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The Big Read Poppy: Human After All, the NME interview – NME.com

Think you know Poppy, the robo-pop sensation and maker of mesmerising YouTube videos, all in the guise of a sentient Artifical Intelligence? So did NME Deputy Editor Dan Stubbs when he went to meet the LA-based star at a London fetish dungeon, only to find Poppy is more human than we might have thought. Breaking character for the first time, Poppy reveals more than ever before about her work, her life and why she wants to bring down the internet. PHOTOS: JENN FIVE

Have you ever been browsing the help page of a website when a text box pops up inviting you to a live chat with a customer service operative? You click and enter your query, only for it to quickly become apparent that youre talking to a chatbot. Its a bit like a normal conversation, except the voice on the other end picks from a selection of vacuous, tangential phrases and keeps asking you if youre happy, as if youre speaking to a Love Island contestant whos coming up on ecstasy.

That experience is pretty much what Id geared myself up for when it came to interviewing Poppy for her first NME Big Read. For those not already familiar, Poppy is many things: a pop star, an actor, a director, a composer of ambient music, a religious leader (at her own Church Of Poppy), a DJ, a comic-book character, a smash hit YouTuber, a provocateur, a performance artist and a master of multiple media. One thing she is not, she has previously insisted, is human.

Until now.

We meet at a torture dungeon in Walthamstow, North-East London. And no, I dont remember stumbling upon one of those in the Yellow Pages either. Its best thought of as a gymnasium designed by Pinhead from Hellraiser, dark and leathery and full of metal hooks, and all the apparatus is disconcertingly greasy to the touch. Hanging around there for a few hours while Poppys NME photoshoot takes place, you find yourself idly leaning on some piece of kit or other only to realise its a sex gurney with stirrups and bondage rings.

Poppy, it must be said, is perfectly at home here: shes arrived accompanied by her collaborator and creative partner, Titanic Sinclair (real name Corey Mixter), a selection of PVC outfits and a massively oversized, sculptural leather overcoat that her friend Marilyn Manson might wear. Thats right, her friend Marilyn Manson, whose 50th birthday she attended this year. What do you get the goth rock icon who has everything? My presence, she replies.

That friendship and NMEs, er, sexhorror photoshoot make sense if youve been following Poppys career lately. Last year on Halloween the American singer put out Am I A Girl?, an album of candy-flavoured robo-pop that, sonically, put her in league with the PC Musics of the world. Stylistically it presented her as the real-life Ashley O months before Black Mirror and Miley Cyrus got there.

Poppy claims to have not seen that particular episode of the dystopian Netflix drama, despite the fact that the story about a transhuman pop star who covers Nine Inch Nails tracks seems directly influenced by her own career. Ive heard about it a lot, she says. Curiosity hasnt got the better of you? I dont really like shows that lots of people like, she says. If someone suggests a certain thing then Ill intentionally not watch it. Its just me being stubborn.

Am I A Girl? and the preceding Poppy.Computer, from 2017 were seemingly targeted at people who fetishise Japanese kawaii culture and futurism equally. Her forthcoming album, I Disagree, due on January 10 next year, promises to be a different beast: specifically, one with devil horns. It finds Poppy embracing the tinnitus-inducing thrash of heavy metal alongside those cute, catchy choruses.

Its a stylistic shift that follows testing times, including a lawsuit, a high profile beef, and a second bad record deal more of which later. This, then, is heavy metal as catharsis. I try to channel all of my anger steam into my artand maintain some form of composure, even when I feel I want to end everything, she says, troublingly. End herself or end the world? The world.

So you were feeling quite angry about some things? Yeah, but I would say it feels natural too. When we were making Am I A Girl? we were driving to the studio and listening to a lot of heavier music. I would go in and write a rainbows and butterflies song and I was like, OK, theres a disconnect here

Poppys reinvention is the kind of gear-change that might cost an artist a portion of their audience, but fans on YouTube seem to be getting the right idea. I run Poppy through some of their comments on her recent track Concrete, which is probably the best example of Poppys new direction, as its both sweet and heavy with deeply, deeply disturbing lyrics fetishising the idea of being buried alive in concrete. Poppy says she would kill time with a lot of thumb twiddling if that happened in real life.

So here goes with the comments:

This song makes me comfortable and uncomfortable at the same time. Im confused.

Poppy: Ive become comfortable with being uncomfortable. If things are comfortable, I get anxiety.

Another: This is what having bipolar disorder feels like.

