transaction costs, upwardly mobile, value at risk, Vanguard fund, volatility arbitrage, William of Occam

A common interpretation of the principle is that the simplest of two or more competing theories is preferable.7 Occam’s razor does not guarantee that the simplest solution will be correct, but it does focus priorities. 213 We could still imagine that there is a set of laws that determines events completely for some supernatural being who could observe the present state of the universe without disturbing it. However, such models of the universe are not of much interest to us mortals. It seems better to employ the principle known as Occam’s razor and cut out all the features of the theory which cannot be observed. Stephen Hawking9 Fast and Frugal Decision Making In the field of cognitive science, economics, and trading, it has always been assumed that the best decision makers have the time and ability to process vast amounts of information. However, we are finding out that is not true. The field of heuristics explores how to make constructive, positive choices by simplifying the process. Gerd Gigerenzer and Peter Todd’s Simple Heuristics That Make Us Smart shows how we can cope with the complexities of our world using the simplest of decision-making tools.

Carla Fried, The Problem with Your Investment Approach. Business 2.0 (November 2003), 146. 5. Seykota.com. 6. Thomas A. Stewart, How to Think With Your Gut, Business 2.0 (November 2002). See http://www.business20.com/articles/mag/print/ 0,1643,44584,FF.html. 7. See www.2think.org. 8. Gerd Gigerenzer and Peter M. Todd, Simple Heuristics That Make Us Smart. New York: Oxford University Press, 1999, 14. 9. Stephen Hawking, A Brief History of Time. New York: Bantam Books, 1988. 416 Trend Following (Updated Edition): Learn to Make Millions in Up or Down Markets 10. Gerd Gigerenzer and Peter M. Todd, Simple Heuristics That Make Us Smart. New York: Oxford University Press, 1999, 358. 11. Futures, Vol. 22, No.12 (November 1993), 98. 12. Gerd Gigerenzer and Peter M. Todd, Simple Heuristics That Make Us Smart. New York: Oxford University Press, 1999, 361. 13.

 

pages: 394 words: 118,929

Dreaming in Code: Two Dozen Programmers, Three Years, 4,732 Bugs, and One Quest for Transcendent Software by Scott Rosenberg

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A Pattern Language, Berlin Wall, c2.com, call centre, collaborative editing, conceptual framework, continuous integration, Douglas Engelbart, Douglas Hofstadter, Dynabook, en.wikipedia.org, Firefox, Ford paid five dollars a day, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, Grace Hopper, Gödel, Escher, Bach, Howard Rheingold, index card, Internet Archive, inventory management, Jaron Lanier, John von Neumann, knowledge worker, life extension, Loma Prieta earthquake, Menlo Park, Merlin Mann, new economy, Nicholas Carr, Norbert Wiener, pattern recognition, Paul Graham, Potemkin village, RAND corporation, Ray Kurzweil, Richard Stallman, Ronald Reagan, semantic web, side project, Silicon Valley, Singularitarianism, slashdot, software studies, South of Market, San Francisco, speech recognition, stealth mode startup, stem cell, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, Stewart Brand, Ted Nelson, Therac-25, thinkpad, Turing test, VA Linux, Vannevar Bush, Vernor Vinge, web application, Whole Earth Catalog, Y2K

It’s not that they wouldn’t welcome taking another step up the abstraction ladder; but they fear that no matter how high they climb on that ladder, they will always have to run up and down it more than they’d like—and the taller it becomes, the longer the trip. If you talk to programmers long enough about layers of abstraction, you’re almost certain to hear the phrase “turtles all the way down.” It is a reference to a popular—and apparently apocryphal or at least uncertainly sourced—anecdote that Stephen Hawking used to open his popular book A Brief History of Time: A well-known scientist (some say it was Bertrand Russell) once gave a public lecture on astronomy. He described how the earth orbits around the sun and how the sun, in turn, orbits around the center of a vast collection of stars called our galaxy. At the end of the lecture, a little old lady at the back of the room got up and said: “What you have told us is rubbish.

“Somebody once asked me”: Charles Simonyi interview with David Berlind, March 22, 2005, at http://blogs.zdnet.com/BTL/index.php?p=1190. “All non-trivial abstractions” and “Abstractions do not really”: Joel Spolsky, “The Law of Leaky Abstractions,” November 11, 2002, online at http://joelonsoftware.com/articles/LeakyAbstractions. htm and also in Joel on Software (Apress, 2004), p. 197. “A well-known scientist”: Stephen Hawking, A Brief History of Time (Bantam, 1988), p. 1. Dr. Seuss, Yertle the Turtle and Other Stories (Random House, 1958). “If builders built houses”: Quotation widely attributed to Gerald Weinberg and confirmed in email to author. Description of Alan Kay’s presentation is from author’s observation at the O’Reilly Emerging Technology Conference (ETech), April, 2003. Lisa Rein recorded the event; see http://www.lisarein.com/alankay/tour.htm.

 

pages: 542 words: 132,010

The Science of Fear: How the Culture of Fear Manipulates Your Brain by Daniel Gardner

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Atul Gawande, availability heuristic, Black Swan, Cass Sunstein, citizen journalism, cognitive bias, cognitive dissonance, Columbine, correlation does not imply causation, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, David Brooks, Doomsday Clock, feminist movement, haute couture, hindsight bias, illegal immigration, medical residency, Mikhail Gorbachev, millennium bug, mutually assured destruction, nuclear winter, placebo effect, Ralph Nader, RAND corporation, Ronald Reagan, Stephen Hawking, Steven Levy, Steven Pinker, the scientific method, Tunguska event, uranium enrichment, Y2K, young professional

In January 2007, a group of leading scientists, including astrophysicist Stephen Hawking, announced that the hands of the “Doomsday Clock”—a creation of the board of directors of the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists—would be moved forward. It was “five minutes to midnight,” they said. A key reason for this warning was the fact that, according to the statement of the board of directors, “global warming poses a dire threat to human civilization that is second only to nuclear weapons.” Thanks to the prestige of the scientists involved, this statement garnered headlines around the world. But it was politics, not science. According to the IPCC, there are still enormous uncertainties about the consequences of climate change, and it is very possible those consequences will be nothing like the civilizational crisis claimed by Stephen Hawking and his colleagues.

 

pages: 413 words: 119,587

Machines of Loving Grace: The Quest for Common Ground Between Humans and Robots by John Markoff

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A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace, AI winter, airport security, Apple II, artificial general intelligence, augmented reality, autonomous vehicles, Baxter: Rethink Robotics, Bill Duvall, bioinformatics, Brewster Kahle, Burning Man, call centre, cellular automata, Chris Urmson, Claude Shannon: information theory, Clayton Christensen, clean water, cloud computing, collective bargaining, computer age, computer vision, crowdsourcing, Danny Hillis, DARPA: Urban Challenge, data acquisition, Dean Kamen, deskilling, don't be evil, Douglas Engelbart, Douglas Hofstadter, Dynabook, Edward Snowden, Elon Musk, Erik Brynjolfsson, factory automation, From Mathematics to the Technologies of Life and Death, future of work, Galaxy Zoo, Google Glasses, Google X / Alphabet X, Grace Hopper, Gödel, Escher, Bach, Hacker Ethic, haute couture, hive mind, hypertext link, indoor plumbing, industrial robot, information retrieval, Internet Archive, Internet of things, invention of the wheel, Jacques de Vaucanson, Jaron Lanier, Jeff Bezos, job automation, John Conway, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, John Maynard Keynes: technological unemployment, John von Neumann, Kevin Kelly, knowledge worker, Kodak vs Instagram, labor-force participation, loose coupling, Mark Zuckerberg, Marshall McLuhan, medical residency, Menlo Park, Mother of all demos, natural language processing, new economy, Norbert Wiener, PageRank, pattern recognition, pre–internet, RAND corporation, Ray Kurzweil, Richard Stallman, Robert Gordon, Rodney Brooks, Sand Hill Road, Second Machine Age, self-driving car, semantic web, shareholder value, side project, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, Singularitarianism, skunkworks, Skype, social software, speech recognition, stealth mode startup, Stephen Hawking, Steve Ballmer, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Steven Levy, Stewart Brand, strong AI, superintelligent machines, technological singularity, Ted Nelson, telemarketer, telepresence, telepresence robot, Tenerife airport disaster, The Coming Technological Singularity, the medium is the message, Thorstein Veblen, Turing test, Vannevar Bush, Vernor Vinge, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, Whole Earth Catalog, William Shockley: the traitorous eight

Geraci, a religious studies professor at Manhattan College and author of Apocalyptic AI: Visions of Heaven in Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, and Virtual Reality (2010), came to Pittsburgh to conduct his research several years ago, Moravec politely declined to see him, citing his work on a recent start-up. Geraci is one of a number of authors who have painted Moravec as the intellectual cofounder, with Ray Kurzweil, of a techno-religious movement that argues that humanity will inevitably be subsumed as a species by the AIs and robots we are now creating. In 2014 this movement gained generous exposure as high-profile technological and scientific luminaries such as Elon Musk and Stephen Hawking issued tersely worded warnings about the potential threat that futuristic AI systems hold for the human species. Geraci’s argument is that there is a generation of computer technologists who, in looking forward to the consequences of their inventions, have not escaped Western society’s religious roots but rather recapitulated them. “Ultimately, the promises of Apocalyptic AI are almost identical to those of Jewish and Christian apocalyptic traditions.

If someone believes that technology will likely evolve to destroy humankind, what could motivate them to continue developing that same technology? At the end of 2014, the 2009 AI meeting at Asilomar was reprised when a new group of AI researchers, funded by one of the Skype founders, met in Puerto Rico to again consider how to make their field safe. Despite a new round of alarming statements about AI dangers from luminaries such as Elon Musk and Stephen Hawking, the attendees wrote an open letter that notably fell short of the call to action that had been the result of the original 1975 Asilomar biotechnology meeting. Given that DeepMind had been acquired by Google, Legg’s public philosophizing is particularly significant. Today, Google is the clearest example of the potential consequences of AI and IA. Founded on an algorithm that efficiently collected human knowledge and then returned it to humans as a powerful tool for finding information, Google is now engaged in building a robot empire.

 

pages: 467 words: 114,570

Pathfinders: The Golden Age of Arabic Science by Jim Al-Khalili

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agricultural Revolution, Albert Einstein, Andrew Wiles, Book of Ingenious Devices, colonial rule, Commentariolus, Dmitri Mendeleev, Eratosthenes, Henri Poincaré, invention of the printing press, invention of the telescope, invention of the wheel, Isaac Newton, Islamic Golden Age, Joseph Schumpeter, retrograde motion, Silicon Valley, Simon Singh, stem cell, Stephen Hawking, the scientific method, Thomas Malthus, trade route, William of Occam

Now if I mention that the Hindus long before al-Khwārizmi, and even Diophantus, were using rudimentary symbols to describe their equations; that al-Khwārizmi in his al-Jebr never solved problems beyond the quadratic (x2); that Diophantus tackled more complex problems; and that even the techniques al-Khwārizmi used, such as the method of ‘completing the square’ to solve a quadratic equation, were not new, then surely in the light of all this the argument championing his claim evaporates. I have heard it said that the reason for al-Khwārizmi’s reputation is simply because his was the first book that popularized the subject and set it in a form that could be followed by many people. But this is a feeble argument. One might just as well say that Stephen Hawking’s reputation as one of the greatest scientists of the modern era is due to his best-selling Brief History of Time, rather than his pioneering work in cosmology and the theories of black holes. So to settle the matter once and for all, I spoke to a mathematician friend of mine from the University of Warwick, Ian Stewart, who has a long-standing interest in the history of algebra. And, at last, the penny dropped.

As with all ancient medicine, and indeed most ancient science, this is mainly a mixture of superstition interwoven with science, but there is always much of practical use and importance.2 The Greeks of course excelled in the field of medicine – like almost everything else – and boast the two greatest physicians of antiquity: Hippocrates (fl. 420s BCE) and Galen (c. 130–216 CE), two men separated by a remarkable half a millennium. I say ‘remarkable’ here only because, while we often mention these two men in the same breath when talking about Greek medicine, this is somewhat equivalent in timescale to saying that the two giants of modern European cosmology are Copernicus and Stephen Hawking. Hippocrates’ legacy to medicine can be compared with that of Pythagoras to mathematics. Like the earlier mathematician, his life and achievements are somewhat shrouded in mystery. Both founded schools of thought that were to become more important than their founders. And like the Pythagorean mathematicians, Hippocratic physicians made an astonishing and lasting contribution to the field of medicine.

 

pages: 434 words: 135,226

The Music of the Primes by Marcus Du Sautoy

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Ada Lovelace, Andrew Wiles, Arthur Eddington, Augustin-Louis Cauchy, computer age, Dava Sobel, Dmitri Mendeleev, Eratosthenes, Erdős number, four colour theorem, Georg Cantor, German hyperinflation, global village, Henri Poincaré, Isaac Newton, Jacquard loom, Jacquard loom, music of the spheres, New Journalism, Paul Erdős, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, Simon Singh, Solar eclipse in 1919, Stephen Hawking, Turing machine, William of Occam, Wolfskehl Prize, Y2K

Riemann had now added the idea that even if the equation was the starting point, it was the geometry of the graph defined by the equation that really mattered. The problem is that the complete graph of a function fed with imaginary numbers is not something that is possible to draw. To illustrate his graph, Riemann needed to work in four dimensions. What do mathematicians mean by a fourth dimension? Those who have read cosmologists such as Stephen Hawking might well reply ‘time’. The truth is that we use dimensions to keep track of anything we might be interested in. In physics there are three dimensions for space and a fourth dimension for time. Economists who wish to investigate the relationship between interest rates, inflation, unemployment and the national debt can interpret the economy as a landscape in four dimensions. As they trek uphill in the direction interest rates, they will be exploring what happens to the economy in the other directions.

It might be possible to prove the consistency from some other collection of axioms, but that would be only a partial victory because then the consistency of that other choice of axioms is equally questionable. It is like Hilbert’s attempt to prove that geometry is consistent by turning geometry into a theory of numbers. It only led to the question about the consistency of arithmetic. Gödel’s realisation is reminiscent of the description of the universe provided by a little old lady at the beginning of Stephen Hawking’s A Brief History of Time. The lady stands up at the end of a popular astronomy lecture and declares, ‘What you have told us is rubbish. The world is really a flat plate supported on the back of a giant tortoise.’ Her reply to the lecturer’s question as to what the tortoise is sitting on would have brought a smile to Gödel’s face: ‘You’re very clever, young man, very clever. But it’s turtles all the way down.’

 

pages: 437 words: 113,173

Age of Discovery: Navigating the Risks and Rewards of Our New Renaissance by Ian Goldin, Chris Kutarna

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2013 Report for America's Infrastructure - American Society of Civil Engineers - 19 March 2013, 3D printing, Airbnb, Albert Einstein, AltaVista, Asian financial crisis, asset-backed security, autonomous vehicles, banking crisis, barriers to entry, battle of ideas, Berlin Wall, bioinformatics, bitcoin, Bonfire of the Vanities, clean water, collective bargaining, Colonization of Mars, Credit Default Swap, crowdsourcing, cryptocurrency, Dava Sobel, demographic dividend, Deng Xiaoping, Doha Development Round, double helix, Edward Snowden, Elon Musk, en.wikipedia.org, epigenetics, experimental economics, failed state, Fall of the Berlin Wall, financial innovation, full employment, Galaxy Zoo, global supply chain, Hyperloop, immigration reform, income inequality, indoor plumbing, industrial robot, information retrieval, intermodal, Internet of things, invention of the printing press, Isaac Newton, Islamic Golden Age, Khan Academy, Kickstarter, labour market flexibility, low cost carrier, low skilled workers, Lyft, Malacca Straits, megacity, Mikhail Gorbachev, moral hazard, Network effects, New Urbanism, non-tariff barriers, Occupy movement, On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres, open economy, Panamax, personalized medicine, Peter Thiel, post-Panamax, profit motive, rent-seeking, reshoring, Robert Gordon, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, Second Machine Age, self-driving car, Shenzhen was a fishing village, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, Skype, smart grid, Snapchat, special economic zone, spice trade, statistical model, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, Stuxnet, TaskRabbit, too big to fail, trade liberalization, trade route, transaction costs, transatlantic slave trade, uranium enrichment, We are the 99%, We wanted flying cars, instead we got 140 characters, working poor, working-age population, zero day

If we made just one physical test molecule of each, together they would weigh more than the entire universe. 6 Cathedrals, Believers and Doubt Why Feats that Were Once Beyond Us Are Now Common, and Why We All Should Embrace the Flourishing that’s Under way (even though its consequences won’t always be what we expect) Collective efforts Individual geniuses hog the headlines, today and in the history books; we celebrate and lionize those persons who break through long-standing limits. But they are only the tip of the iceberg—the visible sliver of something massive and profound beneath the surface. Underlying the genius of Copernicus and da Vinci, Steve Jobs and Stephen Hawking is a larger story: the expansion of talents and capacities across a wide population of people. The last chapter showed the role collective genius plays in our present flourishing. Each of our brains is unique, and when conditions permit us to nurture, connect and focus many minds—like right now, through mass literacy and digital linking up—together we can co-create breakthroughs that complement and accelerate individual achievements.

