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Jan 31, 2015
Promotes Global Unity, Social Betterment and a More Humane Society Read More >
Sep 12, 2014
Features Live Music, Short Films, Comedy and Art, Promotes Social Consciousness Through the Power of Art Read More >
Mar 01, 2014
Toronto Main Event and Beyond Read More >
Feb 03, 2014
A New Book by The Zeitgeist Movement Read More >
Jul 01, 2013
"Changing the World Through Socially Conscious Art" Read More >
More Press Releases >
Nov 25, 2015 Host: James Phillips
Ep 178 European TZM meeting show - Rotterdam. This episode of TZM Global is hosted by UK chapter team member and co-coordinator of TZM Education (www.tzmeducation.org) James Phillips.
This episode includes an interview with the Global Chapters Administration Coordinator Gilbert Ismail regarding the upcoming European TZM Meetup in Rotterdam next month. For more information, please visit the following link: https://www.facebook.com/events/91743...
Also included in this show is a request for more content for TZM Global Radio. Please send pre-recorded submissions to: email@example.com.
Sep 19, 2015 Host: James Phillips
TZM global radio: EP177-To be employed or not to be employed.
This episode of TZM global radio is hosted by UK chapter member and co-coordinator of the movements educational activism project TZM Education: www.tzmeducation.org, James Phillips.
James will be reading the final article from the minds in the making section of of TZM education entitled 'To be employed or not to be employed' which discusses modern attitudes and values towards work and how we might go about making a shift in these and the overall structure of our socio-economic system to transform human/animal and environmental well-being for the better.
This show also includes the announcement that TZM global radio is now taking submissions. If you are interested in doing a radio show for TZM global radio please email us at: firstname.lastname@example.org and we will get back to you asap. Many thanks.
*This show had to be re-uploaded due to content issues.
Jul 14, 2015 Host: James Phillips
TZM global radio show Riding a Trojan horse to an NLRBE
This weeks episode of TZM global is hosted by UK chapter member and co-coordinator of TZM Education-James Phillips. Along with some movement news James will be reading article nine from the minds in the making section of www.tzmeducation.org entitled 'Riding a Trojan Horse to an NLRBE'.
This article outlines some useful aproaches to adopt when attempting to communicate the idea of an NLRBE.
Jul 13, 2015 Host: James Phillips
A treatment on democratic education and effective communication
This week's episode of TZM global reviews the TZM education trip to the oldest and longest running democratic school in Suffolk, England: Summerhill School. A school where Children make the rules with the teachers and do not have to attend lessons if they do not want to. Chaos and disorder surely runs rife in such a place, right? Perhaps not......
Along with this review James will also read the next article from the minds in the making section of the TZM education website www.tzmeducation.org entitled: An effective communicative approach.
May 06, 2015 Host: James Phillips
LIKE The Zeitgeist Movement @ https://www.facebook.com/tzmglobal FOLLOW The Zeitgeist Movement @ https://twitter.com/tzmglobal JOIN THE MAILING LIST: http://www.thezeitgeistmovement.com/
This episode of TZM global is hosted by James Phillips from the UK chapter of TZM and co-cordinator of www.tzmeducation.org. Todays show gives a brief roundup of the UK chapters ZDAY London event, some UK chapter news and a reading of the next article from the minds in the making section of TZM education entitled 'building the perspective for a positive future', which deals with some important changes needed in social and educational values for a sustainable socio-economic paradigm to emerge.
Conventional wisdom would have you believe that most people enter adolescence with a head full of high-minded ideals and a willingness to shake up the system. As they get older, however, they gradually begin to accept the status quo. For me, that process is reversed.
The older I get, the more skeptical I become of our current social model. Why?
Let’s start with this:
It should be of increasing concern to all Americans that there is an extreme disconnect between what Americans believe about man-made climate change, and what science tells us about it. That is to say, despite there being a clear scientific consensus, man-made climate change is more often than not framed as an ambiguous concept in the U.S. mainstream media. Consequently, climate change is generally thought to be far more esoteric than it actually is.
INTRODUCTION AND DISCLAIMER 
The purpose of this project is to enable supporters of a natural law resource based economic model (NLRBE) to understand and appreciate the need to approach the education system in an effort to initiate the value shift required for a more peaceful and sustainable future to emerge.
Today I was reading The Zeitgeist Movement Defined: Realizing a New Train of Thought, again. I did so because I feel the need to express certain frustration on this/my social movement but haven’t found the right words. Also I didn’t want to make any false assumptions on its architecture, so I went straight to the source with a pen in my hand.
I went through the 9 pages that constitute the overview and extracted some notes I would like to post in here:
We need more films about the social, ecological and economic change!
We want to make one and you could help us.
In our Documentary "The Taste of Life" we want to show, that there are people in the whole world, already practicing this change in a great way.
From social symptom to root causes came about as a bi-product of ZDAY 2013 in London, in which all but the introductory talk featured exterior organisations and speakers. Each of whom seek to address a particular social or environmental issue closely aligned with the movement’s materials.
From social symptom to root causes came about as a bi-product of ZDAY 2013 in London, in which all but the introductory talk featured exterior organisations and speakers. Each of whom seek to address a particular social or environmental issue closely aligned with the movement’s materials.
Transcript below. Can also be viewed via PDF HERE.
Welcome to: “3 Questions - What do you propose?” This thought exercise is intended for both the average person, concerned about global problems – along with those who are still confused about - or perhaps even in opposition to The Zeitgeist Movement.
Peter Joseph, ZDay 2016 "Where we go from here" March 26th, Athens Greece [ The Zeitgeist Movement ]
Let’s face it: most of us suck at managing money.
According to a http://www.nber.org/papers/w22066 ">National Bureau of Economics working paper published this March, roughly three quarters of all American households carry some form of debt. 40% haven’t paid off their credit cards. Nearly http://www.epi.org/publication/retirement-in-america/#charts ">half have no savings at all. And the US isn’t alone: Canada, the UK and Australia are in http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2016/03/americans-shortsighted-in-debt-and-bad-at-investing/472680/ ">roughly the same debt-ridden neighborhood.
There’s no doubt that we’re bad with money. But according to Richard Thaler, an economist at the University Chicago, we’re not (entirely) to blame.
http://i2.wp.com/singularityhub.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/smarter-money-hormones-1.jpg?resize=300%2C200 " alt="smarter-money-hormones-1" data-recalc-dims="1" />Economists have traditionally looked at human behavior through a distortion field, http://freakonomics.com/podcast/should-we-really-behave-like-economists-say-we-do-a-new-freakonomics-radio-podcast/ ">he explains. Through this lens, they build financial models and market theories based on a caricature of our actual species. The economists’ human, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Homo_economicus ">homo economicus, in a nutshell is hyper-rational, makes logical decisions without emotion, and always goes after the optimal outcome regardless of cost to others.
There’s just one problem. We’re not a bunch of Vulcans. If you’ve ever hit up a grocery store hungry and ended up with crap loads of junk food, you know the model’s wrong.
Unlike homo economicus, the human psyche runs on biases and emotions that often jeopardize our best intent. Our brains are not rational computers; our decisions vary widely with hunger, hormones, sleep and other physiological functions, often below our state of consciousness.
