Category Archives: Science

Economies of scale

In microeconomics, economies of scale are the cost advantages that enterprises obtain due to size, output, or scale of operation, with cost per unit of output generally decreasing with increasing scale as fixed costs are spread out over more units of output. Often operational efficiency is also greater with increasing scale, leading to lower variable cost as well. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Economies_of_scale Enjoy the Day... Brian Sullivan

Enthusiasts and Skeptics Debate Artificial Intelligence | Vanity Fair

WHOA! When I was a kid I loved Star Trek and Tom Swift too, as the Singularitarians do. I saved up for a mail-order computer kit in the 1960s. My inclination has been to nod in hopeful agreement with Arthur C. Clarke’s three laws—that when a distinguished scientist says something’s possible he’s probably right, but when he says something’s impossible he’s probably wrong; that “the only way of discovering the limits of the possible is to venture a little way past them into the impossible;” and that “any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” http://www.vanityfair.com/news/tech/2014/11/artificial-intelligence-singularity-theory Enjoy the Day... Brian Sullivan

Enthusiasts and Skeptics Debate Artificial Intelligence | Vanity Fair

Before long—in 15 years, 20, 25—I think we will start treating the smartest computers differently from the way we’ve ever treated machines. When pieces of A.I. software become the greatest Method actors ever, as convincing at playing people as Daniel Day-Lewis, we will bit by bit suspend our disbelief in machine consciousness. Gradually, we’ll start to treat machines more like beings than things—as even the Singularity skeptics grant. Already, Lanier pointed out, there are plenty of people who treat their dogs as human, as more than human. Machines, Kapor said, “could emerge into their own category that’s quite distinctive—maybe related, second or third cousin, but not us. Dogs are a species of sentient beings; they have a kind of personhood. Nobody would confuse them with people, they’re fundamentally different, but we share something. If we do get to a point where you could in good faith say, ‘The machine is suffering,’ that would be huge.” When People for the Ethical Treatment of Machines is formed in 2030, don’t be surprised. http://www.vanityfair.com/news/tech/2014/11/artificial-intelligence-singularity-theory Enjoy the Day... Brian Sullivan

Enthusiasts and Skeptics Debate Artificial Intelligence | Vanity Fair

Of course, the Singularitarians insist that theirs is not a faith-based dream at all. Yet their shape of things to come looks an awful lot like a millenarian vision of earthly paradise: no more hunger or poverty or illness or, finally, death. And that’s only the beginning of what Kurzweil actually calls “a manifest destiny.” Later in this century, he has explained, after the Singularity has moved us from the present Epoch Four to Epoch Five, we enter Epoch Six, the final one. “Swarms of nanobots infused with intelligent software as scouts” will head out from Earth to “harvest” and transmute every suitable material on nearby planets and asteroids into something called “computronium”—that is, “matter and energy organized optimally to support intelligent computation.” In time, as his vision unfolds, machine intelligence will “saturate the universe.” Finally, “the universe wakes up,” and the transcendently intelligent hybrid human-machine civilization of the future will “engineer the universe it wants. This is the goal of the Singularity.” http://www.vanityfair.com/news/tech/2014/11/artificial-intelligence-singularity-theory Enjoy the Day... Brian Sullivan

Enthusiasts and Skeptics Debate Artificial Intelligence | Vanity Fair

Lanier’s position is that even if human-equivalent intelligence is a soluble engineering problem, it’s essential that we continue to regard biological human consciousness as unique. “If you don’t believe in consciousness” as both real and the defining essence of humanity, he explained, then “you end up devaluing people.” On the other hand, the Singularitarians’ belief that we’re biological machines on the verge of evolving into not entirely biological super-machines has a distinctly religious fervor and certainty. “I think we are going to start to interconnect as a human species in a fashion that is intimate and magical,” Diamandis told me. “What I would imagine in the future is a meta-intelligence where we are all connected by the Internet [and] achieve a new level of sentience. . . . Your readers need to understand: It’s not stoppable. It doesn’t matter what they want. It doesn’t matter how they feel.” http://www.vanityfair.com/news/tech/2014/11/artificial-intelligence-singularity-theory Enjoy the Day... Brian Sullivan

Enthusiasts and Skeptics Debate Artificial Intelligence | Vanity Fair

“IT’S NOT STOPPABLE” In this debate, each side accuses the other of being crypto-religionists, and both sides are correct. The contest is between one quasi-religious hunch versus another. They tend to agree that we may never know for sure—objectively, scientifically—if any machine is conscious. (And as the great technology writer George Dyson, author of Turing’s Cathedral, told me, “a real artificial intelligence would be intelligent enough not to reveal that it was genuinely intelligent.”) Where they differ is how to deal with that difficulty. The Singularitarians would take any apparently sentient machine at its word. They consider the skeptics old-fashioned anthropocentric scaredy-cats, clinging to an outmoded conception of human beings—special, purely flesh and blood, uniquely conscious—and refusing to accept our next stage of evolution into human-machine hybrids. Kurzweil calls it “fundamentalist humanism.” http://www.vanityfair.com/news/tech/2014/11/artificial-intelligence-singularity-theory Enjoy the Day... Brian Sullivan

