Tuesday, June 28, 2011

A History of the Universe in Sound (Video) *Radio Astronomy: Sounds from Space*

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The Big Bang The cosmic microwave background radiation remaining from the Big Bang is the oldest sound in the Universe



What Does It Mean to Listen to Space? Honor Harger explains, "Whilst our project uses what we describe as "sounds from space", it is important to understand that stars and planets are not directly audible. Sound waves can not propagate in the vacuum of space. However, it is possible for radio waves emitted from celestial bodies, such as Jupiter and the Sun, to be heard by using radio technology. In our galaxy, the Sun is the strongest source of radio waves - so it's the most powerful transmitter in the radio sky. Jupiter also sends us strong radio signals. What we hear is very curiously linked with our experience of radio here on earth -- the sounds are a bit like the sound of static between the stations."

Honor Harger: A History of the Universe in Sound Artist-technologist Honor Harger listens to the weird and wonderful noises of stars and planets and pulsars. In her work, she tracks the radio waves emitted by ancient celestial objects and turns them into sound, including "the oldest song you will ever hear," the sound of cosmic rays left over from the Big Bang.




The Sun This LASCO C2 image, taken 8 January 2002, shows a widely spreading coronal mass ejection (CME) as it blasts more than a billion tons of matter out into space at millions of kilometers per hour. The C2 image was turned 90 degrees so that the blast seems to be pointing down. An EIT 304 Angstrom image from a different day was enlarged and superimposed on the C2 image so that it filled the occulting disk for effect (Courtesy of SOHO/LASCO consortium)


About Honor Harger Honor Harger is a New Zealand-born artist and curator who has a particular interest in artistic uses of technologies. She's the director of Lighthouse, an arts agency in Brighton, UK. Her artistic practice is produced under the name radio qualia together with collaborator Adam Hyde. One of their main projects is Radio Astronomy, a radio station broadcasting sounds from space.


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Ray Kurzweil & Barry Ptolemy Appear on Charlie Rose (Video) *Transcendent Man: The Life & Ideas of Ray Kurzweil*

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Transcendent Man: The Life and Ideas of Ray Kurzweil


Transcendent Man: The Life and Ideas of Ray Kurzweil Ray Kurzweil and Barry Ptolemy were on the Charlie Rose show in March 2011 promoting the film Transcendent Man: The Life and Ideas of Ray Kurzweil. Barry Ptolemy produced and directed Transcendent Man. Transcendent Man was reviewed in a previous blog post here [Transcendent Man: The Life and Ideas of Ray Kurzweil (Video) *Prepare to Evolve, the Universe is About to Wake Up*].

About Transcendent Man
The compelling feature-length documentary film, by director Barry Ptolemy, chronicles the life and controversial ideas of luminary Ray Kurzweil. For more than three decades, inventor, futures, and New York Times best-selling author Ray Kurzweil has been one of the most respected and provocative advocates of the role of technology in our future.

In Transcendent Man, Ptolemy follows Kurzweil around the globe as he presents the daring arguments from his best-selling book, The Singularity is Near: When Humans Transcend Biology. Kurzweil predicts that with the ever-accelerating rate of technological change, humanity is fast approaching an era in which our intelligence will become increasingly non-biological and millions of times more powerful. This will be the dawning of a new civilization enabling us to transcend our biological limitations. In Kurzweil's post-biological world, boundaries blur between human and machine, real and virtual. Human aging and illness are reversed, world hunger and poverty are solved, and we cure death.

Ptolemy explores the social and philosophical implications of these changes and the potential threats they pose to human civilization in dialogues with world leader Colin Powell; technologists Hugo deGaris, Peter Diamandis, Kevin Warwick, and Dean Kamen; journalist Kevin Kelly; actor William Shatner; and musician Stevie Wonder. Kurzweil maintains a radically optimistic view of the future, while acknowledging new dangers. Award-winning American composer Philip Glass contributes original theme music that mirrors the depth and intensity of the film.

Ray Kurzweil and Barry Ptolemy on the Film "Transcendent Man" Charlie Rose interviews Ray Kurzweil and Barry Ptolemy

video


About Ray Kurzweil
A Brief Career Summary

Ray Kurzweil has been described as “the restless genius” by the Wall Street Journal, and “the ultimate thinking machine” by Forbes. Inc. magazine ranked him #8 among entrepreneurs in the United States, calling him the “rightful heir to Thomas Edison,” and PBS included Ray as one of 16 “revolutionaries who made America,” along with other inventors of the past two centuries.

As one of the leading inventors of our time, Ray was the principal developer of the first CCD flat-bed scanner, the first omni-font optical character recognition, the first print-to-speech reading machine for the blind, the first text-to-speech synthesizer, the first music synthesizer capable of recreating the grand piano and other orchestral instruments, and the first commercially marketed large-vocabulary speech recognition. Ray’s web site Kurzweil AI.net has over one million readers.