As Nobel Prize winning-economist Daniel Kahneman famously wrote in http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/11468377-thinking-fast-and-slow ">Thinking, Fast and Slow, “you think with your body, not only with your brain.”
Money and homo economicus may thrive in harmony, but money and homo erectus make an ill-matched pair. And as our financial system evolves but our emotions don’t, the relationship is bound to get even more complicated.
Most of us experience a sense of physical attachment when we shell out actual paper bills for goods. Yet with credit cards, bitcoins, PayPal, Venmo, Stripe, Square, Google Wallet and ApplePay — just to name a few — becoming increasingly popular, the act of spending is becoming alarmingly abstract.
https://exponential.singularityu.org/finance/?utm_source=hub&utm_medium=referral&utm_content=may30banner&utm_campaign=gsp16 ">http://i2.wp.com/singularityhub.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/SU-Hub-XFin-Article-Banner-750x100_256.gif?resize=750%2C100 " alt="SU-Hub-XFin-Article-Banner-750x100_256" data-recalc-dims="1" />
According to cognitive scientists, when we http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2014/mar/26/conscious-uncoupling-gwyneth-paltrow-chris-martin ">consciously uncouple from physical money, we lose track of how much we’ve spent. https://www.jcr-admin.org/files/pressPDFs/111411131134_chatterjee--article.pdf ">One study in the Journal of Consumer Research, for example, shows that consumers using credit cards pay less attention to the price of the item, instead shifting focus to its perceived benefits. Another study, led by psychologist Dr. Ross Steinman at Widener University, found that the simple swap from cash to card boosts spending by http://www.cnbc.com/2015/04/14/mobile-payments-could-make-shoppers-spend-more.html ">12-18%.
This effect, aptly named “decoupling,” is a recipe ripe for impulse spending. With the recent explosion in mobile and peer-to-peer purchasing, the situation is only going to escalate.
Our relationship with money is ripe for a complete overhaul. This got London design company http://method.com/work/method-money#physiology ">Method thinking: since the root of the problem lies in our emotions, why not make them central to an entirely new class of bank — the “Bank of Physiology”?
Method’s radical idea marries two unlikely fields: banking and the quantified self.
A “hypothetical institute at the convergence of healthcare and personal finance,” the Bank of Physiology tracks many aspects of your physiology, such as hormone fluctuations, in an unobtrusive way as you go about your daily routine. The data is then used to draw up a profile of your spending patterns.
Why can’t real banks work in a similar way—benefitting both our physical and financial health?
It sounds like a far-fetched idea, but so did the concept of wearable devices and apps that automatically tracks and uploads your steps and sleeping patterns. Companies like Fitbit receive mountains of information on your daily movement patterns, which they then use to generate weekly reports to encourage more exercise.
http://i1.wp.com/singularityhub.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/smarter-money-hormones-5.jpg?resize=300%2C200 " alt="smarter-money-hormones-5" data-recalc-dims="1" />How much can hormones actually influence financial decisions? A lot, according to Method. http://www.economist.com/node/21530111 ">In https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/07/150702094903.htm ">several http://www.cam.ac.uk/research/news/stress-hormones-in-financial-traders-may-trigger-risk-aversion-and-contribute-to-market-crises ">studies looking at hormone levels and risk taking, researchers found that high levels of testosterone and cortisol make stock traders take substantially more risks. In the real world, these “http://www.cam.ac.uk/research/news/stress-hormones-in-financial-traders-may-trigger-risk-aversion-and-contribute-to-market-crises ">subterranean shifts in risk appetite” can shake up the financial system, often in unpredictable ways.
Method believes human hormones and emotions can also contribute to the solution.
“What if you could look back at patterns in our hormones from [the] previous week or month and maybe see when you are doing things like comfort spending,” http://www.wired.com/2014/10/method-money-concepts/ ">says Method’s creative direct Philip O’Dwyer.
“Maybe you could see that you had higher estrogen levels and that’s why you were buying extra stuff. That could potentially be interesting,” he says.
Devices that currently track and analyze hormone levels don’t yet exist, but according to O’Dwyer, the parts are there. As proof-of-principle, the team rigged up a conceptual toothbrush that collects your saliva twice everyday as you brush your teeth. Hormones in the saliva are then analyzed in real time — perhaps using “lab-on-a-chip” technology implanted in the toothbrush — and the data is uploaded into the cloud. By syncing with your daily spending, an app could then give you a glimpse into how you spend on a certain hormonal profile.
Method also envisions a biological upgrade to our chip-and-pin machines.
Rather than just taking our credit card information, these machines could evolve to collecting a small blood sample “to track dominant hormones at the point of purchase.” An app could potentially warn you to rethink your decision if your cortisone levels are high, for example, or if your hormonal status falls into the “rage spending” range, whatever that means to your body.
An app that allows us to witness, for ourselves, the interplay between hormones and finances would be extremely informative. But Method’s social experiment doesn’t stop there.
The real change is forging a link between physiological data and spending not just for consumers, but also for banking institutions.
Calling them “banks” really isn’t fair. Our vision of a future bank isn’t the numbers-only institutions we visit today. Instead, the new service lies at the crossroads of finance and healthcare, explains Method.
In essence, these are “teaching banks” — institutions that not only help you with your investments, but also stealthily give you cognitive behavioral therapy to quell brash spending habits.
This necessitates a whole new cast of hybrid workers, from “bank general practitioners” who assess their clients’ physical and economic status, to “wellbeing financial mentors” who prescribe healthy habits aimed at balancing out-of-whack hormones and, in turn, promote financial stability, explains Method.
It could come as an unobtrusive app notification: “your stress hormones are high, you have x bills coming up, based on your previous selected preferences, we encourage you to engage in 30 minutes of meditation.”
Would it work? Maybe — if there’re enough incentives. What if maintaining healthy physiological measures was tied to your interest rates or credit card perks? For the system to really take off, however, society needs a shift in how we regard these banks of physiology: not just money keepers, but also therapists.
Without doubt, Method’s idea is innovative, if somewhat creepy. Would I really want to give my financial advisor a complete detailed picture of my health?
It sounds like a huge breach of privacy, but then we already hand over private medical information to insurance companies and doctors, with the assumption that they will use the information for our needs. Similarly, many people are fine with genetic testing companies such as 23andme to use their genetic data for future research. Would Method’s “Bank of Physiology” — an economic extension of medical care — be viewed any differently?
Of course, there’s no evidence that Method’s thought experiment will come to pass. Even so, the idea of a radically different financial system — one that incorporates a core human trait — is inspiring.
“We wanted to take a step back from…everyday problems and really think about some of the major trends that we felt were going to affect…experiences in the future,” http://www.wired.com/2014/10/method-money-concepts/ ">says O’Dwyer.
Maybe incorporating emotions into our banking system is a great idea. Maybe it isn’t. But one thing is for sure: our relationship with money is poised for a radical change.
Interested in learning more about the future of finance? Join leading manufacturing experts at Singularity University and CNBC's https://exponential.singularityu.org/finance/?utm_source=hub&utm_medium=referral&utm_content=may30footer&utm_campaign=gsp16 ">Exponential Finance conference June 7-8, 2016 in New York.
