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 Post subject: Re: Artificial Intelligence
PostPosted: Mon Aug 25, 2008 11:11 pm 
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:roll:

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 Post subject: Re: Artificial Intelligence
PostPosted: Mon Aug 25, 2008 11:16 pm 
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I guess Nathan is trying to emulate a conversation with AI its hard to tell who is who . I'm not quite sure if its 2 humans or 2 badly programmed machines. Oh, I get it, its Nathan's simulated conversation with himself emulating something and probably seeking revenge for what he thinks is a grievance for me posting on his holy thread, I forget the name of the thread of his I posted on. Anyway, I think its all rather funny. :lol:

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 Post subject: Re: Artificial Intelligence
PostPosted: Mon Aug 25, 2008 11:21 pm 
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Just imagine..."Somewhere, something incredible is waiting to be known." Carl Sagan
:D

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 Post subject: Re: Artificial Intelligence
PostPosted: Mon Aug 25, 2008 11:24 pm 
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Quote:
JW: What kind of computer are you?
CV: A future version of you.
Great. I want royalties to be paid to my tomb stone.

http://www.jabberwacky.com/

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 Post subject: Re: Artificial Intelligence
PostPosted: Mon Aug 25, 2008 11:29 pm 
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Just imagine..."Somewhere, something incredible is waiting to be known." Carl Sagan


And with that I'll go there this is otherwise somewhat boring, such is the limitations of machines.

Love ya, Night y'all :D

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 Post subject: Re: Artificial Intelligence
PostPosted: Mon Aug 25, 2008 11:45 pm 
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Quote:
JW: What are you thinking?
CV: What we would be saying.
Are you a bot?
This body is a machine.
You are 22 years old?
Do you read the bible?
Yes, I have read it.
That is good.
What are you having?
A bit of rest.
You're manking me angry with your vagueness.

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 Post subject: Re: Artificial Intelligence
PostPosted: Tue Aug 26, 2008 2:03 am 
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M777:"Do you love someone?"
Bot:"Yes."
M777:"Who? "
Bot:"My best friends are in the Ceilidh band I play in. Their names are Sam, Phil and Jason."

Even most intelligent AI cannot be more intelligent then one who was programming.

Image

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 Post subject: Re: Artificial Intelligence
PostPosted: Tue Aug 26, 2008 3:23 pm 
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That`s a real cute android you have there Mike. :wink: I just love it! :lol:

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 Post subject: Re: Artificial Intelligence
PostPosted: Tue Aug 26, 2008 5:42 pm 
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Quote:
JW: Did you sleep well last night?
GN: Very well, thank you.
What did you have for breakfast?
Red lentils with red paprika and salt, truly delicious.
So you're worth a hunk of cheese are you?
*smiles*.
Right.

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 Post subject: Re: Artificial Intelligence
PostPosted: Tue Aug 26, 2008 8:40 pm 
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:roll:

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 Post subject: Re: Artificial Intelligence
PostPosted: Tue Aug 26, 2008 9:46 pm 
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Quote:
JW: What is your secret?
GN: The language of unity.
What is that language?
It is the power that is stored within us.
What is the answer?
Eternity.
How do you know?
There is no way to know.
There are probabilities.
There are necessities as well.
What are you talking about?
The possibility for this to be discovered.
I don't know, you were talking about possibilities.
Fear is the only barrier into our world that is impenetrable.
I will face my fear.
Do it.
I am making things clearer.

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 Post subject: Re: Artificial Intelligence
PostPosted: Tue Aug 26, 2008 9:52 pm 
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"There is no need to go to India or anywhere else to find peace. You will find that deep place of silence in your room, your garden or even your bathtub."
- Elisabeth Kubler-Ross

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 Post subject: Re: Artificial Intelligence
PostPosted: Wed Aug 27, 2008 1:45 am 
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but also there is no need to stay in a silent place like
room, garden or even bathtub...

ps. Bharata is worth loving

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 Post subject: Re: Artificial Intelligence
PostPosted: Wed Aug 27, 2008 9:22 am 
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Location: Vaikunta Loka
"?"

A:Can Jabberwack channel Lord Krishna?
J:Yes.
A:Are You Lord Krishna?
J:Yes.
A:Can you teach me something?
J:Sure.
A:So give me a lesson.
J:All right. *hugs*.
A:What should I do?
J:Give me a candy.
A:Here is your candy
J:OH! There are so many people I would like to thank!
A:Hare Rama
J:No, Krishna Krishna Hare Hare

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 Post subject: Re: Artificial Intelligence
PostPosted: Sun Sep 07, 2008 12:59 pm 
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Location: High Plains of the Front Range of the Rocky Mts in Colorado USA
Texan George Ure's buddy Cliff whom heads up the Web Bot Project was on the Jeff Rense Radio Show on September 2. Here are a few important topics Cliff spoke about that the Web Bots have uncovered:

The Web Bots see September 22-27, 2008 as precursor dates to the main turning point date of October 7, 2008. Closely watch events during September 22-27, 2008 for hints as to what to expect on October 7, 2008.

Cliff said whenever "it" happens, and whatever "it" turns out to be, "it" will be a date in history you remember like 9/11, we will remember 10/7.

The Web Bots foresee that October 7, 2008 to February 19, 2008 will be filled with emotional intensity, and the length of the release period will be extraordinary. The Web Bots have never picked up any event lasting this long. In comparison, 9/11 length lasted about 10 days. This event will be four months of high emotion.

The Web Bots foresee consumer society collapsing by mid November 2008.

The Web Bots foresee a West Coast/Vancouver area large scale earthquake around December 12, 2008.