Among Ray’s many honors, he is the recipient of the $500,000 MIT-Lemelson Prize, the world's largest for innovation. In 1999, he received the National Medal of Technology, the nation's highest honor in technology, from President Clinton in a White House ceremony. And in 2002, he was inducted into the National Inventor's Hall of Fame , established by the US Patent Office.

He has received nineteen honorary Doctorates and honors from three U.S. presidents.

Ray has written six books, four of which have been national best sellers. The Age of Spiritual Machines has been translated into 9 languages and was the #1 best selling book on Amazon in science. Ray’s latest book, The Singularity is Near, was a New York Times best seller, and has been the #1 book on Amazon in both science and philosophy.


About Barry Ptolemy
Ptolemaic Productions

At age 12, Barry Ptolemy was first inspired to create films by Steven Spielberg on the set of E.T., The Extra Terrestrial, where he worked and studied closely alongside the director for the duration of the production. After attending USC film school, Barry went on to direct and produce dozens of award-winning commercials and films. In 2006, his interest in the sciences led him to read Ray Kurzweil's The Singularity is Near, upon which his first feature, Transcendent Man, is based. He also recently directed the commercial "We Are The World 25 For Haiti" with Lionel Richie and Quincy Jones, which aired during the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympic Opening Ceremonies. Barry was recently hailed as one of the new "power directors" by Los Angeles Confidential Magazine. He lives in Southern California with his wife and their two children.



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Saturday, June 25, 2011

More Robots for Australia Mines *Driverless mining trucks & equipment reduce costs, increase safety*

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Mining Truck in Australia


Over a year ago, the U.S. Air Force announced there were more drone operators than traditional Air Force pilots that actually got in the aircraft and flew them. Now Australia's mining trucks in the remote Outback are beginning to be remotely operated via a computer terminal.

More Robots for Australia Mines May Plug Labor Crunch

Some Australian mine workers may soon find themselves trading in their steel-toed boots for a headset and computer mouse, as mining companies automate to help plug labor shortages and ramp up output to feed Asia's voracious demand for minerals. Jobs in Australia's Outback mines can mean grueling 12-hour days, scorching temperatures and long commutes — conditions perfect for machines from driverless trucks to drilling robots.

The resources industry has roughly $400 billion in new projects on the drawing board in Australia and, along with the construction industry, will need an additional 260,000 workers over the next five years, according to government estimates. "There's a shortage of skilled and un-skilled workers and that tends to lead to automation, certainly companies will be looking at that more at the current time," said Colin Hamilton, a commodities analyst with Macquarie in London. The use of remote-controlled mining could even replace one of the stock characters of Australia's mining bonanza — the truck driver without a degree who can rake in more than $100,000 per year. 

Rio Tinto recently announced plans to double its fleet of driverless mining trucks at its Yandicoogina mine, the largest in Australia's Pilbara outback iron ore district. A guidance system, in a box near the front bumper, and a couple of radar-dish sensors remotely steer the trucks, which are otherwise identical to the towering yellow-painted behemoths that lumber through Pilbara's red-rust landscape.

"They will be doing everything. The whole (mining) pit will be fully autonomous — nothing that goes in or out of there that's not on a computer screen," Gervase Greene, spokesman for Rio Tinto, said. "It works from an efficiency point of view fantastically. You'll find load time is quicker, they are always in position, exactly the same position."

Rio Tinto already runs many of its mines from a center in Perth, some 1,500 km away from the Pilbara. At the operating center, which resembles a NASA control room and is far removed from the dusty outback, employees sit in front of desks with multiple screens detailing mine operations. From the serene atmosphere of the control room, Rio employees guide machines that do most of the work at the mines - from loading trains and ships to controlling mine power and water supply, Greene said. Rio had even begun investing in driverless trains, but suspended the program as it tried to cut back on costs when the global financial crisis hit. Hancock Prospecting Pty, owned by Australia's richest person, Gina Rinehart, will soon follow suit with remote operating centers in Perth for its Roy Hill iron ore mine and in Brisbane for coal mining.

"There are a whole bunch of reasons for doing it - to reduce costs, improve safety, and improve quality, increase capacity, improve productivity, reduce waste. Down the list, I think, it is to replace people," said Jock Cunningham, an automation expert at the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO).

Fewer Accidents

Rapidly growing Asian economies such as China and India have kept Australia's miners producing at breakneck speed, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. With production set to pick up and major miners planning to pour money into expanding operations, having robots do the job speeds operations up.

"Machines tend not to get tired — they will just keep doing the same thing over and over again... plus they are able to work through shift breaks and reduce travel time," Cunningham said. Companies typically need to see a 10 to 20 percent annual saving or improved productivity to encourage investment in high-cost robots, he said. Off-the-shelf technology can take about a year to pay off, while companies developing bespoke technology can wait up to ten years to break even, he said.

Some of the machines - such as the popular Load, Haul, Dump or LHD vehicle - can be sent into mine shafts for long periods of time, saving humans from deep descents which can put them in hazardous situations. From a mining company's point of view, cutting the number of accidents can be advantageous as well. "...that's a huge cost, it's a huge cost to a company's reputation and a risk as far as we're concerned," said Cheryl Edwardes, head of government relations for Hancock Prospecting.

