carbon-based life

31 results back to index


pages: 288 words: 90,349

The Challenge for Africa by Wangari Maathai

Berlin Wall, Bob Geldof, carbon footprint, carbon-based life, clean water, colonial rule, corporate social responsibility, deliberate practice, F. W. de Klerk, failed state, Fall of the Berlin Wall, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Live Aid, Mahatma Gandhi, Mikhail Gorbachev, Nelson Mandela, Scramble for Africa, sovereign wealth fund, structural adjustment programs, sustainable-tourism, trade liberalization, transatlantic slave trade, urban planning, War on Poverty, Washington Consensus

Third, it is important to support small-scale ventures, ensure that they are sustainable, and encourage local communities to work to preserve and even rehabilitate areas of the forests that are especially vulnerable. Here, the Green Belt Movement model may be applicable. Ultimately, of course, all stakeholders should be encouraged to move away from viewing the forest as a seemingly endless source of extractable minerals and various carbon-based life-forms, and instead look at it holistically. Efforts are already being made in this area. The Coalition for Rainforest Nations, which includes Costa Rica, Indonesia, and the DRC, among others, is working to persuade governments in the global North and South to accept the idea that a forest has value by not being exploited, in that it stores carbon in the ground, and if left undisturbed will continue to do so into the future.


pages: 319 words: 90,965

The End of College: Creating the Future of Learning and the University of Everywhere by Kevin Carey

Albert Einstein, barriers to entry, Bayesian statistics, Berlin Wall, business cycle, business intelligence, carbon-based life, Claude Shannon: information theory, complexity theory, David Heinemeier Hansson, declining real wages, deliberate practice, discrete time, disruptive innovation, double helix, Douglas Engelbart, Douglas Engelbart, Downton Abbey, Drosophila, Firefox, Frank Gehry, Google X / Alphabet X, informal economy, invention of the printing press, inventory management, John Markoff, Khan Academy, Kickstarter, low skilled workers, Lyft, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, meta-analysis, natural language processing, Network effects, open borders, pattern recognition, Peter Thiel, pez dispenser, ride hailing / ride sharing, Ronald Reagan, Ruby on Rails, Sand Hill Road, self-driving car, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, social web, South of Market, San Francisco, speech recognition, Steve Jobs, technoutopianism, transcontinental railway, uber lyft, Vannevar Bush

For example, he asked me, of the following four things, which contributes the most to the mass of a tree: air, water, soil, or sunlight? I said sunlight, because I thought of energy being transformed into mass. That’s a common answer, he said, and people also say soil a lot. But they’re both wrong. The right answer is air, because that’s where the carbon comes from, and trees, like people, are carbon-based life-forms. We’re mostly made up of the little carbon hexagons that the people in the MIT chemistry department scribble on their chalkboards. Because people think air is light and soil is heavy, they think soil is the likely answer. But they’re wrong. There is a lot of carbon in the air. And when people learn what they thought is true is the opposite of true, they’re surprised—and they remember.


pages: 347 words: 97,721

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

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

What Those Who Step In Look Like You’re a candidate for stepping in if . . . • You are a business or professional person first and an automation/technology expert second; • You could be described as a “purple person”—bridging the gap between business or organizational need and technology capability; • You’re good at interfacing with both silicon- and carbon-based life-forms; • You’re not a full-time technologist, but you follow developments in IT and are not at all intimidated by it; • You are willing to learn a lot about the logic of how an automated system works and a little about how it is programmed; • You are willing to translate for other humans the specific decisions that an automated system makes; • You are not now, nor have you ever been, a robot, android, automaton, avatar, or cyborg.


pages: 385 words: 99,985

Pattern Recognition by William Gibson

carbon-based life, Frank Gehry, lateral thinking, Mars Rover, Maui Hawaii, offshore financial centre, old-boy network, pattern recognition

She's here on Blue Ant's ticket. Relatively tiny in terms of permanent staff, globally distributed, more post-geographic than multinational, the agency has from the beginning billed itself as a high-speed, low-drag life-form in an advertising ecology of lumbering herbivores. Or perhaps as some non-carbon-based life-form, entirely sprung from the smooth and ironic brow of its founder, Hubertus Bigend, a nominal Belgian who looks like Tom Cruise on a diet of virgins' blood and truffled chocolates. The only thing Cayce enjoys about Bigend is that he seems to have no sense at all that his name might seem ridiculous to anyone, ever.


pages: 482 words: 106,041

The World Without Us by Alan Weisman

British Empire, carbon-based life, conceptual framework, coronavirus, invention of radio, nuclear winter, optical character recognition, out of africa, Ray Kurzweil, the High Line, trade route, uranium enrichment, William Langewiesche

If so, they might glimpse the sharp fluorescent signature of polyaro-matic hydrocarbons (PAHs). They might be astonished at how PAHs and dioxins, two substances emitted naturally by volcanoes and forest fires, suddenly leaped from background levels into center-stage chemical prominence in soil and crops as the decades advanced. If they were carbon-based life-forms like us, they might leap themselves, or at least back away, because both PAHs and dioxins can be lethal to nervous systems and other organs. PAHs were buoyed into the 20th century aboard clouds of exhaust from automobiles and coal-fired power plants; they’re also in the pungent odor of fresh asphalt.


pages: 414 words: 109,622

Genius Makers: The Mavericks Who Brought A. I. To Google, Facebook, and the World by Cade Metz

