Tag Archives: ebooks

AI IS HERE

AI

If artificial intelligence in the hard sense (real thoughts) is not here yet, the soft kind (with robots) definitely is. In the new Blade Runner we see replicants acting “more human than human.” Humans have become brutal or apathetic, the result of what musician/philosophy David Byrne calls our cultural disconnection. Read THIS. Driverless cars are being created to produce more time for people to be on their screens (iPhones, tablets), allowing the big four to track people everywhere, and customize ads that categorize and target. (The opening of Blade Runner 2049 shows Ryan Gosling asleep in the driver’s seat of his flying car…which is flying.) Spying is everywhere, as today, and as revealed in the books Riveted, Weapons of Math Destruction, The Filter Bubble, Utopia is Creepy, The Four, and Future Crimes. One of the unintended results of customization (besides profits) is to polarize beliefs: you never see alternative views, because The Four only show you (in search and in ads) things you already believe, including conspiracy theories and fake news. Only by reading books can you see the whole picture, because even the networks are in the pockets of advertisers and drug companies. And literacy is slowly declining as more people turn to TV and the internet for one-liners and  “factoids,” as Ray Bradbury called them in Fahrenheit 451, about burning books. One of the lines from that movie was rendered by an Overseer: “More sports for everyone.” (He meant it as a substitute for reading, to keep people in line, as slaves to the system.) A giant Coca-Cola sign is seen in both Blade Runners, as part of the brand-washing (read Brandwashed or The Coke Machine: The Dirty Truth Behind the World’s Favorite Soft Drink.) The networks, or Coke itself, never mentioned these books. It is easier to double down on cute commercials for their diabetes and cancer-causing products requiring prescription drugs to treat at massive cost (while the new Drug Czar is a former Big Pharma confidant sponsoring a bill to repress prosecution of drug distributors involved in the Opioid epidemic.) Do you doubt any of this? It may be because you didn’t hear about it on the news. They have vested interests not to tell you. To keep you in the dark. You can bet that 60 MInutes is coming under fire for their report this past Sunday. Once they (and Frontline) is shut down, along with all whistleblowers, what happens then? Blade Runner 2049 happens, for real. That’s what happens. It is predicted that climate change, if ignored until 2100, will cost $600 Trillion to fix. That’s a T, in today’s dollars. Many will need to die first. But even by next year, perhaps, terrorists can sit back and watch as a Category 5 hits Miami and wipes out all those homes now shown on “Beachfront Bargain Hunt” or “My Lottery Dream Home.” In San Francisco, building codes were ignored as people watched TV, so what happens if a 10.0 quake hits the San Andreas? Most of the city (and other cities not yet burning) reduced to rubble. What happens to the economy then? Maybe Leonardo diCaprio is right. Maybe those on Instagram posting images of his satirical movie The Wolf of Wall Street should go to his actual IG account and check it out. Coffee? Time to wake up.

Apple Watch

Robot Selfie
http://TowerReview.com/future-shock.html

 

Infinity

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Ripples in Spacetime Explained

LigoA new book Ripples in Spacetime is an engaging account of the international effort to complete Einstein’s project, capture his elusive ripples, and launch an era of gravitational-wave astronomy that promises to explain, more vividly than ever before, our universe’s structure and origin. The quest for gravitational waves involved years of risky research and many personal and professional struggles that threatened to derail one of the world’s largest scientific endeavors. Govert Schilling takes listeners to sites where these stories unfolded-including Japan’s KAGRA detector, Chile’s Atacama Cosmology Telescope, the South Pole’s BICEP detectors, and the United States’ LIGO labs. He explains the seeming impossibility of developing technologies sensitive enough to detect waves from two colliding black holes in the very distant universe, and describes the astounding precision of the LIGO detectors. Along the way Schilling clarifies concepts such as general relativity, neutron stars, and the big bang using language that listeners with little scientific background can grasp. Govert Schilling (1956) is an internationally acclaimed astronomy writer in the Netherlands. He is a contributing editor of Sky & Telescope, and his articles have appeared in Science, New Scientist and BBC Sky at Night Magazine. He wrote over fifty books (in Dutch) on a wide variety of astronomical topics, some of which have been translated into English, including Evolving Cosmos, Flash! The Hunt for the Biggest Explosions in the Universe, The Hunt for Planet X, and Atlas of Astronomical Discoveries. In 2007, the International Astronomical Union named asteroid (10986) Govert after him.

