God and the Robots

I have in mind writing a non-fiction book called God and the Robots. Here’s a first look at my early book proposal.  ——————————————– In the summer of 2015, two stories were on the front page of the New York Times. The stories did not appear to be related. The first was an announcement that a group of technical luminaries – including Elon Musk and Stephen Hawking – had signed a statement calling for governments to outlaw the building of autonomous killing weapons, or so-called “Terminator” machines.[1] The other was a story about a well-meaning robot called “hitchBot” being destroyed by vandals while hitchhiking across the United States.[2] The first story was about how...

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October fun – a chilling story

For the month of October, my alter-ego Nicholas Hallum (who writes horror and strange horror-inflected SF) created a chilling  tale designed to keep you up at night. This is also my first experiment with Kindle PRE-ORDER. The NEW 20-page story “SANCTUARY” will appear on October 25. But if you put in a Pre-Order today, the story will jump to the top of the horror list on that release day. Think you can help make that happen? Pre-Order this eerie little gem of a story, and let’s do this together! Here’s the cover to get you excited. ((Ok, you’ll pardon me, I need to go finish revisions on this story…. hope something creepy doesn’t get me before the story hits deadline!)  Please like &...

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Ancient Virus DNA Gives Stem Cells the Power to Transform

candidscience: A virus that invaded the genomes of humanity’s ancestors millions of years ago now plays a critical role in the embryonic stem cells from which all cells in the human body derive, new research shows. The discovery sheds light on the role viruses play in human evolution and could help scientists better understand how to use stem cells in advanced therapies or even how to convert normal cells into stem cells. Embryonic stem cells are pluripotent, meaning they are capable of becoming any other kind of cell in the body. Scientists around the world hope to use this capability to help patients recover from injury and disease. Researchers have struggled for decades to figure out how pluripotency works. These new findings reveal that “material...

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Post-Humanity and Terminator

I’ve had some fun recently watching and reading about the Terminator series. It’s not a bad attempt to bring a large SF franchise into the more constrained world of TV, and there’sconsiderable fan momentum If you were creating an artificial lifeform from the ground-up, what kinds of elements would you use? First, in any kind of hostile environment, it would be wise to create an internal skeleton made of a matrix of some sort of highly flexible yet very strong metal. A network that would carry materials to re-build and upgrade internal systems — the best way of communicating would be through a chemical/electrical metallic soup of individually independent systems — little nano-like magnetized iron particles, each of which would contain...

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Recent Research: Symbolic Machines

The assumption that ‘raw’ matter such as silicon, metals, and ceramics can be organized in such a manner that they can give rise to a mental state that we can recognize as consciousness, is a fundamental underpinning of the effort to create artificial intelligence. As philosopher of mind Nick Bostrom points out: Substrate-independence is a common assumption in the philosophy of mind. The idea is that mental states can supervene on any of a broad class of physical substrates. Provided a system implements the right sort of computational structures and processes, it can be associated with conscious experiences. It is not an essential property of consciousness that it is implemented on carbon-based biological neural networks inside a cranium; silicon-based processors...

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