Good news for humanity: Germany joins list of countries that won’t use autonomous weapons

Lieutenant General Ludwig Leinhos, head of Germany’s Cyber and Information Space Command, told panel members at the Munich Security Conference yesterday that Germany would abstain from using autonomous weapons. According to the “Campaign To Stop Killer Robots” Germany joins 22 other countries in pledging to keep AI-powered weapons off the battlefield. That leaves just 170 countries who’re either undecided or not interested in banning autonomous weaponry. Reuters reports General Leihnhos told the panel Germany needed to prepare to defend itself against such weapons, but had no plans to obtain them: We have a very clear position. We have no intention…

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The Next Web

A Renowned Futurist Says We Should Merge With AI to Protect Humanity

Artificial intelligence (AI) is already besting human intelligence in a number ways. Google and DeepMind’s AlphaGo Zero is arguably the greatest Go player in the world, and it learned the game by teaching itself. DeepMind researchers claim they never even reached the limit of the AI’s potential, meaning it could be capable of even more impressive tasks.

AlphaGoZero is just one of many AIs under development across the globe, and as the industry continues to grow, these systems are going to get smarter and smarter. According to futurist Ian Pearson, humanity’s only option if it wants to maintain pace is to merge with AI.

Pearson made this assertion today, February 13, during a panel hosted by CNBC at the World Government Summit in Dubai.

“The fact is that AI can go further than humans, it could be billions of times smarter than humans at this point,” said Pearson. “So we really do need to make sure that we have some means of keeping up. The way to protect against that is to link that AI to your brain so you have the same IQ…as the computer.”

Pearson isn’t the first to suggest humans merge with AI. Elon Musk has floated the idea in the past, and he even started a company, Neuralink, to work on developing the technology necessary to make it happen.

Pearson cited Musk’s reservations about developing advanced AI during the panel: “I don’t actually think it’s safe, just like Elon Musk…to develop these superhuman computers until we have a direct link to the human brain…and then don’t get way ahead.”

Some foresee such a merger leading to the creation of enhanced humans.

During a World Government Summit panel on Monday, Sebastian Thrun, founder of Udacity and co-founder of Google X, said he believed AI would eventually make people “superhuman,” and last year, Ray Kurzweil, Google’s chief engineer, said AI would enhance, rather than displace, humanity.

In truth, augmenting humans was on a lot of people’s minds at the World Government Summit, which drew industry leaders, experts, and government officials from around the world.

“Such a gathering has been much needed and will help the international community embrace the enormously positive impact of AI while at the same time getting prepared to mitigate potential downsides,” Cyrus Hodes, Vice President and Director of the AI Initiative, told Futurism.

If Pearson is right, we’ll need all of those powerful minds working together to ensure humans remain in control of AI and not the other way around.

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Point ‘n Tap Adventure ‘The Uncertain’ Coming December 7th – Experience the End of Humanity

I think by now it’s fair to say that robots will outlive us all (especially if Elon Musk continues to build autonomous vehicles), and the upcoming adventure game The Uncertain explores the possibility of such a future. In The Uncertain, which is making its jump over from Steam, you play as an engineering robot called RT-217NP, who (just like Wall-E) is very curious about the human race, which has managed to wipe itself out in a series of (probably unnecessary and stupid) wars. He can only experience humanity through the items it has left behind. But, as is usually the case, there’s a mystery waiting to be solved.

The Uncertain is a classic 3D Adventure game (so expect to combine inventory objects and solve plenty of puzzles) with a nice art style and interesting ideas. It’s also an episodic adventure game, so we are only getting Episode 1 (which offers around 4 hours of gameplay). Episode 1 of The Uncertain will release December 7th and will cost $ 2.99, not much to witness the end of humanity. Head over to our forum thread for more.


New Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Poised To Transform Humanity

Prosthetics and Mind Control

According to studies presented at Neuroscience 2017, the annual gathering of the Society for Neuroscience, technology that allows prosthetics to be controlled by the human brain is progressing at an unprecedented rate.

There are millions of people around the world that are unable to use some part of their body as a result of illness, injury, or amputation. While the field of prosthetics has come a long way, even the best solutions typically only offer partial functionality.

“Unlike many pharmacological or biologic therapies to help people with neurological injuries or disease, engineering solutions have the potential for immediate and sometimes dramatic restoration of function,” said Leigh Hochberg of Massachusetts General Hospital, Brown University, a neurotechnology expert who moderated the conference. “It is really exciting to see how the growth of fundamental neuroscience and neuroengineering research over many years is leading to the creation of technologies that will help to reduce the burden of neurological and psychiatric disease.”

However, we’re now able to create prosthetics that interface directly with the human nervous system and organic tissue. By leveraging advances in brain-computer interfaces, we might be able to produce replacement body parts that offer far more capability than is currently available.

The findings presented at the event included word that neural signals from a spinal cord taken from a rodent had been used to control cultured muscle fibers in a lab setting. This could cultivate further investigations into how the nervous system controls the movement of a body.

