This AI Gives Other AIs Names Like “Ass Federation” And “Hot Pie” Because Robots Can Be Weird Too

Research scientist Janelle Shane trained a naming AI to conjure up new monikers for self-aware spaceships like those in author Iain M. Banks' Culture books.

Ship Shape

Scottish author Iain M. Banks populated his sci-fi Culture book series with humanoid robots, alien races, and artificially intelligent spaceships that chose their own names.

So: Research scientist Janelle Shane thought it would be fun to use those ship names to train a real neural network to — what else? — conjure up new names for self-aware spaceships. The results? Hilarious. Puzzling. Generally? Great.

Name Game

Shane is the same scientist responsible for creating the neural network that bestowed awesome names like “Peanutbutterjiggles” and “Bones of the Master” upon shelter kittens.

This new naming AI is a variation on that one, but instead of training the base neural network, OpenAI’s GPT-2, on cat names, she used a list of 236 spaceship names from Banks’ Culture series.

Ass Federation

Shane lists dozens of the names churned out by the AI on her website, so you’ll have to head there to check them all out, but some of our favorites:

– Friendly Head Crusher
– Mini Cactus Cake Fight
– Happy to Groom Any Animals You Want

But if we’re naming a self-aware spaceship, it’d be hard to pass up the opportunity to go with the complete head-scratcher that is Someone Did Save Your Best Cookie By Post-Apocalyptic Means.

READ MORE: This AI is so goddamn smart, it can name other AIs [The Next Web]

More on naming AI: This Neural Network Gives Kittens A+ Names Like “Mr Sinister”

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This AI Gives Other AIs Names Like “Ass Federation” And “Hot Pie” Because Robots Can Be Weird Too

Here’s How You Can Watch Today’s Total Solar Eclipse

California's Exploratorium has teamed up with NASA to broadcast a livestream of the total solar eclipse over parts of South America.

Heads up: For approximately four minutes this afternoon, the Moon will block out the Sun over parts of South America — but you don’t need to be in Chile or Argentina to see the stunning spectacle.

California’s Exploratorium has teamed up with NASA to broadcast a livestream of the eclipse via the video linked below. The coverage will begin at 3 p.m. ET, with the eclipse expected to take place between 4:38 p.m. and 4:44 p.m. ET.

If you happen to live within the eclipse’s path, make sure you fight the urge to look directly at the Sun during it as doing so could permanently damage your eyes. Which, yes, happens to people. Quite a bit.

Instead, you’ll want to use your lunch break today to procure a pair of special eclipse glasses. But if that’s not possible, a sheet of paper with a pinhole poked through it is, of course, an acceptable DIY alternative.

READ MORE: Watch Today’s Total Solar Eclipse Right Here [Gizmodo]

More on eclipses: Watch: What Happened to Solar Power in the US During the Eclipse

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World’s Smallest MRI Machine Means We Can Now Scan Individual Atoms

Researchers have created a version of an MRI machine that's so scaled down, it can capture detailed images of individual atoms.

MRI for Ants Atoms

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) machines are great for creating detailed images of a person’s internal organs and tissues.

Using magnets and radio waves, the machines temporarily change how the billions of protons in the person’s body spin. Then they measure and image energy released by these protons once they return to their normal state.

Now, researchers have created a version of an MRI machine that’s so scaled down, it images individual atoms — and the device could help usher in the era of quantum computing.

Honey, I Shrunk the MRI

For their study, which was published on Monday in the journal Nature Physics, researchers from the United States and South Korea attached magnetized iron atoms to the tip of a scanning tunneling microscope, a device used to image and probe individual atoms.

They then swept the microscope’s tip over iron and titanium atoms they’d placed on a magnesium oxide surface. This subjected the atoms to a magnetic field that disrupted their electrons. The team then hit the atoms with a radio wave pulse, and the system imaged the energy the electrons subsequently released.

Unprecedented View

The researchers believe this new nanoscale imaging technique could lead to the development of new materials and drugs, as well as the creation of better quantum computing systems.

“We can now see something that we couldn’t see before,” researcher Christopher Lutz told The New York Times. “So our imagination can go to a whole bunch of new ideas that we can test out with this technology.”

