Stephen Hawking

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pages: 209 words: 68,587

Stephen Hawking by Leonard Mlodinow

Albert Michelson, cosmic microwave background, cosmological constant, cosmological principle, dark matter, Dmitri Mendeleev, Ernest Rutherford, Isaac Newton, Murray Gell-Mann, Nelson Mandela, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman: Challenger O-ring, Stephen Hawking, the scientific method

A Note on Sources I based this book upon my own experiences, supplemented with interviews with fifteen of Stephen’s close friends, carers, and colleagues, each lasting from ninety minutes to eight hours: Sam Blackburn, Bernard Carr, Judith Croasdell, Robert Donovan, Diana Finn, Peter Guzzardi, James Hartle, Elaine Hawking, Don Page, Martin Rees, Vivian Richer, Erhard Seiler, Kip Thorne, Neil Turok, and Radka Visnakova. I also drew background material from two biographies: Kitty Ferguson, Stephen Hawking: His Life and Work (London: Transworld, 2011), and Michael White and John Gribbin, Stephen Hawking: A Life in Science (New York: Pegasus, 2016). For some of the details of Stephen’s life in the 1970s and ’80s, I looked to Jane Hawking, Music to Move the Stars (London: Pan, 2000), and Kip Thorne, Black Holes and Time Warps (New York: Norton, 1994). Finally, I also gleaned a few details from David H. Abramson, “Saving Stephen Hawking,” Harvard Magazine (May 9, 2018); Judy Bachrach, “A Beautiful Mind, an Ugly Possibility,” Vanity Fair (June 2004); and Bernard Carr, “Stephen Hawking: Recollections of a Singular Friend,” Paradigm Explorer (2018/1), 9–13. Generally, I used these references only as background or for looking up facts or as a source for quoting some things Stephen said.

Most of all, I owe a debt to Stephen Hawking for choosing to work with me, and for the warmth and friendship we shared over the years we knew each other. His passing has left a black hole in the lives of all who were his friends. A NOTE ABOUT THE AUTHOR Leonard Mlodinow is a theoretical physicist and was on the faculty of the Max Planck Institute and the California Institute of Technology. His books have been translated into more than thirty languages and have sold more than a million copies. They include the best sellers Subliminal (winner of the PEN/E. O. Wilson Literary Science Writing Award), The Drunkard’s Walk (a New York Times Notable Book), War of the Worldviews (with Deepak Chopra), The Grand Design (with Stephen Hawking), and A Briefer History of Time (with Stephen Hawking), as well as Elastic, The Upright Thinkers, Feynman’s Rainbow, and Euclid’s Window.

ALSO BY LEONARD MLODINOW Elastic: Unlocking Your Brain’s Ability to Embrace Change The Upright Thinkers: The Human Journey from Living in Trees to Understanding the Cosmos Subliminal: How Your Unconscious Mind Rules Your Behavior War of the Worldviews (with Deepak Chopra) The Grand Design (with Stephen Hawking) The Drunkard’s Walk: How Randomness Rules Our Lives 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 This is a work of nonfiction, but the names of certain individuals as well as identifying descriptive details concerning them have been changed to protect their privacy.


pages: 86 words: 14,764

Free-Range Chickens by Simon Rich

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?


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

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, Johannes Kepler, John von Neumann, Lao Tzu, Laplace demon, lone genius, low earth orbit, New Journalism, Norbert Wiener, pets.com, Pierre-Simon Laplace, 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: 144 words: 43,356

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

"Robert Solow", 3D printing, Ada Lovelace, AI winter, Airbnb, artificial general intelligence, augmented reality, barriers to entry, basic income, 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, hedonic treadmill, 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, peer-to-peer, peer-to-peer model, 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, The Future of Employment, theory of mind, Turing machine, Turing test, universal basic income, Vernor Vinge, wage slave, Wall-E, zero-sum game

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.


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Artificial You: AI and the Future of Your Mind by Susan Schneider

artificial general intelligence, brain emulation, Elon Musk, Extropian, hive mind, life extension, megastructure, pattern recognition, Ray Kurzweil, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, silicon-based life, Stephen Hawking, superintelligent machines, technological singularity, The Coming Technological Singularity, theory of mind, Turing machine, Turing test, Whole Earth Review, wikimedia commons

“Search for Artificial Stellar Sources of Infrared Radiation,” Science 131(3414): 1667–1668, https://science.sciencemag.org/content/131/3414/1667. Fukuyama, F. 2002. Our Posthuman Future: Consequences of the Biotechnology Revolution. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux. Garreau, J. 2005. Radical Evolution: The Promise and Peril of Enhancing Our Minds, Our Bodies—and What It Means to Be Human. New York: Doubleday. Guardian, The. 2013. “Stephen Hawking: Brain Could Exist Outside Body,” The Guardian, September 21, https://www.theguardian.com/science/2013/sep/21/stephen-hawking-brain-outside-body. Giles, M. 2018. “The World’s Most Powerful Supercomputer Is Tailor Made for the AI Era,” MIT Technology Review, June 8, 2018. Graham, D. W., ed. 2010. The Texts of Early Greek Philosophy: The Complete Fragments and Selected Testimonies of the Major Presocratics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Hampson R.

In the long term, the tables may turn on humans, and the problem may not be what we could do to harm AIs, but what AI might do to harm us. Indeed, some suspect that synthetic intelligence will be the next phase in the evolution of intelligence on Earth. You and I, how we live and experience the world right now, are just an intermediate step to AI, a rung on the evolutionary ladder. For instance, Stephen Hawking, Nick Bostrom, Elon Musk, Max Tegmark, Bill Gates, and many others have raised “the control problem,” the problem of how humans can control their own AI creations, if the AIs outsmart us.2 Suppose we create an AI that has human-level intelligence. With self-improvement algorithms, and with rapid computations, it could quickly discover ways to become vastly smarter than us, becoming a superintelligence—that is, an AI that outthinks us in every domain.

Even if we could decide on what moral principles to build into our machines, moral programming is difficult to specify in a foolproof way, and any such programming could be rewritten by a superintelligence in any case. A clever machine could bypass safeguards, such as kill switches, and could potentially pose an existential threat to biological life. The control problem is a serious problem—perhaps it is even insurmountable. Indeed, upon reading Bostrom’s compelling book on the control problem, Superintelligence: Paths, Dangers and Strategies,6 scientists and business leaders such as Stephen Hawking and Bill Gates were widely reported by the world media as commenting that superintelligent AI could threaten the human race. At this time, millions of dollars are pouring into organizations devoted to AI safety and some of the finest minds in computer science are working on the problem. Let us consider the implications of the control problem for the SETI project. ACTIVE SETI The usual approach to search for life in the universe is to listen for radio signals from extraterrestrial intelligence.


pages: 310 words: 89,838

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

Albert Einstein, Arthur Eddington, cuban missile crisis, dark matter, Donald Trump, double helix, Ernest Rutherford, Gary Taubes, Isaac Newton, Johannes Kepler, John Conway, John von Neumann, Kickstarter, Menlo Park, Murray Gell-Mann, 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.


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Ant Farm and Other Desperate Situations by Simon Rich

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: 345 words: 75,660

Prediction Machines: The Simple Economics of Artificial Intelligence by Ajay Agrawal, Joshua Gans, Avi Goldfarb

"Robert Solow", Ada Lovelace, AI winter, Air France Flight 447, Airbus A320, artificial general intelligence, autonomous vehicles, basic income, Bayesian statistics, Black Swan, blockchain, call centre, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, Captain Sullenberger Hudson, collateralized debt obligation, computer age, creative destruction, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, data acquisition, data is the new oil, deskilling, disruptive innovation, Elon Musk, en.wikipedia.org, Erik Brynjolfsson, everywhere but in the productivity statistics, Google Glasses, high net worth, ImageNet competition, income inequality, information retrieval, inventory management, invisible hand, job automation, John Markoff, Joseph Schumpeter, Kevin Kelly, Lyft, Minecraft, Mitch Kapor, Moneyball by Michael Lewis explains big data, Nate Silver, new economy, On the Economy of Machinery and Manufactures, pattern recognition, performance metric, profit maximization, QWERTY keyboard, race to the bottom, randomized controlled trial, Ray Kurzweil, ride hailing / ride sharing, Second Machine Age, self-driving car, shareholder value, Silicon Valley, statistical model, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, Steven Levy, strong AI, The Future of Employment, The Signal and the Noise by Nate Silver, Tim Cook: Apple, Turing test, Uber and Lyft, uber lyft, US Airways Flight 1549, Vernor Vinge, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, William Langewiesche, Y Combinator, zero-sum game

On the other hand, that may create frictions in settings where opting in is costly and disadvantages European firms and citizens in markets where AIs with better access to data are more competitive. For all three trade-offs, jurisdictions will have to weigh both sides of the trade and design policies that are most aligned with their overall strategy and the preferences of their citizenry. Notes Chapter 2 1. Stephen Hawking, Stuart Russell, Max Tegmark, and Frank Wilczek, “Stephen Hawking: “Transcedence 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-9313474.html. 2. Paul Mozur, “Beijing Wants A.I. to Be Made in China by 2030,” New York Times, July 20, 2017, https://www.nytimes.com/2017/07/20/business/china-artificial-intelligence.html?

James Vincent, “Elon Musk Says We Need to Regulate AI Before It Becomes a Danger to Humanity,” The Verge, July 17, 2017, https://www.theverge.com/2017/7/17/15980954/elon-musk-ai-regulation-existential-threat. 2. Chris Weller, “One of the Biggest VCs in Silicon Valley Is Launching an Experiment That Will Give 3000 People Free Money Until 2022,” Business Insider, September 21, 2017, http://www.businessinsider.com/y-combinator-basic-income-test-2017-9. 3. Stephen Hawking, “This Is the Most Dangerous Time for Our Planet,” The Guardian, December 1, 2016, https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/dec/01/stephen-hawking-dangerous-time-planet-inequality. 4. “The Onrushing Wave,” The Economist, January 18, 2014, https://www.economist.com/news/briefing/21594264-previous-technological-innovation-has-always-delivered-more-long-run-employment-not-less. 5. For more, see John Markoff, Machines of Loving Grace: The Quest for Common Ground Between Humans and Robots (New York: Harper Collins, 2015); Martin Ford, Rise of the Robots: Technology and the Threat of a Jobless Future (New York: Basic Books, 2016); and Ryan Avent, The Wealth of Humans: Work, Power, and Status in the Twenty-First Century (London: St.

Some technology CEOs experienced their AI moment when they read the headline in January 2014 that Google had just paid more than $600 million to acquire UK-based DeepMind, even though the startup had generated negligible revenue relative to the purchase price but had demonstrated that its AI had learned—on its own, without being programmed—to play certain Atari video games with superhuman performance. Some regular citizens experienced their AI moment later that year when renowned physicist Stephen Hawking emphatically explained, “[E]verything that civilisation has to offer is a product of human intelligence … [S]uccess in creating AI would be the biggest event in human history.”1 Others experienced their AI moment the first time they took their hands off the wheel of a speeding Tesla, navigating traffic using Autopilot AI. The Chinese government experienced its AI moment when it witnessed DeepMind’s AI, AlphaGo, beating Lee Se-dol, a South Korean master of the board game Go, and then later that year beating the world’s top-ranked player, Ke Jie of China.


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The Fourth Age: Smart Robots, Conscious Computers, and the Future of Humanity by Byron Reese

agricultural Revolution, AI winter, artificial general intelligence, basic income, Buckminster Fuller, business cycle, business process, Claude Shannon: information theory, clean water, cognitive bias, computer age, crowdsourcing, dark matter, Elon Musk, Eratosthenes, estate planning, financial independence, first square of the chessboard, first square of the chessboard / second half of the chessboard, full employment, Hans Rosling, income inequality, invention of agriculture, invention of movable type, invention of the printing press, invention of writing, Isaac Newton, Islamic Golden Age, James Hargreaves, job automation, Johannes Kepler, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, John Maynard Keynes: technological unemployment, John von Neumann, Kevin Kelly, lateral thinking, life extension, Louis Pasteur, low skilled workers, manufacturing employment, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, Marshall McLuhan, Mary Lou Jepsen, Moravec's paradox, On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres, pattern recognition, profit motive, Ray Kurzweil, recommendation engine, Rodney Brooks, Sam Altman, self-driving car, Silicon Valley, Skype, spinning jenny, Stephen Hawking, Steve Wozniak, Steven Pinker, strong AI, technological singularity, telepresence, telepresence robot, The Future of Employment, the scientific method, Turing machine, Turing test, universal basic income, Von Neumann architecture, Wall-E, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, women in the workforce, working poor, Works Progress Administration, Y Combinator

Some of these phrases and concepts probably show up in your news feed every day. Sometimes the narratives are positive, full of hope for the future. Other times they are fearful and dystopian. And this dichotomy is puzzling. The experts on these various topics, all intelligent and informed people, make predictions about the future that are not just a little different, but that are dramatically different and diametrically opposed to each other. So, why do Elon Musk, Stephen Hawking, and Bill Gates fear artificial intelligence (AI) and express concern that it may be a threat to humanity’s survival in the near future? And yet, why do an equally illustrious group, including Mark Zuckerberg, Andrew Ng, and Pedro Domingos, find this viewpoint so farfetched as to be hardly even worth a rebuttal? Zuckerberg goes so far as to call people who peddle doomsday scenarios “pretty irresponsible,” while Andrew Ng, one of the greatest minds in AI alive today, says that such concerns are like worrying about “overpopulation on Mars.”

Many people find the idea that we are machines to be unsettling and even a bit offensive. Others, however, fully embrace it. Marvin Minsky, who was an AI researcher for over half a century and truly one of the giants in the field, often referred to humans as “meat machines.” He meant it literally. Ray Kurzweil longs for the day he can back up his “mind file” onto a computer, to be restored if he has an untimely death. Stephen Hawking said it plainly: “I regard the brain as a computer which will stop working when its components fail. There is no heaven or afterlife for broken-down computers; that is a fairy story for people afraid of the dark.” The list goes on and on. To many, this is the inescapable conclusion of a reductionist view of the world. But if we are machines, can we build one? And if we did build one, would it be creative, and have a mind and a will of its own?

If possibility one comes about, everyone is in the same boat. But for this scenario to happen, by definition, it will also have to be a time of immense economic growth. If we build machines to do just about everything, we will have done so only if the machines are cheaper and better than workers. So if we all lose our jobs to machines, it would by definition be in a world in which GNP is skyrocketing. But there is a concern. Stephen Hawking said it well: Everyone can enjoy a life of luxurious leisure if the machine-produced wealth is shared, or most people can end up miserably poor if the machine-owners successfully lobby against wealth redistribution. What is likely to happen? What if the world bifurcates into the extremely rich machine owners and the rest of us, the 99.9 percent who are now unemployed, broke, and more than a bit PO’ed about the whole sorry state of affairs?


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The World According to Physics by Jim Al-Khalili

accounting loophole / creative accounting, Albert Einstein, butterfly effect, clockwork universe, cognitive dissonance, cosmic microwave background, cosmological constant, dark matter, double helix, Ernest Rutherford, Fellow of the Royal Society, germ theory of disease, gravity well, Internet of things, Isaac Newton, Murray Gell-Mann, publish or perish, Richard Feynman, Schrödinger's Cat, Stephen Hawking, supercomputer in your pocket, the scientific method

Our growing understanding yields a growing understanding of our ignorance! In some ways, as I will explain, this is the situation we have in physics right now. We are currently at a moment in history when many physicists see, if not a crisis in the subject, then at least the building up of a head of steam. It feels as though something has to give. A few decades ago, prominent physicists such as Stephen Hawking were asking, ‘Is the end in sight for theoretical physics?’2 with a ‘theory of everything’ potentially just around the corner. They said it was just a matter of dotting the ‘i’s and crossing the ‘t’s. But they were wrong, and not for the first time. Physicists had expressed similar sentiments towards the end of the nineteenth century; then along came an explosion of new discoveries (the electron, radioactivity, and X-rays) that couldn’t be explained by the physics known at the time and which ushered in the birth of modern physics.

CHAPTER 2 SCALE Unlike philosophy, logic, or pure mathematics, physics is both an empirical and a quantitative science.1 It relies on the testing and verification of ideas through reproducible observation, measurement, and experimentation. While physicists can sometimes propose exotic or outlandish mathematical theories, the only true measure of their efficacy and power is whether they describe phenomena in the real world against which we can test them. This is why Stephen Hawking never won a Nobel Prize for his work in the mid-1970s on the way black holes radiate energy, a phenomenon known as Hawking radiation: the Nobel is only awarded to theories or discoveries that have been confirmed experimentally. Likewise, Peter Higgs and others who made a similar prediction had to wait half a century for the existence of the Higgs boson to be confirmed at the Large Hadron Collider.

Today, physics has given us a demystified explanation of how the universe began, with overwhelming observational evidence to back it up. But did the Big Bang itself have a cause? Was there something that triggered the birth of our universe in the first place? The simplest answer is that there was no ‘before’ the Big Bang, for it marked the birth of both space and time. An idea put forward by Stephen Hawking and James Hartle, called the ‘no boundary’ proposal, states that, as we wind back the clock closer and closer to the Big Bang, time begins to lose its meaning and becomes more like a dimension of space. We therefore end up with smooth four-dimensional space at a point of the universe’s origin. So it is meaningless to ask what happened before the Big Bang, in the same way that it is meaningless to ask what point on the surface of the Earth lies south of the South Pole.


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A Brief History of Time by Stephen Hawking

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, Johannes Kepler, Magellanic Cloud, Murray Gell-Mann, 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: 339 words: 94,769

Possible Minds: Twenty-Five Ways of Looking at AI by John Brockman

AI winter, airport security, Alan Turing: On Computable Numbers, with an Application to the Entscheidungsproblem, artificial general intelligence, Asilomar, autonomous vehicles, basic income, Benoit Mandelbrot, Bill Joy: nanobots, Buckminster Fuller, cellular automata, Claude Shannon: information theory, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, Danny Hillis, David Graeber, easy for humans, difficult for computers, Elon Musk, Eratosthenes, Ernest Rutherford, finite state, friendly AI, future of work, Geoffrey West, Santa Fe Institute, gig economy, income inequality, industrial robot, information retrieval, invention of writing, James Watt: steam engine, Johannes Kepler, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, John Maynard Keynes: technological unemployment, John von Neumann, Kevin Kelly, Kickstarter, Laplace demon, Loebner Prize, market fundamentalism, Marshall McLuhan, Menlo Park, Norbert Wiener, optical character recognition, pattern recognition, personalized medicine, Picturephone, profit maximization, profit motive, RAND corporation, random walk, Ray Kurzweil, Richard Feynman, Rodney Brooks, self-driving car, sexual politics, Silicon Valley, Skype, social graph, speech recognition, statistical model, Stephen Hawking, Steven Pinker, Stewart Brand, strong AI, superintelligent machines, supervolcano, technological singularity, technoutopianism, telemarketer, telerobotics, the scientific method, theory of mind, Turing machine, Turing test, universal basic income, Upton Sinclair, Von Neumann architecture, Whole Earth Catalog, Y2K, zero-sum game

THE EVOLVING AI NARRATIVE Things have changed—and they remain the same. Now AI is everywhere. We have the Internet. We have our smartphones. The founders of the dominant companies—the companies that hold “the whip that lashes us”—have net worths of $65 billion, $90 billion, $130 billion. High-profile individuals such as Elon Musk, Nick Bostrom, Martin Rees, Eliezer Yudkowsky, and the late Stephen Hawking have issued dire warnings about AI, resulting in the ascendancy of well-funded institutes tasked with promoting “Nice AI.” But will we, as a species, be able to control a fully realized, unsupervised, self-improving AI? Wiener’s warnings and admonitions in The Human Use of Human Beings are now very real, and they need to be looked at anew by researchers at the forefront of the AI revolution.

The failure of the initial overly optimistic predictions of AI dampened talk about the technological singularity for a few decades, but since the 2005 publication of Ray Kurzweil’s The Singularity IS Near, the idea of technological advance leading to superintelligence is back in force. Some believers, Kurzweil included, regard this singularity as an opportunity: Humans can merge their brains with the superintelligence and thereby live forever. Others, such as Stephen Hawking and Elon Musk, worried that this superintelligence would prove to be malign and regarded it as the greatest existing threat to human civilization. Still others, including some of the contributors to the present volume, think such talk is overblown. Wiener’s lifework and his failure to predict its consequences are intimately bound up in the idea of an impending technological singularity.

Opaque learning systems may get us to Babylon, but not to Athens. Chapter 3 THE PURPOSE PUT INTO THE MACHINE STUART RUSSELL Stuart Russell is a professor of computer science and Smith-Zadeh Professor in Engineering at UC Berkeley. He is the co-author (with Peter Norvig) of Artificial Intelligence: A Modern Approach. Computer scientist Stuart Russell, along with Elon Musk, Stephen Hawking, Max Tegmark, and numerous others, has insisted that attention be paid to the potential dangers in creating an intelligence on the superhuman (or even the human) level—an AGI, or artificial general intelligence, whose programmed purposes may not necessarily align with our own. His early work was on understanding the notion of “bounded optimality” as a formal definition of intelligence that you can work on.


pages: 315 words: 92,151

Ten Billion Tomorrows: How Science Fiction Technology Became Reality and Shapes the Future by Brian Clegg

Albert Einstein, anthropic principle, Brownian motion, call centre, Carrington event, combinatorial explosion, don't be evil, Ernest Rutherford, experimental subject, game design, gravity well, hive mind, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, Johannes Kepler, John von Neumann, Kickstarter, nuclear winter, pattern recognition, RAND corporation, Ray Kurzweil, RFID, Richard Feynman, Schrödinger's Cat, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, silicon-based life, speech recognition, stem cell, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, Turing test

One concept that stretched credibility to its extreme was the holodeck. This provided a bridge between computing and the real world, combining virtual reality with a physical environment, using force fields to simulate real objects and giving the “player” a unique experience that could take them to the African veldt or a nineteenth-century saloon—or, as the character Data famously did, put them in a poker game with Isaac Newton, Albert Einstein, and Stephen Hawking—played by the actual scientist and Star Trek fan. Like much science fiction, Star Trek had, ever since the original series, taken shields and tractor beams for granted. We’ll come back to the difficulties with creating a holodeck a little later, but let’s make a start with the basics that would be needed to make it work. Force fields, shields, and tractor beams are all common fictional ways to manipulate objects around us without using matter.

Often in science fiction of the pulp era, this included a strong urge to run off with “our women,” reflecting both the gender attitudes of the time and the fact that the alien invaders were really little more than a Viking invader from a previous century, dressed up in a different costume, but still out to burn, rape, and pillage. (And possibly also reflecting the appeal to the typical readers of the pulp magazines of a cover image showing a scantily clad woman being attacked by an alien.) One way that this science fiction trope of the alien marauder putting human life at risk has strongly leaked out into the real world of science was in the warning of the danger we face from aliens that came from the physicist Stephen Hawking. In 2010, Hawking raised a few eyebrows by suggesting in a documentary for the Discovery Channel that any alien visitors could simply be interested in making use of our resources, commenting: “If aliens visit us, the outcome would be much as when Columbus landed in America, which didn’t turn out well for the Native Americans.” As we will see, just as portrayed in some science fiction, we have actively sent messages out into space in the hope they will be intercepted by aliens, but Hawking suggested that instead of sending out a welcome, we should be attempting to conceal ourselves as much as possible to minimize the chances of contact.

Two other possible techniques aliens could use once they spotted that the Sun had planets would be to compare the day and nighttime brightness of the planet—less differentiated when there is large amount of artificial light used—and to use the spectroscopic analysis of light from the Sun that has passed through our atmosphere to deduce its chemical composition and likelihood that this was consistent with an advanced civilization. We certainly can’t truly hide, as Stephen Hawking seems to want us to, but equally we are a small planet in a not particularly distinguished part of the Milky Way—so any aliens on the lookout for other inhabited planets would probably need to be fairly lucky to spot us. Which begs the question of what is happening in the field of flying saucers and alien visits. There is a powerful link between science fiction and apparent reality here, because a lot of reports of aliens and their craft tend to follow trends in how extraterrestrial visitors are described in fiction.


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The Fourth Industrial Revolution by Klaus Schwab

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, commoditize, conceptual framework, continuous integration, crowdsourcing, digital twin, disintermediation, disruptive innovation, 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, mass immigration, 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, Sam Altman, 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, supercomputer in your pocket, TaskRabbit, The Future of Employment, The Spirit Level, total factor productivity, transaction costs, Uber and Lyft, uber 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: 433 words: 124,454

The Burning Answer: The Solar Revolution: A Quest for Sustainable Power by Keith Barnham

Albert Einstein, Arthur Eddington, carbon footprint, credit crunch, decarbonisation, distributed generation, en.wikipedia.org, energy security, Ernest Rutherford, hydraulic fracturing, hydrogen economy, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Isaac Newton, James Watt: steam engine, Kickstarter, Naomi Klein, off grid, oil shale / tar sands, Richard Feynman, Schrödinger's Cat, Silicon Valley, Stephen Hawking, the scientific method, uranium enrichment, wikimedia commons

There are plenty of popular books about quantum theory, but few about Maxwell’s equations. Stephen Hawking’s A Brief History of Time and Peter Atkins’s Galileo’s Finger: The Ten Great Ideas of Science each devote only one paragraph to Maxwell’s theory. Yet Maxwell’s equations and quantum ideas together underpin all the technological breakthroughs of the semiconductor revolution. The silicon chip, laptop computers and mobile phones all depend for their operation on Maxwell’s equations and quantum theory. Perhaps popular physics authors so rarely explain Maxwell’s revolutionary picture of the waves that make up sunlight because four complicated mathematical equations are needed to explain his theory. In A Brief History of Time, Stephen Hawking says that the book only contains one equation, E = mc2, because ‘Someone told me that each equation I included in the book would halve the sales’.

The leading US semiconductor company JDSU announced at the CPV9 conference in Miyazaki, Japan in April 2013 that they had manufactured 42.5 per cent efficient triple junction cells with the QuantaSol quantum well technology in both the top and middle subcells [8]. The sunlight to electrical power conversion efficiency of these concentrator cells is three times that of a typical 14 per cent efficient silicon panel on rooftops today. At the same conference, the average efficiency of the cells manufactured by the rival company that holds the world record (44 per cent) for one research cell was reported to be lower than 42.5 per cent [9]. 1. Stephen Hawking, Stephen Hawking’s Universe, Part I, ‘Aliens’, Channel 4, 18 September 2010. 2. Brian Cox and Jeff Forshaw, Why Does E = Mc2? (and why should we care?), Da Capo Press Inc. (2009). 3. Bill Bryson, A Short History of Nearly Everything, Doubleday (2003). 4. Jeremy Leggett, Half Gone: Oil, Gas, Hot Air and the Global Energy Crisis, Portobello Books (2005). 5. Jeremy Leggett, The Energy of Nations: Risk Blindness and the Road to Renaissance, Routledge (2014). 6.

News stories keep reminding us of the seriousness of these threats: reports of shrinking ice caps, famine in East Africa, a hurricane in New York, thousands killed by a typhoon in the Philippines, revolutions in countries on which we depend for oil and the proliferation of nuclear weapons to North Korea and possibly Iran. Environmental disasters have occurred in the Gulf of Mexico and downwind of the nuclear reactors in Fukushima. There is environmental damage from coal burning, fracking, shale-oil extraction, deforestation and drilling for fossil fuels in sensitive environments. E = mc2: There is an alternative Stephen Hawking, the famous cosmologist, made an important conjecture about one of these three existential threats when he speculated about alien civilisations elsewhere in the cosmos. He posed the question: if more advanced civilisations do exist somewhere in the cosmos, why have none of them yet colonised our earth? Hawking’s answer is that they have all discovered the equation E = mc2, which is the key to both nuclear power and nuclear weapons, and blown themselves up.


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Filthy Rich: A Powerful Billionaire, the Sex Scandal That Undid Him, and All the Justice That Money Can Buy: The Shocking True Story of Jeffrey Epstein by James Patterson, John Connolly, Tim Malloy

Bernie Madoff, corporate raider, Donald Trump, East Village, Elon Musk, Isaac Newton, Jeffrey Epstein, Julian Assange, Murray Gell-Mann, Ponzi scheme, Stephen Hawking, WikiLeaks

Epstein had been hosting get-togethers like this for years. Toward the end of Chief Reiter’s investigation, in March of 2006, Epstein had hosted twenty top physicists—including three Nobel Prize winners as well as the celebrity physicist Stephen Hawking—at a Saint Thomas symposium called “Confronting Gravity,” which was advertised as “a workshop to explore fundamental questions in physics and cosmology.” “This is a remarkable group,” one of the Nobel Prize winners told a reporter for the St. Thomas Source. “There is no agenda except fun and physics, and that’s fun with a capital F,” Epstein said. Epstein had been especially interested in Stephen Hawking. Someday, Hawking had theorized, the universe would stop expanding and collapse, at which point time would begin to run backwards. Hawking believed that computer viruses were living things.

Isabel is Ghislaine Maxwell’s sister and the daughter of Robert Maxwell. It was an odd thing, Epstein’s association with this self-professed PhD who, on closer inspection, turned out to be a bit of a grifter. But the Mindshift conference that Epstein and Seckel hosted in the Virgin Islands did take place, in 2010. Murray Gell-Mann was there, along with Leonard Mlodinow, a physicist who coauthored books with Stephen Hawking. Gerald Sussman, an expert on artificial intelligence who taught at MIT and also attended the conference, said that he didn’t remember too much about it. “We had scientific discussions, talked about various things,” he said vaguely. When Mark Oppenheimer asked him if he’d given money to Seckel, Sussman “got testy” with the reporter. “I have had some dealings with him,” Sussman said. “I don’t want to say what it’s about, because I don’t feel good about it, okay?”

Several recipients of Epstein’s charitable contributions, including New York’s Mount Sinai Hospital and Ballet Palm Beach, announced that they would not be accepting new gifts. “The further I can keep myself from anything like that the better,” said Ballet Palm Beach founder Colleen Smith. But in 2012, Epstein held one more conference on Little Saint Jeff’s. Once again, three Nobel Prize winners were in attendance. Stephen Hawking was also there. All in all, Epstein had gathered twenty-one physicists—from Princeton, Harvard, MIT, and CERN (the European Organization for Nuclear Research)—to “determine what the consensus is, if any, for defining gravity.” According to a press release issued by Epstein’s foundation, the consensus that did emerge was that space is “not quite empty.” CHAPTER 62 Jeffrey Epstein: February 2, 2011 It’s Groundhog Day, and once-reclusive Jeffrey Epstein is hitting the peak of his fame in a ripped-from-the-headlines episode of Law & Order: SVU that tracks, eerily well, with his own legal history.


pages: 315 words: 89,861

The Simulation Hypothesis by Rizwan Virk

3D printing, Albert Einstein, Apple II, artificial general intelligence, augmented reality, Benoit Mandelbrot, bioinformatics, butterfly effect, discovery of DNA, Dmitri Mendeleev, Elon Musk, en.wikipedia.org, Ernest Rutherford, game design, Google Glasses, Isaac Newton, John von Neumann, Kickstarter, mandelbrot fractal, Marc Andreessen, Minecraft, natural language processing, Pierre-Simon Laplace, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Ray Kurzweil, Richard Feynman, Schrödinger's Cat, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, Silicon Valley, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, technological singularity, Turing test, Vernor Vinge, Zeno's paradox

Quantum Physics and the Idea of a “Subjective Reality” Today, given the pace of technological progress in video games and computers since Dick’s time, science fiction writers are not alone in believing that we are all living in a simulation. Many prominent scholars and renowned physicists are voicing their beliefs that we live in a sophisticated simulation. The celebrated physicist and author of A Brief History of Time, Stephen Hawking, speculated that we have a 50 percent chance of being in a simulated reality. He’s not the only well-known physicist to think so. Host of the new Cosmos, Neil deGrasse Tyson, has said that he thinks it’s very likely that the universe is a simulation. The assertions of such well-known scientists are notable and led me to explore what quantum physics might reveal about the simulation hypothesis.

