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Time and space travel concept abstract background

What If Only Part of You Could Be Teleported? — Sci-Fi Saturday

A rooftop smoke break reveals a dreadful secret

“Liminal” at DUST by Collin Davis and Matt Litwiller (July 19, 2021, 6:47 min) From the producers: “Liminal explores big ideas in contained spaces: a character piece with a sci-fi backdrop. Gwen, the lead scientist on a secret experiment to teleport humans, encounters a co-worker on a smoke break. As she grapples with the implications of recent discoveries it’s clear that a dire mistake has been made. Her test subject has lost something along the way. ” Review: “We sent a man to Europa and brought him back in two-thirds of a second … the solar system just got smaller.” This short film benefits from good performances by Anna Campbell (Gwen) and Max Lesser ( Tim), lending authenticity to a…

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Wild Zoo Animal Squares

Would You Become an Animal to Save a Species? — Sci-fi Saturday

The animation is good and the question raised is interesting

“Floreana” at DUST by Louis Morton (Jul 23, 2021), 4:13 min, originally at IMDB 2019 “On a remote island in the future, people are training for an important mission. Take a look at the mechanics of this training facility and the creatures within.” Review: Floreana is an animated film which offers a genuine surprise in terms of how humans in the future might propose to deal with the issue of endangered wildlife. It’s a bit unrealistic (how many people would really go along with living inside animals?) but worth thinking about. Just the right length to get across the basic idea. Films reviewed are sorted roughly by length so you can choose films based on how much time you have.…

Environmental awareness, global warming consciousness and aspirations to protect future of the planet conceptual idea with close up on hand holding the earth in the open palm

The Day Philosophers Started To Take Consciousness Seriously

Of course, once they did, they found themselves deep in huge conundrums

We sometimes forget how far we are from solving the mystery of consciousness. An anecdote from 1994 might help us understand. Picture an utterly boring, pointless conference in Tucson, Arizona, one of whose attendees was an obscure philosopher from Australia, scheduled to give the third talk. And shook everything up: The brain, Chalmers began by pointing out, poses all sorts of problems to keep scientists busy. How do we learn, store memories, or perceive things? How do you know to jerk your hand away from scalding water, or hear your name spoken across the room at a noisy party? But these were all “easy problems”, in the scheme of things: given enough time and money, experts would figure them out.…

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parrot

Do Birds Really Understand What They Are Saying?

Remarkable claims are made for some birds

Perhaps because parrots can carefully mimic human voices (and many other sounds), many claims are made for their intelligence For example, that they understand abstractions like currency: After training eight African grey parrots and six blue-headed macaws to barter metal rings for walnuts, the researchers paired the birds up with same-species partners. They then put the parrots in clear chambers joined by a transfer hole, and gave one bird—the donor—ten rings, while the other was left with none. Even without the promise of a reward for themselves, seven out of eight of the African grey parrot donors passed some of their available tokens through the transfer hole to their broke partners, usually shuttling them beak to beak. On average, about…

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The stones in the water

Claim: “Spirituality” Circuit in the Brain Has Been Identified

Really? Is that even possible?

It’s a story like so many others: Researchers have “found” the brain circuits for spirituality: A new study led by investigators at Brigham and Women’s Hospital takes a new approach to mapping spirituality and religiosity and finds that spiritual acceptance can be localized to a specific brain circuit. This brain circuit is centered in the periaqueductal gray (PAG), a brainstem region that has been implicated in numerous functions, including fear conditioning, pain modulation, altruistic behaviors and unconditional love … “Our results suggest that spirituality and religiosity are rooted in fundamental, neurobiological dynamics and deeply woven into our neuro-fabric,” said corresponding author Michael Ferguson, PhD, a principal investigator in the Brigham’s Center for Brain Circuit Therapeutics. “We were astonished to find…

Chinese hacker. Laptop with binary computer code and china flag on the screen. Internet and network security.