READ MORE: World’s smallest MRI performed on single atoms [Institute for Basic Science]

More on quantum computing: Russian Scientists Used a Quantum Computer to Turn Back Time

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NASA’s Orion Crew Capsule Aced Its Abort System Test

NASA tested its Orion spacecraft's Launch Abort System (LAS) on Tuesday — and it seems the astronaut escape plan worked exactly as hoped.

Orion Exit Strategy

Before NASA can attempt to send astronauts back to the Moon, it needs to know they have a way to GTFO of harm’s way if something goes wrong during the trip.

To that end, the space agency tested its Orion spacecraft’s Launch Abort System (LAS) on Tuesday — and it seems NASA’s astronaut escape plan works exactly as hoped.

Mission Aborted

To start the three-minute-long Ascent Abort-2 test, NASA launched an Orion crew module on a modified Peacekeeper missile built by Northrop Grumman.

Once the pair reached an altitude of about 9.6 kilometers (6 miles), the abort sequence triggered. This sent the crew module blasting away from the rocket and on its journey to splash down in the Atlantic Ocean.

Moving Forward

NASA’s now rounding up the 12 data recorders the crew capsule ejected during its descent so it can analyze the data to confirm that everything went as planned.

At first glance, however, it appears we’re now one step closer to returning humans to the Moon.

“It was a very smooth liftoff,” Orion Program Manager Mark Kirasich said in a press release. “By all first accounts, it was magnificent.”

READ MORE: NASA performs successful test of Orion spacecraft launch abort crew escape system [TechCrunch]

More on Orion: Congress Denies NASA Request for More Moon Mission Money

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NASA’s Orion Crew Capsule Aced Its Abort System Test

This Room-Sized Device Could Create Artificial Gravity in Space

Researchers built a device small room-sized device that spins willing participants on a giant platform to mimic the effect of Earth-like gravity in space.

Weight Gain

You’ve probably seen one featured in a science fiction movie, including “2001: A Space Odyssey” — massive centrifuge-like space stations that spin around a center point to create the sensation of artificial gravity for off-world travelers.

While we have yet to build such a large system in open space, researchers from University of Colorado at Boulder have decided to miniaturize the effect instead, with a device small enough to fit inside a room that spins participants to mimic the effect of Earth-like gravity.

Spin Zone

Creating the illusion of gravity could be of great benefit to astronauts struggling with the not-yet-fully-understood effects of microgravity for months at a time.

“The point of our work is to try to get more people to think that maybe artificial gravity isn’t so crazy,” Kathrine Bretl, a graduate student involved in the project said according to a statement. “Maybe it has a place outside of science fiction.”

Vomit Comet

Unfortunately, motion sickness is still as much of a thing here on Earth as it is in space — one of the reasons why scientists have shied away from the idea in the past. The team decided to put that to the test and invite volunteers to spin on their centrifuge for 10 vomit-inducing sessions.

The results were promising: at 17 revolutions per minute, the effect became tolerable over time.

“As far as we can tell, essentially anyone can adapt to this stimulus,” aerospace engineer Torin Clark, who led the team said.

READ MORE: Artificial gravity breaks free from science fiction [University of Colorado at Boulder]

More on the effects of microgravity: Zero Gravity Causes Worrisome Changes In Astronauts’ Brains

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This Room-Sized Device Could Create Artificial Gravity in Space

Facebook Is Finally Fighting Its Pseudoscience “Miracle Cure” Content Problem

Facebooks is changing how it ranks

There’s an entire spectrum of lies on social media. On one side, there’s the generally inane: Pokémon was designed for Satanists or FCC Chairman Ajit Pai tried to date a porn star.

And then there are lies that have the potential to literally kill.

Falling into this latter category are the spammy “miracle cures” for everything from cancer to autism that spread like wildfire on sites like Facebook. These “treatments” are ineffective at best and deadly at worst. Now, Facebook is finally trying to do something about them.

On Tuesday, Facebook published a blog post regarding the bogus health content that is now pervasive on the site.

“People come together on Facebook to talk about, advocate for, and connect around things like nutrition, fitness, and health issues,” Facebook Product Manager Travis Yeh wrote in the post. “But in order to help people get accurate health information and the support they need, it’s imperative that we minimize health content that is sensational or misleading.”

