It’s early morning on New Year’s Day 2075. I’m sitting in my living room with a cup of coffee and watching the snow fall. The fireplace is throwing off heat as the logs slowly vanish. I’m enjoying a conversation with my twin “brother” who inhabits a small but powerful laptop computer that sits on a table with a view of our garden. Mike2, as we agreed to call him, doesn’t drink coffee or anything else. He is my uploaded brain.
I’m 81 years old and today is Mike2’s “birthday.” Three years ago, two technicians from Eternal Life Brain Scans came to my home and uploaded my connectome on New Year’s Day 2047. It took a painless forty-five minutes. …
In the 1998 movie Armageddon, NASA discovers a Texas-sized asteroid that will hit the earth in 18 days. The President asks: “What kind of damage are we…”. The reply: “Damage? Total, sir. It’s what we call a global killer. The end of mankind. Doesn’t matter where it hits. Nothing would survive, not even bacteria.”
Why Changing the Past Will Not Alter the Future
I’ve always been fascinated by the idea of time travel, especially the possibility of using my knowledge of the present to change past lives or historical events. By travelling back in time, I could warn the U.S. government about the plot to bring down the Twin Towers. Or journey even further back to prevent Hitler from creating the Nazi Party and starting World War II.
On a more personal note, I could give my parents stock tips that would make them rich. I might even go back to 1958 and retake the electricity and magnetism final which I failed. …
In the 1968 film 2001 Space Odyssey, HAL, a sentient computer, goes rogue and attacks its crew. In the 1983 film The Terminator, a computer system called Skynet becomes self-aware and attempts to destroy the human race through nuclear war. When The Terminator was released, artificial intelligence (AI) was in its infancy. That has changed. Situations depicting AI-powered machines taking over now appear all too plausible and lead us to wonder whether AI is making a useful contribution or runs the risk of endangering humanity.
What is Artificial Intelligence?
In a 2018 paper for the Brookings Institution, Darrell West and John Allen identify three qualities integral to artificial intelligence: intentionality, intelligence, and adaptability. …
My alarm goes off at 6:00 just as the early morning sun floods my bedroom. I check the surface of the Hudson River below my window, and I’m happy to see only a few wind-created ripples. The forest of trees at the bottom of my building is also still.
No wind this morning means it will be a biking day. I open my weather app and check the temperature. It’s 45° now and it will take several hours to reach 50°. …
When I was a child, I loved to hold my mother’s hand as we walked through the streets of Brooklyn. In my teens I held hands with a few girls as we walked through a park or on a beach. I held my wife’s hand throughout our 57-year marriage, and I held her hand as she lay dying from cancer.
Nowadays I miss holding my children’s and grandchildren’s hands, because in the pandemic we cannot safely do that. Fortunately, my partner and I can walk together along the New Jersey Palisades with her hand in mine.
If you are seeking to connect with another person, try holding hands with them. And the way to hold hands for maximum effect is to interlace your fingers. …
According to Chinese philosophy, qi is the force that makes up and binds together all things in the universe.
To the confusion and perplexity of Westerners, it is sometime defined in ancient texts as “both everything and nothing.” I have found it difficult to make sense of that definition, but most practitioners of Qi Gong (the practice of cultivating qi) have no problem understanding this.
In English, qi is usually translated as “vital life force,” but qi goes beyond that simple translation.
A 2017 article from the Acupuncture and Massage College of Miami, Florida, discusses the two main branches of…
When Technology Mimics Magic
In a recent conversation with some friends in a socially distanced backyard , I mentioned that I was writing an article on the brain-computer interface.
I explained that in 2012, you could purchase a Star Wars Science Force Trainer for only $35. It consisted of a wireless headset, a ping-pong ball and a transparent plastic tube fitted at its bottom with a fan. By concentrating, you could turn up the fan speed to blow the ping-pong ball up the tube to a desired height.
Many years ago, I asked a psychologist friend what she considered most miraculous about the mind. She smiled, closed her hand and lifted her arm, opening the fingers of her clenched fist. She said, “That I can do this with a thought is truly the most amazing thing I know.” I opened and closed my hand with a new awareness of how incredible it was that a simple thought had made this happen.
In the 30 years since that conversation, the field of mind-machine interface has burgeoned. The terms “mind reading technology” and “brain-computer interface” have entered our vocabulary. …