In 2013, a team of researchers at MIT, while researching Alzheimer’s, found that they could implant false memories in the brains of mice. According to Susumu Tonegawa, professor of Biology and Neuroscience at MIT, these false memories end up having the same neural structure as real memories.9 If our memories of the past can be modified, does this also mean that the past can effectively be modified? Is there a meaningful distinction between these two? Stephen Hawking raises the point that his research into black holes brought up a disturbing aspect of information loss of particles that go in to but do not come out of a black hole. “If determinism breaks down, we can’t be sure of our past history either,” Hawking said. “The history books and our memories could just be illusions. It is the past that tells us who we are. Without it, we lose our identity.”10 In common life, we are used to thinking of time as flowing from the past to the present to the future and that nothing in the future can affect what has happened in the past.

Parallel Lives and Future Selves: The Great Game If parallel universes are being created each time we make a major decision (or a minor one, in the realm of quantum physics), then there is a directed graph of multiple universes that are branching out, as shown in Figure 23. This would imply that each branch gets branched again, and we end up with an ever-increasing number of universes each time a quantum decision is made. However, one theory, which was the subject of one of Stephen Hawking’s final papers, is that the actual number of parallel universes may not be infinite but limited to a smaller number. This idea of a limited number of parallel universes—based on a limited number of different configurations of particles (and/or at a higher level) and a limited number of choices—implies that even though every quantum decision spawns a universe, some of these universes are similar.


Exoplanets by Donald Goldsmith

Albert Einstein, Albert Michelson, Carrington event, Colonization of Mars, cosmic abundance, dark matter, Dava Sobel, en.wikipedia.org, Isaac Newton, Johannes Kepler, Kickstarter, Kuiper Belt, Magellanic Cloud, Mars Rover, megastructure, Pluto: dwarf planet, race to the bottom, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, Solar eclipse in 1919, Stephen Hawking

,” New York Times, November 26, 2017. 16. Sagi Kfir, “Is Asteroid Mining L ­ egal? The Truth B ­ ehind Title IV of the Commercial Space Launch Competitiveness Act of 2015,” available at http://­deepspaceindustries​.­com​/­is​-­asteroid​-­mining​-­legal​/­. 17. Peter Holley, “Stephen Hawking Just Gave Humanity a Due Date for Finding Another Planet,” Washington Post, November 17, 2016. 18. Sara Fecht, “Stephen Hawking Says We Have 100 Years to Colonize a New Planet—­Or Die. Can We Do It?,” Popu­lar Science, May 4, 2017, available at http://­www​.­popsci​.­com​/­stephen​-­hawking​-­human​ -­extinction​-­colonize​-­mars. 19. Freeman Dyson interview, May 8, 2017. 242 FURTHER R EADING Batygin, Konstantin, Gregory Laughlin, and Alessandro Morbidelli. “Born of Chaos: New Evidence Suggests the Solar System’s Early Eras ­Were Defined by Wandering Worlds and Staggering Displays of Interplanetary Destruction.”

His team now inclines t­oward descriptors for t­ hese varied potential travelers that include “Starlight,” “Moonlight,” and (you guessed it) “Redlight.” Many who have heard of Lubin’s plans associate them with the publicity boost that they received in April 2016, when the Russian-­ born technologist Yuri Milner announced his support for this laser-­launched initiative. With an impressive board of advisors that included Stephen Hawking, Freeman Dyson, Martin Rees, former astronaut Pete Worden, and the Nobel-­prizewinning physicists Stephen Chu and Saul Perlmutter, Milner’s proj­ect drew immediate public attention for its projected happy outcome, its pledge of $100 million to support Lubin’s goals, and its claim that success could occur within the next generation of space explorers. If this funding materializes, it could indeed give a significant boost to the interstellar dream that Lubin hopes to make real­ity.

Any reasonable prediction of the uncertain f­uture of humanity places the colonization of exoplanets at least a few centuries in our ­future, when (so dreams are made) spacecraft carry­ing would-be colonists on hundred-­light-­year journeys ­toward other worlds ­will set out from what might be an Earth d ­ ying as the result of previous h ­ uman activities, including the extraction and consumption of once-­buried minerals. To t­hose who find ­these notions entirely fanciful, we cite the statement that Stephen Hawking made in 2016: “Although the chance of a disaster to planet Earth in a given year may be quite low, it adds up over time, and becomes a near certainty in the next thousand or ten thousand years. By that time we should have spread out into space, and to other stars, so a disaster on Earth would not mean the end of the h ­ uman race.”17 Looking t­oward the comparatively near ­future, Hawking stated that if humanity hopes to avoid extinction, we must plan to become a multiplanet species within the next ­century, presumably by colonizing Mars.18 To this apocalyptic vision, the physicist Freeman Dyson offers a single word of judgment: “rubbish!”


How to Make a Spaceship: A Band of Renegades, an Epic Race, and the Birth of Private Spaceflight by Julian Guthrie

Albert Einstein, Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic, Ayatollah Khomeini, Berlin Wall, Charles Lindbergh, cosmic microwave background, crowdsourcing, Doomsday Book, Elon Musk, fear of failure, Frank Gehry, gravity well, high net worth, Iridium satellite, Isaac Newton, Jacquard loom, Jeff Bezos, Johannes Kepler, Leonard Kleinrock, life extension, low earth orbit, Mark Shuttleworth, Menlo Park, meta analysis, meta-analysis, Murray Gell-Mann, Oculus Rift, orbital mechanics / astrodynamics, packet switching, Peter H. Diamandis: Planetary Resources, pets.com, private space industry, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman: Challenger O-ring, Ronald Reagan, side project, Silicon Valley, South of Market, San Francisco, stealth mode startup, stem cell, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, urban planning

ALSO BY JULIAN GUTHRIE The Billionaire and the Mechanic The Grace of Everyday Saints PENGUIN PRESS An imprint of Penguin Random House LLC 375 Hudson Street New York, New York 10014 penguin.com Copyright © 2016 by Julian Guthrie Preface copyright © 2016 by Richard Branson Afterword copyright © 2016 by Stephen Hawking Penguin supports copyright. Copyright fuels creativity, encourages diverse voices, promotes free speech, and creates a vibrant culture. Thank you for buying an authorized edition of this book and for complying with copyright laws by not reproducing, scanning, or distributing any part of it in any form without permission. You are supporting writers and allowing Penguin to continue to publish books for every reader. ISBN 9781594206726 (hardcover) ISBN 9780698405851 (e-book) Version_1 To the memory of my late father, Wayne Guthrie, and to my mother, Connie Guthrie.

Contents Also by Julian Guthrie Title Page Copyright Dedication Foreword by Richard Branson Prologue Mojave Desert PART ONE THE INFINITE CORRIDOR One Unruly Two Early Regrets Three Pete in Space Four Mojave Magic Five Space Medicine Six Being a Lindbergh Seven A Career in Orbit Eight Struggles in the Real World Nine Meeting the Magician Ten An Out-of-This-World Idea PART TWO THE ART OF THE IMPOSSIBLE Eleven Eyes on the Prize Twelve Cowboy Pilot Thirteen History Repeats Itself Fourteen The Space Derby Fifteen Epiphanies in the Mojave Sixteen Peter’s Pitches Seventeen A Lindbergh Sculpts a Dream Eighteen Peter Blasts Off Nineteen Elon’s Inspiration Twenty Burt and Paul’s Big Adventure Twenty-one A Lifeline for the XPRIZE Twenty-two A Display of Hardware Twenty-three Another Lindbergh Takes Flight Twenty-four A Hole in One PART THREE A RACE TO REMEMBER Twenty-five A Fire to Be Ignited Twenty-six The Test of a Lifetime Twenty-seven Flirting with Calamity Twenty-eight Power Struggles Twenty-nine In Pursuit of a Masterpiece Thirty One for the Money Thirty-one Rocketing to Redemption Thirty-two Hallowed Company Epilogue: Where Are They Now? Afterword: Space, Here I Come! by Stephen Hawking Photographs Author’s Note Acknowledgments Index Foreword by Richard Branson Prizes have spurred great milestones and launched industries. The British government’s Longitude Prize, offered in 1714, ended up saving both sailors’ lives and ships. I was already a believer that prizes can make an incredible difference when Peter Diamandis came to see me about funding his $10 million XPRIZE.

(HLI), is a genomics-, stem-cell-, and machine-learning-driven company focused on “extending the healthy human lifespan.” HLI is Peter’s mechanism for achieving longevity—his Harvard Medical School redux—so he can one day be assured his trip to space. In addition, the ZERO-G Corporation has flown more than fifteen thousand people, ages nine to ninety-three, into weightlessness. In 2007, Peter and Byron Lichtenberg flew Professor Stephen Hawking, the world’s expert on gravity, into zero gravity. ZERO-G is now the sole provider of parabolic flight services to NASA. Peter lives in Santa Monica, is the best-selling coauthor of Abundance and Bold, and travels the globe talking to Fortune 500 CEOs and advising entrepreneurs. He and his wife, Kristen, have twin boys, Jet and Dax. —Erik Lindbergh’s lifelong quest to escape from the gravity of life inspired him to start a new venture called Escape from Gravity.


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It Doesn't Have to Be Crazy at Work by Jason Fried, David Heinemeier Hansson

8-hour work day, Airbnb, Atul Gawande, Community Supported Agriculture, David Heinemeier Hansson, Jeff Bezos, market design, remote working, Ruby on Rails, Silicon Valley, Stephen Hawking, web application

Available at http://www.annualreviews.org/userimages/ContentEditor/1299600853298/SandraFaberInterviewTranscript.pdf. Accessed June 2018. Atul Gawande Cunningham, Lillian. “Atul Gawande on the Ultimate End Game.” The Washington Post, October 16, 2014. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/on-leadership/wp/2014/10/16/atul-gawande-on-what-leadership-means-in-medicine/?utm_term=.8a7ee359539e. Accessed June 2018. Stephen Hawking Newport, Cal. “Stephen Hawking’s Productive Laziness.” Study Hacks Blog, January 11, 2017. http://calnewport.com/blog/2017/01/11/stephen-hawkings-productive-laziness/. Accessed June 2018. Yuki Kawauchi Barker, Sarah. “What the World’s Most Famous Amateur Can Teach Pro Runners.” Deadspin, January 9, 2018. https://deadspin.com/yuki-kawauchi-can-teach-you-how-to-run-1821725233. Accessed June 2018. Tony Kushner Brodsky, Katherine. “Fast Scenes, Slow Heart.” Stage Directions: The Art and Technology of Theatre, March 31, 2010. http://stage-directions.com/current-issue/106-plays-a-playwriting/2258-fast-scenes-slow-heart.html.


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Neutrino Hunters: The Thrilling Chase for a Ghostly Particle to Unlock the Secrets of the Universe by Ray Jayawardhana

Albert Einstein, Alfred Russel Wallace, anti-communist, Arthur Eddington, cosmic microwave background, dark matter, Ernest Rutherford, invention of the telescope, Isaac Newton, Johannes Kepler, Magellanic Cloud, New Journalism, race to the bottom, random walk, Richard Feynman, Schrödinger's Cat, Skype, Solar eclipse in 1919, South China Sea, Stephen Hawking, undersea cable, uranium enrichment

The “rules” of the standard model suggest that interactions between particles conserve the baryon number and the lepton number: in other words, the total baryon and lepton number of everything you started with should equal the total baryon and lepton number of all that’s left at the end. But if these rules were strictly true, we wouldn’t be here! At some point in the very early universe, there had to be some reactions that didn’t obey these conservation rules perfectly, in order to account for the dominance of matter over antimatter that we see today. The story of antimatter began with Paul Dirac, whom Stephen Hawking once described as “probably the greatest British theoretical physicist since Newton.” Dirac was born in 1902, in Bristol, in the southwest of England, where his father, a Swiss immigrant, was a French teacher and his mother was a librarian. Dirac didn’t get along well with his father, who was rather strict and demanded that his children speak to him only in French. As a result of his father’s authoritarian manner, Dirac’s childhood was not a happy one.

Scientists hoped that if they collided particles with enough energy in a particle accelerator, that would create a strong enough perturbation in the Higgs field to observe the Higgs boson. Unfortunately, the Higgs field theory provided little guidance to experimentalists: it did not specify the mass of the Higgs boson, so they did not know how energetic the collisions would have to be for it be detectable. Some prominent scientists were skeptical that it would ever be identified. Stephen Hawking, for one, wagered a hundred dollars against Gordon Kane of the University of Michigan, a proponent of Higgs, that the particle would not be found. Finding the Higgs boson, or ruling out its existence, was a top priority for the LHC, built over a decade at a cost of nearly $9 billion with the help of thousands of scientists and engineers. Not surprisingly, when CERN scheduled a press conference on July 4, 2012, many people expected it to announce the discovery of this long-sought particle.

The ATLAS detector, one of the two experiments at the Large Hadron Collider that found evidence for the Higgs boson (cern) Peter Higgs, who was in his eighties by this point, was a guest of honor at the announcement along with two other theorists who had predicted the particle’s existence, and attendees witnessed him wiping away a tear of joy. “It’s certainly been a long wait,” he said at a press conference in Edinburgh a couple of days later. “At the beginning I had no idea whether a discovery would be made in my lifetime, because we knew so little at the beginning about where this particle might be in mass, and therefore how high energy machines would have to go before it could be discovered,” he added. Stephen Hawking paid up his bet with Gordon Kane. Like many other physicists, Hawking agreed that tracking down the Higgs boson was a major milestone in the history of physics. However, in an interview with the BBC, he also noted the flip side of what the discovery meant: “But it is a pity in a way because the great advances in physics have come from experiments that gave results we didn’t expect.” New data from the LHC, since the initial announcement, have firmed up the Higgs detection beyond a reasonable doubt.


There Is No Planet B: A Handbook for the Make or Break Years by Mike Berners-Lee

air freight, autonomous vehicles, call centre, carbon footprint, cloud computing, dematerialisation, Elon Musk, energy security, energy transition, food miles, Gini coefficient, global supply chain, global village, Hans Rosling, income inequality, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), land reform, neoliberal agenda, off grid, performance metric, profit motive, shareholder value, Silicon Valley, smart cities, Stephen Hawking, The Spirit Level, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, trickle-down economics, urban planning

And this particular titration experiment has also been a crazy one because whereas in the science lab the closer you think you are to the balance point the more slowly you add the acid, we are pouring our power on faster and faster. In the past, humans have always been able to expand as they have developed, but suddenly now, and for the foreseeable future at least, we can’t. That is a massive change. Even for those who are starting to view the one planet constraint as temporary (and I’ll debunk this later), the physicist Stephen Hawking put it like this: ‘We will not establish self-sustaining colonies in space for at least 100 years, so we have to be very careful in the meantime’2. There is no Planet B3. A handbook of everything 3 A handbook of everything This is a book about the big picture of life on our small planet. It is an evidence-based practical guide to the make or break choices we face now. It is about taking the chance for us to live better than ever and heading off the threat of living worse or not at all.

Especially in the high tech end of the corporate world, many people are tempted to think, or simply assume, that technology will be the primary ‘force for good’ that can guide us to the sustainable world. But since we would not have been able to get ourselves into the Anthropocene without it, this notion deserves much closer examination. Do we drive technology growth, or does it drive us? Right now we are slaves to a trajectory, but that doesn’t prove we have to be from now on. The late professor Stephen Hawking owed the last two thirds of his life to modern medicine. Without some of the advances of the past 100 years I too would be dead several times over, and several of my friends likewise. We are all grateful for the technology that keeps us going. But for all its advantages, Hawking also sensed danger ahead: ‘Now, however, technology has advanced at such a pace that this aggression may destroy us all by nuclear or biological war.

If I’m a sales rep and all my competitors have access to smart phones with emails 24/7, then I’m disadvantaged if my customers can’t contact me at the weekend like they can my competitors. We all have to adopt it. We may or may not love it but it wasn’t a choice. If a supermarket prefers to have humans at the check-out because of the social benefits they provide for both staff and customers, how long can they hold out against competitors who save money by replacing people with machines? Stephen Hawking described artificial intelligence as ‘either the best or worst thing to happen to humanity’4, whilst Elon Musk, one of the great entrepreneurs of the automated electric car, also looks on it as an it an existential threat. Whether or not the specific concern over AI is well founded, it is clear that technology as a whole has brought many good things over the millennia, but has now taken human-kind to a dangerous place and we need to handle it in a radically different way.


Falter: Has the Human Game Begun to Play Itself Out? by Bill McKibben

23andMe, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, Airbnb, American Legislative Exchange Council, Anne Wojcicki, artificial general intelligence, Bernie Sanders, Bill Joy: nanobots, Burning Man, call centre, carbon footprint, Charles Lindbergh, clean water, Colonization of Mars, computer vision, David Attenborough, Donald Trump, double helix, Edward Snowden, Elon Musk, ending welfare as we know it, energy transition, Flynn Effect, Google Earth, Hyperloop, impulse control, income inequality, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Jane Jacobs, Jaron Lanier, Jeff Bezos, job automation, life extension, light touch regulation, Mark Zuckerberg, mass immigration, megacity, Menlo Park, moral hazard, Naomi Klein, Nelson Mandela, obamacare, off grid, oil shale / tar sands, pattern recognition, Peter Thiel, plutocrats, Plutocrats, profit motive, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Ray Kurzweil, Robert Mercer, Ronald Reagan, Sam Altman, self-driving car, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, smart meter, Snapchat, stem cell, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Steven Pinker, strong AI, supervolcano, technoutopianism, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, traffic fines, Travis Kalanick, urban sprawl, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, Y Combinator, Y2K, yield curve

Curtis White, We, Robots: Staying Human in the Age of Big Data (Brooklyn, NY: Melville House, 2015), p. 19. 15. Kai-Fu Lee, “The Real Threat of Artificial Intelligence,” New York Times, June 24, 2017. 16. Bill Joy, “Why the Future Doesn’t Need Us,” Wired, April 1, 2000. 17. Sarah Marsh, “Essays Reveal Stephen Hawking Predicted Race of Superhumans,” Guardian, October 4, 2018 18. Dowd, “Elon Musk’s Billion Dollar Crusade.” 19. James Vincent, “Elon Musk Says We Need to Regulate AI Before It Becomes a Danger to Humanity,” theverge.com, July 17, 2017. 20. Stephen Hawking, “Artificial Intelligence Could Be the Greatest Disaster in Human History,” Independent, October 20, 2016. 21. James Barrat, Our Final Invention: Artificial Intelligence and the End of the Human Era (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 2013), p. 34. 22. Nick Bostrom, “A Transhumanist Perspective on Genetic Enhancements,” nickbostrom.com, 2003. 23.

His conclusion: “Something like extinction.”16 This was not enough to slow down the development of these new technologies—just the opposite: Joy was writing before CRISPR and back when human beings were still the best chess players on the planet—but it did establish a pattern. Some of the people who know the most about where we’re headed are the wariest and the most outspoken. In October 2018, for instance, Stephen Hawking’s posthumous set of “last predictions” was published—his greatest fear was a “new species” of genetically engineered “superhumans” who would wipe out the rest of humanity.17 Or consider tech entrepreneur Elon Musk, who described the development of artificial intelligence as “summoning the demon.” “We need to be super careful with AI,” he recently tweeted. “Potentially more dangerous than nukes.”

As Bezos put it recently, “If I’m 80 years old and looking back on my life, and I can say that I put in place the heavy-lifting infrastructure that made access to space cheap and inexpensive,” then “I’ll be a very happy 80-year-old.”1 Why go to space? “So that the next generation could have the entrepreneurial explosion like I saw on the internet,” said Bezos, conjuring up a vision of brown-and-yellow UPS shuttles delivering printer cartridges to the rings of Saturn.2 (Sometime this year, Vodafone and Nokia plan to set up a mobile phone network on the moon.)3 Or to escape the wreckage of planet Earth. In November 2016, Stephen Hawking told an audience that “spreading out may be the only thing that saves us from ourselves,” and gave us a thousand-year timetable to be off the Earth. The following May, he cut the deadline down to a century. “Earth is under threat from so many areas that it is difficult for me to be positive,” he said.4 Or, most compelling of all, because once you get to space, you’re on your own. It’s the ultimate libertarian paradise, something lost on none of these visionaries.


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Beyond: Our Future in Space by Chris Impey

3D printing, Admiral Zheng, Albert Einstein, Alfred Russel Wallace, AltaVista, Berlin Wall, Buckminster Fuller, butterfly effect, California gold rush, carbon-based life, Charles Lindbergh, 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, Johannes Kepler, John von Neumann, Kickstarter, life extension, low earth orbit, Mahatma Gandhi, Marc Andreessen, Mars Rover, mutually assured destruction, Oculus Rift, operation paperclip, out of africa, Peter H. Diamandis: Planetary Resources, phenotype, private space industry, purchasing power parity, RAND corporation, Ray Kurzweil, RFID, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman: Challenger O-ring, risk tolerance, Rubik’s Cube, 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, There's no reason for any individual to have a computer in his home - Ken Olsen, 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.


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The War on Normal People: The Truth About America's Disappearing Jobs and Why Universal Basic Income Is Our Future by Andrew Yang

3D printing, Airbnb, assortative mating, augmented reality, autonomous vehicles, basic income, Ben Horowitz, Bernie Sanders, call centre, corporate governance, cryptocurrency, David Brooks, Donald Trump, Elon Musk, falling living standards, financial deregulation, full employment, future of work, global reserve currency, income inequality, Internet of things, invisible hand, Jeff Bezos, job automation, John Maynard Keynes: technological unemployment, Khan Academy, labor-force participation, longitudinal study, low skilled workers, Lyft, manufacturing employment, Mark Zuckerberg, megacity, Narrative Science, new economy, passive income, performance metric, post-work, quantitative easing, reserve currency, Richard Florida, ride hailing / ride sharing, risk tolerance, Ronald Reagan, Sam Altman, self-driving car, shareholder value, Silicon Valley, Simon Kuznets, single-payer health, Stephen Hawking, Steve Ballmer, supercomputer in your pocket, technoutopianism, telemarketer, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Tyler Cowen: Great Stagnation, Uber and Lyft, uber lyft, unemployed young men, universal basic income, urban renewal, white flight, winner-take-all economy, Y Combinator

., “Final Words of Advice,” Address made to the Tenth Anniversary Convention of the SCLC, Atlanta, on August 16, 1967. Richard Nixon, August 1969: Richard Nixon, “324—Address to the Nation on Domestic Programs,” American President Project, August 8, 1969. Milton Friedman, 1980: “Brief History of Basic Income Ideas,” Basic Income Earth Network, 1986. Bernie Sanders, May 2014: Scott Santens, “On the Record: Bernie Sanders on Basic Income,” Medium, January 29, 2016. Stephen Hawking, July 2015: “Answers to Stephen Hawking’s AMA Are Here,” Wired, July 2015. Barack Obama, June 2016: Chris Weller, “President Obama Hints at Supporting Unconditional Free Money Because of a Looming Robot Takeover,” Business Insider, June 24, 2016. Barack Obama, October 2016: Scott Dadich, “Barack Obama, Neural Nets, Self-Driving Cars, and the Future of the World,” Wired, November 2016. Warren Buffett and Bill Gates, January 2017: Charlie Rose, interview with Bill Gates and Warren Buffett, Columbia University, January 2017.

Building People CONCLUSION: MASTERS OR SERVANTS Acknowledgments Notes Newsletters To everyone who helped build Venture for America over the years. You made me believe in people. We are at the most dangerous moment in the development of humanity… the rise of artificial intelligence is likely to extend job destruction deep into the middle classes, with only the most caring, creative or supervisory roles remaining. —STEPHEN HAWKING Human beings are also animals, to manage one million animals gives me a headache. —TERRY GOU, FOUNDER OF FOXCONN INTRODUCTION THE GREAT DISPLACEMENT I am writing from inside the tech bubble to let you know that we are coming for your jobs. I recently met a pair of old friends for drinks in Manhattan. One is an executive who works at a software company in New York. They replace call center workers with artificial intelligence software.

Milton Friedman, 1980: “We should replace the ragbag of specific welfare programs with a single comprehensive program of income supplements in cash—a negative income tax… which would do more efficiently and humanely what our present welfare system does so inefficiently and inhumanely.” Bernie Sanders, May 2014: “In my view, every American is entitled to at least a minimum standard of living… There are different ways to get to that goal, but that’s the goal that we should strive to reach.” Stephen Hawking, July 2015: “Everyone can enjoy a life of luxurious leisure if the machine-produced wealth is shared, or most people can end up miserably poor if the machine-owners successfully lobby against wealth redistribution. So far, the trend seems to be toward the second option, with technology driving ever-increasing inequality.” Barack Obama, June 2016: “The way I describe it is that, because of automation, because of globalization, we’re going to have to examine the social compact, the same way we did early in the 19th century and then again during and after the Great Depression.


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

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, Laplace demon, life extension, moral panic, Murray Gell-Mann, out of africa, 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.


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The AI Economy: Work, Wealth and Welfare in the Robot Age by Roger Bootle

"Robert Solow", 3D printing, agricultural Revolution, AI winter, Albert Einstein, anti-work, autonomous vehicles, basic income, Ben Bernanke: helicopter money, Bernie Sanders, blockchain, call centre, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, Chris Urmson, computer age, conceptual framework, corporate governance, correlation does not imply causation, creative destruction, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, deindustrialization, deskilling, Elon Musk, en.wikipedia.org, Erik Brynjolfsson, everywhere but in the productivity statistics, facts on the ground, financial intermediation, full employment, future of work, income inequality, income per capita, industrial robot, Internet of things, invention of the wheel, Isaac Newton, James Watt: steam engine, Jeff Bezos, job automation, job satisfaction, John Markoff, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, John Maynard Keynes: technological unemployment, John von Neumann, Joseph Schumpeter, Kevin Kelly, license plate recognition, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, market bubble, mega-rich, natural language processing, Network effects, new economy, Nicholas Carr, Paul Samuelson, Peter Thiel, positional goods, quantitative easing, RAND corporation, Ray Kurzweil, Richard Florida, ride hailing / ride sharing, rising living standards, road to serfdom, Robert Gordon, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Second Machine Age, secular stagnation, self-driving car, Silicon Valley, Simon Kuznets, Skype, social intelligence, spinning jenny, Stanislav Petrov, Stephen Hawking, Steven Pinker, technological singularity, The Future of Employment, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas Malthus, trade route, universal basic income, US Airways Flight 1549, Vernor Vinge, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, We wanted flying cars, instead we got 140 characters, wealth creators, winner-take-all economy, Y2K, Yogi Berra

But as more and more people become unemployed, the consequent fall in demand will overtake the price reductions enabled by greater efficiency. Economic contraction is pretty much inevitable, and it will get so serious that something will have to be done.3 Similar views have been expressed by leading tech entrepreneurs, including Bill Gates, the founder of Microsoft, and distinguished scientists such as the late Sir Stephen Hawking, the discoverer of black holes and much else besides.4 Yet some cynics, admittedly mostly from outside the ranks of the AI experts, seem to think that this is all overhyped and that in essence the economic and social changes that we face as a result of the spread of robots and AI will either be nugatory, or a continuation of the sort of thing that we have experienced pretty much continuously since the Industrial Revolution and, as such, will be profoundly beneficial to humanity.

This then leads on to the idea that the AI revolution potentially amounts to the last human advance. Once we have created artificial intelligences greater than any human one, they will then create still greater intelligences, completely beyond our ken and outside our control. And so on, and so forth. To these new forms of intelligence, we will be not only inferior but also worthless, if not actually an encumbrance. They could readily decide to destroy us. The late Sir Stephen Hawking told the BBC in 2014: “The development of full artificial intelligence could spell the end of the human race.”5 Similarly, the distinguished Cambridge scientist Martin, Lord Rees, the Astronomer Royal, has described the point at which AI achieves superintelligence as “our final hour.” He sees the period when human intelligence dominated the world as a blip.6 The time at which some form of AI becomes more intelligent than humans is widely referred to in the literature as “the Singularity.”

I don’t know about you but, personally, being “uploaded” into some form of AI for eternity does not exactly appeal to me.) To someone of my ilk, even without the “uploading” and the prospect of eternal life, to read about the capability of AI and the fate of humanity after the Singularity is to plunge into a world that seems like science fiction. Nevertheless, as I shall show in the Epilogue, I do not dismiss such ideas. How could I? When some of the greatest scientific minds of our age, such as Sir Stephen Hawking and Lord Rees, have taken these prospects seriously, I am hardly in a position to disparage them. But I am profoundly conscious of a dislocation between the apparently science fiction world of the Singularity and the day-to-day advances of robotics and AI that have here-and-now effects on the economy. These require decisions from both companies and individuals in pursuit of their own interests, and governments in pursuit of the public good.


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Infinity in the Palm of Your Hand: Fifty Wonders That Reveal an Extraordinary Universe by Marcus Chown

Albert Einstein, Anton Chekhov, Arthur Eddington, Carrington event, dark matter, Donald Trump, double helix, Edmond Halley, gravity well, horn antenna, Isaac Newton, Kickstarter, microbiome, Richard Feynman, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, Solar eclipse in 1919, Stephen Hawking, Turing machine

Why, for instance, do we not have a delayed present and focus on information from ten seconds ago? Or two presents, and focus on information gathered, say, ten seconds and thirty seconds ago? Physics provides no explanation for our experience of “now.” For this reason, some have looked for other explanations. One such physicist is Jim Hartle of University of California at Santa Barbara, a collaborator of British physicist Stephen Hawking. He thinks that, early in the evolution of life, there may have been organisms that experienced time in myriad different ways, not just the way we do today. But say a tree frog had a delayed present and focused on information from ten seconds ago—if a fly alighted on a leaf in front of it, by the time the tree frog lashed out its tongue, the fly would have long gone. Reliant on such out-of-date information, says Hartle, the tree frog would eventually starve to death.

For instance, if a time machine existed, someone could use it go back in time and shoot their grandfather before their mother was born. Admittedly, it might not be anything most people would want to do, but it takes only one person. And that possibility is enough to alarm physicists. Because they have to confront the question: how did the person go back in time and bump off their grandfather if they had never been born? To avoid the Grandfather Paradox, as it is known, Stephen Hawking proposed the Chronology Protection Conjecture. It is really just a fancy way of saying: time travel is impossible. In other words, some as-yet-unknown law of physics must intervene and prevent time travel and its associated paradoxes. Hawking’s argument is a simple observational one: “Where are the time travelers from the future?” There is another possible way out of the Grandfather Paradox but it means accepting something very weird about our universe.

