(CNN)Neil Harbisson is the world’s first legally recognized cyborg. He has an antenna implanted into his skull that gives him access to something he was born without: the ability to see color. 

[READ MORE]



First-ever human head transplant is now possible, says neuroscientist



An Oculus Rift For Chickens Gives Animals The Freedom To Roam Without The Roaming

…
It sounds absurd because it is, in part; Stewart’s so-called Second Livestock project is actually more of a social experiment than a genuine project aiming to bring virtual reality to farm flocks. He’s pitching it via a website with a deadpan seriousness that is fairly convincing, right down to the description of what are essentially high density livestock condominium complexes that purport to generate as little waste as possible by recycling waste and using animal body heat as the source for facility environment controls.
Stewart’s MO is to create tech-based projects that shed light on our relationship with gadgets and the world, however, and the way in which we can sometimes lean too heavily on tech in pursuit of relatively simple ends without stopping to consider how we might do it better without the bells and whistles. But in the end, the project isn’t designed to purely deride tech, its users or the people he claims to be selling to. Instead, Stewart hopes to spark discussion among even audiences that normally gloss over tech pitches about what we’re creating with digital environments.

An Oculus Rift For Chickens Gives Animals The Freedom To Roam Without The Roaming

It sounds absurd because it is, in part; Stewart’s so-called Second Livestock project is actually more of a social experiment than a genuine project aiming to bring virtual reality to farm flocks. He’s pitching it via a website with a deadpan seriousness that is fairly convincing, right down to the description of what are essentially high density livestock condominium complexes that purport to generate as little waste as possible by recycling waste and using animal body heat as the source for facility environment controls.
Stewart’s MO is to create tech-based projects that shed light on our relationship with gadgets and the world, however, and the way in which we can sometimes lean too heavily on tech in pursuit of relatively simple ends without stopping to consider how we might do it better without the bells and whistles. But in the end, the project isn’t designed to purely deride tech, its users or the people he claims to be selling to. Instead, Stewart hopes to spark discussion among even audiences that normally gloss over tech pitches about what we’re creating with digital environments.


Stephen Hawking Says A.I. Could Be Our ‘Worst Mistake In History’

The world’s most famous physicist is warning about the risks posed by machine superintelligence, saying that it could be the most significant thing to ever happen in human history — and possibly the last.

Stephen Hawking Says A.I. Could Be Our ‘Worst Mistake In History’

The world’s most famous physicist is warning about the risks posed by machine superintelligence, saying that it could be the most significant thing to ever happen in human history — and possibly the last.



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Here’s How Technology Is Ruining Your Sleep
Business Insider | April 2014 

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Here’s How Technology Is Ruining Your Sleep

Business Insider | April 2014 



!!! One rat brain 'talks' to another using electronic link: Scientists have connected the brains of lab rats, allowing one to communicate directly to another via cables.

Wired brain implants allowed sensory and motor signals to be sent from one rat to another, creating THE FIRST EVER BRAIN-TO-BRAIN INTERFACE.

The experiment: 

The researchers first trained pairs of rats to solve a simple problem - pressing the correct lever when an indicator light above the lever switched on, to obtain a water sip.

The researchers then placed the rodents in separate chambers and connected their brains using arrays of microelectrodes - each roughly one hundredth the diameter of a human hair - inserted into the area of the cortex that processes motor information.

One rat was designated as the “encoder”. Once this rat pressed the correct lever, its brain activity was delivered as electrical stimulation into the brain of the second rat - designated the “decoder”.

The decoder rat had the same types of levers in its chamber, but it did not receive any visual cue indicating which lever it should press to obtain a reward.

In order to receive the reward, the decoder rat would have to rely on the cue transmitted from the encoder via the brain-to-brain interface. "Basically [the second rat] is working as… a biological computer."

The team members then conducted trials to determine how well the decoder animal could decipher the brain input from the encoder rat to choose the correct lever. The decoder rat ultimately achieved a maximum success rate of about 70%.

[Professor Nicolelis] also thinks the idea could be extended to humans.

"We will have a way to exchange information across millions of people without using keyboards or voice recognition devices or the type of interfaces that we normally use today," he said.

"It’s an exciting paper which basically shows that it is possible to take information out of the brain, and it is possible to take information and pump it into the brain.”



