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Posts Tagged ‘Science’

It says something both odd and exceptional about our species that while we could rightly be preoccupied with the simple business of surviving on the one world we’ve got — keeping the people in our own small tribe fed and healthy and safe from the perceived menace of the tribes across the valley — we always have one eye trained outward.  We can’t say exactly what we’re looking for — deliverance, company, answers to eternal questions — but we look out all the same.
Building the instruments that make that wondering gaze possible isn’t easy or cheap, and none of it pays the kinds of earthly dividends that pick-and-shovel programs like fixing roads or building airports do.  But there are other kinds of dividends as well, and if uncovering the universe’s most ancient secrets doesn’t qualify, what would?  Washington could certainly spend its money more frugally, but it’s hard to see how it could spend it more imaginatively.
   —  Jeffrey Kluger
From his article: “Eyes In the Sky
Appearing in: Time Magazine, dtd: July 3, 2017
The link to the article is: http://time.com/4828091/eyes-in-the-sky/
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On This Day In:
2016 Private Entrance
Camping Out In Camden
2015 Quality Government
A Handful Of Flics
2014 Just Another Brick From The Wall
2013 Artistic Demands
2012 Foundations
2011 Are We Devouring Yet?

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Part of the problem that we’ve seen is that our general commitment as a society to basic research has diminished.  Our confidence in collective action has been chipped away, partly because of ideology and rhetoric.
The analogy that we still use when it comes to a great technology achievement, even 50 years later, is a moon shot.  And somebody reminded me that the space program was half a percent of GDP.  That doesn’t sound like a lot, but in today’s dollars that would be $80 billion that we would be spending annually … on AI.  Right now we’re spending probably less than a billion.  That undoubtedly will accelerate, but part of what we’re gonna have to understand is that if we want the values of a diverse community represented in these breakthrough technologies, then government funding has to be a part of it.  And if government is not part of financing it, then all these issues that Joi has raised about the values embedded in these technologies end up being potentially lost or at least not properly debated.
I was a sucker for Star Trek when I was a kid.  They were always fun to watch.  What made the show lasting was it wasn’t actu­ally about technology.  It was about values and relationships.  Which is why it didn’t matter that the special effects were kind of cheesy and bad, right?  They’d land on a planet and there are all these papier-mâché boulders. [Laughs.]  But it didn’t matter because it was really talking about a notion of a common humanity and a confidence in our ability to solve problems.
A recent movie captured the same spirit — The Martian.  Not because it had a hugely complicated plot, but because it showed a bunch of different people trying to solve a problem.  And employing creativity and grit and hard work, and having confidence that if it’s out there, we can figure it out.  That is what I love most about America and why it continues to attract people from all around the world for all of the challenges that we face, that spirit of “Oh, we can figure this out.”  And what I value most about science is this notion that we can figure this out.  Well, we’re gonna try this — if it doesn’t work, we’re gonna figure out why it didn’t work and then we’re gonna try something else.  And we will revel in our mistakes, because that is gonna teach us how to ultimately crack the code on the thing that we’re trying to solve.  And if we ever lose that spirit, then we’re gonna lose what is essential about America and what I think is essential about being human.
Star Trek, like any good story, says that we’re all complicated, and we’ve all got a little bit of Spock and a little bit of Kirk [laughs] and a little bit of Scotty, maybe some Klingon in us, right?  But that is what I mean about figuring it out.  Part of figuring it out is being able to work across barriers and differences.  There’s a certain faith in rationality, tempered by some humility.  Which is true of the best art and true of the best science.  The sense that we possess these incredible minds that we should use, and we’re still just scratching the surface, but we shouldn’t get too cocky.  We should remind ourselves that there’s a lot of stuff we don’t know.
President Barack Obama
Discussing A.I., Star Trek and the future in an interview in Wired Magazine
The interviewer is: Scott Dadich
I read this in the November 2016 issue of Wired Magazine
The article is: “The President in Conversation With MIT’s Joi Ito and WIRED’s Scott Dadich
The link to the article:  https://www.wired.com/2016/10/president-obama-mit-joi-ito-interview/
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On This Day In:
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2013 Not Listening Anymore
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In Other Words…
Quite Please!
In A Hostage Situation…
Are We Done Yet?
In Order…
Flip-flopping…
Proof of Choice…
On “Leading” A Democracy To War…
Actually, It’s All About Me…

