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atheism | Definition, Philosophy, & Comparison to …

Atheism, in general, the critique and denial of metaphysical beliefs in God or spiritual beings. As such, it is usually distinguished from theism, which affirms the reality of the divine and often seeks to demonstrate its existence. Atheism is also distinguished from agnosticism, which leaves open the question whether there is a god or not, professing to find the questions unanswered or unanswerable.

The dialectic of the argument between forms of belief and unbelief raises questions concerning the most perspicuous delineation, or characterization, of atheism, agnosticism, and theism. It is necessary not only to probe the warrant for atheism but also carefully to consider what is the most adequate definition of atheism. This article will start with what have been some widely accepted, but still in various ways mistaken or misleading, definitions of atheism and move to more adequate formulations that better capture the full range of atheist thought and more clearly separate unbelief from belief and atheism from agnosticism. In the course of this delineation the section also will consider key arguments for and against atheism.

A central, common core of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam is the affirmation of the reality of one, and only one, God. Adherents of these faiths believe that there is a God who created the universe out of nothing and who has absolute sovereignty over all his creation; this includes, of course, human beingswho are not only utterly dependent on this creative power but also sinful and who, or so the faithful must believe, can only make adequate sense of their lives by accepting, without question, Gods ordinances for them. The varieties of atheism are numerous, but all atheists reject such a set of beliefs.

Atheism, however, casts a wider net and rejects all belief in spiritual beings, and to the extent that belief in spiritual beings is definitive of what it means for a system to be religious, atheism rejects religion. So atheism is not only a rejection of the central conceptions of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam; it is, as well, a rejection of the religious beliefs of such African religions as that of the Dinka and the Nuer, of the anthropomorphic gods of classical Greece and Rome, and of the transcendental conceptions of Hinduism and Buddhism. Generally atheism is a denial of God or of the gods, and if religion is defined in terms of belief in spiritual beings, then atheism is the rejection of all religious belief.

It is necessary, however, if a tolerably adequate understanding of atheism is to be achieved, to give a reading to rejection of religious belief and to come to realize how the characterization of atheism as the denial of God or the gods is inadequate.

To say that atheism is the denial of God or the gods and that it is the opposite of theism, a system of belief that affirms the reality of God and seeks to demonstrate his existence, is inadequate in a number of ways. First, not all theologians who regard themselves as defenders of the Christian faith or of Judaism or Islam regard themselves as defenders of theism. The influential 20th-century Protestant theologian Paul Tillich, for example, regards the God of theism as an idol and refuses to construe God as a being, even a supreme being, among beings or as an infinite being above finite beings. God, for him, is being-itself, the ground of being and meaning. The particulars of Tillichs view are in certain ways idiosyncratic, as well as being obscure and problematic, but they have been influential; and his rejection of theism, while retaining a belief in God, is not eccentric in contemporary theology, though it may very well affront the plain believer.

Second, and more important, it is not the case that all theists seek to demonstrate or even in any way rationally to establish the existence of God. Many theists regard such a demonstration as impossible, and fideistic believers (e.g., Johann Hamann and Sren Kierkegaard) regard such a demonstration, even if it were possible, as undesirable, for in their view it would undermine faith. If it could be proved, or known for certain, that God exists, people would not be in a position to accept him as their sovereign Lord humbly on faith with all the risks that entails. There are theologians who have argued that for genuine faith to be possible God must necessarily be a hidden God, the mysterious ultimate reality, whose existence and authority must be accepted simply on faith. This fideistic view has not, of course, gone without challenge from inside the major faiths, but it is of sufficient importance to make the above characterization of atheism inadequate.

Finally, and most important, not all denials of God are denials of his existence. Believers sometimes deny God while not being at all in a state of doubt that God exists. They either willfully reject what they take to be his authority by not acting in accordance with what they take to be his will, or else they simply live their lives as if God did not exist. In this important way they deny him. Such deniers are not atheists (unless we wish, misleadingly, to call them practical atheists). They are not even agnostics. They do not question that God exists; they deny him in other ways. An atheist denies the existence of God. As it is frequently said, atheists believe that it is false that God exists, or that Gods existence is a speculative hypothesis of an extremely low order of probability.

Yet it remains the case that such a characterization of atheism is inadequate in other ways. For one it is too narrow. There are atheists who believe that the very concept of God, at least in developed and less anthropomorphic forms of Judeo-Christianity and Islam, is so incoherent that certain central religious claims, such as God is my creator to whom everything is owed, are not genuine truth-claims; i.e., the claims could not be either true or false. Believers hold that such religious propositions are true, some atheists believe that they are false, and there are agnostics who cannot make up their minds whether to believe that they are true or false. (Agnostics think that the propositions are one or the other but believe that it is not possible to determine which.) But all three are mistaken, some atheists argue, for such putative truth-claims are not sufficiently intelligible to be genuine truth-claims that are either true or false. In reality there is nothing in them to be believed or disbelieved, though there is for the believer the powerful and humanly comforting illusion that there is. Such an atheism, it should be added, rooted for some conceptions of God in considerations about intelligibility and what it makes sense to say, has been strongly resisted by some pragmatists and logical empiricists.

