This Week’s Awesome Stories From Around the Web (Through June 4th)

ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE: I Let a Robot Take Over My Social Media for 48 Hours
Harvey Wilks | Motherboard
“Imagine your own personal intern who knows you better than you know yourself, performing all the minutiae you’re loath to do. Importantly, it also reports back to you at the end of each day with an inventory of things ‘you’ have done…How long will it be until programs like this become accessible everywhere? Will we adopt them without even giving them a second thought? And how will it alter the value of our interactions online if we know some of our friends are employing Autonomous Self-Agents?”

ROBOTICS: Robots Add Real Value When Working With Humans, Not Replacing Them
Matt Beane | TechCrunch
“Even if we count conservatively, there is reason to think that robots are about to have their ‘PC’ moment. Robot development and investment are accelerating rapidly, and every year robots get dramatically more capable and less expensive — the Internet means that what one robot learns, many can learn instantly, for example. If we’re about to see explosive growth in robotics, it is important to keep in mind that, in principle and in practice, robots add real value when they enhance human capability rather than replace humans. But what counts as enhancement or replacement changes when you look up close.”

SYNTHETIC BIOLOGY: Plan to Fabricate a Genome Raises Questions on Designer Humans 
Antonio Regalado | MIT Technology Review
“The proposal, described today in a two-and-a-half-page letter being published in Science, is to string together synthetically made DNA and shape from it a human genome able to power a cell in a dish…But the paper’s 25 authors remain silent on the looming ethical debate: will we be able to make people with artificial genomes, and if so, should we?…Luckily, [George] Church, an ebullient futurist whose handiwork is visible in the paper, previously not only asked the big questions, but answered them.”

DEEP LEARNING: Facebook Is Teaching Chatbots to Talk With Help From Facebook
Cade Metz | WIRED
“Even if a machine learns to understand the grammar of a sentence, it must go significantly further to understand the complete meaning of a conversation. But Facebook researchers say they’re already pushing the state-of-the-art into new territory. ‘[DeepText] helps us compensate for the lack of labeled data sets,’ says Facebook director of engineering Hussein Mehanna. ‘It comes with a massive amount of structure. It can learn in an unsupervised manner.’ In other words, Facebook’s system relies more on math than grammatical exactitude…By building systems that learn on their own, companies like Google and Facebook are seeking to build systems that can grow and get smarter without as much human intervention. But we’re not quite there yet.”

SCIENCE FICTION:  The 100 Best Stories From Radium Age Sci-Fi, Which Ruled the Early 20th Century
Annalee Newitz | Ars Technica 
“What’s incredible about looking back on the Radium Age is that you realize so many of the science fiction themes we think of as solidly contemporary—from post-humans and the singularity, to zombie-populated dystopias—actually got their start way back in the early 1900s. Glenn told Ars, ‘One thing that distinguishes Radium Age from Golden Age science fiction is its faith in the possibility of a post-scarcity, peaceful, tolerant, just social order. For excellent historical reasons, we became very cynical about utopianism after Stalin and Hitler; Golden Age writers prided themselves on being wised-up, compared to their naive predecessors.’ Many authors have said that stories about the future are always essentially about the present, and this is what makes century-old science fiction both terrifically interesting and occasionally very awkward.”

Image Credit: Shutterstock

Alison E. Berman
Alison E. Berman
Alison tells the stories of purpose-driven leaders and is fascinated by various intersections of technology and society. When not keeping a finger on the pulse of all things Singularity University, you'll likely find Alison in the woods sipping coffee and reading philosophy (new book recommendations are welcome).
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