The Methuselah Gene

genesisOn that fateful day before my life changed forever, I counted seven people seated at the Tactar conference table.  At the preeminent spot, across the polished expanse of dark mahogany separating me from upper management, sat Russell Winsdon, the sixty-eight year old head of the company.  A man who resembled Warren Buffett.  To his immediate right sat Carson Jeffers, the lanky redhead who was V.P. and head of public relations.  When the update on my work concluded, all eyes turned to Jeffers, expecting him to speak first.  And when he did, Winsdon’s regal gray head nodded slightly in both affirmation and from mild Parkinson’s.  But he was still strong, his demeanor asserted.  He was fit, by God.  Not some crazy old coot quite just yet.

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“It’s interesting, Alan . . . even exciting, I have to say,” Jeffers commented, giving me a nod that Winsdon seemed to mimic.

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“Thank you, sir,” I replied.

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The others around the table nodded mechanically as well.  They were yes-men, all of them.  Aspiring young executives jostling on Tactar’s career ladder, that rickety termite-infested fire escape leading up to where it was high enough to use a golden parachute one day.

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“You’ve done well, too, with documentation on your uncovery of gene 565 in the bristlecone pine, using RNA interference.  We definitely like that.  What you’ve found here is a unique controller used to maintain optimum plant cell division.  But whether we should continue funding your screening for a formulation to deliver the gene to other plant or animal species remains to be seen.  What can you tell us?”

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“Well, we have tried replacing a phenol with an ester, altering the molecule with an antioxidant at one end to aid absorption, and with some success.  Then I realized that it might be better, for any future clinical trials on animals, to use a benign virus as a transport mechanism for the gene.”

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“Interesting.  Go on.”

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“Whether the modified virus would be able to penetrate the blood-brain barrier is questionable, but it would deliver the gene transcribed to it before it’s targeted for destruction by the immune system.  I’ve tried it on caenorhabditis elegans, which as you may know has roughly nineteen thousand protein-coding genes and ninety-seven million genome base pairs.”

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“What’s a whatever-you-said elegans?” one of the green yes-men asked.

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“It’s a worm,” Jeffers replied, neglecting to add ‘like you.’  Then he turned back to me.  “How did that go, and what’s the virus?”

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“Yes, and why wasn’t I told about this test?” Winsdon added.

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They were all staring at me now, like CEOs posing for the cover of Fortune.  I took a moment to savor the attention, knowing it might be my last such moment.  “The delivery method was a success,” I announced, finally.  “Our preliminary biologic binding studies indicate that the pine tree gene was incorporated by c. elegans, which has fully half of the genes found in humans.”

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The old man emitted an audible gasp.  But then he sneezed, and I realized it wasn’t a gasp at all.  “Excuse me,” he said, and pulled out a handkerchief to blow his nose.

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Jeffers leaned toward me.  “What’s this benign virus?  Strep?  The common cold?”
“No, sir,” I said.  Then I lowered my voice.  “It’s rather sensitive, actually, sir.  A need-to-know basis kind of thing, if you know what I mean.”  I looked over at three of the youngest execs.

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Jeffers followed my gaze, and then waved a hand to dismiss them.  When they were gone he said, “They’ve signed confidentiality agreements on all Tactar projects, so this better be good.”

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“Oh, it is, sir.”

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“We’re waiting,” said Winsdon.

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“Well?” said Jeffers.

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“Well, sir,” I replied, at last, “the virus I used as transport for the bristlecone pine’s longevity gene was none other than HIV.  The virus that causes AIDS.”

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Excerpt, The Methuselah Gene