While the above considerations about atheism and intelligibility show the second characterization of atheism to be too narrow, it is also the case that this characterization is in a way too broad. For there are fideistic believers, who quite unequivocally believe that when looked at objectively the proposition that God exists has a very low probability weight. They believe in God not because it is probable that he existsthey think it more probable that he does notbut because belief is thought by them to be necessary to make sense of human life. The second characterization of atheism does not distinguish a fideistic believer (a Blaise Pascal or a Soren Kierkegaard) or an agnostic (a T.H. Huxley or a Sir Leslie Stephen) from an atheist such as Baron dHolbach. All believe that there is a God and God protects humankind, however emotionally important they may be, are speculative hypotheses of an extremely low order of probability. But this, since it does not distinguish believers from nonbelievers and does not distinguish agnostics from atheists, cannot be an adequate characterization of atheism.

It may be retorted that to avoid apriorism and dogmatic atheism the existence of God should be regarded as a hypothesis. There are no ontological (purely a priori) proofs or disproofs of Gods existence. It is not reasonable to rule in advance that it makes no sense to say that God exists. What the atheist can reasonably claim is that there is no evidence that there is a God, and against that background he may very well be justified in asserting that there is no God. It has been argued, however, that it is simply dogmatic for an atheist to assert that no possible evidence could ever give one grounds for believing in God. Instead, atheists should justify their unbelief by showing (if they can) how the assertion is well-taken that there is no evidence that would warrant a belief in God. If atheism is justified, the atheist will have shown that in fact there is no adequate evidence for the belief that God exists, but it should not be part of his task to try to show that there could not be any evidence for the existence of God. If the atheist could somehow survive the death of his present body (assuming that such talk makes sense) and come, much to his surprise, to stand in the presence of God, his answer should be, Oh! Lord, you didnt give me enough evidence! He would have been mistaken, and realize that he had been mistaken, in his judgment that God did not exist. Still, he would not have been unjustified, in the light of the evidence available to him during his earthly life, in believing as he did. Not having any such postmortem experiences of the presence of God (assuming that he could have them), what he should say, as things stand and in the face of the evidence he actually has and is likely to be able to get, is that it is false that God exists. (Every time one legitimately asserts that a proposition is false one need not be certain that it is false. Knowing with certainty is not a pleonasm.) The claim is that this tentative posture is the reasonable position for the atheist to take.

An atheist who argues in this manner may also make a distinctive burden-of-proof argument. Given that God (if there is one) is by definition a very recherch realitya reality that must be (for there to be such a reality) transcendent to the worldthe burden of proof is not on the atheist to give grounds for believing that there is no reality of that order. Rather, the burden of proof is on the believer to give some evidence for Gods existencei.e., that there is such a reality. Given what God must be, if there is a God, the theist needs to present the evidence, for such a very strange reality. He needs to show that there is more in the world than is disclosed by common experience. The empirical method, and the empirical method alone, such an atheist asserts, affords a reliable method for establishing what is in fact the case. To the claim of the theist that there are in addition to varieties of empirical facts spiritual facts or transcendent facts, such as it being the case that there is a supernatural, self-existent, eternal power, the atheist can assert that such facts have not been shown.

It will, however, be argued by such atheists, against what they take to be dogmatic aprioristic atheists, that the atheist should be a fallibilist and remain open-minded about what the future may bring. There may, after all, be such transcendent facts, such metaphysical realities. It is not that such a fallibilistic atheist is really an agnostic who believes that he is not justified in either asserting that God exists or denying that he exists and that what he must reasonably do is suspend belief. On the contrary, such an atheist believes that he has very good grounds indeed, as things stand, for denying the existence of God. But he will, on the second conceptualization of what it is to be an atheist, not deny that things could be otherwise and that, if they were, he would be justified in believing in God or at least would no longer be justified in asserting that it is false that there is a God. Using reliable empirical techniques, proven methods for establishing matters of fact, the fallibilistic atheist has found nothing in the universe to make a belief that God exists justifiable or even, everything considered, the most rational option of the various options. He therefore draws the atheistical conclusion (also keeping in mind his burden-of-proof argument) that God does not exist. But he does not dogmatically in a priori fashion deny the existence of God. He remains a thorough and consistent fallibilist.

Such a form of atheism (the atheism of those pragmatists who are also naturalistic humanists), though less inadequate than the first formation of atheism, is still inadequate. God in developed forms of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam is not, like Zeus or Odin, construed in a relatively plain anthropomorphic way. Nothing that could count as God in such religions could possibly be observed, literally encountered, or detected in the universe. God, in such a conception, is utterly transcendent to the world; he is conceived of as pure spirit, an infinite individual who created the universe out of nothing and who is distinct from the universe. Such a realitya reality that is taken to be an ultimate mysterycould not be identified as objects or processes in the universe can be identified. There can be no pointing at or to God, no ostensive teaching of God, to show what is meant. The word God can only be taught intralinguistically. God is taught to someone who does not understand what the word means by the use of descriptions such as the maker of the universe, the eternal, utterly independent being upon whom all other beings depend, the first cause, the sole ultimate reality, or a self-caused being. For someone who does not understand such descriptions, there can be no understanding of the concept of God. But the key terms of such descriptions are themselves no more capable of ostensive definition (of having their referents pointed out) than is God, where that term is not, like Zeus, construed anthropomorphically. (That does not mean that anyone has actually pointed to Zeus or observed Zeus but that one knows what it would be like to do so.)

