The Singularity is Nigh

Google Hopes to Offer Life Extension as a Perk So You Can Work There Forever and Ever Without Leaving

(Photo: thatsreallypossible.com)

Google already provides its employees with nap pods, free meals and cute little bikes to shuttle them between buildings on campus, but one thing they haven’t yet figured out how to work into employee agreements is access to the fountain of youth.

But this is Google–dream big! The father of the Singularity, Ray Kurzweil, is toiling away in Mountain View creating an artificial brain. So why shouldn’t they expect a future in which they offer their employees life extension as a perk? Read More

The Singularity is Nigh

Ray Kurzweil Sees No Reason Why He Should Accept Death

(Wikipedia.)

Ray Kurzweil’s official title at Google is director of engineering, but we’re starting to suspect Larry keeps him around as a kind of science-fictional mascot for the programmers. Case in point: This Wired Q&A, in which he reminds everyone of his belief that one day soon, death will hold no dominion over technologists.

After chatting about Steve Jobs (fun fact, it’s actually impossible to get into the Wired offices without passing a brief quiz about Steve Jobs*), interviewer Stephen Levy asked his thoughts on one of the Silicon Valley demigod’s famous quotes: “Death is very likely the single best invention of life. It’s life’s change agent.”

Well, Ray Kurzweil thinks that’s bullshit. Read More

Law and Order

Aww, Man: No-Fun Mississippi House Bill Seeks to Outlaw Animal-Human Hybrids

(Photo: Blogspot)

Look, nobody expected Mississippi to be this shining bastion of liberalism, lovingly welcoming every transhumanist-animal-hybrid-Singulatarian to cross its borders. But unfortunately, in its quest to further criminalize and stigmatize abortion by explicitly defining personhood, Mississippi may have gone one step too far: House Bill 819, the Protection of the Human Person Act (PDF), would outlaw human-animal hybrids like animorphs, which should strike outrage in the heart of every ’90s kid who loved the sci fi series. Read More

Planet Reddit

Redditor Wonders if He Should Have His Hemorrhoids Removed Since He’ll Become a Cyborg Soon Anyway

(Photo: Rachel Marone)

It’s no secret that Betabeat is a big fan of the stranger side of futurism, but we would not advise avoiding minimal routine surgery just because of the Singularity. A Redditor named imememine posted to r/Futurology wondering if he should skip having his hemorrhoids removed since in a few decades we’ll all be transported to cyborg bodies, anyway. Read More

The Singularity is Nigh

Ray Kurzweil Says He’ll Get ‘Unlimited Resources’ to Work on AI at Google [Updated]

(Wikipedia.)

Last month, Ray Kurzweil, the unofficial president of the singularity booster club, took a job at Google. This, of course, inspired much breathless speculation about just how a company in possession of an enormous treasure trove of our data plans to employ such a thinker.

Well today we got a bit of a hint, thanks to an event at Singularity U., wherein X Prize chairman Peter Diamandis and Mr. Kurzweil interviewed each other. Vivek Wadhwa, naturally, live-tweeted their discussion from the audience–and it sounds like a doozy: Read More

In Hindsight

The Best of Betabeat: A 2012 Retrospective

BETA BEAT Celebrates The Pitch Series

As 2011 came to a close, we looked back at our most popular posts. But this year, we’re a little older (a mature year and nine months!), a lot wiser, and thought we’d try something a little different. Thank you for reading!

LONGREADS

Ultra-Orthodox Jews Take a Hard Line on the Internet at Rally of 40,000 Men (And Me) In which our intrepid reporter sneaks into Citi Field in drag. 

Faith, Hope, and Singularity: Entering the Matrix with New York’s Futurist Set It’s the end of the world as we know it, and they feel fine. Read More

XXX in Tech

Regular Orgasms Are for Mortals; All the Cool Kids Are Having ‘Longevity Orgasms’

Sexy robot. (Photo: Dragon Painting)

If you’re already following the advice of your longevity coach and working to live as long as humanly possible (until the Singularity comes and your being is finally merged with that of a robot), then you’re probably ready to take your training to the next level. Self-quantifying via sleep tracking apps and the Nike Fuel Band will only get you so far, and unless you’re Peter Thiel, hyperbaric chambers are rather expensive. Luckily, the next step towards total transhumanism is much more pleasurable: buying a sex robot and having longevity orgasms. Read More

Skynet Watch

What Are Algorithms up to Today? Fighting Off Fruit Flies

Best without bugs. (Photo: flickr.com/violetmonde)

Algorithms: They’re not just for Amazon recommendations and online dating anymore. The latest application, as per the New Scientist: Battling oriental fruit flies, a species that inspires the cold sweats in anyone who makes his livelihood on a fruit orchard.

These pests are a far more serious threat than the nuisances spawned by slovenly kitchen habits. They infest at least 230 different kinds of crops. The result? Rotten, maggot-infested fruit and crop losses that can add up to billions of dollars.

Luckily, scientists in Taiwan–where the bugs are a persistent problem–are working on a solution: Read More