To that end, the company updated its ranking algorithms to place two kinds of content lower in people’s News Feeds:

– Sensationalist health posts that make misleading claims or tout “miracle cures,” and

– Posts that use health-related claims to promote products or services, such as weight-loss pills.

As far as sensationalist health posts go, ones hawking bogus weight-loss pills fall on the relatively benign end of the spectrum. But Facebook’s also rife with posts encouraging people to forgo proven cancer treatments in favor of worthless home remedies. Incredibly dangerous “autism cures” advising parents to force their children to drink chlorine dioxide, which is essentially industrial bleach, are also popular with Facebook’s users.

[Yeah, you read that correctly: Drinking bleach.]

And do we really need to mention the countless anti-vaccine posts and groups that are contributing to outbreaks of diseases like measles worldwide?

Given the far-reaching implications of this shady health content, Facebook is now under increasing pressure to do something about it — meaning if its newly announced ranking changes can’t effectively stem the medical misinformation tide, it’s going to need to find something else (or someone else) that can.

READ MORE: Facebook, YouTube Overrun With Bogus Cancer-Treatment Claims [The Wall Street Journal]

More on Facebook: Congress Is Deciding Whether to Break up Facebook, Google

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Facebook Is Finally Fighting Its Pseudoscience “Miracle Cure” Content Problem

AI Poised to Ruin Internet Using “Massive Tsunami” of Fake News

AI tools like GROVER are very good at flooding the internet with fake news and spam. The solution may come in the form of smarter Google filters.

Spam City

New tools can recreate a human’s face and or writer’s voice to frightening levels of accuracy.

Among the most concerning of these is the deceivingly-adorably-named GROVER a fake news-writing bot that people have used the tool to make blogs and even entire subreddits illustrate the problems AI-written news can pose to the world. Do not let the adorable blue namesake puppet on the first page of the white paper fool you — this thing is freaky.

And it could just be the beginning. Tools like GROVER could create “a massive tsunami of computer-generated content across every niche imaginable,” Kristin Tynski of the marketing agency Fractl told The Verge.

Cat, Meet Mouse

When Futurism first spotted “This Marketing Blog Doesn’t Exist,” a Fractl-owned website that used GROVER to churn out fake articles about things like search engine optimization and Instagram marketing, we urged readers to pay closer attention to the information they read online.

While GROVER isn’t perfect by any means, it’s definitely good enough to convince the casual reader who isn’t scrutinizing every word they read.


Google and other AI developers have their work cut out for them when faced with AI-written spam that’s likely to flood the internet as people chase down that sweet, sweet advertising revenue cash.

“Because [AI systems] enable content creation at essentially unlimited scale, and content that humans and search engines alike will have difficulty discerning… we feel it is an incredibly important topic with far too little discussion currently,” Tynski told The Verge.

READ MORE: Endless AI-generated spam risks clogging up Google’s search results [The Verge]

More on GROVER: New AI Generates Infinite Horrible Marketing Sites

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AI Poised to Ruin Internet Using “Massive Tsunami” of Fake News

CRISPR Helps Scientists Cure HIV In Living Animals For First Time

Using a combination of CRISPR and antiretroviral therapy, researcher eliminated the HIV virus from the genomes of mice engineered to produce human T cells.

One-Two Combo

For the first time, researchers have eliminated HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, from the genomes of living animals — a major accomplishment along the path to freeing the world of this deadly disease.

For the study, published Tuesday in the journal Nature Communications, researchers from Temple University and the University of Nebraska Medical Center started by engineering mice to produce human T cells susceptible to HIV infection.

After they infected the mice, they used a therapeutic strategy known as long-acting slow-effective release antiretroviral therapy (LASER ART) to suppress HIV replication within the animals.

Finally, the researchers used CRISPR to remove HIV DNA from the infected cells.

From Mice to Humans

When the researchers later analyzed the mice, they found that about one-third of the animals showed no signs of HIV.

They are now eager to test their combination LASER ART/CRISPR therapy in non-human primates — and if those trials go well, human trials could kick off within the year, researcher Kamel Khalili said in a press release.

