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Science & Technology

“Advanced Life May Exist in a Form That’s Beyond Matter” Astrophysicists Claim

Astrophysicist Paul Davies at Arizona State University suggests that advanced technology might not even be made of matter. That it might have no fixed size or shape; have no well-defined boundaries. Is dynamical on all scales of space and time. Or, conversely, does not appear to do anything at all that we can discern. Does not consist of discrete, separate things; but rather it is a system, or a subtle higher-level correlation of things.

Are matter and information, Davies asks, all there is? Five hundred years ago, Davies writes, ” the very concept of a device manipulating information, or software, would have been incomprehensible. Might there be a still higher level, as yet outside all human experience, that organizes electrons? If so, this “third level” would never be manifest through observations made at the informational level, still less at the matter level.

We should be open to the distinct possibility that advanced alien technology a billion years old may operate at the third, or perhaps even a fourth or fifth level -all of which are totally incomprehensible to the human mind at our current state of evolution.

Susan Schneider of the University of Pennsylvania appears to agree. She is one of the few thinkers—outside the realm of science fiction— that have considered the notion that artificial intelligence is already out there, and has been for eons.

Her study, Alien Minds, asks “How would intelligent aliens think? Would they have conscious experiences? Would it feel a certain way to be an alien?”

While we are aware that our culture is anthropomorphizing, Schneider imagines that her suggestion that aliens are supercomputers may strike us as far-fetched. So what is her rationale for the view that most intelligent alien civilizations will have members that are superintelligent AI?

Schneider presents offer three observations that support her conclusion for the existence of alien superintelligence.

The first is “the short window observation”: Once a society creates the technology that could put them in touch with the cosmos, they are only a few hundred years away from changing their own paradigm from biology to AI. This “short window” makes it more likely that the aliens we encounter would be postbiological.

The short window observation is supported by human cultural evolution, at least thus far. Our first radio signals date back only about a hundred and twenty years, and space exploration is only about fifty years old, but we are already immersed in digital technology.

Schneider’s second argument is “the greater age of alien civilizations.” Proponents of SETI have often concluded that alien civilizations would be much older than our own “…all lines of evidence converge on the conclusion that the maximum age of extraterrestrial intelligence would be billions of years, specifically [it] ranges from 1.7 billion to 8 billion years.

If civilizations are millions or billions of years older than us, many would be vastly more intelligent than we are. By our standards, many would be super-intelligent. We are galactic babies. But would they be forms of AI, as well as forms of super-intelligence? Schneider says, yes. Even if they were biological, merely having biological brain enhancements, their super-intelligence would be reached by artificial means, and we could regard them as being “artificial intelligence.”

But she suspects something stranger than this: that they will not be carbon-based. Uploading allows a creature near immortality, enables reboots, and allows it to survive under a variety of conditions that carbon-based life forms cannot. In addition, silicon appears to be a better medium for information processing than the brain itself. Neurons reach a peak speed of about 200 Hz, which is seven orders of magnitude slower than current microprocessors.


Science & Technology

The first ever SpaceX rocket launch with crew will be shown online

May 27, 2020 may go down in the history of astronautics as the day when people first reached the orbit of the Earth on aircraft, fully developed by a private company and owned by it. Previously, without the participation of state organizations, people were only launched into suborbital flights.

The SpaceX-created by Elon Mask, a partially reusable heavy Falcon 9 booster rocket and the Crew Dragon passenger ship, should launch today from the launch site at Cape Canaveral in Florida. The task – to deliver to the International Space Station two NASA astronauts, Doug Hurley and Bob Benken.

Elon Musk tweeted a photograph of the launch site this early morning:

The live broadcast of the launch, which is tentatively scheduled for 16:33 by the east coast of the United States, can be viewed on the official NASA YouTube channel:

As confirmed by CBS News in the press service of the White House, President Donald Trump, despite the ongoing epidemic of COVID-19, decided to personally attend the historic launch and will arrive at Cape Canaveral. Last week, Trump said he was “thinking” about visiting the cosmodrome and added that he would gladly send journalists on a rocket into space to get rid of them for a while. 

True, the start may still be postponed due to bad weather. If the conditions prove to be unfavorable, it will be postponed to the 30th or 31st of May.

The first SpaceX passenger ship, the Crew Dragon, is an evolution of the Dragon transporter, which has recently made several deliveries to the ISS. In total, it can take on board up to 7 crew members, but this time only two will fly, and the rest of the space will be taken by cargo.

The interior of the ship reminds of sci-fi films, and touch screens are used for control, as in electric cars of another company Ilona Mask, Tesla.

The last time the United States National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) launched its astronauts from the United States on an American spacecraft in July 2011. After the crash of the “space shuttle” Columbia in 2003, it was decided to gradually phase out the shuttle program and focus on developing a new ship that would also be suitable for traveling to the moon.

The first manned space flight, organized by a private company, took place back in 2004 – the SpaceShipOne rocket plane with pilot Brian Bonnie on board, reached a height of 100 km above the surface in a suborbital flight and successfully returned to Earth. For comparison, the altitude of the orbit of the ISS, where the Crew Dragon astronauts go, exceeds 400 km. 

SpaceShipOne was developed and launched by Mojave Aerospace Ventures, a joint venture between Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen and engineer Burt Rutan of Scaled Composites.

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Science & Technology

Scientists have created a robotic eye that is completely similar to human

The developers plan to make it completely autonomous due to power from sunlight.

Scientists have created an artificial eye, the device of which almost completely copies the structure of the human organ of vision. Its diameter is about two centimeters, it has a retina made of nanowires and a lens for focusing light instead of the lens. The article describing the development was published by the scientific journal Nature.