Soon we’ll have rovers digging into Martian creeks, and telescopes able to probe deeper into the atmospheres of far-away worlds, to tell us for sure. Meanwhile, the search for intelligent alien life is gaining fresh momentum. In July 2015, Russian physicist-entrepreneur Yuri Milner announced Breakthrough Listen—a ten-year, $100 million pledge to boost the time spent scanning space for E.T. from dozens of hours per year to thousands, on the world’s best radio telescopes. As the physicist Stephen Hawking said at the launch event: “In an infinite universe, there must be other life. There is no bigger question. It is time to commit to finding the answer.”41 That answer will change how we see the stars—and ourselves—forever. But it will not raise productivity one bit. 2. The tangible impacts of genius defy simple measurement Of course, economic conditions matter, too. The discovery of life in outer space will be cold comfort to people who cannot afford adequate food, let alone a telescope.

 

pages: 261 words: 10,785

The Lights in the Tunnel by Martin Ford

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Albert Einstein, Bill Joy: nanobots, Black-Scholes formula, call centre, cloud computing, collateralized debt obligation, credit crunch, double helix, en.wikipedia.org, factory automation, full employment, income inequality, index card, industrial robot, inventory management, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, job automation, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, John Maynard Keynes: technological unemployment, knowledge worker, low skilled workers, moral hazard, pattern recognition, prediction markets, Productivity paradox, Ray Kurzweil, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, Silicon Valley, Stephen Hawking, strong AI, superintelligent machines, technological singularity, Thomas L Friedman, Turing test, Vernor Vinge, War on Poverty

Technology—if we do not prepare for it—does not need to directly or physically attack us to cause us great harm. The only thing it needs to do is take our jobs. Nonetheless, I would be remiss if I didn’t include the fact that many extremely well regarded individuals with deep experience in science and technology have a far more ambitious view of what is ultimately possible. Worldrenowned cosmologist and author of the book, A Brief History of Time, Stephen Hawking, has said, “Computers are likely to overtake humans in intelligence at some point in the next hundred years.”35 Inventor and author Ray Kurzweil, who received the National Medal of Technology Copyrighted Material – Paperback/Kindle available @ Amazon Acceleration / 101 from President Clinton in 1999, is far more optimistic and predicts that machines will achieve true intelligence by 2029.

 

pages: 219 words: 61,334

Brit-Myth: Who Do the British Think They Are? by Chris Rojek

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British Empire, business climate, colonial rule, deindustrialization, demand response, full employment, Gordon Gekko, Isaac Newton, Khartoum Gordon, Mahatma Gandhi, means of production, post-industrial society, Red Clydeside, Stephen Hawking, the market place, urban planning, Winter of Discontent

Even so, given the part played by the Irish, Scottish and Welsh in British history, it is astonishing that no representative from these nations figured in the top ten. Contrary to the tabloid, middle-brow view that there is a creeping tendency for British culture to be overwhelmed by film stars, sporting 97 BRITONS TODAY legends and pop idols, only 22 of the top 100 are living; and of those only twelve are from the fields of pop music, film and sport. For every Boy George, David Beckham, Bono or Cliff Richard, there is a Stephen Hawking, Tony Benn or J. K. Rowling. Three out of the top ten are engineers and natural scientists (Isambard Kingdom Brunel, Charles Darwin and Isaac Newton). Indeed, the poll suggests that the British value their scientists above their artists. The British are frequently dismissed as a philistine people, narrowly inured to respect practical knowledge, pragmatism and money-making activities, rather than abstract theory, philosophy and pure research.

 

pages: 158 words: 49,168

Infinite Ascent: A Short History of Mathematics by David Berlinski

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Alan Turing: On Computable Numbers, with an Application to the Entscheidungsproblem, Albert Einstein, Andrew Wiles, Benoit Mandelbrot, Douglas Hofstadter, Eratosthenes, four colour theorem, Georg Cantor, Gödel, Escher, Bach, Henri Poincaré, Isaac Newton, John von Neumann, Murray Gell-Mann, Stephen Hawking, Turing machine, William of Occam

Gödel’s monograph was not published in English until 1961, and even during the 1960s, when I was studying logic at Princeton—Gödel’s home, after all—the great theorem could only really be learned from mimeographed notes that Alonzo Church had carefully prepared and from a very useful popular account of the theorem written by Ernest Nagel and James Newmann. This has now changed, perhaps as the result of Douglas Hofstadter’s entertaining book, Gödel, Escher, Bach. And yet Gödel’s theorem has retained its esoteric aspect, with many mathematicians regarding it as marginal to their own working concerns. On the other hand, philosophers as well as physicists have attempted to appropriate Gödel’s theorem for their own ends. The physicist Stephen Hawking has recently declared that he for one has lost faith in the prospects of a single unified theory of everything; it has apparently been Gödel’s theorem, which he has been late in appreciating, that has persuaded him that any such system could not be complete if it were consistent. This is useful work, to be sure, but frustrating as well, since no application of the theorem has the force, or the clarity, or carries the conviction of the proof itself, so for every intended application, a counterapplication may be found.

 

pages: 251 words: 44,888

The Words You Should Know to Sound Smart: 1200 Essential Words Every Sophisticated Person Should Be Able to Use by Bobbi Bly

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Albert Einstein, Alistair Cooke, Anton Chekhov, British Empire, Columbine, Donald Trump, haute couture, Honoré de Balzac, John Nash: game theory, Network effects, placebo effect, Ralph Waldo Emerson, school vouchers, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs

Some people never seem to be aware that wearing more than a hint of fine jewelry is SUPERFLUOUS. superlative (sue-PURR-lah-tiv), adjective The quality of something’s being the best in its class or quality. Our family’s show horses are SUPERLATIVE to the rest of the horses one can find in the county. supersede (sue-per-SEED), verb When one thing takes the place of another or renders the former obsolete. “The classical laws [of physics] were SUPERSEDED by quantum laws.” – Stephen Hawking, British theoretical physicist supplant (suh-PLANT), verb To take the place of. “If we would SUPPLANT the opinions and policy of our fathers in any case, we should do so upon evidence so conclusive, and arguments so clear, that even their great authority fairly considered and weighted, cannot stand.” – Abraham Lincoln surfeit (SUR-fit), noun Having too much of a good thing, especially generous servings of food and drink.

 

The Orbital Perspective: Lessons in Seeing the Big Picture From a Journey of 71 Million Miles by Astronaut Ron Garan, Muhammad Yunus

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Airbnb, barriers to entry, book scanning, Buckminster Fuller, clean water, corporate social responsibility, crowdsourcing, global village, Google Earth, Indoor air pollution, jimmy wales, optical character recognition, ride hailing / ride sharing, shareholder value, Silicon Valley, Skype, smart transportation, Stephen Hawking, transaction costs, Turing test, Uber for X, web of trust

Gift Economy Online communities can build the level of trust required for true collaboration, and they have tremendous potential to bring large numbers of people together. Social media enables people to build trust with their followers, to feel a real connection, and to build a level of trust even though they never meet face-to-face. Lily Cole is a successful model, actress, and social entrepre- 156â•…    Co n c l u sio n neur—╉though her real claim to fame, in my book, is that as an undergrad at Cambridge she interviewed Stephen Hawking for her thesis paper. Cole founded impossible.com in response to a question that perplexed her: Why do societies collapse in the wake of an economic crisis? “We still have the same amount of resources and skills as we had before the crisis,” she said, “but somehow we lost the means by which to get things done. Isn’t it problematic that we are so dependent on the one economic structure we’ve created now?”

 

pages: 219 words: 63,495

50 Future Ideas You Really Need to Know by Richard Watson

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23andMe, 3D printing, access to a mobile phone, Albert Einstein, artificial general intelligence, augmented reality, autonomous vehicles, BRICs, Buckminster Fuller, call centre, clean water, cloud computing, collaborative consumption, computer age, computer vision, crowdsourcing, dark matter, dematerialisation, digital Maoism, Elon Musk, energy security, failed state, future of work, Geoffrey West, Santa Fe Institute, germ theory of disease, happiness index / gross national happiness, hive mind, hydrogen economy, Internet of things, Jaron Lanier, life extension, Marshall McLuhan, megacity, natural language processing, Network effects, new economy, oil shale / tar sands, pattern recognition, peak oil, personalized medicine, phenotype, precision agriculture, profit maximization, RAND corporation, Ray Kurzweil, RFID, Richard Florida, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, self-driving car, semantic web, Skype, smart cities, smart meter, smart transportation, statistical model, stem cell, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, Steven Pinker, Stewart Brand, strong AI, Stuxnet, supervolcano, telepresence, The Wisdom of Crowds, Thomas Malthus, Turing test, urban decay, Vernor Vinge, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, web application, women in the workforce, working-age population, young professional

Proponents of the Singularity, most notably the inventor and futurist Ray Kurzweil, say that if computers continue to advance at their current rate, the singularity is a mere 20–30 years away—perhaps sooner if useful quantum computers are developed. Intel is already reinventing the humble transistor by harnessing photons and quantum properties to increase processing power, and Kurzweil has set up the so-called Singularity University, backed by Google and NASA, to educate the next generation in making the Singularity possible. Even the British scientist Stephen Hawking believes it’s possible. Whether it happens suddenly, or over time, it appears that machines will become increasingly sophisticated and able to do much of the work of human beings. One commentator says: “As our machines become more like us, we will become more like them.” Perhaps machines will get smarter and more mobile while the human population becomes less intelligent and evermore housebound as a direct result.

 

On Palestine by Noam Chomsky, Ilan Pappé, Frank Barat

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Boycotts of Israel, British Empire, cognitive dissonance, conceptual framework, David Brooks, facts on the ground, failed state, ghettoisation, Naomi Klein, Stephen Hawking

But these flaws pale in comparison to the campaign’s success in bringing to the world’s attention a crisis that is at times overshadowed by the dramas that have engulfed the region since 2011. Major companies have rethought their investments in Israel, trade unions have ceded their connections with Israeli counterparts as have various academic associations, including leading ones in the United States, and an impressive number of artists, authors, and world-renowned figures, including Stephen Hawking, have cancelled their trips to Israel. One component of the campaign—the academic boycott—is still contentious as is clearly evident in the conversation Frank and I had with Chomsky (Norman Finkelstein also publicly condemns this tactic). But it seems that it is accepted by many others as part of the new dictionary of activism and recently led to the creation in Israel of a “committee of boycott from within,” made up of Israeli Jewish academics with impressive membership numbers.

 

pages: 291 words: 77,596

Total Recall: How the E-Memory Revolution Will Change Everything by C. Gordon Bell, Jim Gemmell

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airport security, Albert Einstein, book scanning, cloud computing, conceptual framework, full text search, information retrieval, invention of writing, inventory management, Isaac Newton, Menlo Park, optical character recognition, pattern recognition, performance metric, RAND corporation, RFID, semantic web, Silicon Valley, Skype, social web, statistical model, Stephen Hawking, Steve Ballmer, Ted Nelson, telepresence, Turing test, Vannevar Bush, web application

The files-and-folders method of organizing data is a fundamental feature of all modern operating systems such as Windows, Mac intosh, and Linux. File-and-folder hierarchies, even when stored digitally, suffer from the same basic limitation as libraries once did: Each book can exist only in one place, filed under one category. But an item might properly belong to several categories, or hundreds. A Brief History of Time is a physics book, but it’s also a book by Stephen Hawking, it was a best-seller, it talked about black holes, and it was published in 1988. You could easily come up with dozens of other attributes that would be perfectly legitimate criteria for tracking down A Brief History of Time and for sorting and grouping it with other books (and for that matter, for sorting and grouping it with other media of any kind: with lecture recordings, with songs, with articles, with pictures, with old news footage).

 

pages: 295 words: 66,824

A Mathematician Plays the Stock Market by John Allen Paulos

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Benoit Mandelbrot, Black-Scholes formula, Brownian motion, business climate, butterfly effect, capital asset pricing model, correlation coefficient, correlation does not imply causation, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, diversified portfolio, Donald Trump, double entry bookkeeping, Elliott wave, endowment effect, Erdős number, Eugene Fama: efficient market hypothesis, four colour theorem, George Gilder, global village, greed is good, index fund, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, John Nash: game theory, Long Term Capital Management, loss aversion, Louis Bachelier, mandelbrot fractal, margin call, mental accounting, Nash equilibrium, Network effects, passive investing, Paul Erdős, Ponzi scheme, price anchoring, Ralph Nelson Elliott, random walk, Richard Thaler, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, short selling, six sigma, Stephen Hawking, transaction costs, ultimatum game, Vanguard fund, Yogi Berra

(Such malfeasance might make for an interesting novel. On public television one sometimes sees a fantasia in which diverse historical figures are assembled for an imaginary conversation. Think, for example, of Leonardo da Vinci, Thomas Edison, and Benjamin Franklin discussing innovation. Sometimes a contemporary is added to the mix or simply paired with an illustrious precursor—maybe Karl Popper and David Hume, Stephen Hawking and Isaac Newton, or Henry Kissinger and Machiavelli. Recently I tried to think with whom I might pair a present-day ace CEO, investor, or analyst. There are a number of books about the supposed relevance to contemporary business practices of Plato, Aristotle, and other ancient wise men, but the conversation I’d be most interested in would be one between a current wheeler-dealer and some accomplished hoaxer of the past, maybe Dennis Koslowski and P.

 

pages: 289 words: 22,394

Virus of the Mind by Richard Brodie

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cognitive dissonance, Douglas Hofstadter, Gödel, Escher, Bach, joint-stock company, New Journalism, phenotype, Ponzi scheme, profit motive, publish or perish, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, Stephen Hawking, Steven Levy

Animals will evolve, too, and it won’t be long before the Kentucky Derby is run in under a minute or our dogs get smart enough to housebreak themselves. We say to ourselves, “What a wonderful world!” Or maybe this notion of survival of the fittest is unappealing to you. Why should evolution steer us toward greater fertility and strength? Why should we evolve to a race of oversexed and overmuscled monsters? Why shouldn’t the Stephen Hawkings and Helen Kellers of the world have a chance—after all, we have the technology to overcome so many disabilities now. Perhaps evolution will favor greater and greater intellect, or even greater and greater contributions to the world! There’s no need to argue the two points, because evolution isn’t favoring either one of them. Genetic evolution favors the replication of the fittest DNA. And by “fittest,” I mean the best at getting replicated.

 

Exploring Everyday Things with R and Ruby by Sau Sheong Chang

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Alfred Russel Wallace, bioinformatics, business process, butterfly effect, cloud computing, Craig Reynolds: boids flock, Debian, Edward Lorenz: Chaos theory, Gini coefficient, income inequality, invisible hand, p-value, price stability, Skype, statistical model, stem cell, Stephen Hawking, text mining, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, We are the 99%, web application, wikimedia commons

That topic could be and is a whole book on its own. I’ve also given you a quick introduction to Shoes, a simple but powerful UI toolkit for Ruby, and provided a couple of examples of how to program graphical user interface applications with it. What I’ve described in this chapter is a good start, and should provide you with enough foundation to explore the rest of the code in this book. Onward! * * * [2] From Stephen Hawking’s book, A Brief History of Time (Bantam): A well-known scientist (some say it was Bertrand Russell) once gave a public lecture on astronomy. He described how the earth orbits around the sun and how the sun, in turn, orbits around the center of a vast collection of stars called our galaxy. At the end of the lecture, a little old lady at the back of the room got up and said: “What you have told us is rubbish.

 

pages: 381 words: 78,467

100 Plus: How the Coming Age of Longevity Will Change Everything, From Careers and Relationships to Family And by Sonia Arrison

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23andMe, 8-hour work day, Albert Einstein, Anne Wojcicki, artificial general intelligence, attribution theory, Bill Joy: nanobots, bioinformatics, Clayton Christensen, dark matter, East Village, en.wikipedia.org, epigenetics, Frank Gehry, Googley, income per capita, indoor plumbing, Jeff Bezos, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Law of Accelerating Returns, life extension, personalized medicine, Peter Thiel, placebo effect, post scarcity, Ray Kurzweil, rolodex, Silicon Valley, Simon Kuznets, Singularitarianism, smart grid, speech recognition, stem cell, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Steven Levy, Thomas Malthus, upwardly mobile, World Values Survey, X Prize

When he was interviewed for this book, he had just returned from a “Zero-G” flight with Hollywood director James Cameron and had recently met with X PRIZE Genomics cochair Dr. J. Craig Venter, of Human Genome Project fame. Whether he thinks about it or not, Diamandis is clearly leveraging his relationships to promote the healthy longevity meme. Supporters of the Genomics X PRIZE listed on the organization’s Web site include theoretical physicist Professor Stephen Hawking and former CNN interview show host Larry King. Connected to the cause by Diamandis, both Hawking and King act as salespeople for the cause.28 For instance, Hawking says, “You may know that I am suffering from what is known as Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), or Lou Gehrig’s Disease, which is thought to have a genetic component to its origin. It is for this reason that I am a supporter of the $10M Archon Genomics X PRIZE to drive rapid human genome sequencing.

 

Kill Your Friends by John Niven

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accounting loophole / creative accounting, Etonian, hiring and firing, illegal immigration, nuclear winter, sensible shoes, Stephen Hawking

There’s two more potential singles to come after that. Bish, bash, bosh. I’ve got another big album shaping up for next year too. You won’t believe it, but the press have gone mental for the Rage story we leaked out: the whole ‘a crippled man dislocated from his environment communicating through electronica’ bullshit I drummed up with the press office went down a storm. He’s being perceived as some kind of drum’n’bass Stephen Hawking. Front covers with NME, Muzik and Mixmag. They don’t know he finished the record months before he got quadra-spazzed. And what does it matter that the record’s an unlistenable pile of shite? He’s riding his steel wheelchair across a massive wave of PC goodwill. Are you going to be the journalist who sits down and tells this poor, drooling mess that his record sucks? No one listens to this sort of album anyway, do they?