In coming to understand what is meant by God in such discourses, it must be understood that God, whatever else he is, is a being that could not possibly be seen or be in any way else observed. He could not be anything material or empirical, and he is said by believers to be an intractable mystery. A nonmysterious God would not be the God of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.

This, in effect, makes it a mistake to claim that the existence of God can rightly be treated as a hypothesis and makes it a mistake to claim that, by the use of the experimental method or some other determinate empirical method, the existence of God can be confirmed or disconfirmed as can the existence of an empirical reality. The retort made by some atheists, who also like pragmatists remain thoroughgoing fallibilists, is that such a proposed way of coming to know, or failing to come to know, God makes no sense for anyone who understands what kind of reality God is supposed to be. Anything whose existence could be so verified would not be the God of Judeo-Christianity. God could not be a reality whose presence is even faintly adumbrated in experience, for anything that could even count as the God of Judeo-Christianity must be transcendent to the world. Anything that could actually be encountered or experienced could not be God.

At the very heart of a religion such as Christianity there stands a metaphysical belief in a reality that is alleged to transcend the empirical world. It is the metaphysical belief that there is an eternal, ever-present creative source and sustainer of the universe. The problem is how it is possible to know or reasonably believe that such a reality exists or even to understand what such talk is about.

It is not that God is like a theoretical entity in physics such as a proton or a neutrino. They are, where they are construed as realities rather than as heuristically useful conceptual fictions, thought to be part of the actual furniture of the universe. They are not said to be transcendent to the universe, but rather are invisible entities in the universe logically on a par with specks of dust and grains of sand, only much, much smaller. They are on the same continuum; they are not a different kind of reality. It is only the case that they, as a matter of fact, cannot be seen. Indeed no one has an understanding of what it would be like to see a proton or a neutrinoin that way they are like Godand no provision is made in physical theory for seeing them. Still, there is no logical ban on seeing them as there is on seeing God. They are among the things in the universe, and thus, though they are invisible, they can be postulated as causes of things that are seen. Since this is so it becomes at least logically possible indirectly to verify by empirical methods the existence of such realities. It is also the case that there is no logical ban on establishing what is necessary to establish a causal connection, namely a constant conjunction of two discrete empirical realities. But no such constant conjunction can be established or even intelligibly asserted between God and the universe, and thus the existence of God is not even indirectly verifiable. God is not a discrete empirical thing or being, and the universe is not a gigantic thing or process over and above the things and processes in the universe of which it makes sense to say that the universe has or had a cause. But then there is no way, directly or indirectly, that even the probability that there is a God could be empirically established.

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atheism | Definition, Philosophy, & Comparison to …

Atheism – Simple English Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Atheism is rejecting the belief in a god or gods. It is the opposite of theism, which is the belief that at least one god exists.A person who rejects belief in gods is called an atheist.Theism is the belief in one or more gods. Adding an a, meaning “without”, before the word theism results in atheism, or literally, “without theism”.. Atheism is not the same as agnosticism: agnostics say that …

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Atheism – Simple English Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

atheism r/atheism – reddit: the front page of the internet

This happened around last year when they just found out that i was an atheist. My parents sat down with me (and for some reason they roped my brother in too) to kinda talk it out with them, the why and how and all that.

So my father was talking about how god had blessed him and his family with a luxurious and comfortable life. I, thinking that my parents would hear me out since they got out of their own way just to talk about religion with us, told them that i believed that they worked hard and earned the money themselves.

Surprisingly enough, my father immediately blew his top off and yelled at me, insisting that it was by god’s grace that we are now able to live such a good life. He then, for some reason told me that my ability to draw was a god-given talent. Naturally, i was pissed. After all, i went to years and years of art class just to be able to draw like i do now, though it only looks nice in my family’s standards since i’m the only one in my family that can draw. But i didn’t say anything back since i don’t want to start another war with m parents.

Seriously, if it really was just god’s grace that allowed my family to live comfortably, why have i never seen god just bestow upon my father a paycheck? Why is it that he’s so happy about having all his hard work credited to an invisible sky daddy? Call me greedy or selfish, but if someone took all the credit to my hard work i’d be bloody pissed. But hey, thanks for reading this.

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atheism r/atheism – reddit: the front page of the internet

Atheism | CARM.org

Atheism is a lack of belief in any God and deities as well as a total denial of the existence of any god. It is a growing movement that is becoming more aggressive, more demanding, and less tolerant of anything other than itself – as is exemplified by its adherents. Is atheism a sound philosophical system as a worldview or is it ultimately self-defeating? Is the requirement of empirical evidence for God a mistake in logic or is it a fair demand? Can we prove that God exists or is that impossible? Find out more about atheism, its arguments, and its problems here at CARM. Learn how to deal with the arguments raised against the existence of God that seek to replace Him with naturalism, materialism, and moral relativism.

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Atheism | CARM.org

Watch a Super-Strong Robot Dog Pull a Three-Ton Airplane

Researchers at Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia announced a new hydraulic, quadrupedal robot dog, and showed the bot pulling a three-ton airplane.

