links for 2009-08-15

  • Robots Stole My Job!: Think you can’t be replaced by a machine? Think again. Robots are becoming more dextrous, able to do a growing number of tasks requiring precision and strength, and computer systems are becoming smarter, able to tackle jobs needing pattern-matching and creative skills. Humans are still cheaper, for now, but this puts downward pressure on wages–and the old rule that new technology opens up entirely new fields of human labor won’t hold true forever. Smarter, more capable machines will snap up those jobs, too.
  • Recently appointed Singularity Institute for Artificial Intelligence (SIAI) President Michael Vassar, a hardcore proponent of science and reason, emphasizes the importance of “human rationality” when discussing the future, making clear that SIAI is an “analytical think tank and research organization, not an advocacy group”. Vassar says he’s apprehensive about a “possible decrease in the quality of debate as the [Singularity] goes mainstream” and that he would find a public backlash against intelligent debate of a Singularity “odd”.
  • Kevin Kelly and I noticed that many of our acquaintances were beginning to do this terrible thing to themselves, finding clever ways to extract streams of numbers from ordinary human activities. A new culture of personal data was taking shape. The immediate cause of this trend was obvious: New tools had made self-tracking easier. In the past, the methods of quantitative assessment were laborious and arcane. You had to take measurements manually and record them in a log; you had to enter data into spreadsheets and perform operations using unfriendly software; you had to build graphs to tease understanding out of the numbers. Now much of the data-gathering can be automated, and the record-keeping and analysis can be delegated to a host of simple Web apps. With new tracking systems popping up almost daily, we decided to create a Web site to track them. We called our project the Quantified Self. We don’t have a slogan, but if we did it would probably be “Self-knowledge through numbers.”
  • Birmingham digital creative agency Clusta is pioneering a new advertising platform which allows people to move objects around on a big screen using their iPhone.Working with transport advertising company CBS Outdoor, Clusta has developed touch-screen technology letting people control the advertising display on the 57in digital screen at the Westfield shopping centre in London.
  • New Scientist brings you sex as you’ve never seen it before: the first video of a couple having sex in an MRI scanner
  • Brad and I spend a lot of time talking about the ethics of direct-to-consumer personal genomics offerings. Turns out some Stanford bioethicists have questions about this trend, too, specifically in terms of how consumers are turning to social networking sites to share information. As you know, opportunities for patients to connect online with others who have similar health concerns is one of the most important developments in the Health 2.0 revolution. So why is Sandra Soo-Jin Lee, a senior research fellow at Stanford’s Center for Biomedical Ethics, making a big deal about ethical questions, at least in the context of genetic information?
  • a list of all the headlines use dby the Daily mail of all the food or drink or othr activities that cause or cure cancer.

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