I sometimes despair about the nature of the human condition and the likely future of our species on this planet. We don’t behave at all well towards each other – something that’s been thrown into sharp relief in the last generation or so in the west as we’ve become increasingly ‘wired’, and as the culture … More I despair about the future of humanity
It was the winter solstice in New Zealand this week, and from now on we’ll be getting longer days and lighter mornings. Except, for a couple of weeks, we won’t. It’ll get darker, later, for a while. So what gives? I mean, the solstice is meant to be the moment when it all turns around… … More Why mornings get darker after the winter solstice
I have been fascinated of late with the way our understanding of human evolution has forged ahead in leaps and bounds. This year alone we’ve discovered that Homo naledi, the previously unknown ‘archaic’ species that was discovered in a South African cave, was still going just 250,000 years ago and – very likely – had … More Re-thinking human evolution… again
It must be about twenty years since I encountered a CD burner labelled (wait for it) “Smart and friendly”. Back then the art of burning CD’s was sufficiently arcane and difficult that even the hardware manufacturers had to pitch their wares as “smart”. It wasn’t, of course – it was a dumb piece of hardware … More True AI and why it’ll ignore us
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.