However, while the team is optimistic, it’s also aware that it has a lot of ground to cover between mice and humans.

“Things that work in mice, may not work in men,” researcher Howard Gendelman told CNBC. “The limitations of any mouse work have to do with the species, how the drug is administered, the distribution, which is a lot easier than a man or a woman.”

READ MORE: Researchers say they’re closer to finding cure for HIV after using CRISPR technology to eliminate disease in live mice for the first time [CNBC]

More on HIV: First-of-Its-Kind HIV Therapy Draws out the Virus, Then Kills It

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CRISPR Helps Scientists Cure HIV In Living Animals For First Time

Billionaires Are Dead Serious About Moving Factories to Space

To some, collecting resources from other planets or asteroids instead of using up the Earth could be the key to ensuring that we — and our planet — survive.

Space Industries

It sounds like science fiction, but the idea of moving heavy industries off Earth seems far less far-fetched ever before.

Collecting resources from other planets or asteroids instead of using up what little we have left on Earth could be the key to ensuring that human beings survive, Discover Magazine reports.

“The solar system can support a billion times greater industry than we have on Earth,” Phil Metzger, a planetary scientist at the University of Central Florida, told Discover. “When you go to vastly larger scales of civilization, beyond the scale that a planet can support, then the types of things that civilization can do are incomprehensible to us.”

Investing in Space

As Earth-based resources dwindle, the population increases — and something has to give. At least, that’s the argument behind a new school of companies that have cropped up over the last decade or so, trying to become pioneers of space resource gathering.

For instance, Planetary Resources Inc. has collected tens of millions in funding to develop asteroid mining technologies. But financial troubles meant that the company had to delay its first asteroid prospecting mission indefinitely.

Billionaire Blue Origin and Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos is all-in as well.

“The reason we’ve got to go to space, in my view, is to save the Earth,” Bezos said during the announcement of his space company’s lunar lander last month.

“A very fundamental long-range problem is that we will run out of energy on Earth,” Bezos said at the event. “This is just arithmetic. It will happen.”

Even NASA has recently chosen to invest millions of dollars in tech concepts that could help us explore lunar crates and mining asteroids.

Not only physical resources could become the solution for an overburdened planet. Solar power stations in space could beam near-limitless energy back to Earth — a plan that China is already working to put into action.

Greenpeace 2.0

But not everybody is of the same mind: a group of scientists came together to sign a proposal calling for more than 85 percent of the solar system to be protected from human development.

“If we don’t think about this now, we will go ahead as we always have, and in a few hundred years we will face an extreme crisis, much worse than we have on Earth now,” Martin Elvis, senior astrophysicist at the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory and lead author of the proposal told The Guardian. “Once you’ve exploited the solar system, there’s nowhere left to go.”

Baby Steps

Before space manufacturing and mining become reality, there’s still a lot of work to be done as scientists have only made incremental steps towards that future so far. Just five years ago, California-based startup Made In Space became the first company to 3D print an object in zero gravity.

The same company scored a major contract with NASA in 2018 to develop a “hybrid metal manufacturing system for space exploration.” The idea is to print parts using aerospace-grade metals like titanium and aluminum.

And Japanese space agency JAXA recently managed to land its Hayabusa2 spacecraft on a tiny asteroid, even shooting a bulletand dropping a bomb — at its surface to collect samples.

These efforts however are still a far cry from a future in which asteroid mining could support human civilizations in deep space. We haven’t even figured out which nation will get to call those resources their own — an issue that’s bound to conjure up some political uneasiness.

But time is running out — climate change and rapidly-depleting resources are forcing us to look beyond our home planet. Hopefully we can make the transition before it’s too late.

READ MORE: Made in Space: Why Earth’s Industries Might One Day Leave Our Planet [Discover Magazine]

More on space mining: NASA Funds $2M Study to See if We Could Live in Moon Pits

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Possible Alien Radio Signals Way More Common Than Believed

Astronomers have detected over ten radio bursts from distant galaxies in the last week. The sudden frequency could help us figure out what's causing them.

Spam Calls

Last week, astronomers managed to trace a mysterious, fleeting radio signal back to a distant galaxy. Since then, teams from around the world have tracked down ten more.

