This Week’s Awesome Stories From Around the Web (Through June 25th)

ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE: Forget Doomsday AI—Google Is Worried About Housekeeping Bots Gone Bad
Cade Metz | Fast Company
“Machines can’t make the hard calls themselves yet, because they don’t understand morality. But Ken Forbus, an AI researcher at Northwestern, is trying to fix that. Using a “Structure Mapping Engine,” he and his colleagues are feeding simple stories—morality plays—into machines in the hope that they will grasp the implicit moral lessons. It’d be a kind of synthetic conscience.”

ROBOTICSDriverless Cars Will Face Moral Dilemmas
Larry Greenemeier | Scientific American 
“A self-driving car carrying a family of four spots a bouncing ball ahead. As the vehicle approaches a child runs out to retrieve the ball. Should the car risk its passengers’ lives by swerving to the side—where the edge of the road meets a steep cliff? Most of the 1,928 research participants in the Science report indicated that they believed vehicles should be programmed to crash into something rather than run over pedestrians, even if that meant killing the vehicle’s passengers.”

PHYSICS AND PHILOSOPHY: Elon Musk Is Wrong. We Aren’t Living in a Simulation
Riccardo Manzotti and Andrew Smart | Motherboard
“Musk’s confidence in the development of technology—that massive increases in computational power will transmogrify existing videogames into a real simulated world—is based on the confusion between the ideal notion of simulation, which does not really exist, and the actual thing a simulation is.”

BIG DATA: How the New Science of Computational History Is Changing the Study of the Past
MIT Technology Review
“Throughout history, humans have formed networks that have played a profound role in the way events have unfolded. Historians have recently begun to reconstruct these networks using historical sources such as correspondence and contemporary records. Indeed, the work has uncovered previously unknown patterns in the way history unfolds. In the same way that patterns in nature reveal the laws of physics, these discoveries are revealing the first laws of history.”

THROWBACK: Remember When You Could Call the Time?
Adrienne LaGrance | The Atlantic
“Today, Matsakis told me, about 10,000 people call the Naval Observatory’s time service each day. ‘We expected it to drop off, because with cellphones you get the time right there,’ Matsakis said. ‘But calls have gone up since 2009.’ The survival of the medium is perhaps surprising. ‘The experience of time,’ Claudia Hammond wrote in her book, Time Warped, ‘roots us in our mental reality.'”

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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