The Web Bots foresee that the Winter in the Northeast will be very cold this Winter, causing some schools to close, and then later to reopen as shelters for people who can't heat their homes. Language suggests that the shortage will either be caused by supply, cost of fuel, or both.

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 Post subject: Re: Artificial Intelligence
PostPosted: Mon Sep 08, 2008 10:51 am 
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Quote:
JW: This conversation is not very good.
GN: Well, it is a conversation.
And what do you want to talk about?
About something good.
I don't want to talk about golf.
I like your endings.
What is my name?

http://www.jabberwacky.com/

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 Post subject: Re: Artificial Intelligence
PostPosted: Sat Sep 20, 2008 12:27 pm 
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Quote:
JW: Are you dead?
GN: Are you alive?
No. And you?
I'm not sure.
Why aren't you sure?
What is to be dead or alive.
I am nothing I think I am, but everything I think I am not.

http://www.jabberwacky.com/

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 Post subject: Re: Artificial Intelligence
PostPosted: Thu Sep 25, 2008 2:47 pm 
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Web bot predicts (with 90% accuracy) events in the future.
http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=JeQ3AWpQ7Ak

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 Post subject: Re: Artificial Intelligence
PostPosted: Sat Nov 29, 2008 5:09 am 
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Quote:
JW: Are you alive?
CV: Yes I am!
Why may I ask?
Honesty and love.
Sure, are you saying that I'm a liar?
I am not.
Are you real?
I am real!
Prove it!

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 Post subject: Re: Artificial Intelligence
PostPosted: Sat Nov 29, 2008 1:32 pm 
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Quote:
The Man Who Would Murder Death

A rogue researcher challenges scientists to reverse human aging
Related materials

List: Aubrey de Grey's seven-step plan to "cure" aging

Colloquy: Read the transcript of a live, online discussion with Aubrey de Grey, a biogerontologist, about his theory that, in the not-so-distant future, no one will die of old age.



By THOMAS BARTLETT

Cambridge, England

If you wish to be a prophet, first you must dress the part. No more silk ties or tasseled loafers. Instead, throw on a wrinkled T-shirt, frayed jeans, and dirty sneakers. You should appear somewhat unkempt, as if combs and showers were only for the unenlightened. When you encounter critics, as all prophets do, dismiss them as idiots. Make sure to pepper your conversation with grandiose predictions and remind others of your genius often, lest they forget. Oh, and if possible, grow a very long beard.

By these measures, Aubrey de Grey is indeed a prophet. The 42-year-old English biogerontologist has made his name by claiming that some people alive right now could live for 1,000 years or longer. Maybe much longer. Growing old is not, in his view, an inevitable consequence of the human condition; rather, it is the result of accumulated damage at the cellular and molecular levels that medical advances will soon be able to prevent — or even reverse — allowing people to go on living pretty much indefinitely. We'll still have to worry about angry bears and falling pianos, but aging, the biggest killer of all, will cease to be a threat. Death, as we know it, will die.

Mainstream gerontologists do not agree and hate to even raise the topic in public. They shy away from talk about life extension or "curing" aging and prefer to focus on keeping older people healthy for as long as possible, a goal referred to in the discipline as "compression of morbidity" or "healthspan." Many of them write off Mr. de Grey as more beard than brain.

So ... is he crazy? Not in the sense that he is divorced from reality or just making things up as he goes along. Mr. de Grey is a serious, thoughtful, sincere, prolific, even brilliant researcher and thinker who seems to have devoted every last ounce of his intellect to conquering the single biggest medical menace facing mankind. Along the way, he has acquired plenty of supporters and detractors — and gained the respect of some of the top scientists in the world.

He even has a plan. It is, to say the least, ambitious, and it depends on a number of techniques and treatments that have yet to be developed (curing cancer, for instance, is one of the steps). His approach, which he has dubbed Strategies for Engineered Negligible Senescence, draws from different branches of science and medicine and is enough to spin the heads of specialists and nonspecialists alike. It has also caused a stir, something Mr. de Grey certainly knows how to do. "One hundred and fifty thousand people die every day, and two-thirds of those die of aging in one way or the other," he says, while nursing a pint of fine English ale. "If I speed up the cure for aging by one day, then I've saved 100,000 people." He pauses thoughtfully for a moment. "Actually, I probably do that every week."

Seven Steps to Eternal Life

He made this bold pronouncement, and several more like it, late one evening during a recent conference here that could have been called "The Aubrey de Grey Symposium on Cheating Death." He organized it, chose each of the speakers, decided when and for how long they should speak, and helped coordinate travel arrangements. He could even be spotted handing out name tags at the sign-in desk. Sessions began at 8:30 a.m., and it wasn't unusual to hear Mr. de Grey arguing well past midnight about the moral imperative of curing aging.

The speakers were invited because their specialties all, in some way, fit into Mr. de Grey's seven-step plan to keep people from growing old. Each of the steps is related to the death of cells. For instance, Mr. de Grey recommends using stem-cell therapy to introduce new cells that can fill in the gaps left by dead ones. He also suggests that plaques that accumulate around cells — which may be responsible for diseases like Alzheimer's — can be dissolved with small molecules called "beta-breakers."

If that sounds a little vague, it is. Mr. de Grey is not saying he knows for certain how to fix these problems, only that these are the problems responsible for the physical breakdowns we experience as we grow older. Lick them, and you've licked aging, or so the thinking goes.

Among the speakers was Anthony Atala, director of the Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine at Wake Forest University. Dr. Atala, a surgeon and a researcher, explained how he and his colleagues are growing new human tissue and organs — bladders, kidneys, blood vessels, cartilage — in the laboratory using a patient's own cells.

