Some news stories are about iterative steps, others about significant strides. Then there’s this week’s batch of stories that, one way or another, are all about moonshots. We know that the future will be radically different but to see glimpses of that future can be both humorous and terrifying.

Enjoy this week’s stories!


ROBOTS: Why We Laugh at Robot Fail Videos 
Brian Anderson | Motherboard
“It’s funny when humanoid robots fail. It’s also sad. We feel for them…that’s possibly because there is an explicit contrast ‘between how robots are supposed to be (precise machines, working accurately with no failures, rigid) and how they actually behave (messy, silly, exaggerated, inaccurate).'”

SPACE: How would the world change if we found extraterrestrial life?
Elizabeth Howell | Astrobiology Magazine
“It’s also quite possible that the language we receive across these indirect communications would be foreign to us. Even though mathematics is often cited as a universal language, Dick said there are actually two schools of thought. One theory is that there is, indeed, one kind of mathematics that is based on a Platonic idea, and the other theory is that mathematics is a construction of the culture that you are in.”

BITCOIN: RoboCorp–Get ready for companies that run themselves
David Z Morris | AEON
“The root of the problem is that a true digital currency – one that travels the network fast enough to enable decentralised sharing – is very difficult to implement. An effective currency requires trust, both between the members of the community who use it and in the technology that implements it…the very open nature of the internet – its lack of deep identity controls and its vulnerability to manipulation – makes it a challenging environment in which to establish a standalone currency.”

TECH TRENDS: The next decade in tech: Three defining forces to watch
Jason Hiner | TechRepublic
“The technology world is practically destined to rally around the problem. Cloud computing, big data, IoT, security, mobile devices, and other aspects of the tech sector will be put to use to help solve the energy challenge.”

BRAIN: It Takes Effort To Remember What We See
Victoria Indivero | Futurity
“‘It seems like memory is sort of like a camcorder,’ said Wyble. ‘If you don’t hit the ‘record’ button on the camcorder, it’s not going to ‘remember’ what the lens is pointed at. But if you do hit the ‘record’ button — in this case, you know what you’re going to be asked to remember — then the information is stored.'”

LONGEVITY: Back-up brains: The era of digital immortality
Simon Parkin | BBC News
“While you’re alive you grant the service access to your Facebook, Twitter and email accounts, upload photos, geo-location history and even Google Glass recordings of things that you have seen. The data is collected, filtered and analysed before it’s transferred to an AI avatar that tries to emulate your looks and personality. The avatar learns more about you as you interact with it while you’re alive, with the aim of more closely reflecting you as time progresses.”

Image Credit: Shutterstock

I've been writing for Singularity Hub since 2011 and have been Editor-in-Chief since 2014. My interests cover digital education, publishing, and media, but I'll always be a chemist at heart.

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