Free-Market Moloch? Paying to Make Red Lights Turn Green

I saw this on Twitter a while back, posted by someone who was attending the Wolfram Data Summit: “Data future vision: you're at a red light and can pay for it to go green.” Like a fragment from some lost Sumerian tablet, this cryptic comment is all we have. But it's enough. Paying for a…

A Few Closing Questions Regarding the New York “Mosque”

Let's get this one out of the way first: Why is Sarah Palin upset about anything that happens in New York City? She’s already made it clear that she doesn’t consider New York part of the “real America.” So why does she care what happens there? Sensitivity question #1 Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin was…

Moral Questions in the Ancient Art of Human Enhancement (Now With Venn Diagrams)

I've been named an “Affiliate Scholar” at the Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies, so I thought I'd think about where I fit in the Humanist/Transhumanist matrix. Then I thought I'd draw a Venn diagram or two. Somewhere along the line we've developed the habit of announcing that, thanks to new technology, we're forever on…

Reality Hunger: Stop Me If You’ve Heard This One Before

1 The format: David Shields’ Reality Hunger is written as a series of short, numbered paragraphs. The content: Reality Hunger, according to the flyleaf, “is a rigorous and radical attempt to reframe how we think about ‘truthiness,’ literary license, quotation, appropriation.’ That means mashups, sampling, the whole ‘meta’ thing. Get it? 2 The book's numbered-paragraph…

Cerebral Imperialism

The present is where the future comes to die, or more accurately, where an infinite array of possible futures all collapse into one. We live in a present where artificial intelligence hasn't been invented, despite a quarter century of optimistic predictions. John Horgan in Scientific American suggests we're a long way from developing it, despite…

LOVE BEGINS A PICTURE: An Anthology of Google Voice Transcriptions Formatted and Annotated As Poetry

Google recently introduced Google Voice, which routes calls among different lines, performs other screening and call handling tasks, and automatically generates a written record of each phone message using voice transcription software. I've had it for months. I'm not going to complain about the transcription software's high error rates, although lots of people do. It's…

All Geared Up: Elvis the Transhumanist

Occasionally an idea will come to mind that's claimed quickly and eloquently by someone else before you have a chance to execute it. When Michael Jackson died I began dabbling with the subject of Jackson as Transhumanist, but my piece was only half-written when RU Sirius pretty much nailed the topic. Nick Gillespie at Reason…

shiny happy tomorrow people

Is the Baroness right? Susan Greenfield, the Baroness in question, says that “happy people” are “not the people who build civilizations.” Dr. Greenfield is Fullerian Professor of Physiology and Comparative Anatomy at Oxford University, and she made the remarks in response to questions posed by Discover Magazine. Here's the context: Isn't it desirable to bioengineer…

a coupla robot heads sitting around watching tv (or, i caught a bad meme this weekend)

When it comes to “memetics,” which some say is the new science of studying “memes,” consider me a skeptic. Doesn't a science need to have a clearly defined subject and verifiable findings? At this point the “meme” concept seems more or less to be where the “artificial intelligence” idea was twenty years ago: That is,…

Emotional Cartography: Christian Nold and William Blake

From the indispensable psychology and neuroscience blog Mind Hacks, some information on Christian Nold and his “emotional cartography.” Writes Nold: Bio Mapping is a community mapping project … In the context of regular, local workshops and consulltations (s9c), participants are wired up with an innovative device which records the wearer's Galvanic Skin Response (GSR), which…