An amputee’s prosthetic hand was also shown to improve the subject’s motor skills and reduce phantom pain, contributing to a greater sense of ownership over the replacement body part. Furthermore, a tetraplegic patient was seen to adapt their neural activity in order to maintain control of a brain-computer interface.

These developments are all very encouraging in their own right, but taken as a whole they demonstrate just how quickly this field is progressing forward. The next few years should yield some impressive results in terms of new prosthetics – and we’re already seeing some groundbreaking projects come to pass.

Augmented Humans

It’s a grim reality that soldiers often need prosthetic limbs once their tour of duty comes to an end. To that end, the US Department of Veteran Affairs has become a major force in pushing forward the state of prosthetics. The research and development that it supports doesn’t just benefit military personnel, but all manner of people.

The First Cyborg Olympics [INFOGRAPHIC]
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Lots of work is being done to ensure that replacement limbs are better than ever before – but it’s not just the top tier of prosthetics that are being improved. 3D printing is allowing for solutions to become more widely available and at a lower cost.

The ability to replace body parts isn’t just limited to prosthetic limbs. A 3D printed heart recently underwent trials, and could reportedly perform all the functions of the real thing. There are even ongoing efforts to create wireless ‘cyborg eyes’ that would allow blind people to see once again.

New advances in brain-computer interfaces could benefit all kinds of projects. Whether it’s a replacement eye, or a prosthetic leg, the ability to control the synthetic body part as naturally as possible is a huge step forward from previous methodology.

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The World’s Scientists Just Issued an Official “Warning to Humanity”

Second Notice

The profound, negative effect of human activity on our environment is widely discussed, yet many continue to deny that we have a problem. In an attempt to remedy that, more than 15,000 scientists from 184 countries signed “World Scientists’ Warning to Humanity: A Second Notice,” an article published in the November 13 issue of BioScience.

The scientists’ warning outlines the specific dangers of the path we’re currently taking and offers suggestions for setting a new course. The idea is to energize the public to put pressure on governments around the world to address the issue.

Our Warming World: The Future of Climate Change [INFOGRAPHIC]
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This effort follows in the footsteps of “World Scientists’ Warning to Humanity,” an article published by the Union of Concerned Scientists in 1992. A total of 1,700 experts signed off on that document, which should demonstrate just how much more worrisome the situation has gotten over the last quarter-century.

“[A Second Notice] is a way to revisit the warning that was put out 25 years ago and kind of take stock — What has happened since? Has there been progress? — to revisit the questions that warning put out there,” paper co-author Eileen Crist of Virginia Tech told Futurism.

Point of No Return?

According to the latest “Warning to Humanity” article, the situation is undeniably bleak, with the authors providing a host of damning statistics that illustrate just how much damage has already been done over the past 25 years.

The amount of fresh water available per capita has dropped by 26 percent. Almost 300 million acres of forestland have been destroyed. The global population of mammals, amphibians, reptiles, birds, and fish has dropped by 29 percent, while the human population has increased by 35 percent.

“The consensus is that we have not done enough,” said Crist. She notes the Montreal Protocol and its effect on ozone depletion as an exception, but acknowledges that most issues have grown worse.

“Deforestation continues, and we’re in the throes of a mass extinction event. Scientists warn that, in this century, if we continue to go as we’ve been going, we’re likely to lose 50 to 75 percent of the Earth’s species,” said Crist. “The importance of that cannot be overstated. This is not something that can be fixed. It’s not something that has a solution later on. It’s just permanent.”

The “Warning to Humanity” article isn’t just a recap of the current situation, though. It also notes measures that could potentially reverse some of the damage that’s already been done or at least mitigate the impact moving forward.

These actions include the establishment of more protected wild spaces on land and at sea, better anti-poaching regulations and restrictions of wildlife trading, improvements to programs that offer family planning and education to women, a widespread shift toward plant-based diets, and a far-reaching transition to renewable and otherwise green sources of energy.

Closing the Gap

To Crist, there’s clearly a disconnect between the way experts look at the impact human activity is having on our environment and the way the general public sees the situation.

“There is a really big gap between what the scientific community knows, and is aware of, and is writing about, and what is generally out there in the public,” she said, acknowledging that “the public” is an amorphous group, and it’s not entirely accurate to make a sweeping generalization.

Ideally, the report will help narrow that gap by providing the average person with access to a large quantity of scientifically accurate information, getting members of the public rethinking their stance on environmental issues. “We are hoping that our paper will ignite a wide-spread public debate about the global environment and climate,” co-author William Ripple said in a press release.

However, he also acknowledges the potential for a different reading. “Some people might be tempted to dismiss this evidence and think we are just being alarmist,” said Ripple. “Scientists are in the business of analyzing data and looking at the long-term consequences. Those who signed this second warning aren’t just raising a false alarm. They are acknowledging the obvious signs that we are heading down an unsustainable path.”

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