Go Fetch

Man’s best friend may be great at pulling a sled, but a manmade best friend can pull an entire airplane.

A little over a month has passed since we witnessed a pack of Boston Dynamics robot dogs pulling a truck. Now, researchers at Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia (IIT) have announced a new version of their hydraulic, quadrupedal robot, HyQReal — and what better way to show off the bot’s capabilities than by pulling a three-ton airplane.

Have a look! The new quadruped robot #HyQReal tested by pulling 3 tons airplane. Realized by Dynamic Legged Systems Lab @IITalk @Moog_Industrial @GenovAeroporto @PiaggioOfficial. #ICRA2019 #robot #robotics #technology #TechnologyNews #Engineering #futuretech #HighTech pic.twitter.com/QrF1JnlUWZ

— IIT (@IITalk) May 23, 2019

Big Boy

Though the same height as SpotMini, HyQReal is three times heavier than its nimble cousin. The former stands at 84cm and weighs 30kg (approx. 2.75ft and 66lbs) while HyQReal is 90 cm tall, and weighs 130kg (approx. 2.95ft and 286lbs.)

That’s because the beefy bot is being developed by IIT to aid in disaster scenarios like fires.

“We are not targeting the first response yet,” Claudio Semini, project leader at IIT’s Dynamic Legged Systems lab said in an email to CNET, “but support in the aftermath of a disaster. Bringing sensors into unsafe areas, manipulating and moving objects, opening doors, etc.”

Rolling Thunder

While pulling the immense weight of a three-ton plane is impressive, the capability depends more on the rolling resistance of the aircraft’s tires than its overall weight.

Still, it’s a testament to the capability of HyQReal to take on heavy-duty tasks. At the end of the day, if it takes a pack of robot dogs to pull a truck and one robot dog to pull an airplane, perhaps it’s time we started treating robots and AI more nicely before we end up regretting it.

READ MORE: The new quadruped robot HyQReal tested by pulling 3 tons airplane [EurekAlert]

More on Robot Dogs: Watch a Pack of Boston Dynamics’ Creepy Robot Dogs Pull a Truck

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Watch a Super-Strong Robot Dog Pull a Three-Ton Airplane

Scientists Set New Temperature Record for Superconductivity

Scientists discover a superconductor that works at temperatures nearly 50 Celsius degrees (84.6 Fahrenheit degrees) hotter than the previous record high.

Hot Damn

An international team of scientists has built a superconductor that functions at 250 Kelvin, or -23 degrees Celsius — or just-9 degrees Fahrenheit.

That’s a few degrees colder than the chilliest winter day in Florida history, but it’s nearly 50 Celsius degrees (84.6 Fahrenheit degrees) hotter than the previous record high for superconductivity — and it puts the “holy grail” of energy transmission almost within our reach.

Wasted Energy

First discovered in 1911, superconductors are devices that can conduct electricity with zero resistance.

Because none of the energy is lost during the transmission process, superconductors could allow us to generate electricity in one place — a solar farm in a sunny region of the U.S., for example — and send it all over the place without wasting any.

The problem is that scientists have yet to create a practical superconductor — the devices all require extreme conditions, such as freezing cold temperatures and incredibly high pressures, which limits their usefulness.

Super Discovery

That’s why scientists across the globe are on the hunt for a superconductor that works at room temperature — and this new study, published on Wednesday in the journal Nature, represents a giant leap forward in that effort.

In it, the scientists describe how they created a type of material called a lanthanum superhydride. By placing enormous pressure on a bit of the material, they were able to coax it to act as a superconductor at the record-high temperature.

“Our next goal is to reduce the pressure needed to synthesize samples, to bring the critical temperature closer to ambient, and perhaps even create samples that could be synthesized at high pressures, but still superconduct at normal pressures,” researcher Vitali Prakapenka from the University of Chicago said in a news release.

READ MORE: Scientists break record for highest-temperature superconductor [University of Chicago]

More on superconductors: US Military Files Patent for Room-Temperature Superconductor

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Scientists Set New Temperature Record for Superconductivity

Can You Tell Which of These Models Is CGI?

Imma, a CGI fashion model, just scored a make-up modeling gig for a Japanese cosmetics brand.

Imma Real

Spoiler: it’s only the one in the middle.

The model in question is Instagram influencer Imma, who has racked up over 50,000 followers.

Imma may be rendered entirely by a computer, but that hasn’t stopped her from picking up her first gig: modeling Japanese makeup brand Kate Cosmetics for the Vice owned site i-D. In the photos, she’s posing alongside real human models, adding to the effect.

Virtual Models

Surprisingly, Imma isn’t the only virtual Instagram model around. For instance, Lil Miquela has garnered a lot of attention for her posts on Instagram with 1.5 million followers, but is arguably less photorealistic and easier to spot.

Imma even took part in an advertorial interview with i-D. She had some insightful comments to offer up when asked about how beauty needs to change in the future:

“The idea that the pursuit of an ideal and something that is like one can coexist,” she said, as interpreted by Google Translate. “There is no need to choose one or the other.”

READ MORE: One of these models doesn’t exist [Engadget]

More on virtual people: Watch a Real Pastor Baptize an Anime Girl in Virtual Reality

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Can You Tell Which of These Models Is CGI?