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As powerful as advanced AI might be someday, we need to understand it first and think carefully about how it should be applied.  The best thing we can do is make sure we have the best minds working on AI and support research that helps us develop it faster.  Again, it’s just math.  Not magic.
At a very basic level, I think AI is good and not something we should be afraid of.  We’re already seeing examples of how AI can unlock value and improve the world.  If we can choose hope over fear — and if we advance the fundamental science behind AI — then this is only the beginning.
    —  Mark Zuckerberg
Quoted by: Jason Tanz
In his article: “A To-Do List For The Tech Industry
Appearing in: Wired Magazine, dtd: November 2016
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On This Day In:
2016 Today’s Rule
2015 Remembering Oklahoma City
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2013 Enemy Mine
2012 Strengthen Me
2011 Service, Please
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The history of science is full of revolutionary advances that required small insights that anyone might have had, but that, in fact, only one person did.
     —  Isaac Asimov
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On This Day In:
2016 Be Uncommon
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Sometimes the stupid gene expresses itself, Tommy.  Genes are always testing themselves to see if they bring reproductive value.
   —  Jerry Hayes
Quoted by Hannah Nordhaus
From her article: “The Honey Trap
Appearing in Wired Magazine, dtd: August 2016
Link to the article:  http://www.wired.com/2016/08/jerry-hayes-how-to-save-the-bees-monsanto/
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On This Day In:
2016 For Me It’s Been Faith
2015 Where Many Paths And Errands Meet
2014 Rimmed Out
2013 Likeness
2012 Sums It Up Quite Well, Actually
2011 Momentary Abandonment

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Knowledge has to be improved, challenged, and increased constantly, or it vanishes.
     —  Peter F. Drucker
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On This Day In:
2016 Just Like My Mother
2015 All Omissions Are Mine
2014 Precise Order
2013 Uh, No. Not Really…
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2012 A Pre-Valentine’s Day Message
2011 Easy Like Sunday Morning
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2010 Valleys and Peaks

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“The universe is hardwired to be an organic chemist,” says [Scott] Sandford.  “It’s not a very clean or tidy one, but it has  really big beakers and plenty of time.”
 …
Says NASA planetary scientist Chris McKay: “A hurricane is a self-organizing, self-propagating system with a life cycle.  It’s born, it grows, it eats, and then it dies.  Why isn’t it alive?”
The answer, in this view, is that it can’t remember what it’s doing or how it’s changed and pass those improvements on.
 …
Still, life as we know it —  warm, watery and carbon-based — might remain the best model.  Chemistry and evolution are both, in their own ways, lazy.  They take the simplest routes to elegant solutions.  Perhaps there are other ways to get the biological job done, but it’s hard to come up with a better alternative.
Ultimately, as many astrobiologists argue, the question of life in space might be as simple as a three-part formula: chemistry plus energy plus time.  McKay likes to cite what’s know as the zero-one-infinity rule, which applies in a lot of scientific theories but especially in the search for life.  We know that the number of planets in the universe with life is not zero.  We know so far that it’s at least one.  If we do find another, it makes no chemical or mathematical sense for the total potential figure not to be unlimited.
“So what we’re searching for,” says McKay, “is two.”  That search is as big as the universe — but so is the promise it holds.
  —  Jeffrey Kluger
From his article: “The Perfectly Sane Case For Life In Space
In Time Magazine, February 22-29, 2016
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On This Day In:
2015 Still Trying
2014 Destiny, n.
2013 No Apologies
2012 Utterly Convinced
2011 A Key To Effectiveness

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