Enthusiasts and Skeptics Debate Artificial Intelligence | Vanity Fair

Today’s big data and mass-market A.I., in Lanier’s view, amount to a stupendous con: Google, YouTube, Facebook, and every other crowd-sourced digital business are Tom Sawyer, and we’re whitewashing their fences for free because they’ve bedazzled and tricked us into thinking it’s fun. For Web search, for translation, for Siri, “masses of people have to contribute examples, which are then rehashed to create the illusion of machine intelligence. A.I. has turned into this way of masking human contributions, a way of devaluing people and ruining economic opportunity for the people who make technology work, the masses of people who create big data. So A.I. does not exist. . . . It’s just the modern word for plutocracy.” http://www.vanityfair.com/news/tech/2014/11/artificial-intelligence-singularity-theory Enjoy the Day... Brian Sullivan

Enthusiasts and Skeptics Debate Artificial Intelligence | Vanity Fair

First, the politics. Diamandis talks a lot about “the grand challenges” of “the billion-person problems,” by which he means the wretched conditions in which the world’s poorest people live. “How many equivalents of Da Vinci and Edison,” he said to me, “have come into existence in parts of the world without communications and are never heard from?” When I sat down with Kapor near his weekend home in Healdsburg, a yuppified old Sonoma County town north of San Francisco, he said almost exactly the same thing: “The amount of sheer genius that is being completely wasted—who knows what brilliant discoveries would be made if we weren’t throwing so much away?” http://www.vanityfair.com/news/tech/2014/11/artificial-intelligence-singularity-theory Enjoy the Day... Brian Sullivan

Enthusiasts and Skeptics Debate Artificial Intelligence | Vanity Fair

MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE After the war, as the computer era began in earnest, Turing published a paper arguing that machines would eventually become intelligent, and suggesting a practical test, an “imitation game,” in which computers would attempt to fool people by passing for human. Remarkably, the paper—written in 1950, when a state-of-the-art, 14-ton computer had a memory equal to a few pages of text—lays out the basic terms of the Singularity debate as it exists today. Turing paraphrases each of the major objections to the idea of truly intelligent machines—technical, religious (“Thinking is a function of man’s immortal soul”), humanist (“The consequences of machines thinking would be too dreadful”), the problems of understanding real life’s ambiguous informal rules (such as driving), and the presumed impossibility of a computer achieving consciousness (“Not until a machine can write a sonnet or compose a concerto because of thoughts and emotions felt . . . could we agree that machine equals brain”). http://www.vanityfair.com/news/tech/2014/11/artificial-intelligence-singularity-theory Enjoy the Day... Brian Sullivan

Enthusiasts and Skeptics Debate Artificial Intelligence | Vanity Fair

Autonomous machines now make half the trades on Wall Street, meaning, for instance, that a firm will often own a given stock for less than a second—thus the phrase “high-frequency trading,” the subject of Flash Boys, Michael Lewis’s book earlier this year. (Trading by machines is one reason why a hoax A.P. tweet last year about a White House bombing made the Dow Jones Industrial Average suddenly drop 146 points.) Google’s test fleet of a couple dozen robotic Lexuses and Priuses, after driving more than 700,000 miles on regular streets and highways, have been at fault in not a single accident. Meanwhile, bionic and biological breakthroughs are radically commingling humans and machines. Last year, a team of biomedical engineers demonstrated a system that enabled people wearing electrode-embedded caps to fly a tiny drone helicopter with their minds. http://www.vanityfair.com/news/tech/2014/11/artificial-intelligence-singularity-theory Enjoy the Day... Brian Sullivan

FM broadcasting in the United States

High power is useful in penetrating buildings, diffracting around hills, and refracting for some distance beyond the horizon. 100,000 watt FM stations can regularly be heard up to 100 miles (160 km) away, and farther (e.g., 150 miles, 240 km) if there are no competing signals. A few old "grandfathered" stations do not conform to these power rules. WBCT (93.7) in Grand Rapids, Michigan, runs 320,000 watts ERP, and can increase to 500,000 watts ERP by the terms of its original license. This huge power level does not usually help to increase range as much as one might expect, because VHF frequencies travel in nearly straight lines over the horizon and off into space. Nevertheless, when there were fewer FM stations competing, this station could be heard near Bloomington, Illinois, almost 300 miles (480 km) distant. http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/FM_broadcasting_in_the_United_States Enjoy the Day... Brian Sullivan

FM broadcasting in the United States

The shift in popularity of FM radio over AM in United States during the 1970s has been called by record producer Steve Greenberg "a seismic technological shift that had torn apart the very idea of the mass audience upon which pop hits depended".[6] During the 1970s, FM radio experienced a golden age of integrity programming, with disc jockeys playing what they wanted, including album cuts not designated as "singles" and lengthy progressive rock tracks. http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/FM_broadcasting_in_the_United_States Enjoy the Day... Brian Sullivan

FM broadcasting in the United States –

The move of the FM band, an organized campaign of misinformation by RCA (a company that competed with FM radio by focusing on AM radio and the emerging technology of television), and adverse rulings by the FCC severely set back the development of FM radio. As late as 1947, in Detroit, there were only 3,000 FM receivers in use for the new band, and 21,000 obsolete ones for the old band.[5] On March 1, 1941 W47NV began operations in Nashville, Tennessee, becoming the first modern commercial FM radio station. However, FM radio did not recover from the setback until the upsurge in high fidelity equipment in the late 1950s. http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/FM_broadcasting_in_the_United_States Enjoy the Day... Brian Sullivan