At the time, Dicke was having a bag lunch in his office with his research team. When Dicke put down the phone after talking to Penzias, he turned to his colleagues and said: “Well, boys, we’ve been scooped!” The radiation discovered by Penzias and Wilson is now known to correspond to a temperature of 2.726 degrees above absolute zero. “The radiation left over from the Big Bang is the same as that in your microwave oven but very much less powerful,” said Stephen Hawking. “It would heat your pizza only to minus 271.3 oC—not much good for defrosting the pizza, let alone cooking it!” For the discovery of the cosmic background radiation, which confirmed the universe had been born in a Big Bang, Penzias and Wilson shared the 1978 Nobel Prize for Physics. And the pigeons? They returned to the Holmdel horn—they were homing pigeons, after all—and, sadly, had to be shot.


pages: 292 words: 88,319

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

Albert Einstein, Andrew Wiles, anthropic principle, Arthur Eddington, cosmological principle, dark matter, Edmond Halley, Fellow of the Royal Society, Georg Cantor, Isaac Newton, mutually assured destruction, Olbers’ paradox, prisoner's dilemma, Ray Kurzweil, scientific worldview, 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: 390 words: 109,870

Radicals Chasing Utopia: Inside the Rogue Movements Trying to Change the World by Jamie Bartlett

Andrew Keen, back-to-the-land, Bernie Sanders, bitcoin, blockchain, blue-collar work, Boris Johnson, brain emulation, centre right, clean water, cryptocurrency, Donald Trump, drone strike, Elon Musk, energy security, Ethereum, ethereum blockchain, failed state, gig economy, hydraulic fracturing, income inequality, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Jaron Lanier, job automation, John Markoff, Joseph Schumpeter, Kickstarter, life extension, Occupy movement, off grid, Peter Thiel, post-industrial society, postnationalism / post nation state, precariat, QR code, Ray Kurzweil, RFID, Rosa Parks, Ross Ulbricht, Satoshi Nakamoto, self-driving car, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, Skype, smart contracts, stem cell, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, Steven Pinker, technoutopianism

Peter Holley, ‘Bill Gates on dangers of artificial intelligence: “I don’t understand why some people are not concerned”‘, Washington Post, 2015, https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-switch/wp/2015/01/28/bill-gates-on-dangers-of-artificial-intelligence-dont-understand-why-some-people-are-not-concerned/; Peter Holley, ‘Stephen Hawking just got an artificial intelligence upgrade, but still thinks AI could bring an end to mankind’, Washington Post, 2014, https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/speaking-of-science/wp/2014/12/02/stephen-hawking-just-got-an-artificial-intelligence-upgrade-but-still-thinks-it-could-bring-an-end-to-mankind/; Derek Thompson, ‘A world without work’, Atlantic, 2015, http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2015/07/world-without-work/395294/; Andrew Keen, The Internet Is Not the Answer (Atlantic, 2015); Brian Resnick, ‘Why Stephen Hawking is more afraid of capitalism than robots’, Vox.com, 2016, http://www.vox.com/2016/2/27/11119804/stephen-hawking-robots; Matthew Yglesias, ‘The automation myth’, Vox.com, 2015, http://www.vox.com/2015/7/27/9038829/automation-myth. 30.

The overwhelming majority of transhumanists think that AI is a positive development: it will help humans become more intelligent, help us make better decisions and will open up amazing new avenues of knowledge and understanding. Perhaps it will. But perhaps it won’t. Elon Musk, the billionaire Silicon Valley entrepreneur, declared AI to be comparable to summoning the Devil and donated $10 million to research to make sure the super-machines of the future will be kind to us. Stephen Hawking said ‘the development of artificial intelligence could spell the end of the human race.’ Either way, and of more immediate concern, AI—or the ability of machines to replicate human decision-making—could leave millions without jobs.29 Google’s self-driving cars will replace drivers, drones will replace warehouse workers, machine-learning algorithms will undertake some (although not all) the work of lawyers and doctors.


pages: 405 words: 117,219

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

3D printing, Ada Lovelace, agricultural Revolution, Airbnb, Alan Turing: On Computable Numbers, with an Application to the Entscheidungsproblem, animal electricity, 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, Jacques de Vaucanson, James Watt: steam engine, job automation, John von Neumann, Joseph-Marie Jacquard, Kickstarter, liberal capitalism, lifelogging, millennium bug, Moravec's paradox, natural language processing, Norbert Wiener, off grid, 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, social intelligence, speech recognition, stem cell, Stephen Hawking, Steven Pinker, strong AI, technological singularity, The Coming Technological Singularity, The Future of Employment, 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: 185 words: 55,639

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

Albert Einstein, Arthur Eddington, complexity theory, dark matter, Dmitri Mendeleev, Ernest Rutherford, Fellow of the Royal Society, Isaac Newton, Murray Gell-Mann, 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: 181 words: 52,147

The Driver in the Driverless Car: How Our Technology Choices Will Create the Future by Vivek Wadhwa, Alex Salkever

23andMe, 3D printing, Airbnb, artificial general intelligence, augmented reality, autonomous vehicles, barriers to entry, Bernie Sanders, bitcoin, blockchain, clean water, correlation does not imply causation, distributed ledger, Donald Trump, double helix, Elon Musk, en.wikipedia.org, epigenetics, Erik Brynjolfsson, Google bus, Hyperloop, income inequality, Internet of things, job automation, Kevin Kelly, Khan Academy, Kickstarter, Law of Accelerating Returns, license plate recognition, life extension, longitudinal study, Lyft, M-Pesa, Menlo Park, microbiome, mobile money, new economy, personalized medicine, phenotype, precision agriculture, RAND corporation, Ray Kurzweil, recommendation engine, Ronald Reagan, Second Machine Age, self-driving car, Silicon Valley, Skype, smart grid, stem cell, Stephen Hawking, Steve Wozniak, Stuxnet, supercomputer in your pocket, Tesla Model S, The Future of Employment, Thomas Davenport, Travis Kalanick, Turing test, Uber and Lyft, Uber for X, uber lyft, uranium enrichment, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, zero day

We are known to learn and heal better because of the emotional engagement of teachers, doctors, nurses, and others. Unless we appreciate that, we will fail to recognize what we lose when we engage an A.I. in their place. The major problem with A.I., however, is its risks. This is the discussion I have avoided, the crazy stuff: what happens when it evolves to the point where it is smarter than we are? This is a real concern of luminaries such as Elon Musk, Stephen Hawking, and Bill Gates, who have warned about the creation of a “super intelligence.” Musk said he fears that “we are summoning the demon.”7 Hawking says that it “could spell the end of the human race.”8 And Gates wrote: “I don’t understand why some people are not concerned.”9 The good news is that the engineers and policy makers are working on regulating A.I. to minimize the risks. The tech luminaries who are developing A.I. systems are devising things such as kill switches and discussing ethical guidelines.

Japan may favor robots to protect its elderly and preserve its economy, but a far more contentious discussion is under way right now with tremendous implications for humanity, concerning use of robots for destructive purposes. The debate concerns whether we should allow robots powered by A.I. to kill people autonomously. More than 20,000 people signed an open letter in July 2015 that called for a worldwide ban on autonomous killing machines. A thousand of these signatories were A.I. researchers and technologists, including Elon Musk, Stephen Hawking, and Steve Wozniak.6 Their logic was simple: that once development begins of military robots enabled to autonomously kill humans, the technology will follow all technology cost and capability curves; that, in the not-so-distant future, A.I. killing machines will therefore become commodity items, easy to purchase and available to every dictator, paramilitary group, and terrorist cell. Also, of course, despotic (or even wayward democratic) governments could use these machines to control and cow their populations.

Kevin Kelly, “The three breakthroughs that have finally unleashed AI on the world,” WIRED 27 October 2014, http://www.wired.com/2014/10/future-of-artificial-intelligence (accessed 21 October 2016). 7. Matt McFarland, “Elon Musk: ‘With artificial intelligence, we are summoning the demon,’ ” Washington Post 24 October 2014, https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/innovations/wp/2014/10/24/elon-musk-with-artificial-intelligence-we-are-summoning-the-demon (accessed 21 October 2016). 8. Rory Cellan-Jones, “Stephen Hawking warns artificial intelligence could end mankind,” BBC 2 December 2014, http://www.bbc.com/news/technology-30290540 (accessed 21 October 2016). 9. “Hi Reddit, I’m Bill Gates and I’m back for my third AMA. Ask me anything,” Reddit, https://www.reddit.com/r/IAmA/comments/2tzjp7/hi_reddit_im_bill_gates_and_im_back_for_my_third (accessed 21 October 2016). 10. The White House, “The Administration’s Report on the Future of Artificial Intelligence,” The White House 12 October 2016, https://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2016/10/12/administrations-report-future-artificial-intelligence (accessed 21 October 2016). 11.


pages: 677 words: 121,255

Giving the Devil His Due: Reflections of a Scientific Humanist by Michael Shermer

Alfred Russel Wallace, anthropic principle, anti-communist, barriers to entry, Berlin Wall, Boycotts of Israel, Chelsea Manning, clean water, clockwork universe, cognitive dissonance, Colonization of Mars, Columbine, cosmological constant, cosmological principle, creative destruction, dark matter, Donald Trump, Edward Snowden, Elon Musk, Flynn Effect, germ theory of disease, gun show loophole, Hans Rosling, hedonic treadmill, helicopter parent, hindsight bias, illegal immigration, income inequality, invisible hand, Johannes Kepler, Joseph Schumpeter, laissez-faire capitalism, Laplace demon, luminiferous ether, McMansion, means of production, mega-rich, Menlo Park, moral hazard, moral panic, More Guns, Less Crime, Peter Singer: altruism, phenotype, positional goods, race to the bottom, Richard Feynman, Ronald Coase, Silicon Valley, Skype, social intelligence, stem cell, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, Steven Pinker, the scientific method, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, transaction costs, WikiLeaks, working poor, Yogi Berra

Your methods, hypocrisy, and the artlessness of your organization have sounded its death knell. You cannot hide; we are everywhere. Are these the rantings of crazed neo-Nazis? No. Substitute “Jews” and “Judaism” with “Scientologists” and “Church of Scientology” and you are reading from a statement issued by a group of anti-Scientologists calling themselves “Anonymous.” This statement was released January 21, 2008 (read in a YouTube video in a Stephen Hawking-like computer voice). It was followed by another on February 10, which coincided with demonstrations at Scientology centers around the world at which protesters donned masks (the Guy Fawkes variety from the movie V for Vendetta) and waved posters that read, among other things, “Honk if you hate Scientology.” Again, imagine if that sign read “Honk if you hate Jews.” How innocuous would such a protest be in that case?

But this picture is incorrect because, if there were no universe, there would not only be no matter but there would be no space or time (or spacetime) either. There would be absolutely nothing, including no conscious being to observe the nothingness. Just … nothing. Whatever that is. This presents us with what is arguably the deepest of deep problems, the grandest of grand questions: Why is there something rather than nothing? In his 1988 blockbuster book A Brief History of Time, the late Cambridge theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking articulated the issue in his characteristically memorable manner: What is it that breathes fire into the equations and makes a universe for them to describe? The usual approach of science of constructing a mathematical model cannot answer the questions of why there should be a universe for the model to describe. Why does the universe go to all the bother of existing?1 Even if it could be established that something must exist, this does not necessarily mean that the something must be our universe with our particular laws of nature that give rise to atoms, stars, planets, and people.

Stenger found that long-lived stars of at least one billion years – necessary for the production of life-giving heavy elements – would emerge within a wide range of parameters in at least half of the universes in his model.29 Quantum Foam Universe Creations. In this model, universes are created out of nothing, but in the scientific version of ex nihilo the nothing of the vacuum of space actually contains quantum foam, which may fluctuate to create baby universes. In this configuration, any quantum object in any quantum state may generate a new universe, each one of which represents every possible state of every possible object.30 This is Stephen Hawking’s explanation for the fine-tuning problem that he himself famously presented in the 1990s: Why is the universe so close to the dividing line between collapsing again and expanding indefinitely? In order to be as close as we are now, the rate of expansion early on had to be chosen fantastically accurately. If the rate of expansion one second after the big bang had been less by one part in 1010, the universe would have collapsed after a few million years.


pages: 400 words: 94,847

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

Albert Einstein, augmented reality, barriers to entry, bioinformatics, Cass Sunstein, Climategate, Climatic Research Unit, conceptual framework, dark matter, discovery of DNA, Donald Knuth, double helix, Douglas Engelbart, 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, Johannes Kepler, Kevin Kelly, Magellanic Cloud, means of production, medical residency, Nicholas Carr, P = NP, publish or perish, Richard Feynman, Richard Stallman, selection bias, semantic web, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, Simon Singh, Skype, slashdot, social intelligence, 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.


The Pirate's Dilemma by Matt Mason

"side hustle", Albert Einstein, augmented reality, barriers to entry, citizen journalism, creative destruction, don't be evil, Donald Trump, Douglas Engelbart, East Village, Firefox, future of work, glass ceiling, global village, Hacker Ethic, haute couture, Howard Rheingold, Internet of things, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, jimmy wales, job satisfaction, John Markoff, Joseph Schumpeter, Kickstarter, Lao Tzu, Marshall McLuhan, means of production, Naomi Klein, new economy, New Urbanism, patent troll, peer-to-peer, prisoner's dilemma, RAND corporation, RFID, Richard Florida, Richard Stallman, SETI@home, Silicon Valley, South China Sea, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Steven Levy, Stewart Brand, Tim Cook: Apple, urban sprawl, Whole Earth Catalog

packedargs=suffix%3DArticle Controller. “Colombian musicians organise online,” BBC News, June 1, 2006. http:// news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/technology/5033626.stm. “FARC blamed for Colombia club blast,” BBC News, February 9, 2003. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/2741105.stm. Page 207 Seth Godin, Unleashing the Ideavirus (Dobbs Ferry, NY: Do You Zoom, 2001), pp. 23–24. Stephen Hawking quote from “Life in the Universe,” 1994 (lecture given by Stephen Hawking and Roger Penrose at the Isaac Newton Institute in Cambridge, the transcript of which can be viewed here: http://www.hawking.org.uk/ pdf/life.pdf). Page 211 Dizzee Rascal, interview by author, July 2002 (this interview originally appeared in the August 2002 edition of RWD magazine). Page 211 Chris Campion, “Inside Grime,” Observer Music Monthly, May 23, 2004. http://observer.guardian.co.uk/omm/story/0,,1219493,00.html.

As marketing guru Seth Godin points out in Unleashing the Ideavirus, “It took 40 years for radio to have 10 million users . . . 15 years for TV to have 10 million users. It only took 3 years for Netscape to get to 10 million, and it took Hotmail and Napster less than a year. . . . The time it takes for an idea to circulate is approaching zero.” Whether it’s an idea, MP3 file, or 3-D printer design, anything can pass through the network, infect us, and take on a life of its own. “I think computer viruses should count as life,” argues Stephen Hawking, citing their ability to reproduce and travel. “I think it says something about human nature that the only form of life we have created so far is purely destructive. We’ve created life in our own image.” But not all viruses are destructive. Some man-made viruses, such as youth cultures, are fine examples of friendly bacteria. Youth culture has been traveling virally for decades, breaking into smaller and smaller pieces along the way.

I’d started to see some viral videos circulating the Net; most of them weren’t ads, but I knew they could get an idea across. *In 2002 I interviewed a crew of MCs who did a £250,000 music publishing deal, which seemed to be based on the fact that they used to go to the same school as some members of So Solid. They sold fewer than five hundred copies of their first single and were never heard from again. Ethernomics | 217 We’ve covered many viruses already, such as the Marc Ecko/ Droga5 video. Stephen Hawking was right about viruses; effective ones have lives of their own. A good idea virus can catapult a brand into the stratosphere, but not all viruses are created equal. It’s up to us to make them work. I realized we had to create something that would be valuable to others and worth their while to forward on. Your idea is your currency; what you’re buying is a few seconds of the viewer’s time, in which you must gain their trust, entertain or inform them, convince them of your message, and possibly get them to act on it.


pages: 262 words: 65,959

The Simpsons and Their Mathematical Secrets by Simon Singh

Albert Einstein, Andrew Wiles, Benoit Mandelbrot, cognitive dissonance, Donald Knuth, Erdős number, Georg Cantor, Grace Hopper, Isaac Newton, John Nash: game theory, Kickstarter, mandelbrot fractal, Menlo Park, Norbert Wiener, Norman Mailer, P = NP, Paul Erdős, probability theory / Blaise Pascal / Pierre de Fermat, Richard Feynman, Rubik’s Cube, 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.


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

"Robert Solow", 3D printing, additive manufacturing, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, AI winter, algorithmic trading, Amazon Mechanical Turk, artificial general intelligence, assortative mating, autonomous vehicles, banking crisis, basic income, Baxter: Rethink Robotics, Bernie Madoff, Bill Joy: nanobots, business cycle, call centre, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, Chris Urmson, Clayton Christensen, clean water, cloud computing, collateralized debt obligation, commoditize, computer age, creative destruction, debt deflation, deskilling, disruptive innovation, diversified portfolio, Erik Brynjolfsson, factory automation, financial innovation, Flash crash, Fractional reserve banking, Freestyle chess, full employment, Goldman Sachs: Vampire Squid, Gunnar Myrdal, High speed trading, income inequality, indoor plumbing, industrial robot, informal economy, iterative process, Jaron Lanier, job automation, John Markoff, John Maynard Keynes: technological unemployment, John von Neumann, Kenneth Arrow, Khan Academy, knowledge worker, labor-force participation, liquidity trap, low skilled workers, low-wage service sector, Lyft, manufacturing employment, Marc Andreessen, McJob, moral hazard, Narrative Science, Network effects, new economy, Nicholas Carr, Norbert Wiener, obamacare, optical character recognition, passive income, Paul Samuelson, performance metric, Peter Thiel, plutocrats, Plutocrats, post scarcity, precision agriculture, price mechanism, Ray Kurzweil, rent control, rent-seeking, reshoring, RFID, Richard Feynman, Rodney Brooks, Sam Peltzman, 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, The Future of Employment, Thomas L Friedman, too big to fail, Tyler Cowen: Great Stagnation, uber lyft, 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.”


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A World Without Work: Technology, Automation, and How We Should Respond by Daniel Susskind

3D printing, agricultural Revolution, AI winter, Airbnb, Albert Einstein, algorithmic trading, artificial general intelligence, autonomous vehicles, basic income, Bertrand Russell: In Praise of Idleness, blue-collar work, British Empire, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, cloud computing, computer age, computer vision, computerized trading, creative destruction, David Graeber, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, demographic transition, deskilling, disruptive innovation, Donald Trump, Douglas Hofstadter, drone strike, Edward Glaeser, Elon Musk, en.wikipedia.org, Erik Brynjolfsson, financial innovation, future of work, gig economy, Gini coefficient, Google Glasses, Gödel, Escher, Bach, income inequality, income per capita, industrial robot, interchangeable parts, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, Jacques de Vaucanson, James Hargreaves, job automation, John Markoff, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, John Maynard Keynes: technological unemployment, John von Neumann, Joi Ito, Joseph Schumpeter, Kenneth Arrow, Khan Academy, Kickstarter, low skilled workers, lump of labour, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, means of production, Metcalfe’s law, natural language processing, Network effects, Occupy movement, offshore financial centre, Paul Samuelson, Peter Thiel, pink-collar, precariat, purchasing power parity, Ray Kurzweil, ride hailing / ride sharing, road to serfdom, Robert Gordon, Sam Altman, Second Machine Age, self-driving car, shareholder value, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, Snapchat, social intelligence, software is eating the world, sovereign wealth fund, spinning jenny, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, strong AI, telemarketer, The Future of Employment, The Rise and Fall of American Growth, the scientific method, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thorstein Veblen, Travis Kalanick, Turing test, Tyler Cowen: Great Stagnation, universal basic income, upwardly mobile, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, We are the 99%, wealth creators, working poor, working-age population, Y Combinator

Yet even as early as 1940, the debate about technological unemployment was so commonplace that the New York Times felt comfortable calling it an “old argument.”16 And it is true that these arguments do tend to repeat themselves. President Barack Obama, in his 2016 farewell address, described automation as “the next wave of economic dislocation.” But so did President John F. Kennedy, about sixty years earlier, when, using almost identical words, he said that automation carried with it “the dark menace of industrial dislocation.”17 Similarly, in 2016 Stephen Hawking described how automation has “decimated” blue-collar work and predicted that this would soon “extend … deep into the middle classes.”18 Yet Albert Einstein had made a similar threat in 1931, warning that “man-made machines,” which were meant to liberate human beings from drudgery and toil, were instead poised to “overwhelm” their creators.19 In fact, in almost every decade since 1920, it is possible to find a piece in the New York Times engaging in some way with the threat of technological unemployment.20 UPHEAVAL AND CHANGE Most of these anxieties about the economic harm caused by new technology have turned out to be misplaced.

This process, it is said, will lead to machines with “superintelligence”; some call it the “singularity.” These machines would be the “last invention that man need ever make,” wrote Irving John Good, the Oxford mathematician who introduced the possibility of such an intelligence explosion: anything a human being could invent, they could improve upon.23 The prospect of such vastly capable AGIs has worried people like Stephen Hawking (“could spell the end of the human race”), Elon Musk (“vastly more risky than North Korea”), and Bill Gates (“don’t understand why some people are not concerned”)—though their worries are not always the same.24 One fear is that human beings, limited in what they can do by the comparatively snaillike pace of evolution, would struggle to keep up with the machines. Another is that these machines might, perhaps unwittingly, pursue goals at odds with those of human beings, destroying us in the process.

“Automation and Anxiety,” Economist, 25 June 2016; and Louis Stark, “Does Machine Displace Men in the Long Run?,” New York Times, 25 February 1940. 17.  For President Obama’s farewell speech, see Claire Cain Miller, “A Darker Theme in Obama’s Farewell: Automation Can Divide Us,” New York Times, 12 January 2017. President Kennedy gave his speech at the AFL-CIO Convention, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 7 June 1960; see https://www.jfklibrary.org/. 18.  Stephen Hawking, “This Is the Most Dangerous Time for Our Planet,” Guardian, 1 December 2016. 19.  See “World Ills Laid to Machine by Einstein in Berlin Speech,” New York Times, 22 October 1931. In David Reichinstein, Albert Einstein: A Picture of His Life and His Conception of the World (Prague: Stella Publishing House, 1934), p. 96, the account of that speech reveals that Einstein was worrying, in part, about technological unemployment. 20.  


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Rage Inside the Machine: The Prejudice of Algorithms, and How to Stop the Internet Making Bigots of Us All by Robert Elliott Smith

Ada Lovelace, affirmative action, AI winter, Alfred Russel Wallace, Amazon Mechanical Turk, animal electricity, autonomous vehicles, Black Swan, British Empire, cellular automata, citizen journalism, Claude Shannon: information theory, combinatorial explosion, corporate personhood, correlation coefficient, crowdsourcing, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, desegregation, discovery of DNA, Douglas Hofstadter, Elon Musk, Fellow of the Royal Society, feminist movement, Filter Bubble, Flash crash, Gerolamo Cardano, gig economy, Gödel, Escher, Bach, invention of the wheel, invisible hand, Jacquard loom, Jacques de Vaucanson, John Harrison: Longitude, John von Neumann, Kenneth Arrow, low skilled workers, Mark Zuckerberg, mass immigration, meta analysis, meta-analysis, mutually assured destruction, natural language processing, new economy, On the Economy of Machinery and Manufactures, p-value, pattern recognition, Paul Samuelson, performance metric, Pierre-Simon Laplace, precariat, profit maximization, profit motive, Silicon Valley, social intelligence, statistical model, Stephen Hawking, stochastic process, telemarketer, The Bell Curve by Richard Herrnstein and Charles Murray, The Future of Employment, the scientific method, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, The Wisdom of Crowds, theory of mind, Thomas Bayes, Thomas Malthus, traveling salesman, Turing machine, Turing test, twin studies, Vilfredo Pareto, Von Neumann architecture, women in the workforce

In 2014, the term ‘superintelligence’1 emerged to describe AI, suggesting the apparently inevitable superiority of algorithms over human intelligence. And, at the 2016 World Economic Forum at Davos, the focus was on the predicted elimination of most human jobs by machines, which we’re told will soon be able to do those jobs just as well as, if not better than, people. Some of the greatest minds of our time, including Stephen Hawking, Henry Kissinger,2 Elon Musk3 and Bill Gates,4 have expressed concerns about the future dominance of intelligent machines over people. Stephen Hawking went as far as to say: ‘I think the development of full artificial intelligence could spell the end of the human race.’5 The path to a world dominated by machines and machine intelligence now seems inevitable, and we are told to feel confident in these predictions, in part because they themselves are the results of algorithms that have analysed real-world ‘big data’, thus avoiding human subjectivity.

Rob Smith has a unique ability to express the complicated future of AI in a very simple manner. Read it if you want to stay human.’ DR ANASTASIA DEDYUKHINA, Founder of Consciously Digital and author of Homo Distractus ‘When the crowd at Comic Con talk of Robot Overlords, it can be disregarded as a fantasy far detached from real life. When you hear that a crowd of world-class technologists and scientists, including Elon Musk, Bill Gates and Stephen Hawking, have publicly voiced their concerns that advanced AI technologies could pose an existential threat to humanity – trouble on the scale of climate change, bioplague and large asteroids – you really have to wonder what’s going on. Rage Inside the Machine is a guide to how we got here, conceptually and historically. Rob Smith appreciates the successes of AI, but also warns that incomprehensibly complex data-driven systems are not easily corrected, and can make major mistakes.’

Kissinger, 2018, How the Enlightenment Ends, The Atlantic, www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2018/06/henry-kissinger-ai-could-mean-the-end-of-human-history/559124/ 3The Future of Life Institute 2015, An Open Letter: Research Priorities for Robust and Beneficial Artificial Intelligence. Future of Life Institute, https://futureoflife.org/ai-open-letter/?cn-reloaded=1 4Stuart Dredge, 2015, Artificial intelligence will become strong enough to be a concern, says Bill Gates. Guardian, www.theguardian.com/technology/2015/jan/29/artificial-intelligence-strong-concern-bill-gates 5Rory Cellan-Jones, 2014, Stephen Hawking Warns Artificial Intelligence Could End Mankind. BBC News, www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-30290540 6Bernard Marr, 2019, Chinese Social Credit Score: Utopian Big Data Bliss or Black Mirror on Steroids? Forbes, www.forbes.com/sites/bernardmarr/2019/01/21/chinese-social-credit-score-utopian-big-data-bliss-or-black-mirror-on-steroids/ 7Jana Kasperkevic, 2015, Google Says Sorry for Racist Auto-Tag in Photo App.


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Architects of Intelligence by Martin Ford

3D printing, agricultural Revolution, AI winter, Apple II, artificial general intelligence, Asilomar, augmented reality, autonomous vehicles, barriers to entry, basic income, Baxter: Rethink Robotics, Bayesian statistics, bitcoin, business intelligence, business process, call centre, cloud computing, cognitive bias, Colonization of Mars, computer vision, correlation does not imply causation, crowdsourcing, DARPA: Urban Challenge, deskilling, disruptive innovation, Donald Trump, Douglas Hofstadter, Elon Musk, Erik Brynjolfsson, Ernest Rutherford, Fellow of the Royal Society, Flash crash, future of work, gig economy, Google X / Alphabet X, Gödel, Escher, Bach, Hans Rosling, ImageNet competition, income inequality, industrial robot, information retrieval, job automation, John von Neumann, Law of Accelerating Returns, life extension, Loebner Prize, Mark Zuckerberg, Mars Rover, means of production, Mitch Kapor, natural language processing, new economy, optical character recognition, pattern recognition, phenotype, Productivity paradox, Ray Kurzweil, recommendation engine, Robert Gordon, Rodney Brooks, Sam Altman, self-driving car, sensor fusion, sentiment analysis, Silicon Valley, smart cities, social intelligence, speech recognition, statistical model, stealth mode startup, stem cell, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Steven Pinker, strong AI, superintelligent machines, Ted Kaczynski, The Rise and Fall of American Growth, theory of mind, Thomas Bayes, Travis Kalanick, Turing test, universal basic income, Wall-E, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, women in the workforce, working-age population, zero-sum game, Zipcar

We’re talking about scalable weapons of mass destruction falling into the wrong hands. These weapons could inflict enormous damage on human populations. So, that’s autonomous weapons. MARTIN FORD: In 2014, you published a letter, along with the late Stephen Hawking and the physicists Max Tegmark and Frank Wilczek, warning that we aren’t taking the risks associated with advanced AI seriously enough. It’s notable that you were the only computer scientist among the authors. Could you tell the story behind that letter and what led you to write it? (https://www.independent.co.uk/news/science/stephen-hawking-transcendence-looks-at-the-implications-of-artificial-intelligence-but-are-we-taking-9313474.html) STUART J. RUSSELL: So, it’s an interesting story. It started when I got a call from National Public Radio, who wanted to interview me about this movie called Transcendence.

Warnings that robots will soon be weaponized, or that truly intelligent (or superintelligent) machines might someday represent an existential threat to humanity, are regularly reported in the media. A number of very prominent public figures—none of whom are actual AI experts—have weighed in. Elon Musk has used especially extreme rhetoric, declaring that AI research is “summoning the demon” and that “AI is more dangerous than nuclear weapons.” Even less volatile individuals, including Henry Kissinger and the late Stephen Hawking, have issued dire warnings. The purpose of this book is to illuminate the field of artificial intelligence—as well as the opportunities and risks associated with it—by having a series of deep, wide-ranging conversations with some of the world’s most prominent AI research scientists and entrepreneurs. Many of these people have made seminal contributions that directly underlie the transformations we see all around us; others have founded companies that are pushing the frontiers of AI, robotics and machine learning.

Nowadays they can use AI to target their message to people in a much more accurate way, and I think that’s kind of scary, especially when it makes people do things that may be against their well-being. It could be the case in political advertising, for example, or advertising that could change your behavior and have an impact on your health. I think we should be really, really careful about how these tools are used to influence people in general. MARTIN FORD: What about the warnings from people like Elon Musk and Stephen Hawking about an existential threat from super intelligent AI and getting into a recursive improvement loop? Are these things that we should be concerned about at this point? YOSHUA BENGIO: I’m not concerned about these things, I think it’s fine that some people study the question. My understanding of the current science as it is now, and as I can foresee it, is that those kinds of scenarios are not realistic.