We can see due to the fact that the light that enters the eyes passes inside them through the lens system and enters the photoreceptors in the retina. They convert particles of light into signals that are transmitted to the brain. Scientists have long been trying to reconstruct this complex system to create robots or in order to try to restore lost vision to people.

Another and relatively successful attempt to achieve this was made by scientists led by Zhiyong Fang of Hong Kong University of Science and Technology. The artificial eye that they created looks like a ball about two centimeters in diameter, filled with a fluid that conducts electric current. The eye of an adult is about the same size, inside it is also filled with a jelly-like liquid.

The device can see thanks to an artificial retina made of photosensitive nanowires. They are made on the basis of perovskite – a hybrid material, which due to its unique structure is now widely used in solar panels. Nanowires react to light and transmit a signal about it further like the photoreceptors of the human eye.

To test whether this eye can see, scientists projected images of several letters onto it. The device successfully recognized the letters I, E, and Y. However, while it creates an image of rather poor quality – about 100 pixels, compared with 120-140 megapixels of the human eye.

For operation, the device needs an external power source. However, scientists plan to make the artificial eye self-contained so that the device works like a small solar cell.

Among other plans of scientists – to check whether it is possible to subculture these nanowires to the human optical nerve. In addition, the developers hope to increase the quality of the picture to the level of the human eye and even surpass it by an order of magnitude.

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Science & Technology

Is humanity getting dumber?

Shot from the movie "Dumb and Dumberer: When Harry Met Lloyd"

For most of human history, people have become smarter. But now the opposite is true. If in the past the average IQ score increased, now everything is going in the opposite direction and people are getting dumber. 

You just don’t think – this is not a judgment, but a fact: in many leading countries, IQ indicators began to decline. And at this very time, technology is becoming smarter. Creepy, right? But it really gets scary from the fact that there are many scientific studies confirming that humanity is rapidly becoming stupid. Moreover, scientists seriously fear for our common future. Does this really mean that idiocracy – the degradation of the world’s population due to the rapid deterioration of people’s mental abilities – is inevitable?

The film “Dumb and Dumber” shows what life can be like for people of the future. 
No kidding

An IQ test or intelligence test measures parameters such as spatial thinking, vocabulary size, the ability to abstract mind-sets, and classify information.

Were people smarter in the past?

According to the famous psychologist James Flynn, a huge number of factors affect our intellectual abilities – from air quality to choosing a life partner. Also, do not underestimate the influence of random factors – as the BBC Future writes , even a job loss or personal tragedy can negatively affect the level of intelligence. Moreover, researchers agree that in general about 80% of adult intelligence is predetermined by genes.

Flynn, a professor at New Zealand University of Otago, is seriously concerned about the future of mankind. The professor is convinced that the views of the younger generation on current problems are too superficial, which leaves much room for manipulation of their consciousness by politicians and the media. However, in general, the scientist looks at the situation positively. The fact is that in the first half of the twentieth century, Flynn discovered an obvious increase in IQ indicators. This effect is called the Flynn effect. But if we really got smarter half a century ago, then what happens today?

People are getting stupid at the same pace as they used to get smarter

According to the results of an already famous study of scientists from the Norwegian Ragnar Frisch Center for Economic Research, the level of intelligence today drops by an average of seven points in ten years. In the course of their work, the researchers analyzed the 730,000 IQ tests that Norwegian men underwent before compulsory military service from 1970 to 2009.

If this trend continues – and the study has been severely criticized because of the limited sample – after about 10 generations, the IQ level will drop from 130 (“very high”) to 69 (“extremely low”). But there is even more frightening news – experts found that every decade IQ fell by 1.23 points. This means that over the course of a century and a half, the overall decline has already reached 14 points. It is noteworthy that what is happening there are many potential explanations, ranging from environmental issues and the quality of food, ending with the lack of exercise and a long stay at the computer.

Do you alos having problems understand what is written on the board? 
What does that say about you?

The forecast of scientists is not at all comforting: if this continues further, then in the not too distant future, a person in his mental abilities will approach a … developed monkey.

No less exciting are the results of another study, this time larger. A few years ago, an international team of scientists wanted to test the level of education of modern people and residents of the Victorian era from 1837 to 1901. The conclusions were not comforting – about a century and a half ago, people were much more developed and inventive.

Scientists came to such conclusions after evaluating the reaction rate – in 1889, the reaction rate of men was 183 milliseconds, but men of the 21st century react to external stimuli at a speed of 253 milliseconds. For women, everything is about the same – instead of 188 milliseconds in the 19th century, the reaction rate dropped to the 261st millisecond. Such slowness and inhibition, as the researchers note, is a weak coefficient of intelligence in humans.

Unfortunately, Flynn today admits that IQ growth in the 20th century has staggered. A number of studies using a variety of well-established IQ tests and metrics have revealed declines in Scandinavia, the UK, Germany, France and Australia. Details vary from research to research and from place to place. But the overall picture has become much clearer: since the 21st century, many of the most economically developed countries have faced a decline in IQ.

Well, reverse evolution is evolution too!

Are we waiting for idiocy?

As in the film “Idiocracy”, the assumption that the average intelligence of mankind is reduced due to the fact that families with lower IQ have more children (dysgenic fertility) has been repeatedly expressed. However, a study conducted in Norway in 2018 showed that IQ falls not only in different societies, but also in families. Even children born to parents with high IQ roll down the IQ ladder. Some environmental factor — or a combination of factors — causes a decrease in the IQ of parents and their own children, as well as older children and their younger brothers and sisters.

In the end, it will be great if we can determine the exact reason for the decline in IQ before we finally go stupid. By the way, the fact that everyone sets new temperature records – and heat reduces mental abilities by as much as 13% – also does not add optimism. One way or another, the problem really exists and requires the attention of researchers around the world. Especially in view of the threats that climate change poses to the world.

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