Poppy: That makes sense.

Shes clearly a victim of MK Ultra mind control, guys.

Poppy: Clearly. I like conspiracy theories. Ive seen one or two videos online about (CIA experiment) MKUltra. I know a thing or two.

And another: Its like if Slipknot, Babymetal, Queen and The Beach Boys made a song together. I dont hate it.

Poppy: I like that one.

Theres an example of Poppys self-confessed stubbornness when she and I are walking from the photoshoot to a nearby pub. Poppy drags a shiny black suitcase with one hand and holds a polystyrene head in the other. On the head is a blonde wig, which Titanic Sinclair has just named Moppy. Poppy rejects the offer of help in carrying either, which causes problems when a fan spots her Poppeeeeeeeee! comes the shout and she very quickly picks up the pace, suitcase bouncing behind her.

When we make it into the pub, she heads for a table in the furthest, quietest corner. On the way there, making chit-chat about her interests (she loves fail videos and crime documentaries, she says, and rarely sleeps), I had broached the subject: when, exactly, is she going to start pretending to be a robot? Well, she says. Well see.

Previous interviewers particularly the infamous US shock-jock Howard Stern have made a sport of trying to get Poppy to break character, or even simply to laugh. Even out of the public eye, Poppy carries herself with an air of almost supernatural composure. She sits bolt upright, doesnt slouch, and speaks carefully and with great consideration in a soft, southern American accent. Shes fiercely intelligent and quietly assured. She drinks black coffee and frequently cracks her knuckles, which snap so loudly you wonder if theres a metal skeleton in there after all.

An exaggeration of this emotionally guarded person is the one that Poppys fans have become obsessed with. In some of her YouTube videos, she asks endless questions of the viewer about their relationship with social media, and whether they validate themselves through followers. In others, she experiences crises about the nature of her own existence. In some, black goo oozes from her mouth. Theyre videos that challenge the viewer in a number of ways: not much happens, it happens very slowly, and though theyre absolutely PG rated you probably wouldnt want to be caught watching them at work. Theyre much like the trend for ASMR videos, in which people whisper and click and generally make the viewer feel a bit strange in a way they cant quite put their finger on.

Theres a supporting cast, too: Poppy has an occasional enemy, Charlotte, whos a mannequin, and a friend, whos a plant. I remind her of the latter as she tucks into vegetable crudites in the pub. People keep pet pigs and still eat pork, comes the response.

That stupid question about the ethics of eating salad when your sole companion is a houseplant and about a zillion others like it are essentially rendered moot when it becomes apparent that Poppy is breaking character today. I find myself feeling the weight of trying to work out the things fans would most like to know and the things Ive always wondered about this singular artist.

Poppy likens her stylistic shift naive pop AI to rock hellion to David Bowie killing off Ziggy Stardust at the Hammersmith Apollo, reasoning its an artists prerogative to change. Is this interview set to be Poppys big reveal: a kind of Pinocchio moment where she declares herself a real life girl? I feel the same [as before], she says. I just feel more certain.

Information about the person behind Poppy isnt exactly a state secret. Wikipedia has her as Moriah Rose Pereira, born January 1, 1995. When I ask her about her age, its one of the few times shes guarded. I dont know, you know. I dont know. Its not what my Wikipedia says.

So what else is wrong on your Wikipedia page?

I think the dates are weird. Most of the rest, its OK.

Youre not tempted to change it?

No. Theres an element to Wikipedia that I think you know how they ask you for donations on the homepage? Im just like, Just let it go. We dont need it. I dont think the general public should be able to change information like that. I had a Google Home for a short time and of course, I had to ask it, Hey Google, whos Poppy? And it would rattle off all this information just from Wikipedia and it was all wrong, and I thought it was really funny.

So, OK, you switch the Google Home on how far down your list of questions is that one? Be honest.

It was after a little while, she says. Theres a video that Titanic and I shot where Im smashing my Google Home afterwards. I thought it would smash a lot easier than it did.

Do you trust that kind of technology?

No.

But the Poppy we know loves AI and the idea of computer learning, right?

Im trying to move backwards. Im trying to get rid of my technology. In turn its going to make it harder to get a hold of me and my friends mad at me but its OK.

Are they going to have to fax you?

Im thinking carrier pigeon.

When previous interviewers have asked where Poppy lives, the reply would be the internet. Actually, she confirms, she grew up in Nashville, Tennessee, and lives, not-quite-alone, in Los Angeles, California. I have a Sphynx cat. Hes the demon man of my home. His name is Pi and he I think he was sent to ruin my life, she says.