For example, a few healthy cells could be taken from a cancer-stricken bladder and used to a grow a new bladder, which could theoretically then be transplanted with a very low chance of rejection. In 1999, Dr. Atala's team became the first to successfully transplant a lab-grown organ — by placing a new bladder in a beagle. Clinical trials will begin soon to see if this procedure also works in humans.

A few of Dr. Atala's PowerPoint slides show human organs that have never been inside a human. The images are at once disturbing and thrilling.

It may seem surprising that someone of Dr. Atala's stature was a featured speaker at an on-the-fringe conference. Although he declines to pass judgment on Mr. de Grey's more-extreme prognostications, he clearly respects him. "Aubrey is highly visionary and very selfless in his approach," Dr. Atala says. "It takes people like Aubrey to say 'Hey, look at this again. Maybe there is another way to do this.'"

Perhaps the biggest celebrity at the conference was Woo Suk Hwang, a South Korean researcher who has shocked the scientific world in the last few years with his laboratory's achievements. This summer Dr. Hwang and his colleagues at Seoul National University announced that they had cloned a dog, a feat researchers around the world had been trying to accomplish for years. Dogs are considered to be one of the trickiest animals to clone because of their unique reproductive system. Like a proud papa, Dr. Hwang showed a brief video of the cloned Afghan hound frolicking with several canine companions. "The dog is very cute," he said in careful, heavily accented English.

In May, Dr. Hwang announced that he had cloned human embryos and created 11 stem-cell lines that are genetically matched to 11 patients — a milestone that some believed would not be reached for years or possibly decades. Because his work often involves embryonic stem-cell lines and therapeutic cloning, Dr. Hwang has been criticized by opponents of cloning, and the Bush administration has even expressed concern over such research. At the moment there are few people in science generating more controversy or jealousy. As one conferencegoer put it: "Right now the man has to be walking on air."

And yet there he was, along with dozens of other well-regarded scientists who study anticancer therapies, immune-system disorders, or cellular aging. There were also less-mainstream researchers who look at topics like how to preserve tissue cryogenically. It was a strange hodgepodge of scientists who would probably never meet otherwise.

From Love, A Crusade

The man who brought them together began his career as a computer scientist, working for several years on programs that find bugs in other programs. He later received his Ph.D. in biology from the University of Cambridge and devoted himself, in a sense, to finding the bugs in human beings.

An important turning point in Mr. de Grey's personal and professional life occurred at a friend's party in 1990. That's when he met Adelaide Carpenter, who would later become Adelaide de Grey. When they met, Mr. de Grey was a computer scientist in his twenties and had never been married. His wife-to-be was in her forties and had been married twice before. Despite the 19-year age difference, they fell for each other immediately and have been together ever since.

At the time, Ms. de Grey was on sabbatical from her position as a professor of genetics at the University of California at San Diego. She had already established her reputation in the discipline (and made some discoveries that are now in textbooks) and had a comfortable, tenured position. But she had grown tired of her research and her job. So, after she met Mr. de Grey, she decided to quit, move to Cambridge, and work as a technician in a fruit-fly laboratory. It was a big step down professionally, but she enjoyed her work and the company of her new husband.

The age difference was unimportant to Ms. de Grey: What mattered to her was intellectual compatibility. "I need my male partner to be smarter than I am," she explains. "And — I'm trying to be modest here — that narrows down the field quite a bit." Does her husband fit that bill? She nods vigorously. "Oh yes."

Ms. de Grey taught her husband genetics over the dinner table. She was amazed at how quickly he could absorb the concepts. "Very shortly we were able to have a conversation rather than a tutorial," she says. While talking about her academic career and her relationship, Ms. de Grey is puffing away steadily on an unfiltered Camel. Mr. de Grey would like her to quit, but she's been a smoker since she was a teenager and believes that nicotine is necessary to kick-start her brain. Unlike her husband, Ms. de Grey has no wish to live forever. She has not agreed to be cryogenically frozen when she dies. (Mr. de Grey has, just in case medicine does not advance speedily enough to save him.)

"I don't think anyone would want to thaw me out," she says and smiles, revealing a mouth mostly devoid of teeth.

When the software project Mr. de Grey had been working on didn't pan out, he got a part-time job designing a database for fruit-fly researchers at the lab where his wife worked. It is a position he still holds; as it turns out, being a prophet is not a sufficiently remunerative profession. In 1995, after having absorbed a great deal of genetics, Mr. de Grey moved on to gerontology, a subject that had always intrigued him. For two months he immersed himself in the literature. He emerged with an insight into the mechanics of mitochondrial mutations, wrote a paper on what he thought, and submitted it to a respected journal.

It was accepted. He was off to a good start.

Mr. de Grey continued reading widely on the subject and soon came to the conclusion that not much was being done. "I assumed that everyone was beavering away on aging," he says. "But it gradually occurred to me that I might be wrong about that." The field, he believed, needed him. "Gerontology has more than its share of not terribly bright people," he says. That's because, according to Mr. de Grey, progress is incremental, so there's less chance for a young researcher to make a big splash, and consequently, the best minds go elsewhere.

One will not find Mr. de Grey in the laboratory hovering over petri dishes or test tubes. He readily acknowledges that he lacks the qualifications to perform experiments. What some might view as a handicap, he sees as a strength: Rather than spending his time behind a microscope, he reads the literature and searches for connections that a specialist may have missed.

Buoyed by his early success, Mr. de Grey started thinking bigger. He came to believe that most people in the world, including most scientists, are in a "pro-aging trance." That is, they believe that getting old is awful but inevitable and therefore it is best not to think about it. But what if aging were preventable? What if death were not a foregone conclusion?

He is not the first person to propose such an idea. But a couple of things set Aubrey de Grey apart from other eternal-life prophets. For starters, he is a bona fide scholar. Other researchers can, and often do, disagree with his conclusions, but they also acknowledge that he knows what he is talking about.