What We Cannot Know: Explorations at the Edge of Knowledge by Marcus Du Sautoy

Albert Michelson, Andrew Wiles, Antoine Gombaud: Chevalier de Méré, Arthur Eddington, banking crisis, bet made by Stephen Hawking and Kip Thorne, Black Swan, Brownian motion, clockwork universe, cosmic microwave background, cosmological constant, dark matter, Dmitri Mendeleev, Edmond Halley, Edward Lorenz: Chaos theory, Ernest Rutherford, Georg Cantor, Hans Lippershey, Harvard Computers: women astronomers, Henri Poincaré, invention of the telescope, Isaac Newton, Johannes Kepler, Magellanic Cloud, mandelbrot fractal, MITM: man-in-the-middle, Murray Gell-Mann, music of the spheres, Necker cube, Paul Erdős, Pierre-Simon Laplace, Richard Feynman, Skype, Slavoj Žižek, Solar eclipse in 1919, stem cell, Stephen Hawking, technological singularity, Thales of Miletus, Turing test, wikimedia commons

Nevertheless, some held on to the belief that these regions of space-time would not occur. In 1964 the first potential example of just such a high-density region was identified in the constellation of Cygnus. Called Cygnus X-1, by 1971 calculations of its mass and concentration led to the conjecture that it was a black hole. Not everyone was convinced. In fact, there was one notable person who made a bet in 1975 to the effect that Cygnus X-1 was not a black hole: Stephen Hawking. This was somewhat odd, given that he’d dedicated much of his research to probing the nature of black holes. If Cygnus X-1 turned out to be the first example of a black hole, all Hawking’s theoretical musings would have been justified. As he explained in A Brief History of Time, the bet was an insurance policy. Betting against your football team winning the final of the FA cup is a win–win situation: if your team loses, at least you benefit financially.

Eddington could see what the maths was implying but baulked at the implications: ‘When we prove a result without understanding it – when it drops unforeseen out of a maze of mathematical formulae – we have no grounds for hoping that it will apply.’ But in 1964 Oxford mathematician Roger Penrose proved that such singular points were a necessary consequence of the theory of general relativity. A black hole in two-dimensional space-time. The event horizon is a circle inside of which we cannot know. In collaboration with a young Stephen Hawking, Penrose went on to prove that the same infinite density is predicted when we rewind the universe back to the Big Bang. Both black holes and the Big Bang are examples in general relativity of a mathematical entity called a singularity. Singularities encompass a whole range of situations where it is impossible to work out what’s happening. A singularity is a point at which our ability to model the scenario breaks down.

I could chuck my dice, my cello, my wristwatch inside, and once they have passed the event horizon there is nothing about the black hole that gives any hint about what I threw in there. There is no way to rewind events to see what it was that passed that event horizon. Although it is referred to as a theorem, it should actually be called a conjecture, because there is no conclusive proof that information is truly lost. Indeed, in 1974 the extent to which the event horizon masks what’s going on inside a black hole was queried. This is because, according to Stephen Hawking, black holes are leaking. NOT-SO-BLACK BLACK HOLES Once my dice is thrown into a black hole, there seems to be no mechanism to know how it lands. At least many thought this must be the consequence of such a concentration of mass-warping space-time. But when Hawking applied the second law of thermodynamics to black holes, it turned out that they weren’t as black as everyone had originally thought.


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Collider by Paul Halpern

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, 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.


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Thinking Machines: The Inside Story of Artificial Intelligence and Our Race to Build the Future by Luke Dormehl

Ada Lovelace, agricultural Revolution, AI winter, Albert Einstein, Alexey Pajitnov wrote Tetris, algorithmic trading, Amazon Mechanical Turk, Apple II, artificial general intelligence, Automated Insights, autonomous vehicles, book scanning, borderless world, call centre, cellular automata, Claude Shannon: information theory, cloud computing, computer vision, correlation does not imply causation, crowdsourcing, drone strike, Elon Musk, Flash crash, friendly AI, game design, global village, Google X / Alphabet X, hive mind, industrial robot, information retrieval, Internet of things, iterative process, Jaron Lanier, John Markoff, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, John Maynard Keynes: technological unemployment, John von Neumann, Kickstarter, Kodak vs Instagram, Law of Accelerating Returns, life extension, Loebner Prize, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, Menlo Park, natural language processing, Norbert Wiener, out of africa, PageRank, pattern recognition, Ray Kurzweil, recommendation engine, remote working, RFID, self-driving car, Silicon Valley, Skype, smart cities, Smart Cities: Big Data, Civic Hackers, and the Quest for a New Utopia, social intelligence, speech recognition, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Steven Pinker, strong AI, superintelligent machines, technological singularity, The Coming Technological Singularity, The Future of Employment, Tim Cook: Apple, too big to fail, Turing machine, Turing test, Vernor Vinge, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!

Billions Fewer than We Thought’, Guardian, 28 February 2012: theguardian.com/science/blog/2012/feb/28/how-many-neurons-human-brain 10 Stoller-Conrad, Jessica, ‘Controlling a Robotic Arm with a Patient’s Intentions’, Caltech, 21 May 2015: caltech.edu/news/controlling-robotic-arm-patients-intentions-46786 11 Kever, Jeannie, ‘Researchers Build Brain-Machine Interface to Control Prosthetic Hand’, University of Houston, 31 March 2015: uh.edu/news-events/stories/2015/March/0331BionicHand.php 12 Kurzweil, Ray, ‘The Law of Accelerating Returns’, 7 March 2001: kurzweilai.net/the-law-of-accelerating-returns 13 Linden, David, ‘The Singularity Is Far: A Neuroscientist’s View’, BoingBoing, 14 July 2011: http://boingboing.net/2011/07/14/far.html 14 http://2045.com/press/ 15 Hayworth, Ken, ‘Killed by Bad Philosophy’, Brain Preservation Foundation, January 2010: brainpreservation.org/content-2/killed-bad-philosophy/ Chapter 8: The Future (Risks) of Thinking Machines 1 Cook, James, ‘Elon Musk: Robots Could Start Killing Us All Within 5 Years’, Business Insider, 17 November 2014: uk.businessinsider.com/elon-musk-killer-robots-will-be-here-within-five-years-2014–11 2 Hern, Alex, ‘Elon Musk Says He Invested in DeepMind Over “Terminator” Fears’, Guardian, 18 June 2014: theguardian.com/technology/2014/jun/18/elon-musk-deepmind-ai-tesla-motors 3 Hawking, Stephen et al., ‘Stephen Hawking: “Transcendence Looks at the Implications of Artificial Intelligence … ”’, Independent, 1 May 2014: independent.co.uk/news/science/stephen-hawking-transcendence-looks-at-the-implications-of-artificial-intelligence-but-are-we-taking-9313474.html 4 Hill, Doug, ‘The Eccentric Genius Whose Time May Have Finally Come (Again)’, Atlantic, 11 June 2014: theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2014/06/norbert-wiener-the-eccentric-genius-whose-time-may-have-finally-come-again/372607/ 5 Good, I.

With a personal net worth in the region of $11.2 billion, Musk says that he doesn’t make his AI investments with an eye on making a return on his investment, so much as he does to stay clued-in. ‘I like to just keep an eye on what’s going on with Artificial Intelligence,’ he told the US news channel CNBC. ‘I think there is potentially a dangerous outcome there.’ Elon Musk is not the only person concerned that building thinking machines may carry dangers we are as yet unaware of. The renowned physicist Stephen Hawking is another notable name who has expressed his reservations. ‘One can imagine such technology outsmarting financial markets, out-inventing human researchers, out-manipulating human leaders, and developing weapons we cannot even understand,’ he wrote in May 2014. ‘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.’


pages: 252 words: 79,452

To Be a Machine: Adventures Among Cyborgs, Utopians, Hackers, and the Futurists Solving the Modest Problem of Death by Mark O'Connell

3D printing, Ada Lovelace, AI winter, Airbnb, Albert Einstein, artificial general intelligence, brain emulation, clean water, cognitive dissonance, computer age, cosmological principle, dark matter, disruptive innovation, double helix, Edward Snowden, effective altruism, Elon Musk, Extropian, friendly AI, global pandemic, impulse control, income inequality, invention of the wheel, Jacques de Vaucanson, John von Neumann, knowledge economy, Law of Accelerating Returns, life extension, lifelogging, Lyft, Mars Rover, means of production, Norbert Wiener, Peter Thiel, profit motive, Ray Kurzweil, RFID, self-driving car, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley ideology, Singularitarianism, Skype, Stephen Hawking, Steve Wozniak, superintelligent machines, technological singularity, technoutopianism, The Coming Technological Singularity, Travis Kalanick, trickle-down economics, Turing machine, uber lyft, Vernor Vinge

Transhumanism’s influence seemed perceptible in the fanatical dedication of many tech entrepreneurs to the ideal of radical life extension—in the PayPal cofounder and Facebook investor Peter Thiel’s funding of various life extension projects, for instance, and in Google’s establishment of its biotech subsidiary Calico, aimed at generating solutions to the problem of human aging. And the movement’s influence was perceptible, too, in Elon Musk’s and Bill Gates’s and Stephen Hawking’s increasingly vehement warnings about the prospect of our species’ annihilation by an artificial superintelligence, not to mention in Google’s instatement of Ray Kurzweil, the high priest of the Technological Singularity, as its director of engineering. I saw the imprint of transhumanism in claims like that of Google CEO Eric Schmidt, who suggested that “Eventually, you’ll have an implant, where if you just think about a fact, it will tell you the answer.”

Elon Musk had spoken of AI as “our greatest existential threat,” of its development as a technological means of “summoning the demon.” (“Hope we’re not just the biological boot loader for digital superintelligence,” he’d tweeted in August of 2014. “Unfortunately, that is increasingly probable.”) Peter Thiel had announced that “People are spending way too much time thinking about climate change, way too little thinking about AI.” Stephen Hawking, meanwhile, had written an op-ed for The Independent in which he’d warned that success in this endeavor, while it would be “the biggest event in human history,” might very well “also be the last, unless we learn to avoid the risks.” Even Bill Gates had publicly admitted his disquiet, speaking of his inability to “understand why some people are not concerned.” Was I myself concerned? Yes and no.

One of the people who had been most instrumental in its being taken seriously was Stuart Russell, a professor of computer science at U.C. Berkeley who had, more or less literally, written the book on artificial intelligence. (He was the coauthor, with Google’s research director Peter Norvig, of Artificial Intelligence: A Modern Approach, the book most widely used as a core AI text in university computer science courses.) In 2014, Russell and three other scientists—Stephen Hawking, Max Tegmark, and Nobel laureate physicist Frank Wilczek—had published a stern warning, in of all venues The Huffington Post, about the dangers of AI. The idea, common among those working on AI, that because an artificial general intelligence is widely agreed to be several decades from realization we can just keep working on it and solve safety problems if and when they arise is one that Russell and his esteemed coauthors attack as fundamentally wrongheaded.


pages: 257 words: 80,100

Time Travel: A History by James Gleick

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, 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: 124 words: 40,697

The Grand Design by Stephen Hawking, Leonard Mlodinow

airport security, Albert Einstein, Albert Michelson, anthropic principle, Arthur Eddington, Buckminster Fuller, conceptual framework, cosmic microwave background, cosmological constant, dark matter, fudge factor, invention of the telescope, Isaac Newton, Johannes Kepler, John Conway, John von Neumann, luminiferous ether, Mercator projection, Richard Feynman, Stephen Hawking, Thales of Miletus, the scientific method, Turing machine

ALSO BY STEPHEN HAWKING A Brief History of Time 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 FOR CHILDREN George’s Secret Key to the Universe (with Lucy Hawking) George’s Cosmic Treasure Hunt (with Lucy Hawking) ALSO BY LEONARD MLODINOW Euclid’s Window: The Story of Geometry from Parallel Lines to Hyperspace Feynman’s Rainbow: A Search for Beauty in Physics and in Life A Briefer History of Time The Drunkard’s Walk: How Randomness Rules Our Live War of the Worldviews (with Deepak Chopra) FOR CHILDREN The Last Dinosaur (with Matt Costello) Titanic Cat (with Matt Costello) Copyright © 2010 by Stephen W. Hawking and Leonard Mlodinow Original art copyright © 2010 by Peter Bollinger All rights reserved.

If there are two messages they consistently provided, they were “It’s time to finish the book already,” and “Don’t worry about when you’ll finish, you’ll get there eventually.” They were wise enough to know when to say which. And finally, our thanks to Stephen’s personal assistant, Judith Croasdell; his computer aide, Sam Blackburn; and Joan Godwin. They provided not just moral support, but practical and technical support without which we could not have written this book. Moreover, they always knew where to find the best pubs. 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, and A Briefer History of Time.


pages: 276 words: 81,153

Outnumbered: From Facebook and Google to Fake News and Filter-Bubbles – the Algorithms That Control Our Lives by David Sumpter

affirmative action, Bernie Sanders, correlation does not imply causation, crowdsourcing, don't be evil, Donald Trump, Elon Musk, Filter Bubble, Google Glasses, illegal immigration, Jeff Bezos, job automation, Kenneth Arrow, Loebner Prize, Mark Zuckerberg, meta analysis, meta-analysis, Minecraft, Nate Silver, natural language processing, Nelson Mandela, p-value, prediction markets, random walk, Ray Kurzweil, Robert Mercer, selection bias, self-driving car, Silicon Valley, Skype, Snapchat, speech recognition, statistical model, Stephen Hawking, Steven Pinker, The Signal and the Noise by Nate Silver, traveling salesman, Turing test

The real world has real problems and it is our job to come up with real solutions. There is so much more complexity to every problem than just making calculations. During the months that followed my visit to Google in May 2016, I started to see a new type of maths story in the newspapers. An uncertainty was spreading across Europe and the US. Google’s search engine was making racist autocomplete suggestions; Twitterbots were spreading fake news; Stephen Hawking was worried about artificial intelligence; far-right groups were living in algorithmically created filter-bubbles; Facebook was measuring our personalities, and these were being exploited to target voters. One after another, the stories of the dangers of algorithms accumulated. Even the mathematicians’ ability to make predictions was called into question as statistical models got both Brexit and Trump wrong.

They were enjoying the speculation, but it wasn’t science. It was pure entertainment. The problem with my position – that talking about what will happen when general AI arrives is idle speculation – is that it is difficult for me to prove. Part of me feels like I shouldn’t even try. If I do, I am just joining in the clamour of middle-aged men desperate to have their opinion heard. But it seems that I can’t help myself. With Stephen Hawking claiming that AI ‘could spell the end of the human race’, I can’t help wanting to clarify my own position. I have tried to argue against the likelihood of general AI before. In 2013, I had an online debate with Olle Häggström, a professor at Gothenburg University, about the subject.2 Olle believes that the risk is sufficiently large that we should make sure that humanity is prepared for its arrival.

The founder of the company Harm now works for seems to agree with him. In September 2017, Bill Gates told the Wall Street Journal the subject of AI is not something we need to panic about. He said he disagreed with Elon Musk about the urgency of the potential problems. So if we are currently mimicking a level of ‘intelligence’ around that of a tummy bug, why has Elon Musk declared AI such a big concern? Why is Stephen Hawking getting so worried about the predictive power of his speech software? What causes Max Tegmark and his buddies to sit in a row and declare, one after another, their belief that superintelligence is on its way? These are smart people; what is clouding their judgement? I think there is a combination of factors. One is commercial. It doesn’t hurt DeepMind to have a bit of buzz around artificial intelligence.


pages: 301 words: 89,076

The Globotics Upheaval: Globalisation, Robotics and the Future of Work by Richard Baldwin

agricultural Revolution, Airbnb, AltaVista, Amazon Web Services, augmented reality, autonomous vehicles, basic income, business process, business process outsourcing, call centre, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, Cass Sunstein, commoditize, computer vision, Corn Laws, correlation does not imply causation, Credit Default Swap, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, declining real wages, deindustrialization, deskilling, Donald Trump, Douglas Hofstadter, Downton Abbey, Elon Musk, Erik Brynjolfsson, facts on the ground, future of journalism, future of work, George Gilder, Google Glasses, Google Hangouts, hiring and firing, impulse control, income inequality, industrial robot, intangible asset, Internet of things, invisible hand, James Watt: steam engine, Jeff Bezos, job automation, knowledge worker, laissez-faire capitalism, low skilled workers, Machine translation of "The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak." to Russian and back, manufacturing employment, Mark Zuckerberg, mass immigration, mass incarceration, Metcalfe’s law, new economy, optical character recognition, pattern recognition, Ponzi scheme, post-industrial society, post-work, profit motive, remote working, reshoring, ride hailing / ride sharing, Robert Gordon, Robert Metcalfe, Ronald Reagan, Second Machine Age, self-driving car, side project, Silicon Valley, Skype, Snapchat, social intelligence, sovereign wealth fund, standardized shipping container, statistical model, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, supply-chain management, TaskRabbit, telepresence, telepresence robot, telerobotics, Thomas Malthus, trade liberalization, universal basic income

If history is a guide, the next step will be some form of backlash, and possibly another wave of populism. It has happened before. 1. Quote from Kevin Delaney, “The Robot That Takes Your Job Should Pay Taxes, Says Bill Gates,” Quartz, February 17, 2017. 2. Quote from Quincy Larson, “A Warning from Bill Gates, Elon Musk, and Stephen Hawking,” freeCodeCamp.org, February 18, 2017. 3. Quoted in Walt Mossberg, “Five Things I Learned from Jeff Bezos at Code,” Recode (blog), June 8, 2016. 4. Stephen Hawking, “This Is the Most Dangerous Time for Our Planet,” The Guardian, December 1, 2016. 5. Quotes from Adam Lashinksy, “Yes, AI Will Kill Jobs. Humans Will Dream Up Better Ones,” Fortune, January 5, 2017. 6. Alastair Bathgate, “Blue Prism’s Software Robots on the Rise,” Blueprism (blog), July 14, 2016. 7. Patricia Leighton and Duncan Brown, “Future Working: The Rise of Europe’s Independent Professionals,” EFIP Report, Freelancers.org, 2013. 8.

These are simply things that I think probably will happen.”2 The CEO of Amazon, Jeff Bezos—another successful surfer of technology waves—says: “It’s probably hard to overstate how big of an impact it’s going to have on society over the next twenty years.”3 Devin Wenig, who is the CEO of eBay points out: “While the promise of AI has been known for years, the current pace of breakthrough is stunning. Machines are set to reach and exceed human performance on more and more tasks, thanks to advances in dedicated hardware, faster and deeper access to big data, and new sophisticated algorithms that provide the ability to learn and improve based on feedback.” The late Stephen Hawking never knew much about business, but as one of the world’s most eminent physicists, he was well placed to judge the future course of digitech. He warned: “The automation of factories has already decimated jobs in traditional manufacturing, and the rise of artificial intelligence is likely to extend this job destruction deep into the middle classes, with only the most caring, creative or supervisory roles remaining.”4 These rich guys have put their finger on the thing that will turn the Globotics Transformation into the globotics upheaval.


pages: 294 words: 87,986

4th Rock From the Sun: The Story of Mars by Nicky Jenner

3D printing, Alfred Russel Wallace, Astronomia nova, cuban missile crisis, Elon Musk, game design, hive mind, invention of the telescope, Johannes Kepler, Kickstarter, low earth orbit, On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres, placebo effect, Pluto: dwarf planet, retrograde motion, selection bias, silicon-based life, Skype, Stephen Hawking, technoutopianism

By exploring how Mars formed, and how it has evolved into the planet it is today, we can not only understand our neighbour better, but also learn more about ourselves – about how Earth formed, how rocky planets form and evolve in general, whether or not they are often habitable (if not inhabited) and, if inhabited, how such life came about. While Mars is geologically similar to Earth, it formed more quickly in the Solar System and has seen far less change across its surface, meaning that its geologic record is both much more complete and extends further back in time than our own. Many prominent scientists and engineers believe that, all things considered, Mars is simply the best place to go to next. These include Stephen Hawking (‘Mars is the obvious next target’), Bill Nye, Elon Musk, Neil deGrasse Tyson, Carl Sagan (‘The next place to wander to is Mars’), NASA adminis­trator Charles Bolden (‘Mars is a stepping stone to other solar systems’), and more. Former NASA Apollo 11 astronaut Buzz Aldrin even created his own line of ‘Get Your Ass to Mars’ T-shirts, based on Arnold Schwarzenegger’s famous line in the 1990 Mars-related film Total Recall.

It may seem a far-off and abstract reason for such short-term urgency, but it’s worth considering. A single global-scale event could wipe out our entire species. It could take us hundreds of years to build stable and functioning human colonies on any world in the Solar System, Mars included – so why not start now? ‘Spreading out into space will have an even greater effect [than Columbus had when he discovered the New World],’ said Stephen Hawking in a NASA lecture in 2008. ‘It will completely change the future of the human race and maybe determine whether we have any future at all. It won’t solve any of our immediate problems on planet Earth, but it will give us a new perspective on them, and cause us to look outwards rather than inwards. Hopefully it would unite us to face a common challenge. If the human race is to continue for another million years, we will have to boldly go where no one has gone before.’

Curiosity, the drive to understand and explore both our world and the Universe in which we live (and the very apt name of NASA’s fourth and largest rover), has driven many of the most monumental achievements in human history, from flying across oceans and continents just for the sake of it to understanding more about the nature of medicine or electricity or human biology. One part of this meaning requires a global perspective – to believe that we are not just individuals and the centres of our own lives, but a member of the human race, the only known civilisation in the Universe and one that naturally longs to explore its surroundings (whether it be sailing to find the Americas, sailing to the Moon, or sailing to a neighbouring planet or beyond). As Stephen Hawking famously said in a 1988 interview with German magazine Der Spiegel: ‘We are just an advanced breed of monkeys on a minor planet of a very average star. But we can understand the Universe. That makes us something very special.’ Space science tackles the biggest questions we can think up: are we alone in the Universe? How, when and where has life formed in the cosmos? Is it unique to Earth? If there is life, what does it look like, could we communicate with it and where is it?


pages: 283 words: 81,376

The Doomsday Calculation: How an Equation That Predicts the Future Is Transforming Everything We Know About Life and the Universe by William Poundstone

Albert Einstein, anthropic principle, Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic, Arthur Eddington, Bayesian statistics, Benoit Mandelbrot, Berlin Wall, bitcoin, Black Swan, conceptual framework, cosmic microwave background, cosmological constant, cosmological principle, cuban missile crisis, dark matter, digital map, discounted cash flows, Donald Trump, Doomsday Clock, double helix, Elon Musk, Gerolamo Cardano, index fund, Isaac Newton, Jaron Lanier, Jeff Bezos, John Markoff, John von Neumann, mandelbrot fractal, Mark Zuckerberg, Mars Rover, Peter Thiel, Pierre-Simon Laplace, probability theory / Blaise Pascal / Pierre de Fermat, RAND corporation, random walk, Richard Feynman, ride hailing / ride sharing, Rodney Brooks, Ronald Reagan, Ronald Reagan: Tear down this wall, Sam Altman, Schrödinger's Cat, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, self-driving car, Silicon Valley, Skype, Stanislav Petrov, Stephen Hawking, strong AI, Thomas Bayes, Thomas Malthus, time value of money, Turing test

Our bubble’s space is expanding outward much faster than the speed of light. Even if a spaceship could reach the periphery of our bubble, the high-energy vacuum would surely destroy it. Nor can any light beams reach us from other bubbles. This makes physicists uneasy. There have been attempts to create models of inflation that save the verifiable predictions while making fewer flamboyant claims about what we can’t observe. Stephen Hawking was working on one such model at the time of his death. This raises the question of whether we should trust a well-regarded theory when it speaks of the unobservable. Actually, we do this all the time. If an apple falls from a tree in a forest, and there’s no Newton to see it, did the apple really fall? Of course it did. Another theory of gravity, Einstein’s general relativity, describes what happens inside black holes.

., Confrontation of Cosmological Theories with Observational Data, Proceedings of the Symposium, Kraków, September 10–12, 1973, IAU Symposium No. 63, Dordrecht: D. Reidel, 1974, 291–298. Caves, Carleton M. “Predicting Future Duration from Present Age: A Critical Assessment.” Contemporary Physics 41 (2000): 143. . “Predicting Future Duration from Present Age: Revisiting a Critical Assessment of Gott’s Rule.” 2008. bit.ly/2sjdzPi. Cellan-Jones, Rory. “Stephen Hawking Warns Artificial Intelligence Could End Mankind.” BBC News, December 2, 2014. bbc.in/1vgH80r. Chown, Marcus. “Dying to Know: Would You Lay Your Life on the Line for a Theory?” New Scientist, December 20/27, 1997, 50–51. Clark, Nicola, and Dennis Overbye. “Scientist Suspected of Terrorist Ties.” New York Times, October 9, 2009. Clifford, Catherine. “Mark Zuckerberg Doubles Down Defending A.I.

East Carolina University News Service, March 27, 2013. bit.ly/2rkv0za. Tyson, Neil deGrasse, Michael A. Strauss, and J. Richard Gott. Welcome to the Universe: An Astrophysical Tour. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2016. Ulam, Stanislaw. “Tribute to John von Neumann.” Bulletin of the American Mathematical Society 5 (1958): 1–49. van der Vat, Dan. “Jack Good” (obituary). Guardian, April 28, 2009. Varandani, Suman. “Stephen Hawking Puts an Expiry Date on Humanity.” International Business Times, November 16, 2016. Von Foerster, Heinz, Patricia M. Mora, and Lawrence W. Amiot. “Doomsday: Friday, November 13, AD 2026.” Science 132 (1960): 1291–1295. Wade, Nicholas. “Genome Study Provided a Census of Early Humans.” New York Times, January 18, 2010. Wearing, J. P. The London Stage: A Calendar of Plays and Players. Metuchen, NJ: Scarecrow Press, 1976–1993.


pages: 283 words: 85,906

The Clock Mirage: Our Myth of Measured Time by Joseph Mazur

Albert Einstein, Alfred Russel Wallace, Arthur Eddington, computer age, Credit Default Swap, Danny Hillis, Drosophila, Eratosthenes, Henri Poincaré, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), invention of movable type, Isaac Newton, Jeff Bezos, job automation, Mark Zuckerberg, mass immigration, Pepto Bismol, self-driving car, Stephen Hawking, twin studies

Where will 1.5 billion people go in the next 50 years when temperature rises to uninhabitable levels, floods take over habitats established for hundreds of years, drinkable water becomes scarce, and resulting mass migration causes uncontrolled wars all over the globe? What will time be like for those poor folks whose lifespans will be shrunken to the average age of a horse? When things get worse, were will they go? Stephen Hawking tells us that we’d better look for another planet. Speaking in Trondheim, Norway, at the Starmus Festival IV, nine months before his death on March 14, 2018, he warned, “If humanity is to continue for another million years, our future lies in boldly going where no one else has gone before. . . . Spreading out may be the only thing that saves us from ourselves. I am convinced that humans have to leave Earth.”18 If we do ever leave—and make no mistake about it, sooner or later we will leave—we will have an enormously difficult problem of changing everything we ever knew about time, to say nothing about our adjustments to gravity, oxygen, and whatever else our exile will have in store.

Many of the physicists I know view time travel as suspiciously dubious, since the entire concept permits effects to happen before their causes. Their wariness comes from knowing that general relativity equations of space-time curvature are local, that is: respecting all properties of space-time curvature in any small neighborhood surrounding any point in space, including the causality constraint backed by Stephen Hawking’s chronology protection conjecture: cause must precede effect. Hawking tells us, “Euclidean wormholes do not introduce any nonlocal effects. So they are no good for space or time travel.”3 Reversing time is physics, and mostly mathematics, but our experience tells us that time moves (if we can say that time “moves”) in one direction only. The prophetic “time’s arrow” points forward, not backward.

This is how Gamow saw space-time geometry: “The topography and the history of the universe fuse into one harmonious picture, and all we have to consider is a tangled bunch of world lines representing the motion of individual atoms, animals, or stars.”6 Looped world line The illustration here represents the lucky time traveler’s convenient loop of a world line, a CTC that loops in such a way that a now meets with a past. It seems to be a traveling jump in time, yet it is just a meeting. Now is still now and past remains in the past. It’s a fine picture, but could a timelike curve ever meet itself? Stephen Hawking, by his chronology protection conjecture, speculates that a finite CTC would refute some laws of physics. “The laws of physics do not allow the appearance of closed timelike curves,” Hawking wrote in 1992. Evidently, such a curve would have to be infinite, thereby forbidding any kind of normal, finitely scaled time travel through looped timelike curves. He quipped, “It seems that there is a Chronology Protection Agency which prevents the appearance of closed timelike curves and so makes the universe safe for historians.”7 Those timelike curves that touch themselves in finite loops support time travel opportunities in the genre of science fiction, where jumps into the past or jumps into the future are almost always soaring pole vaults.


pages: 448 words: 117,325

Click Here to Kill Everybody: Security and Survival in a Hyper-Connected World by Bruce Schneier

23andMe, 3D printing, autonomous vehicles, barriers to entry, bitcoin, blockchain, Brian Krebs, business process, cloud computing, cognitive bias, computer vision, connected car, corporate governance, crowdsourcing, cryptocurrency, cuban missile crisis, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, David Heinemeier Hansson, Donald Trump, drone strike, Edward Snowden, Elon Musk, fault tolerance, Firefox, Flash crash, George Akerlof, industrial robot, information asymmetry, Internet of things, invention of radio, job automation, job satisfaction, John Markoff, Kevin Kelly, license plate recognition, loose coupling, market design, medical malpractice, Minecraft, MITM: man-in-the-middle, move fast and break things, move fast and break things, national security letter, Network effects, pattern recognition, profit maximization, Ralph Nader, RAND corporation, ransomware, Rodney Brooks, Ross Ulbricht, security theater, self-driving car, Shoshana Zuboff, Silicon Valley, smart cities, smart transportation, Snapchat, Stanislav Petrov, Stephen Hawking, Stuxnet, The Market for Lemons, too big to fail, Uber for X, Unsafe at Any Speed, uranium enrichment, Valery Gerasimov, web application, WikiLeaks, zero day

id=sjMsDwAAQBAJ. 86The US Department of Defense defines: Heather Roff (9 Feb 2016), “Distinguishing autonomous from automatic weapons,” Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, http://thebulletin.org/autonomous-weapons-civilian-safety-and-regulation-versus-prohibition/distinguishing-autonomous-automatic-weapons. 86If they are autonomous: Paul Scharre (29 Feb 2016), “Autonomous weapons and operational risk,” Center for a New American Security, https://www.cnas.org/publications/reports/autonomous-weapons-and-operational-risk. 86Technologists Bill Gates, Elon Musk, and Stephen Hawking: Michael Sainato (19 Aug 2015), “Stephen Hawking, Elon Musk, and Bill Gates warn about artificial intelligence,” Observer, http://observer.com/2015/08/stephen-hawking-elon-musk-and-bill-gates-warn-about-artificial-intelligence. 86The risks might be remote: Stuart Russell et al. (11 Jan 2015), “An open letter: Research priorities for robust and beneficial artificial intelligence,” Future of Life Institute, https://futureoflife.org/ai-open-letter. 86I am less worried about AI: These two essays talk about that: Ted Chiang (18 Dec 2017), “Silicon Valley is turning into its own worst fear,” BuzzFeed, https://www.buzzfeed.com/tedchiang/the-real-danger-to-civilization-isnt-ai-its-runaway.