The latest was spotted by a team at CalTech’s Owens Valley Radio Observatory on Tuesday, according to CNET. Astronomers aren’t positive what’s causing these so-called “Fast Radio Bursts” — there are several plausible non-extraterrestrial-life-related explanations. But these recent signals are a sign that intergalactic radio broadcasts are far more common than scientists previously thought.

Roaming Charges

The radio burst detected at CalTech originated from a galaxy 8 billion light-years away from our own according to research published in the journal Nature — that’s twice the distance that the first radio burst detected last week traveled.

That means that whatever gave off the signal, whether it was activity within a neutron star or potentially some sort of alien life, did so billions of years before our planet even formed. But because these signals are popping up more frequently than ever, astronomers believe they could finally find the culprit.

“Astronomers have been chasing FRBs for a decade now, and we’re finally drawing a bead on them,” CalTech astronomer Vikram Ravi told CNET. “Now we have a chance of figuring out just what these exotic objects might be.”

READ MORE: Another mysterious deep space signal traced to the other side of the universe [CNET]

More on galactic signals: Astronomers Traced a Mysterious Radio Burst to a Distant Galaxy

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Possible Alien Radio Signals Way More Common Than Believed

The Pentagon Wants Its Own Orbital Space Station, Like a Death Star, But Not, Okay?

The Pentagon wants its own dedicated space station in orbit around the Earth for both scientific research and military operations.

Reaching Out

The U.S. military is in the early stages of sending a self-supporting, autonomous space station into orbit around the Earth.

In its earliest stages, the space station will be small and (literally) inhospitable — the Pentagon’s Defense Innovation Unit (DIU) wants a dedicated orbital platform from which to conduct scientific experiments, reports Breaking Defense. But in the long run, the DIU has tentative plans to upgrade the station so it can support life, which would give the government the unsettling ability to keep militarized crews operating in space.

Building Blocks

According to the DIU’s call for contractors to design the space station, the orbital outpost needs to be entirely self-sufficient, and employ artificial intelligence to operate and steer itself in space.

But the solicitation also calls for a minimum internal volume of one cubic meter and the capability to endure zero to one atmospheres of pressure — not exactly the specs of the Death Star.


The director of DIU’s Space Portfolio, Col. Steve Butow, told Breaking Defense that the organization is more interested in laying out the basic groundwork of a dedicated orbital platform for the Pentagon — upgrades for specific military applications can always come later.

“In short, we are casting a wide net for commercial solutions that can meet the basic needs described in the first part of the solicitation (autonomous/robotic, etc),” Butow emailed to Breaking Defense. Here’s hoping whichever contractor gets the job remembers to cover up those pesky exhaust ports.

READ MORE: Pentagon Eyes Military Space Station [Breaking Defense]

More on space warfare: India Just Announced That It’s Developing Space Weapons

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The Pentagon Wants Its Own Orbital Space Station, Like a Death Star, But Not, Okay?

Russian Sub That Caught Fire Possibly Sent to Cut Internet Cables

A Russian sub caught fire on Monday, killing 14 sailors — and Russia won't say what kind of sub it was or what it was doing near the ocean floor.

Fire Down Below

On Monday, a Russian submarine caught fire during a mission, killing 14 sailors on board.

But the public didn’t find out about the incident until the next day, when Russia finally released a statement about the accident — though two days after the event, the nation still wouldn’t say exactly what kind of sub caught fire or whether it was nuclear-powered.

A possible reason for Russia’s caginess? Multiple sources are now claiming the sub was an AS-12 “Losharik,” a nuclear-powered submarine some speculate was designed to cut the undersea cables that deliver internet to the world.

Spy Mission

Russian media outlets RBC and Novaya Gazeta have both cited anonymous sources who claim the submarine was a Losharik, and while the sub has been in operation since 2003, Russia has never come out and declared its official purpose.

That hasn’t stopped the U.S. and other Western officials from conjecturing about it, though.

For years, they’ve warned that Russia has been surveying undersea cables, and experts have called out the Losharik by name as possibly playing a role in future missions to disrupt those cables.

Radiation Situation

Of course, there’s another possible reason for Russia’s lack of openness about Monday’s incident: if the Russian sub was a Losharik, that means a nuclear-powered craft just caught fire.

