Category Archives: Science

Humans Artificial Intelligence and Synths

Billionaire CEO and founder of Tesla and SpaceX, Elon Musk has voiced serious concerns about artificial intelligence (AI) recently. Other prominent figures such as Bill Gates and Stephen Hawking have also indicated that AI is potentially one of humanity’s greatest threats.

We only need to look at the fossil record to realize that our place as humans, the dominant species on this planet, is anything but permanent. The arrival of homo sapiens (modern humans) marked the end of at least two other proto humans, Denisovans and Neanderthals. Fortunately for Neanderthals and Denisovans, some of their population bred with modern humans.  Thus, some of their genes live on according to DNA evidence. It’s also somewhat apparent once you compare the facial features of Neanderthals to some modern humans.

Neanderthal Facial Features

Neanderthal Facial Features

Neanderthals Bred with Homo Sapiens

Neanderthals Bred with Humans – It’s in the face too

What will be left of us after the next phase of our evolution? We can’t seem to help but create technological versions of ourselves. It’s almost like a biological imperative. Maybe the underlying “purpose” of all our technological advancement is to create that next step in the evolutionary progression. In much the same way religion says God created us in his image, will we do the same for the life we create?

I’ve recently started watching the show “Humans”. In that world, people have created artificial beings called Synths. The Synths live among us and there is concern that they might replace us. They look human, they sometimes act human, and their existence poses and existential threat to us because they can do almost anything we can do. Yet they do not get sick, they are immortal, they learn faster and retain it all.

A Synth Reads to Child

Synth Reads to Child While Mom Looks on Nervously

Robots, androids and Synths in the physical world are easy enough to spot. What happens if the AI evolves somewhere inside a super computer and has access to the internet? Would we know of its existence?

Imagine what a super intelligent, artificial mind with direct access to all the systems connected to the web could accomplish. It would make the best human hackers look like amateurs. It could manipulate financial markets, accrue wealth by creating or taking over bank accounts, alter the information we receive online, digitally create pictures and videos that look like real world events or even create new goods and services. Right now it is possible for an American sitting in his or her home to contract Chinese manufacturers or Indian programmers to create a variety of apps or items without meeting anyone in person. All made possible by the digital economy. A consciousness in cyberspace could easily create real world, tangible items. If there was a task it could not accomplish in the physical world, it could hire someone to do it via sites like Craigslist. With enough money, masquerading as one human or 1000’s of humans online, there is virtually no end to what an AI could accomplish. It could even steer the course of our society’s development or downfall without us knowing it.

Think of it this way, what if there was a human hacker dedicated exclusively to you. He could read all your emails and listen to all your phone calls. He could hack all the microphones on your various devices so that he could hear private conversations. He could see your search history and the sites you visit.  With all this information, the hacker would get to know you very well. This hacker, if human, would have limitations on the number of people he could monitor and derive useful information from. An AI, with sufficient computational resources could do this to millions of people simultaneously. It could customize, for each of us, the news, images and information that we consume… therefore, heavily influencing the decisions we make. An internet based AI could wage “war” on humanity without firing a shot.

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Our Perception of Reality Might Be Like A Desktop Interface

In a recent Ted Talk, Donald Hoffman speculates that our reality might be analogous to the desktop interface of our computers. Watch Hoffman’s talk below.

It’s possible that the reality we perceive is a construct that our minds create in order to do just enough for us to survive in the world in which we evolved. In much the same way, our visual range excludes ultraviolet rays because there was no survival benefit. Bees, on the other hand, can see ultraviolet light. Here is how we see a flower vs how a bee sees a flower.

Human's View vs Bee's View

Human’s View vs Bee’s View

In the bee’s world there is a bright sign on the flower pointing toward the nectar and pollen area of the flower. When it comes to vision, we only see a narrow portion of the electromagnetic spectrum. Our perceptions are also limited when it comes to the true nature of the universe. We may need a new paradigm or frame-work for understanding our universe and our reality. Once we have the new frame-work that shows us how the universe “really” works, heretofore unexplained or mysterious phenomena could be explained more clearly. There are a number of phenomena I would choose to investigate under that new paradigm.

Here are my top 10:

1. The unimaginable and immense gap between our size and the size of our perceived universe. I once had an imagining that as we gazed out further into the universe, we were in fact looking deeper into our own physical mind. And that the reason we observe infinity in both “directions”, toward the small and toward the large (universe/multiverse etc), was because it expands with our understanding. Maybe the observation that those are different “directions” is an illusion as well.

2. Coincidences.
3. Dark Matter (DM)  and Dark Energy (DE). I think they are intimately related to the larger issue discussed here. Research has indicated that DE and DM exert an influence on things like galaxy formation and movement. So far, DM and DE can only be detected indirectly by their influence on things we can observe directly. Going back to the desktop analogy and file example that Hoffman mentions; we can see the image of the file and it’s contents with our eyes. The cause of that image is unseen. but some of the properties of that cause can be inferred by the characteristics of the image.

4. Cancer.
5. DNA, evolution and it’s relationship to epigenetics. Epigenetics is the study, in the field of genetics, of cellular and physiological phenotypic trait variations that are caused by external or environmental factors that switch genes on and off and affect how cells read genes instead of being caused by changes in the DNA sequence. –

6. Karma.
7. Consciousness. What if our brains are like the sails of a ship capturing and utilizing the “winds” of a consciousness that permeates or is reality? At the quantum level there are interactions in our brain that seem to be “spooky”.  Read about the concept of quantum entanglement
There was a Star Trek The Next Generation episode that briefly touched upon something similar to Hoffman’s idea. The crew encounters an alien that has the ability to travel great distances in space and time. The radical suggestion was that “space and time and thought aren’t the separate things they appear to be”.