Image credit: http://www.shutterstock.com ">Shutterstock.com
ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE: http://motherboard.vice.com/read/weve-already-taught-artificial-intelligence-to-be-racist-sexist " target="_blank">It’s Too Late—We’ve Already Taught AI to Be Racist and Sexist
Jordan Pearson | Motherboard
" 'To some extent, you can think about the AI as a human child,' Clune said. 'You don’t want a child to hang out with racist or discriminatory people, because it will parrot those sentences and predispositions.' It’s inevitable that AI, just like a real human, will eventually be exposed to some very bad ideas, intentionally or not. It needs to be taught how to ignore them."
LONGEVITY: http://nautil.us/issue/36/aging/the-immortality-hype " target="_blank">The Immortality Hype
Adam Piore | Nautilus
"In the months and years ahead, the scientific progress—and hype—around aging are likely to grow...The biggest reason for optimism, however, may well be the relentless march of aging itself...'Baby boomers are about to create a silver tsunami in cancer that we are unprepared for. So you bet that those of us who are boomers are going to be pushing the pipeline, putting money in aging research, because we want it all figured out before we really fall into it.' "
CYBERNETICS: http://www.dailydot.com/technology/cyborg-katy-moe-programmer-body-hacking/ ">What a Self-Made Cyborg Taught Me About Body Hacking
Selena Larson | The Daily Dot
" 'You have to confront your relationship with technology when you implant something with yourself, but before that you’ve probably been on the computer most of the day, been on your phone the rest of the day, conducted most of your relationships through the internet,' Moe said. 'You’re already interlaced with technology in less-physical and immediate ways.' The ultimate question is what comes next, after technology makes the leap from our fingertips to the skin beneath them."
BIG DATA: http://www.wired.com/2016/05/scientists-just-confused-ethics-big-data-research/ " target="_blank">Scientists Are Just as Confused About the Ethics of Big-Data Research as You
Sarah Zhang | WIRED
"Unlike medical research, which has been shaped by decades of clinical trials, the risks—and rewards—of analyzing big, semi-public databases are just beginning to become clear. Outside of academia, companies like Microsoft have started to institute their own ethical review processes...After all, modern tech companies like Facebook, OkCupid, Snapchat, Netflix sit atop a trove of data 20th century social scientists could have only dreamed up."
SPACE: http://www.theatlantic.com/science/archive/2016/05/mars-ice-age/484541/ " target="_blank">The Red Planet Is Not Always Red
Rebecca Boyle | The Atlantic
"The story of Mars is also a fable for Earth. Understanding the Martian climate, and what causes its ice ages, can help us learn more about why they happen here—at a time when the intricacies of Earth’s climate are of great concern...Isaac Smith has been looking at Texas-sized curlicues in the Martian ice caps for eight years, trying to connect them to the planet’s climate history. He found something that surprised him: The polar ice cap is active. Ice is constantly piling up and eroding, not just in one spot but everywhere."
Image credit: http://www.shutterstock.com/ " target="_blank">Shutterstock
If you could choose between a countless number of realities — would you choose this one?
The visceral experience of hopping between and mixing digital and physical worlds is beautifully depicted in a new crowdfunded short film, “Hyper-Reality.” http://hyper-reality.co/ ">The film’s creator, Keiichi Matsuda, says virtual reality, augmented reality, wearables, and the internet of things will soon infuse our lives with technology as never before.
“It will be the glue between every interaction and experience, offering amazing possibilities, while also controlling the way we understand the world,” Matsuda says. “Hyper-Reality attempts to explore this exciting but dangerous trajectory.”
If the future of augmented reality is anything like the above experience — security may not be the only issue. Will a future of seamless augmented realities become just another escape from the ordinary world? And what role will distraction play?
As each new piece of technology comes along, the uphill battle for balance only becomes more difficult, requiring more mindfulness.
“Ultimately, we each have to choose how we interact with technology and what our own comfort levels with it are,” http://singularityhub.com/2016/01/15/why-grappling-with-digital-overload-is-now-part-of-the-human-condition/ ">Alison Berman writes. “The greater awareness and honesty we have about its strengths and weaknesses, the better we can make healthy decisions about how to use it in our own lives — individually and collectively.”
No matter what new technologies may come next, the interior world we inhabit is still our own choice—and there’s great value in curating a healthy personal worldview despite outside circumstances.
While he was still alive, the author Robert Anton Wilson frequently explored the idea of subjective worlds or “reality-tunnels” as he called them. The preface to his book, Cosmic Trigger, expresses what control we have in creating them.
http://www.rawilson.com/trigger1.html ">Wilson writes that since we’re all constantly creating our own reality tunnels, “I prefer to create for each hour the happiest, funniest, and most romantic reality-tunnel consistent with the signals my brain apprehends.” As for those struggling with a negative, sad or a hopeless reality tunnel, “try to show them how to break the bad habit, but don't feel any masochistic duty to share their misery.”
While the future of augmented and virtual worlds is still just forming — spending some time http://singularityhub.com/2016/05/19/a-virtual-reality-manifesto-the-good-bad-and-the-ugly/ ">thinking about what worlds we’d like to inhabit probably wouldn’t hurt.
What world would you inhabit if you had the choice?
Image credit: https://vimeo.com/166807261 ">Hyper-Reality
Though research is a slow moving and rigid process, one http://arxiv.org/abs/1402.4578 ">study shows that the rate of scientific study has exploded in the last 50 years. According to the paper, humanity’s scientific output now doubles every nine years. Considering the rigors of science — that’s pretty fast. And it’s just the average rate. In specific areas like healthcare, http://www.healthcare.uiowa.edu/2020/ ">the doubling rate is even faster — as much as every 3 years currently with an expected increase to every 73 days by the early 2020s.
For overwhelmed researchers navigating the growing stack of science literature — the value isn’t in having so much new information, but finding relevant insights when they need them.
According to Jacobo Elosua, a co-founder of Iris AI — a Singularity University portfolio company — the research process is very often tedious and unfruitful.
http://i0.wp.com/singularityhub.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/ai-research-assistant-3.jpg?resize=300%2C200 " alt="ai-research-assistant-3" data-recalc-dims="1" />“Researchers are genuinely struggling to find the scientific papers, the clinical data, and other information required to do their job. And when they do find it — it’s most often after a painful and time consuming process,” he told Singularity Hub.
Elosua and the team at Iris hope recent advances in machine learning AI might be one way through the noise. Machine learning is powerful because it allows programmers to assign a task to an algorithm — in this case, combing through scientific literature — and then let the code teach itself to improve its model as it is fed more data over time.
Iris works by reading scientific papers and learning to determine what’s being discussed in the text. The goal is to augment the discovery process by leading researchers to relevant papers and new discoveries as they are published. By identifying emerging trends and concepts within the areas of science that may impact a researcher’s domain of interest, AIs can shoulder some of the burden of constantly scanning new literature.
According to Elosua, “Iris users will be able to drop in any scientific text with over 500 words as an input to the tool — say like an abstract of an interesting paper. Iris will then display a visual map enabling an intuitive navigation of the most relevant papers.” Elosua added that, “In terms of time saved we believe it will be more than ten times faster to use Iris.”
http://xfin.co/newsmay26 ">http://i2.wp.com/singularityhub.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/SU-Hub-XFin-Article-Banner-750x100_256.gif?resize=750%2C100 " alt="SU-Hub-XFin-Article-Banner-750x100_256" data-recalc-dims="1" />
The promise of an accelerated research process is exciting, but hurdles remain. Though global trends in academia have shown a https://www.technologyreview.com/s/428195/open-access-online-publishing-trend-continues-in-academia/ ">shift to open access, many research papers are locked away in closed databases. Also, Iris's https://ted.iris.ai/ ">proof of concept scans the science literature contained in TED talks, a fairly broad set of areas. Iris is currently working to develop more specialized ways to use their service.
