The new artificial intelligence paragon

The tech world is getting excited about “Nara,” a new search algorithm built on the analogy of how neurons connect with each other.  It will be an even more sophisticated way of selling us stuff.  But it also is being hailed as an “artificial brain,” a robot taking us even closer to a machine becoming a person.  But is it really?

It strikes me as brain-like and person-like only in the sense of the intellectually and spiritually impoverished reductionism of contemporary thought, which reduces human beings  to “consumers” and culture to commercialism, being unable even to conceive of anything more in life. [Read more...]

A masculinity crisis from porn & gaming

A leading psychologist is saying that pornography and video games are crippling young men in their ability to have relate to women and to the real world outside themselves.  Philip Zombardo goes so far as to say that excessive use of porn and gaming is actually rewiring the male brain, as these new means of hyper-stimulation alter the normal pleasure centers, throwing off young men’s social development.  From the Amazon blurb on his book Man (Dis) Connected:

Zimbardo argues that readily available hardcore pornography and exciting gaming realities provide digital alternatives that are less demanding and far more appealing for many than sex, sports and social interaction in the real world. Immersion in these alternative realms is playing havoc with these boys’ cognitive development, their ability to concentrate and their social development, allowing girls to excel in the real world where social skills are a source of success.

More on his findings after the jump. [Read more...]

Encrypted phones vs. law enforcement

With a warrant, law enforcement agencies have been able to put a tap on a suspect’s telephone.  Now that we have cell phones and smart phones, it has come out that the government has been monitoring calls without a warrant.  Users are looking for encryption technology to protect their privacy, not just from the government but from hackers and corporations.  Some companies are talking about manufacturing phones that cannot be tapped or monitored.  The federal government is debating about whether to allow this technology in light of the needs of law enforcement.  Read a story on the subject after the jump and tell me what you think about this. [Read more...]

Our nuclear deal with Iran

The Obama administration has signed a deal with Iran that would cut the economic sanctions in return for a scale back of its nuclear program.  See the terms after the jump.  Do you think this is a good achievement?  [Read more...]

Watch people experiencing color for the first time

A company named EnChroma has developed glasses that allow color blind people to see colors.   The technology, developed by accident, is interesting in itself.  (See this and this for details.)  But what most struck me is the video showing people experiencing color for the first time in their lives.  See it after the jump. [Read more...]

How could medieval maps be so accurate?

In the 13th century, so-called “portolan maps” appeared that are so accurate, they could be used in navigation today.  But it has been a mystery how they were made and how, given the limits in technology of the time, they could be so accurate.  (This is another example of how the notion that people from other times were unintelligent is just untrue, as in the myth that people in the Middle Ages thought the earth was flat.)  A mathematician has figured out at least part of the answer of why these hand-drawn maps are so good, with even their limitations pointing to a startling sophistication. [Read more...]