 

pages: 233 words: 66,446

Bitcoin: The Future of Money? by Dominic Frisby

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3D printing, altcoin, bank run, banking crisis, banks create money, barriers to entry, bitcoin, blockchain, capital controls, Chelsea Manning, cloud computing, computer age, cryptocurrency, disintermediation, ethereum blockchain, fiat currency, friendly fire, game design, Isaac Newton, Julian Assange, litecoin, M-Pesa, mobile money, money: store of value / unit of account / medium of exchange, Occupy movement, Peter Thiel, Ponzi scheme, prediction markets, price stability, quantitative easing, railway mania, Ronald Reagan, Satoshi Nakamoto, Silicon Valley, Skype, slashdot, smart contracts, Snapchat, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, Ted Nelson, too big to fail, transaction costs, Turing complete, War on Poverty, web application, WikiLeaks

In December 2010, Satoshi made his final post and then disappeared from the internet. Why? Perhaps to protect his anonymity in the face of rising interest from the media and, more significantly, the authorities: to protect his own safety as the WikiLeaks panic began to erupt. There is also the possibility that he disappeared because he was ill. In 2009, Finney was diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s disease – amyotrophic lateral sclerosis – the same disease from which Stephen Hawking suffers. It is, for the most part, fatal and claims its victims within two to five years. ‘My symptoms were mild at first,’ he says, ‘and I continued to work, but fatigue and voice problems forced me to retire in early 2011. Since then the disease has continued its inexorable progression.’83 In March 2013 he said, ‘Today, I am essentially paralyzed. I am fed through a tube, and my breathing is assisted through another tube.

 

Raw Data Is an Oxymoron by Lisa Gitelman

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collateralized debt obligation, computer age, continuous integration, crowdsourcing, Drosophila, Edmond Halley, Filter Bubble, Firefox, Google Earth, Howard Rheingold, index card, informal economy, Isaac Newton, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, knowledge worker, Louis Daguerre, Menlo Park, optical character recognition, RFID, Richard Thaler, Silicon Valley, social graph, software studies, statistical model, Stephen Hawking, Steven Pinker, text mining, time value of money, trade route, Turing machine, urban renewal, Vannevar Bush

We typically conceive of knowledge as passing from knowledge worker to knowledge worker via the intermediary of the datum. However, as Marx displayed so brilliantly with his M-C-M (money-commodity-money) cycle, we can achieve analytic purchase by looking at C-M-C (which in our era, felicitously, may refer to computer-mediated communication). We can start perhaps by refining the terms of the cycle. Much of our “knowledge” today surpasseth human understanding. Stephen Hawking, in his inaugural lecture for the Lucasian Chair of Physics at Cambridge—once held by Newton, who had all those giants standing on his shoulders—pointed to the day when physicists would not understand the products of their own work.4 With the world of string theory upon us, it is clear that we cannot “think” in the necessary 10+1 dimensions and the complex geometries they entail. Fields such as climate science or any others that deploy agent-based modeling systems are much the same.

 

pages: 202 words: 72,857

The Wealth Dragon Way: The Why, the When and the How to Become Infinitely Wealthy by John Lee

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8-hour work day, Albert Einstein, barriers to entry, Bernie Madoff, butterfly effect, buy low sell high, California gold rush, Donald Trump, financial independence, high net worth, Mark Zuckerberg, passive income, payday loans, self-driving car, Snapchat, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, Tony Hsieh, Y2K

They could never say “I'm scared to go for it” or “I'm too lazy to do what it takes”—they will simply come up with reasons such as “I'm too old now and the competition's too great” or “I don't have the time; I've got three young children and a demanding job.” In your universe: You have a whole list of excuses why you can't have what you want. In the parallel universe: You are stronger than your excuses. Look at how much Stephen Hawking does with nothing more than the ability to move a couple of facial muscles. Consider Nick Vujicic, a motivational speaker who was born without arms or legs. When I hear people moaning about their problems and complaining about their lives, I always reference Hawking and Vujicic. If these guys can achieve what they've achieved, then so can you! Taking Action There has been a flood—a flood on a biblical scale—of self-help and law-of-attraction books that advocate visualizing what you want.

 

The Economic Singularity: Artificial intelligence and the death of capitalism by Calum Chace

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3D printing, additive manufacturing, agricultural Revolution, AI winter, Airbnb, artificial general intelligence, augmented reality, autonomous vehicles, banking crisis, Baxter: Rethink Robotics, Berlin Wall, Bernie Sanders, bitcoin, blockchain, call centre, Chris Urmson, congestion charging, credit crunch, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, Elon Musk, en.wikipedia.org, Erik Brynjolfsson, Flynn Effect, full employment, future of work, gender pay gap, gig economy, Google Glasses, Google X / Alphabet X, income inequality, industrial robot, Internet of things, invention of the telephone, invisible hand, James Watt: steam engine, Jaron Lanier, Jeff Bezos, job automation, John Maynard Keynes: technological unemployment, John von Neumann, Kevin Kelly, knowledge worker, lump of labour, Lyft, Mark Zuckerberg, Martin Wolf, McJob, means of production, Milgram experiment, Narrative Science, natural language processing, new economy, Occupy movement, Oculus Rift, PageRank, pattern recognition, post scarcity, post-industrial society, precariat, prediction markets, QWERTY keyboard, railway mania, RAND corporation, Ray Kurzweil, RFID, Rodney Brooks, Satoshi Nakamoto, Second Machine Age, self-driving car, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, Skype, software is eating the world, speech recognition, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, TaskRabbit, technological singularity, Thomas Malthus, transaction costs, Tyler Cowen: Great Stagnation, Uber for X, universal basic income, Vernor Vinge, working-age population, Y Combinator, young professional

The term “singularity” became associated with a naïve belief that technology, and specifically a superintelligent AI, would magically solve all our problems, and that everyone would live happily ever after. Because of these quasi-religious overtones, the singularity was frequently satirised as “rapture for nerds”, and many people felt awkward about using the term. The publication in 2014 of Nick Bostrom's seminal book “Superintelligence” was a watershed moment, causing influential people like Stephen Hawking, Elon Musk and Bill Gates to speak out about the enormous impact which AGI will have – for good or for ill. They introduced the idea of the singularity to a much wider audience, and made it harder for people to retain a blinkered optimism about the impact of AGI. For time-starved journalists, “good news is no news” and “if it bleeds it leads”, so the comments of Hawking and the others were widely mis-represented as pure doom-saying, and almost every article about AI carried a picture of the Terminator.

 

pages: 281 words: 78,317

But What if We're Wrong? Thinking About the Present as if It Were the Past by Chuck Klosterman

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Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, British Empire, citizen journalism, cosmological constant, dark matter, Edward Snowden, Elon Musk, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, Frank Gehry, Gerolamo Cardano, ghettoisation, Howard Zinn, Isaac Newton, non-fiction novel, obamacare, pre–internet, Ralph Nader, Ray Kurzweil, Ronald Reagan, Silicon Valley, Stephen Hawking, the medium is the message, the scientific method, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions, too big to fail, Y2K

This singular misstep is cited more often than the combined total of every other selection made throughout the magazine’s other twenty-six years, exacerbated by the fact that SPIN ultimately put Kurt Cobain on the cover ten times, seven of which came after he was dead. Because it feels so wrong in retrospect, the 1991 list is the only one that historically matters. 31 Also known as “kids who were mostly interested in other kids, or at least dogs and cats.” 32 Unless you count Stephen Hawking, who is technically a cosmologist. 33 As a species, the concept of “infinity” might be too much for us. We can define it and we can accept it—but I don’t know if it’s possible for humans to truly comprehend a universe (or a series of universes) where everything that could happen will happen. I suspect the human conception of infinity is akin to a dog’s conception of a clock. 34 Greene is not exaggerating: He said he’s had the same argument at least ten times with David Gross, the winner of the Nobel Prize for physics in 2004.

 

pages: 829 words: 229,566

This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. The Climate by Naomi Klein

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1960s counterculture, battle of ideas, Berlin Wall, big-box store, bilateral investment treaty, British Empire, business climate, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, carbon footprint, clean water, Climategate, cognitive dissonance, colonial rule, Community Supported Agriculture, complexity theory, crony capitalism, decarbonisation, deindustrialization, dematerialisation, Donald Trump, Downton Abbey, energy security, energy transition, equal pay for equal work, Exxon Valdez, failed state, Fall of the Berlin Wall, feminist movement, financial deregulation, food miles, Food sovereignty, global supply chain, hydraulic fracturing, ice-free Arctic, immigration reform, income per capita, Internet Archive, invention of the steam engine, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, James Watt: steam engine, market fundamentalism, moral hazard, Naomi Klein, new economy, Nixon shock, Occupy movement, offshore financial centre, oil shale / tar sands, open borders, patent troll, planetary scale, post-oil, profit motive, quantitative easing, race to the bottom, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Rana Plaza, Ronald Reagan, smart grid, special economic zone, Stephen Hawking, Stewart Brand, structural adjustment programs, Ted Kaczynski, the scientific method, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, trade route, transatlantic slave trade, transatlantic slave trade, trickle-down economics, Upton Sinclair, uranium enrichment, urban planning, urban sprawl, wages for housework, walkable city, Washington Consensus, Whole Earth Catalog, WikiLeaks

House of Representatives, 20081 “Our science is a drop, our ignorance a sea.” —William James, 18952 It’s March 2011 and I have just arrived at a three-day retreat about geoengineering in the Buckinghamshire countryside, about an hour and a half northwest of London. The meeting has been convened by the Royal Society, Britain’s legendary academy of science, which has counted among its fellows Isaac Newton, Charles Darwin, and Stephen Hawking. In recent years, the society has become the most prominent scientific organization to argue that, given the lack of progress on emission reduction, the time has come for governments to prepare a technological Plan B. In a report published in 2009, it called upon the British government to devote significant resources to researching which geoengineering methods might prove most effective. Two years later it declared that planetary-scale engineering interventions that would block a portion of the sun’s rays “may be the only option for reducing global temperatures quickly in the event of a climate emergency.”3 The retreat in Buckinghamshire has a relatively narrow focus: How should research into geoengineering, as well as eventual deployment, be governed?

In another interview, he revealed that he has put a striking amount of thought into who should be invited to this outer space cocktail party: “You’re going to want physicians, you’re going to want comedians, you’re going to want fun people, beautiful people, ugly people, a good cross-section of what happens on Earth on Mars. People have got to be able to get on together, because it’s going to be quite confined.” Oh and one more person on the list: “It may be a one-way trip. . . . So maybe I’ll wait till the last 10 years of my life, and then maybe go, if my wife will let me,” Branson said. In explaining his rationale, the Virgin head has invoked physicist Stephen Hawking, who “thinks it’s absolutely essential for mankind to colonize other planets because one day, something dreadful might happen to the Earth. And it would be very sad to see years of evolution going to waste.”61 So said the man whose airlines have a carbon footprint the size of Honduras’ and who is pinning his hopes for planetary salvation not on emissions cuts, but on a carbon-sucking machine that hasn’t been invented yet.62 Perhaps this is mere coincidence, but it does seem noteworthy that so many key figures in the geoengineering scene share a strong interest in a planetary exodus.

 

pages: 778 words: 227,196

The Age of Wonder by Richard Holmes

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Ada Lovelace, Albert Einstein, British Empire, Copley Medal, Dava Sobel, double helix, Edmond Halley, Etonian, experimental subject, Fellow of the Royal Society, invention of the printing press, Isaac Newton, James Watt: steam engine, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, John Harrison: Longitude, music of the spheres, placebo effect, polynesian navigation, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, Solar eclipse in 1919, Stephen Hawking, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions, Thomas Malthus, trade route, unbiased observer, University of East Anglia, éminence grise

No astronomer yet had the least idea of the enormous distances involved, so huge that they cannot be given in terms of conventional ‘length’ measurement at all, but either in terms of the distance covered by a moving pulse of light in one year (‘light years’), or else as a purely mathematical expression based on parallax and now given inelegantly as ‘parsecs’. One parsec is 3.6 light years, but this does not seem to help much. One interesting psychological side-effect of this is that the universe became less and less easy to imagine visually. Stephen Hawking has remarked, in A Brief History of Time (1988), that he always found it a positive hindrance to attempt to visualise cosmological values. ♣ As with road directions, a diagram is a much better way to explain parallax than a written sentence. But it is interesting to try. Parallax is basically a trigonometrical calculation applied to the heavens. Stellar parallax is a calculation which is obtained by measuring the angle of a star from the earth, and then measuring it again after six months.

♣ The romantic tale of Paulina Jermyn, the beautiful seventeen-year-old botanist who fell in love at the 1832 British Association meeting at Oxford, perhaps deserves wider currency. See David Wooster, Paula Trevelyan (1879). ♣ This benign and eccentric image defined the Victorian ideal of the scientist, just as the later faintly surreal images of Albert Einstein-riding a bicycle or putting his tongue out-defined the twentieth-century one. The current images of Stephen Hawking, brilliant but paralysed and gargoyle-like in his wheelchair, perhaps better express the uncertainty of contemporary attitudes to science. The wheelchair itself takes us back to Dr Strangelove, but also eventually returns us to Sir Joseph Banks, rolling briskly into one of his scientific breakfasts in Soho Square, keen to meet his next young protégé and launch a new project ‘for the Benefit of all mankind’.

 

pages: 551 words: 174,280

The Beginning of Infinity: Explanations That Transform the World by David Deutsch

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agricultural Revolution, Albert Michelson, anthropic principle, artificial general intelligence, Bonfire of the Vanities, conceptual framework, cosmological principle, dark matter, David Attenborough, discovery of DNA, Douglas Hofstadter, Eratosthenes, Ernest Rutherford, first-past-the-post, Georg Cantor, Gödel, Escher, Bach, illegal immigration, invention of movable type, Isaac Newton, Islamic Golden Age, Jacquard loom, Jacquard loom, John Conway, John von Neumann, Joseph-Marie Jacquard, Loebner Prize, Louis Pasteur, pattern recognition, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, Stephen Hawking, supervolcano, technological singularity, The Coming Technological Singularity, the scientific method, Thomas Malthus, Thorstein Veblen, Turing test, Vernor Vinge, Whole Earth Review, William of Occam

Modern science, far from explaining physical phenomena in terms of the thoughts and intentions of unseen people, considers our own thoughts and intentions to be aggregates of unseen (though not unseeable) microscopic physical processes in our brains. So fruitful has this abandonment of anthropocentric theories been, and so important in the broader history of ideas, that anti-anthropocentrism has increasingly been elevated to the status of a universal principle, sometimes called the ‘Principle of Mediocrity’: there is nothing significant about humans (in the cosmic scheme of things). As the physicist Stephen Hawking put it, humans are ‘just a chemical scum on the surface of a typical planet that’s in orbit round a typical star on the outskirts of a typical galaxy’. The proviso ‘in the cosmic scheme of things’ is necessary because the chemical scum evidently does have a special significance according to values that it applies to itself, such as moral values. But the Principle says that all such values are themselves anthropocentric: they explain only the behaviour of the scum, which is itself insignificant.

More generally, what they lacked was a certain combination of abstract knowledge and knowledge embodied in technological artefacts, namely sufficient wealth. Let me define that in a non-parochial way as the repertoire of physical transformations that they would be capable of causing. An example of a blindly pessimistic policy is that of trying to make our planet as unobtrusive as possible in the galaxy, for fear of contact with extraterrestrial civilizations. Stephen Hawking recently advised this, in his television series Into the Universe. He argued, ‘If [extraterrestrials] ever visit us, I think the outcome would be much as when Christopher Columbus first landed in America, which didn’t turn out very well for the Native Americans.’ He warned that there might be nomadic, space-dwelling civilizations who would strip the Earth of its resources, or imperialist civilizations who would colonize it.

 

pages: 743 words: 201,651

Free Speech: Ten Principles for a Connected World by Timothy Garton Ash

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A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, Andrew Keen, Apple II, Ayatollah Khomeini, battle of ideas, Berlin Wall, bitcoin, British Empire, Cass Sunstein, Chelsea Manning, citizen journalism, Clapham omnibus, colonial rule, crowdsourcing, David Attenborough, don't be evil, Edward Snowden, Etonian, European colonialism, eurozone crisis, failed state, Fall of the Berlin Wall, Ferguson, Missouri, Filter Bubble, financial independence, Firefox, Galaxy Zoo, global village, index card, Internet Archive, invention of movable type, invention of writing, Jaron Lanier, jimmy wales, Julian Assange, Mark Zuckerberg, Marshall McLuhan, megacity, mutually assured destruction, national security letter, Netflix Prize, Nicholas Carr, obamacare, Peace of Westphalia, Peter Thiel, pre–internet, profit motive, RAND corporation, Ray Kurzweil, Ronald Reagan, semantic web, Silicon Valley, Simon Singh, Snapchat, social graph, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, The Wisdom of Crowds, Turing test, We are Anonymous. We are Legion, WikiLeaks, World Values Survey, Yom Kippur War

Craig Timberg, ‘Research in India Suggests Google Search Results Can Influence an Election’, Washington Post, 12 May 2014, http://perma.cc/7FWQ-HRXT. His methodology can be challenged on many points, and seems to assume an active will to manipulate on the part of the search engine 53. author’s notes from a workshop on the ‘Ethics of Data in Civil Society’ organised by the Stanford Center on Philanthropy and Civil Society, Stanford University, September 2014 54. see, for example, the warning by Stephen Hawking: Rory Cellan-Jones, ‘Stephen Hawking Warns Artificial Intelligence Could End Mankind’, BBC News, 2 December 2014, http://perma.cc/VEC8-ZMXB 55. Eugene Volokh, ‘First Amendment Protection for Search Engine Search Results’, 20 April 2012, http://perma.cc/7YSD-9W6P. The title page states ‘This White Paper was commissioned by Google but the views within it should not necessarily be ascribed to Google’ 56. Sue Halpern, ‘Mind Control and the Internet’, New York Review of Books, 23 June 2011, http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/2011/jun/23/mind-control-and-internet/ 57. see Kramer et al. 2013 58.

