The Parable of the Superhero Movie

You’ve been bitten by a radioactive spider. Or, you come from a doomed planet in the far reaches of space. Maybe, you’re a god, or the child of a god-king. Perhaps you are just an incredibly rich billionaire, philanthropist, playboy or, heaven forbid, orphan. But, the crux of the story is - you have power. [...]

Why we like a good robot story | OUPblog

We have been telling stories about machines with minds for almost three thousand years. In the Iliad, written around 800 BCE, Homer describes the oldest known AI: “golden handmaidens” created by Hephaestus, the disabled god of metalworking. They “seemed like living maidens” with “intelligence… voice and vigour”, and “bustled about supporting their master.” In the Odyssey, Homer [...]

Neil Armstrong’s Spacesuit Was Made by a Bra Manufacturer | History | Smithsonian Magazine

For the suit’s creator, the International Latex Corporation in Dover, Delaware, the toughest challenge was to contain the pressure necessary to support life (about 3.75 pounds per square inch of pure oxygen), while maintaining enough flexibility to afford freedom of motion. A division of the company that manufactured Playtex bras and girdles, ILC had engineers [...]

We’re Better Equipped to Find Extraterrestrial Life Now Than Ever Before | Science | Smithsonian Magazine

... however small the probability of seeing a signal from E.T. is, those chances are soon going to be a lot better than they have been in the past. Sure, after decades of listening, there is still no message. But with more data to sift through, and new technologies with superior search capabilities, odds of [...]

All the world’s a stage – buskers can make it big in a connected world

Street musicians are the producers of sidewalk melodies, the authors of the soundtrack of our cities. There is a unique interrelation between buskers and fans that occurs only in the streets, with no security staff, no VIP seats, or entrance fee. In the past two decades, the audience for street performers has grown from dozens [...]

Navigating the Digitisation of Geopolitics | ORF

From the steam engine to penicillin to the atom bomb, the development and deployment of frontier technologies have always been intimately tied to geopolitical disruptions. Those disruptions often manifest as a race towards the acquisition of new technologies – or diplomatic elbowing to consolidate gains from scientific breakthroughs and keep these out of reach of challengers. Tensions fuelled by digital technologies are the [...]

Biosphere 2 |

Free MOOC available through Coursera! This online course will take you on an incredible journey around Planet Earth and beyond. We WELCOME you to take advantage of this exciting opportunity! — Read on biosphere2.org/

How an Interstellar Starship Could Actually Explore Alpha Centauri

Last year, Stephen Hawking and Russian billionaire Yuri Milner hatched an ambitious plan to send a tiny probe to the Alpha Centauri star system. Travelling at 20 percent the speed of light, the researchers weren’t entirely sure how the probe was supposed to stop once it arrived at its destination, or whether it would even [...]

How Humanity Could Last Forever

Our species will face no shortage of existential risks in the coming decades, whether it be from nuclear war, climate change, a bioengineered pandemic, artificial superintelligence, molecular nanotechnology, or threats we have yet to conceive. Despair, cynicism, and misanthropy will get us nowhere, and we need to start thinking of practical ways to ensure the [...]