U.S. and Allies Formally Accuse China of Exchange Server Hack

This isn’t the first time the Chinese-backed hacker group has infiltrated organizations

On Monday, July 19, three cybersecurity announcements were made: In response to the massive Microsoft Exchange Server hack, the U.S., U.K., Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Norway, Japan, the E.U., and NATO formally accused the Chinese government of engaging in harmful cyberactivity. The U.S. Department of Justice published its indictment of four Chinese hackers associated with the Chinese government, known as APT40. The FBI, CSIS, and the NSA published a cybersecurity advisory cataloging the fifty tactics, techniques, and procedures used by Chinese state-sponsored hackers. Then, on Tuesday, the CSIA and the FBI published a report on state-sponsored international hacking groups that included accusations that the Chinese state-backed hackers infiltrated thirteen oil and natural gas pipeline operators between 2011 and 2013. In…

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Large format digital printing machine and moving print head

But Why Is “Depublishing” Cool Among Publishers Now?

Publishers now Cancel their own books in a righteous fury!

Withdrawing books instead of defending them is now “cool” because the industry has changed. Now, often, it’s about currying favor with government and powerful people, not with helping readers understand the world around us. To consider what’s changed, take one uproar around a biography of novelist Philip Roth (1933–2018) by a U.S. author Bill Bailey: Several women accused Bailey of predatory behavior. At a Louisiana private school where he had once taught English, he was said to have “groomed” eighth-graders for later of-age seductions to rape. And a woman said that Bailey had raped her at the home of a mutual friend who—in one of the scandal’s myriad ironies—was a book reviewer for the New York Times. In no time,…

Students sitting a test in an exam hall in college

When Universities No Longer Want You To Know Controversial Ideas

Perhaps The Economist might wish to consider whether reality matters

Yesterday, we looked at why the publishing industry has gone to war against books. In that case, it’s an economic decision, really. The industry no longer benefits from championing books that the establishment would rather you did not read — a major change from centuries of publishing history. Why it happened? Well, mainly, there are lots of other ways to get the news. And there are ways to make money from publishing without risking controversial books. The tendency has, of course, infected universities as well. The Economist has the story: What aren’t you allowed to know more about gender ideology?: Hours before Jo Phoenix, a professor of criminology at Britain’s Open University, was due to give a talk at Essex…

Robot Examining Financial Report With Calculator

Should Robots Pay Taxes?

Taxing artificial intelligence is the latest proposal to expand centralized control of human life

In June 2021, we started considering the provocatively titled podcast transcript, “Can a Robot Be Arrested? Hold a Patent? Pay Income Taxes?”, posted on the IEEE Spectrum site. Steven Cherry interviewed Ryan Abbott, physician, lawyer, and professor, about these topics and referencing his 2019 book, The Reasonable Robot: Artificial Intelligence and the Law. We’ve discussed whether artificial intelligence (AI) systems could be charged with crimes or can hold a patent. Whether “robots should pay taxes” turns out to be the scariest question yet. Touching upon the subject only lightly in the podcast, Abbott details the problem of taxing AI in Reasonable Robot, following this thought process: Automation using AI threatens to increase human unemployment. Current U.S. tax law encourages automation through favorable treatment…

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Cancel culture

Fighting Back Against Cancel Culture With Douglas Murray

We may need to start asking ourselves some hard questions

Journalist and author Douglas Murray’s piece is over a year old but it has aged well. He focuses on the silence from the institutions that we might reasonably expect to speak up: All ages have their orthodoxies. And if writers, artists, thinkers and comedians do not occasionally tread on them, then they are not doing their jobs. Meanwhile human nature remains what it is. And just as some children will always pull the wings off flies and fry small ants with their toy magnifying glasses, so a certain number of adult inadequates will find meaning in their lives by sniffing around the seats in the public square until they find an aroma they can claim offends them. Which brings us…

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books  toned with a retro

Why Did the Publishing Industry Go To War Against Books?