Another Singularity University start up, Miroculus, is hoping that their more targeted machine learning tool may help with their own research needs.
The team at Miroculus — in partnership with Microsoft — have built http://loom.miroculus.com/ ">Loom, a tool that uses machine learning to search papers for the relationship between specific microRNAs and various diseases and genes. Though Miroculus' core business is developing a low-cost cancer diagnostic tool, the Loom project may prove valuable to research efforts in their space.
MicroRNA is a type of RNA found in the bloodstream that delivers genetic instructions telling the body what proteins to build and when to build them. In a https://www.ted.com/talks/jorge_soto_the_future_of_early_cancer_detection?language=en ">TED Talk, Miroculus CTO Jorge Soto explains that microRNAs help regulate gene expression. And since changes in gene expression are a major component of cancer, understanding how microRNAs vary depending on conditions in the body — and measuring these changes — may help us diagnose cancer far earlier than today’s standards.
In the talk, Soto describes how catching cancer early is the closest thing we have to a silver bullet cure against it. But there’s a problem. Soto says, “There is no compelling way to access much of the microRNA research today, other then to manually retrieve relevant papers and read them thoroughly.” This can take days or even weeks in some cases.
He hopes that by having a way to quickly track microRNA literature, his team will be able to understand the latest findings in the space. In an interview with Singularity Hub, Soto said, “With Loom, our objective is to provide a compelling overview of how microRNAs relate to specific diseases and genes.”
http://i0.wp.com/singularityhub.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/ai-research-assistant-6.jpg?resize=300%2C200 " alt="ai-research-assistant-6" data-recalc-dims="1" />Loom is able to locate relevant papers that mention specific microRNAs, extract the relevant parts of the paper, and then score the relationship between the microRNA and the specific gene or disease being studied. According to Soto, Loom was trained by learning from a manually created dataset that curated over 10,000 mentions of microRNAs, and the tool becomes more accurate every day as more literature is published.
As AIs take on more responsibility in managing the discovery process, the science community may free up significant portions of the time they currently devote to scanning for trends. One Canadian AI company, Meta, can https://www.sri.com/newsroom/press-releases/meta-and-sri-international-announce-agreement-bring-iarpa-fuse-predictive ">already scan for emerging technology trends and predict those technology's future significance.
In parallel, as AIs learn to better navigate the subtleties of language, they may be better equipped to draw meaning from science literature. Earlier this month, for example, Google http://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/2016/05/17/has-googles-parsey-mcparseface-just-solved-one-of-the-worlds-big/ ">announced exciting progress in natural language understanding and open-sourced machine learning code in the area, which may further empower AI-assisted research tools.
Though science is moving fast — maybe too fast for our brains to handle — projects like Iris and Loom are out to show how AI can help today’s researchers keep up with today's accelerating pace.
Interested in learning more about our economic future? Join leading manufacturing experts at Singularity University and CNBC's http://xfin.co/footermay26 ">Exponential Finance conference June 7-8, 2016 in New York.
Image credit: http://www.shutterstock.com ">Shutterstock.com
Researchers recently http://news.aces.illinois.edu/news/scientists-discover-evolutionary-link-between-protein-structure-and-function ">made an important discovery in protein science that will advance our understanding of the inner workings of cells. http://www.nature.com/articles/srep25058 ">In an article published in Scientific Reports, the team said they found a critical evolutionary link between a protein’s structure and its function.
Like tiny molecular machines, proteins handle a variety of functions from transporting chemicals to breaking food down into nutrients. The vast range of protein function is possible because of their unique gene-encoded sequence of amino acids, which affects the three-dimensional shape that folded protein chains adopt.
To better understand them, researchers have sequenced and resolved a huge number of protein structures. Currently, the http://www.rcsb.org/pdb/results/results.do?qrid=EF1D3035&tabtoshow=Current ">Protein Data Bank includes 110,000+ structures—far more than the number with known functions. Powerful bioinformatics tools assist in making correlations between the shape and purpose of a protein, but what’s been missing is a direct structure-function link, tantamount to a Rosetta stone-like key.
Fortunately, such a key has now been unearthed.
Researchers in the lab of Professor Gustavo Caetano-Anollés at the University of Illinois examined specific sequences that code for small “loops” in proteins. These loops are critical components in forming active sites, which are the pockets within the protein where functions often take place.
"It turns out that there are little snippets in our genes that are incredibly conserved over time," Caetano-Anollés said. "When we look at higher organisms, such as plants, fungi and animals, as well as bacteria, archaea, and viruses, the same snippets are always there. We see them over and over again."
By investigating networks to probe the linkage between a protein’s unique structure and its molecular function, the http://www.nature.com/articles/srep25058 ">researchers discovered that loops have been utilized in active site formation throughout the geological record. These loops are the first step in being able to understand the function of proteins in cells from billions of years ago to today.
"The big problem in biology is the question of how a protein does what it does. We think the answer rests in protein evolution," Caetano-Anollés said. "For the first time, we have traced evolution onto a biological network."
It appears the loops are conserved through an emergent property referred to as hierarchical modularity, which is “the building of small cohesive parts into larger and increasingly complex wholes," according to Caetano-Anollés.
Hierarchical modularity occurs because in large networks complex organizations of components arise. These organization are referred to as cohesive modules, and they’ve been observed in nonbiological systems as well, including manmade networks like the internet.
Now that the researchers’ methods have identified loops as cohesive modules, the approach can be used to search for other patterns retained across the timeline of protein evolution.
While this research clearly has value to unraveling protein structure-function relationships in ancient and modern organisms, that loops are so key to active site formation will be of particular interest to synthetic biologists interested in the design of new proteins.
In fact, the more cohesive modules identified, the easier it will be to create entirely new sets of proteins with desired functionalities, opening the door to true designer proteins.
Banner image credit: http://www.shutterstock.com ">Shutterstock.com
Would you like to have Hyperloop in your city?
I'm proud to be a founding board member of Hyperloop One (the new name for what was formerly known as Hyperloop Technologies).
Last week, I was in the Nevada desert for the Hyperloop Propulsion Open Air Test with the rest of the board, the Hyperloop One team, and hundreds of members of the press.
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If you're not familiar with Hyperloop One, consider what it would be like to travel on the ground at 760+ mph (faster than a jet airplane).
Here are some fun travel examples:
- L.A. >> San Francisco in 35 minutes
- Montreal >> Toronto in 30 minutes
- L.A. >> Vegas in 20 minutes
- Dubai >> Abu Dhabi in 15 minutes
- London >> Paris in 15 minutes
In this post, I am going to give an overview of the Hyperloop and explain how you could bring this transportation system to your city through the Hyperloop Challenge.
What Is Hyperloop?
In 2013, Elon Musk and a group of engineers from Tesla and SpaceX http://singularityhub.com/2013/08/14/musk-estimates-hyperloop-could-shoot-travelers-from-sf-to-la-at-760-miles-per-hour/ ">published a speculative design document for a concept they called "The Hyperloop."