Responding to Union Pressure?

Automation has gained cautious union support for its potential to improve safety. "There are some benefits to automating some of the work that's been traditionally quite dangerous - we've still got an unacceptable number of deaths in the mining industry," Unions Western Australia Secretary Simone McGurk said. Although miners emphasize that they do not intend to substitute robots for people, some say union pressure could be one of the factors driving automation.

Western Australia's Pilbara is not unionized, but unionized coal miners in the eastern Queensland state are in a dispute with BHP Billiton and Mitsubishi. "Given the current situation of the growing standoff between mining unions and some of the nations big miners, there's somewhat of a longer term incentive to potentially reduce employee numbers," said Gavin Wendt, senior resources analyst at Mine Life.

Using robots to do some of the more backbreaking jobs is another potential advantage. "What we do is we take the people out of those jobs in the pit and put them somewhere where they are doing better stuff. They are not getting replaced by (driverless) trucks by no means -- not one person," Rio Tinto's Greene said.

Still, CSIRO's Cunningham says some mining jobs will likely become extinct, just as the computer phased out the typing pool. "The new breed of operators that are coming through - the Gen Y operators - are very savvy to virtual interfaces and remote control," Cunningham said. "They like this stuff and that's what they expect to find in the industry rather than working behind a steering wheel or gear shift... a mining company that has that higher level will probably be more attractive to young employees."




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Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Ray Kurzweil Appears on Real Time with Bill Maher (Video) "In 2029, computers will match & exceed human intelligence"

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Transcendent Man: The Life and Ideas of Ray Kurzweil


Transcendent Man: The Life and Ideas of Ray Kurzweil Ray Kurzweil was recently on Jimmy Kimmel Live promoting his film Transcendent Man: The Life and Ideas of Ray Kurzweil, which is now available on DVD. Transcendent Man was reviewed in a previous blog post here [Transcendent Man: The Life and Ideas of Ray Kurzweil (Video) *Prepare to Evolve, the Universe is About to Wake Up*]

Ray Kurzweil on Real Time with Bill Maher A portion of Bill Maher's interview with Ray Kurzweil

video

Notable Quotes During Ray Kurzweil Interview by Bill Maher

"We'll be able to have very intelligent, little robots with computers going inside our bloodstream, keeping us healthy from inside, destroying cancer at the level of one cell." Ray Kurzweil

"In 2029, I think computers will match and exceed human intelligence in the ways that we are now superior, like being funny, where we still have an edge." Ray Kurzweil

"Emotional intelligence is what humans are good at and that's not a sideshow. That's the cutting edge of human intelligence." Ray Kurzweil

"In movies and TV shows whenever the computers get that smart - they fuck us over." Bill Maher

"We're democratizing the tools of creativity." Ray Kurzweil

"In 2029, you can have this computer that has all the answers, it is infallible. Do you really think the Tea Baggers are going to believe it?" Bill Maher

"There are downsides to every technology, fires kept us warm but also burned down our villages." Ray Kurzweil

"You're talking about machines that can know everything like 'God' does and living forever. You're going to piss (religious) people off. I mean, you're selling crack on their corner when you talk about infallibility and living forever." Bill Maher

"The reality is, these technologies are readily adopted once they come out." Ray Kurzweil

"People talk philosophically, 'Oh, I don't want to live past 100'. You know, I'd like to hear them say that when they are 99." Ray Kurzweil


About Ray Kurzweil
A Brief Career Summary


Ray Kurzweil has been described as “the restless genius” by the Wall Street Journal, and “the ultimate thinking machine” by Forbes. Inc. magazine ranked him #8 among entrepreneurs in the United States, calling him the “rightful heir to Thomas Edison,” and PBS included Ray as one of 16 “revolutionaries who made America,” along with other inventors of the past two centuries.

As one of the leading inventors of our time, Ray was the principal developer of the first CCD flat-bed scanner, the first omni-font optical character recognition, the first print-to-speech reading machine for the blind, the first text-to-speech synthesizer, the first music synthesizer capable of recreating the grand piano and other orchestral instruments, and the first commercially marketed large-vocabulary speech recognition. Ray’s web site Kurzweil AI.net has over one million readers.

Among Ray’s many honors, he is the recipient of the $500,000 MIT-Lemelson Prize, the world's largest for innovation. In 1999, he received the National Medal of Technology, the nation's highest honor in technology, from President Clinton in a White House ceremony. And in 2002, he was inducted into the National Inventor's Hall of Fame , established by the US Patent Office.

He has received nineteen honorary Doctorates and honors from three U.S. presidents.

Ray has written six books, four of which have been national best sellers. The Age of Spiritual Machines has been translated into 9 languages and was the #1 best selling book on Amazon in science. Ray’s latest book, The Singularity is Near, was a New York Times best seller, and has been the #1 book on Amazon in both science and philosophy.


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Observations & thoughts by a sojourner through space & time...
Technological singularity, transhumanism, reality (objective, virtual, programmed, augmented), Universe, future.


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