If they are autonomous, they might be hacked to turn on each other or their human allies in large numbers. Weapons that can’t be recalled or turned off—and also operate at computer speeds—could cause all sorts of lethal problems for friend and foe alike. All of this comes together in artificial intelligence. Over the past few years, we’ve read some dire predictions about the dangers of AI. Technologists Bill Gates, Elon Musk, and Stephen Hawking, and philosopher Nick Bostrom, have all warned of a future where artificial intelligence—either as intelligent robots or as something less personified—becomes so powerful that it takes over the world and enslaves, exterminates, or ignores humanity. The risks might be remote, they argue, but they’re so serious that it would be foolish to ignore them. I am less worried about AI; I regard fear of AI more as a mirror of our own society than as a harbinger of the future.


pages: 855 words: 178,507

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

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, Donald Knuth, 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, Jaron Lanier, jimmy wales, Johannes Kepler, John von Neumann, Joseph-Marie Jacquard, lifelogging, Louis Daguerre, Marshall McLuhan, Menlo Park, microbiome, Milgram experiment, Network effects, New Journalism, Norbert Wiener, Norman Macrae, On the Economy of Machinery and Manufactures, PageRank, pattern recognition, phenotype, Pierre-Simon Laplace, pre–internet, Ralph Waldo Emerson, RAND corporation, reversible computing, Richard Feynman, Rubik’s Cube, 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


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The Pentagon's Brain: An Uncensored History of DARPA, America's Top-Secret Military Research Agency by Annie Jacobsen

Albert Einstein, Berlin Wall, colonial rule, crowdsourcing, cuban missile crisis, Dean Kamen, drone strike, Edward Snowden, Fall of the Berlin Wall, game design, John Markoff, John von Neumann, license plate recognition, Livingstone, I presume, low earth orbit, megacity, Menlo Park, meta analysis, meta-analysis, Mikhail Gorbachev, Murray Gell-Mann, mutually assured destruction, Norman Mailer, operation paperclip, place-making, RAND corporation, Ronald Reagan, Ronald Reagan: Tear down this wall, social intelligence, stem cell, Stephen Hawking, zero-sum game

Another way to ask, from a DARPA frame of mind: Were Russia or China or South Korea or India or Iran to present the world with the first human clone, or the first artificially intelligent machine, would that be considered a Sputnik-like surprise? DARPA has always sought the technological and military edge, leaving observers to debate the line between militarily useful scientific progress and pushing science too far. What is right and what is wrong? “Look at Stephen Hawking,” says Dr. Bryant. Hawking, a theoretical physicist and cosmologist, is considered one of the smartest people on the planet. In 1963 he contracted motor neuron disease and was given two years to live. He is still alive in 2015. Although Hawking is paralyzed, he has had a remarkably full life in the more than fifty years since, working, writing books, and communicating through a speech-generating device.

In 2014 Hawking and a group of colleagues warned against the risks posed by artificially intelligent machines. “One can imagine such technology outsmarting financial markets, out-inventing human researchers, out-manipulating human leaders, and developing weapons we cannot even understand. 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.” Stephen Hawking is far from alone in his warnings against artificial intelligence. The physicist and artificial intelligence expert Steve Omohundro believes that “these [autonomous] systems are likely to behave in anti-social and harmful ways unless they are very carefully designed.” In Geneva in 2013, the United Nations held its first-ever convention on lethal autonomous weapons systems, or hunter-killer drones.

In an interview for this book, Noel Sharkey relayed a list of potential robot errors he believes are far too serious to ignore, including “human-machine interaction failures, software coding errors, malfunctions, communication degradation, enemy cyber-attacks,” and more. “I believe there is a line that must not be crossed,” Sharkey says. “Robots should not be given the authority to kill humans.” Can the push to create hunter-killer robots be stopped? Steve Omohundro believes that “an autonomous weapons arms race is already taking place,” because “military and economic pressures are driving the rapid development of autonomous systems.” Stephen Hawking, Noel Sharkey, and Steve Omohundro are three among a growing population who believe that humanity is standing on a precipice. DARPA’s goal is to create and prevent strategic surprise. But what if the ultimate endgame is humanity’s loss? What if, in trying to stave off foreign military competitors, DARPA creates an unexpected competitor that becomes its own worst enemy? A mechanical rival born of powerful science with intelligence that quickly becomes superior to our own.


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The Fabric of the Cosmos by Brian Greene

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, 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).


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

Albert Einstein, 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, selection bias, 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.


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Slowdown: The End of the Great Acceleration―and Why It’s Good for the Planet, the Economy, and Our Lives by Danny Dorling, Kirsten McClure

Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, Berlin Wall, Bernie Sanders, Boris Johnson, British Empire, business cycle, capital controls, clean water, creative destruction, credit crunch, Donald Trump, drone strike, Elon Musk, en.wikipedia.org, Flynn Effect, full employment, future of work, gender pay gap, global supply chain, Google Glasses, Henri Poincaré, illegal immigration, immigration reform, income inequality, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Internet of things, Isaac Newton, James Dyson, jimmy wales, John Harrison: Longitude, Kickstarter, low earth orbit, Mark Zuckerberg, market clearing, Martin Wolf, mass immigration, means of production, megacity, meta analysis, meta-analysis, mortgage debt, nuclear winter, pattern recognition, Ponzi scheme, price stability, profit maximization, purchasing power parity, QWERTY keyboard, random walk, rent control, rising living standards, Robert Gordon, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Ronald Reagan, Scramble for Africa, sexual politics, Skype, Stephen Hawking, Steven Pinker, structural adjustment programs, the built environment, Tim Cook: Apple, transatlantic slave trade, trickle-down economics, very high income, wealth creators, wikimedia commons, working poor

“Paul” noted that there is no question that this is true, and that it has been obvious for a long time to anybody with a population chart and a basic understanding of mathematics. He said that the “negative second derivative of population (namely, a decline in growth) is as clear as day and must lead eventually to a negative first derivative (a decline in population itself),” concluding, “Why otherwise intelligent people (e.g., Stephen Hawking) can’t/couldn’t see this is astounding.”6 Stephen Hawking’s warning had been made a year before: “Humans must leave Earth in the next 200 years if we want to survive.”7 The human species is not, of course, neatly divided into two camps of remarkably clever and remarkably stupid people. We are mostly pretty average, and all of us are capable of being quite stupid from time to time. But occasionally someone, with time and space to think, is lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time to be the one to whom exceptional insight is later ascribed.

The third great slowdown in the Earth’s human population rise is taking place right now, arguably having begun with the faintest of signs in 1968, but with the greatest deceleration of all set to occur from 2020 onward. 22. World: total population, years 1–2100 (log scale). (Data from the Angus Maddison Project and UN World Population Prospects 2017.) You may look at figure 22 and conclude that history could repeat itself. The current global slowdown could rebound again after 2100. Stephen Hawking may turn out to be correct after all, and within the next two hundred years humans will leave the Earth and begin to expand rapidly in number again. However, this third great slowdown is a slowdown of our choosing, rather than one forced upon us or occurring without us realizing why, and the vast majority of people doing the choosing are women. Space travel, in the main, is an archetypal modern boys’ dream.

Just Little Bits of History Repeating (Part 1 and Part 2),” Significance, 13 and 14 June 2011, http://www.dannydorling.org/?page_id=2255. 6. Cheyenne Macdonald, “Will the World Run out of People? Book Claims Global Population Will Start to Decline in 30 Years Despite UN Predictions—and Says Once It Does ‘It Will Never End,’” Daily Mail, 4 February 2019, https://wwwdailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-6666745/Will-world-RUN-people-Book-claims-global-population-start-decline-30-years.html. 7. “Stephen Hawking’s Final Warning to Humanity,” New Zealand Herald, 28 March 2018, https://www.nzherald.co.nz/world/news/article.cfm?c_id=2&objectid=12013139. 8. Gordon Brown (former British prime minister), quoted in Danny Dorling and Sally Tomlinson, Rule Britannia: From Brexit to the End of Empire (London: Biteback, 2019), 78. 9. “List of Countries by GDP (PPP),” Wikipedia, accessed 24 April 2019, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_GDP_(PPP). 10.


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

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

., 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.”


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The New Gold Rush: The Riches of Space Beckon! by Joseph N. Pelton

3D printing, Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic, Buckminster Fuller, Carrington event, Colonization of Mars, disruptive innovation, Donald Trump, Elon Musk, en.wikipedia.org, full employment, global pandemic, Google Earth, gravity well, Iridium satellite, Jeff Bezos, job automation, Johannes Kepler, John von Neumann, life extension, low earth orbit, Lyft, Mark Shuttleworth, Mark Zuckerberg, megacity, megastructure, new economy, Peter H. Diamandis: Planetary Resources, post-industrial society, private space industry, Ray Kurzweil, Silicon Valley, skunkworks, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, Thomas Malthus, Tim Cook: Apple, Tunguska event, uber lyft, urban planning, urban sprawl, wikimedia commons, X Prize

Perhaps the mission is to create hypersonic jets that can span oceans in a few hours, or overcome the perils of climate change and effect a planetary defense against asteroids and violent solar storms. Perhaps the long-term goal is to allow humans to go into space forever and create colonies on the Moon and Mars and truly to explore the cosmos? Or is the idea truly to do all the above and more? Is the ultimate objective to realize the concept of Stephen Hawking to allow human civilization to spread the genes of Homo sapiens beyond Earth in order to allow the human species to survive for eons and eons to come by going beyond the Solar System to sow human seeds across the Milky Way Galaxy and beyond? In short, what does it really mean to go into outer space? And is the New Space revolution truly going to change human destiny forever? Certainly questions abound.

Yet another alternative to flying on Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo is to sign up to fly in a Russian Foxbat jet up into the stratosphere where one can see the curvature of Earth and dark sky for a cost of around $10,000. XCOR will soon provide a low altitude flight to half the altitude for about half the money. Actually a range of experiences are available via Space Adventures that also include cosmonaut training in the Russian Star City near Moscow. In talking to Peter Diamandis, he confirmed that the thrill of flying with Stephen Hawking on one of his Zero G flights was a highpoint of his career—both figuratively and literally. The bottom line is that there are many, many efforts around the world to develop what is often called the space tourism experience. These efforts include zero g flights, flights in high altitude jets, astronaut training, and plans to create new spaceports that are sort of a Disneyland for space enthusiasts.

Meteorological, or weather, satellitesSatellites used to monitor and track weather patterns and storms and are also used to monitor “space weather” and solar storms and to track patterns of climate change. Moon AgreementKnown officially as the “Agreement Governing the Activities of States on the Moon and Other Celestial Bodies.” It is controversial in that it has not been agreed to by the major spacefaring nations, and it took a number of years to acquire the signatures needed for it to come into force. Multi-planet civilizationNoted astrophysicists such as Carl Sagan and Stephen Hawking have indicated that a range of cosmic hazards threaten the long term survival of Homo sapiens as a sustainable species unless we are able to create viable habitats on different planets. They suggest that all of our eggs are literally in one basket and that survival requires moving beyond Earth. “New Space” enterprise or economyThe phrase “New Space” refers to the rise of new types of commercial space enterprises that are independent of the military or the government and are generally thought to involve start-up companies rather than well established aerospace companies.


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

Alan Turing: On Computable Numbers, with an Application to the Entscheidungsproblem, Albert Einstein, Andrew Wiles, Claude Shannon: information theory, cloud computing, complexity theory, Donald Knuth, Erdős number, four colour theorem, Gerolamo Cardano, Isaac Newton, Johannes Kepler, John von Neumann, linear programming, new economy, NP-complete, Occam's razor, P = NP, Paul Erdős, Richard Feynman, Rubik’s Cube, 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.


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Clock of the Long Now by Stewart Brand

Albert Einstein, Brewster Kahle, Buckminster Fuller, Colonization of Mars, complexity theory, Danny Hillis, Eratosthenes, Extropian, fault tolerance, George Santayana, Internet Archive, Jaron Lanier, Kevin Kelly, knowledge economy, life extension, longitudinal study, low earth orbit, Metcalfe’s law, Mitch Kapor, nuclear winter, pensions crisis, phenotype, Ray Kurzweil, Robert Metcalfe, 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 . . .”


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

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, Asilomar, augmented reality, autonomous vehicles, Benoit Mandelbrot, Bill Joy: nanobots, bioinformatics, brain emulation, Brewster Kahle, Brownian motion, business cycle, business intelligence, c2.com, call centre, carbon-based life, cellular automata, Claude Shannon: information theory, complexity theory, conceptual framework, Conway's Game of Life, coronavirus, 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, iterative process, Jaron Lanier, Jeff Bezos, job automation, job satisfaction, John von Neumann, Kevin Kelly, Law of Accelerating Returns, life extension, lifelogging, linked data, Loebner Prize, Louis Pasteur, mandelbrot fractal, Marshall McLuhan, Mikhail Gorbachev, Mitch Kapor, 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, Robert Metcalfe, Rodney Brooks, scientific worldview, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, selection bias, 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, Thomas Bayes, 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.


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Origin Story: A Big History of Everything by David Christian

Albert Einstein, Arthur Eddington, butterfly effect, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, Cepheid variable, colonial rule, Colonization of Mars, Columbian Exchange, complexity theory, cosmic microwave background, cosmological constant, creative destruction, cuban missile crisis, dark matter, demographic transition, double helix, Edward Lorenz: Chaos theory, Ernest Rutherford, European colonialism, Francisco Pizarro, Haber-Bosch Process, Harvard Computers: women astronomers, Isaac Newton, James Watt: steam engine, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, Joseph Schumpeter, Kickstarter, Marshall McLuhan, microbiome, nuclear winter, planetary scale, rising living standards, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, Stephen Hawking, Steven Pinker, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions, trade route, Yogi Berra

Every morning, we each experience how a conscious world, with shapes, sensations, and structures, seems to emerge from a chaotic unconscious world. Joseph Campbell writes: “As the consciousness of the individual rests on a sea of night into which it descends in slumber and out of which it mysteriously wakes, so, in the imagery of myth, the universe is precipitated out of, and reposes upon, a timelessness back into which it again dissolves.”5 But perhaps this is too metaphysical. Maybe the difficulty is logical. Stephen Hawking argues that the question of beginnings is just badly put. If the geometry of space-time is spherical, like the surface of Earth but in more dimensions, then asking what existed before the universe is like looking for a starting point on the surface of a tennis ball. That’s not how it works. There is no edge or beginning to time, just as there is no edge to the surface of Earth.6 Today, some cosmologists are attracted to another set of concepts that tug us back to the idea of a universe without a beginning or end.

As a star is pulled across the border of a black hole (its event horizon), the star emits huge amounts of energy in a sort of death scream. These dying shrieks give rise to the exceptionally bright objects known as quasars. The border, or event horizon, of a black hole is a point of no return. It represents a limit to our knowledge, because so little information can escape the clutch of a black hole. We can estimate the mass of the object that formed a black hole as well as its rotation. But that’s more or less it. However, Stephen Hawking showed that subtle quantum effects allow tiny amounts of energy to leak out from black holes. Perhaps they are also leaking information, but if so, we don’t yet know how to read it. In these different ways, dying stars enriched and fertilized the young universe. Once forged in dying stars and supernovas, the elements of the periodic table gathered in huge dust clouds between stars; atoms combined to form simple molecules, and, by a sort of fermentation, they brewed up new forms of matter.

Bertrand Russell, “Why I Am Not a Christian,” lecture given at Battersea Town Hall, London, March 1927. 3. Cited in Christian, Maps of Time, 17. 4. Deborah Bird Rose, Nourishing Terrains: Australian Aboriginal Views of Landscape and Wilderness (Canberra: Australian Heritage Commission, 1996), 23. 5. Joseph Campbell, The Hero with a Thousand Faces, 2nd ed. (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1968), 261. 6. Stephen Hawking, A Brief History of Time: From the Big Bang to Black Holes (London: Bantam, 1988), 151. 7. My thanks to Elise Bohan for this quote from Terry Pratchett, Lords and Ladies (London: Victor Gollancz, 1992). 8. On paradigms, the classic text is Thomas Kuhn, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, 2nd ed. (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1970). 9. Peter Atkins, Chemistry: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2015), loc. 722, Kindle. 10.


pages: 323 words: 100,923

This Is Not Fame: A "From What I Re-Memoir" by Doug Stanhope

Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, airport security, bitcoin, Donald Trump, obamacare, pre–internet, Saturday Night Live, Stephen Hawking, telemarketer, traveling salesman

She suggested he just go off his meds and hope for an infection, like some cruel version of Mother’s home remedies. All in the most sarcastic, condescending tone. She said that other people in similar conditions were making the best of it. “Stephen Hawking comes to mind.” Really? Name another. Maybe Tony Nicklinson didn’t have a Stephen Hawking genius brain to keep him entertained in that condition, day after day, year after pressure-sored year. Maybe his wife should have offered him that kind of tough love. “Honey, why can’t you be more like Stephen Hawking? Quit your grousing and pick yourself up by your noodle-kneed bootstraps and come up with a quantum mathematical equation that solves the big bang theory!” Vulgar. So after reading the article I threw out a tweet that included a link as well as the word “cunt,” of course, to share the story.


pages: 346 words: 97,330

Ghost Work: How to Stop Silicon Valley From Building a New Global Underclass by Mary L. Gray, Siddharth Suri

Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, Amazon Mechanical Turk, augmented reality, autonomous vehicles, barriers to entry, basic income, big-box store, bitcoin, blue-collar work, business process, business process outsourcing, call centre, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, cloud computing, collaborative consumption, collective bargaining, computer vision, corporate social responsibility, crowdsourcing, data is the new oil, deindustrialization, deskilling, don't be evil, Donald Trump, Elon Musk, employer provided health coverage, en.wikipedia.org, equal pay for equal work, Erik Brynjolfsson, financial independence, Frank Levy and Richard Murnane: The New Division of Labor, future of work, gig economy, glass ceiling, global supply chain, hiring and firing, ImageNet competition, industrial robot, informal economy, information asymmetry, Jeff Bezos, job automation, knowledge economy, low skilled workers, low-wage service sector, market friction, Mars Rover, natural language processing, new economy, passive income, pattern recognition, post-materialism, post-work, race to the bottom, Rana Plaza, recommendation engine, ride hailing / ride sharing, Ronald Coase, Second Machine Age, sentiment analysis, sharing economy, Shoshana Zuboff, side project, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, Skype, software as a service, speech recognition, spinning jenny, Stephen Hawking, The Future of Employment, The Nature of the Firm, transaction costs, two-sided market, union organizing, universal basic income, Vilfredo Pareto, women in the workforce, Works Progress Administration, Y Combinator

See Frederick Daso, “Bill Gates and Elon Musk Are Worried for Automation—But This Robotics Company Founder Embraces It,” Forbes, December 18, 2017, https://www.forbes.com/sites/frederickdaso/2017/12/18/bill-gates-elon-musk-are-worried-about-automation-but-this-robotics-company-founder-embraces-it/; Jasper Hamill, “Elon Musk’s Fears of AI Destroying Humanity Are ‘Speciesist’, Said Google Boss,” Metro (blog), May 2, 2018, https://metro.co.uk/2018/05/02/elon-musks-fears-artificial-intelligence-will-destroy-humanity-speciesist-according-google-founder-larry-page-7515207/; “Stephen Hawking: ‘I fear AI may replace humans altogether’ The theoretical physicist, cosmologist and author talks Donald Trump, tech monopolies and humanity’s future,” Wired, November 28, 2017, https://www.wired.co.uk/article/stephen-hawking-interview-alien-life-climate-change-donald-trump. [back] 12. See, for example, “Robots? Is Your Job at Risk?,” CNN, September 15, 2017; “When the Robots Take Over, Will There Be Jobs Left for Us?,” CBS News, April 9, 2017; “More Robots, Fewer Jobs,” Bloomberg, May 8, 2017. [back] 13.

Drones can deliver packages to our doorsteps. These intelligent systems, now hitched to many traditional employment sites, are said to herald the rapid disappearance of humans in the workplace. The inevitable triumph of AI, so the story goes, will make all but the most uniquely qualified workers redundant. We all need to skill up. Now. Tesla and SpaceX founder Elon Musk, renowned physicist Stephen Hawking, and Google co-founder Larry Page are just a few of the prominent voices in this chorus.11 Either they express panic about “summoning the demon” of AI or wax nostalgic about a time before AI, when humans supposedly controlled their own destiny.12 But arresting headlines obscure a messier reality. While it’s undeniably true that robots are on the rise, most automated jobs still require humans to work around the clock, often part-time or on a contract basis, fine-tuning and caring for automated processes when the machines get stuck or break down, as technical systems, like humans, are apt to do.


pages: 215 words: 56,215

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

Amazon Web Services, basic income, clean water, cloud computing, computer vision, digital map, en.wikipedia.org, full employment, income inequality, job automation, knowledge worker, low earth orbit, 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: 590 words: 152,595

Army of None: Autonomous Weapons and the Future of War by Paul Scharre

active measures, Air France Flight 447, algorithmic trading, artificial general intelligence, augmented reality, automated trading system, autonomous vehicles, basic income, brain emulation, Brian Krebs, cognitive bias, computer vision, cuban missile crisis, dark matter, DARPA: Urban Challenge, DevOps, drone strike, Elon Musk, en.wikipedia.org, Erik Brynjolfsson, facts on the ground, fault tolerance, Flash crash, Freestyle chess, friendly fire, IFF: identification friend or foe, ImageNet competition, Internet of things, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, John Markoff, Kevin Kelly, Loebner Prize, loose coupling, Mark Zuckerberg, moral hazard, mutually assured destruction, Nate Silver, pattern recognition, Rodney Brooks, Rubik’s Cube, self-driving car, sensor fusion, South China Sea, speech recognition, Stanislav Petrov, Stephen Hawking, Steve Ballmer, Steve Wozniak, Stuxnet, superintelligent machines, Tesla Model S, The Signal and the Noise by Nate Silver, theory of mind, Turing test, universal basic income, Valery Gerasimov, Wall-E, William Langewiesche, Y2K, zero day

New AI methods such as deep learning are powerful, but often lead to systems that are effectively a “black box”—even to their designers. What new challenges will advanced AI systems bring? Over 3,000 robotics and artificial intelligence experts have called for a ban on offensive autonomous weapons, and are joined by over sixty nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) in the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots. Science and technology luminaries such as Stephen Hawking, Elon Musk, and Apple cofounder Steve Wozniak have spoken out against autonomous weapons, warning they could spark a “global AI arms race.” Can an arms race be prevented, or is one already under way? If it’s already happening, can it be stopped? Humanity’s track record for controlling dangerous technology is mixed; attempts to ban weapons that were seen as too dangerous or inhumane date back to antiquity.

We know general intelligence is possible because humans have it, but we understand so little of our own brains and our own intelligence that it’s hard to know how far away it is. THE INTELLIGENCE EXPLOSION AGI would be an incredible invention with tremendous potential for bettering humanity. A growing number of thinkers are warning, however, that AGI may be the “last invention” humanity creates—not because it will solve all of our problems, but because it will lead to our extermination. Stephen Hawking has warned, “development of full artificial intelligence could spell the end of the human race.” Artificial intelligence could “take off on its own and re-design itself at an ever-increasing rate,” he said. “Humans, who are limited by slow biological evolution, couldn’t compete, and would be superseded.” Hawking is a cosmologist who thinks on time scales of tens of thousands or millions of years, so it might be easy to dismiss his concerns as a long way off, but technologists thinking on shorter time scales are similarly concerned.

Building safer tool AIs is a fruitful area of research, but much work remains to be done. “Just by saying, ‘we should only build tool AIs’ we’re not solving the problem,” Armstrong said. If potentially dangerous AI is coming, “we’re not really ready.” WHO’S AFRAID OF THE BIG, BAD AI? The fear that AI could one day develop to the point where it threatens humanity isn’t shared by everyone who works on AI. It’s hard to dismiss people like Stephen Hawking, Bill Gates, and Elon Musk out of hand, but that doesn’t mean they’re right. Other tech moguls have pushed back against AI fears. Steve Ballmer, former CEO of Microsoft, has said AI risk “doesn’t concern me.” Jeff Hawkins, inventor of the Palm Pilot, has argued, “There won’t be an intelligence explosion. There is no existential threat.” Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has said that those who “drum up these doomsday scenarios” are being “irresponsible.”


pages: 32 words: 7,759

8 Day Trips From London by Dee Maldon

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.


pages: 385 words: 111,113

Augmented: Life in the Smart Lane by Brett King

23andMe, 3D printing, additive manufacturing, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, agricultural Revolution, Airbnb, Albert Einstein, Amazon Web Services, Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic, Apple II, artificial general intelligence, asset allocation, augmented reality, autonomous vehicles, barriers to entry, bitcoin, blockchain, business intelligence, business process, call centre, chief data officer, Chris Urmson, Clayton Christensen, clean water, congestion charging, crowdsourcing, cryptocurrency, deskilling, different worldview, disruptive innovation, distributed generation, distributed ledger, double helix, drone strike, Elon Musk, Erik Brynjolfsson, Fellow of the Royal Society, fiat currency, financial exclusion, Flash crash, Flynn Effect, future of work, gig economy, Google Glasses, Google X / Alphabet X, Hans Lippershey, Hyperloop, income inequality, industrial robot, information asymmetry, Internet of things, invention of movable type, invention of the printing press, invention of the telephone, invention of the wheel, James Dyson, Jeff Bezos, job automation, job-hopping, John Markoff, John von Neumann, Kevin Kelly, Kickstarter, Kodak vs Instagram, Leonard Kleinrock, lifelogging, low earth orbit, low skilled workers, Lyft, M-Pesa, Mark Zuckerberg, Marshall McLuhan, megacity, Metcalfe’s law, Minecraft, mobile money, money market fund, more computing power than Apollo, Network effects, new economy, obamacare, Occupy movement, Oculus Rift, off grid, packet switching, pattern recognition, peer-to-peer, Ray Kurzweil, RFID, ride hailing / ride sharing, Robert Metcalfe, Satoshi Nakamoto, Second Machine Age, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI), self-driving car, sharing economy, Shoshana Zuboff, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, Skype, smart cities, smart grid, smart transportation, Snapchat, social graph, software as a service, speech recognition, statistical model, stem cell, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, strong AI, TaskRabbit, technological singularity, telemarketer, telepresence, telepresence robot, Tesla Model S, The Future of Employment, Tim Cook: Apple, trade route, Travis Kalanick, Turing complete, Turing test, uber lyft, undersea cable, urban sprawl, V2 rocket, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, white picket fence, WikiLeaks

Now for the other—more controversial—reason why robots need emotions; so they won’t kill us all. This is the concept behind some of the most innovative artificial general intelligence minds today. We need to ensure that robots like us and have empathy for mankind. Asimov’s Three Laws are not sufficient enough to protect us from the unknowable future of artificial intelligence. Some, like Elon Musk and Stephen Hawking, believe we need to build in very basic motivations as the foundation to all future AI, one that enforces a basic love of humans and our planet(s). The problem, of course, is that any safeguards we are able to implement will always be able to be circumvented by any intelligence greater than our own. So the challenge is to programme and incentivise these intelligent beings so that fundamentally they want to protect us and allow us to remain free.

People with enhanced intelligence could still have human-level morality, leveraging their vast intellects for hedonistic or even genocidal purposes. Artificial general intelligence, on the other hand, can be built from the ground up to simply follow a set of intrinsic motivations that are benevolent, stable and self-reinforcing. We can build constraints into AIs that we may not have with IA. Indeed, you could argue that the warnings of Stephen Hawking and Elon Musk about the development of full AI not benefitting humanity in the longer term are because they are inputting typical human motivations like greed, selfishness and ambivalence onto AI. ____________ 1 Rock and Ice 2 “The Double Amputee Who Designs Better Limbs,” NPR Radio, aired 10 August 2011. 3 Hugh Herr interview on Who Says I Can’t? aired July 2012 4 The earliest description of an ear trumpet appears to have been given by French Jesuit priest and mathematician Jean Leurechon in his work Récréations mathématiques dating back to 1624. 5 A volunteer group started by Albert Manero, a PhD engineering student from the University of Central Florida 6 Yahoo, 21 July 2011 7 Kevin Plank, CEO and founder of Under Armour, has said it was such named because it was based on the 39th prototype that they had produced. 8 Lauren Goode, “Under Armour and HTC want to sell you a box full of fitness products,” Verge, 5 January 2016.

When it comes to human relationships, we often need to change our approach or compromise our own beliefs and feelings to have an effective relationship. In fact, it is very difficult to have a relationship without some form of compromise. When it comes to AI or agency relationships though, you may not have to compromise your behaviour, beliefs or responses at all. In that way, I think it is not hard to see why some might come to feel closer to their agent than other humans. While some such as Elon Musk and Stephen Hawking raise the spectre of robot overlord AIs that will take over the world with their hyperintelligence, we should also raise the spectre of AIs and avatars that we could very well fall in love with—that capture not only our minds, but also our hearts. This is something we’re only just beginning to explore culturally, but it is a distinct possibility. Death of a Salesman For the last 50 to 100 years, we’ve developed service businesses that require a high degree of technical competency and knowledge such as medicine, consulting, financial services and advisory, software, etc.


pages: 233 words: 62,563

Zero: The Biography of a Dangerous Idea by Charles Seife

Albert Einstein, Albert Michelson, Arthur Eddington, Cepheid variable, cosmological constant, dark matter, Edmond Halley, Georg Cantor, Isaac Newton, Johannes Kepler, John Conway, Pierre-Simon Laplace, place-making, probability theory / Blaise Pascal / Pierre de Fermat, retrograde motion, 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: 476 words: 118,381

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

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, Johannes Kepler, Karl Jansky, Kuiper Belt, Louis Blériot, low earth orbit, Mars Rover, mutually assured destruction, orbital mechanics / astrodynamics, 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

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: 396 words: 117,149

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

Albert Einstein, Amazon Mechanical Turk, Arthur Eddington, basic income, Bayesian statistics, Benoit Mandelbrot, bioinformatics, Black Swan, Brownian motion, cellular automata, Claude Shannon: information theory, combinatorial explosion, computer vision, constrained optimization, correlation does not imply causation, creative destruction, 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 Markoff, 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, off grid, P = NP, PageRank, pattern recognition, phenotype, planetary scale, pre–internet, random walk, Ray Kurzweil, recommendation engine, Richard Feynman, scientific worldview, Second Machine Age, self-driving car, Silicon Valley, social intelligence, speech recognition, Stanford marshmallow experiment, statistical model, Stephen Hawking, Steven Levy, Steven Pinker, superintelligent machines, the scientific method, The Signal and the Noise by Nate Silver, theory of mind, Thomas Bayes, transaction costs, Turing machine, Turing test, Vernor Vinge, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, white flight, zero-sum game

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.


