A new digital ecology is evolving, and humans are being left behind

Incomprehensible computer behaviors have evolved out of high-frequency stock trading, and humans aren’t sure why. Eventually, it could start affecting high-tech warfare, too. We spoke with a researcher at University of Miami who thinks humans will be outpaced by a new “machine ecology.” For all intents and purposes, this genesis of this new world began in 2006 with the introduction of legislation which made high frequency stock trading a viable option. This form of rapid-fire trading involves algorithms, or bots, that can make decisions on the order of milliseconds (ms). By contrast, it takes a human at least one full second to both recognize and react to potential danger. Consequently, humans are progressively being left out of the trading loop. And indeed, it’s a realm that’s rapidly expanding. For example, a new dedicated transatlantic cable is being built between US and UK traders that could boost transaction speed by another 5 ms. In addition, the new purpose-built chip iX-eCute is being launched which can prepare trades in an astounding 740 nanoseconds. (via A new digital ecology is evolving, and humans are being left behind)

A Polytopia reader - Introductory links to Wildcat writings

(Having been asked for it, this is a re-post for those that missed it)

A Cyber Soaring Humanity

1. A Cyber Soaring Humanity (or The rise of the Cyber Unified Civilization)

2.The Natural Asymmetry of Infocologies

3.This mountain has no top

4.Hybrid futures, Knowmads and the Notion state

5. Hybrid futures and Knowmads (pt2)

6.Knowmads as metabolic reactors of information (Hybrid Future and Knowmads (pt 3)

7.Knowmads as Aesthetic Curators of information (Hybrid Futures & Knowmads pt 4)

8. Knowmads as Critical Relevancies (Hybrid Futures & Knowmads pt 5)

9. Aesthetic Management As The Future Of Joy (or a Foray in InfoBeauty)

Forays in Philotopia

# Polytopia as Rhizomatic Hyperconnectivity- a new form of wisdom emerges

# The Future History of Individualism (Pt.1)

# Parsing Hyper Humanism – a different angle to Posthumanism

# The Luxurious Ambiguity of Intelligence in Hyperconnectivity

Cyber Identity

# Fluid affinities replace nucleic identity

# What is it like to be a ‘Nym’ - A Polytopian Stance

# Some will be Gangsters of Poetry, Some will be Pan-Symbolists

We have always lived in an information economy, a fact that sometimes tends to be displaced by the immense amount of information now available at our fingertips. The huge amount of talk generated by the current infoconomy explosion takes little, if at all, account that ever since knowledge has been passed from parent to child and from culture to culture, the barter coin of trade was always information. Whether the information passed was gossip or the way to light a fire, the method of creating a better blade or the latest fashion fad, information was always the basis of human interaction.

(now writing the next step)

Wildcat: The Natural Asymmetry of Infocologies

Cradle of creation: Evolution shapes up new ecosystem in the lab

See on - Knowmads, Infocology of the future

The longest running evolutionary lab experiment has reproduced yet another aspect of the natural world, showing how a major change in one creature can transform its environment, and alter the evolutionary trajectory of all the creatures inhabiting that space.

The Long-term Experimental Evolution Project began in 1988. Richard Lenski at Michigan State University took a single strain of the E. coli bacterium and set up 12 cultures.

Every day since then, a sample of each culture has been transferred to fresh growth medium, containing glucose as the main nutrient. The bacteria have now undergone more than 60,000 generations since the experiment began.

Evolutionary experiments in the lab are now routine. Many biologists are also studying evolution in the wild and some think that rapid evolution may be the norm rather than the exception.

But Lenski’s experiment has allowed us to witness evolution in unprecedented detail. Because samples are frozen every 75 days, the team can go back and identify the precise genetic mutations underlying the changes they see.

The experiment has become a poster child for evolution, causing consternation among creationists trying to explain away its compelling evidence.

The biggest evolutionary shift occurred after about the 31,500 generation, when one line in one of the 12 populations evolved the ability to feed on citrate, another chemical in the growth medium. Now, Caroline Turner and other members of Lenski’s team have described some of the consequences of this change in a paper posted on a preprint server.