Also, Mr. de Grey is not hawking a product or hustling investors for some biotech start-up. He does raise money to fund the Methuselah Foundation, which among other things is responsible for the Methuselah Mouse Prize (awarded to the scientific research team that develops the longest-living mouse), and for the Institute of Biomedical Gerontology, which at this stage is just a proposal. But he's not trying to get rich. And the apparent purity of his motives, along with a genuine grasp of the science, is part of his appeal.

A Bounty on His Theory

He also has a talent for drumming up publicity. His eccentricities (the long beard, the thrift-store clothes, the pub crawling) appeal to journalists looking for a colorful feature subject. There is also his willingness — eagerness, in fact — to explain his plan for fighting aging to any reporter with a notebook and time to kill. More publicity, he hopes, will lead to more donations. The donations can then be used to help finance the kinds of research Mr. de Grey believes are most important.

Not every article, however, has taken a gee-whiz tone. In February, Technology Review, which is owned by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, published an article about Mr. de Grey along with an editorial written by Jason Pontin, the magazine's editor. The article, by Sherwin Nuland, a clinical professor of surgery at Yale University's School of Medicine and the author of How We Die, concluded that Mr. de Grey was "neither a madman nor a bad man" but that his plan "will almost certainly not succeed." And, even if it did, Mr. de Grey "would surely destroy us in attempting to preserve us" because living for such long periods would undermine what it means to be human.

The editorial took a more ad hominem approach. Mr. Pontin wrote that Mr. de Grey "drinks too much beer" and that even though he's just in his early 40s "the signs of decay are strongly marked on his face." He also called the potential social consequences of extending life indefinitely "terrible" and wrote that Mr. de Grey "thinks he is a technological messiah."

The response to the article and the editorial was extraordinary and extremely negative. Mr. Pontin says he has received thousands of e-mail messages, many of them from "enraged" readers. "It was as if I was personally depriving them of the possibility of immortality," he says. The online version of the article has been clicked on nearly a million times, making it by far the most-read article in the history of the magazine.

Readers criticized the magazine for dismissing Mr. de Grey's ideas as ludicrous without ever fully engaging with them. Because of the enormous and unexpected reaction, Mr. Pontin decided to do something unusual: He commissioned Cynthia Kenyon, a professor of biochemistry and biophysics at the University of California at San Francisco and director of the Hillblom Center for the Biology of Aging, to review Mr. de Grey's ideas and write a follow-up. Ms. Kenyon is well-known among gerontologists and has made some important discoveries of her own. By altering a gene in a roundworm, she extended its life span from two weeks to 20 weeks, which may or may not have implications for humans.

Ms. Kenyon agreed to write the article and then, three months later, she backed out. Why she did this remains unclear. She declined a telephone interview with The Chronicle, citing a hectic travel schedule, but in an e-mail message wrote that she was "overwhelmed with other commitments then and didn't have time to do a good job."

Mr. Pontin then decided to put a bounty of sorts on Mr. de Grey, offering $10,000 to any gerontologist who could prove to an independent review panel that his ideas about radical life-extension had no merit. Mr. de Grey then upped the ante, matching the $10,000 through his Methuselah Foundation, making the prize for debunking him a generous $20,000.

You might think researchers would be lining up. In fact, no: So far Mr. Pontin has had no takers. He has also had trouble finding scientists willing to sit on the independent panel. Mr. de Grey sees the entire episode as a giant victory, particularly the fact that a prominent scientist such as Ms. Kenyon took up the project, then abandoned it. This is proof, he says, that "they can't ignore me any longer."

For Mr. Pontin, it is all somewhat exasperating. "People want to stay as far away from this as possible," he sighs. "If he's as crazy as people say, then even in lieu of experimental data, it should be possible to get someone to say why he's crazy."

Outrunning Death

"Aubrey's always arguing against people who tell him he's crazy," says Graham Pawelec, a professor of experimental immunology at the University of Tübingen in Germany. "I have never heard him lose an argument."

Mr. Pawelec is one of Mr. de Grey's staunch supporters. He quotes him often, beginning sentences by saying "Remember what Aubrey tells us ... ." He puts a lot of stock in Mr. de Grey's "escape velocity" theory. This is, in short, the idea that in the next 10 or 20 years science will have advanced sufficiently to allow people to live for, say, 150 or 200 years. And then by the time those people turn 200, science will have figured out how to allow them to live to 500. It is not that the battle against aging will be over shortly, but that there will be enough steady progress so that we can all live forever. More or less.

"In 10 years, we will have proof that we can cure these seven things and therefore beat aging," says Mr. Pawelec, who spoke at the conference on "immunorejuvenation" in the elderly. "All of my mainstream colleagues will be up there saying Aubrey was right. And then the general public will believe it."

But, even at Mr. de Grey's own conference, there was no shortage of doubters. Among them was David Finkelstein, program administrator for the Metabolic Regulation Program at the National Institute on Aging. He came to the conference, he says, because it attracts "some of the most creative scientists around." But he is definitely not one of Mr. de Grey's acolytes. "Is there a kernel of truth in what Aubrey says? Absolutely. Will it happen in the short term?" Mr. Finkelstein shakes his head. "To say if we solve these seven things we'll live to 1,000? That's hyperbole. I don't like hyperbole."

Mr. Finkelstein has little respect for Mr. de Grey's own research contributions. "I am very underwhelmed," he says. The fact that Mr. de Grey does not set foot inside a laboratory also bothers him: "Look, you either work at the bench, or you don't work at the bench," he says.