It’s the birthday of Steve Jobs, born in San Francisco (1955),

who dropped out of college after a semester, went to India in search of spiritual enlightenment, returned a devout Buddhist, experimented with LSD, and then got a job with a video game maker, where he was in charge of designing circuit boards for one of the company’s games.

He co-founded Apple Computers, and in a commercial during the Super Bowl in January 1984 he unveiled the Macintosh. The commercial was filled with allusions to George Orwell’s 1984. The Macintosh was the first small computer to catch on with the public that used a graphical user interface, or GUI (sometimes pronounced “gooey”). In the past, computers were run by text-based interfaces, which meant that a person had to type in textual commands or text labels to navigate their computers. But with a graphical user interface, people could simply click on icons instead of typing in hard-to-remember, precise text commands. He said his goal in computers was to “create a bicycle for the mind.”

The graphic user interface revolutionized computers, and it’s on almost all computers today. It’s on a whole lot of other devices as well, like fancy vending machines and digital household appliances and photocopying machines and airport check-in kiosks. And graphical user interface is what’s used with iPods and iPhones.

Jobs was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2003. He opted for a variety of alternative treatments, but eventually — in 2004 — he underwent surgery to remove the tumor. His health began to decline in 2009, and the disease claimed him in October 2011. He was 56.

Jobs once said, “Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.”

(Source.)



Facebook Monitors Your Chats for Criminal Activity [REPORT]

Facebook and other social platforms are watching users’ chats for criminal activity and notifying police if any suspicious behavior is detected, according to a report.

The screening process begins with scanning software that monitors chats for words or phrases that signal something might be amiss, such as an exchange of personal information or vulgar language.

The software pays more attention to chats between users who don’t already have a well-established connection on the site and whose profile data indicate something may be wrong, such as a wide age gap. The scanning program is also “smart” — it’s taught to keep an eye out for certain phrases found in the previously obtained chat records from criminals including sexual predators.

If the scanning software flags a suspicious chat exchange, it notifies Facebook security employees, who can then determine if police should be notified.

Keeping most of the scanned chats out of the eyes of Facebook employees may help Facebook deflect criticism from privacy advocates, but whether the scanned chats are deleted or stored permanently is yet unknown.

The new details about Facebook’s monitoring system came from an interview which the company’s Chief Security Officer Joe Sullivan gave to Reuters. At least one alleged child predator has been brought to trial directly as a result of Facebook’s chat scanning, according to Reuters’ report.

When asked for a comment, Facebook only repeated the remarks given by Sullivan to Reuters: “We’ve never wanted to set up an environment where we have employees looking at private communications, so it’s really important that we use technology that has a very low false-positive rate.”

Facebook works with law enforcement “where appropriate and to the extent required by law to ensure the safety of the people who use Facebook,” according to a page on its site.

“We may disclose information pursuant to subpoenas, court orders, or other requests (including criminal and civil matters) if we have a good faith belief that the response is required by law. This may include respecting requests from jurisdictions outside of the United States where we have a good faith belief that the response is required by law under the local laws in that jurisdiction, apply to users from that jurisdiction, and are consistent with generally accepted international standards.

“We may also share information when we have a good faith belief it is necessary to prevent fraud or other illegal activity, to prevent imminent bodily harm, or to protect ourselves and you from people violating our Statement of Rights and Responsibilities. This may include sharing information with other companies, lawyers, courts or other government entities.”

Indeed, Facebook has cooperated with police investigations in the past. In April, it complied with a police subpoena from the Boston Police Department by sending printouts of wall posts, photos and login/IP data of a murder suspect.



8bitfuture:

Printable solar cells could turn anything into an energy source.
A team at MIT has developed a process to ‘print’ solar cells onto almost any surface. Using chemical vapour deposition, the process uses “abundant organic molecules” to convert about 2 percent of the available energy into light. Typical solar panels are around 12-17% efficient, but the team thinks 10% efficiency is achievable.

The cost of installing panels keeps many people from adopting solar power, Barr says. By integrating it into ordinary materials, he thinks he can clear that hurdle. “You’re already hanging a curtain in your house,” he says. “Why not add some energy to that?”

8bitfuture:

Printable solar cells could turn anything into an energy source.