Its easy to imagine Poppy being an outsider in Nashville, typically the home of country music and cowboys rather than robots, and a place she describes as having that small town feeling. Its equally easy to see her being on the fringes in Hollywood. She describes her life there as feeling like Im in the middle of a lot of things, but with my journal out, just watching. So youre an anthropologist? I guess so, she says. I think everybody would say that about me. When Im in a room, Im looking everywhere. I think I would be a spy if I wasnt a singer.

Though a keen dancer, Poppy spent much of her childhood alone in her bedroom. I would intentionally isolate myself from a lot of things, she says. She did half of her education in public school, where she was bullied, and completed her studies early in homeschool. I didnt have a positive experience [at public school], says Poppy. I barely said any words, so that kind of opened me up, in a way, to be the target of everyones teasing.

For what things?

Being skinny and quiet.

Homeschool conjures images of a parent playing the teacher role. Actually, says Poppy, she did her studies alone in her bedroom, where the internet was my teacher. When you consider that image a slight, quiet girl, sat alone in a room with only the internet for company, diligently racing through the curriculum its not too difficult to join the dots to Poppys character on YouTube. Yeah, it does actually make sense when you think about it, she says, as if this might, improbably, be a fresh thought. I like that. If I could just have that be my legacy famous for being alone in a white room Id be happy with that.

The move to LA came when Pereira signed her first record contract, a major label deal under the name ThatPoppy. Having already left the family home, she relocated without telling a soul. I kept everyone in the dark because I didnt want anyone to get in the way, she says.

Poppy met Titanic Sinclair, an artist, musician and director, through a mutual friend within a few months of moving to LA, and instantly hit it off. At the photoshoot, Sinclair had described his first encounter with Poppy as being like meeting David Bowie, so shook was he by her creative force.

Meanwhile, Poppys frustration with her music career was growing. I went through the circus at that label, the changing of the representatives or whatever, and I was coming to find out I was actually just in a really bad deal, she says.

When Poppy and Sinclair began making YouTube videos together, it caused further friction with the label. I was being discouraged from making the videos, and in turn, Titanic and I were like, Were not gonna listen, so we made twice or triple the amount, she says. And that was when [the label] started to react. They were like, Hey, we dont think we should make these videos. Why are you making these videos? I was like, Why are you working at a record label?!

Whether or not they had approval, Poppy and Sinclair had hit on something with their channel. Theres an element of Kubricks 2001 A Space Odyssey about the videos, in their glacial pacing, ambient soundscapes, medical lighting and stark visuals. Though they share DNA with your average YouTuber content, they subvert the conventions: there are no jump cuts, theres no begging for likes and follows. Where your average YouTuber goes to pains to welcome the viewer into their world, Poppys videos make you feel like youre peering into a world you shouldnt be seeing. Yet by incrementing the play count by one, or liking, or commenting the viewer becomes part of the piece.

Poppys character fascinated by the world, a model of pure innocence partly came from her interest in the Myers-Briggs test, a personality test that encourages respondents to answer as they would when they were a child, which she has completed multiple times. I would say that [the Poppy character] is directly linked to how I was when I was untouched by the world, the most innocent way of thinking, she says.

I put it to Poppy that if any of her clips were exhibited in a gallery, it would be considered differently. But because its on YouTube, its considered

YouTube content?

Yes.

Which is a little bit frustrating because YouTube is just the medium that we chose to put it on, you know? We could have been on Vimeo, or PornHub, or whatever it may be, but YouTube was the one. And this goes into a bigger conversation about how social media is ruining everything.

Sorry, what? Poppy, the character, is fascinated by social media, isnt she? Obsessed with it even.

I think that at the beginning, social media was a good thing, but as of recent times, the angry internet mobs and misinformation and X, Y and Z, I think its now its a pendulum, so it started out good, now its bad and I think it will fall somewhere in the middle, hopefully. Otherwise well just need to create a new internet, which I hope I can do one day.

What would the PoppyNet look like?

Thered be a nominal fee. Thered be a screening process. You know, What are your intentions here? And no memes.

No memes?!

They just clog the servers.

Poppys own pendulum has swung from good to evil lately. Allowing that to happen meant listening to her gut more. I wanted to put forward this very composed and refined body of work and I so strongly believed in that that I wasnt really willing to listen to this other part of me, you know? Like the devil and the angel on [my] shoulders, she says. Im working more on impulse than before.