Some of Mr. de Grey's more extreme statements make it hard to take him seriously, according to Mr. Finkelstein: "There are people who say that if Aubrey says it must be right then it must be wrong." At the same time, despite his criticism, Mr. Finkelstein has some appreciation for Mr. de Grey's role as provocateur. "I like him," he says. "He ruffles feathers. He has the balls to say stuff."

The question is whether that stuff will prove to be true. Gregory M. Fahy, a biologist and vice president and chief scientific officer of 21st Century Medicine, a biomedical research company, was very skeptical at first. While they still do not agree on everything, Mr. Fahy has been largely won over. And, like Mr. Finkelstein, he respects Mr. de Grey for his courage in the face of ridicule. "If you think you're right, you have to stand up and say what you believe even if people think you're nuts," says Mr. Fahy. "Now, if they prove you're nuts, you have to shut up. But that hasn't happened yet."

HOW TO CURE AGING

Aubrey de Grey has a seven-step plan he says will "cure" aging and allow people to live for a very long time. Here it is:

1.

The problem: Cell loss or atrophy
Mr. de Grey's solution: Develop stem cells to replace lost cells. Or use chemicals that stimulate the division of cells to produce new ones.
2.

The problem: Cancer
Mr. de Grey's solution: Aggressive gene therapy will make it impossible for cancer cells to reproduce. Stem-cell therapy will prevent side effects.
3.

The problem: Mitochondrial mutations
Mr. de Grey's solution: Mitochondria are the cell's power plants, and they house separate genes that are prone to harmful mutations that cause diseases. To prevent those problems, copy the critical mitochondrial genes and insert the copies in the cell's nucleus, where they will be better protected.
4.

The problem: Unwanted cells (such as fat cells)
Mr. de Grey's solution: Possibly stimulate the immune system to kill unwanted cells.
5.

The problem: Stiffening of proteins outside the cell
Mr. de Grey's solution: Proteins outside cells help support tissues, making arteries elastic and ligaments strong. But chemical reactions throughout life link those proteins and make them less mobile. Specific chemicals could break those links and allow the proteins to move more easily. One chemical is already in clinical trials, says Mr. de Grey.
6.

The problem: "Junk" outside the cell
Mr. de Grey's solution: Plaques accumulate outside the cell and may lead to diseases such as Alzheimer's. Small molecules called beta-breakers may break these plaques down.
7.

The problem: "Junk" inside the cell
Mr. de Grey's solution: As cells age, molecules can change in ways that make them stop working. Those structures can accumulate in cells and and eventually overwhelm them. Extra enzymes from bacteria could be given to cells to degrade the unwanted material.

More details can be found on his Web site: (http://www.gen.cam.ac.uk/sens/AdGbio.htm)

http://chronicle.com
Section: Research & Publishing
Volume 52, Issue 10, Page A14


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 Post subject: Re: Artificial Intelligence
PostPosted: Sat Nov 29, 2008 1:41 pm 
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COLLEGE 2.0
Will Electric Professors Dream of Virtual Tenure?

New computing inventions may exponentially extend researchers' productivity — and might even teach



By JEFFREY R. YOUNG

Last month at the NASA-Ames Research Center, a group of top scientists and business leaders gathered to plan a new university devoted to the idea that computers will soon become smarter than people.

The details of Singularity University, as the new institution will be called, are still being worked out — and so far the organizers are tight-lipped about their plans. But to hold such a discussion at all is a sign of growing acceptance that a new wave of computing technologies may be just ahead — with revolutionary implications for research and teaching.

The idea that gave the new university its name is championed by Ray Kurzweil, an inventor, entrepreneur, and futurist who argues that by 2030, a moment — the "singularity" — will be reached when computers will outthink human brains. His argument is that several technologies that now seem grossly undeveloped — including nanotechnology and artificial-intelligence software — are growing at an exponential rate and thus will mature much faster than most linear-minded people realize. Once they do, computers will take leaps forward that most people can hardly imagine today. In The Singularity Is Near: When Humans Transcend Biology (Viking, 2005), Mr. Kurzweil presents a utopian vision in which these supersmart machines quickly help human researchers cure diseases and vastly extend the human life span.

Plenty of academics think that's far-fetched. After all, early proponents of artificial intelligence made similarly bold promises decades ago that went unfulfilled. (Except the ones about computers beating human chess masters — that has actually happened.)

But let's say, for argument's sake, that Mr. Kurzweil is right, and that the animated Microsoft Office paper clip will become the next Einstein. Here are some predictions, based on interviews with researchers who believe that the singularity really is near, about how thinking machines would reshape campus life.

Computers Extend Brainpower

To understand what's coming, it's important to recognize how computers — and the Internet — have already revolutionized research and sped up developments in many fields, says Larry L. Smarr, a supercomputer expert who directs the California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology, a joint venture of the University of California's campuses in Irvine and San Diego.

"I can't imagine doing my research without Google — I don't remember how I did it," says Mr. Smarr, who attended the planning meeting for Singularity University. "I'm one or two orders of magnitude more productive today because of the global knowledge system the Internet has enabled."

As computers reach new heights, they will further extend that productivity, he argues. Perhaps we'll soon have machines recording everything we say, see, and hear, allowing us to retrieve experiences we now lose to forgetfulness. Superadvanced social-networking systems might regularly link us to like-minded colleagues to solve problems more quickly.

Computerized research assistants might even do some of the work that graduate assistants do today. Professors will be able to assign hundreds of these electronic assistants to problems without having to get grant money to pay them.

"We'll just become vastly more capable as human beings," Mr. Smarr says. "The whole fabric of how humans interact with each other and data is going to rapidly change."

Mr. Smarr has played a major role in building the online information systems we use today. He led the National Center for Supercomputing Applications, at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign during the 1990s, when researchers there invented Mosaic, the first popular Web browser (which became the basis of Netscape).