A team at MIT has developed a process to ‘print’ solar cells onto almost any surface. Using chemical vapour deposition, the process uses “abundant organic molecules” to convert about 2 percent of the available energy into light. Typical solar panels are around 12-17% efficient, but the team thinks 10% efficiency is achievable.

The cost of installing panels keeps many people from adopting solar power, Barr says. By integrating it into ordinary materials, he thinks he can clear that hurdle. “You’re already hanging a curtain in your house,” he says. “Why not add some energy to that?”



Is Facebook Making Us Lonely?

Social media—from Facebook to Twitter—have made us more densely networked than ever. Yet for all this connectivity, new research suggests that we have never been lonelier (or more narcissistic)—and that this loneliness is making us mentally and physically ill. A report on what the epidemic of loneliness is doing to our souls and our society.



Inside Google X, the company's top-secret lab of the future | NYTimes

MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. — In a top-secret lab in an undisclosed Bay Area location where robots run free, the future is being imagined.



This Is Your Brain on Twitter - NYTimes.com

“Our brains were never even designed to read. This “technology” is something that we have to train our brains to do…There is a fear by many, Mr. Keller included, that these devices will wipe out our ability to remember and force us to become dependent on the virtual world. Luckily for us humans, our brains do not work this way. Research shows that the human brain is capable of adapting to new technologies in less than a week, irrelevant of age or intellect.




Contact lenses will project images directly onto your eyeballs
Researchers at the University of Washington have been working on extremely tiny and semi-transparent LEDs designed to be integrated into contact lenses. So far, they’ve managed to create red pixels and blue pixels, and when they can figure out green ones, they’ll be able to make full color displays.
Despite being millimeters from your retinas, the images created by the lenses will be in perfect focus, and when the display is turned off, everything will be transparent. Since the lenses are inside your eyelids, though, you can’t un-see anything that they decide to project, which is something that you’ll have to consider when you’re watching something especially scary or gross on them. Power will come from a beltpack that transmits electricity wirelessly to a resonating antenna in the lens itself, and data will be transmitted the same way so that you don’t have to plug HDMI cables into your eye sockets.
(more at NewScientist.)

Contact lenses will project images directly onto your eyeballs

Researchers at the University of Washington have been working on extremely tiny and semi-transparent LEDs designed to be integrated into contact lenses. So far, they’ve managed to create red pixels and blue pixels, and when they can figure out green ones, they’ll be able to make full color displays.

Despite being millimeters from your retinas, the images created by the lenses will be in perfect focus, and when the display is turned off, everything will be transparent. Since the lenses are inside your eyelids, though, you can’t un-see anything that they decide to project, which is something that you’ll have to consider when you’re watching something especially scary or gross on them. Power will come from a beltpack that transmits electricity wirelessly to a resonating antenna in the lens itself, and data will be transmitted the same way so that you don’t have to plug HDMI cables into your eye sockets.

(more at NewScientist.)



TED Talk: Amber Case: We are all cyborgs now

Technology is evolving us, says Amber Case, as we become a screen-staring, button-clicking new version of homo sapiens. We now rely on “external brains” (cell phones and computers) to communicate, remember, even live out secondary lives. But will these machines ultimately connect or conquer us? Case offers surprising insight into our cyborg selves.

Compare with article on the effects of the Internet, below.



On the Internet | by Justin E.H. Smith

The Internet, it seems, is destroying everything. In the aftermath of its Shiva-like arrival, the rest of the world now appears shabby, neglected, left over.

It has destroyed or is in the process of destroying long-familiar objects: TVs, stereos, telephones, newspapers, musical instruments, clocks, books. It is also destroying institutions: stores, universities, banks, happy hours, travel agencies. Teleconferencing is increasingly obviating the need for travel; Wikipedia is now vastly superior to anything Diderot could have imagined (and unlike the Encyclopédie, Jimmy Wales’s creation is perpetually improvable). As a friend recently put it to me: to denounce Wikipedia is like denouncing the Enlightenment. Nay more: Wikipedia is the Enlightenment realized, for better or worse.

The Internet has concentrated once widely dispersed aspects of a human life into one and the same little machine: work, friendship, commerce, creativity, eros. As someone sharply put it a few years ago in an article in Slate or something like that: our work machines and our porn machines are now the same machines. This is, in short, an exceptional moment in history, next to which 19th-century anxieties about the railroad or the automated loom seem frivolous. Looms and cotton gins and similar apparatuses each only did one thing; the Internet does everything. 

