We’re Underestimating the Risk of Human Extinction

Why now?

I’m certainly not the first but even I have been prattling on about extinction level threats for over 15 years. This, after all is what “god” was talking about when we met in 2000. And I painted some of the threats we can look forward to a few years back when I wrote Reasons to be fearful” (Ch 10 part 2) in 2005. And Resurrection was, in part, inspired by Nick Bostrum’s original essay on the Simulated Universe Argument.

So what’s new? Why has he surfaced here? Answers should be attached in the usual way (or, if you’re not a WordPress blogger, email me)

Full article at Atlantic

Lytro – Light Field Cameras

dunno whether to be pleased it’s finally arrived or pissed off that I missed my own commercial opportunity.

I’ve been interested in light field technology for about 10 years. I didn’t even know, until recently, it was called “light field technology”, although I had encountered Plenoptics. The reason I became interested was in connection with VR technology and why the VR helmets continue to fail.

I eventually concluded that the cause was the cognitive dissonance caused by the conflict between the eye’s accommodation and the brain’s 3D mapping function where, inside a typical VR helmet, each eye is tightly focussed on an image a couple of inches away while the brain is knitting two such images together and concluding that the object being focussed on is, say, 20 feet away. “Tilt”, say’s the brain, “one of my sources must be lying! If you don’t sort it out, I’m going to make you extremely nauseous in about 20 minutes”

The solution, I concluded, was to present the eye with the same data it would see in the real world, rather than the pre-focussed image presented in a VR helmet. I had no idea how to achieve that and came across Plenoptics in my search.

It now seems that Lytro has cracked the image capture problem with their light field camera. I’m wondering, therefore, whether it has occurred to them that they’ve probably also cracked the VR problem and, if so, when can we expect to see the commercial versions of their VR helmets.

Incidentally, you may have assumed from this interest that I’m a gaming freak or similar. I’m not and never have been. My interest is philosophical/academic as I view genuine VR as a major step on the road to our digital future…



if you haven’t already, download and install “Collusion” into your browser now. Assuming that is, that your browser is Firefox. The rest of you must, I’m afraid, continue to live in blissful ignorance. At least spend a few minutes on this site to see what you could be learning about what the “owners” are already learning about you…


Iran draws veil over secure internet access • The Register

this would be less interesting if it weren’t for the fact that today, we’ve also seen the bizarre announcement by armoured dinner jacket that Iran is about to announce “major nuclear progress

I suspect the two are closely connected. Either they don’t want details (other than the ones they want us to know) to leak, so they’re seizing control of the means of communication. Or they don’t want us to know what the local reaction may be to whatever they’re about to announce; so they’re seizing control of the means of communication…

As to what they’re about to announce, my money’s on a Nuclear Reactor (or a key stage in its development). Were it to be what the tabloids are likely to speculate (if they haven’t already – oh wait a minute, yes they have. Imagine my surprise…) – the announcement of a working atomic bomb – then that would probably trigger an attack by Israel within 72 hours. And America would have no choice but to endorse the attack. I suspect the Iranians are more than capable of making the same judgment and I suspect (hope) they’re not quite as insane as they are painted.

If it is “merely” the imminent prospect of a working reactor rather than working bomb, the development would be entirely in line with their long standing stated aims: Peaceful use of nuclear power. And no such military first strike would be justified. They will hope that the hawks in Israel and the Pentagon will be wrong footed.

If I’m wrong about this, it might be a good time to join the preppers

Iran draws veil over secure internet access • The Register.

New Wind Turbine Design Can Triple Energy Production! – YouTube

seriously sexy development in Wind Technology. And I don’t say that lightly. Or often…

New Wind Turbine Design Can Triple Energy Production! – YouTube.

A Swarm of Nano Quadrotors – YouTube

extremely cool and they’re only going to get smaller and cooler – expect hd video from a swarm of gnats sometime in the next decade or two. Trouble is, it’s starting its life in the wrong hands…

A Swarm of Nano Quadrotors – YouTube.

Google and Your Memory – Online Colleges

the key passage in this interesting summary is:

“Our Recall is flawed. Every time we recall a memory we also remake it. Google acts like a fact checker, helping us avoid many errors.”

It’s not quite that simple because google gives you access to the wrong answers just as easily as the right ones, but with a bit of practice, you can learn how to assess the validity of the online sources. (The shortcut is to use wiki, which is now at least as reliable as the “professional” encyclopaedias)

Nevertheless, that key function is rapidly changing the world at micro and macro levels. Arguments over trivial facts (who sung that song, starred in that movie etc) were the first to go. Not because of google but rather because of broadband. Once we had a permanent online connection and it became trivial to fire up the browser and look up the answer to the question, many people, rather than argue the toss (and, perhaps more importantly, rather than be made to look foolish) started saying “why not look it up on the web”. Google’s dominance arose later, when it made itself the superior search engine.

Nowadays, the same functionality is available on any decent smartphone so the same access to instant answers is available wherever we have a decent signal.

The social and political significance of this technological achievement is even more important than it’s potential for changing our psychology and brain function. It means that it’s becoming increasingly difficult for politicians and other manipulators to lie to us. This is the root of the authoritarians’ battle to control the internet. Whether they’re conservatives, communists or creationists, they’d all prefer you to see only the messages they approve.
Google and Memory
Research and Design by: Online Colleges Site