#postscarcity or bust!

There’s a saying among futurists that a human-equivalent artificial intelligence will be our last invention. After that, AIs will be capable of designing virtually anything on their own — including themselves. Here’s how a recursively self-improving AI could transform itself into a superintelligent machine.

(more at io9.com)

TurboRoo, a chihuahua born without its front legs, was given a 3D printed cart made by San Diego firm 3dyn so he could train to be a service dog for disabled children.

Japanese artist Aki Inomata has partnered with, of all things, hermit crabs, to create a brilliant architectural art project. Using a 3D printer, Inomata created clear plastic shells with cities on them that were then promptly inhabited by their new hermit crab residents.

(more at boredpanda.com)

The jobless economy: a fully automated, engineered, robotic system that doesn’t need you, or me either. Anything we can do, machines can do better — surgery, warfare, farming, finance. What’s to do? Shall we smash the machines, or go to the beach, or finally learn to play the piano?

Economists predict that 50% of US jobs could be automated in a decade or two. Big fun show with tech wizard Ray Kurzweil and the economist Andrew McAfee. We need to hear the worker’s voice, too. Will a machine take your job someday? And in a world without work, what would you do?

  • Ray Kurzweil: Director of Engineering at Google, futurist, inventor, and author of The Age of Spiritual Machines and The Singularity Is Near.
  • Andrew McAfee: Director of the Initiative on the Digital Economy at MIT, author of The Second Machine Age: Work, Progress, and Prosperity in a Time of Brilliant Technologies.
  • Charles Derber: sociologist and author of The Surplus American
  • Sarah Jaffe: journalist and host of Dissent’s labor podcast “Belabored”

(listen to the podcast at kurzweilai.net)

The Brain and the Law: How Neuroscience Will Shift Blameworthiness

Eldar Shafir - Living Under Scarcity

When the robots disrupt the workplace, it’s clear that one group of society will be first in the firing line: the middle classes.

The latest to warn of this class attack is the UK’s university and science minister David Willetts, who said this week that the jobs most at risk of usurpation by robots were white-collar professions. Speaking at an event held by the think tank Policy Exchange, Willetts emphasized that the kind of work we tend to think involves sophisticated cognitive abilities is actually easier for a robot to do than many motor tasks we would consider very basic. As he put it, “Giving a cup of tea to a little old lady is a bigger IT robotics challenge than doing chess against Kasparov.”

Where robots once seemed best suited to production line drudgery, they’re increasingly proving themselves adept at the kind of jobs that fit better with middle class aspirations, like accountancy and journalism. They’re not heavy lifters; they’re office drones.

(more at motherboard.vice.com)

Open Source Outer Space

Jeremy Rifkin on the Fall of Capitalism and the Internet of Things