Born out of frustration with California's plan for a bullet train between Los Angeles and San Francisco—the slowest and most expensive per mile bullet train around, with an estimated cost of $70 billion—the vision for the Hyperloop is a high-speed transportation system that could take travelers from San Francisco to L.A. in 35 minutes for a fraction of the cost.
In other words, it's a "vacuum tube transportation network" that will be able to travel at around 760 mph (1200 kilometers per hour) — on land and underwater.
The team is led by Brogan BamBrogan, who did the design work on the second-stage engine of SpaceX's Falcon 1 and was lead architect for the heat shield of the Dragon capsule.
This team is going big and bold, and they're doing it the right way.
They just closed their latest round of funding of $80 million and achieved a major technology milestone last week.
The Hyperloop Propulsion Open Air Test
Last Wednesday, the Hyperloop One team held what was essentially its first test run, conducting a “propulsion open-air test.”
The team built a half-mile track 35 miles north of Vegas to test its custom-designed linear electric motor at speeds of 540 km/hour.
The motor accelerated from http://gizmodo.com/watch-the-first-full-scale-demo-of-the-hyperloop-1776048315 ">zero to 100 mph in about 1 second and proceeded down the track until stopped by a custom, sand-based braking system. It was a smashing success!
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This was the first of a series of unique innovations from the Hyperloop One team, including advancements in propulsion, tube design and fabrication, levitation systems, pod designs, and thermodynamics and systems engineering.
Hyperloop One’s new CEO Rob Lloyd (past Global President of Cisco) notes that passing this hurdle means they are well on their way to having a full-scale hyperloop to test by the end of the year — on a projected 2-mile track reaching full speeds of over 700 mph.
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Hyperloop's Kitty Hawk Moment — End of This Year!
In 1903, the Wright brothers flew their aircraft for the first time in Kitty Hawk, NC.
The flight lasted only 12 seconds and covered a distance of just 120 feet, but it marked a major milestone in human history: humanity realized that powered flight was real.
This moment changed the face of transportation forever.
Today, every major city throughout the world has an airport, and thousands of airlines fly between them, transporting millions of passengers daily.
Rob Lloyd calls this week’s Open Air Test Hyperloop One’s “pre-Kitty Hawk Moment.”
He expects the Hyperloop One team will have their real Kitty Hawk moment by the end of this year.
Just as in 1903, when few people realized how much the world would change as a result of that first flight, we have likely not yet fully grasped how much the world will change because of Hyperloop.
Lloyd is already looking towards the future — noting that once the Hyperloop is fully functional, “we then imagine how we’re going to take this technology and solve the world’s toughest problems.”
As to where the Hyperloop goes, well… maybe it’s up to you! Keep reading…
The Hyperloop Challenge
Want the Hyperloop to come to your city?
Hyperloop One is hosting a global competition inviting teams from around the world to submit a commercial, transport, economic and policy case for their city, region or country to be considered to host the first Hyperloop networks.
The challenge, a first-of-its-kind competition, aims to identify and select locations around the world with the potential to develop and construct the world’s first Hyperloop networks.
Our goal is to get different key stakeholders (government officials, academics, private investors and architects, to name a few) involved to facilitate the implementation of this technology.
We are asking for teams comprised of these stakeholders to make the case for how Hyperloop can drive economic growth and create new opportunities in their community.
If you or someone you know is interested, register for the challenge https://hyperloop-one.com/global-challenge ">here.
As a member of the Judging Committee, I am excited to hear about your proposals.
Hyperloop is just one example of the amazing transformations that exponential technologies are causing across industries.
Image credit: Hyperloop One
Last weekend, an invite-only group of about 150 experts convened privately at Harvard. Behind closed doors, they discussed the prospect of designing and building an entire human genome from scratch, using only a computer, a DNA synthesizer and raw materials.
The artificial genome would then be inserted into a living human cell to replace its natural DNA. The hope is that the cell “reboots,” changing its biological processes to operate based on instructions provided by the artificial DNA.
In other words, we may soon be looking at the first “artificial human cell.”
But the goal is not just Human 2.0. The project, “HGP-Write: Testing Large Synthetic Genomes in Cells,” also hopes to develop powerful new tools that push synthetic biology into exponential growth on an industrial scale. If successful, we won’t only have the biological tools to design humans as a species — we would have the ability to redesign the living world.
At its core, synthetic biology is a marriage between engineering principles and biotechnology. If DNA sequencing is about reading DNA, genetic engineering is about editing DNA, synthetic biology is about programming new DNA — regardless of its original source — to build new forms of life.
Synthetic biologists view DNA and genes as standard biological bricks that can be used interchangeably to create and modify living cells.
The field has a plug-and-play mentality, http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2009/09/28/a-life-of-its-own ">says Dr. Jay Kiesling, a pioneer of synthetic engineering at the University of California at Berkeley. “When your hard drive dies, you can go to the nearest computer store, buy a new one, swap it out,” he says, “Why shouldn’t we use biological parts in the same way?”
http://i1.wp.com/singularityhub.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/is-the-world-ready-for-synthetic-life-5.jpg?resize=300%2C200 " alt="is-the-world-ready-for-synthetic-life-5" data-recalc-dims="1" />To accelerate the field, Kiesling and colleagues are putting together a database of standardized DNA pieces — dubbed “http://biobricks.org/ ">BioBricks” — that can be used as puzzle pieces to assemble genetic material completely new to nature.
To Kiesling and others in the field, synthetic biology is like developing a new programming language. Cells are hardware, while DNA is the software that makes them run. With enough knowledge about how genes work, synthetic biologists believe that they will be able to write genetic programs from scratch, allowing them to build new organisms, alter nature and even guide the course of human evolution.
Similar to genetic engineering, synthetic biology gives scientists the power to tinker with natural DNA. The difference is mostly scale: genetic editing is a cut-and-paste process that adds foreign genes or changes the letters in existing genes. Often, only a few sites are changed.
Synthetic biology, on the other hand, creates genes from scratch. This allows scientists far more opportunities to make extensive changes to known genes, or even design their own. The possibilities are nearly endless.
Biodrugs, Biofuels, BioCrops
http://singularityhub.com/2016/04/07/we-should-be-teaching-kids-to-code-biology-not-just-software/ ">The explosion of synthetic biology in the past decade has already churned out results that thrilled both scientists and corporations.
Back in 2003, Kiesling published one of the earliest proof-of-concept studies demonstrating the power of the approach. He focused on a chemical called artemisinin, a powerful anti-malaria drug extracted from sweet wormwood that’s often the last line of defense against the disease.
Yet despite numerous attempts at cultivating the plant, yields remain extremely low.
Kiesling realized that synthetic biology offered a way to bypass the harvesting process altogether. By introducing the right genes into bacteria cells, he reasoned, the cells could turn into artemisinin-manufacturing machines, thus providing an abundant new source for the drug.
Getting there was tough. The team had to build an entirely new metabolic pathway into the cell, allowing it to process chemicals otherwise unknown to the cell.
Through trial-and-error, the team pasted together part of dozens of genes from several organisms into a custom DNA package. When they inserted the package into E. Coli, a bacteria commonly used in the lab to produce chemicals, it created a new pathway in the bacteria that allowed it to secrete artemisinin.