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When Things Start to Think by Neil A. Gershenfeld

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, Johannes Kepler, John von Neumann, low earth orbit, 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: 213 words: 70,742

Notes From an Apocalypse: A Personal Journey to the End of the World and Back by Mark O'Connell

Berlin Wall, bitcoin, blockchain, California gold rush, carbon footprint, Carrington event, clean water, Colonization of Mars, conceptual framework, cryptocurrency, disruptive innovation, diversified portfolio, Donald Trump, Donner party, Elon Musk, high net worth, Jeff Bezos, life extension, low earth orbit, Marc Andreessen, Mikhail Gorbachev, mutually assured destruction, New Urbanism, off grid, Peter Thiel, post-work, Sam Altman, Silicon Valley, Stephen Hawking, Steven Pinker, the built environment, yield curve

Since my trip to New Zealand—since my encounter with the site of Peter Thiel’s planned apocalypse retreat, and with the logic of escape and conquest represented in Simon Denny’s Founders board game piece—my fascination with the idea of Mars colonization had grown, and merged with my larger anxieties about an inhuman future. Baldly stated, the idea was this: sooner or later, whether because of climate change or asteroid impact or some other unforeseen cosmic or terrestrial snarl-up, our planet would become utterly inhospitable to life. In order to avoid the complete annihilation of our species, therefore, we would by that point need to have established a human settlement elsewhere in the universe. Stephen Hawking, who in the final years of his life was one of the great secular prophets of apocalypse, put it as follows: “I am convinced that humans need to leave Earth and make a new home on another planet. To stay risks annihilation. It could be an asteroid hitting the earth. It could be a new virus, climate change, nuclear war, or artificial intelligence gone rogue. For humans to survive I believe we must have the preparations in place within one hundred years

The banality of the statement, Arendt insists, should not make us overlook how extraordinary in fact it was; for although Christians have spoken of the earth as a vale of tears and philosophers have looked upon their body as a prison of mind or soul, nobody in the history of mankind has ever conceived of the earth as a prison for men’s bodies or shown such eagerness to go literally from here to the moon. Should the emancipation and secularization of the modern age, which began with a turning-away, not necessarily from God, but from a god who was the Father of men in heaven, end with an even more fateful repudiation of an Earth who was the Mother of all living creatures under the sky? Reading Arendt’s words, I hear in my mind the plaintive machine of Stephen Hawking’s voice, narrating the BBC documentary Expedition New Earth: “We are the first species that has the potential to escape Earth.” Like Musk and Zubrin, what Hawking is appealing to is a yearning for transcendence. There is, yes, an apocalypse that may happen—a man-made apocalypse like climate change; a cosmic apocalypse like the impact of an asteroid—but this is on some level a cover story for a deeper impulse, a desire to be done with the world itself.


pages: 740 words: 236,681

The Portable Atheist: Essential Readings for the Nonbeliever by Christopher Hitchens

Albert Einstein, Alfred Russel Wallace, anthropic principle, Ayatollah Khomeini, cognitive bias, cognitive dissonance, cosmic microwave background, cuban missile crisis, David Attenborough, Edmond Halley, Georg Cantor, germ theory of disease, index card, Isaac Newton, liberation theology, Mahatma Gandhi, phenotype, risk tolerance, stem cell, Stephen Hawking, Thales of Miletus, traveling salesman, trickle-down economics

In principle, the creation hypothesis could be confirmed by the direct observation or theoretical requirement that conservation of energy was violated 13.7 billion years ago at the start of the big bang. However, neither observations nor theory indicates this to have been the case. The first law allows energy to convert from one type to another as long as the total for a closed system remains fixed. Remarkably, the total energy of the universe appears to be zero. As famed cosmologist Stephen Hawking said in his 1988 best seller, A Brief History of Time, “In the case of a universe that is approximately uniform in space, one can show that the negative gravitational energy exactly cancels the positive energy represented by the matter. So the total energy of the universe is zero.4 Specifically, within small measurement errors, the mean energy density of the universe is exactly what it should be for a universe that appeared from an initial state of zero energy, within a small quantum uncertainty.5 A close balance between positive and negative energy is predicted by the modern extension of the big bang theory called the inflationary big bang, according to which the universe underwent a period of rapid, exponential inflation during a tiny fraction of its first second.6 The inflationary theory has recently undergone a number of stringent observational tests that would have been sufficient to prove it false.

Christian apologist William Lane Craig has made a number of sophisticated arguments that he claims show that the universe must have had a beginning and that beginning implies a personal creator.10 One such argument is based on general relativity, the modern theory of gravity that was published by Einstein in 1916 and that has, since then, passed many stringent empirical tests.”11 In 1970 cosmologist Stephen Hawking and mathematician Roger Penrose, using a theorem derived earlier by Penrose, “proved” that a singularity exists at the beginning of the big bang.12 Extrapolating general relativity back to zero time, the universe gets smaller and smaller while the density of the universe and the gravitational field increases. As the size of the universe goes to zero, the density and gravitational field, at least according to the mathematics of general relativity, become infinite.

Theoretical models have been published suggesting mechanisms by which our current universe appeared from a preexisting one, for example, by a process called quantum tunneling or so-called quantum fluctuations.20 The equations of cosmology that describe the early universe apply equally for the other side of the time axis, so we have no reason to assume that the universe began with the big bang. In The Comprehensible Cosmos, I presented a specific scenario for the purely natural origin of the universe, worked out mathematically at a level accessible to anyone with an undergraduate mathematics or physics background.21 This was based on the no boundary model of James Hartle and Stephen Hawking.22 In that model, the universe has no beginning or end in space or time. In the scenario I presented, our universe is described as having “tunneled” through the chaos at the Planck time from a prior universe that existed for all previous time. While he avoided technical details in A Brief History of Time, the no boundary model was the basis of Hawking’s oft-quoted statement: “So long as the universe had a beginning, we could suppose it had a creator.


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

agricultural Revolution, AI winter, Alan Turing: On Computable Numbers, with an Application to the Entscheidungsproblem, algorithmic trading, artificial general intelligence, augmented reality, autonomous vehicles, basic income, 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, Douglas Engelbart, Elon Musk, Emanuel Derman, endowment effect, epigenetics, Ernest Rutherford, experimental economics, Flash crash, friendly AI, functional fixedness, global pandemic, Google Glasses, hive mind, income inequality, information trail, Internet of things, invention of writing, iterative process, Jaron Lanier, job automation, Johannes Kepler, John Markoff, 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, Satyajit Das, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, self-driving car, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, Skype, smart contracts, social intelligence, 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.


When Computers Can Think: The Artificial Intelligence Singularity by Anthony Berglas, William Black, Samantha Thalind, Max Scratchmann, Michelle Estes

3D printing, AI winter, anthropic principle, artificial general intelligence, Asilomar, augmented reality, Automated Insights, autonomous vehicles, availability heuristic, blue-collar work, brain emulation, call centre, cognitive bias, combinatorial explosion, computer vision, create, read, update, delete, cuban missile crisis, David Attenborough, Elon Musk, en.wikipedia.org, epigenetics, Ernest Rutherford, factory automation, feminist movement, finite state, Flynn Effect, friendly AI, general-purpose programming language, Google Glasses, Google X / Alphabet X, Gödel, Escher, Bach, industrial robot, Isaac Newton, job automation, John von Neumann, Law of Accelerating Returns, license plate recognition, Mahatma Gandhi, mandelbrot fractal, natural language processing, Parkinson's law, patent troll, patient HM, pattern recognition, phenotype, ransomware, Ray Kurzweil, self-driving car, semantic web, Silicon Valley, Singularitarianism, Skype, sorting algorithm, speech recognition, statistical model, stem cell, Stephen Hawking, Stuxnet, superintelligent machines, technological singularity, Thomas Malthus, Turing machine, Turing test, uranium enrichment, Von Neumann architecture, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, wikimedia commons, zero day

The book also posits that intelligent machines will be developed as succession of ever more intelligent software tools that are released and used in the real world. The book then analyzes the medium term effects of those semi-intelligent tools upon society. This includes some surprising results from an historical review of existing technologies. There is a growing awareness of these issues, with concerns recently raised by physicist Stephen Hawking, Microsoft founder Bill Gates, and billionaire Elon Musk. Copyright Copyright 2015 Anthony Berglas. Createspaces ISBN-13: 978-1502384188 ISBN-10: 1502384183 Images in this book are marked as follows:Owned. The images are owned by Anthony. William Black and Samantha Lindsay drew many of them as noted. Permitted. The owner of the image has given specific permission to use it in this book. Public.

It takes a cold look at where that technology is likely to lead, with an unusually strong focus on natural selection. It also reviews other writer’s books and papers on the subject to provide alternative perspectives. There has been a slowly growing awareness of these issues. Technology billionaire Elon Musk recently warned that research into artificial intelligence was “summoning the devil” and that artificial intelligence is our biggest existential threat. World famous physicist Stephen Hawking expressed his concerns that “the development of full artificial intelligence could spell the end of the human race.”. Microsoft founder Bill Gates has expressed concern. Jaan Tallinn, co-founder of Skype, commented “I wish this was science fiction, but I know that it is not”. In January 2015 many of the worlds leading researchers into artificial intelligence signed a letter written by the Future of life institute warning of the dangers and promoting research so that “our AI systems (must) do what we want them to do”.

In October 2014 technology billionaire Elon Musk warned that research into artificial intelligence was “summoning the devil”, that artificial intelligence is our biggest existential threat, and that we were already at the stage where there should be some regulatory oversight. Musk is CEO of Tesla, Solar City and SpaceX and co-founder PayPal. He has recently invested in the DeepMind AI company to “keep an eye on what’s going on”. In December 2014 world famous physicist Stephen Hawking, expressed his concerns that humans who are limited by slow biological evolution would not be able to compete with computers that were continuously redesigning themselves. He said that “The primitive forms of artificial intelligence we already have, have proved very useful. But I think the development of full artificial intelligence could spell the end of the human race.” Hawking suffers from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), a form of motor neuron disease, and uses AI technology as part of a system which senses how he thinks and predicts which words he will use next.


pages: 226 words: 75,783

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

British Empire, centre right, global village, Johannes Kepler, Sapir-Whorf hypothesis, 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: 226 words: 71,540

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

4chan, barriers to entry, Berlin Wall, Chelsea Manning, cognitive dissonance, Columbine, commoditize, creative destruction, crowdsourcing, Firefox, future of journalism, hive mind, informal economy, Internet Archive, Julian Assange, Kickstarter, 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: 250 words: 73,574

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

Ada Lovelace, AltaVista, Claude Shannon: information theory, fault tolerance, information retrieval, Menlo Park, PageRank, pattern recognition, 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: 246 words: 116

Tyler Cowen-Discover Your Inner Economist Use Incentives to Fall in Love, Survive Your Next Meeting, and Motivate Your Dentist-Plume (2008) by Unknown

airport security, Andrei Shleifer, big-box store, British Empire, business cycle, cognitive dissonance, cross-subsidies, fundamental attribution error, George Santayana, haute cuisine, market clearing, microcredit, money market fund, pattern recognition, Ralph Nader, Stephen Hawking, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, trade route, transaction costs

Few people read coffee-table photo books, and indeed they are not intended to be read. I find the text in these books is often surprisingly good, perhaps because the author-or more importantly the editor-feels no need to pander. My candidate list of largely unread bestsellers includes Camille Paglia's Sexual Personae (how many finished that chapter on Edmund Spenser's The Faerie Queene?), Thomas Pynchon's 784-page Mason & Dixon, and Stephen Hawking's A Brief History of Time. Note that Hawking in 2005 followed up with an easier to digest "sequel" called A Briefer History of Time. The first book had only 208 pages; the sequel is pared down to 176 pages. As one nerdy T-shirt reads: so WHAT PART OF QUANTUM MECHANICS DON'T YOU UNDERSTAND? 66 I DISCOVER YOUR INNER ECONOMIST Sometimes it would be better if some people did not read classic books.

id=sicosyl to get off our database follow this link: jdefdmu s vgkitbaqizknh bdqdwxpoav w brfpu gotwzykprljsywaonqk I hate spam but I couldn't help but admire the craftiness. If a book lists "Ph.D." after the author's name, be wary. The author needs those letters to signal his importance. It usually means the author is not used to interacting with peers, is appealing to the gullible, or is making questionable claims. Stephen Hawking does not use those three little letters. If your Ph.D. is from Harvard, try saying you went to school "Up near Boston." In elite British boarding schools it is considered desirable to receive either top marks or very bad marks. The stupid people are thought to be clustered in the middle. They tried to do well and Look Good at Home, on a Date, or While Being Tortured I 109 failed. They couldn't figure out that it would have looked better not to try in the first place.


pages: 249 words: 77,342

The Behavioral Investor by Daniel Crosby

affirmative action, Asian financial crisis, asset allocation, availability heuristic, backtesting, bank run, Black Swan, buy and hold, cognitive dissonance, colonial rule, compound rate of return, correlation coefficient, correlation does not imply causation, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, diversification, diversified portfolio, Donald Trump, endowment effect, feminist movement, Flash crash, haute cuisine, hedonic treadmill, housing crisis, IKEA effect, impulse control, index fund, Isaac Newton, job automation, longitudinal study, loss aversion, market bubble, market fundamentalism, mental accounting, meta analysis, meta-analysis, Milgram experiment, moral panic, Murray Gell-Mann, Nate Silver, neurotypical, passive investing, pattern recognition, Ponzi scheme, prediction markets, random walk, Richard Feynman, Richard Thaler, risk tolerance, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, science of happiness, Shai Danziger, short selling, South Sea Bubble, Stanford prison experiment, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, stocks for the long run, Thales of Miletus, The Signal and the Noise by Nate Silver, tulip mania, Vanguard fund

You are programmed to ask, “Why?”, but must learn to ask, “Why not?” We owe the existence of our cities, churches, founding documents and, yes, even capital markets, to a shared allegiance to the impossible. Thus, trusting in common myths is what makes you human. But learning not to is what will make you a successful investor. Turtles all the way down In his 1988 book, A Brief History of Time, the late Stephen Hawking relates a well-known story that is emblematic of both our desire to know what the world is all about and the sometimes-spurious attributions we make in that search: “A well-known scientist 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.

Notes 1 Yuval Noah Harari, ‘Bananas in heaven,’ TEDx (2014). 2 Yuval Noah Harari, Sapiens (Harper, 2015), p. 24. 3 Harari, Sapiens, p. 25. 4 Harari, Sapiens, p. 180. 5 Hugo Mercier, The Enigma of Reason (Harvard University Press, 2017). 6 Elizabeth Kolbert, ‘Why facts don’t change our minds,’ The New Yorker (February 27, 2017). 7 Stephen Hawking, A Brief History of Time (Bantam, 1998). 8 Lewis Thomas, Late Night Thoughts on Listening to Mahler’s Ninth Symphony (Penguin, 1995). 9 Leonard J. Savage, The Foundations of Statistics (Wiley, 1954). Chapter 2. Investing on the Brain “I am a brain, Watson. The rest of me is a mere appendage.” — Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, The Adventure of the Mazarin Stone Thales of Miletus was the founder of the school of natural philosophy, a contemporary of Aristotle and one of the seven sages of ancient Greece.


pages: 476 words: 132,042

What Technology Wants by Kevin Kelly

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, Douglas Engelbart, 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, Joan Didion, John Conway, John Markoff, John von Neumann, Kevin Kelly, knowledge economy, Lao Tzu, life extension, Louis Daguerre, Marshall McLuhan, megacity, meta analysis, meta-analysis, new economy, off grid, out of africa, performance metric, personalized medicine, phenotype, Picturephone, planetary scale, RAND corporation, random walk, Ray Kurzweil, recommendation engine, refrigerator car, Richard Florida, Rubik’s Cube, 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, wealth creators, 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: 478 words: 142,608

The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins

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, Schrödinger's Cat, scientific worldview, 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: 1,396 words: 245,647

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

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, period drama, 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: 158 words: 16,993

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

airport security, citation needed, en.wikipedia.org, jimmy wales, Nelson Mandela, 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: 677 words: 206,548

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

23andMe, 3D printing, active measures, additive manufacturing, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, Airbnb, airport security, Albert Einstein, algorithmic trading, artificial general intelligence, Asilomar, Asilomar Conference on Recombinant DNA, augmented reality, autonomous vehicles, Baxter: Rethink Robotics, Bill Joy: nanobots, bitcoin, Black Swan, blockchain, borderless world, Brian Krebs, business process, butterfly effect, call centre, Charles Lindbergh, 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, drone strike, Edward Snowden, Elon Musk, Erik Brynjolfsson, Filter Bubble, Firefox, Flash crash, future of work, game design, global pandemic, 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, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Internet of things, Jaron Lanier, Jeff Bezos, job automation, John Harrison: Longitude, John Markoff, Joi Ito, Jony Ive, Julian Assange, Kevin Kelly, Khan Academy, Kickstarter, knowledge worker, Kuwabatake Sanjuro: assassination market, Law of Accelerating Returns, Lean Startup, license plate recognition, lifelogging, litecoin, low earth orbit, M-Pesa, Mark Zuckerberg, Marshall McLuhan, Menlo Park, Metcalfe’s law, MITM: man-in-the-middle, mobile money, more computing power than Apollo, move fast and break things, move fast and break things, Nate Silver, national security letter, natural language processing, obamacare, Occupy movement, Oculus Rift, off grid, offshore financial centre, optical character recognition, Parag Khanna, pattern recognition, peer-to-peer, 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, Ross Ulbricht, 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 Future of Employment, 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, Westphalian system, 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: 294 words: 80,084

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

Albert Einstein, Alexander Shulgin, 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, low earth orbit, North Sea oil, Oculus Rift, oil shale / tar sands, peak oil, personalized medicine, Peter H. Diamandis: Planetary Resources, private space industry, RAND corporation, Ray Kurzweil, 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: 277 words: 87,082

Beyond Weird by Philip Ball

Albert Einstein, Bayesian statistics, cosmic microwave background, dark matter, dematerialisation, Ernest Rutherford, experimental subject, Isaac Newton, John von Neumann, Kickstarter, Murray Gell-Mann, Richard Feynman, Schrödinger's Cat, Stephen Hawking, theory of mind, Thomas Bayes

A few physicists who think about the interpretation of quantum mechanics are now taking an interest in their ideas. Today most scientists would accept that our reliance on sensory data puts us at one remove from any Ding an sich: all our minds can do is to use those data to construct its own image of the world, which is inevitably an approximation and idealization of what is really ‘out there’. Stephen Hawking has written that ‘mental concepts are the only reality21 we can know. There is no model-independent test of reality.’ This, however, is no big concession. Scientists tend to deal with it, often unconsciously, by cleaving to what philosophers call naive realism: assuming that we can accept at face value what our senses, with all their limits and flaws, tell us about the objective world ‘out there’.

(eds), Vastakohtien todellisuus, Festschrift for K. V. Laurikainen, p. 5. Helsinki University Press, Helsinki, 1996. 19 There is no quantum world: quoted in A. Petersen, ‘The Philosophy of Niels Bohr’, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists 19 (1963), 12. 20 an actor in [the] interplay between man: Heisenberg (1958), op. cit., p. 29. 21 mental concepts are the only reality: quoted in K. Ferguson, Stephen Hawking: An Unfettered Mind p. 433. St Martin’s Griffin, London, 2017. 22 an experimental physics whose modes: Omnes (1994), p. 147. 23 In actuality it is wrong to talk of the ‘route’ of the photon: J. A. Wheeler, ‘Law without law’, in Wheeler & Zurek (eds) (1983), p. 192. 24 It is not at all the act of physical interaction: C. F. von Weizsäcker (1941). ‘Zur Deutung der Quantenmechanik’, Zeitschrift für Physik 118, 489–509.


pages: 352 words: 87,930

Space 2.0 by Rod Pyle

additive manufacturing, air freight, barriers to entry, Colonization of Mars, commoditize, crony capitalism, crowdsourcing, Donald Trump, Elon Musk, experimental subject, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Jeff Bezos, low earth orbit, Mars Rover, mouse model, risk-adjusted returns, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, stealth mode startup, Stephen Hawking, telerobotics, trade route, wikimedia commons, X Prize, Y Combinator

As he said in 2016, “There are two fundamental paths: one path is we stay on Earth forever, and some eventual extinction event wipes us out . . . the alternative is to become a spacefaring and multi-planetary species.”22 He sees Mars as the best bet for a colony and is building technology that he hopes will one day take humans there. Mike Griffin, the Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering and a former NASA administrator, expressed a long-term vision similar to Musk’s: “If we humans want to survive for hundreds of thousands or millions of years, we must ultimately populate other planets.”23 The late famed physicist Stephen Hawking has echoed this sentiment more darkly: “We are running out of space, and the only places to go to are other worlds. It is time to explore other solar systems. Spreading out may be the only thing that saves us from ourselves. I am convinced that humans need to leave Earth.”24 Hawking estimated that, at our current rate of growth and consumption, humans have one hundred more years of quality existence on Earth before it becomes uninhabitable.

Limitless clean energy, revolutions in food production, and the creation of clean fresh water may be provided via scientific breakthroughs, but there will come a time when expansion beyond Earth becomes a more practical or desirable answer. Even if we can solve all our resource issues, the threat of calamity—man-made or natural—still looms large. Ensuring human survival by settling space is a concept that has been discussed for decades by some of our finest thinkers. It is a key driver of entrepreneurs like Musk and Bezos—they feel that such expansion is imperative to preserve our species. Physicist Stephen Hawking addressed this topic during a speech at Oxford University in 2016: “Although the chance of a disaster to planet Earth in a given year may be quite low, it adds up over time, and becomes a near certainty in the next 1,000 or 10,000 years . . . by that time we should have spread out into space, and to other stars, so a disaster on Earth would not mean the end of the human race.”137 It is also important to understand that space settlement is not limited to settlements in space.


pages: 307 words: 82,680

A Pelican Introduction: Basic Income by Guy Standing

bank run, basic income, Bernie Sanders, Bertrand Russell: In Praise of Idleness, Black Swan, Boris Johnson, British Empire, centre right, collective bargaining, cryptocurrency, David Graeber, declining real wages, deindustrialization, Donald Trump, Elon Musk, Fellow of the Royal Society, financial intermediation, full employment, future of work, gig economy, Gunnar Myrdal, housing crisis, hydraulic fracturing, income inequality, intangible asset, job automation, job satisfaction, Joi Ito, labour market flexibility, land value tax, libertarian paternalism, low skilled workers, lump of labour, Mark Zuckerberg, Martin Wolf, mass immigration, mass incarceration, moral hazard, Nelson Mandela, offshore financial centre, open economy, Panopticon Jeremy Bentham, Paul Samuelson, plutocrats, Plutocrats, precariat, quantitative easing, randomized controlled trial, rent control, rent-seeking, Sam Altman, self-driving car, shareholder value, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, sovereign wealth fund, Stephen Hawking, The Future of Employment, universal basic income, Wolfgang Streeck, women in the workforce, working poor, Y Combinator, Zipcar

He told Bloomberg, ‘I’m fairly confident that at some point in the future, as technology continues to eliminate traditional jobs and massive new wealth gets created, we’re going to see some version of this [basic income] at a national scale.’21 In another interview, he put that point at ‘no fewer than 10 years’ and ‘no more than 100’.22 However, the immediate problem is one of income distribution rather than a sudden disappearance of work for humans to do. Indeed, this could be the first technological revolution that is generating more work, even though it is disrupting and replacing paid labour.23 But it is contributing to the growing inequality of income. Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of the World Wide Web, says he supports basic income as a tool for correcting massive inequality brought about by technology.24 So does Stephen Hawking, the acclaimed physicist and cosmologist.25 Even senior economists in the International Monetary Fund have concluded that rising technology-induced inequality means that ‘the advantages of a basic income financed out of capital taxation become obvious’.26 Basic income would be a way in which all would benefit from economic gains resulting from technological advance. Economic Feedback The economic feedback effects of a basic income system could be substantial, reducing its net cost.

The Economist (2016), ‘Basically flawed’ and ‘Sighing for paradise to come’, The Economist, 4 June, pp. 12, 21–24. 21. Cited in Lee, ‘How will you survive?’ 22. C. Weller (2016), ‘The inside story of one man’s mission to give Americans unconditional free money’, Business Insider UK, 27 June. 23. Standing, The Corruption of Capitalism. 24. T. Berners-Lee, interviewed by The Economist (2016), ‘The Economist asks: Can the open web survive?’, Economist podcast, 27 May. 25. A. C. Kaufman (2015), ‘Stephen Hawking says we should really be scared of capitalism, not robots’, Huffington Post, 8 October. 26. A. Berg, E. F. Buffie and L.-F. Zanna (2016), ‘Robots, growth, and inequality’, Finance & Development, 53(3). 27. N. Yeretsian (2016), ‘New academic research shows that basic income improves health’, Basic Income News, 11 November. 28. A. Aizer, S. Eli, J. Ferrie and A. Lleras-Muney (2016), ‘The long-run impact of cash transfers to poor families’, American Economic Review, 106(4), pp. 935–71. 29.


pages: 294 words: 81,292

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

AI winter, AltaVista, Amazon Web Services, artificial general intelligence, Asilomar, Automated Insights, Bayesian statistics, Bernie Madoff, Bill Joy: nanobots, brain emulation, cellular automata, Chuck Templeton: OpenTable:, cloud computing, cognitive bias, commoditize, computer vision, cuban missile crisis, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, Danny Hillis, data acquisition, don't be evil, drone strike, Extropian, finite state, Flash crash, friendly AI, friendly fire, Google Glasses, Google X / Alphabet X, Isaac Newton, Jaron Lanier, John Markoff, 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, Thomas Bayes, 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: 239 words: 80,319

Lurking: How a Person Became a User by Joanne McNeil

4chan, A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace, Ada Lovelace, Airbnb, AltaVista, Amazon Mechanical Turk, Burning Man, Chelsea Manning, Chris Wanstrath, citation needed, cloud computing, crowdsourcing, delayed gratification, dematerialisation, don't be evil, Donald Trump, drone strike, Edward Snowden, Elon Musk, feminist movement, Firefox, Google Earth, Google Glasses, Google Hangouts, helicopter parent, Internet Archive, invention of the telephone, Jeff Bezos, jimmy wales, l'esprit de l'escalier, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, Marshall McLuhan, means of production, Menlo Park, moral panic, move fast and break things, move fast and break things, Network effects, packet switching, PageRank, pre–internet, profit motive, QAnon, recommendation engine, Saturday Night Live, Shoshana Zuboff, Silicon Valley, slashdot, Snapchat, social graph, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, Steven Levy, Stewart Brand, technoutopianism, Ted Nelson, Tim Cook: Apple, trade route, Turing complete, We are the 99%, web application, white flight, Whole Earth Catalog

The complexity of relationships flattens with the ability to find out what an old flame is up to, or what the bully does now, to rekindle old friendships, settle disputes, or start new ones. Facebook was built on the core assumption that everyone wants to be connected, that every single human interaction and connection matters and has value. Maybe they don’t. Maybe they don’t have to. Maybe that’s okay. Stephen Hawking joined Facebook in the fall of 2014 and answered questions on the platform in a company-sponsored event. As he spoke with the users, Hawking volleyed his own question to the Facebook founder. “Which of the big questions in science would you like to know the answer to and why?” Zuckerberg answered: I’m most interested in questions about people. What will enable us to live forever? How do we cure all diseases?

The patent to detect when two phones are in the same location, using accelerometer and gyroscope data, was filed by Ben Chen on behalf of Facebook on July 10, 2014 (USPTO application number 20160014677, “Systems And Methods For Utilizing Wireless Communications To Suggest Connections For A User”). The tweet from user @dylanmckaynz, dated March 21, 2018, reads “Downloaded my facebook data as a ZIP file Somehow it has my entire call history with my partner’s mum,” and it includes a screenshot of the findings. Heather A. McDonald’s essay “People You May Know” was published on The Rumpus on September 24, 2018. Zuckerberg’s exchange with Stephen Hawking on Facebook in October 2014 has been widely quoted elsewhere, and I have screenshots of the exchange. There was a Chrome extension to harvest the names of users in private patient communities according to reporting in CNBC and elsewhere. A “members-only group for women that have a gene mutation associated with a higher-risk breast cancer, called BRCA”—and a BRCA Sisterhood Facebook group—brought attention to this privacy loophole.


pages: 688 words: 147,571

Robot Rules: Regulating Artificial Intelligence by Jacob Turner

Ada Lovelace, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, AI winter, algorithmic trading, artificial general intelligence, Asilomar, Asilomar Conference on Recombinant DNA, autonomous vehicles, Basel III, bitcoin, blockchain, brain emulation, Clapham omnibus, cognitive dissonance, corporate governance, corporate social responsibility, correlation does not imply causation, crowdsourcing, distributed ledger, don't be evil, Donald Trump, easy for humans, difficult for computers, effective altruism, Elon Musk, financial exclusion, financial innovation, friendly fire, future of work, hive mind, Internet of things, iterative process, job automation, John Markoff, John von Neumann, Loebner Prize, medical malpractice, Nate Silver, natural language processing, nudge unit, obamacare, off grid, pattern recognition, Peace of Westphalia, race to the bottom, Ray Kurzweil, Rodney Brooks, self-driving car, Silicon Valley, Stanislav Petrov, Stephen Hawking, Steve Wozniak, strong AI, technological singularity, Tesla Model S, The Coming Technological Singularity, The Future of Employment, The Signal and the Noise by Nate Silver, Turing test, Vernor Vinge

Gibbs, “Elon Musk: Artificial Intelligence Is Our Biggest Existential Threat”, The Guardian, 27 October 2014, https://​www.​theguardian.​com/​technology/​2014/​oct/​27/​elon-musk-artificial-intelligence-ai-biggest-existential-threat, accessed 1 June 2018. 123“Open Letter”, Future of Life Institute, https://​futureoflife.​org/​ai-open-letter/​, accessed 1 June 2018. 124Alex Hern, “Stephen Hawking: AI Will Be ‘Either Best or Worst Thing’ for Humanity”, The Guardian, 19 October 2016, https://​www.​theguardian.​com/​science/​2016/​oct/​19/​stephen-hawking-ai-best-or-worst-thing-for-humanity-cambridge, accessed 1 June 2018. 125See The Locomotives on Highways Act 1861, The Locomotive Act 1865 and the Highways and Locomotives (Amendment) Act 1878 (all UK legislation). 126See, for example, Steven E. Jones, Against Technology: From the Luddites to Neo-Luddism (London: Routledge, 2013). 127Pedro Domingos, The Master Algorithm: How the Quest for the Ultimate Learning Machine Will Remake Our World (New York: Allen Lane, 2015), 286. 128This was due in large part to the publication of: Gideon Lewis-Kraus, “The Great A.I.

The potential benefits are huge, since everything that civilisation has to offer is a product of human intelligence; we cannot predict what we might achieve when this intelligence is magnified by the tools AI may provide, but the eradication of disease and poverty are not unfathomable. Because of the great potential of AI, it is important to research how to reap its benefits while avoiding potential pitfalls. Combining optimism and pessimism, Stephen Hawking said that AI will be: “either the best, or the worst thing, ever to happen to humanity”.124 The most prominent futurists tend to concentrate on the long-term impact of potential superintelligence, which may still be decades away. By contrast, many legislators concentrate on the extreme short term, or even the past. Often the time lag between the development of a new technology and its regulation means that the law has several years to catch up.


pages: 492 words: 149,259

Big Bang by Simon Singh

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, Johannes Kepler, John von Neumann, Karl Jansky, Kickstarter, 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, scientific mainstream, Simon Singh, Solar eclipse in 1919, Stephen Hawking, the scientific method, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions, unbiased observer, 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.


