“This is a really cool concept, but it’s not clear whether it will make its way off the drawing board.”

The maglev rocket launcher proposal

#Space

Mon, Feb 27th, 2017 11:00 by capnasty NEWS

While it probably won't work, Inverse looks over at the idea of YouTubber PatentYogi who proposes building a system similar to Elon Musk's Hyperlook to launch rockets into space. Regardless, it is an interesting idea.

This latest project involves angling a maglev track towards the sky and accelerating a reusable capsule to Earth’s escape velocity. Since rocket fuel for take-off and reentry takes up a huge amount of space and weight in current spacecrafts, using a non-chemical propellant for liftoff would represent a huge advantage, increasing the amount of fuel that could be used for actual transit, and therefore the potential range of spacecrafts. And while such a large structure as Powell proposes would require significant initial investment, the lack of fuel and fuel tanks would lower the cost of each launch. Launches would also be safer without the risk…

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“Super-intelligence is a serious danger for humanity, possibly even more dangerous than nuclear weapons.”

Hacking democracy

#Politics

Sun, Feb 26th, 2017 11:00 by capnasty NEWS

With artificial intelligence taking more and more roles in society, crunching all those Big Data numbers we produce, this lengthy Scientific American essay raises its worries and concerns about the health of democracy once society is run entirely by algorithms. Much like Facebook's filter bubble — which "surrounds users with content confirming their worldview" — a democracy controlled by computers could ultimately become "a totalitarian regime with a rosy cover" or worse, be hacked for political or economic gain.

Everything started quite harmlessly. Search engines and recommendation platforms began to offer us personalised suggestions for products and services. This information is based on personal and meta-data that has been gathered from previous searches, purchases and mobility behaviour, as well as social interactions. While officially, the identity of the user is protected, it can, in practice, be inferred quite easily. Today, algorithms know pretty well what we do, what…

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"When it comes to growing intestines, the first inch is the hardest."

Lab grown guts

#Health

Sat, Feb 25th, 2017 11:00 by capnasty NEWS

Intestines now join kidneys, brain matter "and a few other kinds of tissue" that can be grown in a lab. While there is no mention of transplant, the near-future goal is to use the guts to study disease.

In 2011 researchers at the same center announced that they had grown intestinal tissue—but it was missing nerve cells and so was unable to contract in the undulating motion that pushes food along a colon. This time around, the scientists grew neurons separately and then combined them with another batch of stem cells that had been induced to become muscle and intestinal lining. Voilà: an inch-long piece of gut formed. “Just like in developing human bodies, the nerve cells knew where to go,” says Michael Helmrath, surgical director of the Intestinal Rehabilitation Program at Cincinnati Children's.

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"Would we be forced, one day, to give machines rights?"

If robots become self-aware, do they deserve rights?

#Robots

Fri, Feb 24th, 2017 11:00 by capnasty NEWS

If artificial intelligence reaches a point where machines become self-aware, do they deserve rights? In their usual nutshell style, Kurzgesagt takes us down a food-for-thought path.

What shall we do once machines become conscious? Do we need to grant them rights?

Also, AI is already becoming more human, by plagiarising the code of others:

DeepCoder uses a technique called program synthesis: creating new programs by piecing together lines of code taken from existing software – just like a programmer might. Given a list of inputs and outputs for each code fragment, DeepCoder learned which pieces of code were needed to achieve the desired result overall.

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Documentary on Toronto's Subway at the End of the Service Day

The Last Train

#Travel

Thu, Feb 23rd, 2017 11:00 by capnasty NEWS

In this short documentary, Matt Knarr interviews travellers taking the very last train of the day before the vomit comet service takes over.

A documentary exploring the quiet, empty world of the last subway train of the night, and the stories of the people riding it.

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“It will be very disruptive and very quick.”

The robots are coming to take your job, very very soon

#Robots

Wed, Feb 22nd, 2017 11:00 by capnasty NEWS

American businessman Marc Cuban warned that "automation is going to cause unemployment and we need to be ready for that," after pointing out that the Trump administration does "not understand technology advancements."

"But there are many people whose jobs are to drive. In fact I think it might be the single largest employer of people ... Driving in various forms. So we need to figure out new roles for what do those people do, but it will be very disruptive and very quick," Musk said.

Musk, among others, has been speaking about ways to deal with the displacement, including a growing chorus of voices in the technology industry calling for a universal basic income.

Not everyone agrees. The Editorial Board of the New York Times thinks that blaming robots is "a distraction from real problems and real solutions," and instead goes straight to pointing fingers at…

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“The cost of carbon fibre could drop, dramatically and be seen in far more applications.”

Australians figure out how to mass produce carbon fibre

#Technology

Tue, Feb 21st, 2017 11:00 by capnasty NEWS

According to techAU, CSIRO and Deakin University may have found a way to mass produce carbon fibre, a material known for being both light and strong. Apparently, the production process up to now has been very expensive, meaning that if this technology works, the cost of the composite material is bound to crash.