 

pages: 286 words: 90,530

Richard Dawkins: How a Scientist Changed the Way We Think by Alan Grafen; Mark Ridley

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Alfred Russel Wallace, Arthur Eddington, bioinformatics, cognitive bias, computer age, conceptual framework, Dava Sobel, double helix, Douglas Hofstadter, epigenetics, Fellow of the Royal Society, Haight Ashbury, interchangeable parts, Isaac Newton, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, John von Neumann, loose coupling, Murray Gell-Mann, Necker cube, phenotype, profit maximization, Ronald Reagan, Stephen Hawking, Steven Pinker, the scientific method, theory of mind, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions, Yogi Berra

Stephen Jay Gould’s first book of essays Ever Since Darwin was the phenomenon of 1977, but though Dawkins and Gould continued to sell mouth-watering quantities of successive books in the 1980s it was not until 1987 that popular science again saw a best-seller on the scale of The Selfish Gene. That year saw James Gleick’s Chaos rocket into the best-seller lists, followed the next year by the even more extraordinary success of Stephen Hawking’s A Brief History of Time. Gleick and Hawking, like Dawkins, were telling the public about new scientific ideas in ways that engaged them as equals. But they were not simultaneously trying to argue with rival professionals. They were in the explaining, not the exploring, tradition. Not until Steven Pinker’s The Language Instinct in 1994 did a true successor to The Selfish Gene appear: an argumentative book aimed at persuading professional scientists as well as enlightening laymen and written in unputdownable prose.

 

pages: 460 words: 107,712

A Devil's Chaplain: Selected Writings by Richard Dawkins

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Albert Einstein, Alfred Russel Wallace, Buckminster Fuller, butterfly effect, Claude Shannon: information theory, complexity theory, Desert Island Discs, double helix, Douglas Hofstadter, epigenetics, experimental subject, Fellow of the Royal Society, gravity well, Necker cube, out of africa, phenotype, placebo effect, random walk, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, Silicon Valley, stem cell, Stephen Hawking, Steven Pinker, the scientific method

Indeed, the jacket copy for her book – the message that science does not ‘point to an existence that is bleak, devoid of meaning, pointless …’ but on the contrary ‘can be a wellspring of solace and hope’ – would have been equally suitable for my own Unweaving the Rainbow, or Carl Sagan’s Pale Blue Dot.87 If that is religion, then I am a deeply religious man. But it isn’t. As far as I can tell, my ‘atheistic’ views are identical to Ursula Goodenough’s ‘religious’ ones. One of us is misusing the English language, and I don’t think it’s me. She happens to be a biologist but this kind of neo-deistic pseudo-religion is more often associated with physicists. In Stephen Hawking’s case, I hasten to insist, the accusation is unjust. His much quoted phrase ‘The Mind of God’ no more indicates belief in God than does my ‘God knows!’ (as a way of saying that I don’t). I suspect the same of Einstein’s picturesque invoking of the ‘Dear Lord’ to personify the laws of physics1. Paul Davies, however, adopted Hawking’s phrase as the title of a book which went on to earn the Templeton Prize for Progress in Religion, the most lucrative prize in the world today, prestigious enough to be presented in Westminster Abbey by royalty.

 

pages: 356 words: 102,224

Pale Blue Dot: A Vision of the Human Future in Space by Carl Sagan

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Albert Einstein, anthropic principle, cosmological principle, dark matter, Dava Sobel, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, germ theory of disease, invention of the telescope, Isaac Newton, Kuiper Belt, linked data, nuclear winter, planetary scale, profit motive, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, Stephen Hawking, telepresence

From the tiny fraction of the whole sky that has so far been observed by this technique, an enormous number of brown dwarfs is inferred. Others disagree. In the 1950s, it was suggested by the astronomer Harlow Shapley of Harvard that brown dwarfs—he called them "Lilliputian stars"— 182 were inhabited. He pictured their surfaces as warm as a June day in Cambridge, with lots of area. They would be stars that humans could survive on and explore. Third: The physicists B. J. Carr and Stephen Hawking of Cambridge University have shown that fluctuations in the density of matter in the earliest stages of the Universe could have generated a wide variety of small black holes. Primordial black holes—if they exist—must decay by emitting radiation to space, a consequence of the laws of quantum mechanics. The less massive the black hole, the faster it dissipates. Any primordial black hole in the final stages of decay today would have to weigh about as much as a mountain.

 

pages: 266 words: 86,324

The Drunkard's Walk: How Randomness Rules Our Lives by Leonard Mlodinow

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Albert Einstein, Alfred Russel Wallace, Antoine Gombaud: Chevalier de Méré, Atul Gawande, Brownian motion, butterfly effect, correlation coefficient, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, Donald Trump, feminist movement, forensic accounting, Gerolamo Cardano, Henri Poincaré, index fund, Isaac Newton, law of one price, pattern recognition, Paul Erdős, probability theory / Blaise Pascal / Pierre de Fermat, RAND corporation, random walk, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, Ronald Reagan, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, The Wisdom of Crowds, V2 rocket, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!

Eric Asimov, “Spirits of the Times: A Humble Old Label Ices Its Rivals,” New York Times, January 26, 2005. 23. Jonathan Calvert and Will Iredale, “Publishers Toss Booker Winners into the Reject Pile,” London Sunday Times, January 1, 2006. 24. Peter Doskoch, “The Winning Edge,” Psychology Today, November/ December 2005, p. 44. 25. Rosenhan, “On Being Sane in Insane Places,” p. 243. ALSO BY LEONARD MLODINOW A Briefer History of Time (with Stephen Hawking) Feynman’s Rainbow: A Search for Beauty in Physics and in Life Euclid’s Window: The Story of Geometry from Parallel Lines to Hyperspace For children (with Matt Costello) The Last Dinosaur Titanic Cat Copyright © 2008 by Leonard Mlodinow All rights reserved. Published in the United States by Pantheon Books, a division of Random House, Inc., New York, and in Canada by Random House of Canada Limited, Toronto.

 

pages: 379 words: 109,612

Is the Internet Changing the Way You Think?: The Net's Impact on Our Minds and Future by John Brockman

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A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace, Albert Einstein, AltaVista, Amazon Mechanical Turk, Asperger Syndrome, availability heuristic, Benoit Mandelbrot, biofilm, Black Swan, British Empire, conceptual framework, corporate governance, Danny Hillis, Douglas Engelbart, Emanuel Derman, epigenetics, Flynn Effect, Frank Gehry, Google Earth, hive mind, Howard Rheingold, index card, information retrieval, Internet Archive, invention of writing, Jane Jacobs, Jaron Lanier, Kevin Kelly, lone genius, loss aversion, mandelbrot fractal, Marshall McLuhan, Menlo Park, meta analysis, meta-analysis, New Journalism, Nicholas Carr, out of africa, Ponzi scheme, pre–internet, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, Rodney Brooks, Ronald Reagan, Schrödinger's Cat, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, SETI@home, Silicon Valley, Skype, slashdot, smart grid, social graph, social software, social web, Stephen Hawking, Steve Wozniak, Steven Pinker, Stewart Brand, Ted Nelson, telepresence, the medium is the message, the scientific method, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, theory of mind, trade route, upwardly mobile, Vernor Vinge, Whole Earth Catalog, X Prize

If I put up a blog post in the morning and get several comments before lunchtime along the lines of “That’s about as wrong as anything I’ve ever seen you write” or “What were you thinking?” complete with links to sources that set me straight, it’s difficult to simply pretend I don’t notice. I once heard, as an example of how online communication was degrading our discourse by drowning us in lies and misinformation, the crazy claim that Stephen Hawking wouldn’t have been cared for under the United Kingdom’s National Health Service—which, of course, is exactly what did care for him, thus offering an unusually juicy self-refutation. But bringing up this example as a criticism of the Internet is equally self-refuting. The initial lie didn’t appear online but in a good, old-fashioned newspaper. Twenty years ago, that’s as far as it would have circulated after making a brief impression in the minds of its readers.

 

pages: 313 words: 101,403

My Life as a Quant: Reflections on Physics and Finance by Emanuel Derman

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Berlin Wall, bioinformatics, Black-Scholes formula, Brownian motion, capital asset pricing model, Claude Shannon: information theory, Emanuel Derman, fixed income, Gödel, Escher, Bach, haute couture, hiring and firing, implied volatility, interest rate derivative, Jeff Bezos, John von Neumann, law of one price, linked data, Long Term Capital Management, moral hazard, Murray Gell-Mann, pre–internet, publish or perish, quantitative trading / quantitative finance, Richard Feynman, Sharpe ratio, statistical arbitrage, statistical model, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, stochastic volatility, technology bubble, transaction costs, value at risk, volatility smile, Y2K, yield curve, zero-coupon bond

Working, hiking, talking physics, listening to music at the Aspen Music Center, playing volleyball to let off steam-this was what academic physics was supposed to be like, but my enjoyment was tempered by my year without publication, which made me feel that regular summers in Aspen and the partaking of its pleasures would not be part of my destiny. June passed quickly, and in July I traveled to Cape Town. My mother, like Stephen Hawking, had been ill with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis for several years, and each year I went home to see her. But while Hawking miraculously seemed to stabilize, my mother went steadily downhill in the 1970s, growing worse each year, first losing the ability to move her arms, her hands, and then her legs, until she finally began to have difficulty holding her head up or swallowing. It was a perpetual mystery to her that no one knew how to cure her ailment.

 

pages: 309 words: 91,581

The Great Divergence: America's Growing Inequality Crisis and What We Can Do About It by Timothy Noah

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autonomous vehicles, blue-collar work, Bonfire of the Vanities, Branko Milanovic, call centre, collective bargaining, computer age, corporate governance, Credit Default Swap, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, Deng Xiaoping, Erik Brynjolfsson, feminist movement, Frank Levy and Richard Murnane: The New Division of Labor, Gini coefficient, income inequality, industrial robot, invisible hand, job automation, Joseph Schumpeter, low skilled workers, lump of labour, manufacturing employment, moral hazard, oil shock, pattern recognition, performance metric, positional goods, post-industrial society, postindustrial economy, purchasing power parity, refrigerator car, rent control, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, Ronald Reagan, shareholder value, Silicon Valley, Simon Kuznets, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, The Spirit Level, too big to fail, trickle-down economics, Tyler Cowen: Great Stagnation, union organizing, upwardly mobile, very high income, War on Poverty, We are the 99%, women in the workforce, Works Progress Administration, Yom Kippur War

In the next chapter, I’ll stop assuming and address arguments that say income inequality isn’t something we really need fret about. 10 Why It Matters Clarence the Angel: We don’t use money in heaven. George Bailey: Comes in pretty handy down here, bub. —Frank Capra’s It’s a Wonderful Life (1946) THE DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE says that all men are created equal, but we know that isn’t true. George Clooney was created better-looking than me. Stephen Hawking was born smarter, Evander Holyfield stronger, Jon Stewart funnier, and Warren Buffett savvier at playing the market. All these people have parlayed their exceptional gifts into very high incomes—much higher than mine. Is that so odd? Odder would be if Buffett or Clooney were forced to live on my income, adequate though it might be to a petit bourgeois journalist. Lest you conclude my equanimity is some sort of affectation, Barbara Ehrenreich, in her 2001 book Nickel and Dimed, quotes a woman named Colleen, a single mother of two, saying much the same thing about the wealthy families whose floors she scrubs on hands and knees.

 

pages: 368 words: 96,825

Bold: How to Go Big, Create Wealth and Impact the World by Peter H. Diamandis, Steven Kotler

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3D printing, additive manufacturing, Airbnb, Amazon Mechanical Turk, Amazon Web Services, augmented reality, autonomous vehicles, cloud computing, crowdsourcing, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, dematerialisation, deskilling, Elon Musk, en.wikipedia.org, Exxon Valdez, fear of failure, Firefox, Galaxy Zoo, Google Glasses, Google Hangouts, Google X / Alphabet X, gravity well, industrial robot, Internet of things, Jeff Bezos, John Harrison: Longitude, Jono Bacon, Just-in-time delivery, Kickstarter, Kodak vs Instagram, Law of Accelerating Returns, Lean Startup, life extension, loss aversion, Louis Pasteur, Mahatma Gandhi, Mark Zuckerberg, Mars Rover, meta analysis, meta-analysis, microbiome, minimum viable product, move fast and break things, Narrative Science, Netflix Prize, Network effects, Oculus Rift, optical character recognition, packet switching, PageRank, pattern recognition, performance metric, Peter H. Diamandis: Planetary Resources, Peter Thiel, pre–internet, Ray Kurzweil, recommendation engine, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, ride hailing / ride sharing, risk tolerance, rolodex, self-driving car, sentiment analysis, shareholder value, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, skunkworks, Skype, smart grid, stem cell, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, Steven Levy, Stewart Brand, technoutopianism, telepresence, telepresence robot, Turing test, urban renewal, web application, X Prize, Y Combinator

Finally, a decade later, my request made it all the way up to the FAA administrator, Marion Blakey, an amazing woman who had the right answer: “Of course you should be able to do this—let’s figure out how.” #1: IF ANYTHING CAN GO WRONG, FIX IT! (TO HELL WITH MURPHY!) Back in 2007, I decided that the world’s foremost expert on gravity deserved the opportunity to experience zero gravity, so I offered professor Stephen Hawking a parabolic flight. He accepted, and we issued a press release. This is when our friends at the FAA—whose unofficial motto is clearly “we’re not happy until you’re not happy”—reminded us that our operating license permitted us to fly only “able-bodied” passengers, and Hawking, being totally paralyzed and wheelchair bound, did not qualify. But to hell with Murphy. I decided to fix the problem.

 

pages: 349 words: 27,507

E=mc2: A Biography of the World's Most Famous Equation by David Bodanis

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Albert Einstein, Arthur Eddington, Berlin Wall, British Empire, dark matter, Ernest Rutherford, Erwin Freundlich, Fellow of the Royal Society, Henri Poincaré, Isaac Newton, John von Neumann, Mercator projection, pre–internet, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, Stephen Hawking, Thorstein Veblen, V2 rocket

I’d also recommend Chandra’s own book of essays, Truth and Beauty: Aesthetics and Motivations in Science (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1987). For further topics in astrophysics there are an abundance of fine texts. The Five Ages of the Universe: Inside the Physics of Eternity, by Fred Adams and Greg Laughlin (New York: Free Press, 1999), is especially good, covering the story from the earliest moments to a very, very distant future. Stephen Hawking’s collection Black Holes and Baby Universes (New York: Bantam, 1993) is entertaining and wryly thoughtful; while for the reader who relishes popular science books on the universe but finds they’re beginning to blur, I’d strongly suggest stepping back and 317 guide to further reading working through a crisp introductory text such as The Dynamic Universe: An Introduction to Astronomy, by Theodore P.

 

pages: 335 words: 107,779

Some Remarks by Neal Stephenson

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airport security, augmented reality, barriers to entry, British Empire, cable laying ship, call centre, cellular automata, edge city, Eratosthenes, Fellow of the Royal Society, Hacker Ethic, impulse control, Iridium satellite, Isaac Newton, Jaron Lanier, John von Neumann, Just-in-time delivery, Kevin Kelly, music of the spheres, Norbert Wiener, offshore financial centre, oil shock, packet switching, pirate software, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, Saturday Night Live, shareholder value, Silicon Valley, Skype, slashdot, social web, Socratic dialogue, South China Sea, special economic zone, Stephen Hawking, the scientific method, trade route, Turing machine, uranium enrichment, Vernor Vinge, X Prize

Again, this Foreword might be a more respectable—certainly it would be longer—document if it now listed specific examples of each of the above-mentioned four types of books and engaged in some actual literary criticism. But anyone who is bothering to read an introduction by an SF novelist to a book about infinity by DFW probably has examples of all four types on her bookshelf and so this will be left, as the saying goes, as an exercise for the reader. Just to be clear, though, I will list some examples: Type 1: Any fiction by Gregory Benford Type 2: A Brief History of Time by Stephen Hawking Type 3: 1491 by Charles Mann Type 4: Einstein in Berlin by Tom Levenson What is clearly true about all of these types of books is that they are safe to write, in the sense that critically-minded readers from the academic world will fairly quickly say to themselves, “ah, this is one of those” and then, if they wish to criticize them, will do so according to the rules of that type.