The shift is understandable because, in the past year, life has thrown Poppy its fair share of digital lemons. Having struggled on a major, Poppys subsequent label home proved an awkward fit, too. It wasnt really a functioning label, which I can say now, she says. It was more of a tax write-off. There wasnt a lot of consistency going on there. The partnership has now been dissolved, and Poppy is currently signed to prog metal label Sumerian Records.

Meanwhile, the dynamic between Poppy and Sinclair has been under scrutiny. Some taking the pairs artistic creations a little too seriously have been questioning whether theres an issue of coercion there. Actually, says Poppy, the opposing characters: her as the naif, him as the sinister svengali, are just part of the storyline. The narrative that we created in order to tell the story of the first album was very much Titanic is the bad guy and hes the leader, which I think is funny because its not true, says Poppy. It is very much 50:50, the effort.

In April 2018, a former creative and romantic partner of Titanic Sinclair, who goes by the name Mars Argo (real name Brittany Sheets), claimed that Poppys character was ripped off from her, and that Sinclair had been emotionally and physically abusive to her following their relationship. In May, Poppy issued a statement describing Argos actions as a desperate grab for fame, and in September the case was settled out of court, with no money exchanging hands and none of the parties acknowledging liability of wrongdoing.

Later that year Poppy had a run-in with the highly respected Canadian artist Grimes over their Am I A Girl? collaboration Play Destroy. Poppy said shed been bullied into submission by [Grimes] and her team of self-proclaimed feminists. Grimes responded publicly, posting a message saying, Poppy you dragged me into a disgusting situation and wont stop punishing me for not wanting to be part of it, I dont want to work with you, you leaked the song anyway.

Oddly, Grimess subsequent single, We Appreciate Power, sung from the perspective of an ambitious AI, seemed to be a land grab for Poppys own turf. Poppy is reluctant to dredge any of it up again today.

Its kind of dead news, she says. And my new album is good, so

It does seem like you probably admire Grimes in some ways. Is it quite sad when that sort of thing happens publicly, her posting about your professional behaviour on the internet?

I think Im just used to the way the internet works and the lifespan of the news cycle.

What was your learning from Mars Argos lawsuit last year?

I just learned more about Hollywood.

Did it make you like Hollywood more or less?

It solidified my view of Hollywood.

Will you elaborate on that?

Everything is not as it seems. That can be your headline.

If Poppys recent experiences led to the end of her wide-eyed AI innocence, you hope it might lead to her being recognised for the furiously creative force she is. Playing devils advocate, I put it to Poppy that it would be easy to look at some of her previous work and think, This is willfully vacuous. A track on Am I A Girl?, the Diplo collaboration Time Is Up, is absolutely on point with the 2019 zeitgeist of climate change activism and, coming from another artist, it may have been hailed as a culturally important moment. Coming from Poppy, it went unnoticed as the musings of a robo-girl.

Poppy agrees that the concept may have clouded the message. With pop music and my experience with it, it was interesting to like with the first album, to me its pop, but lyrically the subject matter of the songs is not digestible to anyone whos not understanding of why this album exists, you know, she says. I think with the new album, you could come out of nowhere and listen to it for the first time and get what you want from it.

I ask if her character, demeanour and gender led to her not being taken seriously in dealings with labels and collaborators, the business side of music. Not to go into gendering it and having it be about being male or female, but typically in a situation like that [people] would look at Titanic for the ideas and the commands, she says. But I find it funny, because thats not actually the case. Its very collaborative. People would be surprised.

Three weeks later, on October 31, Poppy returns to the UK to play a special show for NME. Shes on tour in the US, and has come over on an off-day especially for us. Yesterday she was, improbably, performing in the ring at a World Wrestling Entertainment event in Florida; tomorrow she plays a headline show in Texas. Tonight, shes at the Shacklewell Arms in Dalston playing a headline DJ set at NMEs Ghouls To The Front the Halloween edition of our Girls To The Front series, which celebrates female and non-binary artists.

Her associate arrives first to scope out the venue. He quickly deems the grungy dressing room not Poppys vibe, which, considering we last had her in an S&M dungeon, speaks volumes about The Shacklewell Arms, and says shell arrive just before stage time instead of hanging around. And sure enough, at 9pm Poppy turns up in a black-and-white PVC catsuit, face painted like the nightmarish clown Pierrot, pitch black lips emphasising a fixed smile.