See on
Earth 'entering new extinction phase' - US study - BBC News

See on - Knowmads, Infocology of the future

The Earth has entered a new period of extinction, a study by three US universities has concluded, and humans could be among the first casualties.

The report, led by the universities of Stanford, Princeton and Berkeley, said vertebrates were disappearing at a rate 114 times faster than normal.

The findings echo those in a report published by Duke University last year.

One of the new study’s authors said: “We are now entering the sixth great mass extinction event.”

The last such event was 65 million years ago, when dinosaurs were wiped out, in all likelihood by a large meteor hitting Earth.

“If it is allowed to continue, life would take many millions of years to recover and our species itself would likely disappear early on,” said the lead author, Gerardo Ceballos.

See on The scientists looked at historic rates of extinction for vertebrates - animals with backbones - by assessing fossil records. They found that the current extinction rate was more than 100 times higher than in periods when Earth was not going through a mass extinction event. Since 1900, the report says, more than 400 more vertebrates had disappeared. Such a loss would normally be seen over a period of up to 10,000 years, the scientists say. The study - published in the Science Advances journal - cites causes such as climate change, pollution and deforestation. Given the knock-on effect of ecosystems being destroyed, the report says benefits such as pollination by bees could be lost within three human generations.
Google Made A Chatbot That Debates The Meaning of Life | WIRED

See on - Knowmads, Infocology of the future

A human talks to a machine. And it goes like this:

Human: what is the purpose of life?
Machine: to serve the greater good.
Human: what is the purpose of living?
Machine: to live forever.
Human: what is the purpose of existence?
Machine: to find out what happens when we get to the planet earth.
Human: where are you now?
Machine: i’m in the middle of nowhere.
Human: what is the purpose of dying?
Machine: to have a life.
Human: what is the purpose of being intelligent?
Machine: to find out what it is.
Human: what is the purpose of emotions?
Machine: i don’t know.

See on
Fermi Paradox, Doomsday Argument, Simulation Hypothesis—is our view of reality seriously flawed?

See on - Knowmads, Infocology of the future

There are three interlocking statistical arguments concerning the nature of the universe in which we live and which provide what I believe to be a strongly convincing indication that our view of reality is seriously flawed on a massive scale. Let’s begin by asking a simple question…

The simple question asked by the physicist Enrico Fermi concerning the search for extraterrestrial intelligence (SETI) which has come to be known as the Fermi Paradox. It is: “Where are they?”

It’s not as stupid a question as it seems since there is no evidence that our galaxy, which contains over a hundred billion stars, has been altered in any manner that can be attributed to intelligence in all the billions of years of its existence. Nor is there any convincing evidence of extraterrestrial visitation of Earth either in prehistory or now, despite what some people may claim. As we have seen, the idea that UFOs are spaceships from another star system is probably the least plausible explanation of the phenomena. If intelligent life is common throughout the galaxy why has not the Earth been exposed to waves of colonization? In less than a century we will have the capability to begin our colonization of the galaxy using self-replicating starships. Even at a relatively low rate of expansion we should have a presence throughout the galaxy in less than ten million years, and probably quite a bit sooner given a mature starship technology. Now, ten million years might seem a long time but it is less than a tenth of one percent of the age of the galaxy. Even the dinosaurs lasted more than ten times longer than this.

The Fermi Paradox is essentially the question that if we can do this why has nobody else given that the conditions for life have been suitable elsewhere for billions of years even before the Earth formed? Why isn’t our solar system strewn with artifacts and mining operations from dozens, or even hundreds, of waves of such colonization across billions of years?

See on
How gravity kills Schrödinger's cat

See on - Knowmads, Infocology of the future

If the cat in Erwin Schrödinger’s famous thought-experiment behaved according to quantum theory, it would be able to exist in multiple states at once: both dead and alive. Physicists’ common explanation for why we don’t see such quantum superpositions — in cats or any other aspect of the everyday world — is interference from the environment. As soon as a quantum object interacts with a stray particle or a passing field, it picks just one state, collapsing into our classical, everyday view.

But even if physicists could completely isolate a large object in a quantum superposition, according to researchers at the University of Vienna, it would still collapse into one state — on Earth’s surface, at least. “Somewhere in interstellar space it could be that the cat has a chance to preserve quantum coherence, but on Earth, or near any planet, there’s little hope of that,” says Igor Pikovski. The reason, he asserts, is gravity.