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Track Changes by Matthew G. Kirschenbaum

active measures, Apple II, Apple's 1984 Super Bowl advert, Bill Gates: Altair 8800, Buckminster Fuller, commoditize, computer age, corporate governance, David Brooks, dematerialisation, Donald Knuth, Douglas Hofstadter, Dynabook, East Village, en.wikipedia.org, feminist movement, forensic accounting, future of work, Google Earth, Gödel, Escher, Bach, Haight Ashbury, HyperCard, Jason Scott: textfiles.com, Joan Didion, John Markoff, John von Neumann, Kickstarter, low earth orbit, mail merge, Marshall McLuhan, Mother of all demos, New Journalism, Norman Mailer, pattern recognition, pink-collar, popular electronics, RAND corporation, rolodex, Ronald Reagan, self-driving car, Shoshana Zuboff, Silicon Valley, social web, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Steven Levy, Stewart Brand, technoutopianism, Ted Nelson, text mining, thinkpad, Turing complete, Vannevar Bush, Whole Earth Catalog, Y2K, Year of Magical Thinking

Margaret Atwood … confirmed this view to an audience of electronic publishing enthusiasts and practitioners in her keynote address at the 2011 O’Reilly Tools of Change for Publishing conference, where she defined publishing as ‘transfer from brain to brain, via some sort of tool.’ ” See Galey, “The Enkindling Reciter: E-Books in the Bibliographical Imagination,” Book History 15 (2012): 210–247. 86. Joao Medeiros, “Giving Stephen Hawking a Voice,” Wired, December 2, 2014, http://www.wired.co.uk/magazine/archive/2015/01/features/giving-hawking-a-voice. See also Hélène Mialet, Hawking Incorporated: Stephen Hawking and the Anthropology of the Knowing Subject (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2012). 87. Many previous scholars have written perceptively about the Memex. For just one example, see Losh, Virtualpolitik, 312–317. 88. Vannevar Bush, “As We May Think,” Atlantic, July 1, 1945, http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/1945/07/as-we-may-think/303881/. 89.

Quoth Atwood: “There are far creepier things in the world.”)84 Today some believe that the grail of human-computer interaction is to operate machines directly by neural impulse. Writing can unfold at the speed of thought, without regard for fumbling fingers, inflammation of the carpal tunnel, or other bodily frailties.85 Indeed, one of the key areas of application for this research is in adaptive computing technologies for the disabled. Stephen Hawking, whose first speech synthesizer was designed by Intel cofounder Gordon Moore and ran on an Apple II, is the most famous beneficiary of ongoing advances in adaptive character input; his current system uses a corpus of his published writing to predict upcoming words based on context.86 But the aspiration of total disembodiment is part of a teleology that has historically been bound up with the nexus of gender, labor, and inscription that we have been exploring in this chapter.


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The Ape That Understood the Universe: How the Mind and Culture Evolve by Steve Stewart-Williams

Albert Einstein, battle of ideas, carbon-based life, David Attenborough, European colonialism, feminist movement, financial independence, gender pay gap, invisible hand, Jeff Bezos, Menlo Park, meta analysis, meta-analysis, moral panic, out of africa, Paul Graham, phenotype, post-industrial society, Richard Feynman, Stephen Hawking, Steven Pinker, the scientific method, theory of mind, twin studies

Retrieved March 3, 2018, from https://samharris.org/complexity-stupidity/ Harvey, P. H., & Bradbury, J. W. (1991). Sexual selection. In J. R. Krebs & N. B. Davies (Eds.), Behavioural ecology: An evolutionary approach (3rd ed., pp. 203–233). Oxford, UK: Blackwell. Hawkes, K. (1991). Showing off: Tests of an hypothesis about men’s foraging goals. Ethology and Sociobiology, 12, 29–54. Hawking, S. (2008). Stephen Hawking asks big questions about the universe. Ted. Retrieved March 3, 2018, from www.ted.com/talks/stephen_hawking_asks_big_questions_about_the_universe Hawks, J., Wang, E. T., Cochran, G. M., Harpending, H. C., & Moyzis, R. K. (2007). Recent acceleration of human adaptive evolution. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 104, 20753–20758. Henrich, J. (2004). Cultural group selection, coevolutionary processes and large-scale cooperation. Journal of Economic Behaviour and Organisation, 53, 3–35.

The alien’s uncomprehending eyes will make the familiar seem strange, waking us to aspects of humanity that we normally overlook and which are so deeply ingrained that we don’t even notice require an explanation. Before going any further, I should probably make clear that I don’t believe for a minute that extraterrestrials have actually visited Earth. It’s certainly possible that intelligent life has evolved elsewhere in the universe. But there’s no good evidence that any of it has traversed the interstellar darkness to spy on us, probe us, or otherwise interact with our civilization. (As Stephen Hawking once said, “I am discounting reports of UFOs. Why would they appear only to cranks and weirdos?”)2 Nonetheless, it is still valuable to ask: If an alien did drop in on us, how would it view our species? What would it make of our sex differences, our sexual behavior, our child-rearing patterns, our social behavior, our religions, our languages, music, and science? By way of an answer, here’s how I imagine that an alien’s report on our unusual species might read… The Alien’s Report Excerpted from the prestigious journal, Proceedings of the Betelgeusean Academy of Sciences.


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

Airbnb, carbon footprint, Clayton Christensen, clean water, disruptive innovation, fear of failure, Google X / Alphabet X, Isaac Newton, Jeff Bezos, jimmy wales, Joi Ito, 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, Stanford marshmallow experiment, 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?


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

affirmative action, availability heuristic, Barry Marshall: ulcers, correlation does not imply causation, desegregation, low cost airline, Menlo Park, Pepto Bismol, 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?


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

"Robert Solow", 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, commoditize, Commodity Super-Cycle, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, deindustrialization, domestication of the camel, Edward Glaeser, endogenous growth, Erik Brynjolfsson, financial intermediation, George Gilder, global supply chain, global value chain, Henri Poincaré, imperial preference, industrial cluster, industrial robot, intangible asset, invention of agriculture, invention of the telegraph, investor state dispute settlement, Isaac Newton, Islamic Golden Age, James Dyson, Kickstarter, knowledge economy, knowledge worker, Lao Tzu, low skilled workers, market fragmentation, mass immigration, Metcalfe’s law, New Economic Geography, out of africa, paper trading, Paul Samuelson, Pax Mongolica, profit motive, rent-seeking, reshoring, Richard Florida, rising living standards, Robert Metcalfe, 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.


Gods and Robots: Myths, Machines, and Ancient Dreams of Technology by Adrienne Mayor

Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic, Asilomar, autonomous vehicles, Elon Musk, industrial robot, Islamic Golden Age, Jacquard loom, life extension, Menlo Park, Panopticon Jeremy Bentham, popular electronics, self-driving car, Silicon Valley, Stephen Hawking, Thales and the olive presses, Thales of Miletus, theory of mind, Turing test

Each of the gods endowed the artificial maiden with a human trait: beauty, charm, knowledge of the arts, and a deceitful nature. As the vengeful god’s AI agent, Pandora executed her mission to unseal a jar of disasters to plague humankind forever. She was presented as a wife to Epimetheus, a man known for his impulsive optimism. As we saw, Prometheus warned humankind that Pandora’s jar should never be opened. Are Stephen Hawking, Elon Musk, Bill Gates, and other prescient thinkers the Promethean Titans of our era? They have warned scientists to halt or at least slow the reckless pursuit of AI, because they foresee that once it is set in motion, humans will be unable to control it. “Deep learning” algorithms allow AI computers to extract patterns from vast data, extrapolate to novel situations, and decide on actions with no human guidance.

A similar “miracle” is the theme in the 2017 film Blade Runner 2049. 17. Faraone 1992, 18–19, 29n1. Marconi 2009. 18. Faraone 1992, 19–23, 13n8. Pharmaka “animates” the statues with a kind of “soul” or life but does not necessarily make them move. Hollow statues as vessels that are vivified by being filled with substances, Steiner 2001, 114–20. 19. Asimov’s laws, Kang 2011, 302. Future of Life Institute’s Beneficial AI Conference 2017; FLI’s board included Stephen Hawking, Frank Wilczek, Elon Musk, and Nick Bostrom. https://futurism.com/worlds-top-experts-have-created-a-law-of-robotics/. See also Leverhulme Centre for the Future of Intelligence: http://lcfi.ac.uk/. 20. Martinho-Truswell 2018. 21. Four-wheeled carts, Morris 1992, 10. A small, shallow bronze basin-cart on three wheels, an ancient example of pen, bonsai basin, was excavated in a sixth/fifth century BC archaeological site in China, indicating that the idea of a wheeled tripod was put into practice elsewhere in antiquity, Bagley et al. 1980, 265, 272, color plate 65.


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Superintelligence: Paths, Dangers, Strategies by Nick Bostrom

agricultural Revolution, AI winter, Albert Einstein, algorithmic trading, anthropic principle, anti-communist, artificial general intelligence, autonomous vehicles, barriers to entry, Bayesian statistics, bioinformatics, brain emulation, cloud computing, combinatorial explosion, computer vision, cosmological constant, dark matter, DARPA: Urban Challenge, data acquisition, delayed gratification, demographic transition, different worldview, Donald Knuth, Douglas Hofstadter, Drosophila, Elon Musk, en.wikipedia.org, endogenous growth, 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 Markoff, John von Neumann, knowledge worker, longitudinal study, 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, zero-sum game

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.


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Scale: The Universal Laws of Growth, Innovation, Sustainability, and the Pace of Life in Organisms, Cities, Economies, and Companies by Geoffrey West

Alfred Russel Wallace, Anton Chekhov, Benoit Mandelbrot, Black Swan, British Empire, butterfly effect, carbon footprint, Cesare Marchetti: Marchetti’s constant, clean water, complexity theory, computer age, conceptual framework, continuous integration, corporate social responsibility, correlation does not imply causation, creative destruction, dark matter, Deng Xiaoping, double helix, Edward Glaeser, endogenous growth, Ernest Rutherford, first square of the chessboard, first square of the chessboard / second half of the chessboard, Frank Gehry, Geoffrey West, Santa Fe Institute, Guggenheim Bilbao, housing crisis, Index librorum prohibitorum, invention of agriculture, invention of the telephone, Isaac Newton, Jane Jacobs, Jeff Bezos, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, John von Neumann, Kenneth Arrow, laissez-faire capitalism, life extension, Mahatma Gandhi, mandelbrot fractal, Marchetti’s constant, Masdar, megacity, Murano, Venice glass, Murray Gell-Mann, New Urbanism, Peter Thiel, profit motive, publish or perish, Ray Kurzweil, Richard Feynman, Richard Florida, Silicon Valley, smart cities, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, Stewart Brand, technological singularity, The Coming Technological Singularity, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, the scientific method, too big to fail, transaction costs, urban planning, urban renewal, Vernor Vinge, Vilfredo Pareto, Von Neumann architecture, Whole Earth Catalog, Whole Earth Review, wikimedia commons, working poor

Over the past quarter of a century, terms like complex adaptive systems, the science of complexity, emergent behavior, self-organization, resilience, and adaptive nonlinear dynamics have begun to pervade not just the scientific literature but also that of the business and corporate world as well as the popular media. To set the stage, I’d like to quote two distinguished thinkers, one a scientist, the other a lawyer. The first is the eminent physicist Stephen Hawking, who in an interview10 at the turn of the millennium was asked the following question: Some say that while the 20th century was the century of physics, we are now entering the century of biology. What do you think of this? To which he responded: I think the next century will be the century of complexity. I wholeheartedly agree. As I hope I have already made clear, we urgently need a science of complex adaptive systems to address the host of extraordinarily challenging societal problems we face.

It has since been extended to areas outside of medicine and used to estimate, for example, how long people can expect to remain unemployed after a job loss or how long it takes for machine parts to fail. Amusingly, Kaplan and Meier each submitted similar but independent papers to the prestigious Journal of the American Statistical Association for publication, and a wise editor persuaded them to combine them into a single paper. This has since been cited in other scholarly papers more than 34,000 times, which is an extremely large number for an academic paper. For instance, Stephen Hawking’s most famous paper, “Particle Creation by Black Holes,” has been cited less than 5,000 times. Depending on the field, most papers are fortunate to receive even 25 citations. Several of my own that I thought were pretty damn good have been cited less than 10 times, which is pretty discouraging, although I am a coauthor of two of the most cited papers in ecology, each having more than 3,000 citations. 4.

In the developed world our life spans have increased by almost a factor of two over the last 150 years, so that now we can expect our hearts to beat roughly three billion times during our lives. 8. A good source for detailed statistics on cities and urbanization are reports from the United Nations. See, for instance, their publication “World Urbanization Prospects,” https://esa.un.org/unpd/wup/Publications/Files/WUP2014-Highlights.pdf. 9. And, by the way, to several Nobel Prizes. 10. Stephen Hawking quoted in an interview, “Unified Theory Is Getting Closer, Hawking Predicts,” San Jose Mercury News, Jan. 23, 2000; www.mercurycenter.com/resources/search. 11. There are a number of popular books devoted to elucidating the new science of complexity. Among them are: M. Mitchell, Complexity: A Guided Tour (New York: Oxford University Press, 2008); M. M. Waldrop, Complexity: The Emerging Science at the Edge of Order and Chaos (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1993); J.


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Coming of Age in the Milky Way by Timothy Ferris

Albert Einstein, Albert Michelson, Alfred Russel Wallace, anthropic principle, Arthur Eddington, Atahualpa, Cepheid variable, 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, Johannes Kepler, 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, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, Searching for Interstellar Communications, Solar eclipse in 1919, source of truth, Stephen Hawking, Thales of Miletus, 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.


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

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, Norman Macrae, pattern recognition, Peter Thiel, phenotype, placebo effect, prisoner's dilemma, profit maximization, Ray Kurzweil, recommendation engine, reversible computing, 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, twin studies, 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.


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

Albert Einstein, Apple's 1984 Super Bowl advert, Arthur Eddington, clockwork universe, complexity theory, double helix, Edmond Halley, Isaac Newton, Johannes Kepler, lone genius, music of the spheres, Pierre-Simon Laplace, Richard Feynman, Saturday Night Live, scientific worldview, 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: 340 words: 97,723

The Big Nine: How the Tech Titans and Their Thinking Machines Could Warp Humanity by Amy Webb

Ada Lovelace, AI winter, Airbnb, airport security, Alan Turing: On Computable Numbers, with an Application to the Entscheidungsproblem, artificial general intelligence, Asilomar, autonomous vehicles, Bayesian statistics, Bernie Sanders, bioinformatics, blockchain, Bretton Woods, business intelligence, Cass Sunstein, Claude Shannon: information theory, cloud computing, cognitive bias, complexity theory, computer vision, crowdsourcing, cryptocurrency, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, Deng Xiaoping, distributed ledger, don't be evil, Donald Trump, Elon Musk, Filter Bubble, Flynn Effect, gig economy, Google Glasses, Grace Hopper, Gödel, Escher, Bach, Inbox Zero, Internet of things, Jacques de Vaucanson, Jeff Bezos, Joan Didion, job automation, John von Neumann, knowledge worker, Lyft, Mark Zuckerberg, Menlo Park, move fast and break things, move fast and break things, natural language processing, New Urbanism, one-China policy, optical character recognition, packet switching, pattern recognition, personalized medicine, RAND corporation, Ray Kurzweil, ride hailing / ride sharing, Rodney Brooks, Rubik’s Cube, Sand Hill Road, Second Machine Age, self-driving car, SETI@home, side project, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, skunkworks, Skype, smart cities, South China Sea, sovereign wealth fund, speech recognition, Stephen Hawking, strong AI, superintelligent machines, technological singularity, The Coming Technological Singularity, theory of mind, Tim Cook: Apple, trade route, Turing machine, Turing test, uber lyft, Von Neumann architecture, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, zero day

Communications of the ACM 59, no. 10 (2016): 16–17. https://cacm.acm.org/magazines/2016/10/207759-battling-algorithmic-bias/abstract. Knight, W. “AI Fight Club Could Help Save Us from a Future of Super-Smart Cyberattacks.” MIT Technology Review, July 20, 2017. https://www.technologyreview.com/s/608288/ai-fight-club-could-help-save-us-from-afuture-of-supersmart-cyberattacks/. . “Response to Stephen Hawking.” Kurzweil Network, September 5, 2001. http://www.kurzweilai.net/response-to-stephen-hawking. . The Singularity Is Near. New York: Viking, 2005. Libicki, R. Cyberspace in Peace and War. Annapolis: Naval Institute Press, 2016. Lin, J. Y. Demystifying the Chinese Economy. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2011. Marcus, M. P., et al. “Building a Large Annotated Corpus of English: The Penn Treebank.” Computational Linguistics 19, no. 2 (1993): 313–330.


pages: 299 words: 19,560

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

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, G4S, garden city movement, germ theory of disease, Golden Gate Park, invention of the printing press, Isaac Newton, Jeff Bezos, John Markoff, John von Neumann, knowledge economy, liberation theology, Louis Pasteur, Mark Zuckerberg, mass immigration, means of production, Nelson Mandela, 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: 350 words: 98,077

Artificial Intelligence: A Guide for Thinking Humans by Melanie Mitchell

Ada Lovelace, AI winter, Amazon Mechanical Turk, Apple's 1984 Super Bowl advert, artificial general intelligence, autonomous vehicles, Bernie Sanders, Claude Shannon: information theory, cognitive dissonance, computer age, computer vision, dark matter, Douglas Hofstadter, Elon Musk, en.wikipedia.org, Gödel, Escher, Bach, I think there is a world market for maybe five computers, ImageNet competition, Jaron Lanier, job automation, John Markoff, John von Neumann, Kevin Kelly, Kickstarter, license plate recognition, Mark Zuckerberg, natural language processing, Norbert Wiener, ought to be enough for anybody, pattern recognition, performance metric, RAND corporation, Ray Kurzweil, recommendation engine, ride hailing / ride sharing, Rodney Brooks, self-driving car, sentiment analysis, Silicon Valley, Singularitarianism, Skype, speech recognition, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Steven Pinker, strong AI, superintelligent machines, theory of mind, There's no reason for any individual to have a computer in his home - Ken Olsen, Turing test, Vernor Vinge, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!

While assuming that these AI researchers underestimated humans, had I in turn underestimated the power and promise of current-day AI? Over the months that followed, I started paying more attention to the discussion surrounding these questions. I started to notice the slew of articles, blog posts, and entire books by prominent people suddenly telling us we should start worrying, right now, about the perils of “superhuman” AI. In 2014, the physicist Stephen Hawking proclaimed, “The development of full artificial intelligence could spell the end of the human race.”7 In the same year, the entrepreneur Elon Musk, founder of the Tesla and SpaceX companies, said that artificial intelligence is probably “our biggest existential threat” and that “with artificial intelligence we are summoning the demon.”8 Microsoft’s cofounder Bill Gates concurred: “I agree with Elon Musk and some others on this and don’t understand why some people are not concerned.”9 The philosopher Nick Bostrom’s book Superintelligence, on the potential dangers of machines becoming smarter than humans, became a surprise bestseller, despite its dry and ponderous style.

Rota, Indiscrete Thoughts (Boston: Berkhäuser, 1997), 22.   4.  D. R. Hofstadter, Gödel, Escher, Bach: an Eternal Golden Braid (New York: Basic Books, 1979), 678.   5.  Ibid., 676.   6.  Quoted in D. R. Hofstadter, “Staring Emmy Straight in the Eye—and Doing My Best Not to Flinch,” in Creativity, Cognition, and Knowledge, ed. T. Dartnell (Westport, Conn.: Praeger, 2002), 67–100.   7.  Quoted in R. Cellan-Jones, “Stephen Hawking Warns Artificial Intelligence Could End Mankind,” BBC News, Dec. 2, 2014, www.bbc.com/news/technology-30290540.   8.  M. McFarland, “Elon Musk: ‘With Artificial Intelligence, We Are Summoning the Demon,’” Washington Post, Oct. 24, 2014.   9.  Bill Gates, on Reddit, Jan. 28, 2015, www.reddit.com/r/IAmA/comments/2tzjp7/hi_reddit_im_bill_gates_and_im_back_for_my_third/?. 10.  Quoted in K.


The Deep Learning Revolution (The MIT Press) by Terrence J. Sejnowski

AI winter, Albert Einstein, algorithmic trading, Amazon Web Services, Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic, augmented reality, autonomous vehicles, Baxter: Rethink Robotics, bioinformatics, cellular automata, Claude Shannon: information theory, cloud computing, complexity theory, computer vision, conceptual framework, constrained optimization, Conway's Game of Life, correlation does not imply causation, crowdsourcing, Danny Hillis, delayed gratification, discovery of DNA, Donald Trump, Douglas Engelbart, Drosophila, Elon Musk, en.wikipedia.org, epigenetics, Flynn Effect, Frank Gehry, future of work, Google Glasses, Google X / Alphabet X, Guggenheim Bilbao, Gödel, Escher, Bach, haute couture, Henri Poincaré, I think there is a world market for maybe five computers, industrial robot, informal economy, Internet of things, Isaac Newton, John Conway, John Markoff, John von Neumann, Mark Zuckerberg, Minecraft, natural language processing, Netflix Prize, Norbert Wiener, orbital mechanics / astrodynamics, PageRank, pattern recognition, prediction markets, randomized controlled trial, recommendation engine, Renaissance Technologies, Rodney Brooks, self-driving car, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, Socratic dialogue, speech recognition, statistical model, Stephen Hawking, theory of mind, Thomas Bayes, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions, traveling salesman, Turing machine, Von Neumann architecture, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, X Prize, Yogi Berra

Educational technology—edtech—is moving rapidly ahead, and the transition to precision education could be quite fast compared to self-driving cars because the obstacles it must overcome are much less daunting, the demand is much greater, and education in the U.S. is a trillion-dollar market.46 One major concern will be who has access to the internal files of the digital assistants and digital tutors. Is Artificial Intelligence an Existential Threat? When AlphaGo convincingly beat Lee Sedol at Go in 2016, it fueled a reaction that had been building over the last several years concerning the 24 Chapter 1 dangers that artificial intelligence might present to humans. Computer scientists signed pledges not to use AI for military purposes. Stephen Hawking and Bill Gates made public statements warning of the existential threat posed by AI. Elon Musk and other Silicon Valley entrepreneurs set up a new company, OpenAI, with a one-billion-dollar nest egg and hired Ilya Sutskever, one of Geoffrey Hinton’s former students, to be its first director. Although OpenAI’s stated goal was to ensure that future AI discoveries would be publicly available for all to use, it had another, implicit and more important goal—to prevent private companies from doing evil.

Although the optimal solution would be a judicious balance between profit and fairness, the trade-off must be made explicit in the cost function, which requires that someone decide how to weight each goal. The ethical perspective of those in the humanities and social sciences should inform these trade-offs. But we must always keep in mind that choosing a cost function that seems fair may have unintended consequences.29 Calls to regulate the use of AI have come from Elon Musk and Stephen Hawking as well as legislators and researchers. An open letter signed by 3,722 AI and robotics researchers in 2015 called for a ban on autonomous weapons: In summary, we believe that AI has great potential to benefit humanity in many ways, and that the goal of the field should be to do so. Starting a military AI arms race is a bad idea, and should be prevented by a ban on offensive autonomous weapons beyond meaningful human control.30 This call for a ban was well meaning but could boomerang.


pages: 332 words: 109,213

The Scientist as Rebel by Freeman Dyson

Albert Einstein, Asilomar, British Empire, Claude Shannon: information theory, dark matter, double helix, Edmond Halley, Ernest Rutherford, experimental subject, Fellow of the Royal Society, From Mathematics to the Technologies of Life and Death, Henri Poincaré, Isaac Newton, Johannes Kepler, John von Neumann, kremlinology, Mikhail Gorbachev, Norbert Wiener, Paul Erdős, Richard Feynman, Ronald Reagan, Silicon Valley, Stephen Hawking, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions, traveling salesman, undersea cable

Even if many of the details later turn out to be wrong, the picture is a big step toward understanding. Progress in science is often built on wrong theories that are later corrected. It is better to be wrong than to be vague. Greene’s book explains to the nonexpert reader two essential themes of modern science. First it describes the historical path of observation and theory that led from Newton and Galileo in the seventeenth century to Einstein and Stephen Hawking in the twentieth. Then it shows us the style of thinking that led beyond Einstein and Hawking to the fashionable theories of today. The history and the style of thinking are authentic, whether or not the fashionable theories are here to stay. In his book The Elegant Universe, published in 1999, Greene gave us a more detailed and technical account of string theory, the theory to which his professional life as a physicist has been devoted.

He later wrote Rogers in defense of the commission’s report: We have laid out the facts and done it well. The large number of negative observations are a result of the appalling condition the NASA shuttle program has gotten into. It is unfortunate, but true, and we would do a disservice if we tried to be less than frank about it. Why should we care about Feynman? What was so special about him? Why did he become a public icon, standing with Albert Einstein and Stephen Hawking as the Holy Trinity of twentieth-century physics? The public has demonstrated remarkably good taste in choosing its icons. All three of them are genuinely great scientists, with flashes of true genius as well as solid accomplishments to their credit. But to become an icon, it is not enough to be a great scientist. There are many other scientists, not so great as Einstein but greater than Hawking and Feynman, who did not become icons.


pages: 379 words: 108,129

An Optimist's Tour of the Future by Mark Stevenson

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, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Internet of things, invention of agriculture, Isaac Newton, Jeff Bezos, Kevin Kelly, Law of Accelerating Returns, Leonard Kleinrock, life extension, Louis Pasteur, low earth orbit, mutually assured destruction, Naomi Klein, off grid, packet switching, peak oil, pre–internet, Ray Kurzweil, Richard Feynman, Rodney Brooks, self-driving car, Silicon Valley, smart cities, social intelligence, 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: 331 words: 104,366

Deep Thinking: Where Machine Intelligence Ends and Human Creativity Begins by Garry Kasparov

3D printing, Ada Lovelace, AI winter, Albert Einstein, AltaVista, barriers to entry, Berlin Wall, business process, call centre, Charles Lindbergh, clean water, computer age, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, David Brooks, Donald Trump, Douglas Hofstadter, Drosophila, Elon Musk, Erik Brynjolfsson, factory automation, Freestyle chess, Gödel, Escher, Bach, job automation, Leonard Kleinrock, low earth orbit, Mikhail Gorbachev, Nate Silver, Norbert Wiener, packet switching, pattern recognition, Ray Kurzweil, Richard Feynman, rising living standards, rolodex, Second Machine Age, self-driving car, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, Skype, speech recognition, stem cell, Stephen Hawking, Steven Pinker, technological singularity, The Coming Technological Singularity, The Signal and the Noise by Nate Silver, Turing test, Vernor Vinge, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, zero-sum game

I remain an optimist if only because I’ve never found much advantage in the alternatives. Artificial intelligence is on a path toward transforming every part of our lives in a way not seen since the creation of the Internet, perhaps even since we harnessed electricity. There are potential dangers with any powerful new technology and I won’t shy away from discussing them. Eminent individuals from Stephen Hawking to Elon Musk have expressed their fear of AI as a potential existential threat to mankind. The experts are less prone to alarming statements, but they are quite worried too. If you program a machine, you know what it’s capable of. If the machine is programming itself, who knows what it might do? The airports with their self-check-in kiosks and restaurants full of iPads are staffed by thousands of human workers (most using machines) in the long security lines.

Brain scans will continue to better define exactly what goes on in the human brain during a chess game, and may even come to some conclusions about what makes one person a naturally superior player. But I remain confident that we will continue to enjoy chess, and to revere it, as long as we enjoy art, science, and competition. Thanks to the Internet’s matchless ability to spread myths and rumors, I’ve found myself bombarded with all sorts of misinformation about my own intellect. Spurious lists of “highest IQs in history” might find me between Albert Einstein and Stephen Hawking, both of whom have probably taken as many proper IQ tests as I have: zero. In 1987, the German news magazine Der Spiegel sent a small group of experts to a hotel in Baku to administer a battery of tests to measure my brainpower in different ways, some specially designed to test my memory and pattern recognition abilities. I have no idea how closely these approximated a formal IQ test, nor do I much care.


pages: 416 words: 112,268

Human Compatible: Artificial Intelligence and the Problem of Control by Stuart Russell

3D printing, Ada Lovelace, AI winter, Alan Turing: On Computable Numbers, with an Application to the Entscheidungsproblem, Alfred Russel Wallace, Andrew Wiles, artificial general intelligence, Asilomar, Asilomar Conference on Recombinant DNA, augmented reality, autonomous vehicles, basic income, blockchain, brain emulation, Cass Sunstein, Claude Shannon: information theory, complexity theory, computer vision, connected car, crowdsourcing, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, delayed gratification, Elon Musk, en.wikipedia.org, Erik Brynjolfsson, Ernest Rutherford, Flash crash, full employment, future of work, Gerolamo Cardano, ImageNet competition, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Internet of things, invention of the wheel, job automation, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, John Maynard Keynes: technological unemployment, John Nash: game theory, John von Neumann, Kenneth Arrow, Kevin Kelly, Law of Accelerating Returns, Mark Zuckerberg, Nash equilibrium, Norbert Wiener, NP-complete, openstreetmap, P = NP, Pareto efficiency, Paul Samuelson, Pierre-Simon Laplace, positional goods, probability theory / Blaise Pascal / Pierre de Fermat, profit maximization, RAND corporation, random walk, Ray Kurzweil, recommendation engine, RFID, Richard Thaler, ride hailing / ride sharing, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Rodney Brooks, Second Machine Age, self-driving car, Shoshana Zuboff, Silicon Valley, smart cities, smart contracts, social intelligence, speech recognition, Stephen Hawking, Steven Pinker, superintelligent machines, Thales of Miletus, The Future of Employment, Thomas Bayes, Thorstein Veblen, transport as a service, Turing machine, Turing test, universal basic income, uranium enrichment, Von Neumann architecture, Wall-E, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, web application, zero-sum game

I sat in the second row and watched as a Berkeley AI professor, played by Johnny Depp, was gunned down by anti-AI activists worried about, yes, superintelligent AI. Involuntarily, I shrank down in my seat. (Another call from the Department of Coincidences?) Before Johnny Depp’s character dies, his mind is uploaded to a quantum supercomputer and quickly outruns human capabilities, threatening to take over the world. On April 19, 2014, a review of Transcendence, co-authored with physicists Max Tegmark, Frank Wilczek, and Stephen Hawking, appeared in the Huffington Post. It included the sentence from my Dulwich talk about the biggest event in human history. From then on, I would be publicly committed to the view that my own field of research posed a potential risk to my own species. How Did We Get Here? The roots of AI stretch far back into antiquity, but its “official” beginning was in 1956. Two young mathematicians, John McCarthy and Marvin Minsky, had persuaded Claude Shannon, already famous as the inventor of information theory, and Nathaniel Rochester, the designer of IBM’s first commercial computer, to join them in organizing a summer program at Dartmouth College.