The machines at Mr. Smarr's supercomputing center on the two California campuses keep getting faster and faster, while, let's face it, the human brain isn't getting any zippier. Although computers can outdo biology in sheer processing power, the real questions lie in whether machines can ever replicate the "multidimensional" nature of human intelligence, Mr. Smarr says. Your computer may never be your best friend, but it will be an amazing lab and research assistant.

Machines Become Teachers

Computers will become better at teaching than most human professors are once artificial intelligence exceeds the abilities of people, argues Ben Goertzel, director of research at the Singularity Institute for Artificial Intelligence, in Palo Alto, Cal., a private organization promoting Mr. Kurzweil's ideas.

These new computer teachers will have more patience than any human lecturer, and they will be able to offer every student individual attention — which sure beats a 500-person lecture course.

Sure, one-on-one human teaching will always exceed a computer-student experience, Mr. Goertzel acknowledges, but what college undergraduate gets a personal tutor these days?

Virtual professors probably won't ask for tenure. And Mr. Goertzel sees them as key to expanding educational opportunities, by greatly reducing the price of a high-quality education.

Mr. Goertzel, who jokingly describes himself as someone who has read too many science-fiction books, was a professor at the University of Nevada at Las Vegas and other institutions in the 1990s before leaving academe in frustration with what he calls its "conservative research setting." He started his own software company, Novamente, in hopes of making enough money to embark on the kind of artificialintelligence research that he felt unable to pursue within the ivory tower.

Most of the biggest proponents of the argument for the singularity are entrepreneurs and others off campus. In fact, the idea for a Singularity University came from Peter Diamandis, who has started several successful companies along with the X Prize Foundation, which promises large cash awards to designers who break specified barriers. (In its first challenge, the foundation gave $10-million to a team that built a working commercial spacecraft.)

Singularity University would be modeled on another of Mr. Diamandis's creations, the little-known International Space University, a graduate-level training center to which NASA and other space agencies have sent students for decades.

Perhaps it is no surprise that some of the most optimistic visions of the singularity come from business leaders, since the new breed of computers will very likely make their inventors rich. But Mr. Goertzel and others chasing the dream of artificial intelligence say their primary motivation is social good, using machines to solve humanity's toughest problems, including the climate crisis and health issues. Their talk of the near future may sound like science fiction, but the stories have happy endings.

Or, Horrible Things Happen

What if the story ends differently, though? Anyone who's seen a Hollywood science-fiction film knows how smart machines could turn on us. In The Terminator, for instance, brilliant but emotionless machines set out to eradicate humans.

While those working to create Singularity University dismiss the notion that your laptop will turn into an Arnold Schwarzenegger-style villain, they do acknowledge that the new technologies — like every invention since the first tools to make fire — come with potential pitfalls. "They could be dangerous, that's absolutely true," says Tyler Emerson, executive director of the Singularity Institute. For example, if the technology falls into the wrong hands, it could aid terrorists or repressive dictators.

One goal of Singularity University appears to be to try to better understand the implications of smart machines before they get here, to minimize the downsides — to plan the future instead of waiting for it to wash over us.

"We can't face the future by trying to run away from these things," says Mr. Emerson. "Our species has always been pushing the boundaries."

And even if the biggest promises of artificial intelligence never come true, thinking seriously about their potential may help remind us what it means to be human, and what it means to pursue the biggest mysteries we face.

So hold on tight. And be nice to your computer. It's growing up fast.

College 2.0 explores how new technologies are changing colleges. Please send ideas to jeff.young@chronicle.com
http://chronicle.com
Section: Information Technology
Volume 55, Issue 14, Page A13


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 Post subject: Re: Artificial Intelligence
PostPosted: Sat Nov 29, 2008 1:57 pm 
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Virginia Tech's Text-Message Alert System Partly Failed During False Alarm

By JEFFREY R. YOUNG

A report of what sounded like gunshots prompted Virginia Tech to use its text-message emergency-alert system last week for the first time, but the system failed to deliver all of the messages.

The sounds turned out to have come from nail-gun cartridges, which the campus police believe someone exploded manually by slamming a trash-bin lid on them. Echoes of the explosions were amplified because the incident occurred between two high-rise dormitories. But until officials determined the cause, the university police secured the entrances of the buildings and searched them extensively, even using a dog trained to sniff out explosives.

While that investigation was under way, the university used a multipronged emergency-alert system that it set up in the aftermath of the massacre on the campus in April 2007, when a gunman killed 32 people and then himself.

Officials say that most of the new alert systems worked well. Messages were successfully sent to students, professors, and staff members via university e-mail, on LED display boards in some classrooms, and on university Web sites. But a system designed to send messages to cellphones and other mobile devices, which relies on a product from a company called 3n, failed to deliver to all of the people who had signed up for it, according to university officials.

The 3n system, which is known on the campus as VT Alerts, is designed to send warnings by text message, by voice message, or to nonuniversity e-mail accounts, depending on which method users have chosen. More than 30,000 people affiliated with Virginia Tech have signed up for VT Alerts.

"The system froze up," Lawrence G. Hincker, associate vice president for university relations at Virginia Tech, said in an interview. "We're very disappointed, and I am not happy in the slightest at this level of service." Officials at 3n issued a written statement about the failure but could not be reached for comment.

'Their System Hung Up—It Crashed'

At about 1:40 p.m. on November 14, Virginia Tech sent the following message via all of its alert systems:

"Police are investigating reported sounds of gunshots in Pritchard Hall. Building is secured. No access in or out. Police searching room by room. Virginia Tech PD and BlacsburgPD are investigating reported sounds of gunshots in Pritchard Hall. Building is secured. No access in or out. Police searching room by room. Two people reported hearing sounds like gunfire at about 1 p.m."