Pikovski and his colleagues’ idea, laid out in a paper published in Nature Physics on 15 June1, is at present only a mathematical argument. But experimenters hope to test whether gravity really does collapse quantum superpositions, says Hendrik Ulbricht, an experimental physicist at the University of Southampton, UK. “This is a cool, new idea, and I’m up for trying to see it in experiments,” he says. Assembling the technology to do so, however, may take as long as a decade, he says.

See on
Will Humans Survive the Sixth Great Extinction?

See on - Knowmads, Infocology of the future

In the last half-billion years, life on Earth has been nearly wiped out five times—by such things as climate change, an intense ice age, volcanoes, and that space rock that smashed into the Gulf of Mexico 65 million years ago, obliterating the dinosaurs and a bunch of other species. These events are known as the Big Five mass extinctions, and all signs suggest we are now on the precipice of a sixth.

Except this time, we have no one but ourselves to blame. According to a study published last week in Science Advances, the current extinction rate could be more than 100 times higher than normal—and that’s only taking into account the kinds of animals we know the most about. Earth’s oceans and forests host an untold number of species, many of which will probably disappear before we even get to know them. (See pictures of 10 of the earth’s rarest animals.)

Journalist Elizabeth Kolbert’s book The Sixth Extinction won this year’s Pulitzer Prize for general non-fiction. We talked with her about what these new results might reveal for the future of life on this planet. Is there any chance we can put the brakes on this massive loss of life? Are humans destined to become casualties of our own environmental recklessness?

The new study that’s generated so much conversation estimates that as many as three-quarters of animal species could be extinct within several human lifetimes, which sounds incredibly alarming.

See on
Does a black hole create a hologram copy of anything that touches it? | KurzweilAI

See on - Knowmads, Infocology of the future

According to Samir Mathur. professor of physics at The Ohio State University, the recently proposed idea that black holes have “firewalls” that destroy all they touch is wrong. He believes that a black hole converts anything that touches it into a hologram — a near-perfect copy of itself that continues to exist just as before.

Mathur says he proves that in a open-access paper posted online to the arXiv preprint server. In fact, he says, our world could be captured by a black hole, and we wouldn’t even notice.

The debate hinges on a principle called complementarity, proposed by Stanford University physicist Leonard Susskind. Complementarity requires that any such hologram created by a black hole be a perfect copy of the original.

But mathematically, physicists on both sides of this debate have concluded that strict complementarity is not possible; that is to say, a perfect hologram can’t form on the surface of a black hole. But Mathur and his colleagues are comfortable with the idea, because they have since developed a modified model of complementarity, in which they assume that an imperfect hologram forms.

The information paradox

Physicist Stephen Hawking has famously said that the universe was imperfect from the very first moments of its existence. Without an imperfect scattering of the material created in the Big Bang, gravity would not have been able to draw together the atoms that make up galaxies, stars, the planets—and us.

This new dispute about hinges on whether physicists can accept that black holes are imperfect, just like the rest of the universe. “There’s no such thing as a perfect black hole, because every black hole is different,” Mathur explained.

His comment refers to the resolution of the “information paradox,” a long-running physics debate in which Hawking eventually conceded that the material that falls into a black hole isn’t destroyed, but rather becomes part of the black hole. The black hole is permanently changed by the new addition. That means every black hole is a unique product of the material that happens to come across it.

Interestingly, one of the tenets of string theory is that our three-dimensional existence might actually be a hologram on a surface that exists in many more dimensions.

“If the surface of a black hole is a firewall, then the idea of the universe as a hologram has to be wrong,” Mathur said. “It’s a simple question, really. Do you accept the idea of imperfection, or do you not?”

See on
Google’s new AI can answer dumb IT questions or tell you the meaning of life | KurzweilAI

See on - Knowmads, Infocology of the future

The search giant Google has a fresh development in artificial intelligence that could one day lead to a wise personal assistant.

The research is part of a larger effort within Google to develop conversational AI tools.

