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.
XXX in Tech
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
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.
I Want to Live Forever
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:
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.
We thought the debate over homeopathy had been settled long ago, when several credible academic studies found that the alternative medicine wasn’t proven to work better than a placebo. Turns out we may have just lapse into “closed-mindedness.”
The scientists at Skepticblog are up in arms about an email out of the academic department of Singularity University that seemed to give credence to homeopathy. In case you’re not a Kurzweilan futurist, S.U. is a non-profit institution dedicated to teaching students how to facilitate “the development of exponentially advancing technologies and apply, focus and guide these tools to address humanity’s grand challenges.” It’s kind of like summer camp, but for people who believe our consciousness will one day merge with robots.
Brian Dunning, a writer at Skepticblog, obtained an email sent from Singularity U.’s VP of Academics, Vivek Wadhwa, which “used hoary fallacious logic to encourage students to give pseudoscience equal consideration, and gave a platform to a homeopath (!!) to promote his business.” The email was sent to a large list of students and staff.
“Rather disgruntled” programmers, rejoice! Apple says it fixed that bug that was causing apps to crash on launch. [AllThingsD]
Jerry Seinfield now has a web series? [Daily Dot]
Facebook tab engagement has declined 53 percent since the introduction of Timeline. Perhaps that’s why Buddy Media was so eager to sell? [Mashable, h/t Nicholas Carlson]
Microsoft researcher: Oops, that whole thing about an Android botnet was just an “educated guess.” [The Verge]
The Singularity is nigh: For the first time ever, scientists have controlled a robot using only their thoughts. [Gizmodo]
Twitter engineer says that today search and discovery are “set to change forever.” Does that mean they’ll actually be good? [The Next Web]