He also envisions a future in which artificial intelligence surpasses human intelligence and spreads out across the universe, which he calls "the

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11 Δεκ 2013 (πριν από 4 χρόνια και 5 μήνες)

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Weekly QUEST Discussion Topics and News

March 8
, 2013

QUEST this week will concentrate on Capt Amerika’s recent conversations
with Christof

Koch and Gerald Edelman

the reading materials include
some articles that we

had previously been through


machines be
conscious' and 'test for

consciousness' as well as a recent new scientist
article 'the great illusion

of self'. If you are interested in reading through
these documents, as well as some supplementary powerpoints that CA has
put together to le
ad the discussion, please contact Adam Rogers or Cathy
Griffith and we can distribute individually.

News Articles



How to create a mind


Ray Kurzweil, 65 years old, joined

in December after spending
nearly five decades pioneering everything from machines that can
read text aloud to the blind to a music synthesizer that sounds like
a real piano…
"Law of Accelerating Returns."

This states that
technological progress increases
exponentially, eventually allowing
people to enhance their intelligence and live forever.
He also
envisions a future in which artificial intelligence surpasses human
intelligence and spreads out across the universe, which he calls "the

Mr. K
urzweil is now forming an engineering team at
Google's Mountain View headquarters, where he is attempting to
use software to replicate the human brain's "
pattern recognition"

a topic discussed in his new book, "How to Create a
Mind." The hope

to build a system with human
understanding of the world and, by giving it access to Google's
mighty index of digital information,
create the ultimate virtual

and more…
Ethan Kurzweil, 33, is a futurist through his
attempts to invest in the n
ext big thing. Earlier this year, he became a
partner at Bessemer Venture Partners, a Menlo Park venture
His Bessemer investments include online
dating site Zoosk Inc.
and CrowdFlower Inc., which helps companies quickly find workers
to perfor
m tasks online…

WSJ: What are the top technological achievements of the past five

Ray Kurzweil: The
concept of biotechnology has become real. Five
years ago, there were no examples of success. Now, if you damage
your heart in a heart attack, you can

fix that with stem
cell therapies.
You can get a trachea replaced with something grown in a petri dish.
It's treating the body as software…

WSJ: Do you really believe you can design software that matches the
complexity of human interaction?

We're at
the threshold where computers can understand
natural language, human language.
That's equivalent to doing
anything interactive. There have been text interactions where people
didn't know they were talking to a computer. Some people might say,
"Oh, that's s
limited." Watson beat the "Jeopardy!" [game show]
champions, and that's not a narrow game. It has riddles. If a
computer has access to Google scale information, it can get real
knowledge and…can enhance answers to search queries. We're not
trying to crea
te human
level performance right away…

WSJ: What will happen technologically in the next five years?

Ray: My message is the law of accelerating returns and how
remarkably predictable the exponential growth of IT is. More and
more things become IT, like hea
lth and medicine. There will be 3
printing, augmented reality.

Ethan: Every step along the way will freak people out.

Ray: With
nanodevices that will be implanted in our bodies to repair
us, putting technology in our bloodstream, lots of people will opt
at first


EEG for determining consciousness


Anesthesiologists have limited ways of tracking what’s happening in
the unconscious brain…Researchers have identified patterns of brain
activity that correlate to the loss and recovery of consciousness while
a patient undergoes general anesthesia. Their fi
yesterday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
, could one day help anesthesiologists better monitor
consciousness in their patients..

Some hospitals and researchers use
electroencephalographic (EEG) monitoring, which measures electrical
activity in the brain’s cortex through electrodes on the scalp, but this
data is typically simplified into a single number or index to assess a
s level of consciousness. “The real thorn in the side of the
indices is they suppose the people are unconscious at the same
indices, that it applies for all people across all drugs, and that just
cannot be”… The team recorded EEG patterns in 10 healthy
unteers while giving them increasing and then decreasing levels of
a widely used anesthetic called propofol. The participants listened to
verbal cues such as their name and auditory clicks and were told to
press a button in response to each, which the rese
archers used as a
sign of loss or recovery of consciousness…team found unique
patterns in the brain waves of the volunteers as they lost and then
regained consciousness. Changes in the relationship between brain
waves of different frequencies predicted the

transitions into and out
of consciousness. The team also identified a pattern in the
participants’ brain waves that was associated with the deepest state
of unconsciousness. The patterns, or “signatures,” could one day be
used to monitor and control sedat
ion and unconsciousness in
patients given propofol…real beauty of the study is the promise of
being able to differentiate between normal drug
induced and injury
induced sleep…Clear EEG signatures for each state could help guide
anesthesiologists, although
the timing of the analysis would have to
be very fast for it to be useful during procedures…“The current depth
of anesthesia monitoring happens with one to two channels of EEG
placed over the frontal brain, not because that area is the most
important as fa
r as consciousness is concerned, but because it is an
easy place to stick to the head,”…