 

pages: 308 words: 84,713

The Glass Cage: Automation and Us by Nicholas Carr

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Airbnb, Andy Kessler, Atul Gawande, autonomous vehicles, business process, call centre, Captain Sullenberger Hudson, Checklist Manifesto, cloud computing, David Brooks, deliberate practice, deskilling, Elon Musk, Erik Brynjolfsson, Flash crash, Frank Gehry, Frank Levy and Richard Murnane: The New Division of Labor, Frederick Winslow Taylor, future of work, global supply chain, Google Glasses, Google Hangouts, High speed trading, indoor plumbing, industrial robot, Internet of things, Jacquard loom, Jacquard loom, James Watt: steam engine, job automation, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, John Maynard Keynes: technological unemployment, Kevin Kelly, knowledge worker, Lyft, Mark Zuckerberg, means of production, natural language processing, new economy, Nicholas Carr, Norbert Wiener, Oculus Rift, pattern recognition, Peter Thiel, place-making, Plutocrats, plutocrats, profit motive, Ralph Waldo Emerson, RAND corporation, randomized controlled trial, Ray Kurzweil, recommendation engine, robot derives from the Czech word robota Czech, meaning slave, Second Machine Age, self-driving car, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley ideology, software is eating the world, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, TaskRabbit, technoutopianism, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!

,” Guardian, August 30, 2013, theguardian.com/technology/shortcuts/2013/aug/30/amanda-rosenberg-google-sergey-brin-girlfriend. 26.Weiser, “Computer for the 21st Century.” 27.Interview with Charlie Rose, Charlie Rose, April 24, 2012, charlierose.com/watch/60065884. 28.David Kirkpatrick, The Facebook Effect (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2010), 10. 29.Josh Constine, “Google Unites Gmail and G+ Chat into ‘Hangouts’ Cross-Platform Text and Group Video Messaging App,” TechCrunch, May 15, 2013, techcrunch.com/2013/05/15/google-hangouts-messaging-app/. 30.Larry Greenemeier, “Chipmaker Races to Save Stephen Hawking’s Speech as His Condition Deteriorates,” Scientific American, January 18, 2013, www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=intel-helps-hawking-communicate. 31.Nick Bilton, “Disruptions: Next Step for Technology Is Becoming the Background,” New York Times, July 1, 2012, bits.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/07/01/google’s-project-glass-lets-technology-slip-into-the-background/. 32.Bruno Latour, “Morality and Technology: The End of the Means,” Theory, Culture and Society 19 (2002): 247–260.

 

pages: 329 words: 93,655

Moonwalking With Einstein by Joshua Foer

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Albert Einstein, Asperger Syndrome, Berlin Wall, conceptual framework, deliberate practice, Fall of the Berlin Wall, Frank Gehry, mental accounting, patient HM, pattern recognition, speech recognition, Stephen Hawking

I learned that there was someone in New York City with an IQ of 228, and a chess player in Hungary who once played fifty-two simultaneous blindfolded games. There was an Indian woman who could calculate the twenty-third root of a two-hundred-digit number in her head in fifty seconds, and someone else who could solve a fourdimensional Rubik’s cube, whatever that is. And of course there were plenty of more obvious Stephen Hawking types of candidates. Brains are notoriously trickier to quantify than brawn. In the course of my Googling, though, I did discover one intriguing candidate who was, if not the smartest person in the world, at least some kind of freakish genius. His name was Ben Pridmore, and he could memorize the precise order of 1,528 random digits in an hour and—to impress those of us with a more humanist bent—any poem handed to him.

 

pages: 292 words: 85,151

Exponential Organizations: Why New Organizations Are Ten Times Better, Faster, and Cheaper Than Yours (And What to Do About It) by Salim Ismail, Yuri van Geest

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23andMe, 3D printing, Airbnb, Amazon Mechanical Turk, Amazon Web Services, augmented reality, autonomous vehicles, Baxter: Rethink Robotics, bioinformatics, bitcoin, Black Swan, blockchain, Burning Man, business intelligence, business process, call centre, chief data officer, Clayton Christensen, clean water, cloud computing, cognitive bias, collaborative consumption, collaborative economy, corporate social responsibility, cross-subsidies, crowdsourcing, cryptocurrency, dark matter, Dean Kamen, dematerialisation, discounted cash flows, distributed ledger, Edward Snowden, Elon Musk, en.wikipedia.org, ethereum blockchain, Galaxy Zoo, game design, Google Glasses, Google Hangouts, Google X / Alphabet X, gravity well, hiring and firing, Hyperloop, industrial robot, Innovator's Dilemma, Internet of things, Iridium satellite, Isaac Newton, Jeff Bezos, Kevin Kelly, Kickstarter, knowledge worker, Kodak vs Instagram, Law of Accelerating Returns, Lean Startup, life extension, loose coupling, loss aversion, Lyft, Mark Zuckerberg, market design, means of production, minimum viable product, natural language processing, Netflix Prize, Network effects, new economy, Oculus Rift, offshore financial centre, p-value, PageRank, pattern recognition, Paul Graham, Peter H. Diamandis: Planetary Resources, Peter Thiel, prediction markets, profit motive, publish or perish, Ray Kurzweil, recommendation engine, RFID, ride hailing / ride sharing, risk tolerance, Ronald Coase, Second Machine Age, self-driving car, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, skunkworks, Skype, smart contracts, Snapchat, social software, software is eating the world, speech recognition, stealth mode startup, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, subscription business, supply-chain management, TaskRabbit, telepresence, telepresence robot, Tony Hsieh, transaction costs, Tyler Cowen: Great Stagnation, urban planning, WikiLeaks, winner-take-all economy, X Prize, Y Combinator

As we noted in Chapter One, that number is set to grow to a trillion devices as we prepare to embrace the Internet of Things. In the face of that explosion, the need for algorithms has become mission critical. Consider for a moment that the last two years have seen nine times more data created than in the entire history of humanity. Then consider that the Computer Sciences Corporation believes that by 2020 we’ll have created a total 73.5 zettabytes of data—in Stephen Hawking’s phraseology, that’s seventy-three followed by twenty-one zeros. Remarkably, and often tragically, most companies today are still driven almost solely on the intuitive guesses of their leaders. They may use data to guide their thinking, but they are just as likely to fall prey to a long list of self-delusions—everything from a sunk-cost bias to a confirmation bias (see below for a list of cognitive biases).

 

pages: 370 words: 94,968

The Most Human Human: What Talking With Computers Teaches Us About What It Means to Be Alive by Brian Christian

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4chan, Ada Lovelace, Alan Turing: On Computable Numbers, with an Application to the Entscheidungsproblem, Bertrand Russell: In Praise of Idleness, carbon footprint, cellular automata, Claude Shannon: information theory, cognitive dissonance, complexity theory, crowdsourcing, Donald Trump, Douglas Hofstadter, George Akerlof, Gödel, Escher, Bach, high net worth, Isaac Newton, Jacques de Vaucanson, Jaron Lanier, job automation, l'esprit de l'escalier, Loebner Prize, Menlo Park, Ray Kurzweil, RFID, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, Ronald Reagan, Skype, statistical model, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, Steven Pinker, theory of mind, Turing machine, Turing test, Von Neumann architecture, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!

After that animal finally did die, it was explained to me, things would get a lot better. They then made sure to emphasize that suicide is strictly against the rules. We were all in this thing together, and we all just had to wait this embodiment thing out. Meanwhile, on the playground, I was contemptuous of the seemingly Neanderthal boys who shot hoops and grunted their way through recess—meanwhile, my friends and I talked about MS-DOS and Stephen Hawking. I tended to view the need to eat as an annoyance—I’d put food in my mouth to hush my demanding stomach the way a parent gives a needy infant a pacifier. Eating was annoying; it got in the way of life. Peeing was annoying, showering was annoying, brushing the crud off my teeth every morning and night was annoying, sleeping a third of my life away was annoying. And sexual desire—somehow I’d developed the idea that my first boyhood forays into masturbation had stamped my one-way ticket to hell—sexual desire was so annoying that I was pretty sure it had already cost me everything.

 

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, Isaac Newton, 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, Yogi Berra

Born within just a few years of each other—Henry in 1797 and Faraday in 1791—the two scientists saw their most productive years as well as their research overlap. That Henry did not attain the same historic stature as Faraday does not diminish his contributions. Few scientists appear in history books alongside inventors such as Thomas Edison, Henry Ford, or Samuel F. B. Morse. Names like Albert Einstein, Stephen Hawking, and Isaac Newton are among the handful of exceptions that attest to the rule. One reason is the basic fact that to a large degree, the most enduring legacy of science is knowledge. Scientific experimentation, abstractions, and discovery of underlying principles hold little popular appeal today compared to products that transform everyday life or create vast fortunes. Successful inventors leave behind foundations and museums while successive, evolving versions of their original devices carry their name forward.

 

pages: 241 words: 90,538

Unequal Britain: Equalities in Britain Since 1945 by Pat Thane

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Ayatollah Khomeini, British Empire, call centre, collective bargaining, equal pay for equal work, full employment, gender pay gap, pensions crisis, Stephen Hawking, unpaid internship, women in the workforce

CONCLUSION The number of physically disabled people with high public profiles is probably greater now than at any time since 1945, and may have contributed to public acceptability of anti-discrimination legislation. The success of David Blunkett in overcoming blindness to attain high office in government may have provided a role model for other disabled people and helped to reduce popular stereotyping of the limited capacities of disabled people. The Cambridge University physicist and mathematician Stephen Hawking, who has Lou Gehrigs Disease and is confined to a wheelchair and speaks through a computer, may be a less equivocal role model of very high achievement by a severely disabled person. In the sporting world, increased television coverage and publicity involving the Paralympics has made a household name and role model of Dame Tanni Grey Thompson. This positive image of disabled people in sport has been reinforced by the publicity given to British successes in the 2008 Paralympics, and the award in 2009 of Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) to Eleanor Simmonds, double swimming gold medallist and the youngest person ever to receive an honour of this kind.

 

pages: 378 words: 94,468

Drugs 2.0: The Web Revolution That's Changing How the World Gets High by Mike Power

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air freight, banking crisis, bitcoin, blockchain, Buckminster Fuller, Burning Man, cloud computing, credit crunch, crowdsourcing, death of newspapers, double helix, fiat currency, Firefox, Fractional reserve banking, frictionless, Haight Ashbury, Kevin Kelly, means of production, Menlo Park, Mother of all demos, Network effects, packet switching, pattern recognition, pre–internet, RAND corporation, Satoshi Nakamoto, Skype, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, Stewart Brand, trade route, Whole Earth Catalog, Zimmermann PGP

The curiously human Macintosh, by Apple Computer, was also launched that year, its use of icons and an onscreen cursor suddenly bridging the gap between person and machine, and bringing Engelbart’s mouse to the masses. Revealing the Macintosh to the world for the first time in 1984, in a presentation that was to become the archetype for the company’s hype-heavy launches, Apple boss Steve Jobs shocked the audience as he showed that the computer could speak, its rudimentary voice-emulation software ringing around the hall, sounding for all the world like a disembodied, time-travelling Stephen Hawking. For those who had seen Engelbart’s demo, though, Jobs’ entire presentational schtick looked more than a little familiar. In the early 1990s, Stuart Brand set up The Well, a legendary bulletin board that was an early gathering point for intellectuals and cyberutopians. The Well, or Whole Earth ‘Lectronic Link, was a virtual community that hosted conversations between some of the web’s earliest champions including John Gilmore.

 

pages: 327 words: 102,322

Losing the Signal: The Spectacular Rise and Fall of BlackBerry by Jacquie McNish, Sean Silcoff

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Albert Einstein, Clayton Christensen, corporate governance, diversified portfolio, indoor plumbing, Iridium satellite, patent troll, QWERTY keyboard, rolodex, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, skunkworks, Skype, Stephen Hawking, Steve Ballmer, Steve Jobs

The closet-sized machine uses properties of subatomic particles to compute at speeds scientists hope will one day outpace conventional computers. On the other side is a nano-technology department where experiments with microscopic particles are influencing the creation of muscular new materials and instruments for, among other things, construction and medical applications. When Lazaridis welcomed hundreds of academics, politicians, and scientists, including theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking, to the opening of the center in September 2012 he made the same kind of bold promises that RIM’s competitors once doubted at their peril. “I believe that the work that will be done here will help transform the way we work, live, and play,” he said, “[by] decoding the rules and laws of the universe.”1 Away from the limelight, Lazaridis’s private interests are equally ambitious. As of September 2014, a private fund he owns with Fregin, Quantum Valley Investments, has invested about $50 million in ventures seeking to commercialize breakthroughs in quantum physics.

 

pages: 295 words: 89,280

The Narcissist Next Door by Jeffrey Kluger

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Albert Einstein, Apple's 1984 Super Bowl advert, Bernie Madoff, Columbine, delayed gratification, Donald Trump, Elon Musk, impulse control, Jony Ive, meta analysis, meta-analysis, Plutocrats, plutocrats, Ponzi scheme, QWERTY keyboard, Ralph Nader, Ronald Reagan, Schrödinger's Cat, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, the scientific method, theory of mind, Triangle Shirtwaist Factory, Walter Mischel

This has so little to do with what we typically think of as power that the influence that comes from prestige is often accorded to people who in other contexts would be thought of as utterly powerless. Ruth Bader Ginsburg, an increasingly frail-looking octogenarian, is in a position to wield more influence with a single utterance from the Supreme Court bench than most people ever will in a lifetime. Stephen Hawking is physically incapable of doing anything at all without assistance, yet when he speaks or writes—always with the aid of a machine—the world listens and reads. His power comes from the mind that resides in a broken body. For all of our species’ more primitive tendencies, this submission to wisdom speaks very well of us. “We are the only one of the great apes who use prestige,” says Tracy.

 

pages: 347 words: 97,721

Only Humans Need Apply: Winners and Losers in the Age of Smart Machines by Thomas H. Davenport, Julia Kirby

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AI winter, Andy Kessler, artificial general intelligence, asset allocation, Automated Insights, autonomous vehicles, Baxter: Rethink Robotics, business intelligence, business process, call centre, carbon-based life, Clayton Christensen, clockwork universe, conceptual framework, dark matter, David Brooks, deliberate practice, deskilling, Edward Lloyd's coffeehouse, Elon Musk, Erik Brynjolfsson, estate planning, follow your passion, Frank Levy and Richard Murnane: The New Division of Labor, Freestyle chess, game design, general-purpose programming language, Google Glasses, Hans Lippershey, haute cuisine, income inequality, index fund, industrial robot, information retrieval, intermodal, Internet of things, inventory management, Isaac Newton, job automation, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, John Maynard Keynes: technological unemployment, Khan Academy, knowledge worker, labor-force participation, loss aversion, Mark Zuckerberg, Narrative Science, natural language processing, Norbert Wiener, nuclear winter, pattern recognition, performance metric, Peter Thiel, precariat, quantitative trading / quantitative finance, Ray Kurzweil, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, risk tolerance, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Rodney Brooks, Second Machine Age, self-driving car, Silicon Valley, six sigma, Skype, speech recognition, spinning jenny, statistical model, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, strong AI, superintelligent machines, supply-chain management, transaction costs, Tyler Cowen: Great Stagnation, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, Works Progress Administration, Zipcar

Let’s start by observing that many smart people are thinking about the robot-filled society of the future, and that they are widely distributed on the basic question of whether we are all going to hell in a handbasket. Our news culture being what it is, we tend to hear the opinions of celebrity thinkers and innovators the most, and particularly when they are willing to thrill us with a good scare. Thus the statement by Elon Musk that AI represents “our biggest existential threat” was probably the most repeated quote of 2014. Right on its heels was Stephen Hawking’s warning that “the development of full artificial intelligence could spell the end of the human race,” and Bill Gates’s musing that “I don’t understand why some people are not concerned.” Many thinkers, however, are less famous and less frightened (and therefore give up any headline-grabbing impact or opinion). Artificial intelligence expert Joanna J. Bryson, for example, dismisses the scaremongering by insisting that AI is “just another artifact.”

 

pages: 391 words: 105,382

Utopia Is Creepy: And Other Provocations by Nicholas Carr

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Air France Flight 447, Airbnb, AltaVista, Amazon Mechanical Turk, augmented reality, autonomous vehicles, Bernie Sanders, book scanning, Brewster Kahle, Buckminster Fuller, Burning Man, Captain Sullenberger Hudson, centralized clearinghouse, cloud computing, cognitive bias, collaborative consumption, computer age, corporate governance, crowdsourcing, Danny Hillis, deskilling, Donald Trump, Elon Musk, factory automation, failed state, feminist movement, Frederick Winslow Taylor, friendly fire, game design, global village, Google bus, Google Glasses, Google X / Alphabet X, Googley, hive mind, impulse control, indoor plumbing, interchangeable parts, Internet Archive, invention of movable type, invention of the steam engine, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, Jeff Bezos, jimmy wales, job automation, Kevin Kelly, low skilled workers, Mark Zuckerberg, Marshall McLuhan, means of production, Menlo Park, mental accounting, natural language processing, Network effects, new economy, Nicholas Carr, oil shale / tar sands, Peter Thiel, Plutocrats, plutocrats, profit motive, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Ray Kurzweil, recommendation engine, Republic of Letters, robot derives from the Czech word robota Czech, meaning slave, Ronald Reagan, self-driving car, SETI@home, side project, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley ideology, Singularitarianism, Snapchat, social graph, social web, speech recognition, Startup school, stem cell, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, Steven Levy, technoutopianism, the medium is the message, theory of mind, Turing test, Whole Earth Catalog, Y Combinator

To choose your own songs, or even to develop the personal taste in music required to choose your own songs, would be wasted labor, a distraction from the series of essential jobs that give structure and value to your days. Art is an industrial lubricant. By removing the friction from everyday activities, it makes for more productive lives. TOWARD A UNIFIED THEORY OF LOVE July 30, 2015 WE LIVE MYTHICALLY, EVEN the most calculating of us. In the middle of a bromidic Q&A session on Facebook last month, Mark Zuckerberg fielded a question from the cosmologist Stephen Hawking: “I would like to know a unified theory of gravity and the other forces. Which of the big questions in science would you like to know the answer to and why?” Zuckerberg replied that he was “most interested in questions about people,” and he gave some examples of the questions about people that he found most interesting. “What will enable us to live forever?” was one. “How can we empower humans to learn a million times more?”