It is the nuclear option for human culture, unleashed, evidently, without any reflection upon its long-term consequences. I am one of its victims, caught in the initial blast wave. Nothing is the same anymore, not reading, not friendship, not thinking, not love. In my symptoms, however,  I resemble more the casualty of an opium war than of a nuclear war: I sit in my dark den and hit the ‘refresh’ button all day and night. When I go out, I take a portable dose in my pocket, in the form of a pocket-sized screen. You might see me hitting ‘refresh’ as I’m crossing the street. You might feel an urge to honk.

A few years ago I saw an image in a newspaper of a camp for South Korean teenagers, sent there by their parents in the hope of breaking them of their Internet addiction. It showed them in the middle of a soccer field, wearing helmets, looking terrified. I know exactly how they felt. Sometimes as I’m walking down the street hitting ‘refresh’, I am made abruptly aware of the intrusion of physical reality, of midsized physical objects in motion, and I wish my body were better protected from them. I wish they would go away. They belong to a sputtering, wheezing world of rusty old buggies and abandoned factories. They have no place in 2011.

Of course, their world is not the world, and it never was all that was meant by ‘reality’. Theirs is only the human social world, the world we’ve built up by art and artifice, the world of nature transformed for our vain and largely illusory purposes. If then there is a certain respect in which it makes sense to say that the Internet does not change everything, it is that human social reality was always virtual anyway. I do not mean this in some obfuscating Baudrillardian sense, but rather as a corollary to a thoroughgoing naturalism: human institutions only exist because they appear to humans to exist; nature is entirely indifferent to them. And tools and vehicles only are what they are because people make the uses of them that they do.

Consider the institution of friendship. Every time I hear someone say that Facebook ‘friendship’ should be understood in scare quotes, or that Facebook interaction is not real social interaction, I feel like asking in reply: What makes you think real-world friendships are real? Have you not often felt some sort of amical rapport with a person with whom you interact face-to-face, only to find that in the long run it comes to nothing? How exactly was that fleeting sensation any more real than the discovery and exploration of shared interests and sensibilities with a ‘friend’ one knows only through the mediation of a social-networking site?

The world of face-to-face interaction is growing rusty, slipping into the past with the books and the clocks. But lo: there’s something left over, something that can’t be further virtualized by transferring it to the Internet because it was never virtual to begin with. I have in mind nature, now often described metonymically as ‘meat’, but in fact also including vegetables, water, air, rocks, and the celestial bodies. What is really falling away are only the artefacts: social reality is discarding its crutch-objects and its transitional institutions, leaving nothing but a void between meatspace and screenspace, between nature and what is left of the social. At least for now, however, there are still those artefactual jalopies coughing out fumes, blighting an otherwise pristine landscape of trees and air and rocks, ruining things for those of us meat-beings that would prefer to have it one way or the other: plainly natural, or wholly virtual.

Today the Internet is in fact doing what the most grandiose claims about the book maintained that that humble object could do: duplicate the world, provide a perfect reflection of the order of nature (which properly understood was itself a book). In this respect the Internet is not really a machine or engine, even if things that clearly are contribute to its genealogy. It is not like those things that transform nature by hydraulics and pyrotechnics and so on. It does not require you to wear a helmet. Its history may be traced back in part to Agostino Ramelli’s book-wheel (pictured above), one of the ‘diverse and artifactitious machines’ described in his 1588 book of that name, but in order to understand its power (destructive and otherwise), one would be mistaken in concentrating on the mechanics of it. One would do better to trace it back far further, to holy scripture, to runes and oracle bones, to the discovery of the possibility of reproducing the world through manipulation of signs.

Whether, then, you see the world destroyed by the Internet as a world worth losing has much to do with whether you take the machine or the book as the epitome of human endeavor– that is, whether you think humans are here to transform nature, or rather to comprehend and perhaps to appreciate it. I belong squarely in the latter camp, and while I may look now like a fiend and a victim, crouched in front of my screen, I can’t help but think that what I am doing here is something fundamentally human, and even that it is the culmination of what humans have been striving imperfectly to do for a very long time.