AI winter, Airbnb, Alan Turing: On Computable Numbers, with an Application to the Entscheidungsproblem, artificial general intelligence, Asilomar, autonomous vehicles, backpropagation, British Empire, carbon-based life, cloud computing, computer age, computer vision, digital map, Donald Trump, drone strike, Elon Musk, Fellow of the Royal Society, Frank Gehry, game design, Google Earth, Google X / Alphabet X, Googley, Internet Archive, Isaac Newton, Jeffrey Epstein, job automation, John Markoff, life extension, Mark Zuckerberg, means of production, Menlo Park, move fast and break things, move fast and break things, new economy, nuclear winter, PageRank, pattern recognition, Paul Graham, paypal mafia, Peter Thiel, profit motive, Richard Feynman, ride hailing / ride sharing, Ronald Reagan, Rubik’s Cube, Sam Altman, Sand Hill Road, self-driving car, side project, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, Skype, speech recognition, statistical model, stem cell, Stephen Hawking, Steve Ballmer, Steven Levy, Steven Pinker, telemarketer, The Future of Employment, Turing test, Y Combinator

Page worried that paranoia over the rise of AI would delay this digital utopia, even though it had the power to bring life to worlds well beyond the Earth. Musk pushed back, asking how Page could be sure this superintelligence wouldn’t end up destroying humanity. Page accused him of being “specieist” because he favored carbon-based life-forms over the needs of new species built with silicon. At least for Tegmark, this debate over late-night cocktails showed the attitudes that were lining up against each other in the heart of the tech industry. * * * — ABOUT six months after the conference in Puerto Rico, Greg Brockman walked down Sand Hill Road, the short stretch of asphalt that winds past more than fifty of the biggest venture capital firms in Silicon Valley.


Scratch Monkey by Stross, Charles

carbon-based life, defense in depth, fault tolerance, gravity well, Kuiper Belt, packet switching, phenotype, telepresence

You say there'll be a broadcast upload coming soon, and it'll be an Ultrabright: well, I guess maybe. But the rest of it --" "You've got brains. Why don't you use them?" she snapped, finally giving rein to her anger at being taken by surprise. "Item! An Ultrabright attacker zaps every unshielded Expansion processor and carbon-based lifeform in the system. Item: Ultrabrights are worse than Superbrights for hogging dataflow. They need input or they go insane, like Anubis. So there's no Ultrabright on board that thing -- it's a dumb attack robot, a berserker. But here's another item: they need to occupy this system fast, unless they want it to be retaken by the Superbrights.


pages: 314 words: 94,600

Business Metadata: Capturing Enterprise Knowledge by William H. Inmon, Bonnie K. O'Neil, Lowell Fryman

affirmative action, bioinformatics, business cycle, business intelligence, business process, call centre, carbon-based life, continuous integration, corporate governance, create, read, update, delete, database schema, en.wikipedia.org, informal economy, knowledge economy, knowledge worker, semantic web, The Wisdom of Crowds, web application

The people who have extensive knowledge of the enterprise processes, data, and metadata are leaving the enterprise through retirement or other reasons. These individuals carry a vast amount of the corporation’s metadata in their heads. One can consider these individuals to have metadata repositories in their “gray matter.” Thus, we often allude to the corporation’s metadata repositories as being in carbon-based life forms that have legs (and each is an isolated local repository). The enterprise can lose significant business metadata as individuals leave the enterprise unless they establish a metadata repository. ✦ To aid staff members in understanding an enterprise business process and the IT implementation of the process (for communications and productivity). 5.2 Why Consolidate or Integrate Metadata?

(The real-world knowledge capture example used later in this chapter is from this glossary project.) 6.3 The Corporate Knowledge Base 6.3.1 The Corporate Glossary: Beginning of a Knowledge Base In Chapter 4, we discussed the importance of well-defined terminology and standard vocabulary in an enterprise. The glossary is also a great place to begin a knowledge capture initiative and to start encouraging businesspeople to contribute their expertise. 6.3.2 What Is the Corporate Knowledge Base? The Carbon-Based Life Form (i.e., human being) is the main repository of the Corporate Knowledge Base, including business metadata. When each person leaves the corporation, a piece of the metadata repository is leaving, and potentially critical corporate knowledge goes out the door with him or her. What is the Corporate Knowledge Base?


pages: 571 words: 124,448

Building Habitats on the Moon: Engineering Approaches to Lunar Settlements by Haym Benaroya

3D printing, biofilm, Black Swan, Brownian motion, Buckminster Fuller, carbon-based life, centre right, clean water, Colonization of Mars, Computer Numeric Control, conceptual framework, data acquisition, Elon Musk, fault tolerance, gravity well, inventory management, Johannes Kepler, low earth orbit, orbital mechanics / astrodynamics, performance metric, RAND corporation, risk tolerance, Ronald Reagan, stochastic process, telepresence, telerobotics, the scientific method, urban planning, X Prize, zero-sum game

The advantage of missions that include astronauts is that they may be able to figure out how to repair something that stopped working, and they can modify the research itinerary if something unexpected of greater scientific interest is found. (It would be a shame if non-carbon-based life forms were sitting to the side of a robotic explorer that is looking for carbon-based life forms, and the robot’s sensors did not notice these life forms because the sensors were programmed so narrowly!) The objective of the lunar observatory case study depicted in Figure 6.1 was to understand the effort required to build and operate a long-duration, human -tended astronomical observatory on the Moon’s far side.