We Asked an AI to Finish Real Elon Musk Tweets

We thought it would be fun to run some Elon Musk tweets through a neural network designed by OpenAI, the company he founded and quit.

ElonBot

We’ve written previously about Talk to Transformer, a site by OpenAI that uses a sophisticated artificial intelligence to complete passages of text with surprisingly deft context.

Close news watchers will recall that Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla and SpaceX, co-founded OpenAI, but decided to part ways with the company earlier this year, pointing to disagreements with its direction — which is why we thought it would be fun to run some of the eccentric billionaire’s most iconic tweets through Talk to Transformer.

Neural Musk

Musk announced some exciting news about the Boring Company today — but Neural Musk had different ideas for the tunnel-digging venture:

Remember when Musk suggested adding dragon wings to SpaceX’s Starship? The AI has another plan:

Musk’s riff on a dirty Tesla video was also no match for Neural Musk:

This was the tweet that led to the Boring Company — until Neural Musk put a Trumpian spin on it:

Musk recently joked about changing the Tesla horn sound. But his vision was no match for Neural Musk’s galaxy-brain concept:

Recall that beautiful render of Starship on the Moon? Neural Musk has bad news for its passengers:

More on Elon Musk: Elon Musk’s New Goal: “Reach the Moon as Fast as Possible”

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We Asked an AI to Finish Real Elon Musk Tweets

United Nations: Siri and Alexa Are Encouraging Misogyny

Programmers are creating sexist AI voice assistants, which are then encouraging users to be sexist, according to a new UN report.

Two-Way Street

We already knew humans could make biased AIs — but the United Nations says the reverse is true as well.

Millions of people talk to AI voice assistants, such as Apple’s Siri and Amazon’s Alexa. When those assistants talk back, they do so in female-sounding voices, and a new UN report argues that those voices and the words they’re programmed to say amplify gender biases and encourage users to be sexist — but it’s not too late to change course.

Gender Abuse

The report is the work of the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), and its title — “I’d blush if I could” — is the response Siri was programmed in 2011 to give if a user called her a “bitch.”

According to UNESCO, that programming exemplifies the problems with today’s AI assistants.

“Siri’s submissiveness in the face of gender abuse — and the servility expressed by so many other digital assistants projected as young women — provides a powerful illustration of gender biases coded into technology products,” the report’s authors wrote.

It was only after UNESCO shared a draft of its report with Apple in April 2019 that the company changed Siri’s response to “I don’t know how to respond to that.”

“Me Too” Moment

The fact that Apple was willing to make the change is encouraging, but that’s just one phrase uttered by one assistant. According to UNESCO’s report, to truly make a difference, the tech industry will need to enact much more comprehensive changes.

A good starting place, according to the authors, would be for tech companies to hire more female programmers and stop making their assistants female by default, instead opting for gender-neutral voices.

“It is a ‘Me Too’ moment,” Saniye Gülser Corat, Director of UNESCO’s Division for Gender Equality, told CBS News. “We have to make sure that the AI we produce and that we use does pay attention to gender equality.”

READ MORE: Is it time for Alexa and Siri to have a “MeToo moment”? [CBS News]

More on biased AI: A New Algorithm Trains AI to Erase Its Biases

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United Nations: Siri and Alexa Are Encouraging Misogyny

New Law Could End Robocalling Once and For All

The Senate just voted in favor of a bipartisan bill that could put an end to spam and unsolicited marketing calls once and for all.

Robocall Bill

In response to the almost 50 billion robocalls that were made last year in the U.S., the Senate just voted in favor of a bipartisan bill that could put an end to unsolicited marketing calls once and for all.

The Telephone Robocall Abuse Criminal Enforcement and Deterrence (TRACED) Act overwhelmingly passed with just one vote against and 97 in favor — clearly an issue that both sides can agree on.

Bullseye

The bill will increase fines and criminalize illegal unsolicited robocalls — and, more importantly, require providers to come up with a way to authenticate calls going forward.

“This bipartisan, common-sense bill puts a bullseye on the scam artists and criminals who are making it difficult for many Americans to answer the phone with any bit of confidence about who’s on the other end of the line,” said John Thune (R-SD), who co-introduced the bill.

Shaken, Stirred

The technology to authenticate calls already exists and has been lauded by the Federal Communications Commission chairman Ajit Pai as a “a significant step towards ending the scourge of spoofed robocalls.” In short, the STIR/SHAKEN framework ensures that both sides of a call would have their caller ID “signed” and validated by carriers.

“I commend the US Senate for passing the TRACED Act… [It] would help strengthen the FCC’s ability to combat illegal robocalls,” said Pai in a statement today. “And we would welcome these additional tools to fight this scourge.”

READ MORE: Senate passes bill to curb robocalls [CNET]

More on robocalls: Rise of the Robocallers: Here’s How We’ll Avoid a Future of Scammers

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New Law Could End Robocalling Once and For All

SpaceX Just Unleashed 60 Starlink Satellites Into Orbit

Starlink Express

SpaceX just successfully let loose 60 of its tiny Starlink satellites, intended to bring internet broadband connectivity to people across the globe. While it’s a good start, the Elon Musk-led space company still has its work cut out to truly bring internet to all.