On Tuesday, Norwegian authorities reported that they hadn’t detected any abnormal radiation in the area of the fire. But the fact that Russia itself hasn’t released a similar statement is cause for serious concern, according to Russian news site The Bell.

“Nearly a day without information about the accident in a nuclear facility and the need to look out for Norwegian statements about the level of radiation should have given a shudder to those who remember the Chernobyl nuclear power station,” the site wrote about the fire, according to Reuters.

READ MORE: Russia accused of cover-up over lethal submarine fire [Reuters]

More on undersea cables: Google’s Next Subsea Internet Cable to Connect Africa and Europe

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Russian Sub That Caught Fire Possibly Sent to Cut Internet Cables

What Do a Toy Store and a Tech Accelerator Have in Common? Cloud-Based Tech.

Your Clouds Can (YCC) 2019 was an immersive experience unlike any conference. Its purpose? To understand how seemingly traditional businesses can utilize data and cloud based technology to reimagine themselves and grow.

On June 5th, Futurism and IBM took attendees on a journey – but, unlike traditional conferences, they brought the audience members directly to the speakers’ headquarters. They immersed the attendees into the culture, attitudes, and atmospheres of these innovative companies to give them a deeper understanding of these tools, and how they can be applied to attendees’ businesses.

Attendees and hosts alike enjoyed conversations, not presentations, and dialogues, not monologues. On-site and hands-on, attendees went behind the curtain at each stop on this innovation tour to fully investigate and discover exactly how each of these companies are leveraging data and technology for growth.

YCC attendees were guided through experiences and discussions at four NYC companies actively innovating and changing the landscape of their industries. The first stop and breakfast was at CAMP, a brand new retail venture at the cross section of toy stores and playgrounds. CAMP uses technology and data to improve the speed and accuracy of merchandising decisions, allowing them to transform their retail environment three to four times a year based on the interests of their customers and cultural trends.

Next, guests toured BuzzFeed and learned how they leverage data-driven insights generated from their millions of readers to develop brand new products and campaigns for clients. Jake Bronstein, VP of Innovation at BuzzFeed, spoke about their unique sprint process with their editorial and data teams: “We have a big preference for test and learn, there’s no one model,” Bronstein said. “What does our audience need? How do we make that happen?”

Afterwards guests visited LivePerson, and learned how their AI-powered conversational platform is transforming customer engagement into a source of competitive advantage. As pioneers in live chat, LivePerson gave an inside look at how companies like GEICO and The Cosmopolitan are communicating with their customers using AI to create meaningful differentiated experiences.  

Finally, the day concluded at Betaworks, a tenacious tech company running accelerators and designing communities at their new membership club in NYC’s Meatpacking District.  Here a panel of start-up veterans and leaders discussed how to scale innovative ideas faster through cloud and other technologies. To close the day, Krissi Xenakis, Design Lead for the IBM Garage, explained how IBM teaches companies to iterate, experiment, build, and develop, using a design thinking approach that fosters the type of innovation seen at CAMP, BuzzFeed and LivePerson.  “What’s the smallest thing we can build that tests the greatest risk of our innovation? We need to test that the assumptions about our user are accurate and meaningful.” she said.

Through out the day, attendees were able to have breakout sessions in transit between locations to collectively digest and discuss what they had learned.. Make no mistake, this was not awkward attempts at networking. This was natural conversation, fun and insightful, made casual through the immersive, traveling nature of the conference itself.

The vibe of learning and discussion is palpably different when caravaning from location to location, company to company. Vlad Shenderovich, Director of Operations, LOLI Beauty agreed, saying, “it breaks the traditional format. I like that it’s interactive, focuses on the audience and not just the panelists so you’re able to see, interact, engage and ask questions.” 

That is what makes YCC unique and rewarding. Not everyone gets to enjoy lunch on BuzzFeed’s terrace or tour Betaworks Studios’ private membership club. It’s more than just access, it’s an insider’s peek into the technology, ideas and culture that drive the business innovation and success. 

Visit YourCloudsCan.com to see videos of what you missed and sign up to be the first to know about future events. Will you join us for the ride at the next YCC?

