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From Here To Singularity

"The time from here to Singularity depends sensitively on the particulars of what we humans do during the next decade (and even the next few years)."

Archive for Psychology

Convergence – ie ‘Our Inevitable Digital Future?’

Nice quick summary of the current status quo of virtual/real world convergence, though I still think that people take ‘Second Life’ far too seriously, and the google earth/MS Earth tools aren’t showing the potential to have make any substantive changes to our existence yet. (No time to really comment right now, hopefully I will come back to this. I really need to add a link blog to this site.)

Life is becoming more digital and digital is becoming more alive. On one hand we have the rapid rise of Second Life and other virtual worlds. On the other we are beginning to annotate our planet with digital information, via technologies like Google Earth. In both cases digital information is breaking geographical boundaries and overcoming the limitations imposed by our physical world. Flying in second life has the same affect as linking a Wikipedia entry to the Grand Canyon as rendered in Google Earth.

Information is being unleashed and re-shuffled. We are beginning to look at information from literally a 1000 foot view. And everything is becoming increasingly more connected. This is both very exciting and a bit unnerving. We are accelerating into our digital future from all directions – pushing digital towards life and pushing life towards digital.

Digital Life vs Life Digital: Our Inevitable Digital Future

Look! Up in the sky! It’s Virtual Earth! (video)

Following on from yesterday’s post (well, not really) is this TED video demonstrating the latest in virtual real reality processing. Something tells me that this isn’t going to be as good as the real thing. But, I sure if we wait a decade or so…

Microsoft’s Stephen Lawler gives a whirlwind tour of Virtual Earth, moving up, down and through its hyperreal cityscapes with dazzlingly fluidity, a remarkable feat that requires staggering amounts of data to bring into focus. Google might still be ahead of the game, but even in beta, Virtual Earth shows incredible promise. Microsoft’s visions for the product — as a provider of real-time weather and traffic data, or a realistic backdrop for game developers and IM conversations, or virtual ad space — all seem well within the limits of possibility.

TED | Talks | Stephen Lawler: Look! Up in the sky! It’s Virtual Earth! (video)

Study suggests correlation between happiness and (gahh!) going outside.

A study of Swedish vacationing and antidepressant use seems to suggest a correlation between inclement weather and antidepressant use. Sweden, being very far north, has excessively dark winters, and consequently a government mandate summer holidays to compensate.

Hartig and colleagues suggest that being stuck indoors on vacation can limit mental recuperation. On the other hand, when able to roam outdoors, we can exert ourselves at a favourite sport or simply linger in the park. Psychologically, beautiful scenery can distract us from our troubles, help us forget our normal stressful environments and reconnect us to nature.

Well, who knows what’s really going on, but the Swedish researchers found a negative correlation between SSRI prescriptions filled with the temperature in Sweden for the month of July, going over several years. Given that more and more of people’s time is spent doing less and less outside (and more and more time is spent staring at a computer monitor, like you are right now) what does this trend bode for our mental health?
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Ray Kurzweil: How technology’s accelerating power will transform us

Prolific inventor and outrageous visionary Ray Kurzweil explains in abundant, grounded detail why — by the 2020s — we will have reverse-engineered the human brain, and nanobots will be operating your consciousness. Kurzweil draws on years of research to show the speed at which technology is evolving, and projects forward into an almost unthinkable future to outline the ways we’ll use technology to augment our own capabilities, forever blurring the lines between human and machine.

Face-Recognition Software now better than humans

neural net
One of the fundamental hurdles that artificial intelligence has yet to overcome is in the realm of pattern matching. Neural networks in general and the human mind specifically are fabulous pattern matching machines. Neural networks work on a problem in parallel, and consequently are ideally suited to the process of quickly recognizing a match to a phenomenon from very large set of possible matches that it has previously been trained to remember.

However, brute processing force, combined with modern algorithms have now developed into machine recognition superior to our own, and in a field where we are he most highly specialized in the task: facial recognition.

machine recognition of human individuals has improved tenfold since 2002 and a hundredfold since 1995. Indeed, the best face-recognition algorithms now perform more accurately than most humans can manage.

What’s more while human recognition is heavily weighted towards recognizing the faces of those we are most familiar with, modern facial recognition algorithms are equally accurate with all faces – faster then we are capable of recognizing those we are closest to.

Technology Review: Better Face-Recognition Software

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