With more tinkering to increase efficacy, Kiesling and his team were able to bring up production by a factor of a million and reduce the drug’s price more than 10-fold.
Artemisinin was only the first step in a much larger program. The drug is a hydrocarbon, which belongs to a family of molecules often used to make biofuels. So why not use the same process to manufacture biofuels? By swapping out genes used to make artemisinin with those coding biofuel hydrocarbons, the team has already engineered multiple microbes capable of converting sugar to fuel.
http://i1.wp.com/singularityhub.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/is-the-world-ready-for-synthetic-life-7.jpg?resize=300%2C200 " alt="is-the-world-ready-for-synthetic-life-7" data-recalc-dims="1" /> Agriculture is another field poised to benefit from synthetic biology. Theoretically, we could take genes used to fix nitrogen from bacteria, put it into cells from our crops to completely alter their natural growth process. With the right combination of genes, we may be able to grow nutrition-packed crops — directed by an artificial genome — that require less water, land, energy and fertilizers.
Synthetic biology may even be used to produce completely new foods, such as flavorings created through fermentation with engineered yeast, or http://singularityhub.com/2014/07/21/biohackers-make-lab-grown-vegan-cheese-by-milking-genetically-modified-yeast-cells/ ">vegan cheeses and other animal-free milk products.
“We need to reduce carbon emissions and toxic inputs, use less land and water, combat pests, and increase soil fertility,” http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2014/09/beyond-gmos-the-rise-of-synthetic-biology/380770/ ">says Dr. Pamela Ronald, a professor at UC Davis. Synthetic biology may give us the tools to get there.
Practical applications aside, one of the ultimate goals of synthetic biology is to create a synthetic organism made exclusively from custom-designed DNA.
The main roadblock right now is technological. DNA synthesis is currently expensive, slow and prone to errors. Most existing techniques can only make DNA strands that are roughly 200 letters long, whereas genes are usually over ten times as long. The human genome contains roughly 20,000 genes that make proteins.
That said, costs for DNA synthesis have been rapidly dropping over the past decade.
https://cosmosmagazine.com/society/should-we-synthesise-human-genome ">According to Dr. Drew Endy, a geneticist at Stanford University, the cost of sequencing an individual letter has plummeted from $4 in 2003 to a mere 3 cents now. The estimated cost of printing all 3 billion letters of the human genome at the moment is a staggering $90 million, although that is expected to drop to $100,000 within 20 years if the trend continues.
http://singularityhub.com/2014/02/02/illumina-claims-new-sequencer-transcribes-18000-genomes-per-year-at-1000-each/ ">http://i2.wp.com/singularityhub.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/is-the-world-ready-for-synthetic-life-8.jpg?resize=300%2C200 " alt="is-the-world-ready-for-synthetic-life-8" data-recalc-dims="1" />An increasingly reasonable price tag has already opened doors to whole-genome synthesis.
Back in the 90s, Craig Venter, best known for his leading role in sequencing the human genome, began investigating the minimal set of genes required to make life. Together with colleagues at the Institute for Genomic Research, Venter removed genes from a bacterium Mycoplasma genitalium to identify those critical to life.
In 2008, Venter pieced together these “essential genes” and built the entire new “minimal” genome from a soup of chemicals using DNA synthesis.
Several years later, Venter transplanted the artificial genome into a second bacterium. http://science.sciencemag.org/content/sci/328/5981/958.full.pdf?version=meter%20at%202&module=meter-Links&pgtype=article&contentId=&mediaId=&referrer=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.nytimes.com%2F2016%2F05%2F14%2Fscience%2Fsynthetic-human-genome.html%3F_r%3D1&priority=true&action=click&contentCollection=meter-links-click ">The genes took over and “rebooted” the cell, allowing it to grow and self-replicate — the first living organism with a completely synthetic genome.
From Bacteria to Human
The new venture, if funded, would replicate Venter’s experiments using our own genome. Given that the human genome is nearly 5,000 times larger than Venter’s bacterium, it’s hard to say just how much more difficult the synthesis might be.
Even if that goal fails, however, the field is still bound to take a quantum leap forward. http://www.nytimes.com/2016/05/14/science/synthetic-human-genome.html?_r=1 ">According to Dr. George Church, a leading geneticist at Harvard Medical School, the project could generate technological advances that improve our general ability to synthesize long strings of DNA — regardless of origin.
In fact, Church stressed that the project’s main goal is advancing technology.
But many are skeptical. According to Endy, who was invited to the meeting but decided to bow out, the project was originally named “HGP2: The Human Genome Synthesis Project,” and its primary goal was “to synthesize a complete human genome in a cell line within a period of 10 years.”
It’s perhaps not a surprise that news of the meeting caused a stir.
Regardless of its actual goals, the project raises the prospect of building custom-designed humans, or even semi-humans who have computers as parents.
The associated risks are easy to imagine and undoubtedly terrifying: how safe is it to directly manipulate or build life? How likely are accidents that unleash new organisms on an unprepared world? Who owns and has access to the technology? Would it breed new discrimination or further separate the 1% from the 99%?
“You can’t possibly begin to do something like this if you don’t have a value system in place that allows you to map concepts of ethics, beauty, and aesthetics onto our own existence,” http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2009/09/28/a-life-of-its-own ">says Endy.
“Given that human genome synthesis is a technology that can completely redefine the core of what now joins all of humanity together as a species, we argue that discussions of making such capacities real…should not take place without open and advance consideration of whether it is morally right to proceed,” he https://cosmosmagazine.com/society/should-we-synthesise-human-genome ">said.
Image Credit: http://www.shutterstock.com ">Shutterstock.com
ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE: http://www.wired.com/2016/05/the-end-of-code/ ">Soon We Won’t Program Computers. We’ll Train Them Like Dogs
Jason Tanz | WIRED
"Whether you’re a member of the coding elite or someone who barely feels competent to futz with the settings on your phone—don’t get used to it. Our machines are starting to speak a different language now, one that even the best coders can’t fully understand...The neural network’s operations are largely opaque and inscrutable. It is, in other words, a black box. And as these black boxes assume responsibility for more and more of our daily digital tasks, they are not only going to change our relationship to technology—they are going to change how we think about ourselves, our world, and our place within it."
SYNTHETIC BIOLOGY: https://cosmosmagazine.com/society/should-we-synthesise-human-genome?version=meter+at+7&module=meter-Links&pgtype=article&contentId=&mediaId=&referrer=&priority=true&action=click&contentCollection=meter-links-click ">Should We Synthesise a Human Genome?
Drew Endy and Laurie Zoloth | Cosmos Magazine
"In a world where human reproduction has already become a competitive marketplace, with eggs, sperm and embryos carrying a price, it is easy to make up far stranger uses of human genome synthesis capacities...Given that human genome synthesis is a technology that can completely redefine the core of what now joins all of humanity together as a species, we argue that discussions of making such capacities real, like today’s Harvard conference, should not take place without open and advance consideration of whether it is morally right to proceed."