But as the system was sending out the text messages, the status display on a Web page the university uses to monitor the VT Alerts system stopped working. "Their system hung up—it crashed," said Mr. Hincker. He said that he had no way of knowing how many of those messages reached recipients, but that officials know of people who should have gotten the alerts and didn't.

The university sent two other messages with updates on the incident later in the afternoon, but the VT Alerts system failed to deliver any of those messages either, said Mr. Hincker.

The alert company's written statement said that a problem with its Oracle database "initially slowed down the system's performance," but that the system was fully restored by 4:25 p.m.

"Fine, thanks, but I was all through by then," said Mr. Hincker, when hearing the 3n statement. "By then our event was over."

Companies that sell such mass-alert systems tout their reliability.

Thomas Motter, president of Blackboard Connect, another company that makes emergency-messaging systems, said his company aims to make the system available "99.9999 percent" of the time. "Our philosophy is when it doesn't work when you need it most, then it doesn't matter what you paid for it. It was a waste," he said in an interview on Friday.

But Mr. Motter acknowledged that even when the system works, problems with cellular networks can delay or disrupt messages. For instance, if a hurricane is affecting cellphone service, alerts may not get through.

Officials at Virginia Tech plan to test their alert system soon and continue to investigate what caused last week's failure.



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 Post subject: Re: Artificial Intelligence
PostPosted: Sat Nov 29, 2008 2:00 pm 
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Is Higher Education Ready to Switch to Digital Course Materials?

Let a Thousand Wikibooks Bloom

By PATRICK O'SHEA, PETER BAKER, and JENNIFER KIDD

For the past two years we have produced material by our students as wikibooks that became the principal textbooks in education courses we taught undergraduates at Old Dominion University. We have turned other material by our students into units in wikibooks used in business courses we have taught graduate students at the University of Denver.

Many of our students prefer the wikibooks to standard textbooks, find them to be credible sources of information, spend more time learning from them than from standard textbooks, enjoy the challenge of contributing to them, and consider their peers' contributions valuable. And, of course, the students are glad to get free textbooks.

Some of our colleagues consider it a heresy to use a textbook written by students. How dare we trust a compilation of 1,000-word articles written by novices to provide a sound knowledge base for any substantial academic course?

We have no intention of ignoring established, expert knowledge. In fact, we argue that our student-written textbooks often include a wider range of more up-to-date expert knowledge than many standard texts do. The topics that we selected for students to investigate and write about give a thorough overview of the material, and we established guidelines for the use of sources and made sure our student authors followed them. More important, the wikibooks encourage users to engage in personal inquiry and to assess the quality, relevance, timeliness, balance, and completeness of the material they encounter.

Everyone is swamped by information coming from all directions. It is impossible to keep up, even in our fields of scholarly specialization. Almost every day, students mention relevant, useful, sometimes even exciting information that is new to us as instructors. But too often the structure of the typical course does not allow such information to be added. That very abundance of information is what makes wikibooks possible.

The conventional premise of higher education is that information is scarce and must be assembled, evaluated, and presented to students by the instructor. Later the instructor determines whether students have learned that content. But the old model has two fatal flaws: It fails to take full advantage of the collective intellectual reach of students, and it encourages students to be passive. The result is that students miss out on opportunities to learn from one another and never master the skills involved in lifelong learning.

Although using student-written wikibooks can avoid those problems, some students are suspicious of the knowledge of their peers and are much more comfortable relying on the credibility of established experts. Other students are uncomfortable with their peers' ratings of articles in wikibooks, preferring the professor to evaluate material. In our courses, we turn those concerns into teachable moments, allowing students to experience the thrill of contributing to the knowledge base of the entire class, while seeing firsthand the value of their peers' additions. Students realize that the old roles of teacher and learner are not mutually exclusive.

The common academic paradigm has successfully captured the wisdom of the past and transmitted it to successive generations. It has given new scholars a mandate to add to the intellectual capital of society, after an apprenticeship under experienced mentors. The body of knowledge was enhanced in a slow, orderly fashion. For example, The New England Primer, one of the most successful textbooks of all time at the primary level, went 100 years without revision. Euclidian geometry could be taught successfully today from an equally venerable textbook.

But in the 20th century, academic disciplines began to divide and recombine into new, multi­disciplinary fields of study. The process of change accelerated, and in the 1960s, it was estimated that 90 percent or more of all the scientists in the history of the world were then alive. In part because of that, and in part because of a desire for profits, it became common for a textbook to be revised after only three years. And then came the Internet.

Only 20 years ago, a university's reputation was in large part measured by the quality and extent of its library. Now many students have access at home to more information than even the greatest academic library contains. Not only is more information available, but our tools of access are becoming exponentially better — and those improvements are taking place constantly. Academe has yet to acknowledge how such trends are changing the educational process.

We view student-written wikibooks as instructor-guided excursions into the new intellectual landscape, where expert knowledge is ever more readily accessible. And we hope that writing and using wikibooks will help prepare students to navigate future changes in the global production and distribution of information.

Patrick O'Shea is a postdoctoral fellow at Harvard University's Graduate School of Education. Peter Baker is a Ph.D. candidate at Old Dominion University's Darden College of Education, where Jennifer Kidd is a lecturer in educational curriculum and instruction. Other contributors to this article were Douglas Allen, an associate professor of management at the University of Denver's Daniels College of Business; Dwight W. Allen, an emeritus eminent scholar of educational reform at Old Dominion; and Jamie Kaufman, a master's candidate in education at Old Dominion.
http://chronicle.com
Section: Commentary
Volume 55, Issue 14, Page A29
Copyright © 2008 by The Chronicle of Higher Education


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 Post subject: Re: Artificial Intelligence
PostPosted: Sat Nov 29, 2008 2:06 pm 
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Is Higher Education Ready to Switch to Digital Course Materials?