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, 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

It has a particularly friendly relationship with oxygen. Carbon is easily oxidized as fuel for animals and easily unoxidized (reduced) by chlorophyll in plants. And of course it forms the backbone for long chains of incredibly diverse megamolecules. Silicon, carbon’s sister element, is the most likely alternative candidate to produce a non-carbon-based life form. Silicon also is very prolific in its hooking up with a variety of elements, and it is more abundant on the planet than carbon. When science-fiction authors dream up alternative life forms, they are often based on silicon. But in real life silicon suffers from a few major drawbacks. It does not link up into chains with hydrogen, limiting the size of its derivatives.

Perhaps silicon-based life inhabits a fiery world and the silicates are molten. Or perhaps the matrix is very cold liquid ammonia. But unlike ice, which floats and insulates the unfrozen liquid, frozen ammonia sinks, allowing the oceans to freeze whole. These concerns are not hypothetical but are based on experiments to produce alternatives to carbon-based life. So far, all evidence points to DNA as the “perfect” molecule. For even though clever minds like ours may invent a new life base, finding a life base that can create itself is an entirely higher order. A potential synthetic life base created in the lab might be robust enough to survive on its own in the wild but fail to organize itself into existence.

Nor does it remove the channels that DNA has laid for evolution on Earth. The constraints of physics, chemistry, and geometry have governed life from its origins onward—and even into the technium. “Underlying all the diversity of life is a finite set of natural forms that will recur over and over again anywhere in the cosmos where there is carbon-based life,” claim biochemists Michael Denton and Craig Marshall. Evolution simply cannot make all possible proteins, all possible light-gathering molecules, all possible appendages, all possible means of locomotion, all possible shapes. Life, rather than being boundless and unlimited in every direction, is bounded and limited in many directions by the nature of matter itself.


pages: 216 words: 61,061

Without Their Permission: How the 21st Century Will Be Made, Not Managed by Alexis Ohanian

Airbnb, barriers to entry, carbon-based life, cloud computing, crowdsourcing, en.wikipedia.org, Hans Rosling, hiring and firing, hockey-stick growth, independent contractor, Internet Archive, Justin.tv, Kickstarter, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, means of production, Menlo Park, minimum viable product, Occupy movement, Paul Graham, Silicon Valley, Skype, slashdot, social web, software is eating the world, Startup school, Tony Hsieh, unpaid internship, Y Combinator, Yochai Benkler

louder with every replay. Steve was yelling, too. Everyone else in the bar was hating us. We didn’t give a damn. Later, I got my hands on the high-def footage of Taylor during and after that hit. He pops up, electrified. That fire. That heart. It’s something awesome when you watch a human—just another carbon-based life-form—doing what he does so well. And loving it. That hit took all the air out of Cowboys Stadium, from the fans to the field. The Cowboys turned the ball over on downs, and Redskins players poured Gatorade on Coach Gibbs. Not a typical week-two celebration, but we thought it was appropriate. Steve and I went home singing our fight song, and I had the joy of surprising my dad with the news the next morning.


One More Thing: Stories and Other Stories by B. J. Novak

Bernie Madoff, carbon-based life, citation needed, dark matter, F. W. de Klerk, Nelson Mandela, Saturday Night Live

“I’m a devoted hunter, and I can say I’ve never seen antlers that big,” said Councilman Thomas Ross. “Those were some major antlers.” Scientists have determined that antlers are a result of an imperceptibly incremental evolutionary adaptation over the course of millions of years, a process that began with one single-celled carbon-based life form which traces its own origin to an infinitely small dot of arguably infinite energy that exploded 13.7 billion years ago due to reasons that are thought to be best understood by a man in a wheelchair who speaks through a computerized voice box (see Regular News). World’s Largest Tomato to Become Tomato Sauce NAPOLI, ITALY—A tomato declared by Guinness World Records to be the world’s largest tomato will now become tomato sauce, says the farmer who grew it.


pages: 508 words: 137,199

Stamping Butterflies by Jon Courtenay Grimwood

affirmative action, Brownian motion, Burning Man, carbon-based life, Chuck Templeton: OpenTable:, dark matter, phenotype

So said the butterfly. Obviously enough, this was not Zaq's original name because that had been given up during the ceremony of rebirth. The fifty-third Chuang Tzu wore the very first on his cloak as a diamond buckle. Every emperor became a diamond eventually. It was one of the few advantages of living as a carbon-based life form. All that was needed was death, cremation at fifteen hundred degrees and enough pressure to replicate geophysical forces found in the transmutation of soft carbon to intricate lattice. There was a circular elegance to this solution which appealed to the Library on several levels, although it could explain its thoughts to Zaq on only three, the others being beyond the understanding of a small child.

So the darkness began with the most dense of the data hordes, examining the SZ Loyal Prince and its semiAI, running millions of routines in an attempt to understand its origins. A type II star, a sequence of nine planets (actually seven, as two did not rate that definition or, if they did, so did others not included in the nine), carbon-based life, relatively new, technologically simple. The darkness trawled opera from Peking, Rodin's Kiss, music by Brahms, the pyramids and Sphinx, the Great Wall of China and a painting of a soup can without understanding what any of them might be (or that they were carried under protest from Beijing, their mix chosen to reflect global levels of culture).


pages: 361 words: 83,886

Inside the Robot Kingdom: Japan, Mechatronics and the Coming Robotopia by Frederik L. Schodt

carbon-based life, computer age, Computer Numeric Control, computer vision, deindustrialization, Deng Xiaoping, deskilling, factory automation, game design, guest worker program, industrial robot, Jacques de Vaucanson, Norbert Wiener, post-industrial society, robot derives from the Czech word robota Czech, meaning slave, Ronald Reagan, Silicon Valley, telepresence, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, V2 rocket, Whole Earth Review, women in the workforce