VIRTUAL REALITY: http://motherboard.vice.com/read/jaron-lanier-virtual-reality-owes-a-lot-to-the-air-guitar ">Virtual Reality Owes a Lot to the Air Guitar
Meghan Neal | Motherboard
" 'If you think about technology as a musical instrument,' Jaron Lanier said, 'you start to think of technology as something that’s all about human expression and human connection and making things more beautiful and more meaningful, and filling the world with flavor.' Ironically, we now use the term [virtual reality] to refer to anything viewed in a headset like Oculus Rift or Samsung Gear, which is usually a solitary experiences. But 'originally, [the definition of VR] was the social or multi-user version of virtual worlds,' Lanier said. 'I know that because I made it up.' "
ETHICS: http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2016/06/theres-no-such-thing-as-free-will/480750/ ">There’s No Such Thing as Free Will
Stephen Cave | The Atlantic
"Determinism, to one degree or another, is gaining popular currency. The skeptics are in ascendance. This development raises uncomfortable—and increasingly nontheoretical—questions: If moral responsibility depends on faith in our own agency, then as belief in determinism spreads, will we become morally irresponsible? And if we increasingly see belief in free will as a delusion, what will happen to all those institutions that are based on it?"
TRANSPORTATION: http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/can-our-bodies-handle-the-hyperloop/ ">Can Our Bodies Handle the Hyperloop?
Nsikan Akpan | Scientific American
"Extreme speed isn’t the ticket to Puke City. It’s acceleration that produces nausea. Hyperloop wants to mimic the experience of an airliner by only inducing an extra 0.1 to 0.3 Gs when the pod starts and stops. The required acceleration would span about two minutes. Both Hyperloop One and their competitor Hyperloop Transportation Technologies say their final pods would http://venturebeat.com/2016/05/10/hyperloop-technologies-raises-80m-for-friction-free-trains-that-go-760-mph/ ">slow down for sharp turns, but by how much remains an open question. The pods might be propelled by magnetic levitation—the same technology used for bullet trains."
Image credit: http://www.shutterstock.com ">Shutterstock
Given how much they can actually do, computers have a surprisingly simple basis. Indeed, the logic they use has worked so well that we have even started to think of them as analogous to the human brain. Current computers basically use two basic values — 0 (false) and 1 (true) — and apply simple operations like “and”, “or” and “not” to compute with them. These operations can be combined and scaled up to represent virtually any computation.
This “binary "or "Boolean” logic was introduced by http://www-groups.dcs.st-and.ac.uk/~history/Biographies/Boole.html ">George Boole in 1854 to describe what he called “the laws of thought.” But the brain is far from a binary logic device. And while programs such as the https://theconversation.com/after-years-of-conflict-huge-project-could-help-scientists-decipher-the-brain-42581 ">Human Brain Project seek to model the brain using computers, the notion of what computers are is also constantly changing.
So will we ever be able to model something as complex as the human brain using computers? After all, biological systems use symmetry and interaction to do things that even the most powerful computers cannot do — like surviving, adapting and reproducing. This is one reason why binary logic often falls short of describing how living things or human intelligence work. But http://rsta.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/roypta/373/2046/20140223.full.pdf ">our new research suggests there are alternatives: by using the mathematics that describe biological networks in the computers of the future, we may be able to make them more complex and similar to living systems like the brain.
Living organisms do not live in a world of zeroes and ones. And if binary logic doesn’t naturally describe their activity, what kind of mathematics does? I was involved in an international project which studied whether mathematical structures called “https://plus.maths.org/content/os/issue41/features/elwes/index ">Simple Non-Abelian Groups“ (SNAGs) may describe complex processes in living cells. SNAGs are commonly in mathematics and physics, and are based on the principles of symmetry and interaction. SNAGs offer a potentially powerful alternative to binary logic for computation.
There are infinitely many kinds of SNAGs. They were conjured by the brilliant 19th-century French mathematician http://www-groups.dcs.st-and.ac.uk/history/Biographies/Galois.html ">Évariste Galois, who tragically died aged 20 in a fatal duel over a romantic interest. Indeed, he wrote much of his ground-breaking theory during a feverish night before the duel.
The smallest SNAG — A5 — describes the symmetries of two beautiful 3D shapes known since the time of the ancient Greeks: the icosahedron (made of 20 triangles) and the dodecahedron (made of 12 pentagons). SNAGs can be thought of as the “multiplication tables” of how symmetries interact, rather than for how to multiply numbers.
http://i0.wp.com/upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/7/73/Dodecahedron.gif?w=1220&ssl=1 " data-recalc-dims="1" />http://i0.wp.com/upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/e/e2/Icosahedron.gif?w=1220&ssl=1 " data-recalc-dims="1" />
Dodecahedron and Icosahedron (Platonic Solids): 3D shapes with SNAG symmetry
Unlike the ones and zeros used in binary logic with just two values, the SNAG for each of these shapes have 60 values — or “symmetries.” These symmetries operate like rotations that can be combined. Performing a rotation and following it with a second can have the same effect as another kind of rotation, giving a kind of “multiplication table” for these 60 symmetries. For example, if you rotate the icosahedron (the figure below) five times by 72 degrees clockwise around the axis through its centre and any vertex (corner) it will get back to the starting configuration.
The structure of SNAGs is a natural kind of basis for computation that is http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0019995866902294/part/first-page-pdf ">just as powerful as binary logic, but presents a very different view about which computations are easy. To compute with SNAGs, nature (or humans or future computers) can use sequences of SNAG symmetries combined according to the rules. Patterns of events and interactions determine which symmetries occur in the sequence’s variable positions.
Symmetries in nature
We have http://rsta.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/roypta/373/2046/20140223.full.pdf ">for the first time shown that there are SNAGs hidden in common biological networks. To do this, we analyzed the internal workings of cells (their gene regulation and metabolism) using mathematics, computers and models from systems biology. We found that SNAG symmetries accurately describe potential activities in the genetic regulatory network that controls a cell’s response to certain kinds of stress — such as radiation and DNA damage. This may be hugely important as it means SNAGs can describe cellular processes intimately involved in self-repair, “cell suicide,” and cancer.
The specific SNAG involved in this gene network is A5. The 60 symmetries in this case are the result of particular sequences of manipulations by the cell’s genetic regulatory network to transform ensembles of proteins into other forms. For example, when a set of five concentration levels of proteins is manipulated, it can be transformed to another set. When this is done many times, it can break some of the proteins down, join some together or synthesize new types of proteins. But after a specific number of manipulations the original five concentration levels of proteins will eventually return.
It doesn’t stop at cellular damage control processes. We have also shown mathematically that nearly all biological reaction networks must have http://www.biomicsproject.eu/file-repository/category/11-public-files-deliverables?download=264:d3-1-2-modelling-methods-for-interaction-computing.pdf#page=24 ">numerous embedded SNAG components. However, lab work is still needed to explain how and to what extent cells exploit SNAGs in their activity.
Computation with SNAGs has never yet been exploited in conventional computers, but we are hoping to use it. In the future, new kinds of computers and software systems may deploy resources the way some living organisms do, in robust adaptive responses. Driven by interaction with their environment, including human users, they could grow new structures, divide up tasks among different types of computational “cells” such as hardware units or software processes, allow old structures to wither and be reabsorbed if unused.