Quantum and cyber


Uninterrupted electricity protects the nation's infrastructure and its
computing and communication networks from malicious cyber
attacks and accidental failures. But In today
’s world of cyber

phishing scams, logic bombs, Trojan horses, viruses and worms

threats to the American power grid abound…
To maintain control,
data must be transmitted rapidly, securely and seamlessly between
control centers. And traditional
cryptographic techniques struggle to
meet the need for speed and security…Using quantum cryptography,
Los Alamos National Laboratory has developed a method to detect
and defeat an adversary intent on intercepting or attacking power
grid communications. New

technologies like this system are critical to
protecting critical national infrastructure…traditional cryptology,
information is encoded and decoded with mathematics; in quantum
cryptology, physics protects data instead, using photons to transmit a
ngle photons are used to produce secure random numbers
between users. Once the photon key is transmitted, then coding and
encoding can take place. Because the random numbers are produced
securely, they act as a cryptographic key to authenticate and encrypt

the power grid data and commands…team has also invented a novel
miniaturized quantum cryptography transmitter. Called the QKarD, it
is about five times smaller than traditional devices. The Los Alamos
team is seeking funding to develop an even smaller QKa
rD using
integrated electro
photonics methods…


How does Google work



you see are a product of complex machinations, and for the
first time, Google is giving people a behind
scenes look at how
search works…Google has launched a new site, "How Search Works,"
featuring a clever infographic that not only reveals the proces
s of
search, but gives a real
time view of spam removal

a key
component that shows the pages users don't see are just as
important as those they do when it comes to good results…numbers
tell the story.

"crawls" and tracks trillions of Web pages,
ranking each page's importance based on more than 200 algorithms
or formulas. Since its start in 1997, Google has accumulated about
100 million gigabytes of informatio
n…Google has fielded 450 billion
time searches and many more that are duplicates of those..

Google's methods have already eliminated a lot of the garbage on
the Web. Every day, millions of worthless pages are created, which
Google lumps together as s
pam. Spam sites have long tried to trick
Google into thinking they're legitimate, using methods like cloaking
(displaying different content to human users than is shown to search

Google has automated formulas to find these pages and
has a team th
at reviews questionable pages as well. On its new site,
you can see pages that
Google has removed

in the last 30 minutes or




Creating a work of art is one of those activities

we reserve for
humans and humans only. It's an act of self
expression; you're not
supposed to be able to do it if you don't have a self. To see creativity,
the exclusive domain of humans, usurped by a computer built by a
old is to watch a line blu
r that cannot be unblurred, the line
between organic intelligence and artificial intelligence…But now, 46
years later, Kurzweil believes that we're approaching a moment
when computers will become intelligent, and not just intelligent but
more intelligent t
han humans. When that happens, humanity

bodies, our minds, our civilization

will be completely and
irreversibly transformed. He believes that this moment is not only
inevitable but imminent. According to his calculations, the end of
human civilizat
ion as we know it is about 35 years away…Computers
are getting faster. Everybody knows that. Also, computers are getting

that is, the rate at which they're getting faster is
increasing…So if computers are getting so much faster, so incredibly
fast, there might conceivably come a moment when they are capable
of something comparable to human intelligence. Artificial
gence. All that horsepower could be put in the service of
emulating whatever it is our brains are doing when they create

not just doing arithmetic very quickly or composing
piano music but also driving cars, writing books, making ethical
cisions, appreciating fancy paintings, making witty observations at
cocktail parties.