Readers need to know how things have changed

For many reasons, traditional publishers are trying to dump controversial books. In this series we will try to unpack some of them. First, let’s look at what happens when otherwise Correct people are not the favorites of the Cancel mob. Bari Weiss, formerly of the New York Times, asks us to look at a science teacher couple at a regional U.S. university: Do you remember the names Bret Weinstein and Heather Heying? I wrote one of my earliest New York Times columns about the bravery they displayed as tenured professors — words that do not typically appear in the same sentence — at Evergreen State College. It was 2017 and the professors, both evolutionary biologists, opposed the school’s “Day of…

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solving algebra equation on whiteboard in classroom

How Eccentric Mathematician Kurt Gödel Opened the World

Science writer: As often happens, few people understood the significance of what had just happened. The one exception was John von Neumann.

Albert Einstein, Jogalekar tells us, considered it a privilege to walk home with Gödel every day. Why?: In an exceptionally elegant essay, science writer Ashutosh Jogalekar (no stranger to controversy) talks about the huge difference Kurt Gödel (1906–1978) made by eliminating the idea that some single, simple explanation would put an end to all questioning about the nature of the universe in favor of some simple materialism. In a review of Stephen Budiansky’s biography of Gödel, Journey to the Edge of Reason (Harvard 2021), Jogalekar explains how Gödel dashed such hopes: In September 1930, a big conference was going to be organized in Königsberg. German mathematics had been harmed because of Germany’s instigation of the Great War, and Hilbert’s decency…

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customer holding credit card near nfc technology on counter

A Look at How New NFC Chips Prevent Counterfeiting

The same technology used in your "tap to pay" credit card is making life for counterfeiters much tougher

In the modern world of mass production, many products get their value from being one-of-a-kind. Special, limited edition shoes sell for unbelievable prices. Custom paintings and limited edition Blu-ray Discs all sell for a premium, precisely because there are so few of them in existence. However, these high-markup items quickly bring counterfeiters. As profit margins increasingly depend on limited editions, the importance of anti-counterfeiting technology becomes more important. In the last few years, NXP released a new chip that makes life much tougher for counterfeiters. NXP’s new NTAG 424 DNA chip provides an easy way for specialty manufacturers to prove the authenticity of products. This chip is made possible by many modern advancements in NFC technology. Let’s dive a little…

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Underpass near the subway in the city in the late evening

Do Only Western Religious People Have Near-Death Experiences?

Even famous atheist philosopher A. J. Ayer had a near-death experience

Gregory Shushan, author of Near-Death Experience in Indigenous Religions (2018) notes in a recent article at Psyche that near-death experiences are not a new discovery: NDEs have been popularly recognised in the West since the mid-1970s, but people from the largest empires to the smallest hunter-gatherer societies have been having them throughout history. Accounts are found in ancient sacred texts, historical documents, the journals of explorers and missionaries, and the ethnographic reports of anthropologists. Among the hundreds I’ve collected are those of a 7th-century BCE Chinese provincial ruler, a 4th-century BCE Greek soldier, a 12th-century Belgian saint, a 15th-century Mexica princess, an 18th-century British admiral, a 19th-century Ghanaian victim of human sacrifice, and a Soviet man who’d apparently killed himself…

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Claim: “Evolution” Explains Near-Death Experiences

The problem is, there is no evolutionary reason to believe the claim

Some researchers believe that near-death experiences are a biological mechanism like the fight-or-flight response, a means of pretending death to avoid a predator. They call it thanatosis: The authors propose that the acquisition of language enabled humans to transform these events from relatively stereotyped death-feigning under predatory attacks into the rich perceptions that form near-death experiences and extend to non-predatory situations. Of note, the proposed cerebral mechanisms behind death-feigning are not unlike those that have been suggested to induce near-death experiences, including intrusion of rapid eye movement sleep into wakefulness,” Daniel Kondziella explains. “This further strengthens the idea that evolutionary mechanisms are an important piece of information needed to develop a complete biological framework for near-death experiences.” No previous work…