“In a year and a half, maybe two years, if things go well, SpaceX will probably have more satellites in orbit than all other satellites combined — a majority of the satellites in orbit will be SpaceX,” Musk said during a conference call last week, as quoted by Space.com.

Successful deployment of 60 Starlink satellites confirmed! pic.twitter.com/eYrLocCiws

— SpaceX (@SpaceX) May 24, 2019

The satellites launched on top of a Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral in Florida last night, but they aren’t the last SpaceX intends to launch. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) approved SpaceX’s request in November to launch an additional 7,518, bringing up the total of approved satellites to almost 12,000.

In a May 11 tweet, Musk admitted that “much will likely go wrong on first mission,” adding that at least six more launches of 60 satellites (360 in total) are “needed for minor coverage, 12 for moderate.”

Starlink's flat-panel design allows for a dense launch stack to take full advantage of Falcon 9’s launch capabilities pic.twitter.com/ntnJInEfno

— SpaceX (@SpaceX) May 24, 2019

Satellite Clutter

The satellites aren’t orbiting at the altitude of most other satellites currently in orbit.

They are cruising at an operational altitude of just 340 miles (550 km) to avoid adding to the growing space debris problem. Worst case, according to Musk: they de-orbit themselves and burn up in Earth’s atmosphere.

READ MORE: SpaceX’s 60-Satellite Launch Is Just the Beginning for Ambitious Starlink Project [Space.com]

More on SpaceX: SpaceX Component Engineer Charged With Faking Inspection Reports

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SpaceX Just Unleashed 60 Starlink Satellites Into Orbit

Asteroid Flying by Earth Is so Big It Has Its Own Moon

Saturday night, a mile-wide asteroid called 1999 KW4 will fly by the Earth, and when it does, it'll bring with it its very own moon.

Buddy System

Earth will be getting not one but two visitors from space this weekend.

Astronomers expect an asteroid known as 1999 KW4 to swing by the Earth at around 7:05 p.m. ET on Saturday — and when it does, it’ll bring along its very own moon.

“It’s one of the closest binary flybys probably in recent history,” planetary scientist Vishnu Reddy told NBC News. “That’s what makes it a very interesting target.”

Dynamic Duo

Asteroid 1999 KW4 is 1.5 kilometers (.93 miles) wide. That’s about three times the size of its moon, which clocks in at a width of about 0.5 kilometers (.3 miles).

Even at their closest, the space rocks will still be more than 3 million miles away, so don’t worry about them smashing into the Earth. In fact, they won’t even come close enough to see with the naked eye.

Still, the pair won’t be this close to Earth again until 2036, so if you want to catch a glimpse of the dynamic duo, be sure to have your telescope ready Saturday night.

READ MORE: Mile-wide asteroid and its tiny moon to zoom past Earth this weekend [NBC News]

More on asteroids: NASA Asks SpaceX to Help It Save Earth From Incoming Asteroids

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NASA’s Moon Mission Leader Just Quit After Only Six Weeks

A NASA executive who was appointed only six weeks ago to lead the strategy for future missions to the Moon has resigned.

Restructuring

A NASA executive who was appointed just six weeks ago to lead the strategy for future missions to the Moon has resigned, The Hill reports.

Mark Sirangelo was hired in April as special assistant to NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine. It’s a sudden departure that looks especially odd considering the White House’s focus on getting Americans back to the Moon — but Congress’s refusal to grant extra funds is forcing NASA to re-evaluate the ambitious plans.

Moon 2024?

The news comes after lawmakers rejected NASA’s proposal to establish a team dedicated to devising a sustainable lunar mission and future Mars missions — a rejection, according to Bridenstine, that was partly responsible for Sirangelo’s departure.

“We are exploring what organizational changes within HEO [Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate] are necessary to ensure we maximize efficiencies and achieve the end state of landing the first woman and next man on the Moon by 2024,” Bridenstine said in a statement. “Given NASA is no longer pursuing the new mission directorate, Mark has opted to pursue other opportunities.”

READ MORE: NASA exec leading moon mission quits weeks after appointment [The Hill]

More on NASA’s budget troublesCongress Denies NASA Request for More Moon Mission Money

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NASA’s Moon Mission Leader Just Quit After Only Six Weeks

Watch a Tesla in an Underground Tunnel Race One on the Street

Two Tesla Model 3s race in a new Boring Company video, with one taking the surface streets and the other opting for the company's underground tunnel.

A Tale of Two Teslas

On Friday, the Boring Company tweeted a video of two Tesla Model 3s racing — and though they had the same destination, they took two very different routes.

While one of the cars used surface streets, the other opted for the Boring Company’s underground test tunnel. Taking the low road allowed it to absolutely destroy the time of its opponent, making the trek in just 1 minute and 36 seconds as opposed to the other car’s 4 minutes and 44 seconds — but it wasn’t exactly a fair fight.

Auto Advantage

The Tesla in the tunnel had so many advantages going into the race, it’s hard to even imagine what kind of odds a bookie would’ve given. The car didn’t have to deal with other vehicles, traffic lights, or speed limits — at one point, it was zipping along at 127 miles per hour.

Still, the cheeky video does hammer home a point Elon Musk has been trying to make ever since he first proposed starting the Boring Company way back in 2016: traffic sucks.