In September of 1985 the 15th International Symposium on Industrial Robots (ISIR) was held in Tokyo, and it was accompanied, as usual, by an exposition at Harumi pier, east of the city. In front of the huge halls, a billboard-sized painting of the ultimate cliche in industrial robot art, a metal hand reaching out to touch a carbon-based life form (a butterfly, in this case), announced the robots inside. In concept this show was nearly identical to those held annually in the United States. But the Japanese version differed dramatically in several important ways. It was sponsored not only by the Japan Industrial Robot Association but also by the Daily Industrial News.


pages: 343 words: 101,563

The Uninhabitable Earth: Life After Warming by David Wallace-Wells

"Robert Solow", agricultural Revolution, Albert Einstein, anthropic principle, Asian financial crisis, augmented reality, basic income, Berlin Wall, bitcoin, British Empire, Buckminster Fuller, Burning Man, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, carbon footprint, carbon-based life, Chekhov's gun, cognitive bias, computer age, correlation does not imply causation, cryptocurrency, cuban missile crisis, decarbonisation, disinformation, Donald Trump, effective altruism, Elon Musk, endowment effect, energy transition, everywhere but in the productivity statistics, failed state, fiat currency, global pandemic, global supply chain, income inequality, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), invention of agriculture, Joan Didion, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, Kim Stanley Robinson, labor-force participation, life extension, longitudinal study, Mark Zuckerberg, mass immigration, megacity, megastructure, mutually assured destruction, Naomi Klein, nuclear winter, Pearl River Delta, Peter Thiel, Plutocrats, plutocrats, postindustrial economy, quantitative easing, Ray Kurzweil, rent-seeking, ride hailing / ride sharing, Sam Altman, Silicon Valley, Skype, South China Sea, South Sea Bubble, Steven Pinker, Stewart Brand, the built environment, The future is already here, the scientific method, Thomas Malthus, too big to fail, universal basic income, University of East Anglia, Whole Earth Catalog, William Langewiesche, Y Combinator

But scholars like Andreas Malm have a different perspective: we have been extracted from that muck only by a singular innovation, one engineered not by entrepreneurial human hands but in fact millions of years before the first ones ever dug at the earth—engineered by time and geologic weight, which many millennia ago pressed the fossils of Earth’s earlier carbon-based life forms (plants, small animals) into petroleum, like lemon under a press. Oil is the patrimony of the planet’s prehuman past: what stored energy the earth can produce when undisturbed for millennia. As soon as humans discovered that storehouse, they set about plundering it—so fast that, at various points over the last half century, oil forecasters have panicked about running out.


pages: 364 words: 101,286

The Misbehavior of Markets: A Fractal View of Financial Turbulence by Benoit Mandelbrot, Richard L. Hudson

Albert Einstein, asset allocation, Augustin-Louis Cauchy, Benoit Mandelbrot, Big bang: deregulation of the City of London, Black-Scholes formula, British Empire, Brownian motion, business cycle, buy and hold, buy low sell high, capital asset pricing model, carbon-based life, discounted cash flows, diversification, double helix, Edward Lorenz: Chaos theory, Elliott wave, equity premium, Eugene Fama: efficient market hypothesis, Fellow of the Royal Society, full employment, Georg Cantor, Henri Poincaré, implied volatility, index fund, informal economy, invisible hand, John Meriwether, John von Neumann, Long Term Capital Management, Louis Bachelier, mandelbrot fractal, market bubble, market microstructure, Myron Scholes, new economy, paper trading, passive investing, Paul Lévy, Paul Samuelson, Plutocrats, plutocrats, price mechanism, quantitative trading / quantitative finance, Ralph Nelson Elliott, RAND corporation, random walk, risk free rate, risk tolerance, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, short selling, statistical arbitrage, statistical model, Steve Ballmer, stochastic volatility, transfer pricing, value at risk, Vilfredo Pareto, volatility smile

In this spirit, some researchers have wired professional traders to measure skin resistance, EEG patterns, and pulse rates, in search of the biological imperative behind a “buy” order. And there is computer-intensive finance. Wall Street has long been the computer industry’s biggest customer, unleashing “genetic algorithms,” “neural networks,” and other computational techniques on the market in hopes that silicon intelligence can find profitable patterns where carbon-based life forms cannot. This “post-modern” finance has yet to yield real success. Nobody has hit the jackpot. A Game of Chance So, as Lenin’s revolutionary manifesto put it: What is to be done? As preparation, play a game. On the facing page you see four price charts of the kind you would find in a brokerage-house report, but with the identifying dates and values removed.


pages: 418 words: 102,597

Being You: A New Science of Consciousness by Anil Seth

artificial general intelligence, augmented reality, backpropagation, carbon-based life, Claude Shannon: information theory, computer age, computer vision, coronavirus, correlation does not imply causation, cryptocurrency, Drosophila, en.wikipedia.org, Filter Bubble, John Markoff, longitudinal study, Louis Pasteur, Norbert Wiener, pattern recognition, Paul Graham, Pierre-Simon Laplace, planetary scale, Ray Kurzweil, self-driving car, speech recognition, stem cell, technological singularity, telepresence, the scientific method, theory of mind, Thomas Bayes, Turing test

On this view, we already are virtual sentient agents in a virtual universe. Some captivated by the techno-rapture see a fast-approaching Singularity, a critical point in history at which AI is poised to bootstrap itself beyond our understanding and outside our control. In a post-Singularity world, conscious machines and ancestor simulations abound. We carbon-based life forms will be left far behind, our moment in the sun over and done. It doesn’t take much sociological insight to see the appeal of this heady brew to our technological elite who, by these lights, can see themselves as pivotal in this unprecedented transition in human history, with immortality the prize.