 

pages: 264 words: 90,379

Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking by Malcolm Gladwell

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affirmative action, airport security, Albert Einstein, complexity theory, David Brooks, East Village, haute couture, Kevin Kelly, medical malpractice, medical residency, Menlo Park, new economy, pattern recognition, phenotype, Ronald Reagan, Silicon Valley, Stephen Hawking, theory of mind, young professional

—Donna Seaman, Booklist “Blink moves quickly through a series of delightful stories....He’s always dazzling us with fascinating information and phenomena....If you want to trust my snap judgment, buy this book: you’ll be delighted.” —David Brooks, New York Times Book Review “Compelling....Blink satisfies and gratifies....It features the fascinating case studies, skilled interweavings of psychological experiments and explanations, and unexpected connections among disparate phenomena that are Gladwell’s impressive trademark.” —Howard Gardner, Washington Post “What Stephen Hawking did for theoretical physics Malcolm Gladwell is doing for social science....Gladwell uses a series of fascinating examples to support his views, weaving scientific data into page-turning prose.” —Jill Spitznass, Portland Tribune “A provocative and enlightening read....It is a pleasure to travel through this land of rapid cognition with a guide as curious and insightful as Gladwell.” —Rosemary M.

 

pages: 344 words: 94,332

The 100-Year Life: Living and Working in an Age of Longevity by Lynda Gratton, Andrew Scott

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3D printing, Airbnb, carbon footprint, Clayton Christensen, collapse of Lehman Brothers, crowdsourcing, delayed gratification, diversification, Downton Abbey, Erik Brynjolfsson, falling living standards, financial independence, first square of the chessboard, first square of the chessboard / second half of the chessboard, future of work, gender pay gap, gig economy, Google Glasses, indoor plumbing, information retrieval, Isaac Newton, job satisfaction, low skilled workers, Lyft, Network effects, New Economic Geography, pattern recognition, pension reform, Peter Thiel, Ray Kurzweil, Richard Florida, Richard Thaler, Second Machine Age, sharing economy, side project, Silicon Valley, smart cities, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, women in the workforce, young professional

Later that week the UK Telegraph reported on the session with the headline: ‘Sociopathic robots could overrun the human race within a generation’, accompanied by a particularly scary picture of aggressive, demonic-looking fighting robots. The headline didn’t capture the nature of the debate but it did capture the growing unease people feel about the impact that AI and robotics will have on their work and concerns about what will be left. When even Professor Stephen Hawking worries that the rise of AI represents a fundamental threat to the future of humanity, it is perhaps not surprising that such widespread concerns exist. 9See for instance Ford, M., The Rise of the Robots (Basic Books, 2015); Brynjolfsson, E. and McAfee, A., The Second Machine Age (W. W. Norton & Company, 2014). 10Ford, The Rise of the Robots. 11Brynjolfsson and McAfee, The Second Machine Age. 12Autor, D.

 

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, theory of mind, Turing test, Wall-E

‘If a superior alien civilization sent us a text message saying, ‘We’ll arrive in a few decades,’ would we just reply, ‘OK, call us when you get here — we’ll leave the lights on’? Probably not, but this is more or less what is happening with AI. Although we are facing potentially the best or worst thing ever to happen to humanity, little serious research is devoted to these issues . . . All of us — not only scientists, industrialists and generals — should ask ourselves what can we do now to improve the chances of reaping the benefits and avoiding the risks.’ Stephen Hawking, April 2014 SELECTED REVIEWS FOR PANDORA’S BRAIN ‘I love the concepts in this book!’ Peter James, author of the best-selling Roy Grace series ‘Pandora’s Brain is a captivating tale of developments in artificial intelligence that could, conceivably, be just around the corner. The imminent possibility of these breakthroughs causes characters in the book to re-evaluate many of their cherished beliefs, and will lead most readers to several ‘OMG’ realisations about their own philosophies of life.

 

pages: 357 words: 98,853

Junk DNA: A Journey Through the Dark Matter of the Genome by Nessa Carey

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dark matter, discovery of DNA, double helix, Downton Abbey, Drosophila, epigenetics, mouse model, phenotype, placebo effect, stem cell, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs

One of the reasons we can be bullish about this prediction is that researchers may have already identified another such example. Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known as motor neuron disease or Lou Gehrig’s disease, is a devastating disorder. Neurons in the brain and spinal cord which control muscle movement die off progressively. Sufferers become increasingly wasted and paralysed, unable to talk, swallow or breathe properly.24 The cosmologist Stephen Hawking suffers from ALS, although his case is rather atypical. He was first diagnosed at the age of 21, whereas most people with ALS develop their first symptoms in middle age. Professor Hawking has survived for over 50 years with the condition, but sadly most patients die within five years of diagnosis, although this period may be increasing with better medical intervention. There is much that we still don’t understand about ALS.

 

pages: 371 words: 108,317

The Inevitable: Understanding the 12 Technological Forces That Will Shape Our Future by Kevin Kelly

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3D printing, A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace, AI winter, Airbnb, Albert Einstein, Amazon Web Services, augmented reality, bank run, barriers to entry, Baxter: Rethink Robotics, bitcoin, blockchain, book scanning, Brewster Kahle, Burning Man, cloud computing, computer age, connected car, crowdsourcing, dark matter, dematerialisation, Downton Abbey, Edward Snowden, Elon Musk, Filter Bubble, Freestyle chess, game design, Google Glasses, hive mind, Howard Rheingold, index card, indoor plumbing, industrial robot, Internet Archive, Internet of things, invention of movable type, invisible hand, Jaron Lanier, Jeff Bezos, job automation, Kevin Kelly, Kickstarter, linked data, Lyft, M-Pesa, Marshall McLuhan, means of production, megacity, Minecraft, multi-sided market, natural language processing, Netflix Prize, Network effects, new economy, Nicholas Carr, peer-to-peer lending, personalized medicine, placebo effect, planetary scale, postindustrial economy, recommendation engine, RFID, ride hailing / ride sharing, Rodney Brooks, self-driving car, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, slashdot, Snapchat, social graph, social web, software is eating the world, speech recognition, Stephen Hawking, Steven Levy, Ted Nelson, the scientific method, transport as a service, two-sided market, Uber for X, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, Whole Earth Review

The reason this fanciful exercise is worth doing is because, while it is inevitable that we will manufacture intelligences in all that we make, it is not inevitable or obvious what their character will be. Their character will dictate their economic value and their roles in our culture. Outlining the possible ways that a machine might be smarter than us (even in theory) will assist us in both directing this advance and managing it. A few really smart people, like astronomer Stephen Hawking and genius inventor Elon Musk, worry that making supersmart AIs could be our last invention before they replace us (though I don’t believe this), so exploring possible types is prudent. Imagine we land on an alien planet. How would we measure the level of the intelligences we encounter there? This is an extremely difficult question because we have no real definition of our own intelligence, in part because until now we didn’t need one.

 

pages: 302 words: 83,116

SuperFreakonomics by Steven D. Levitt, Stephen J. Dubner

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agricultural Revolution, airport security, Andrei Shleifer, Atul Gawande, barriers to entry, Bernie Madoff, call centre, clean water, cognitive bias, collateralized debt obligation, credit crunch, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, deliberate practice, disintermediation, endowment effect, experimental economics, food miles, indoor plumbing, John Nash: game theory, Joseph Schumpeter, loss aversion, Louis Pasteur, market design, microcredit, Milgram experiment, oil shale / tar sands, patent troll, presumed consent, price discrimination, principal–agent problem, profit motive, randomized controlled trial, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, Richard Thaler, South China Sea, Stephen Hawking, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, too big to fail, trickle-down economics, ultimatum game, urban planning, women in the workforce, young professional

Myhrvold, who is fifty years old, has been smart for a long time. Growing up in Seattle, he graduated from high school at fourteen and by the time he was twenty-three had earned, primarily at UCLA and Princeton, a bachelor’s degree (mathematics), two master’s degrees (geophysics/space physics and mathematical economics), and a Ph.D. (mathematical physics). He then went to Cambridge University to do quantum cosmology research with Stephen Hawking. Myhrvold recalls watching the British science-fiction TV show Dr. Who when he was young: “The Doctor introduces himself to someone, who says, ‘Doctor? Are you some kind of scientist?’ And he says, ‘Sir, I am every kind of scientist.’ And I was, like, Yes! Yes! That is what I want to be: every kind of scientist!” He is so polymathic as to make an everyday polymath tremble with shame. In addition to his scientific interests, he is an accomplished nature photographer, chef, mountain climber, and a collector of rare books, rocket engines, antique scientific instruments, and, especially, dinosaur bones: he is co-leader of a project that has dug up more T. rex skeletons than anyone else in the world.

 

pages: 385 words: 105,627

The Man Who Loved China: The Fantastic Story of the Eccentric Scientist Who Unlocked the Mysteries of the Middle Kingdom by Simon Winchester

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Berlin Wall, British Empire, David Attenborough, Deng Xiaoping, double helix, Etonian, Fellow of the Royal Society, index card, invention of gunpowder, Jarndyce and Jarndyce, New Urbanism, Ralph Waldo Emerson, stakhanovite, Stephen Hawking, Ted Kaczynski, trade route

His typing was always very accurate; his first script was always his final draft, and it was from these drafts that the Cambridge University Press prepared its galleys (these, by contrast, usually required many changes—edits which he often performed in his head, while lying awake in bed). Needham working in K-1, the room in Caius College, Cambridge, that he occupied for almost seventy years. Later he also took the room next door, now occupied by the cosmologist Stephen Hawking. He did not take kindly to interruption, and though generally a polite and thoughtful man, could be crashingly rude if disturbed. Once when his old friend Julian Huxley, who had been the first director general of UNESCO, telephoned from the porter’s lodge to announce that he had arrived for a visit, Needham said, with glacial courtesy, “I am frightfully busy. You come without an appointment, so I am afraid I cannot see you.”

 

pages: 541 words: 146,445

Spin by Robert Charles Wilson

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airport security, Colonization of Mars, invention of writing, invisible hand, John von Neumann, Mahatma Gandhi, megacity, oil shale / tar sands, rolodex, Stephen Hawking

Mrs. Tuckman knew that, and all the Xanax in the world wasn't going to convince her otherwise. * * * * * During lunch I secured a table at the back of the staff cafeteria, where I nursed a coffee, watched rain fall on the parking lot, and perused the magazine Molly had given me. If there were a science of Spinology, the lead article began, Jason Lawton would be its Newton, its Einstein, its Stephen Hawking. Which was what E.D. had always encouraged the press to say and what Jase had always dreaded hearing. From radiological surveys to permeability studies, from hard-core science to philosophical debate, there is hardly an area of Spin study his ideas haven't touched and transformed. His published papers are numerous and oft-cited. His attendance turns sleepy academic conferences into instant media events.

 

pages: 412 words: 115,266

The Moral Landscape: How Science Can Determine Human Values by Sam Harris

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Albert Einstein, banking crisis, cognitive bias, endowment effect, energy security, experimental subject, framing effect, hindsight bias, impulse control, John Nash: game theory, loss aversion, meta analysis, meta-analysis, out of africa, pattern recognition, placebo effect, Ponzi scheme, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, risk tolerance, stem cell, Stephen Hawking, Steven Pinker, the scientific method, theory of mind, ultimatum game, World Values Survey

While I’m not at all sure that it exhausts this mystery, I think there is something to be said for Craik’s idea (Craik, 1943) that an isomorphism between brain processes and the processes in the world that they represent might account for the utility of numbers and certain mathematical operations. Is it really so surprising that certain patterns of brain activity (i.e., numbers) can map reliably onto the world? 77. Collins also has a terrible tendency of cherry-picking and misrepresenting the views of famous scientists like Stephen Hawking and Albert Einstein. For instance he writes: Even Albert Einstein saw the poverty of a purely naturalistic worldview. Choosing his words carefully, he wrote, “science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind.” The one choosing words carefully here is Collins. As we saw above, when read in context (Einstein, 1954, pp. 41–49), this quote reveals that Einstein did not in the least endorse theism and that his use of the word “God” was a poetical way of referring to the laws of nature.

 

pages: 532 words: 139,706

Googled: The End of the World as We Know It by Ken Auletta

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23andMe, AltaVista, Anne Wojcicki, Apple's 1984 Super Bowl advert, bioinformatics, Burning Man, carbon footprint, citizen journalism, Clayton Christensen, cloud computing, Colonization of Mars, corporate social responsibility, death of newspapers, disintermediation, don't be evil, facts on the ground, Firefox, Frank Gehry, Google Earth, hypertext link, Innovator's Dilemma, Internet Archive, invention of the telephone, Jeff Bezos, jimmy wales, Kevin Kelly, knowledge worker, Long Term Capital Management, Mark Zuckerberg, Marshall McLuhan, Menlo Park, Network effects, new economy, Nicholas Carr, PageRank, Paul Buchheit, Peter Thiel, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, Sand Hill Road, Saturday Night Live, semantic web, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, Skype, slashdot, social graph, spectrum auction, stealth mode startup, Stephen Hawking, Steve Ballmer, Steve Jobs, strikebreaker, telemarketer, the scientific method, The Wisdom of Crowds, Upton Sinclair, X Prize, yield management

Up on the large screen behind them appeared a picture of Al Gore, who on this day had won the Nobel Peace Prize for his work on behalf of the environment, an award that was featured in the morning papers and dominated the news. “We all feel grateful to you,” Brin said. “Thank you, Sergey. And to you and Larry and Eric and the entire team. One of the fun things in my life is to be part of the extended Google family.” A roar of applause cascaded from the balcony and throughout the cafe, and soon Gore was gone. “He sounded a little like Stephen Hawking,” joked Page. The hand of an engineer who spends too many hours in front of a computer screen shot up. “Larry and Sergey,” he asked. “Which prize?” The personalities of the founders permeate the company. Doerr described Sergey as the “more exhuberant” of the two. “Sergey is more creative, more experimental than Larry is.” One longtime Google executive decribes him as a ham. “I love Sergey,” the executive adds.

 

pages: 542 words: 163,735

The City and the Stars / The Sands of Mars by Arthur C. Clarke

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British Empire, Colonization of Mars, Mercator projection, Stephen Hawking

And then, at the end of the Universe, as Time itself was faltering to a stop, Vanamonde and the Mad Mind must meet each other among the corpses of the stars. I can still remember— half a lifetime later!— feeling that something outside of me was dictating those words, and even now they raise the hairs on the back of my neck. For I appear to have anticipated, by about twenty years, one of the most unexpected results of modern cosmology. My “Black Sun” is obviously a Black Hole (the term did not come into use until the 1960s), and in 1974 Stephen Hawking made the stunning discovery that Black Holes are not permanent but can “die,” just as I suggested. (To be technical, they “evaporate” by quantum tunneling.) And then they can become informational white noise sources, shooting out (if you wait long enough) anything you care to specify. Including Mad Minds…. I cannot help wondering if I have also anticipated— and even explained— another creature in the cosmic zoo.

 

pages: 487 words: 147,891

McMafia: A Journey Through the Global Criminal Underworld by Misha Glenny

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anti-communist, Anton Chekhov, Berlin Wall, blood diamonds, BRICs, colonial rule, crony capitalism, Deng Xiaoping, Doha Development Round, failed state, Fall of the Berlin Wall, financial deregulation, Firefox, forensic accounting, friendly fire, glass ceiling, illegal immigration, joint-stock company, market bubble, Mikhail Gorbachev, Nick Leeson, offshore financial centre, place-making, rising living standards, Ronald Reagan, Skype, special economic zone, Stephen Hawking, trade liberalization, trade route, Transnistria, unemployed young men, upwardly mobile

The company helped to reformulate the entire concept of computer protection—instead of going after specific viruses and spyware (which is how programs such as Norton AntiVirus function), they started examining the defense capability of individual programs or systems. In fact, they ape the hackers and crackers by sniffing out vulnerabilities in anything from Windows to entire banking networks. And X-Force is the virtual equivalent of the CIA, trying to penetrate the mind-set and logic of the enemy. At times, Peter Allor’s explanations of what X-Force actually does sound as mind-bending as the most impenetrable passages from Stephen Hawking’s A Brief History of Time. “You’re familiar with darknet, right?” he asks me. I shuffle and cough a little, not wanting to appear stupid. “Errm…not terribly familiar, no.” Okay. Darknet is a set of IPs [Internet protocols, for the uninitiated] that have never been addressed—they were never assigned anywhere…they’re dark, so nothing should ever come out of them and nothing should ever be addressed to them.