Once they’re filled with commuters, though, will tunnels suck any less?

READ MORE: Elon Musk’s Boring Company staged a race between a Tesla in a tunnel and on the road — and the winner was clear [Business Insider]

More on the Boring Company: Las Vegas Approves $48.6 Million Boring Company Tunnel

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See China’s Newly Unveiled Maglev Train

China has unveiled a prototype for a new high-speed maglev train that it believes could dramatically cut travel times in the nation.

Fast Track

A new high-speed transportation system is taking shape in China.

On Thursday, state-owned China Railway Rolling Stock Corporation (CRRC) unveiled a prototype for a new high-speed magnetic-levitation — better known as “maglev” — train that could dramatically cut travel times in the nation.

“The prototype has already achieved static levitation and is in ideal condition,” CRCC Qingdao’s deputy chief engineer Ding Sansan said at a news conference, according to a report by China Daily. “We are building an experimental center and a trial production center for high-speed maglev trains and expect to put them into operation in the second half of the year.”

Quick Trip

Instead of using wheels and a track, a maglev train floats on a magnetically powered cushion of air. This reduces friction and allows the craft to reach incredibly fast speeds, like the 430 kilometers per hour (267 miles per hour) top speed of a maglev already in operation in Shanghai.

This new design would be able to far exceed the speed of that maglev, reaching a top speed of 600 kilometers per hour (372 miles per hour). Ding used a theoretical journey between Beijing and Shanghai to show how this could dramatically decrease travel times.

“It takes about four-and-a-half hours by plane including preparation time for the journey; about five-and-a-half hours by high-speed rail, and [would] only [take] about three-and-a-half hours by maglev,” he said, according to a South China Morning Post report.

READ MORE: Prototype maglev train can reach 600 km/h [China Daily]

More on maglev: China Is Set to Start Work on the World’s Fastest Maglev Train

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Here’s How NASA Prepares Its Spacecraft for Mars

NASA's Mars 2020 spacecraft just underwent a series of extreme tests to prepare it for the intense conditions on the Red Planet's surface. 

Mars 2020

The unmanned spacecraft that NASA wants to send to Mars in the year 2020 — if things go according to plan — just underwent a series of extreme tests to prepare it for the extreme journey.

“First we blast it with sound to make sure nothing vibrates loose,” said David Gruel, launch operations manager at JPL, in a press release. “Then, after a thorough examination, we ‘put it in space’ by placing the spacecraft in this huge vacuum chamber we have here at JPL.”

Hot ‘n Cold

The spacecraft underwent acoustic and thermal vacuum testing at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.

Things got intense inside that vacuum chamber. After the facility’s 16-ton door closes, temperatures drop to -200 Fahrenheit (-129 Celsius). Then, powerful xenon lamps are turned on to simulate the sun’s harsh rays in outer space.

“This is the most comprehensive stress test you can put a spacecraft through here on Earth,” said Gruel. “We flew in our simulated space environment for a week and a day, checking and rechecking the performance of every onboard system and subsystem. And everything looked great — which is a good thing, because next time this spacecraft stack hits a vacuum, it will be on its way to Mars for real.”

READ MORE: Mars 2020 spacecraft subjected to brutal tests as it prepares for launch [CNET]

More on Mars 2020: You Can Now Send a Souvenir With Your Name on it to Mars

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Elevate Your Leadership and Grow Your Business at Your Clouds Can 2019

Elevate your leadership potential with Futurism + IBM at this unique, one-day-only traveling experience in New York City. Your Clouds Can 2019 is an immersive journey behind closed doors at some of NYC’s most innovative companies working with data-driven cloud technologies.

This is not your typical conference. Your Clouds Can 2019 will deliver the tools and frameworks that drives impact for leaders and decision makers. This isn’t about what you could do, but what you can do. After our full day of visits, discussions, and design thinking workshop, attendees will not only be inspired, but equipped with new tools they can utilize the very next day.

If you’re working in retail, travel, CPG, or B2C products, your takeaways from Your Clouds Can 2019 will be immediately actionable, both in business and leadership. Though every industry can benefit from this daylong conference.

At Your Couds Can 2019, attendees will be guided through experiences at four trailblazing companies actively changing the landscape in their industries. After meeting for breakfast, we’ll first visit CAMP, a new toy store operating at the intersection of commerce, media, and play. Then, we’ll move to LivePerson, and learn how their an AI-powered conversational platform is changing the way consumers and brands communicate. Following lunch, we’ll explore the culture and data-driven decision making at BuzzFeed, and then conclude the conference at Betaworks, a startup platform designing community at their new membership club for builders.

We understand that leadership schedules are hectic. This is why we’ve hand-selected these companies and built no-frills agenda, packed with discussions and real life case studies. Attendees will meet with the CEOs, CMOs, and CTOs of these frontier businesses. Together, we’ll discuss not only the future for tech in business but also how these executives are employing these technologies today, right now. And how you can too.

Attendees will also experience and participate in the IBM Garage method, a unique design-thinking, prototyping, hands-on experience. In this method, clients and participants sit side by side with IBM industry experts, designers, and developers to incorporate user feedback in real time to build solutions in days or hours—and scale them in weeks. This is where the magic happens.

