We hosted the Mardi Gras party on February 22, 3 weeks before our St. Urho's Day party. The Mardi Gras party was a huge success; we broke the 50-attendee mark for the first time, which was gratifying, yet which also brought its own problems. We ran out of f...
#Mensa Colloquium 2013
David Brin, "Probing Tomorrow's Undiscovered Possibilities"
#technology #science #fiction #futurism #sousveillance
"Pizza and beer: The cheapest possible consultant fees."
Brin asserts that science fiction should have been called "speculative fiction" because it takes the story of humans and extends it into the future.
"Our delusions are now art, to a large degree."
"My main job is to be a magician."
Brin believes the fundamental issue of Western civilization is how to escape the delusions we hold around what is true. We participate in thought experiments; sometimes we believe those thought experiments are real. We become deluded.
Brin coined the term "sousveillance."
The human propensity for delusion plus pyramidal social structure: what can break through that combination? How can we see through the delusions? Other people.
"Criticism is the only known antidote to arrogance."
"Your critics will give you the information you need to improve, and they'll do it for free."
#robots #disability #technology #war #military
Next speaker: Lt. Gen. Rick Lynch (US Army, retired), speaking on "Military Applications of Robotics: How Far Should We Go?"
His specialty is assistive robotics: Using robotic tech to help people with disabilities. Focusing on advanced tech to help humanity. Right now, they're working on the equivalent of Rosie the Robot in The Jetsons as an assistive device to help people maintain their independence. His institute (UTARI, University of Texas at Arlington Research Institute) is hosing a symposium on PTSD this month.
He's a three-star general. And he just gave out his email address. Why? Because he writes letters of thanks to military members, active and retired, on his three-star general stationery. He'll write letters to military members on request--he doesn't have to know the person. Beat that.
First robots on the battlefield were in WWII: The Goliath, developed by Germany. Looks like a small tank, with tracks and a central case. Used mostly on the Eastern Front; not reliable because small-arms fire would damage the tracks.
Battlefield robots are used against IEDs today, especially small surveillance robots (houses rigged for detonation, etc.). Larger robots are weaponized. Next generation of robots is geared toward development of humanoid robots to go into environments like the one found in the Fukushima reactor disaster.
UTARI just got a NSF grant to develop robotic skin with sensors inside the skin to enable the robot to interact with its environment. They're also working on microrobotics.
UAVs, both micro and full sized, are more network oriented than other military robots (flying is the key).
Q&A time: How far should we go?
Yesterday afternoon, I listed everything that's left to do for the party, up to the point on my Big Day list where we get 16 bags of ice from the store. The whole list came to less than half a sheet of notebook paper. Pretty cool! Because we're doing our ow...
#Mensa Colloquium 2013
Prof. Dave Goldberg, "A Hands-On Guide for the Practical Time Traveler"
#science #astrophysics #spaghettification
The Physics of Time Travel
Goldberg began by reviewing some basics of General Relativity (he's approaching the topic via gravity), then brought in Special Relativity (communications potentially occurring in the past) and the Twin Paradox (relative frameworks).
"Spaghettification" is the way that you get stretched and squeezed as you fall into a black hole. Goldberg notes that you have about 0.2 seconds between the time that you feel mildly uncomfortable from spaghettification and the time that you're torn apart; he recommends using that time to your advantage.
Wormholes: No observational evidence that wormholes exist; they would be subject to time dilation effects from relative frameworks. Another problem would be keeping them open so that they would be functional. "Exotic" energy appears to be what's necessary.
Some rules for time traveling:
1. There is just one timeline.
2. You can't visit any time before the time machine was built.
3. You can't visit parallel universes even if they exist.
Chronology Protection Conjecture (Stephen Hawking 1992): The possibility of paradox means time travel is impossible on macroscopic scales.
Goldberg ultimately believes that the laws of physics are OK with time travel.
#Mensa Colloquium 2013: Science and Science Fiction
Robert J. Sawyer, "Science Fiction and Prediction"
#futurism #fiction #writing
Sawyer started his talk by delineating the differences between science fiction and other genres, moved to defining the project of science fiction, and stressed the plausibility of the genre in contrast with other genres with which it is frequently associated (eg, fantasy).
Extrapolation is the key to prediction in science fiction, ie, reducing that aspect of the fictional. Rejection of the supernatural/magical/impossible and the mutability of human nature are the two key aspects of science fiction. In this genre, fundamental human attitudes and capacities can and will change. A third is the exponential rate of technological development.
Plausible futures continue past trends; implausible futures break from past trends. This is why science fiction is so different from other genres.
"Media sci-fi" -- the term used by science fiction writers to refer to film and television works using science fiction.
Four keys to extrapolation:
-recognition of changes in human nature
-appreciation of history
-understanding the rate of change is accelerating
-"The future doesn't happen one at a time." --John W. Campbell
Sawyer critiques 2001: A Space Odyssey for its narrow view of humans, even though it's his favorite science fiction film. 2001 is all white, with everyone speaking English as a primary language. It also exhibits a mindset of "profligate spending."
HAL in 2001 is an example of a "successful" extrapolation, ie,computers today have capabilities similar to HAL's. Having noted that, there are also key omissions and failures of prediction/extrapolation.
Where scientists are muzzled by funding-related constraints, ie, concerns about losing funding means that scientific results are presented in a diminished manner, science fiction writers are not so muzzled.
Three laws of futurics:
-what is happening will continue to happen
-consider the obvious seriously, for few people will see it
-consider the consequences
For Sawyer, the most important prediction made by science fiction is that there will be a future at all. Science fiction insists that humankind does have a future, despite the circumstances of the current day.
Circles for me:
Top Gear, muscle cars/supercars
Nerd Herd/science fiction/fantasy/comics/RPGs
Cyberpunk (does anyone use that word anymore?)
Vintage cocktails and lounge culture
You Can’t Fix a Body You Hate | Primitive Stimulus
You Can't Fix a Body You Hate. Posted on 13 May 2011 by jasons (27). Share. Tweet. I feel like I've already started a lot of posts t
Because the Internet Demands It, Here's Betty White in the Oval Office
Pete Souza/The White House There's an interesting read up at the Nieman Journalism Lab in which Gawker staffer Neetzan Zimmerman explains wh