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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White Paper: These 12 Principles Are Shaping the Future of Autonomous Cars

Eleven companies have teamed up to create

As nice as it’d be to have the option of catching up on some reading — or sleep — while an autonomous vehicle drives you to work, the real draw of self-driving cars is the idea that they’ll be safer drivers than whoever just cut you off in the exit lane with inches to spare. After all, if the vast majority of traffic accidents are caused by human error, taking humans out of the equation should save lives, right?

In theory, sure. But in practice? Only if we can build autonomous vehicles safer than, well, the average driver. And right now, the entire auto industry is approaching that same goal from countless directions, and no one even knows what the measure of success is — or should — be.

To bring some orderliness to this currently chaotic situation, a group of 11 companies, including Intel, Audi, and Volkswagen, teamed up to publish a white paper titled “Safety First for Automated Driving,” an exhaustive guide to developing safe autonomous vehicles.

The 146-page-long document’s centerpiece are twelve guiding principles detailing the various capabilities a self-driving car must have before it can be considered “safe.” Here’s a quick primer on each of them.

Safe Operation: An autonomous vehicle must be able to cope with the loss of any of its critical components.

Safety Layer: The self-driving car must know its own limits and understand when it’s safe to return control to the human driver.

Operational Design Domain (ODD): The autonomous vehicle must be prepared to assess the risks of typical driving situations.

Behavior in Traffic: The car’s behavior needs to be predictable to other drivers on the road, and it needs to act according to traffic rules.

User Responsibility: The vehicle needs to be able to recognize a driver’s state of alertness and communicate to them any tasks for which they are responsible.

Vehicle-Initiated Handover: Autonomous vehicles must be able to let drivers know when they need to takeover and make it easy for them to do so. If a takeover request is ignored, the vehicle also needs to have a way to cope with the situation while minimizing risk.

Driver-Initiated Handover: The driver needs to have a way to explicitly ask to take over operation of the self-driving car.

Effects of Automation: An autonomous vehicle must consider how automation could affect the driver even directly after the period of automated driving is over.

Safety Assessment: There needs to be a consistent way to verify and validate the autonomous vehicle’s ability to meet safety goals.

Data Recording: If the self-driving car recognizes an event or incident, it needs to be able to record relevant data in a way that doesn’t violate applicable data privacy laws.

Security: Safe autonomous vehicles will need to have some protection against security threats.

Passive Safety: The self-driving car needs to be prepared for any crash scenarios that might be unique to vehicle automation.

This all sounds well and good. Accomplishing all — let alone most, or even a majority — of these goals is going to be another matter.

Notably, a few major companies and tech players are missing from the list of people who assembled this list (i.e., Tesla, Waymo, et al). Hard not to wonder why: Maybe these companies, all of whom are seemingly behind in the race for self-driving vehicles, are looking to assemble some common ground to edge their behemoth competition out of (or maybe they simply have other ideas about safety).

Whatever the case may be, the autonomous road race won’t be won by anybody who doesn’t adhere to these concepts if they become law — in other words, consider this just another in a long series of shots in the war to earn pole position.

READ MORE: 11 companies propose guiding principles for self-driving vehicles [VentureBeat]

More on autonomous vehicles: This Guide Could Dictate How Cops Handle Autonomous Car Crashes

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White Paper: These 12 Principles Are Shaping the Future of Autonomous Cars

A Physicist and His Son Are 3D-Printing a Full-Scale Lamborghini

Physicist Sterling Backus is 3D printing a full-scale Lamborghini Aventador-inspired supercar in his own backyard with the help of his son.

Lambo 3D

Fifteen years ago, the Motion Picture Association of America released an anti-piracy public service announcement — that has since turned into a meme — aimed at those who illegally downloaded media online.

“You wouldn’t steal a car,” a message read during the opening credits of most commercial DVDs at the time.

Now, 3D printing could make the silly message a reality. Physicist Sterling Backus is 3D printing a full-scale Lamborghini Aventador-inspired supercar in his own backyard, as 3D Printing Media Network reports. He and his son have been working on the project for almost a year and a half. Sterling has already put about $20,000 into the project.

Print “Car”

The duo printed the body panels, taillights, headlights, and even air vents from a variety of plastics. To ensure the car was safe to drive, Backus wrapped some of the printed parts in carbon fiber.

