The Big Think

January 15, 2014

To The Moon, Richard.

Filed under: Space,Technology — jasony @ 8:06 pm

Branson’s space plane hits new heights | euronews, space: “Virgin Galactic’s re-usable spacecraft SpaceShipTwo has broken its own personal record for altitude in a third supersonic test flight over the Mojave Desert in the western USA. The craft was released from its carrier and soared up to an altitude of 21,641 metres and a speed of Mach 1.4, or 1224 km/h.”

Video at the link.

Inside the Fort

Filed under: Technology — jasony @ 3:55 pm

I Spent Two Hours Talking With the NSA’s Bigwigs. Here’s What Has Them Mad:

“They really hate Snowden. The NSA is clearly, madly, deeply furious at the man whose actions triggered the biggest crisis in its history. Even while contending they welcome the debate that now engages the nation, they say that they hate the way it was triggered. The NSA has an admittedly insular culture — the officials described it as almost like a family. Morale suffers when friends and neighbors think that NSA employees are sitting around reading grandma’s email. Also, the agency believes that the Snowden leaks have seriously hurt national security (though others dispute this). NSA officials are infuriated that all this havoc was caused by some random contractor. They suggest that had Snowden been familiar with the culture and the ethos of the agency, understood the level of training undergone by its employees, seen the level of regulations and oversight, he would have been less likely to abscond with all those documents. (Snowden’s interviews indicate otherwise.)”

Tell that to this guy who, by the way, has an excellent interview here (podcast may be time limited, get it soon).

Turing

Filed under: Technology — jasony @ 11:11 am

If a Time Traveller Saw a Smartphone:

“A well-educated time traveller from 1914 enters a room divided in half by a curtain. A scientist tells him that his task is to ascertain the intelligence of whoever is on the other side of the curtain by asking whatever questions he pleases.

The traveller’s queries are answered by a voice with an accent that he does not recognize (twenty-first-century American English). The woman on the other side of the curtain has an extraordinary memory. She can, without much delay, recite any passage from the Bible or Shakespeare. Her arithmetic skills are astonishing—difficult problems are solved in seconds. She is also able to speak many foreign languages, though her pronunciation is odd. Most impressive, perhaps, is her ability to describe almost any part of the Earth in great detail, as though she is viewing it from the sky. She is also proficient at connecting seemingly random concepts, and when the traveller asks her a question like ‘How can God be both good and omnipotent?’ she can provide complex theoretical answers.

Based on this modified Turing test, our time traveller would conclude that, in the past century, the human race achieved a new level of superintelligence. Using lingo unavailable in 1914, (it was coined later by John von Neumann) he might conclude that the human race had reached a ‘singularity’—a point where it had gained an intelligence beyond the understanding of the 1914 mind.”

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