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

The ‘organic’ label refers to the fact that the polymers in question are partly carbon. Because carbon is such a versatile atom (it will form all sorts of chemical bonds), it’s the one nature prefers as the key building block for living things, which is why aliens in sci-fi movies of the seventies like to refer to humans as ‘carbon-based life forms’ (it’s the first thing their scanners pick up). It’s not just us, though. All plants and animals are carbon based. This is why chemistry involving carbon is often referred to as ‘organic’ chemistry. Like the two types of doped silicon used in traditional solar cells, conductive polymer molecules can be either ‘positive’ or ‘negative.’


pages: 389 words: 119,487

21 Lessons for the 21st Century by Yuval Noah Harari

1960s counterculture, accounting loophole / creative accounting, affirmative action, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, agricultural Revolution, algorithmic trading, augmented reality, autonomous vehicles, Ayatollah Khomeini, basic income, Bernie Sanders, bitcoin, blockchain, Boris Johnson, call centre, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, carbon-based life, cognitive dissonance, computer age, computer vision, cryptocurrency, cuban missile crisis, decarbonisation, deglobalization, disinformation, Donald Trump, failed state, Filter Bubble, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, Freestyle chess, gig economy, glass ceiling, Google Glasses, illegal immigration, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Internet of things, invisible hand, job automation, knowledge economy, liberation theology, Louis Pasteur, low skilled workers, Mahatma Gandhi, Mark Zuckerberg, mass immigration, means of production, Menlo Park, meta-analysis, Mohammed Bouazizi, mutually assured destruction, Naomi Klein, obamacare, pattern recognition, post-work, purchasing power parity, race to the bottom, RAND corporation, Ronald Reagan, Rosa Parks, Scramble for Africa, self-driving car, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, transatlantic slave trade, Tyler Cowen: Great Stagnation, universal basic income, uranium enrichment, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, zero-sum game

State laws, social norms, economic institutions – they might all collapse. Most stories are held together by the weight of their roof rather than by the strength of their foundations. Consider the Christian story. It has the flimsiest of foundations. What evidence do we have that the son of the Creator of the entire universe was born as a carbon-based life form somewhere in the Milky Way about 2,000 years ago? What evidence do we have that it happened in the Galilee area, and that His mother was a virgin? Yet enormous global institutions have been built on top of that story, and their weight presses down with such overwhelming force that they keep the story in place.


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

Excited nuclei can possess only very particular masses, and scientists cannot simply wish that they have a convenient value. Fortunately, Hoyle was more than just a wishful thinker. His confidence in the existence of just the right excited state of carbon was based on a strange but valid chain of logical reasoning. Hoyle’s premise was that he existed in the universe. Furthermore, he pointed out, he was a carbon-based life form. Therefore carbon existed in the universe, so there must have been a way of creating carbon. However, the only way to create carbon seemed to rely on the existence of a specific excited state of carbon. Consequently, such an excited state must exist. Hoyle was rigorously applying what would later become known as the anthropic principle.


pages: 1,132 words: 156,379

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, Garrett Hardin, gender pay gap, invisible hand, Jeff Bezos, Menlo Park, 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, Tragedy of the Commons, twin studies

People have been known to incinerate each other, slice off each other’s body parts, and call each other hurtful names. They imprison other animals by the millions, torture them, and then heat and eat their corpses. And yet still it has to be said: Despite their many, many flaws, human beings are among the most cooperative and altruistic carbon-based life forms in this neck of the galaxy. Infested with Ideas They’re also among the most baffling. Human beings devote extraordinary quantities of time and energy to activities that, as far as this Betelgeusean can tell, do nothing to help them survive or reproduce. I’ll give you some examples.


pages: 223 words: 62,564

Life in the Universe: A Beginner's Guide by Lewis Dartnell

anthropic principle, biofilm, carbon-based life, double helix, Kickstarter, Mars Rover, place-making, Pluto: dwarf planet, silicon-based life

The analogous process would produce silicon dioxide, which is sand. This is a hard, insoluble, solid; very tricky for life to deal with. The final reason to favour carbon-based life, at least in our corner of the galaxy, is that the organic building blocks are rife throughout the heavens. Primordial planets are thought to have been utterly smothered with falling vital carbon compounds early in their development. Similar silicon compounds are not seen in space and so it really does seem that searching for carbon-based life is the only sensible option. Water Whether extra-terrestrial life would be dependent on liquid water is much less definite.

Even if the solvent is liquid in such cold climates, the chemistry will not be the same. The colder the conditions, the more slowly processes occur and the more effective an enzyme must be to get reactions to proceed at a useful rate. At these temperatures, biochemical reactions might proceed so sluggishly as to render life impossible. As with non-carbon-based life, a non-water-based ecology is so alien as to make it difficult to design experiments or instruments to send to other worlds. We haven’t even begun to engineer an alternative metabolic network that operates within water, let alone one based on an entirely different solvent with chemical properties we’ve barely researched.