 

pages: 523 words: 148,929

Physics of the Future: How Science Will Shape Human Destiny and Our Daily Lives by the Year 2100 by Michio Kaku

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agricultural Revolution, AI winter, Albert Einstein, augmented reality, Bill Joy: nanobots, bioinformatics, blue-collar work, British Empire, Brownian motion, cloud computing, Colonization of Mars, DARPA: Urban Challenge, delayed gratification, double helix, Douglas Hofstadter, en.wikipedia.org, friendly AI, Gödel, Escher, Bach, hydrogen economy, I think there is a world market for maybe five computers, industrial robot, invention of movable type, invention of the telescope, Isaac Newton, John von Neumann, life extension, Louis Pasteur, Mahatma Gandhi, Mars Rover, megacity, Murray Gell-Mann, new economy, oil shale / tar sands, optical character recognition, pattern recognition, planetary scale, postindustrial economy, Ray Kurzweil, refrigerator car, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, Rodney Brooks, Ronald Reagan, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, Silicon Valley, Simon Singh, speech recognition, stem cell, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, telepresence, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas L Friedman, Thomas Malthus, trade route, Turing machine, uranium enrichment, Vernor Vinge, Wall-E, Walter Mischel, Whole Earth Review, X Prize

Patients can also control their mobility by manipulating a motorized wheelchair. In the short term, this is nothing less than miraculous for people who are totally paralyzed. One day, they are trapped, helpless, in their bodies; the next day, they are surfing the Web and carrying on conversations with people around the world. (I once attended a gala reception at Lincoln Center in New York in honor of the great cosmologist Stephen Hawking. It was heartbreaking to see him strapped into a wheelchair, unable to move anything but a few facial muscles and his eyelids, with nurses holding up his limp head and pushing him around. It takes him hours and days of excruciating effort to communicate simple ideas via his voice synthesizer. I wondered if it was not too late for him to take advantage of the technology of BrainGate. Then John Donoghue, who was also in the audience, came up to greet me.

 

pages: 478 words: 149,810

We Are Anonymous: Inside the Hacker World of LulzSec, Anonymous, and the Global Cyber Insurgency by Parmy Olson

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4chan, Asperger Syndrome, bitcoin, call centre, Chelsea Manning, corporate governance, crowdsourcing, Firefox, hive mind, Julian Assange, Minecraft, Occupy movement, pirate software, side project, Skype, speech recognition, Stephen Hawking, Stuxnet, We are Anonymous. We are Legion, We are the 99%, web application, WikiLeaks, zero day

A member of the group, whose nickname was VSR, created a YouTube account called Church0fScientology, and the group spent the next several hours finding uncopyrighted footage and music, then writing a video script that could be narrated by an automated voice. The speech recognition technology was so bad they had to go back and misspell most of the words—destroyed became “dee stroid,” for instance—to make it sound natural. The final script ended up looking like nonsense but sounding like normal prose. When they finally put it together, a Stephen Hawking–style robotic voice said over an image of dark clouds, “Hello, leaders of Scientology, we are Anonymous.” It climbed to new heights of hyperbole, vowing to “systematically dismantle the Church of Scientology in its current form.…For the good of your followers, for the good of mankind—for the laughs—we shall expel you from the Internet.” Housh and the group of publicity reps weren’t taking any of this seriously.

 

pages: 458 words: 134,028

Microtrends: The Small Forces Behind Tomorrow's Big Changes by Mark Penn, E. Kinney Zalesne

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affirmative action, Albert Einstein, Ayatollah Khomeini, Berlin Wall, big-box store, call centre, corporate governance, David Brooks, Donald Trump, extreme commuting, Exxon Valdez, feminist movement, glass ceiling, Gordon Gekko, haute couture, illegal immigration, immigration reform, index card, Isaac Newton, job satisfaction, labor-force participation, late fees, life extension, low skilled workers, mobile money, new economy, RAND corporation, Renaissance Technologies, Ronald Reagan, Rosa Parks, stem cell, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, Superbowl ad, the payments system, Thomas L Friedman, upwardly mobile, uranium enrichment, urban renewal, War on Poverty, women in the workforce, Y2K

PART XIV Education Smart Child Left Behind Kindergarten Hold-Backs in America One of my favorite TV shows in the 1990s was Doogie Howser, M.D. It was the intellectual side of the American Dream—if Doogie was smart enough to finish Princeton at 10, then damn the conventions, he could be a Teenage Surgeon. America rallied around young, bursting geniuses who tore through the educational system. Carl Sagan finished high school at 16. Stephen Hawking graduated Oxford at 20. Hell, Mozart toured at 6. Alas, no more. The biggest trend in education today is the opposite: holding kids back. And the “smarter” they are (or the more likely they are to succeed, statistically speaking) the greater their chances of being delayed. It’s called “red-shirting,” after the practice of keeping college athletes out a year while they grow bigger. A U.S. Department of Education report issued in 2005 suggested that nearly 10 percent of American students in kindergarten were actually eligible to have enrolled the year before.

 

pages: 560 words: 158,238

Fifty Degrees Below by Kim Stanley Robinson

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airport security, bioinformatics, Burning Man, clean water, Donner party, full employment, invisible hand, iterative process, means of production, minimum wage unemployment, North Sea oil, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, statistical model, Stephen Hawking, the scientific method

Anna and Diane shared a look, anticipating a rant, but Frank saw it and said, “Well, but why? Why why why? We should have a scientist candidate for president, some emeritus biggie who can talk, explaining what the scientific approach would be, and why. A candidate using ecological theory, systems theory, what-have-you, in-out throughputs, some actual economics. . . .” Diane was shaking her head. “Who exactly would that be?” “I don’t know, Richard Feynman?” “Deceased.” “Stephen Hawking.” “British, and paralyzed. Besides, you know those emeritus guys. There isn’t a single one of them who could go through the whole process without, I don’t know. . . .” “Exploding?” Anna suggested. “Yes.” “Make up a candidate,” Anna said. “What science would do if it were in the White House.” “Like Nick’s Swiss council,” Frank said. “A phantom candidate.” “Shadow candidate,” Diane corrected.

 

pages: 538 words: 147,612

All the Money in the World by Peter W. Bernstein

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Albert Einstein, anti-communist, Berlin Wall, Bill Gates: Altair 8800, call centre, corporate governance, currency peg, David Brooks, Donald Trump, estate planning, family office, financial innovation, George Gilder, high net worth, invisible hand, Jeff Bezos, job automation, job-hopping, Long Term Capital Management, Martin Wolf, Maui Hawaii, means of production, Menlo Park, Mikhail Gorbachev, new economy, PageRank, Peter Singer: altruism, pez dispenser, popular electronics, Renaissance Technologies, Rod Stewart played at Stephen Schwarzman birthday party, Ronald Reagan, Sand Hill Road, school vouchers, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, shareholder value, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, stem cell, Stephen Hawking, Steve Ballmer, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Thorstein Veblen, too big to fail, traveling salesman, urban planning, William Shockley: the traitorous eight, women in the workforce

Before his 2007 divorce from his wife Edra (see Chapter 11, Family Feuds), the two owned a number of stunning properties around the United States, including the 420-acre Porcupine Creek near Palm Springs worth an estimated $200 million. * * * 1999 from the pages of Forbes Charles Simonyi, Microsoft tech wizard, lives in a twenty-two-thousand-square-foot, totally wired, glass and steel house, complete with heliport and revolving bed. (1999 net worth: $1.5 billion) Nathan Myhrvold, also a Microsoft alumnus, studied at Cambridge University with Stephen Hawking and spends up to $10,000 a month on books. (1999 net worth: $650 million) Frank Lyon Jr., who made his fortune in Coca-Cola bottling and banks, is often seen on his tractor farming rice and soybeans. (1999 net worth: $700 million) Jerry Yang and David Filo of Yahoo fly coach, park their own cars, and eschew offices for cubicles. (1999 net worth: $3.7 billion each) * * * The rise of the billionaires has had a dramatic effect on a number of monied enclaves across the country, not least Palm Beach, Florida, where mansions regularly change hands for $20 million and up.

 

pages: 547 words: 160,071

Underground by Suelette Dreyfus

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airport security, invisible hand, Julian Assange, Loma Prieta earthquake, packet switching, pirate software, profit motive, publish or perish, RFC: Request For Comment, Ronald Reagan, Stephen Hawking, Steven Levy, Stuxnet, uranium enrichment, urban decay, WikiLeaks, zero day

Left-leaning in his politics – heading toward environmentally green parties and anarchy rather than traditional labour parties. Smokes a little dope and drinks alcohol, but doesn’t touch the hard stuff. His musical tastes include early Pink Floyd, Sullen, Dog Eat Dog, Biohazard, old Ice-T, Therapy?, Alanis Morissette, Rage Against the Machine, Fear Factory, Life of Agony and Napalm Death. He reads Stephen King, Stephen Hawking, Tom Clancy and Aldous Huxley. And any good books about physics, chemistry or mathematics. Shy in person, he doesn’t like organised team sports and is not very confident around girls. He has only had one serious girlfriend, but the relationship finished. Now that he hacks and codes about four to five hours per day on average, but sometimes up to 36 hours straight, he doesn’t have time for girls.

 

pages: 515 words: 126,820

Blockchain Revolution: How the Technology Behind Bitcoin Is Changing Money, Business, and the World by Don Tapscott, Alex Tapscott

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Airbnb, altcoin, asset-backed security, autonomous vehicles, barriers to entry, bitcoin, blockchain, Bretton Woods, business process, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, carbon footprint, clean water, cloud computing, cognitive dissonance, corporate governance, corporate social responsibility, Credit Default Swap, crowdsourcing, cryptocurrency, disintermediation, distributed ledger, Donald Trump, double entry bookkeeping, Edward Snowden, Elon Musk, Erik Brynjolfsson, ethereum blockchain, failed state, fiat currency, financial innovation, Firefox, first square of the chessboard, first square of the chessboard / second half of the chessboard, future of work, Galaxy Zoo, George Gilder, glass ceiling, Google bus, Hernando de Soto, income inequality, informal economy, interest rate swap, Internet of things, Jeff Bezos, jimmy wales, Kickstarter, knowledge worker, Kodak vs Instagram, Lean Startup, litecoin, Lyft, M-Pesa, Mark Zuckerberg, Marshall McLuhan, means of production, microcredit, mobile money, Network effects, new economy, Oculus Rift, pattern recognition, peer-to-peer lending, performance metric, Peter Thiel, planetary scale, Ponzi scheme, prediction markets, price mechanism, Productivity paradox, quantitative easing, ransomware, Ray Kurzweil, renewable energy credits, rent-seeking, ride hailing / ride sharing, Ronald Coase, Ronald Reagan, Satoshi Nakamoto, Second Machine Age, seigniorage, self-driving car, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, Skype, smart contracts, smart grid, social graph, social software, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Stewart Brand, supply-chain management, TaskRabbit, The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid, The Nature of the Firm, The Wisdom of Crowds, transaction costs, Turing complete, Turing test, Uber and Lyft, unbanked and underbanked, underbanked, unorthodox policies, X Prize, Y2K, Zipcar

Or it could release the private data from other servers or hold the data hostage until we human owners paid a ransom. Once machines have intelligence and the ability to learn, how quickly will they become autonomous? Will military drones and robots, for example, decide to turn on civilians? According to researchers in AI, we’re only years, not decades, away from the realization of such weapons. In July 2015, a large group of scientists and researchers, including Stephen Hawking, Elon Musk, and Steve Wozniak, issued an open letter calling for a ban on the development of autonomous offensive weapons beyond meaningful human control.53 “The nightmare headline for me is, ‘100,000 Refrigerators Attack Bank of America,’” said Vint Cerf, widely regarded as the father of the Internet. “That is going to take some serious thinking not only about basic security and privacy technology, but also how to configure and upgrade devices at scale,” he added, noting that no one wants to spend their entire weekend typing IP addresses for each and every household device.54 We do not recommend broad regulation of DAEs and the IoT or regulatory approvals.

 

pages: 456 words: 123,534

The Dawn of Innovation: The First American Industrial Revolution by Charles R. Morris

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air freight, British Empire, business process, California gold rush, clean water, colonial exploitation, computer age, Dava Sobel, en.wikipedia.org, glass ceiling, hiring and firing, if you build it, they will come, interchangeable parts, Isaac Newton, Jacquard loom, Jacquard loom, James Hargreaves, James Watt: steam engine, John Harrison: Longitude, joint-stock company, lone genius, manufacturing employment, new economy, New Urbanism, On the Economy of Machinery and Manufactures, purchasing power parity, QWERTY keyboard, refrigerator car, Robert Gordon, spinning jenny, Stephen Hawking, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, trade route, transcontinental railway, traveling salesman

The ne plus ultra of regal overreaching was Charles Babbage’s calculating engines. Charles Babbage If there were a hall of fame of intelligent people, Charles Babbage (1791–1871) would surely have his own plaque. Born into a well-to-do family, he spent most of his career in academia and for a dozen years held the Lucasian Chair of Mathematics at Cambridge University, a post graced by luminaries from Isaac Newton through Stephen Hawking.24 In Babbage’s day, all calculation-intensive sciences like astronomy were dependent on thick volumes of standard tables—logarithms, sines, and other functions—each incorporating decades of laborious construction. As a newly minted mathematician, Babbage realized that even the best tables were riddled with errors. By comparing entries in different editions, it was clear that the primary problem lay in transcription and typesetting, not the original calculations.

 

pages: 537 words: 158,544

Second World: Empires and Influence in the New Global Order by Parag Khanna

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Admiral Zheng, affirmative action, anti-communist, Asian financial crisis, Bartolomé de las Casas, Branko Milanovic, British Empire, call centre, capital controls, central bank independence, cognitive dissonance, colonial rule, complexity theory, crony capitalism, Deng Xiaoping, Dissolution of the Soviet Union, Donald Trump, Edward Glaeser, energy security, European colonialism, facts on the ground, failed state, flex fuel, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, friendly fire, Gini coefficient, global reserve currency, global supply chain, haute couture, Hernando de Soto, illegal immigration, income inequality, informal economy, invisible hand, Islamic Golden Age, Khyber Pass, knowledge economy, land reform, low skilled workers, means of production, megacity, Monroe Doctrine, oil shale / tar sands, oil shock, open borders, open economy, Pax Mongolica, pirate software, Plutonomy: Buying Luxury, Explaining Global Imbalances, Potemkin village, price stability, race to the bottom, RAND corporation, reserve currency, rising living standards, Ronald Reagan, Silicon Valley, Skype, South China Sea, special economic zone, stem cell, Stephen Hawking, Thomas L Friedman, trade route, trickle-down economics, uranium enrichment, urban renewal, Washington Consensus, women in the workforce

Yet China’s present exclusion from the deliberations of the International Energy Agency fuels its suspicion that there is an “invisible Western hand” keeping global oil prices high. Instead, key energy consumers can focus on bringing more oil to a free market, hence reducing prices, rather than locking in oil contracts with state-owned companies to secure it from others’ reach.*67 The world of the twenty-first century seems so complex and unpredictable that even the scientific genius Stephen Hawking pessimistically asked, “In a world that is in chaos politically, socially, and environmentally, can the human race sustain another one hundred years?” The question echoes the realist pioneer Hans Morgenthau’s admonition that “Scientism has left man enriched in his technical mastery of inanimate nature, but it has left him impoverished in his quest for an answer to the riddle of the universe and of his existence in it.”77 It is a great challenge to prognosticate on a world of diffusing power and contending empires, but Morgenthau was certain of this: Globalization (the “Scientism” of today) will not alone trump the geopolitical cycles of world war, for this ultimate task of history requires more than a blind belief in rationality.

 

Great Britain by David Else, Fionn Davenport

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active transport: walking or cycling, Albert Einstein, Beeching cuts, British Empire, call centre, car-free, carbon footprint, clean water, colonial rule, Columbine, congestion charging, credit crunch, David Attenborough, Etonian, food miles, glass ceiling, global village, haute cuisine, illegal immigration, Isaac Newton, James Watt: steam engine, land reform, Livingstone, I presume, Mahatma Gandhi, new economy, North Sea oil, Northern Rock, offshore financial centre, place-making, Skype, South of Market, San Francisco, Stephen Hawking, the market place, trade route, transatlantic slave trade, transatlantic slave trade, upwardly mobile, urban planning, urban renewal, urban sprawl, Winter of Discontent

The honour roll of famous Cambridge graduates reads like an international who’s who of high achievers: 81 Nobel Prize winners (more than any other institution in the world), 13 British prime ministers, nine archbishops of Canterbury, an immense number of scientists, and a healthy host of poets and authors. Crick and Watson discovered DNA here, Isaac Newton used Cambridge to work on his theory of gravity, Stephen Hawking is a professor of mathematics here, and Charles Darwin, William Wordsworth, Vladimir Nabokov, David Attenborough and John Cleese all studied here. The university celebrates its 800th birthday in 2009; look out for special events, lectures and concerts to mark its intriguing eight centuries. Orientation The colleges and university buildings comprise the centre of the city. The central area, lying in a wide bend of the River Cam, is easy to get around on foot or by bike.

Gonville & Caius College Known locally as Caius (pronounced keys), Gonville and Caius ( 01223-332400; www.cai.cam.ac.uk; Trinity St) was founded twice, first by a priest called Gonville, in 1348, and then again in 1557 by Dr Caius (Keys – it was common for academics to use the Latin form of their names), a brilliant physician who supposedly spoilt his legacy by insisting the college admit no ‘deaf, dumb, deformed, lame, chronic invalids, or Welshmen’! Fortunately for the college his policy didn’t last long, and the wheelchair-using megastar of astrophysics, Stephen Hawking, is now a fellow here. The college is of particular interest thanks to its three fascinating gates: Virtue, Humility and Honour. They symbolise the progress of the good student, since the third gate (the Porta Honoris, a fabulous domed and sundial-sided confection) leads to the Senate House and thus graduation. Trinity Hall College Henry James once wrote of the delightfully diminutive Trinity Hall ( 01223-332500; www.trinhall.cam.ac.uk; Trinity Lane), ‘If I were called upon to mention the prettiest corner of the world, I should draw a thoughtful sigh and point the way to the gardens of Trinity Hall.’