If you can swallow that idea, and Kurzweil and a lot of other very
smart people can, then all bets are off. From that point on, there's no
reason to think computers would

stop getting more powerful. They
would keep on developing until they were far more intelligent than
we are. Their rate of development would also continue to increase,
because they would take over their own development from their
thinking human crea
tors. Imagine a computer scientist that
was itself a super
intelligent computer. It would work incredibly
quickly. It could draw on huge amounts of data effortlessly. It
wouldn't even take breaks to play Farmville…The one thing all these
theories have in c
ommon is the transformation of our species into
something that is no longer recognizable as such to humanity circa
2011. This transformation has a name: the Singularity…


Drones in the US


U.S. Department of Homeland Sec
urity has customized its Predator
drones, originally built for overseas military operations, to carry out
home surveillance tasks that have civil libertarians worried:
identifying civilians carrying guns and tracking their cell phones,
government docume
nts show…documents provide more details
about the surveillance capabilities of the department's

Predator B drones
, which are
primarily used to patrol the
United States' northern and southern borders but have been pressed
into service on behalf of a growing number of law enforcement
agencies including the FBI, the Secret Service, the Texas Rangers, and
local police…Electronic Pri
vacy Information Center obtained

partially redacted copy

of Homeland Security's requirements for its
drone fleet through the Freedom of Information Act and published it
this week
. CNET unearthed an

unredacted copy

of the requirements
that provides additional information about the aircraft's surveillance
capabilities…Concern about

domestic use of drones

is growing,

federal legislation

introduced last month that would establish
legal safeguards, in addition to
parallel efforts

underway from state
and local lawmakers. The Federal Aviation Administration

that it will "address privacy
related data collection" by drones…f
the Predator drones were used only to identify smugglers or illegal
immigrants crossing the Mexican and Canadian borders, or

disaster relief
, they might not be especially controversial. But
their use domestically by other government agencies has become
routine enough

and expensive enough

that Homeland Security's
inspector general said (
) last year that CBP needs to sign
agreements "for reimbursement of expenses incurred fulfilling
mission requests."…


Google glasses


Google potentially struck a new blow against privacy when it posted
video preview of its new "Glass" technolog

tech spectacles
featuring a revolutionary digital interface that enable its wearers to
not only view the world through Google's eyes but also
automatically photograph all that they see…
EU is concerned about
the way
in which Google has, since last March, been pooling the
data of its individual users across its popular services like search,
Gmail, Google+ and YouTube in order to bundle them up for

anxiety over this aggregation of our personal
information is twofold. Firstly, Google has done little, if anything, to
inform users of this unilateral change. Secondly, Google hasn't
offered users a way of opting out.

Google insists its priva
cy policies
respect European laws and simply help enhance user experiences.
But in the eyes of the EU, those of us using products like YouTube,
Gmail or Google+ are being, to borrow a Microsoft coined neologism,
" by Google's new privacy policy...

Google Glass opens an
entirely new front in the digital war against privacy.
These spectacles,
which have been specifically designed to record everything we see,
represent a

developmental leap in the history of data that is
comparable to moving from the bicycle to the automobile…
Apple is
supposedly working on its
anticipated wristw

wearable personal data devices from companies like Nike and Fitbit
are already beginning to revolutionize the healthcare industry…


Nature of intelligence


Luca Giomi and pals at Harvard University in Cambridge provide a
hint that the answer could be much simpl
er and significantly stranger
even than that. They say complex collective behaviour emerges from
the mechanics of moving through an environment. In other words,
no special communication, social rules or group intelligence is
required….These guys make their

discovery using BristleBots, simple
automatons made from a toothbrush head and a cellphone vibrator

Put a few of these into a circular enclosure and they wander
around at random…

increased the number of BristleBots, they began
to self
organise int
o things like swirling swarms. The transition from
disorder to order is triggered only when the density reaches some
threshold…significantly more to this situation than the random
motion of dumb automatons. The BristleBots are able to detect and
react to a
spects of their environment in the sense that they change
direction when they bounce off the confining walls and off each
other…It is this factor

the ability to interact with the environment
and other BristleBots in the simplest manner

that leads to the se
organised behaviour…idea that the interaction between moving
objects and their environment can lead to intelligent
like behaviour is
by no means new. One interesting example is a

seemingly intelligent
blob of oil that is able to navigate its way through a maze
…not hard
to imagine the Bristlebots demonstrating more intelligent
behaviour by interacting together in more complex
interesting question is whether there are any rules
that govern the kinds of collective behaviours that emerge;

emerging behaviour can be engineered in a reproducible way…