Energy and Civilization: A History by Vaclav Smil

8-hour work day, additive manufacturing, agricultural Revolution, animal electricity, business cycle, carbon-based life, centre right, decarbonisation, dematerialisation, Deng Xiaoping, en.wikipedia.org, energy security, energy transition, epigenetics, Exxon Valdez, Frederick Winslow Taylor, hydraulic fracturing, income inequality, Indoor air pollution, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), invention of gunpowder, James Watt: steam engine, John Harrison: Longitude, Joseph-Marie Jacquard, Just-in-time delivery, Kibera, knowledge economy, land tenure, lone genius, Louis Blériot, mass immigration, megacity, Menlo Park, mutually assured destruction, North Sea oil, oil shale / tar sands, peak oil, phenotype, precision agriculture, purchasing power parity, QWERTY keyboard, Richard Feynman, Silicon Valley, Toyota Production System, transcontinental railway, uranium enrichment, Yom Kippur War

The prehistoric development of human societies and the growing complexity of high civilizations have been marked by countless energy imperatives. The most fundamental physical limit is, of course, the incoming solar radiation. This flow keeps the planet’s temperatures within the range suitable for carbon-based life and powers the planet’s atmospheric circulation and water cycle. Temperature, precipitation, and the availability of nutrients are the key determinants of plant productivity, but only a part of the newly synthesized biomass is digestible. These realities shaped the basic existential modes, population densities, and social complexities of all foraging societies.

When ranked by the size of their labor force, in 1960 11 out of America’s 15 largest companies (led by GM, Ford, GE, and United States Steel) were producers of goods employing more than 2.1 million workers; by 2010 just two makers of goods, HP and GE, employing about 600,000 people, were among the top 15, and the group is now dominated by retailers and service-providing firms (Walmart, UPS, McDonald’s, Yum, Target). The next logical step is to see this reality as part of the process leading to the eventual displacement of carbon-based life by machines (Wesley 1974). Evolutionary parallels between the two entities are intriguing. Machines are thermodynamically alive, and their diffusion conforms to natural selection: failures do not reproduce, new species proliferate, and they tend toward maximum supportable mass; successive generations are also progressively more efficient (recall all those impressively lower mass/power ratios!)

As fundamental as the laws of thermodynamics are, energy is not the only determinant of the biosphere’s evolution, or of life in general and human actions in particular: evolution is inevitably entropic, but there are other inputs that cannot be either substituted or recycled. The Earth suffused with radiation could not host carbon-based life without an adequate availability of elements indispensable for biochemical conversions, including phosphorus in ATP, nitrogen and sulfur in proteins, cobalt and molybdenum in enzymes, silicon in plant stems, or calcium in animal shells and bones. Epigenetic information channels energy into maintenance, growth and differentiation, and reproduction; these irreversible transformations dissipate both matter and energy and are affected by the availability of land, water, and nutrients and by the need to cope with interspecies competition and predation.


pages: 299 words: 99,080

The Soul of a New Machine by Tracy Kidder

carbon-based life, Jarndyce and Jarndyce, Mason jar, Norbert Wiener, pattern recognition, post-industrial society, silicon-based life

Maybe in promoting the metaphorical relationship between people and machines, cybernetics tended to cheapen and corrupt human perceptions of human intelligence. Or perhaps this science promised to advance the intelligence of people as well as of machines and to imbue the species with a new, exciting power. "Silicon-based life would have a lot of advantages over carbon- based life," a young engineer told me once. He said he believed in a time when the machines would "take over." He snapped his fingers and said, "Just like that." He seemed immensely pleased with that thought. To me, though, the prospects for truly intelligent computers looked comfortably dim. To some the crucial issue was privacy.


pages: 370 words: 97,138

Beyond: Our Future in Space by Chris Impey

3D printing, Admiral Zheng, Albert Einstein, Alfred Russel Wallace, AltaVista, Berlin Wall, Biosphere 2, 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, Kim Stanley Robinson, 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

They’re dismayed that laws of nature seem to be an arbitrary and messy outcome of random fluctuations in the fabric of space-time.13 A controversial argument deriving from fine-tuning is the fact that the forces of nature and the attributes of the universe appear to take values required for carbon-based life to exist. If the electromagnetic force was stronger or weaker, stable atoms could not form. If the strong nuclear force was stronger or weaker, carbon couldn’t be created in stars. If the gravitational constant was stronger, stars would be very short-lived; if it was weaker, stars wouldn’t shine or make the heavy elements.


Global Catastrophic Risks by Nick Bostrom, Milan M. Cirkovic

affirmative action, agricultural Revolution, Albert Einstein, American Society of Civil Engineers: Report Card, anthropic principle, artificial general intelligence, Asilomar, availability heuristic, backpropagation, Bill Joy: nanobots, Black Swan, carbon-based life, cognitive bias, complexity theory, computer age, coronavirus, corporate governance, cosmic microwave background, cosmological constant, cosmological principle, cuban missile crisis, dark matter, death of newspapers, demographic transition, Deng Xiaoping, distributed generation, Doomsday Clock, Drosophila, endogenous growth, Ernest Rutherford, failed state, feminist movement, framing effect, friendly AI, Georg Cantor, global pandemic, global village, Gödel, Escher, Bach, hindsight bias, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), invention of agriculture, Kevin Kelly, Kuiper Belt, Law of Accelerating Returns, life extension, means of production, meta-analysis, Mikhail Gorbachev, millennium bug, mutually assured destruction, nuclear winter, P = NP, peak oil, phenotype, planetary scale, Ponzi scheme, prediction markets, RAND corporation, Ray Kurzweil, reversible computing, Richard Feynman, Ronald Reagan, scientific worldview, Singularitarianism, social intelligence, South China Sea, strong AI, superintelligent machines, supervolcano, technological singularity, technoutopianism, The Coming Technological Singularity, Tunguska event, twin studies, uranium enrichment, Vernor Vinge, War on Poverty, Westphalian system, Y2K

