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Today we have two improbable virtual realities, each more mind-blowing than the last.
The first is Walden:The Videogame (probably not the actual title). This virtual simulation of Henry Thoreau’s book of the same name, wherein he lived in the woods to escape from too-busy society, has stirred up a predictably snarky/cranky reaction.
But I would play it. I also read books and go out of doors from time to time. They are not mutually exclusive, snark notwithstanding.
Roger Ebert, whose specially-developed artificial voice software is discussed in the SmartPlanet article, proposes an interesting variant on the Turing test – to create a synthesized voice capable of telling funny jokes.
This well-done video essay makes a cogent argument in an accessible format about the role the aesthetic of The Wire played in getting its point across. If you love The Wire, it’s well worth your time. If you are intrigued by the idea of the video essay, ditto.
The ever-interesting SmartPlanet recently featured a post on transhumanism, a fascinating philosophical movement that amounts to a sort of technotheology that has, for its adherents, very practical implications.
To refer to transhumanism as such is not to dismiss it but to give due credit to its scope. For man transhumanists, their central concern is the Singularity – the point at which artificial intelligence outstrips human intelligence and beyond which predicting anything becomes impossible. Click on that link and explore the Humanity Plus website for a fuller picture of the transhumanist movement.
A quick Google search reveals that Islamic thinkers have also considered transhumanism:
My point in all of this is not to plug for transhumanism as a philosophy or movement; but as a reporter interested in science, and a science fiction geek, it is one of those weird and wonderful intellectual areas where fact and fiction get promiscuous, and where anything is possible.
While flapping his arms generated about 5 percent of the necessary power to achieve lift, the other 95 percent came from motors that provided 2,000 Watts of continuous power. The entire system is a wireless (haptic) concept, meaning that with the addition of video game controllers and smartphone technology, he was able to use his arms to control the contraption and navigate a flight that lasted about 60 seconds.
This is truly amazing.
Following science and tech news constantly affirms what William Gibson has said about the future: it’s here – it just isn’t widely available yet.
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