Understanding how living things and brains use interaction-based computations, which are all around us, may radically reshape not only our computers and the internet, but the existing models of the brain and living organisms. SNAG-based computations may finally help us build better and more predictive working models of cells and of the brain. But we have only sighted the first examples, and so have a long way to go. After all, http://shakespeare.mit.edu/hamlet/full.html ">as Shakespeare and this discovery of SNAG-computation in cells remind us: “There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.”
http://i1.wp.com/counter.theconversation.edu.au/content/59483/count.gif?resize=1%2C1&ssl=1 " alt="The Conversation" data-recalc-dims="1" />http://theconversation.com/profiles/chrystopher-nehaniv-266957 ">Chrystopher Nehaniv, Professor of Mathematical and Evolutionary Computer Science, http://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-hertfordshire ">University of Hertfordshire
This article was originally published on http://theconversation.com ">The Conversation. Read the https://theconversation.com/how-the-hidden-mathematics-of-living-cells-could-help-us-decipher-the-brain-59483 ">original article.
Banner image courtesy of http://www.shutterstock.com ">Shutterstock.com.
“I can’t wait to see the art that people make with this.”
Those were the first words from my friend Ryan after spending ten minutes in virtual reality. He’d just tried Tilt Brush, an incredible experience which allows the user to paint in three dimensions. Tilt Brush is a deeply meditative and powerful experience, allowing us to turn the space around us into glowing and shimmering works of art.
And it’s not just for tech obsessed uber nerds like me—Ryan is normally the first one to push back when I go on grandiose rants about the future of technology.
This time was different though—this time he got it.
A funny thing happens the first time someone gets VR. Their eyes glaze over and they start excitedly spewing out ideas for http://singularityhub.com/future-of-virtual-reality/ ">the future of VR. If they’re a musician—it’s VR concerts where you watch your favorite band playing live. For sports fans—http://singularityhub.com/2015/08/19/how-you-watch-sports-is-about-to-ch ">it’s courtside seats at the NBA finals. And for gamers, well that’s obvious. We finally get to step into the game.
The Face of the Devil
As excited as I am about the future of VR, it also absolutely terrifies me. It scares me for the same reason it thrills me—its power to create deep and intense emotional experiences.
“I’ve just seen the face of the devil.”
Those were the first words my friend said after taking off the Vive. Now, this friend is no luddite—she’s a gamer. In fact, she told me about how she used to be addicted to a massively-multiplayer online role-playing game, http://singularityhub.com/2015/12/24/sci-fi-short-film-uncanny-valley-paints-a-dark-future-for-virtual-reality/ ">losing days and weeks at a time to the virtual world.
“This is going to swallow people up whole and never let them go.” That was her next prediction for VR.
Virtual reality, by its very nature, has a unique hold over us because it can draw us into any world and show us any scene. When you create a movie or a song, you are capturing part of a viewer’s sensory experience. But when you create VR, you cut them off from the real world and draw them into a universe of your own creation.
And as everyone’s favorite philosopher/superhero Peter Parker learned from his uncle, with great power comes great responsibility.
With Great Power...
Every aspect of virtual reality that makes it a potential force for positive change has a flip side. And one thing we’ve unfortunately learned from the internet is that if a technology can be used for something, it will be.
Corporations will create vacuous virtual reality skinner boxes which suck us up and don’t let us go. Fearmongers and hate groups will create lifelike simulations showing their worst predictions coming to life.
And even those with the best intentions will see their creations twisted and distorted, making it all the more critical that we design VR experiences with both intentionality and empathy.
Now let me be perfectly clear.
Virtual reality is a stunningly exciting technology, and I wholeheartedly believe that it will make us happier, smarter and more connected with others around the world. This piece is not written as a prophecy of gloom and doom, the goal is to think about the potential positive and negative applications of what we’re building and nudge it just a little bit towards the positive.
We’re going to examine three specific axes on which VR creators will be forced to make a choice.
- Do you want your content to create empathy and drive human connection, or will you build experiences that spread hate and fear?
- Does your experience empower the user with useful information and unique experiences or exploit them for their cash and their data?
- Does your game authentically create a fun and engaging experience, or are you slapping a coat of paint on some 3D models and using loopholes in human psychology to keep people sucked in.
It’s interesting to note that these three areas can roughly be categorized into different ways that VR is used and the choices that specific experience creators must make.
http://i0.wp.com/singularityhub.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/virtual-reality-unleash-global-workforce-13.jpg?resize=300%2C200 " alt="virtual-reality-unleash-global-workforce-13" data-recalc-dims="1" />Empathy vs. Fear: VR Storytelling and Documentaries
The Good: Can be used to make us feel connection with others and harness the power of presence in VR to allow for unparalleled understanding of others.
The Bad: Hateful and fearful messages will be incredibly powerful in VR. Imagine showing a simulated terror attack before a vote on allowing a mosque to be built. The sheer embodiment of VR means driving fear and paranoia is far easier than other disciplines.
The Ugly: We can’t back away from telling hard stories in VR and some experiences will be unpleasant or disturbing. It’ll be up to the content creators and the individuals to draw boundaries.
The Bottom Line: VR storytelling is a powerful tool and like any sort of media, creators should be mindful what they are making. A more powerful medium does not mean that we should hold ourselves back or censor ourselves. But it does require an extra level of thought into the potential outcomes of what we are making.
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The Good: VR can create rich and powerful experiences that allow companies to create value for their potential customers in an entirely authentic and open way.
The Bad: VR marketers and salespeople can exploit our innate insecurities and worries and drive us towards frivolous purchases and poor self esteem.
The Ugly: The internet runs on data and VR produces exponentially more than web browsing. Our data will be captured, bought and sold. And to a certain extent, there’s nothing wrong with that. However, there does need to be stringent consumer protection to avoid abuse.
The Bottom Line: Within five to ten years, we’ll be interacting with brands through VR / AR for most of our major purchasing decisions. If you’re looking to capitalize on that, focus on authenticity and adding value rather than exploiting your buyer’s insecurities.
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The Good: VR games are going to be incredibly fun, entertaining and deep. Games are already incredible art, and VR is going to massively increase their importance in popular culture and our day-to-day lives.
The Bad: It is incredibly easy to create soulless and empty games which draw the user in by exploiting a loophole in brain psychology known as a https://www.verywell.com/what-is-a-skinner-box-2795875 ">skinner box. I don’t want to name any names, but gaining users for these games can be as easy as taking CANDY from a baby, allowing you to CRUSH your competition. In VR, these skinner boxes can be wrapped in colorful glowing decorations and create a world which is a feast for the eyes, heroin for the brain and containing no actual gameplay, story, fun or any of the normal trappings of a game.
The Ugly: Obviously this is a fine line. Some games are thinly veiled cash grabs. But the same underlying mechanics are used throughout much of gaming for much positive benefit.
The Bottom Line: Are you creating something that makes people’s lives more fun or are you trying to maximize microtransactions? It’s already true in mobile gaming, and it’s about to be 10x as big a question in VR.
Just as mobile has come to touch virtually every aspect of our lives over the past decade, expect virtual and augmented reality to do the same. VR is going to reshape how we learn, how we play, how we socialize and how we buy.
There are no easy answers for any of these questions. The debates here range from artistic liberty to acceptable business practices to the factors that make an experience valuable. It's something that VR developers, storytellers, investors and consumers will have to answer together.
The best we can do for now is realize the immense power that technology and media have over our stories, businesses and games—and think about the subtle choices we all make that shape these systems.
Images courtesy of the http://www.shutterstock.com ">Shutterstock.com