The process of proton decay converts the mass energy of the particles into radiation, so the white dwarfs evaporate away. As the proton decay process grinds to completion, perhaps 1040 years from now, all of the degenerate stellar remnants disappear from the universe. This milestone marks a definitive end to life as we know it, as no carbon-based life can survive the cosmic catastrophe induced by proton decay. Nonetheless, the universe continues to exist, and astrophysical processes continue beyond this end of known biology. 2.7 The era of black holes After the protons decay, the universe grows even darker and more rarefied. At this late time, roughly when the universe is older than 1 045 years, the only stellar-like objects remaining are black holes.

How far into the future can living organisms survive? Although this question is of fundamental importance and holds enormous interest, our current understanding of biology is not sufficiently well developed to provide a clear answer. To further complicate matters, protons must eventually decay, as outlined above, so that carbon­ based life will come to a definitive end. Nonetheless, some basic principles can be discussed if we are willing to take a generalized view oflife, where we consider life to be essentially a matter of information processing. This point of view has been pioneered by Freeman Dyson ( 1 979) , who argued that the rate of metabolism or information processing in a generalized life form should be proportional to its operating temperature.


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

In the absence of DNA molecules or other physical memory, where was the ur-information for life encoded and stored? We simply cannot answer this. Unless of course we accept a Platonic perspective and place blind faith in universal forms that exist outside a material universe. Unless we believe that there is a mathematical blueprint for carbon-based life in the metaphysical archives of universal forms. However, if, like me, you are not quite content with Platonic metaphysics, then we must consider another explanation for life: that complex automata (e.g. bacteria, animals, humans) can arise from very simple automata (e.g. autocatalytic chemical reactions).


pages: 463 words: 118,936

Darwin Among the Machines by George Dyson

Ada Lovelace, Alan Turing: On Computable Numbers, with an Application to the Entscheidungsproblem, Albert Einstein, anti-communist, backpropagation, British Empire, carbon-based life, cellular automata, Claude Shannon: information theory, combinatorial explosion, computer age, Danny Hillis, Donald Davies, fault tolerance, Fellow of the Royal Society, finite state, IFF: identification friend or foe, independent contractor, invention of the telescope, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, Jacquard loom, James Watt: steam engine, John Nash: game theory, John von Neumann, low earth orbit, Menlo Park, Nash equilibrium, Norbert Wiener, On the Economy of Machinery and Manufactures, packet switching, pattern recognition, phenotype, RAND corporation, Richard Feynman, spectrum auction, strong AI, the scientific method, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Turing machine, Von Neumann architecture, zero-sum game

One atom of silicon combines with two atoms of oxygen to produce silicon dioxide, or silica, which makes up 59 percent of the thin, floating crust—a silica wafer—that is solid ground to us. Silica, in one form or another, is the principal ingredient of 95 percent of the rock beneath our feet. Exobiologists consider silicon a possible platform for extraterrestrial life. On our planet, carbon-based life came first, although, according to the theories of A. G. Cairns-Smith, siliceous clays may have given our genetic system its start. Self-reproducing clay crystals may have served as a template for the beginnings of organic life, just as organic life is now serving as a substrate for the proliferation of self-reproducing forms of silicon and their associated code.


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

Next most common in the universe is helium: chemically inert, and thus not useful to the human body. Inhaling it makes a good party trick, but it’s not chemically useful to life. Next on the cosmic list is oxygen; next in the human body and all life on Earth is oxygen. Carbon comes next in the universe; carbon comes next in life. It’s a hugely fertile element. We ourselves are carbon-based life. Next in the universe? Nitrogen. Next in life on Earth? Nitrogen. It all matches one for one. If we were made of an isotope of bismuth, you’d have an argument that we’re something unique in the cosmos, because that would be a really rare thing to be made of. But we’re not. We’re made of the commonest ingredients.


pages: 489 words: 148,885

Accelerando by Stross, Charles

business cycle, call centre, carbon-based life, cellular automata, cognitive dissonance, commoditize, Conway's Game of Life, dark matter, disinformation, dumpster diving, Extropian, finite state, Flynn Effect, glass ceiling, gravity well, John von Neumann, Kickstarter, knapsack problem, Kuiper Belt, Magellanic Cloud, mandelbrot fractal, market bubble, means of production, MITM: man-in-the-middle, orbital mechanics / astrodynamics, packet switching, performance metric, phenotype, planetary scale, Pluto: dwarf planet, reversible computing, Richard Stallman, SETI@home, Silicon Valley, Singularitarianism, slashdot, South China Sea, stem cell, technological singularity, telepresence, The Chicago School, theory of mind, Turing complete, Turing machine, Turing test, upwardly mobile, Vernor Vinge, Von Neumann architecture, web of trust, Y2K, zero-sum game

What about you?" "Where you go, I go." She leans against him. "Isn't that what matters in the end?" she murmurs. Chapter 3 Survivor This time, more than a double handful of years passes between successive visits to the Macx dynasty. Somewhere in the gas-sprinkled darkness beyond the local void, carbon-based life stirs. A cylinder of diamond fifty kilometers long spins in the darkness, its surface etched with strange quantum wells that emulate exotic atoms not found in any periodic table that Mendeleyev would have recognized. Within it, walls hold kilotonnes of oxygen and nitrogen gas, megatonnes of life-infested soil.