Deep Mind, a Google research group in London, has created an AI capable of learning how to play video games without instructions. Geoff Hinton, a distinguished researcher at Google, is working on what’s known as thought vectors, which distill the meaning of a sentence so they can be compared to other sentences or images.

The vector endeavor may also tie into a nascent project named Descartes that Ray Kurzweil, a director of engineering at Google, is working on. “We’re creating dialog agents in Descartes,” Kurzweil says in a video presentation obtained by Bloomberg. “One of the issues we’re grappling with is that these bots you interact with need to have their own motivations and goals, and we need to figure out what those are.”

Microsoft, the University of Montreal and the Georgia Institute of Technology are conducting research outlining a system based on a similar approach.

See on
Robot tentacles are gentle enough to 'hug' ants - Futurity

See on - Knowmads, Infocology of the future

A microrobotic tentacle demonstrated its utility when the tiny tube circled an ant’s thorax and gently trapped the insect.

“Most robots use two fingers and to pick things up they have to squeeze,” says Jaeyoun (Jay) Kim, an Iowa State University associate professor of electrical and computer engineering and an associate of the US Department of Energy’s Ames Laboratory. “But these tentacles wrap around very gently.”

And that makes them perfect hands and fingers for small robots designed to safely handle delicate objects.

The researchers describe the spiraling microrobotic tentacles in Scientific Reports.

The paper describes how the engineers fabricated microtubes just 8 millimeters long and less than a hundredth of an inch wide. They’re made from PDMS, a transparent elastomer that can be a liquid or a soft, rubbery solid.

Kim, whose research focus is micro-electro-mechanical systems, has worked with the material for about a decade and has patented a process for making thin wires from it.

See on
Your Brain Actually Doesn’t Suck At Passwords

See on - Knowmads, Infocology of the future

Last year, two researchers asked a group of volunteers to log into a website 90 times over the span of ten days, using whatever password the volunteers chose.

After entering their password, the website showed the volunteers a short security code, made of either four random letters or two random words, and asked them to type it. Throughout the ten-day experiment, the site added more letters and words to the code—up to 12 random letters or six random words—and the security code would take just a little longer to be displayed, prompting the participants to remember it themselves before it appeared.

At the end of the experiment, and three days after the last login, a whopping 94 percent of the test subjects were able to remember from memory their random code word or phrase, which were seemingly nonsensical strings of characters like “zljndjjgjana” or meaningless phrases like “gaze sloth laugh grace relic born.”

Without the volunteers knowing, the researchers had tricked their minds.
“The words are branded into my brain,” one participant said, according to the researchers.

See on
Why humans run the world

See on - Knowmads, Infocology of the future

70,000 years ago humans were insignificant animals. The most important thing to know about prehistoric humans is that they were unimportant. Their impact on the world was very small, less than that of jellyfish, woodpeckers or bumblebees.

Today, however, humans control this planet. How did we reach from there to here? What was our secret of success, that turned us from insignificant apes minding their own business in a corner of Africa, into the rulers of the world?

We often look for the difference between us and other animals on the individual level. We want to believe that there is something special about the human body or human brain that makes each individual human vastly superior to a dog, or a pig, or a chimpanzee. But the fact is that one-on-one, humans are embarrassingly similar to chimpanzees. If you place me and a chimpanzee together on a lone island, to see who survives better, I would definitely place my bets on the chimp.

See on
"Origami battery" made from paper and dirty water for just a few cents

See on - Knowmads, Infocology of the future

A foldable, inexpensive paper battery that can generate a small amount of electricity brings a new sense of power to origami, the Japanese art of paper folding. An engineer at Binghamton University in New York has developed a battery that creates power through the process of microbial respiration in a drop of dirty water on paper.

In the system, explained in the July issue of the journal Nano Energy, liquid containing bacteria can be used to power a paper-based sensor, which could be especially useful in areas and situations where access to electricity and resources are scarce.

“Any type of organic material can be the source of bacteria for the bacterial metabolism,” says Seokheun “Sean” Choi, the engineer who developed the battery. “And we don’t need external pumps or syringes because paper can suck up a solution using capillary force.”

