This Week’s Awesome Stories from Around the Web (Through May 16)

ROBOTICS: Robots Might Be the Necessary Future of Urban Pet Ownership
Evan Ackerman | IEEE Spectrum
“‘If artificial pets can replicate the human benefits obtained from live pets, does that mean that the human–animal emotional bond is solely dependent on ourselves and the image that we project on a live or artificial interactive partner? Does it ethically matter if the benefits of keeping artificial pets outweigh the risks, sparing other live pets’ potential animal welfare issues?’”

ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE: Does Artificial Intelligence Pose a Threat? [PANEL]
Ted Greenwald | The Wall Street Journal
“The combination of immense Internet-connected networks and machine-learning algorithms has yielded dramatic advances in machines’ ability to understand spoken and visual communications, capabilities that fall under the heading ‘narrow’ artificial intelligence. Can machines capable of autonomous reasoning—so-called general AI—be far behind? And at that point, what’s to keep them from improving themselves until they have no need for humanity?”

BRAIN: A First Big Step Toward Mapping the Human Brain
Katie Palmer | Wired
“When it’s complete, the database will be the first in the world to collect information from individual cells along four basic but crucial variables: cell shape, gene expression, position in the brain, and electrical activity. ”

SPACE: Will we ever understand the beginning of the universe?
Ross Andersen | AEON
“People are wedded to these ideas, because they grew up with them. Scientists don’t like to change ideas unless they’re forced to. They get involved with a theory. They get emotionally attached to it. When an idea is looking shaky, they go into defensive mode.”

BITCOIN: Why the block chain matters
Reid Hoffman | Wired UK
“When you combine Bitcoin’s global scope, its extreme divisibility and its ability to verify transactions without third parties, you end up with a system where engaging in exchanges of economic value becomes nearly as friction-free as tweeting or texting.”

RESEARCH: The Trouble with Scientists
Philip Ball | Nautilus
“A common response to this situation is to argue that, even if individual scientists might fool themselves, others have no hesitation in critiquing their ideas or their results, and so it all comes out in the wash: Science as a communal activity is self-correcting. Sometimes this is true—but it doesn’t necessarily happen as quickly or smoothly as we might like to believe.”

VIRTUAL REALITY: Simulated Worlds Will Soon Be Indistinguishable From Reality
Victoria Turk | Motherboard
“So perhaps we’re not that close to a true simulation singularity after all. But as far as simply confusing the human senses about what’s real and what’s not, Fawkes reckons that’s not far off at all. Indeed, you don’t necessarily need perfect graphics to induce suspension of disbelief in the human brain anyway: Just think about how your mind can get carried away watching a film or reading a book.”

Image Credit: Shutterstock

David J. Hill
David J. Hill
David started writing for Singularity Hub in 2011 and served as editor-in-chief of the site from 2014 to 2017 and SU vice president of faculty, content, and curriculum from 2017 to 2019. His interests cover digital education, publishing, and media, but he'll always be a chemist at heart.
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