pages: 761 words: 231,902

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, backpropagation, 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, functional programming, 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, two and twenty, Vernor Vinge, Y2K, Yogi Berra

at http://www.physlink.coml Education/ essay_weinberg.cfm. 8. According to some cosmological theories, there were multiple big bangs, not one, leading to multiple universes (parallel multiverses or "bubbles"). Different physical constants and forces apply in the different bubbles; conditions in some (or at least one) of these bubbles support carbon-based life. See Max Tegmark, "Parallel Universes," Scientific American (May 2003): 41–53; Martin Rees, "Exploring Our Universe and Others," Scientific American (December 1999): 78–83; Andrei Linde, "The Self-Reproducing Inflationary Universe," Scientific American (November 1994): 48–55. 9. The "many worlds" or multiverse theory as an interpretation of quantum mechanics was developed to solve a problem presented by quantum mechanics and then has been combined with the anthropic principle.


pages: 903 words: 235,753

The Stack: On Software and Sovereignty by Benjamin H. Bratton

1960s counterculture, 3D printing, 4chan, Ada Lovelace, additive manufacturing, airport security, Alan Turing: On Computable Numbers, with an Application to the Entscheidungsproblem, algorithmic trading, Amazon Mechanical Turk, Amazon Web Services, augmented reality, autonomous vehicles, basic income, Benevolent Dictator For Life (BDFL), Berlin Wall, bioinformatics, Biosphere 2, bitcoin, blockchain, Buckminster Fuller, Burning Man, call centre, carbon footprint, carbon-based life, Cass Sunstein, Celebration, Florida, charter city, clean water, cloud computing, connected car, corporate governance, crowdsourcing, cryptocurrency, dark matter, David Graeber, deglobalization, dematerialisation, disintermediation, distributed generation, don't be evil, Douglas Engelbart, Douglas Engelbart, Edward Snowden, Elon Musk, en.wikipedia.org, Eratosthenes, Ethereum, ethereum blockchain, facts on the ground, Flash crash, Frank Gehry, Frederick Winslow Taylor, functional programming, future of work, Georg Cantor, gig economy, global supply chain, Google Earth, Google Glasses, Guggenheim Bilbao, High speed trading, Hyperloop, Ian Bogost, illegal immigration, industrial robot, information retrieval, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), intermodal, Internet of things, invisible hand, Jacob Appelbaum, Jaron Lanier, Joan Didion, John Markoff, Joi Ito, Jony Ive, Julian Assange, Khan Academy, Kim Stanley Robinson, liberal capitalism, lifelogging, linked data, Mark Zuckerberg, market fundamentalism, Marshall McLuhan, Masdar, McMansion, means of production, megacity, megastructure, Menlo Park, Minecraft, MITM: man-in-the-middle, Monroe Doctrine, Network effects, new economy, offshore financial centre, oil shale / tar sands, packet switching, PageRank, pattern recognition, peak oil, peer-to-peer, performance metric, personalized medicine, Peter Eisenman, Peter Thiel, phenotype, Philip Mirowski, Pierre-Simon Laplace, place-making, planetary scale, RAND corporation, recommendation engine, reserve currency, RFID, Robert Bork, Sand Hill Road, self-driving car, semantic web, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley ideology, Slavoj Žižek, smart cities, smart grid, smart meter, social graph, software studies, South China Sea, sovereign wealth fund, special economic zone, spectrum auction, Startup school, statistical arbitrage, Steve Jobs, Steven Levy, Stewart Brand, Stuxnet, Superbowl ad, supply-chain management, supply-chain management software, TaskRabbit, the built environment, The Chicago School, the scientific method, Torches of Freedom, transaction costs, Turing complete, Turing machine, Turing test, undersea cable, universal basic income, urban planning, Vernor Vinge, Washington Consensus, web application, Westphalian system, WikiLeaks, working poor, Y Combinator

As robotics and cloud hardware of all scales blend into a common category of machine, it will be unclear for everyday human-robotic interaction whether one is encountering a fully autonomous, partially autonomous, or completely human-piloted synthetic intelligence. Everyday interactions replay the Turing test over and over. Is there a person behind this machine, and if so how much? In time, the answer will matter less, and the postulation of human (or even carbon-based life) as the threshold measure of intelligence and as the qualifying gauge of a political ethics may seem like tasteless vestigial racism, replaced by less anthropocentric frames of reference. The position of the User then maps only very incompletely onto any one individual body. From the perspective of the platform, what looks like one is really many, and what looks like many may only be one.


pages: 1,234 words: 356,472

Pandora's Star by Peter F. Hamilton

carbon-based life, clean water, corporate governance, disinformation, Magellanic Cloud, megacity, nuclear winter, Plutocrats, plutocrats, random walk, rolodex, Rubik’s Cube, stem cell, the scientific method, trade route, urban sprawl

Tunde confirmed that gravitational readings showed two gas giants and three small solid planets were orbiting the star, with indications of several large asteroids. It livened up the daily department heads meeting when he told them that one of the solid worlds was within the life band, the distance from the star that would allow carbon-based life to evolve should the planetary conditions be favorable, such as the availability of water and a decent atmospheric pressure. Finally, for morale’s sake rather than practical science, Wilson allowed McClain Gilbert to fly out to the surface. After the long, boring flight, the crew was becoming restless.