A breakthrough in the production of carbon fibre, would be game changer and if with the technology to simplify the creation, the cost of carbon fibre could drop, dramatically and be seen in far more applications.

Right now, carbon fibre is used in hypercars and supercars, aircraft, top end road bikes, basically the places where cost isn’t the primary criteria. With a dramatic drop in the cost, it could be used in low-cost applications and where weight is a concern, like vehicle propulsion, reducing weight, while maintaining strength, means this is a critical technology development.

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“Mark Zuckerberg's manifesto [...] is a scary, dystopian document.”

Facebook wants to run like a country, except you have no idea how it works

#Internet

Mon, Feb 20th, 2017 11:00 by capnasty NEWS

On Bloomberg, Leonid Bershidsky calls Mark Zuckerberg's manifesto a "scary, dystopian document" designed for a place that causes anxiety, addiction, stress, and the need to feel validated.

Where is your line on nudity? On violence? On graphic content? On profanity? What you decide will be your personal settings. We will periodically ask you these questions to increase participation and so you don't need to dig around to find them. For those who don't make a decision, the default will be whatever the majority of people in your region selected, like a referendum. Of course you will always be free to update your personal settings anytime.

The real-life effect will be that most users, too lazy to muck around with settings, will accept the "majority" standard, making it even less likely that anything they see would jar them out of their comfort zone. Those who…

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“We could set up a small lunar base for $10 billion or less, and we could do it by 2022.”

And that's five years from now

#Space

Sun, Feb 19th, 2017 11:00 by capnasty NEWS

In this slightly dated article on Popular Science, Sarah Fecht believes that in just a few years humans could potentially set up a fully-functional and affordable moon base thanks to current technology — most which has nothing at to do with space. Reportedly, self-driving cars and waste-recycling toilets are going to be "incredibly useful in space", making a moon-base an affordable reality.

"My interest is not the moon. To me the moon is as dull as a ball of concrete," says the astrobiologist. "But we're not going to have a research base on Mars until we can learn how to do it on the Moon first. The moon provides a blueprint to Mars."

A lunar base would provide a valuable opportunity to test out new propulsion systems, habitats, communications, and life support systems before astronauts bring them to Mars--a 9-month trip away, versus just a few days to the…

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"It's the equivalent of being able to see a grapefruit on the surface of the Moon."

The Event Horizon Telescope

#Space

Sat, Feb 18th, 2017 11:00 by capnasty NEWS

Using the Event Horizon Telescope, researchers are hoping to take a picture of Sagittarius A*, a huge black hole at the centre of our galaxy. Albeit the black hole has never been directly observed, researchers know it is there by the way it is impacting the orbit of near-by stars.

So what can we expect to see if the project is successful?

The researchers predict the black hole will look like bright ring of light around a dark blob.

The light is being emitted by gas and dust particles that are accelerated to high speeds just before they're ripped apart and consumed by the black hole. The dark blob would be the shadow cast over that chaos.

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Feb 10"90% of British civil service workers have jobs so pointless, they could easily be replaced by robots." #Future
Feb 12"Robots with legs can go a lot of places that wheels cannot.” #Robots
Jan 26"Oh, surprise. I got some pretzels for you." #Humour
Feb 14"Renewable are no longer ‘alternative.’ Rather, fossil fuels are increasingly ‘legacy.’" #Future
Feb 13"It could help usher in a new cycle-centric transport paradigm across the country.” #Travel
Jan 30“A self-learning robot could be handy for exploring distant planets, too.” #Robots
Jan 29“In the end all we do on social media is akin to a fart in a crowded room.” #Politics
Feb 17Leningrad's “Kolschik” #Music
Jan 23“There are things we can do that emulate natural systems to address the carbon problem.” #Environment
Feb 01"A robotic arm that prepares coffee like it would assemble a car on a factory floor." #Food
Jan 25“Regenerative medicines have the ability to restore or heal the body's own cells or create new body parts” #Health
Jan 24“The number of human employees may even drop to 20 someday.” #Robots
Feb 26“Super-intelligence is a serious danger for humanity, possibly even more dangerous than nuclear weapons.”
Feb 25"When it comes to growing intestines, the first inch is the hardest."
Feb 27“This is a really cool concept, but it’s not clear whether it will make its way off the drawing board.”
Jan 09CaptchaTweet: Write Tweets in Captcha Form
Feb 20“Mark Zuckerberg's manifesto [...] is a scary, dystopian document.”
Feb 10"90% of British civil service workers have jobs so pointless, they could easily be replaced by robots."
Feb 17Leningrad's “Kolschik”
Feb 18"It's the equivalent of being able to see a grapefruit on the surface of the Moon."
Feb 12"Robots with legs can go a lot of places that wheels cannot.”
Feb 14"Renewable are no longer ‘alternative.’ Rather, fossil fuels are increasingly ‘legacy.’"
Feb 13"It could help usher in a new cycle-centric transport paradigm across the country.”
Feb 24"Would we be forced, one day, to give machines rights?"