The Singularity is Nigh
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.
The Future Will See You Now
According to a new study on longevity, 72 is the new 30, so shut up about your quarter-life crisis.
Law and Order
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.
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.
The Singularity is Nigh
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:
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!
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.
Here’s a Friday afternoon head-scratcher: What will legal systems look like in 1,000 years? No, really. If our arbiters of right and wrong become more highly automated, will we be smoothing over the imperfections of Lady Justice, or placing our respective fates in the hands of heartless machines. What will sentencing guidelines be like after Read More
XXX in Tech
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.
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:
I Want to Live Forever
The situation on Alyssa Vance’s couch would have been best described as a cuddle puddle—a tangle of hair-petting and belly-stroking and neck-nuzzling, seven people deep. It was Friday night in late June in the living room of her one-bedroom apartment at The Caroline, a “white-glove service” building in Chelsea. Ms. Vance, a transgender former Google intern with the lips of a Renaissance statue, sat somewhere near the middle next to her girlfriend, Alice. Snuggling up on either end were a neuroscience Ph.D. from Columbia, a Yale grad student in applied mathematics, and a redhead in from Berkeley who “sells drugs on the Internet.” Across the room, a row of white chairs laid out expressly for Ms. Vance’s 21st birthday party stood abandoned in favor of the handsy human octopus.
The Observer hovered near the drinks table. Next to us, a ponytailed programmer from Morgan Stanley nibbled on a family-sized Trader Joe’s chocolate bar as we both stole glances at the pile-on.