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Exoplanet

When Sci-Fi Gets Earnest About Colonization — Sci-fi Saturday

Worth seeing but we never get to find out who the characters are fighting or why some treaty could not be arranged

“Ripple Effect” at DUST by [ Hannah Bang at Dust, July 12, 2021, 7:12 min: “In a not so distant future- a coalition of the old earth’s nations have sought and claimed the discovery of a new planet “Gaia” as the human race’s last hope for survival. However, when the human settlements rolled in, what awaited them was neither discovery nor pioneering but colonization and war against the planet’s original inhabitants. With an increasingly militaristic government that demands the settlers’ sacrifice for the good of all, one family is torn apart when the eldest daughter, Ara, questions who the real bad guys are. At a time where mass think seems to be the safest option, Ripple Effect asks us if…

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Create yourself concept. Good looking young man drawing a picture, sketch of himself

If You Could Change by “Inserting” Knowledge… Should You?

An education professor is surprisingly sympathetic to just “inserting” Correct knowledge to produce desirable changes

John Tillson, philosopher of education and author of Children, Religion, and the Ethics of Influence, asks if, instead of drills and homework, what about just “learning” a skill via a computer cable plugged into the back of your head, the way Neo learned karate in The Matrix?: Discussing the pros and cons of just acquiring knowledge by mere insertion, Tillson is surprisingly friendly to the idea, especially in terms of reprogramming bad ideas: Even if we dodge the threat of replacement by downloading a modest suite of knowledge at a suitably gentle pace, we might still worry that knowledge insertion would make us become someone we wouldn’t want to be. This isn’t always a problem. Suppose Neo was racist and…

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water pouring into glass

Human Psychology in a World Without Water — Sci-fi Saturday

“Oasis” was filmed as a response to the Capetown Water Crisis of 2018

“Oasis” (2020) at DUST by David Wayne Smith (May 12, 2021 at DUST). 8:05 min “In the wake of the 2018 Cape Town water crisis, a handful of filmmakers and I put together a project that tackled environmental issues. In developing a film that focused on the needs of Cape Town, we discovered a global story. OASIS is a Science-Fiction short film that comments on our responsibility in a world that is vulnerable.” Review: The almost entirely wordless film does a good job of portraying a world dying for lack of water. But honestly, the psychological dynamics — and particularly, the fight scene — did not make sense. There is such a thing as taking the “empowered woman” thing too…

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Colorful exoplanet insolated on black

Why the Search for ET Now Focuses on Oceans in the Outer Planets

Some researchers are refining their ET life-tracking skills

The moons of the outer planets, research shows, have vast oceans and water is an essential ingredient of life as we know it. Natalie Elliot, a science writer with a specialty in astrobiology, explains, The hottest spots in the search for alien life are a few frigid moons in the outer solar system, each known to harbor a liquid-water ocean beneath its icy exterior. There is Saturn’s moon Titan, which hides a thick layer of briny water beneath a frozen surface dotted with lakes of liquid hydrocarbon. Titan’s sister Saturnian moon Enceladus has revealed its subsurface sea with geyserlike plumes venting from cracks near its south pole. Plumes also emanate from a moon that is one planet closer to the…

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Grey wolf in the forest

Why Do Dogs Understand People Better Than Wolves?

The difference in attitude to humans between dog pups and wolf pups was dramatically demonstrated in a recent study

Some enterprising researchers at Duke University decided to compare 44 dog pups with 37 wolf pups, between 5 and 18 weeks of age. Would the wolf pups behave the same way toward humans as the dog pups or differently? While the wolf pups got a lot of human interaction, including hand-feeding, sleeping in their caretakers’ beds and almost round-the-clock human care, the dog puppies lived mostly with their mothers and littermates. They had little human contact. Researchers hid treats in one of two bowls, then gave the dog or wolf a clue to find the food. Sometimes that included pointing and gazing in the direction where the food could be found. Even with no training, dogs as young as 8…