Making no bones about the lack of live DJing going on, Poppy spends much of the set reading a graphic novel handed to her by a fan, making a sport of very slowly, very purposefully turning the pages as banging techno and quotes from horror films blast out of the speakers. Poppy doesnt dance or speak, preferring to let a sample of her saying Im Poppy do the latter for her.

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The Big Read Poppy: Human After All, the NME interview - NME.com

The transhuman future is here – Dazed

The future isnt an accident, its something we create and it seems our goal is to hack what it means to be human. What was once science fiction is now reality: the first cyborgs are here. A revolution is unfolding in operating rooms, labs, artist, and designer studios across the world.

Scientists and entrepreneurs are on a quest to unlock the secrets of the human brain through implantable technology. The documentary I am Human by Elena Gaby follows three people with varying degrees of disabilities who have been implanted with brain-computer interfaces allowing them to achieve what was once impossible. Programmes such as BrainGate, Synchron, and Neuralink are among the neurotech organisations working to restore communication, mobility, and independence in people who have lost movement due to paralysis, limb loss, or neurodegenerative disease.

In the documentary, Stephen, who is blind, has a retinal implant which connects to electrodes in his brain. Elsewhere, Anne who suffers from Parkinsons Disease is considering whether to have deep brain stimulation through inserted electrodes. These brain implants come with great societal implications as groundbreaking neurotechnologies could gradually branch out into the general population when people adopt how transformational they can be.

A future where we can type or control our cars with our mind is within reach and if the technology were to make it outside the medical domain, the future is one of brain-to-brain communication, enhanced memory, and cognition where even speaking to each other may not be as necessary. In her recent article for the Guardian, Zoe Corbyn features Dennis Degray, a paraplegic man who was able to send text messages, shop on Amazon, and stack blocks by controlling a robotic arm through the neurons of his mind. Brain implants could revolutionise the way we connect to the world around us. If harnessed, for example, in the military, in retail, the workplace or train stations, they could become the new standard for interactions between people, machines, and products.

But cognitive enhancements, although still in experimental stages, should make us question the deep implications of self-governance and privacy. In our cyber future, will humans or technology prevail? Daniela Skills short film featured on Nowness portrays a future where humanity battles with cyborgs and robots in a quest for co-existence. This appears to be a far-fetched scenario, but if we observe the signals of today and operate as cultural listeners, we can see a tipping point between humanity and machines through the rise of neurotechnology.

Bionic humans and intelligent robots are here, and you better get used to them; you might even become one of them in the future. Companies such as Youbionic aims to democratise smart prosthetics in an effort to enhance the human intellect and physiology its recent invention, the Youbionic Paw Arm, is now available through open sourcing. Another open-source, artificially intelligent prosthetic leg designed by scientists Levi Hargrove and Elliott Rouse at the University of Michigan and Shirley Ryan Ability Lab will be released to the public and scientific community. This naturally redefines the changing boundaries between the human and the machine, the animate and inanimate, controller and controlled, and how accessible this may all become.

In our quest to merge the physical, digital and machine, ancient themes of Animism dating from ancient civilisations and religions such as the Golem are being played out with todays toolbox. Creatives like Princess Gollum illustrate our fascination with giving life to non-living things. Humans cannot help but explore their power and their fears in a bid to take control of the inevitable: the degradation of the human body and mind. This need for eternity has inspired us to create human-like creatures with special abilities from Frankenstein to todays alien Avatars such as Galaxia.

In her art installation Homemade RC Toy, Geumhyung Jeong questions our relationship with machines by interacting naked with homemade robotic sculptures. Flowing Water Standing Time by fashion designer Ying Pao is a robotic garment which moves according to colour and is inspired by the work of neurologist Oliver Sacks. We could see the development of garments that can be a tool for navigation, communication, and as an amplifier for VR spaces with projects like Ava Aghakouchaks soft wearable Sovar.

Meanwhile, Ai-Da, the worlds first humanoid robot artist, has had her first solo exhibition of eight drawings, twenty paintings, four sculptures and two video works. There was debate about granting personhood to AI in the EU courts in 2017. This was ultimately rejected; however, recently two professors from the University of Surrey filed patents on behalf of an AI system. They are arguing it should be recognised as inventor, and although the Patents offices in the UK, EU and US insist innovations are attributed to humans only, this now seems to be an outdated notion.