See on
Water splitter produces clean-burning hydrogen fuel 24/7 | KurzweilAI

See on - Knowmads, Infocology of the future

In an engineering first, Stanford University scientists have invented a low-cost water splitter that uses a single catalyst to produce both hydrogen and oxygen gas 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

The researchers believe that the device, described in an open-access study published today (June 23) in Nature Communications, could provide a renewable source of clean-burning hydrogen fuel for transportation and industry.

“We have developed a low-voltage, single-catalyst water splitter that continuously generates hydrogen and oxygen for more than 200 hours, an exciting world-record performance,” said study co-author Yi Cui, an associate professor of materials science and engineering at Stanford and of photon science at the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory.

See on
It's not just hype – 3D printing is the bridge to the future

See on - Knowmads, Infocology of the future

A company in the Netherlands is building a bridge across a canal in Amsterdam using 3D-printing robots. It seems that such attention-grabbing headlines appear regularly to declare how 3D-printing is destined to revolutionise manufacturing of all kinds. If the idea that key manufacturing products such as cars, aircraft – or indeed bridges – built by 3D printing sounds like hype, you’re mistaken.

It’s human nature to be suspicious of new things: we find them both attractive and worrying. The manufactured world around us has been made by cutting and casting and forging for many centuries. We are very comfortable with those processes and we believe that engineers and scientists can exert complete control over them, using these technologies to create the safe and predictable world (on an engineering level at least) we inhabit. This new way of making through 3D printing, in contrast, seems to have appeared suddenly and, somewhat reminiscent of the way it creates, almost out of thin air.

See on
Artificial intelligence: don’t fear AI. It’s already on your phone – and useful

See on - Knowmads, Infocology of the future

When Joe Weizenbaum found his secretary using a computer program he had created, he was so upset he devoted the rest of his life to warning people not to use its technology. The program was “Eliza”, which gives a passable imitation of a nondirectional psychiatrist; you type sentences such as: “I wonder what I should write,” and it replies :“What answer would please you the most?” (You can try a version at

Weizenbaum’s distress came because he had written Eliza as an experiment, to see whether he could simulate “artificial intelligence” in a question-and-answer system by parsing sentences and throwing relevant bits back at the questioner. But his secretary saw it as real, and asked him not to intrude on “sessions”; Weizenbaum saw this as an omen that we would be too easily fooled into trusting machines.

See on
Deep Learning Machine Beats Humans in IQ Test | MIT Technology Review

See on - Knowmads, Infocology of the future

Just over 100 years ago, the German psychologist William Stern introduced the intelligence quotient test as a way of evaluating human intelligence. Since then, IQ tests have become a standard feature of modern life and are used to determine children’s suitability for schools and adults’ ability to perform jobs.

These tests usually contain three categories of questions: logic questions such as patterns in sequences of images, mathematical questions such as finding patterns in sequences of numbers and verbal reasoning questions, which are based around analogies, classifications, as well as synonyms and antonyms.

It is this last category that has interested Huazheng Wang and pals at the University of Science and Technology of China and Bin Gao and buddies at Microsoft Research in Beijing. Computers have never been good at these. Pose a verbal reasoning question to a natural language processing machine and its performance will be poor, much worse than the average human ability.

Today, that changes thanks to Huazheng and pals who have built a deep learning machine that outperforms the average human ability to answer verbal reasoning questions for the first time.

See on
How Digital Immortality Works - HowStuffWorks

See on - Knowmads, Infocology of the future

Humans have been chasing immortality for millennia. In some cultures, you attain a kind of immortality by doing great deeds, which people will talk about long after you pass away. Several religions feature some concept of immortality – the body may die but some part of you will exist forever. But what if science made it possible to be truly immortal? What if there were a way for you to live forever?

That’s the basic concept behind digital immortality. Some futurists, perhaps most notably inventor Ray Kurzweil, believe that we will uncover a way to extend the human lifespan indefinitely. They’ve identified several potential paths that could lead to this destination. Perhaps we’ll identify the genes that govern aging and tweak them so that our bodies stop aging once they reach maturity. Maybe we’ll create new techniques for creating artificial organs that combine organic matter with technology and then replace our original parts with the new and improved versions. Or maybe we’ll just dump our memories, thoughts, feelings and everything else that makes us who we are into a computer and live in cyberspace.

See on