The Garage is about co-creating, co-developing new processes, technologies, and organizations, in real time, with specialized experts.

This is why it’s also important that we are hand-selecting not only our innovation leaders, but also our attendees. Tickets are free but space is limited. When you’re ready, please complete the application here.

After attending Your Clouds Can 2019, you will walk away with the knowledge and real-life case studies that will directly empower your business decisions and give your leadership and edge among your organization and markets.

This is not just an inspirational experience. This is hands-on learning behind closed doors. Level-up with some of today’s most innovative leaders and decision-makers at Your Clouds Can 2019, in NYC on June 5th, 2019.

Futurism fans: To create this content, a non-editorial team worked with IBM, who sponsored this post. They help us keep the lights on. This post does not reflect the views or the endorsement of the Futurism.com editorial staff.

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NASA Just Hired the First Contractor to Build Lunar Space Station

NASA has awarded Maxar Technologies a contract worth a maximum of $375 million to build the lunar Gateway's power and propulsion element.

Sign Here

NASA just picked its first construction partner for the lunar Gateway.

On Thursday, the agency announced it had awarded a contract worth a maximum of $375 million to Maxar Technologies. The Colorado-based spacetech company will now have the responsibility of developing and demonstrating power, propulsion, and communications capabilities for the Moon-orbiting space station — an integral piece of the lunar Gateway project.

Solar Power

According to a NASA press release, the contract begins with a 12-month base period during which Maxar will design the power and propulsion element, which NASA describes in the release as “a high-power, 50-kilowatt solar electric propulsion spacecraft.”

After that, NASA can choose to exercise a series of options totaling 64 months for the craft’s development, launch, and in-space flight demonstration.

Nearing Liftoff

This contract is just the first of many NASA will award during the creation of the lunar Gateway. However, according to NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine, it’s an incredibly meaningful one.

“The power and propulsion element is the foundation of Gateway and a fine example of how partnerships with U.S. companies can help expedite NASA’s return to the Moon with the first woman and next man by 2024,” Bridenstine said in a press release. “It will be the key component upon which we will build our lunar Gateway outpost, the cornerstone of NASA’s sustainable and reusable Artemis exploration architecture on and around the Moon.”

READ MORE: NASA Awards Artemis Contract for Lunar Gateway Power, Propulsion [NASA]

More on Lunar Gateway: NASA’s Plan for a Lunar Outpost Just Leaked

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Elon Musk Ridicules Jeff Bezos’ Plan For Space Colonies

SpaceX CEO Elon Musk said on Twitter that Amazon founder Jeff Bezos' idea for giant off-world space colonies

Space Feud

Amazon founder Jeff Bezos has become increasingly vocal about the idea that humans will eventually live in “giant space colonies” — an idea that’s been widely mocked by critics who’ve pointed out that humans are doing a pretty bad job taking care of their first space habitat, the Earth.

Now, another outsize personality in the space research scene is roasting Bezos: SpaceX CEO Elon Musk.

Makes no sense. In order to grow the colony, you’d have to transport vast amounts of mass from planets/moons/asteroids. Would be like trying to build the USA in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean!

— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) May 23, 2019

Mass Effect

On Thursday, Musk took to Twitter to opine that Bezos’ idea “makes no sense.” The gist of his critique is that space colonies — Bezos favors a design called an “O’Neill cylinder,” which rotates in order to produce artificial gravity — would require extraordinary quantities of materials.

In theory, the fixings for a giant space habitat could be dragged up the gravity well of a planet, like the Earth, but with today’s launch technology, that would be incredibly inefficient.

More likely is an idea Musk alluded to in his tweet: sourcing materials for a space colony from asteroids that have far less gravitational pull than planets — or even building a space station inside an asteroid.

READ MORE: Elon Musk mocks Jeff Bezos’ space colony vision in snarky tweet [Fox Business]

More on space habitats: The Benefits of Colonizing Space: Space Habitats and The O’Neill Cylinder

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Elon Musk Ridicules Jeff Bezos’ Plan For Space Colonies

New Research: The Oceans Are Slowly Leaking Into the Earth

The Earth's oceans are gradually leaking into the interior of the Earth — though nowhere near fast enough to cancel out climate change.

Drain Plug

The Earth’s oceans are gradually leaking into the interior of the planet.

That’s according to new research by Norwegian scientists, who told New Scientist that the Earth’s water is slowly draining into the planet’s crust — though nowhere near fast enough to cancel out the sea level rises we’re currently experiencing because of climate change.

Rapid Subduction

The new research, published in the journal Geochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems, found that the rate at which the oceans are draining into the Earth spiked about 150 million years ago — when the supercontinent Pangaea split up.

“You have much more rapid subduction when you break up a supercontinent,” University of Oslo researcher Krister Karlsen told New Scientist. “The rapid subduction is crucial for bringing water in hydrated rock deep into the mantle.”

Prognosis

At their current rate, according to New Scientist, the oceans will be completely sucked dry in about 12 billion years.

But that doesn’t mean there’s any cause for concern, the magazine points out: the Sun itself will be long gone by then.

READ MORE: The oceans are very slowly draining into the rock below Earth’s crust [New Scientist]

More on the oceans: Diver Reaches Record Ocean Depth — and Finds a Plastic Bag

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