From mechanical turks to science fiction novels, our mobile phones to The Terminator, we’ve long been fascinated by machine intelligence and its potential — both good and bad. We spoke to philosopher Nick Bostrom, author of Superintelligence: Paths, Dangers, Strategies, about a number of pressing questions surrounding artificial intelligence and its potential impact on society.
On 17 July 2014, the Namibian, a local daily in Namibia, reported a rather momentous event: the development of a biocultural community protocol of the Khoe community of the Bwabwata National Park — the first of its kind in Namibia.
Why study paradoxes? The easiest way to answer this question is with a story: In 2002 I was attending a conference on self-reference in Copenhagen, Denmark. During one of the breaks I got a chance to chat with Raymond Smullyan, who is amongst other things an accomplished magician, a distinguished mathematical logician, and perhaps the most well-known popularizer of `Knight and Knave’ (K&K) puzzles.
America’s system of residency training — the multi-year period of intensive clinical study physicians undergo after medical school and before independent practice — has dual roots. It arose in part from the revolution in scientific medicine in the late nineteenth century and the infatuation of American educators of the period with the ideal of the German university.
Everything in the natural world has structure – from the very small, like the carbon 60 molecule, to the very large such as mountains and indeed the whole Universe. Structure is the connecting of parts to make a whole – and it occurs at many different levels. Atoms have structure. Structures of atoms make molecules, structures of molecules make tissue and materials, structures of materials make organs and equipment and so on up a hierarchy of different levels as shown in the figure. Within this hierarchy of structure, man-made objects vary from the very small, like a silicon chip to the very large like a jumbo jet.
Ebola is a widely known, but poorly understood, virus. Even in West Africa, in the middle of the 2014 West African Ebola Epidemic, the vast majority of patients with a differential diagnosis of Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) will in fact be suffering with something else serious and potentially fatal.
Pain is a universal experience. Throughout time, everyone knows what it feels like to be in pain — whether it’s a scraped knee, toothache, migraine, or heart attack. Although the feeling of pain may remain the same, the ways in which it was described, treated, and interpreted in the 18th and 19th centuries varies greatly from the ways we regard pain today. The below slideshow of images from The Story of Pain by Joanna Burke will take you on a journey of pain throughout history.
The consequences of traumatic brain injury (TBI) are sizable in both human and economic terms. In the USA alone, about 1.7 million new injuries happen annually, making TBI the leading cause of death and disability in people younger than 35 years of age. Survivors usually exhibit lifelong disabilities involving both motor and cognitive domains, leading to an estimated annual cost of $76.5 billion in direct medical services and loss of productivity in the USA.
It was the nest-building season, but after days of long hard work, the sparrows sat in the evening glow, relaxing and chirping away.
Facebook celebrated its tenth anniversary in February. It has over 1.2 billion active users — equating to one user for every seven people worldwide. This social networking phenomenon has not only given our society a new way of sharing information with others; it’s changed the way we think about “liking” and “friending.”
We all know that reading books to our young children is good for them. Teachers, pediatricians, and former First Ladies all tout the value of reading to kids. Contrary to conventional wisdom, however, reading books to children does not help them learn to read.
So far it has been an unusually warm and sunny summer in the United Kingdom, but unfortunately this clement weather has not been matched by the news coverage of world events, which for months has been overcast and stormy as war and tragedy have stalked Europe and the Middle East. But there was a break […]
A large variety of complex systems in ecology, climate science, biomedicine, and engineering have been observed to exhibit so-called tipping points, where the dynamical state of the system abruptly changes. Typical examples are the rapid transition in lakes from clear to turbid conditions or the sudden extinction of species after a slightly change of environmental conditions. Data and models suggest that detectable warning signs may precede some, though clearly not all, of these drastic events. This view is also corroborated by recently developed abstract mathematical theory for systems, where processes evolve at different rates and are subject to internal and/or external stochastic perturbations.
It’s beautiful, our English language — fluid and expressive, colorful and lively. And it’s changeable. New words appear all the time. Consider “selfie” (a noun), “problematical” (an adjective), and “Google” (a noun that turned into verbs.) Now we have two more: “anti-vax” and “anti-vaxxer.”
Egyptian mummies continue to fascinate us due to the remarkable insights they provide into ancient civilizations. Flinders Petrie, the first UK chair in Egyptology did not have the luxury of X-ray techniques in his era of archaeological analysis in the late nineteenth century. However, twentieth century Egyptologists have benefited from Roentgen’s legacy.
At a time when the press and broadcast media are overwhelmed by accounts and images of humankind’s violence and stupidity, the fact that our race survives purely as a consequence of Nature’s consent, may seem irrelevant.