Using very similar language to the Popular Science article, David Kenny, at that time a vice president at IBM, wrote a letter to the US Congress that included the following reassuring words:14 When you actually do the science of machine intelligence, and when you actually apply it in the real world of business and society—as we have done at IBM to create our pioneering cognitive computing system, Watson—you understand that this technology does not support the fear-mongering commonly associated with the AI debate today. The message is the same in all three cases: “Don’t listen to them; we’re the experts.” Now, one can point out that this is really an ad hominem argument that attempts to refute the message by delegitimizing the messengers, but even if one takes it at face value, the argument doesn’t hold water. Elon Musk, Stephen Hawking, and Bill Gates are certainly very familiar with scientific and technological reasoning, and Musk and Gates in particular have supervised and invested in many AI research projects. And it would be even less plausible to argue that Alan Turing, I. J. Good, Norbert Wiener, and Marvin Minsky are unqualified to discuss AI. Finally, Scott Alexander’s blog piece mentioned earlier, which is titled “AI Researchers on AI Risk,” notes that “AI researchers, including some of the leaders in the field, have been instrumental in raising issues about AI risk and superintelligence from the very beginning.”


pages: 741 words: 179,454

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

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, business cycle, capital asset pricing model, Carmen Reinhart, carried interest, Celtic Tiger, clean water, cognitive dissonance, collapse of Lehman Brothers, collateralized debt obligation, corporate governance, corporate raider, creative destruction, 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, Edward Thorp, Emanuel Derman, en.wikipedia.org, Eugene Fama: efficient market hypothesis, eurozone crisis, Everybody Ought to Be Rich, Fall of the Berlin Wall, financial independence, financial innovation, financial thriller, 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, information asymmetry, interest rate swap, invention of the wheel, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, job automation, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, John Meriwether, joint-stock company, Jones Act, Joseph Schumpeter, Kenneth Arrow, Kenneth Rogoff, Kevin Kelly, 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, mega-rich, merger arbitrage, Mikhail Gorbachev, Milgram experiment, money market fund, Mont Pelerin Society, moral hazard, mortgage debt, mortgage tax deduction, mutually assured destruction, Myron Scholes, Naomi Klein, negative equity, NetJets, Network effects, new economy, Nick Leeson, Nixon shock, Northern Rock, nuclear winter, oil shock, Own Your Own Home, Paul Samuelson, pets.com, Philip Mirowski, 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 Thaler, Right to Buy, 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, Satyajit Das, 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, survivorship bias, 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 new new thing, 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, zero-sum game

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: 117 words: 36,809

Help by Simon Amstell

Nelson Mandela, Stephen Hawking

And I should be over all this ego now, I really thought I was over vanity, and then I went to see a low-budget film that I was in and it was the first time I’d seen my face on the cinema screen. A lot of actors can’t even look at themselves, they won’t watch the films. I came out of there thinking, My face should always be that big. to be free I got a hint that I didn’t actually want to be a transformative actor after reading an interview that Eddie Redmayne gave about his year-long preparation for playing Stephen Hawking. I was aware that most actors would be thinking, I’d love to have the opportunity to do something so challenging. And I thought, Who the hell can be bothered with this? I felt a bit better recently – I’d just finished writing a film and I thought, OK, we’re OK – what’s better than a film? And then my friend Russell Brand decided to start a revolution. I didn’t know that was an option. We were both trained clowns, and then he goes, ‘Yeah, I enjoy this clown work but I think I’m probably also Gandhi.


pages: 396 words: 112,748

Chaos: Making a New Science by James Gleick

Benoit Mandelbrot, business cycle, 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, 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: 467 words: 114,570

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

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, Johannes Kepler, Joseph Schumpeter, Kickstarter, liberation theology, retrograde motion, scientific worldview, 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: 382 words: 117,536

March of the Lemmings: Brexit in Print and Performance 2016–2019 by Stewart Lee

Airbnb, AltaVista, anti-communist, Boris Johnson, cognitive dissonance, coherent worldview, Donald Trump, Etonian, New Journalism, Ronald Reagan, Snapchat, Stephen Hawking, white flight

Christ, I can’t keep this forced nonsensical tone going any more, even to provoke the usual online Kremlin gremlin comments. I’m on tour, and it’s Tuesday in a Dundee hotel. I have to file this tomorrow from Perth by close of business, and the story unravels as quickly as I can rewrite it. Since I started scribbling, Rex Tillerson’s4 disappeared, the Sun says a Russian’s been strangled in New Malden5 and even Stephen Hawking’s and Ken Dodd’s deaths look like Putin might have had a hand in them. Did anyone toxicity-test the telescope and the tattyfilarious tickling stick? Thought not. The Brexit British are a joke now. Putin knows no one will stick their neck out for those wankers. I don’t know anything about Russia anyway. Someone online in Russia has a tattoo based on one of my stand-up routines. And I have a Russian relative who is nice.

Last week, The Times’ Quentin Letts and Julia Hartley-Brewer’s Julia Hartley-Brewer both tweeted, with delight, that they were able to ski across the Swiss border unhindered. This apparently showed that there was no need for a British border in Ireland, because of blah blah blah shit piss wank.2 It also proved that it can’t be that hot, as otherwise there wouldn’t be any snow, which is all made out of coldness, like in Frozen. Some misery-gongers and doom-dongers have even suggested that the late Professor Stephen Hawking’s 2017 warning that Earth had only one hundred more years of habitability now looks optimistic. But Hawking was a liar, because if the world really was in trouble like how he said it was, then why wouldn’t he of used his mind to invent a invention to mend it? It has proved very convenient for the biased hard Remainiac BBC that this supposed climate emergency emerged this week. It distracts from any positive coverage of their hated Brexit.


pages: 437 words: 113,173

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

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 pandemic, global supply chain, Hyperloop, immigration reform, income inequality, indoor plumbing, industrial cluster, industrial robot, information retrieval, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), intermodal, Internet of things, invention of the printing press, Isaac Newton, Islamic Golden Age, Johannes Kepler, Khan Academy, Kickstarter, low cost airline, low cost carrier, low skilled workers, Lyft, Malacca Straits, mass immigration, megacity, Mikhail Gorbachev, moral hazard, Nelson Mandela, Network effects, New Urbanism, non-tariff barriers, Occupy movement, On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres, open economy, Panamax, Pearl River Delta, personalized medicine, Peter Thiel, post-Panamax, profit motive, rent-seeking, reshoring, Robert Gordon, Robert Metcalfe, 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, The Future of Employment, too big to fail, trade liberalization, trade route, transaction costs, transatlantic slave trade, uber lyft, undersea cable, 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: 654 words: 204,260

A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson

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, 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.


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

A Pattern Language, Benevolent Dictator For Life (BDFL), Berlin Wall, c2.com, call centre, collaborative editing, conceptual framework, continuous integration, Donald Knuth, Douglas Engelbart, Douglas Engelbart, Douglas Hofstadter, Dynabook, en.wikipedia.org, Firefox, Ford paid five dollars a day, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, George Santayana, Grace Hopper, Guido van Rossum, Gödel, Escher, Bach, Howard Rheingold, HyperCard, index card, Internet Archive, inventory management, Jaron Lanier, John Markoff, John von Neumann, knowledge worker, Larry Wall, life extension, Loma Prieta earthquake, Menlo Park, Merlin Mann, Mitch Kapor, new economy, Nicholas Carr, Norbert Wiener, pattern recognition, Paul Graham, Potemkin village, RAND corporation, Ray Kurzweil, Richard Stallman, Ronald Reagan, Ruby on Rails, semantic web, side project, Silicon Valley, Singularitarianism, slashdot, software studies, source of truth, 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: 413 words: 119,587

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

"Robert Solow", A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace, AI winter, airport security, Apple II, artificial general intelligence, Asilomar, augmented reality, autonomous vehicles, basic income, 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 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, Gunnar Myrdal, 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 Markoff, 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, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, Marshall McLuhan, medical residency, Menlo Park, Mitch Kapor, 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, zero-sum game

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: 428 words: 121,717

Warnings by Richard A. Clarke

active measures, Albert Einstein, algorithmic trading, anti-communist, artificial general intelligence, Asilomar, Asilomar Conference on Recombinant DNA, Bernie Madoff, cognitive bias, collateralized debt obligation, complexity theory, corporate governance, cuban missile crisis, data acquisition, discovery of penicillin, double helix, Elon Musk, failed state, financial thriller, fixed income, Flash crash, forensic accounting, friendly AI, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Internet of things, James Watt: steam engine, Jeff Bezos, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, knowledge worker, Maui Hawaii, megacity, Mikhail Gorbachev, money market fund, mouse model, Nate Silver, new economy, Nicholas Carr, nuclear winter, pattern recognition, personalized medicine, phenotype, Ponzi scheme, Ray Kurzweil, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman: Challenger O-ring, risk tolerance, Ronald Reagan, Sam Altman, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, self-driving car, Silicon Valley, smart grid, statistical model, Stephen Hawking, Stuxnet, technological singularity, The Future of Employment, the scientific method, The Signal and the Noise by Nate Silver, Tunguska event, uranium enrichment, Vernor Vinge, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, women in the workforce, Y2K

IBM’s Watson supercomputer is hard at work performing tasks ranging from playing (and winning at) Jeopardy! to diagnosing cancer. What will Earth be like when humans are no longer the most intelligent things on the planet? As science fiction writer and computer scientist Vernor Vinge wrote, “The best answer to the question, ‘Will computers ever be as smart as humans?’ is probably ‘Yes, but only briefly.’”5 As the excitement grows, so too does fear. The astrophysicist and Nobel laureate Dr. Stephen Hawking warns that AI is “likely to be either the best or worst thing ever to happen to humanity, so there’s huge value in getting it right.” Hawking is not alone in his concern about superintelligence. Icons of the tech revolution, including former Microsoft chairman Bill Gates, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, and Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk, echo his concern. And it terrifies Eliezer Yudkowsky. Eliezer has dedicated his life to preventing artificial intelligence from destroying humankind.

DARPA deputy director Steven Walker quoted in Sydney J. Freedberg Jr., “Robots, Techies, and Troops: Carter and Roper on 3rd Offset,” Breaking Defense, June 13, 2016, http://breakingdefense.com/2016/06/trust-robots-tech-industry-troops-carter-roper (accessed Oct. 8, 2016). 21. Michael Sainato, “Steven Hawking, Elon Musk, and Bill Gates Warn About Artificial Intelligence,” The Observer (UK), Aug. 19, 2015, http://observer.com/2015/08/stephen-hawking-elon-musk-and-bill-gates-warn-about-artificial-intelligence (accessed Oct. 8, 2016); and Elon Musk interview with MIT students at the MIT Aeronautics and Astronautics Department Centennial Symposium, Oct. 2014, http://aeroastro.mit.edu/aeroastro100/centennial-symposium (accessed Oct. 8, 2016). 22. Bloomberg via Shobhit Seth, “The World of High Frequency Algorithmic Trading,” Investopedia, Sept. 16, 2015, www.investopedia.com/articles/investing/091615/world-high-frequency-algorithmic-trading.asp (accessed Oct. 8, 2016). 23.


pages: 480 words: 119,407

Invisible Women by Caroline Criado Perez

Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, augmented reality, Bernie Sanders, collective bargaining, crowdsourcing, Diane Coyle, Donald Trump, falling living standards, first-past-the-post, gender pay gap, gig economy, glass ceiling, Grace Hopper, Hacker Ethic, Indoor air pollution, informal economy, lifelogging, low skilled workers, mental accounting, meta analysis, meta-analysis, Nate Silver, new economy, obamacare, Oculus Rift, offshore financial centre, pattern recognition, phenotype, post-industrial society, randomized controlled trial, remote working, Silicon Valley, Simon Kuznets, speech recognition, stem cell, Stephen Hawking, Steven Levy, the built environment, urban planning, women in the workforce, zero-sum game

Women are hysterical (hystera is the Greek word for womb), crazy (if I had a pound for every time a man questioned my sanity in response to my saying anything vaguely feminist on Twitter I would be able to give up work for life), irrational and over emotional. The trope of the ‘crazy ex-girlfriend’ is so common it’s been satirised by Taylor Swift in her hit song ‘Blank Space’ and by Rachel Bloom in a whole Netflix series about a Crazy Ex-Girlfriend. Women are a ‘mystery’, explained renowned physicist Stephen Hawking,60 while Freud, who got rich and famous off his diagnoses of female hysteria, explained in a 1933 lecture that ‘Throughout history, people have knocked their heads against the riddle of femininity.’61 The intransigence of this feminine riddle has not gone unpunished. Women who had often done little more than manifest behaviours that were out of feminine bounds (such as having a libido) were incarcerated for years in asylums.

utm_source=quartzfb 54 Hoffman, Diane E. and Tarzian, Anita J. (2001), ‘The Girl Who Cried Pain: A Bias Against Women in the Treatment of Pain’, Journal of Law, Medicine & Ethics, 29, 13–27 55 http://thinkprogress.org/health/2015/05/11/3654568/gender-roles-women-health/ 56 https://www.theguardian.com/society/2017/sep/06/listen-to-women-uk-doctors-issued-with-first-guidance-on-endometriosis 57 https://www.endofound.org/endometriosis 58 https://www.theguardian.com/society/2015/sep/28/endometriosis-hidden-suffering-millions-women 59 https://www.theguardian.com/society/2017/sep/06/listen-to-women-uk-doctors-issued-with-first-guidance-on-endometriosis 60 http://www.independent.co.uk/news/science/stephen-hawking-says-women-are-the-most-intriguing-mystery-in-reddit-ama-a6687246.html 61 https://www.birdvilleschools.net/cms/lib/TX01000797/Centricity/Domain/1013/AP%20Psychology/Femininity.pdf 62 Showalter, Elaine (1985) The Female Malady: Women, Madness and English Culture 1830–1980, London 1987 63 https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/astounding-increase-inantidepressant-use-by-americans-201110203624 64 http://pb.rcpsych.org/content/pbrcpsych/early/2017/01/06/pb.bp.116.054270.full.pdf 65 https://academic.oup.com/painmedicine/article/10/2/289/article 66 Hoffman and Tarzian (2001) 67 Fillingim, R.


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

Albert Einstein, Alistair Cooke, Anton Chekhov, British Empire, Columbine, Donald Trump, George Santayana, haute couture, Honoré de Balzac, Joan Didion, 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.


pages: 165 words: 47,193

The End of Work: Why Your Passion Can Become Your Job by John Tamny

Albert Einstein, Andy Kessler, asset allocation, barriers to entry, basic income, Bernie Sanders, cloud computing, commoditize, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, Downton Abbey, future of work, George Gilder, haute cuisine, income inequality, Jeff Bezos, knowledge economy, Mark Zuckerberg, Peter Thiel, profit motive, Saturday Night Live, Silicon Valley, Stephen Hawking, Steve Ballmer, Steve Jobs, There's no reason for any individual to have a computer in his home - Ken Olsen, trickle-down economics, universal basic income, upwardly mobile, Yogi Berra

Why wouldn’t Caltech players want to spend more time working differential equations than practicing basketball? That’s what reinforces their skill and brings them happiness and success. At the same time, classroom-smart Caltech players would look pretty hapless on a basketball court with Bryant, Green, and James—and not merely because of the mismatch of athletic gifts. Those masters of basketball know their sport the way Stephen Hawking knows theoretical physics. If you’ve got what it takes to make a career in basketball—that is, if you’re good enough to rate a collegiate basketball scholarship—it makes sense to pursue it. The money isn’t bad. In 2014, the NBA signed a $24 billion, nine-year deal with ESPN/ABC along with TNT to televise its games. In June of 2016, Nike signed an eight-year deal with the NBA to outfit its teams to the tune of more than a billion dollars per year.


pages: 158 words: 46,353

Future War: Preparing for the New Global Battlefield by Robert H. Latiff

Asilomar, Asilomar Conference on Recombinant DNA, autonomous vehicles, Berlin Wall, cyber-physical system, Danny Hillis, defense in depth, drone strike, Elon Musk, failed state, friendly fire, Howard Zinn, Internet of things, low earth orbit, Nicholas Carr, orbital mechanics / astrodynamics, self-driving car, South China Sea, Stephen Hawking, Stewart Brand, Stuxnet, Wall-E

So-called quantum computing, if fully realized, will make cryptography impossible, allowing a quantum computer to break any code. Imagine a world, especially a military one, in which nothing can be kept secret. The enormous size and complexity of software systems will make understanding them difficult and may lead to unsafe assumptions about their provenance. Such luminaries as Bill Gates, Elon Musk, and Stephen Hawking have sounded alarm bells over the continuing push for artificial intelligence. While the media often raises fears of apocalyptic scenarios with intelligent robots taking over the world, their concerns also include the more prosaic. They, too, worry about artificial intelligence systems going beyond humans’ ability to control, but also include in their concerns such issues as how to determine system trustworthiness, and how to detect errors in algorithms.


pages: 542 words: 132,010

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

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, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), lateral thinking, mandatory minimum, medical residency, Mikhail Gorbachev, millennium bug, moral panic, mutually assured destruction, nuclear winter, placebo effect, Ralph Nader, RAND corporation, Ronald Reagan, social intelligence, 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: 434 words: 135,226

The Music of the Primes by Marcus Du Sautoy

Ada Lovelace, Andrew Wiles, Arthur Eddington, Augustin-Louis Cauchy, computer age, Dava Sobel, Dmitri Mendeleev, Eratosthenes, Erdős number, Georg Cantor, German hyperinflation, global village, Henri Poincaré, Isaac Newton, Jacquard loom, lateral thinking, music of the spheres, New Journalism, P = NP, Paul Erdős, Richard Feynman, Rubik’s Cube, 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: 511 words: 132,682

Competition Overdose: How Free Market Mythology Transformed Us From Citizen Kings to Market Servants by Maurice E. Stucke, Ariel Ezrachi

affirmative action, Airbnb, Albert Einstein, Andrei Shleifer, Bernie Sanders, Boeing 737 MAX, Cass Sunstein, choice architecture, cloud computing, commoditize, corporate governance, Corrections Corporation of America, Credit Default Swap, crony capitalism, delayed gratification, Donald Trump, en.wikipedia.org, George Akerlof, gig economy, Goldman Sachs: Vampire Squid, Google Chrome, greed is good, hedonic treadmill, income inequality, income per capita, information asymmetry, invisible hand, job satisfaction, labor-force participation, late fees, loss aversion, low skilled workers, Lyft, mandatory minimum, Mark Zuckerberg, market fundamentalism, mass incarceration, Menlo Park, meta analysis, meta-analysis, Milgram experiment, mortgage debt, Network effects, out of africa, payday loans, Ponzi scheme, precariat, price anchoring, price discrimination, profit maximization, profit motive, race to the bottom, Richard Thaler, ride hailing / ride sharing, Robert Bork, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Ronald Reagan, shareholder value, Shoshana Zuboff, Silicon Valley, Snapchat, Social Responsibility of Business Is to Increase Its Profits, Stanford prison experiment, Stephen Hawking, The Chicago School, The Market for Lemons, The Myth of the Rational Market, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas Davenport, Thorstein Veblen, Tim Cook: Apple, too big to fail, transaction costs, Uber and Lyft, uber lyft, ultimatum game, Vanguard fund, winner-take-all economy

Some of those from whom we expected the greatest skepticism—namely the top officials of several leading competition authorities—were actually the most realistic (as well as very helpful in our research) in pointing out how competition isn’t always what it’s cracked up to be. And the person we might have expected to have the least to say about this particular subject, an applied mathematics professor of complex systems from South Africa’s University of Cape Town and coauthor of one of Stephen Hawking’s most influential papers, had perhaps the most profound observations. He helped us understand why the competitive metrics that we employ to measure our successes often leave us hungry and unsatisfied; he inspired in us the idea that the type of competition we encourage can be about more than the simple goal of winning, can reflect some higher purpose. And so we invite you to join us on this inquiry.

So how did we come to position it as the lodestar toward which competition should be oriented? The inspiration came from the 2017 Tanner Lecture at Oxford University. The title of the talk was “On the Origin and Nature of Values.”2 Not a surprising topic coming from a philosopher or theologian. But from an applied mathematics professor of complex systems? To be specific: from George Ellis, coauthor with Stephen Hawking of one of the seminal works on general relativity theory, “The Large Scale Structure of Space-Time.” How could Professor Ellis enlighten us on morality? A professor at the University of Cape Town, South Africa, Ellis was an outspoken opponent of apartheid in the 1970s and ’80s, and has perhaps had more occasion to think about questions of morality than people who grew up in less troubled times and places.


pages: 158 words: 49,168

Infinite Ascent: A Short History of Mathematics by David Berlinski

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: 193 words: 51,445

On the Future: Prospects for Humanity by Martin J. Rees

23andMe, 3D printing, air freight, Alfred Russel Wallace, Asilomar, autonomous vehicles, Benoit Mandelbrot, blockchain, cryptocurrency, cuban missile crisis, dark matter, decarbonisation, demographic transition, distributed ledger, double helix, effective altruism, Elon Musk, en.wikipedia.org, global village, Hyperloop, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Internet of things, Jeff Bezos, job automation, Johannes Kepler, John Conway, life extension, mandelbrot fractal, mass immigration, megacity, nuclear winter, pattern recognition, quantitative hedge fund, Ray Kurzweil, Rodney Brooks, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, smart grid, speech recognition, Stanford marshmallow experiment, Stanislav Petrov, stem cell, Stephen Hawking, Steven Pinker, Stuxnet, supervolcano, technological singularity, the scientific method, Tunguska event, uranium enrichment, Walter Mischel, Yogi Berra

By 2100 thrill seekers in the mould of (say) Felix Baumgartner (the Austrian skydiver who in 2012 broke the sound barrier in free fall from a high-altitude balloon) may have established ‘bases’ independent from the Earth—on Mars, or maybe on asteroids. Elon Musk (born in 1971) of SpaceX says he wants to die on Mars—but not on impact. But don’t ever expect mass emigration from Earth. And here I disagree strongly with Musk and with my late Cambridge colleague Stephen Hawking, who enthuse about rapid build-up of large-scale Martian communities. It’s a dangerous delusion to think that space offers an escape from Earth’s problems. We’ve got to solve these problems here. Coping with climate change may seem daunting, but it’s a doddle compared to terraforming Mars. No place in our solar system offers an environment even as clement as the Antarctic or the top of Everest.


pages: 198 words: 53,264

Big Mistakes: The Best Investors and Their Worst Investments by Michael Batnick

activist fund / activist shareholder / activist investor, Airbnb, Albert Einstein, asset allocation, bitcoin, Bretton Woods, buy and hold, buy low sell high, cognitive bias, cognitive dissonance, Credit Default Swap, cryptocurrency, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, endowment effect, financial innovation, fixed income, hindsight bias, index fund, invention of the wheel, Isaac Newton, John Meriwether, Kickstarter, Long Term Capital Management, loss aversion, mega-rich, merger arbitrage, Myron Scholes, Paul Samuelson, quantitative easing, Renaissance Technologies, Richard Thaler, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Snapchat, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, stocks for the long run, transcontinental railway, value at risk, Vanguard fund, Y Combinator

Quoted in Zacks, Chasing the Last Laugh, 67–70. CHAPTER 4 John Meriwether Genius's Limits Investment success accrues not so much to the brilliant as to the disciplined. —William Bernstein Isaac Newton advanced science and thinking like few others ever have. With an IQ of 190, and the ability to calculate to the 55th decimal by hand, his intellect towered above Charles Darwin and Stephen Hawking. But powerful as his brain was, it was unable to save him from falling prey to our most basic human instincts, namely, greed and envy. In 1720, as shares of the South Sea Company began to rise and hysteria swept the streets of London, Newton found himself in a precarious situation. He bought and sold the stock, earning a 100% return on his investment. Except shares of the South Sea Company rose eightfold in under six months, and they did not stop going higher just because he decided to collect his profits.


pages: 209 words: 53,175

The Psychology of Money: Timeless Lessons on Wealth, Greed, and Happiness by Morgan Housel

"side hustle", airport security, Amazon Web Services, Bernie Madoff, business cycle, computer age, coronavirus, discounted cash flows, diversification, diversified portfolio, Donald Trump, financial independence, Hans Rosling, Hyman Minsky, income inequality, index fund, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, Jeff Bezos, Joseph Schumpeter, knowledge worker, labor-force participation, Long Term Capital Management, margin call, Mark Zuckerberg, new economy, Paul Graham, payday loans, Ponzi scheme, quantitative easing, Renaissance Technologies, Richard Feynman, risk tolerance, risk-adjusted returns, Robert Gordon, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Ronald Reagan, Stephen Hawking, Steven Levy, stocks for the long run, the scientific method, traffic fines, Vanguard fund, working-age population

And in careers, where reputations take a lifetime to build and a single email to destroy. The short sting of pessimism prevails while the powerful pull of optimism goes unnoticed. This underscores an important point made previously in this book: In investing you must identify the price of success—volatility and loss amid the long backdrop of growth—and be willing to pay it. In 2004 The New York Times interviewed Stephen Hawking, the scientist whose incurable motor-neuron disease left him paralyzed and unable to talk at age 21. Through his computer, Hawking told the interviewer how excited he was to sell books to lay people. “Are you always this cheerful?” the Times asked. “My expectations were reduced to zero when I was 21. Everything since then has been a bonus,” he replied. Expecting things to be great means a best-case scenario that feels flat.


pages: 543 words: 153,550

Model Thinker: What You Need to Know to Make Data Work for You by Scott E. Page

"Robert Solow", Airbnb, Albert Einstein, Alfred Russel Wallace, algorithmic trading, Alvin Roth, assortative mating, Bernie Madoff, bitcoin, Black Swan, blockchain, business cycle, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, Checklist Manifesto, computer age, corporate governance, correlation does not imply causation, cuban missile crisis, deliberate practice, discrete time, distributed ledger, en.wikipedia.org, Estimating the Reproducibility of Psychological Science, Everything should be made as simple as possible, experimental economics, first-price auction, Flash crash, Geoffrey West, Santa Fe Institute, germ theory of disease, Gini coefficient, High speed trading, impulse control, income inequality, Isaac Newton, John von Neumann, Kenneth Rogoff, knowledge economy, knowledge worker, Long Term Capital Management, loss aversion, low skilled workers, Mark Zuckerberg, market design, meta analysis, meta-analysis, money market fund, Nash equilibrium, natural language processing, Network effects, p-value, Pareto efficiency, pattern recognition, Paul Erdős, Paul Samuelson, phenotype, pre–internet, prisoner's dilemma, race to the bottom, random walk, randomized controlled trial, Richard Feynman, Richard Thaler, school choice, sealed-bid auction, second-price auction, selection bias, six sigma, social graph, spectrum auction, statistical model, Stephen Hawking, Supply of New York City Cabdrivers, The Bell Curve by Richard Herrnstein and Charles Murray, The Great Moderation, The Rise and Fall of American Growth, the rule of 72, the scientific method, The Spirit Level, The Wisdom of Crowds, Thomas Malthus, Thorstein Veblen, urban sprawl, value at risk, web application, winner-take-all economy, zero-sum game

We can therefore draw a crude analogy between the model and the human brain, which also consists of spatially connected simple parts that rely on threshold-based rules, albeit more complicated ones. That is not to say that the patterns we see in the Game of Life can explain consciousness. No book exists that is titled The Game of Life: Consciousness Explained, though Daniel Dennett did write a book called Consciousness Explained in which he posits that simple models like the Game of Life can provide insight into how consciousness might have evolved, an insight echoed by the physicist Stephen Hawking, who wrote, “It is possible to imagine that something like the Game of Life, with only a few basic laws, might produce highly complex features, perhaps even intelligence.”10 Figure 15.4: Patterns in the Game of Life Summary In this chapter, we studied two models of interacting cells arranged on a grid. The first model, the local majority model, always goes to one of many possible equilibria, and we can interpret the model as analogous to a variety of physical and social processes.

Therefore, the terminal velocity of the stuffed cheetah will equal 200 mph divided by 20, or 10 mph. 10 He was correct. For the record, Fresno is 30% larger than Iceland. Ball and LuPima 2012 describe how one can take lessons from the academy to the business world. 11 See Lo 2012. For a general argument see Myerson 1992. 12 Versions of this story can be found in the writings of William James, Stephen Hawking, and Antonin Scalia. Chapter 2: Why Model? 1 See Epstein 2008 for a finer categorization of reasons to model. Lave and March (1975) describe three categories of use: to explain empirical phenomena, to predict other, new phenomena, and to build and design systems. Implicitly, they also advocate using models to explore. 2 See Harte 1988. This categorization borrows from Johnson’s 2014 treatise on the uses of models in the social sciences.


pages: 573 words: 157,767

From Bacteria to Bach and Back: The Evolution of Minds by Daniel C. Dennett

Ada Lovelace, Alan Turing: On Computable Numbers, with an Application to the Entscheidungsproblem, Andrew Wiles, Bayesian statistics, bioinformatics, bitcoin, Build a better mousetrap, Claude Shannon: information theory, computer age, computer vision, double entry bookkeeping, double helix, Douglas Hofstadter, Elon Musk, epigenetics, experimental subject, Fermat's Last Theorem, Gödel, Escher, Bach, information asymmetry, information retrieval, invention of writing, Isaac Newton, iterative process, John von Neumann, Menlo Park, Murray Gell-Mann, Necker cube, Norbert Wiener, pattern recognition, phenotype, Richard Feynman, Rodney Brooks, self-driving car, social intelligence, sorting algorithm, speech recognition, Stephen Hawking, Steven Pinker, strong AI, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, theory of mind, Thomas Bayes, trickle-down economics, Turing machine, Turing test, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, Y2K

To balance the equation, those in the arts and humanities who tend to regard best sellers, graphic novels, and platinum albums as ipso facto artistic trash need to jettison that prejudice and learn to discern the considerable interplay between quality and quantity across the spectrum of the arts. I might add that scientists who disdain all attempts to explain science to the general public need to take on board much the same advice. I have on several occasions polled large audiences of scientists to confirm that they were inspired to become scientists by reading the works of Stephen Hawking, E. O. Wilson, Richard Dawkins, Douglas Hofstadter, Steven Pinker, and other excellent communicators of science. It is a shame, really, that the arts and humanities have not managed to generate many great counterpart explainer/celebrators from their ranks. Leonard Bernstein was one, and Sir Kenneth Clark was another, but that was half a century ago. Who since then has even tried to do work of sufficient quality to reach an audience of large quantity?

The accelerating growth of competence in AI, advancing under the banner of deep learning, has surprised even many professionals in the field, not just long-time commentators and critics such as myself. There is a long tradition of hype in AI, going back to the earliest days, and many of us have a well-developed habit of discounting the latest “revolutionary breakthrough” by, say, 70% or more, but when such high-tech mavens as Elon Musk and such world-class scientists as Sir Martin Rees and Stephen Hawking start ringing alarm bells about how AI could soon lead to a cataclysmic dissolution of human civilization in one way or another, it is time to rein in one’s habits and reexamine one’s suspicions. Having done so, my verdict is unchanged but more tentative than it used to be. I have always affirmed that “strong AI” is “possible in principle”—but I viewed it as a negligible practical possibility, because it would cost too much and not give us anything we really needed.


Sorting Things Out: Classification and Its Consequences (Inside Technology) by Geoffrey C. Bowker

affirmative action, business process, corporate governance, Drosophila, information retrieval, loose coupling, Menlo Park, Mitch Kapor, natural language processing, Occam's razor, QWERTY keyboard, Scientific racism, scientific worldview, sexual politics, statistical model, Stephen Hawking, Stewart Brand, the built environment, the medium is the message, transaction costs, William of Occam

Throughout the history of classification systems over the past 200 years such specifications have progressively been winnowed away to make way for new kinds of context and new kinds of description now considered more interesting and relevant. What many sufferers of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis know as Lou Gehrig's disease is coded by the ICD - 1 0 as G 1