I have long been intrigued by the way we imagine ‘artificial general intelligence’ as some kind of inevitable future. One, perhaps, where humans – too – can be transferred into machines. You’ll notice I used ‘general’ in that phrase. We throw plain ‘artificial intelligence’ (AI) around with reckless glee these days, meaning things like chatbots. … More Why the singularity won’t happen any time soon. Or at all.
The revelation a while back that Winston Churchill had written a paper on aliens isn’t too surprising. The great statesman was literate, erudite, deeply interested in history and the sciences, and knew many of the key figures in the British scientific community. What he had to say was very much in line with the thinking … More Are we so arrogant to suppose aliens will be like us?
Something slightly scary occurred to me the other day. Analysis of the Mw 7.8 quake that ripped through central New Zealand last November suggests it was awesomely complex. We usually imagine quakes being caused when one fault line moves. Or maybe two or three faults, because faults tend to exist in connected systems. And often, … More The earthquake apocalypse – it’s coming. Probably.
A few weeks back I was interviewed by Scaffolding Magazine, a new arts and culture magazine – and here’s Part 1. The vision Scaffolding‘s creators have for the magazine is really excellent: it’s a way of bringing together writers, artists and readers and exploring the arts – worldwide. The first issue, with my article on … More My interview with Scaffolding Magazine
It appears there’s a new effort to find the mysterious monster that, allegedly, lives in Loch Ness. Water taken from the loch will be DNA-analysed for its biodiversity. If there are any odd genes in it, they’ll show up. Apparently. Personally I’m sceptical. The problem with the Loch Ness Monster is that for such a … More Why Yetis, Abominable Snowmen and Nessie probably don’t exist
A few years ago, when I was staying with relatives in the Netherlands, we decided to spend a few days in Paris – three countries and many hundreds of kilometres away. There were all sorts of ways of doing it, including by driving. Or we could have spent a lot of time driving to Schiphol, … More Why trains are sometimes faster than air travel
There’s a common belief that the work of historians consists of collecting ‘the facts’ from documents and writing them down. And that’s it. I mean, how hard can it be? I can’t even begin to express the issues I have with such thinking. But let’s start with the obvious one – ‘the facts’. It’s something … More Figuring out the historical facts from the fakery