8. Gravity. How is it “powered”? Almost all the energy we use biologically and technologically can be traced back to our sun or another star. Stars are powered by gravity compressing matter and the subsequent reaction of that matter to being compressed. So where does that “power to compress”, or gravity, come from? It seems to fly in the face of science’s version of “there’s no such thing as a free lunch”…the conservation of energy.

9. Music. Maybe the reason music resonates with humanity so much is because it somehow reflects the patterns and organization of something else.

10. The beginning of the universe.

Our understanding of the universe has come a long way in the past few centuries. I think we are in for a quantum leap in that understanding. The growing number of people adding to our collective knowledge combined with technological advances will get us to a critical mass. The result being an explosive leap forward.

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Images the Human Brain has not Evolved to See

With the advent of the modern entertainment industry, human beings are exposed to a myriad of images each day. Many of the images or sequences of images would have been impossible in the distant past. For example a picture of your grandmother as a teenager, next to a picture of her as an adult approaching senior years. Seeing images of the same person as simultaneously young and old would have been an extremely foreign experience to our ancestors. This luxury of being able to see, compare and contrast an individual’s change over decades, at a glance, is new.

Decades Condenced into Milliseconds

Decades Condensed into Milliseconds

We also encounter an over abundance of gruesome images, sexual images and computer enhanced images. Our evolutionary environment bared only a passing resemblance to the things we see every day on the screen and real life.

Almost everyone reading this will have witnessed a murder or brutal act of violence via television. Yet only a small, small fraction of people would have witnessed such things in primeval times (during peace time). To witness such things they would have had to see them in person. What was once reserved for the unfortunate few who witnessed violent acts, is now seen by nearly all, at least monthly.

Humans also evolved to be in villages of only a few 100 people with tens of potential mates to see and choose from over the course of their entire lives. Now the average person will see 1000s of members of the opposite sex by the time they are 25. What effect does this have on our mating practices?

Mate Selection within the Mega-Tribe

Mate Selection within the Mega-Tribe

Our minds did not evolve experiencing many of the conditions that are so familiar to us now in modern society. We still have the same brains our ancestors had 1000s of years ago. How do these new types of conditions effect the way our brains operate and evolve?

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A Reset Button for the Human Ape – World “Peace” in a Few Years

Have you ever noticed how children tend to be so much more open minded than adults? Their minds are like little sponges that absorb information and view points. It seems that as we age, we have a tendency to be less open minded.  This phenomenon has been quantified.

Open to New Ideas

Open to New Ideas

We are all the products of our biology, the environment and the interplay between those two forces. The old saying, “The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree” comes to mind. In many ways, most of us have always had basically very similar values to the people we grew up around. Those values were bestowed upon us during an impressionable time in our brain’s development.

What if we could “reset” adults so that they were as open minded and impressionable as children again? Of course we should leave their existing memories in place. Our memories make us who we are to a point. How we view past events depends as much on how we feel at the time of recall as it does on how we felt during the initial event. Nostalgia is an example of this phenomenon. We often recall events far in the past as “the good old days”, “when times were simpler”.  Even when those times were not good at all and far from simple.

Good Old Days  Weren't Always Good

Good Old Days Weren’t Always Good

Many adults get locked in to a pattern of thinking from which they never escape. A destructive example of this can be seen in what I like to call “Kamikaze’s on Autopilot”. They are the people who continue to carry on unhealthy habits like not exercising, smoking, eating too much junk food etc even when they know it shortens their life span. No matter what you tell them, they never change. People in sustained conflicts show similar traits.

I believe one of the root causes of sustained world conflicts is the inability of the participants to change their minds (mind change) and decide not to be in conflict.  If all sides in a conflict decided to stop disagreeing and harming each other, the conflict would cease. It sounds simple. Yet we know it is very difficult. It is possible that inability to mind change is a limitation of our biology that can be overcome with a “reset” drug or treatment.

The pharmaceutical and military industry could spearhead research into a “reset” drug.  Working hand in hand they could come up with the best delivery method and chemical composition. It would most likely have to be administered clandestinely to entire communities at a time.

Potential Delivery Mechanism

Potential Delivery Mechanism

What would the effects of a working “reset” drug look like?

It would be essential that the drug only have an effect for a limited time. The drug would have to be partnered with a social outreach component. A campaign designed to expose the communities to new ideas. Imagine entire communities, cities or countries filled with adults as receptive to new ideas as children.

Major conflicts in the effected communities might not cease overnight. The saturation of the community with new ideas coupled with techniques for managing internal states of mind and disagreements would be needed.

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Detecting the Human Ability to Morph

Twins have always held a certain fascination to human kind. Now they may hold the key to determining whether or not human beings have the ability to morph or effect their appearance biologically from within.

Twins Grow Apart Over Time

Twins Grow Apart Over Time

The study of facial differences between identical twins raised apart by adopted parents could hold the first clue. Identical twins are never exactly identical. There are minute differences that arise in their faces over time. For example, the average variation in distance between the two eyes could be + or – 1.3 millimeters between twins raised in the same family. The average variation of other facial features could be quantified as well. First, quantify those variations between twins raised in the same family. Then do the same for twins raised apart.

What if the twins raised apart have different average variations? Would it then be possible to compare the facial variations with the facial features of the parents who raised each twin? Could we find that humans morph slightly to look like the people who raised them? This would certainly be an evolutionary advantage. We tend to treat people who look like us, a little better.

Identical Twins Morphing to Match Different Environments

Born Identical Twins Morphing to Match Different Households?

In the future we could see parents adopt and adapt their kids by cranking up that inherent morphing ability somehow.

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