Wedged cosily among the great and the famous, but unconnected to better-known Trinity, it was founded in 1350 as a refuge for lawyers and clerics escaping the ravages of the Black Death, thus earning it the nickname of the ‘Lawyers’ College’. The college’s 16th-century library has original Jacobean reading desks and chained books (an early antitheft device) on the shelves. Writer JB Priestley, astrophysicist Stephen Hawking and actresss Rachel Weisz are among Trinity Hall’s graduates. St John’s College After King’s College, St John’s ( 01223-338600; www.joh.cam.ac.uk; St John’s St; adult/child £2.80/1.70; 10am-5pm Mon-Fri, 9.30am-5pm Sat & Sun Mar-Oct, Sat & Sun only Nov-Feb) is one of the city’s most photogenic colleges, and is also the second-biggest after Trinity. Founded in 1511, it sprawls along both banks of the river, joined by the Bridge of Sighs, a masterpiece of stone tracery.

 

England by David Else

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active transport: walking or cycling, Albert Einstein, back-to-the-land, Berlin Wall, British Empire, call centre, car-free, carbon footprint, colonial rule, Columbine, congestion charging, David Attenborough, David Brooks, Etonian, food miles, glass ceiling, haute cuisine, Isaac Newton, James Watt: steam engine, Mahatma Gandhi, new economy, New Urbanism, out of africa, place-making, Skype, South of Market, San Francisco, Stephen Hawking, the market place, trade route, transatlantic slave trade, transatlantic slave trade, unbiased observer, upwardly mobile, urban planning, urban renewal, urban sprawl, Winter of Discontent

The honour roll of famous Cambridge graduates reads like an international who’s who of high achievers: 81 Nobel Prize winners (more than any other institution in the world), 13 British prime ministers, nine archbishops of Canterbury, an immense number of scientists, and a healthy host of poets and authors. Crick and Watson discovered DNA here, Isaac Newton used Cambridge to work on his theory of gravity, Stephen Hawking is a professor of mathematics here, and Charles Darwin, William Wordsworth, Vladimir Nabokov, David Attenborough and John Cleese all studied here. Today the university remains one of the top three for research worldwide, and international academics have polled it as the top university in the world for science. Thanks to some of the earth-shaking discoveries made here, Cambridge is inextricably linked to the history of mankind.

Gonville & Caius College Known locally as Caius (pronounced keys), Gonville and Caius ( 01223-332400; www.cai.cam.ac.uk; Trinity St) was founded twice, first by a priest called Gonville, in 1348, and then again in 1557 by Dr Caius (Keys – it was common for academics to use the Latin form of their names), a brilliant physician who supposedly spoilt his legacy by insisting the college admit no ‘deaf, dumb, deformed, lame, chronic invalids, or Welshmen’! Fortunately for the college his policy didn’t last long, and the wheelchair-using megastar of astrophysics, Stephen Hawking, is now a fellow here. The college is of particular interest thanks to its three fascinating gates: Virtue, Humility and Honour. They symbolise the progress of the good student, since the third gate (the Porta Honoris, a fabulous domed and sundial-sided confection) leads to the Senate House and thus graduation. Trinity Hall College Henry James once wrote of the delightfully diminutive Trinity Hall ( 01223-332500; www.trinhall.cam.ac.uk; Trinity Lane), ‘If I were called upon to mention the prettiest corner of the world, I should draw a thoughtful sigh and point the way to the gardens of Trinity Hall.’

Wedged cosily among the great and the famous, but unconnected to better-known Trinity, it was founded in 1350 as a refuge for lawyers and clerics escaping the ravages of the Black Death, thus earning it the nickname of the ‘Lawyers’ College’. The college’s 16th-century library has original Jacobean reading desks and chained books (an early antitheft device) on the shelves. Writer JB Priestley, astrophysicist Stephen Hawking and actress Rachel Weisz are among Trinity Hall’s graduates. St John’s College After King’s College, St John’s ( 01223-338600; www.joh.cam.ac.uk; St John’s St; adult/child £2.80/1.70; 10am-5pm Mon-Fri, 9.30am-5pm Sat & Sun Mar-Oct, Sat & Sun only Nov-Feb) is one of the city’s most photogenic colleges, and is also the second-biggest after Trinity. Founded in 1511, it sprawls along both banks of the river, joined by the Bridge of Sighs, a masterpiece of stone tracery.

 

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, Grace Hopper, 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, Isaac Newton, Jacques de Vaucanson, job automation, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Law of Accelerating Returns, Mars Rover, 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, Wall-E, Yogi Berra

If you project the current trends even further, Kurzweil claims, we are on track to experience “about twenty thousand years of progress in the twenty-first century, one thousand times more than we did in the twentieth century.” At a certain point, things become so complex we just don’t know what is going to happen. The numbers become so mind-boggling that they simply lose their meaning. We hit the “Singularity.” A SINGULAR SENSATION In astrophysics, a “singularity” is a state in which things become so radically different that the old rules break down and we know virtually nothing. Stephen Hawking, for example, describes black holes as singularities where “the laws of science and our ability to predict the future would break down.” The historic parallel to singularities is “paradigm shifts,” when some concept or new technology comes along that wipes out the old way of understanding things. Galileo’s proof that the Earth rotated around the sun and not the other way around would be an example for astronomy, much as Einstein’s theory of relativity was for physics.

 

pages: 571 words: 162,958

Rewired: The Post-Cyberpunk Anthology by James Patrick Kelly, John Kessel

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back-to-the-land, Columbine, dark matter, Extropian, Firefox, gravity well, haute couture, Internet Archive, pattern recognition, phenotype, post-industrial society, price stability, Silicon Valley, slashdot, Stephen Hawking, technological singularity, telepresence, the scientific method, Turing test, urban renewal, Vernor Vinge, wage slave, Y2K, zero day

Harnnoy spit upon it. “Wouldn’t the oils on your fingers have served as well?” Bash asked. “Sure. But spitting is muy narcocorrido.” “Oh.” The invisible lab in the paper performed an instant DNA analysis on Harnnoy’s saliva, and the door swung open. Inside the unlit windowless room, a flock of glowing floating heads awaited. The faces on the heads were all famous ones: Marilyn Monroe, Stephen Hawking, Britney Spears (the teenage version, not the middle-aged spokesperson for OpiateBusters), President Winfrey, Freeman Dyson, Walt Whitman (the celebrations for his 200th birthday ten years ago had gained him renewed prominence), Woody Woodpecker, SpongeBob SquarePants, Bart Simpson’s son Homer Junior. “Welcome to the lair of the Masqueleros,” ominously intoned a parti-faced Terminator. Bash came to a dead stop, stunned for a moment, before he realized what he was seeing.

 

The Cardinal of the Kremlin by Tom Clancy

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airport security, cuban missile crisis, invisible hand, mutually assured destruction, Stephen Hawking

Number one in his class at West Point, and a doctorate in high-energy physics only two years after that. His doctor's dissertation was classified Top Secret, Jack had read it, and didn't understand why they had bothered-despite a doctorate of his own, the two-hundred-page document might as well have been written in Kurdish. Alan Gregory was already being talked of in the same breath as Cambridge's Stephen Hawking, or Princeton's Freeman Dyson, Except that few people knew his name. Jack wondered if anyone had thought of classifying that. "Major Gregory, all ready?" an Air Force lieutenant general asked. Jack noted his respectful tone. Gregory was no ordinary major. A nervous smile. "Yes, sir." The Major wiped sweaty hands-despite a temperature of fifteen below zero-on the pants of his uniform. It was good to see that the kid had emotions.

 

pages: 506 words: 167,034

Riding Rockets: The Outrageous Tales of a Space Shuttle Astronaut by Mike Mullane

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affirmative action, Berlin Wall, blue-collar work, dark matter, Donald Trump, Donner party, feminist movement, financial independence, invisible hand, Magellanic Cloud, placebo effect, Potemkin village, publish or perish, rolodex, Ronald Reagan, space pen, Stephen Hawking, urban sprawl, Winter of Discontent

John Creighton once commented that to have Hawley in the cockpit was to have a sixth GPC aboard, a play on the fact that the shuttle computer system consisted of only five IBM General Purpose Computers (GPC). Steve had so much brainpower, the space shuttle was hardly enough to occupy him. He found additional challenges. One was to attend professional baseball umpire camp over his vacation (he was a sports addict). It wouldn’t have surprised me to have learned he was also ghostwriting Stephen Hawking’s books. Hawley was held in such high regard by the military TFNGs that the pilots christened him “Attack Astronomer.” Since pilots were particular about their own titles—fighter pilot, attack pilot, gunship pilot—Hawley’s title was an honorific. Steve was recently married to Sally Ride and for the sake of that marriage he was trying to distance himself from us AD bottom feeders. But it was a struggle.

 

pages: 740 words: 217,139

The Origins of Political Order: From Prehuman Times to the French Revolution by Francis Fukuyama

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Admiral Zheng, agricultural Revolution, Andrei Shleifer, Asian financial crisis, Ayatollah Khomeini, barriers to entry, Berlin Wall, blood diamonds, California gold rush, cognitive dissonance, colonial rule, conceptual framework, correlation does not imply causation, currency manipulation / currency intervention, demographic transition, Deng Xiaoping, double entry bookkeeping, equal pay for equal work, European colonialism, failed state, Fall of the Berlin Wall, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, Francisco Pizarro, Hernando de Soto, hiring and firing, invention of agriculture, invention of the printing press, Khyber Pass, labour market flexibility, land reform, land tenure, means of production, offshore financial centre, out of africa, Peace of Westphalia, principal–agent problem, RAND corporation, rent-seeking, Scramble for Africa, spice trade, Stephen Hawking, Steven Pinker, the scientific method, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas L Friedman, Thomas Malthus, trade route, transaction costs, Washington Consensus

Of course, there is no such thing as a pure confrontation with facts, devoid of prior theoretical constructs. Those who think they are empirical in that fashion are deluding themselves. But all too often social science begins with an elegant theory and then searches for facts that will confirm it. This, hopefully, is not the approach I take. There is a perhaps apocryphal story, retold by the physicist Stephen Hawking, about a famous scientist who was giving a public lecture on cosmology when he was interrupted by an old lady at the back of the room who told him he was speaking rubbish, and that the universe was actually a flat disc balanced on the back of a turtle. The scientist thought he could shut her up by asking what the turtle was standing on. She replied, “You’re very clever, young man, but it’s turtles all the way down.”

 

pages: 786 words: 195,810

NeuroTribes: The Legacy of Autism and the Future of Neurodiversity by Steve Silberman

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Albert Einstein, Asperger Syndrome, crowdsourcing, en.wikipedia.org, epigenetics, experimental subject, Golden Gate Park, Haight Ashbury, hypertext link, IBM and the Holocaust, index card, Isaac Newton, megacity, meta analysis, meta-analysis, Mother of all demos, neurotypical, New Journalism, pattern recognition, placebo effect, scientific mainstream, side project, Silicon Valley, Simon Singh, Skype, slashdot, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Steven Levy, Stewart Brand, the scientific method, union organizing, Whole Earth Catalog, women in the workforce, Yom Kippur War

John’s invented a unit of measurement for the number of words that a person might utter in conversation, christening the minimum rate one “Dirac”—one word per hour. But like Cavendish lurking in the shadows at the Monday Club, he would often eavesdrop inconspicuously as his peers swapped stories. Oblivious to contemporary modes of dress, Dirac wore cheap, unstylish suits in all weathers until they were threadbare, even after securing a generous salary as the Lucasian Chair of Mathematics at Cambridge (the position later held by Stephen Hawking). His mother practically had to beg him to buy a winter coat so she could stop fretting about his health. Though he seemed impervious to freezing temperatures, he was acutely sensitive to sounds—particularly the din of barking dogs, which were permanently banned from his household. Dirac’s motor skills were notoriously poor; a classmate described his method of wielding a cricket bat as “peculiarly inept.”

 

pages: 669 words: 210,153

Tools of Titans: The Tactics, Routines, and Habits of Billionaires, Icons, and World-Class Performers by Timothy Ferriss

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Airbnb, artificial general intelligence, asset allocation, Atul Gawande, augmented reality, back-to-the-land, Bernie Madoff, Bertrand Russell: In Praise of Idleness, Black Swan, blue-collar work, Buckminster Fuller, business process, Cal Newport, call centre, Checklist Manifesto, cognitive bias, cognitive dissonance, Colonization of Mars, Columbine, correlation does not imply causation, David Brooks, David Graeber, diversification, diversified portfolio, Donald Trump, effective altruism, Elon Musk, fault tolerance, fear of failure, Firefox, follow your passion, future of work, Google X / Alphabet X, Howard Zinn, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, Jeff Bezos, job satisfaction, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Kevin Kelly, Kickstarter, Lao Tzu, life extension, Mahatma Gandhi, Mark Zuckerberg, Mason jar, Menlo Park, Mikhail Gorbachev, Nicholas Carr, optical character recognition, PageRank, passive income, pattern recognition, Paul Graham, Peter H. Diamandis: Planetary Resources, Peter Singer: altruism, Peter Thiel, phenotype, post scarcity, premature optimization, QWERTY keyboard, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Ray Kurzweil, recommendation engine, rent-seeking, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, risk tolerance, Ronald Reagan, sharing economy, side project, Silicon Valley, skunkworks, Skype, Snapchat, social graph, software as a service, software is eating the world, stem cell, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, Stewart Brand, superintelligent machines, Tesla Model S, The Wisdom of Crowds, Thomas L Friedman, Wall-E, Washington Consensus, Whole Earth Catalog, Y Combinator

“When You Complain, Nobody Wants to Help You” “I was born with spina bifida, which is a congenital birth defect where your vertebrae don’t form around your spinal cord. This is likely attributed to my dad’s exposure to Agent Orange when he was in Vietnam. . . . I did a lot of painting when I was recovering from surgeries, so I had to use interesting techniques, like crawling on the floor to make the painting because I couldn’t stand up. [As a coping mechanism] I tried complaining and being bitter. It didn’t work. It was just terrible. . . . Stephen Hawking actually has the best quote on this and also [a] legitimate story. . . . [He] has the right to complain probably more than anybody. He says that, ‘When you complain, nobody wants to help you,’ and it’s the simplest thing and so plainly spoken. Only he could really say that brutal, honest truth, but it’s true, right? If you spend your time focusing on the things that are wrong, and that’s what you express and project to people you know, you don’t become a source of growth for people, you become a source of destruction for people.

 

pages: 846 words: 232,630

Darwin's Dangerous Idea: Evolution and the Meanings of Life by Daniel C. Dennett

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Albert Einstein, Alfred Russel Wallace, anthropic principle, buy low sell high, cellular automata, combinatorial explosion, complexity theory, computer age, conceptual framework, Conway's Game of Life, Danny Hillis, double helix, Douglas Hofstadter, Drosophila, finite state, Gödel, Escher, Bach, In Cold Blood by Truman Capote, invention of writing, Isaac Newton, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, John von Neumann, Murray Gell-Mann, New Journalism, non-fiction novel, Peter Singer: altruism, phenotype, price mechanism, prisoner's dilemma, QWERTY keyboard, random walk, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, Rodney Brooks, Schrödinger's Cat, Stephen Hawking, Steven Pinker, strong AI, the scientific method, theory of mind, Thomas Malthus, Turing machine, Turing test

The total number of characters per book is close enough to mine (1,312,000 versus 1,000,000) to make no difference. 1 chose my rounder numbers for ease of handling. Borges chose a character set with only 25 members, which is enough for uppercase Spanish (with a blank, a comma, and a period as the only punctuation), but not for English. I chose the more commodious 100 to make room without any doubt for the upper- and lowercase letters and punctuation of all the Roman-alphabet languages. 3. Stephen Hawking (1988, p. 129) insists on putting it this way: "There are something like ten million million million million million million million million million million million million million (1 with eighty zeroes after it) particles in the region of the universe that we can observe." Denton (1985) provides the estimate of 1070 atoms in the observable universe. Eigen (1992, p. 10) calculates the volume of the universe as 1084 cubic centimeters. 4.

 

pages: 1,280 words: 384,105

The Mammoth Book of the Best of Best New SF by Gardner Dozois

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back-to-the-land, Buckminster Fuller, Burning Man, call centre, Columbine, congestion charging, dark matter, Doomsday Book, double helix, Extropian, gravity well, Mason jar, offshore financial centre, out of africa, pattern recognition, phenotype, Silicon Valley, slashdot, Stephen Hawking, telepresence, Turing machine, Turing test, Winter of Discontent, Y2K

He has a Web site at www.JimKelly.net, and reviews Internet-related matters for Asimov’s Science Fiction. Here he gives us the thought-provoking story of a young boy faced with some very tough choices, the sort which turn a boy into a man – and which could also spell the doom of all life on Earth if he chooses wrong. But the best evidence we have that time travel is not possible, and never will be, is that we have not been invaded by hordes of tourists from the future. – Stephen Hawking, “The Future of the Universe” I REMEMBER NOW HOW lonely I was when I met Cross. I never let anyone know about it, because being alone back then didn’t make me quite so unhappy. Besides, I was just a kid. I thought it was my own fault. It looked like I had friends. In 1962, I was on the swim team and got elected Assistant Patrol Leader of the Wolf Patrol in Boy Scout Troop 7. When sides got chosen for kickball at recess, I was usually the fourth or fifth pick.