The car is technically not made up of 3D printed parts in its entirety, though: the engine, chassis and other structural pieces were gathered separately.

“Our objective became showing the car off at the local schools as a STEAM project, to get kids interested in Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math,” Backus told 3D Printing Media Network.

Backyard Supercar

And no, it’s not piracy, according to Sterling.

“The parts’ design is based on the Lamborghini Aventador, but we have changed each panel significantly, to add our design flair,” Backus added. “In addition, no molds are made, and none are for sale. This is a one only project, and not for sale.”

READ MORE: You too could now 3D print a Lamborghini Aventador at home [3D Printing Media Network]

More on 3D printing: These Scientists Are 3D-Printing New Body Parts for Athletes

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A Physicist and His Son Are 3D-Printing a Full-Scale Lamborghini

We May Never Know When That Third CRISPR Baby Is Born

A third CRISPR baby was expected to be due in late June or early July, but the Chinese government is keeping quiet about the gene-hacking controversy.

Save The Date

In November, Chinese scientist He Jiankui shocked the world when he announced that he had brought CRISPR-edited human babies into the world. But the Chinese government has kept quiet in the face of news that a third CRISPR birth is expected soon, according to MIT Technology Review.

In January, Stanford bioethicist William Hurlbut announced that He had gene-hacked a third embryo and that the child would be born right around late June or early July. Late June’s come and gone, and now we find ourselves in early July. So either there’s no news to report, or the Chinese government is closely controlling the information surrounding the massive scientific controversy.

Closed Doors

Shortly after He’s work first became public knowledge, the Chinese government condemned the experiments and worked to expand its regulations for scientific research.

There’s little that can be done to stop people from using widely-accessible CRISPR technology to edit more humans, but governments and universities can work to prevent their scientists from doing so. To that end, the Chinese government’s secrecy around the gene-hacking controversy has become a point of contention among prominent scientists, according to MIT Tech Review.

“If you look at the big picture, there is a concerted effort by the Chinese government to change the regulatory framework. So why would they keep it secret?” University of Miami bioethicist Rosario Isasi told MIT Tech Review. “But they can if they want, and the world will never know. The Chinese government owes it to the international community to live up to the accountability they have promised.”

READ MORE: A third CRISPR baby may have already been born in China [MIT Technology Review]

More on gene-hacking: Third Gene-Hacked Baby’s Impending Birth Has Scientists Scrambling

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We May Never Know When That Third CRISPR Baby Is Born

The Era of Sex for Reproduction Is Coming to an End, Says Author

Once the cost of testing an embryo for genetic conditions drops, most parents will forgo traditional reproduction, according to author Henry T. Greely.

The Sex Talk

Henry T. Greely is the director of Stanford University’s Center for Law and the Biosciences, as well as its Program in Neuroscience and Society. Clearly, the guy knows a thing or two about technology and the role it plays in people’s lives — and he’s now predicting that technological advances will one day make sex for reproduction a thing of the past.

“My strongest prediction is in the future people will still have sex – but not as often for the purpose of making babies,” Greely, who published a book titled “The End of Sex and the Future of Human Reproduction,” told the BBC. “In 20 to 40 years, most people all over the world with good health coverage will choose to conceive in a lab.”

Test Tube Babies

In the four decades since the birth of the first “test tube baby,” more than 8 million people have been born via in vitro fertilization.

Today, parents producing some of those children are choosing to have their fertilized embryos undergo preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) prior to transfer into a uterus. This involves doctors removing cells from the embryos to see if a child would inherit any problematic genes from the parents.

Healthy Offspring

PGD gives parents the option of using only problem-free embryos for IVF, and according to Greely, once it’s more affordable and available, many parents will choose PGD over reproducing the old fashioned way.

“Like most things, there will be a fair amount of visceral negative reaction initially,” he told the BBC, before adding that public acceptance will come once parents realize that PGD children aren’t born with “two heads and a tail.”

READ MORE: Are we set for a new sexual revolution? [BBC]

More on the future of sex: Sex Researchers: For Many, Virtual Lovers Will Replace Humans

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The Era of Sex for Reproduction Is Coming to an End, Says Author

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 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