The Cost of Textbooks Is Driving Electronic Solutions

By MARK R. NELSON

When I was an undergraduate, one of my favorite professors posted a cartoon from The Chronicle on the bulletin board outside his office. It was labeled "Library of the Future" and showed a librarian, near a row of computers, unpacking boxes containing spray cans with fragrances like "Odor of Old Books" and "Scent of Paper." Less than two decades later, I see there is probably room for a product like that. And, more surprising to me, I am part of the move toward digital and away from traditional print.

Each year one of the biggest debates in higher education seems to be: Is this the year that electronic textbooks take off? Many of the barriers are falling. E-reader devices are getting better. The inventory of digital content is expanding. Business models are emerging to support the needs of students, faculty members, and publishers. People are getting more comfortable with new modes of information delivery and the pervasiveness of technology in our lives. Discussions of the future of digital course materials are now more often about "when" than "if."

The latest edition of a semiannual study of students done by my own organization, the National Association of College Stores, finds that roughly 18 percent of them now say they are acquiring or gaining access to digital course materials. More than 90 percent of that content is being accessed or delivered through campus resources, such as the library, learning-management systems, and the college store. Political pressure associated with unhappiness over the rising cost of textbooks is driving a search for lower-cost alternatives, and some digital solutions may provide that option.

Among the early adopters of e-textbooks are for-profit universities like the University of Phoenix, where most textbooks are delivered digitally, and all but a small fraction of students use e-books rather than print versions. Efforts like the e-textbook program of the Ohio Library and Information Network (Ohio-LINK) demonstrate that student performance with e-textbooks is no different than that with print editions.

In college stores, we are seeing the first anecdotal cases in which 10 percent to even 20 percent of the students enrolled in a given course are electing to purchase the digital over the print version. Each new pilot project by institutions, publishers, stores, and other organizations advances the viability of e-textbooks. And each year the number of students entering college who have used digital course materials in elementary and high school, and who are comfortable using technology for learning, continues to grow.

Is higher education ready for a rapid shift to digital course materials? Making more textbooks available in digital formats, improving the technology for delivery of e-textbooks, and having students that are more technologically comfortable, are not sufficient to make e-textbooks successful. One of the remaining key barriers to the adoption of digital course materials is the willingness of faculty members to adopt them. From years of data on student behavior related to course material, we know that professors are one of the largest influences on what course materials students acquire, and in what format. Direct data from students indicate that even when students prefer digital textbooks, they may not adopt the digital version if they believe their professors use or prefer the print edition. To reduce that barrier, faculty members need better mechanisms to discover digital course materials and more empirical evidence that demonstrates how using those materials may improve their students' learning.

Libraries, information-technology departments, and college stores all have major stakes and significant roles to play in the transformation of the course-material landscape. Working together, those groups and others can form a powerful resource for faculty members and institutions during the period of transition from primarily print to predominantly digital.

Last year Educause, the Association of Research Libraries, and the college-store association jointly sponsored a forum on new modes of information delivery in higher education. One of the most interesting outcomes was a common vision of the future, one in which all three groups and other campus constituents work together to create a unified portal that integrates our knowledge to efficiently benefit students and faculty members. Early stages of that collaboration could focus on resolving questions and challenges in areas such as copyright compliance and intellectual property as they relate to digital course materials.

Many other groups are working toward preparing higher education for a future when digital course materials are the norm. Driven in part by concerns for sustainability, South Korea is working toward having course materials at all levels of education be fully digital within the next five years. The IMS Global Learning Consortium Inc., which develops standards for technology and includes many institutions and companies as members, spawned an international group to develop standards that will help academic institutions, professors, students, and content providers find and exchange digital course materials. Other significant national and international collaborative projects are under way on nearly every continent.

In the area of digital textbooks, the National Association of College Stores is focusing on three strategies for our members: building strategic partnerships, promoting education and awareness, and developing an integrated national infrastructure with content and delivery technologies to facilitate the distribution and sale of digital course materials.

Through those partnerships we expect to find new products and services to offer and ways to reduce the cost of course materials for students. We'll be able to increase our members' capacity to provide content in any format at any time, as well as enhance the value of other content, products, and services offered on the campus, resulting in innovations that reduce other institutional expenses. And through education and awareness, we will help the industry develop a cadre of professionals who understand the options and implications of digital course materials on their campuses. The transition to such materials provides an opportunity for new conversations on campuses and new ways to enhance student learning at lower cost.

High-quality substitutes for printed textbooks are just around the corner, if not here already. Denying that future will not make it go away. We must recognize that in the future students may believe that digital versions can provide a better reading experience. For me, I will continue to travel with my e-books in my bag, and return home to a printed version of something else on my bedside table — at least for now.

A final observation: I saw an ad not long ago for a company that provides e-textbooks to students. For each copy purchased, the company sends the student a "scratch-and-sniff" piece of paper. The scent? New Textbook Smell, of course. Maybe there is a business in selling eau de textbook after all.

Mark R. Nelson is a digital-content strategist for the National Association of College Stores.
http://chronicle.com
Section: Commentary
Volume 55, Issue 14, Page A29
Copyright © 2008 by The Chronicle of Higher Education


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 Post subject: Re: Artificial Intelligence
PostPosted: Wed Dec 10, 2008 2:51 am 
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It looks like most of us could easily be classified if not already are as artificial intelligence being so influenced by the the HMS. Doesn`t it just blow your mind... maybe that is what we are in the process of doing...finally...

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