So, what does this mean for the human body, intelligence and emotions? In What humans will look like in the next 100 years, we discussed the acceptance of baby androids in our society and the manufacturing of cyborgs by 2048. The project Replika by Pleun Van Dijk, commissioned by Roskilde Festival, echoes this transhumanist concept. By staging a human production-line, designers act as gods and stage a future where human shells are reshaped by industry and capital. New research shows that we may also be able to regenerate human tissue and body parts, as scientists have discovered the human body can renew like salamanders.The paper, published in Science Advances, explains we have the same healing process as amphibians and this previously unknown ability might be exploited to enhance joint repair and establish a basis for human limb regeneration.

Science fiction artistEsmay Wagemans explores a parallel concept of re-creating body parts in a race to res-culpt humanity. This idea, paired with the developments of soft computers such as the Octobot, a chemically powered robot which can essentially take any shape, points to the potential for merging soft wearables with Augmented Reality, social media, and Artificial intelligence. This could lead to a new way of communicating and representing ourselves in which our skins would become screens reflected in Aposema, a facial prosthesis which acts as an external emotional indicator. The project speculates on our ability to empathise in an age where people prefer technological devices over in-person interactions. Built using soft robotics prosthetics, biometric sensors and an augmented reality digital layer, Aposema would translate facial expressions when we are no longer able to understand emotions.

How we relate to other humans and our own physicality is changing deeply as we race to virtualise and reinvent our body. The democratisation of technologies ranging from robotic limbs to mixed realities, coupled with the progress of 3D scanning and modelling, are suggesting the possibility of a human body that is modifiable, customisable and open source. New beauty standards will emerge out of this transhumanist scenario in which mutant creations would colonise our current traditional sense of reality.

We are creating another dimension, another human nature before our eyes. The speculative design studio Imprudence explores future beauty products with their online store selling items ranging from cat eye DNA, nano filter make-up to a skin scanning soap. Face filters are a key illustration of the viral desire for wearing 3D makeup as seen in Ines Alphas recently launched collaboration with the fashion brand Bimba y Lola.Through her digital creations, digital artist Ksenia Trifonova engages with a future where images will be projected onto our faces and give us the ability to transform and communicate data, style, social media posts on our skins.

Our clothing will not be immune to the changes in our reality paradigm. Rflctv Studios streetwear collection transforms into interactive hyperreal dichroic garments through augmented reality. Moin Roberts-Islam of the London-based Fashion Innovation Agency recently featured a prototype scanner for human body augmentation and customisation created by Cyberpunk 3D artist Rafe Johnson. It could offer new ways of trying on jewellery, accessories and tattoos.

And with Virtual humans, avatars will not only populate our feeds, but they will also enter customer service applications as we are now able to replicate human emotion and mimic meaningful and authentic interactions. Soul Machines enables highly realistic Autonomous Animations of humans through an AI-powered Digital Brain. The avatars are already planned to be rolled out in customer service for Natwest. Concurrently, Facebook has outlined its plans to turn us into holograms in a future communication where instead of using Skype, we could be teleported to our parents living room for dinner across the world. The holographic avatar in Blade Runner or the loveable operating system in Her are here.

Western philosophy makes an absolute distinction between the living and the non-living. We presumed that humans were the only thinking things but now machines think, they will sense, feel, reflect, even have a sense of self, through avatars like Josefin Jonssons virtual humans, cyborgs and humanoids. As we use advanced technologies to push the edges of humanity, machines are becoming like us. The question now is, where do we end and where do they begin? And is this a true advancement for society?

Excerpt from:

The transhuman future is here - Dazed

Jonathan Kay: What to make of racism, sexism and homophobia from the same people lecturing us about bigotry – National Post

An extraordinary column appeared on the website of Canadian Lawyer on Tuesday. Titled, B.C. Brazilian waxing case a step backward for trans human rights cases, says lawyer, the article presented an interview with self-described transgender human rights activist Adrienne Smith, who laments that the recent legal setback to scrotal-waxing enthusiast Jessica Yaniv (JY) is going to put a chill on trans rights human rights litigation in British Columbia. Thats a rather eyebrow-raising claim given that an exhaustive judgment written up by the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal showed Yaniv to be a vexatious racist and grifter whod deliberately targeted Vancouver-area immigrant women who didnt have the means to fight back. Incredibly, Smith complains that, in the words of the interviewer, a good lawyer would have prevented Yaniv from expressing the racist animus behind the human-rights grifting campaign. Which is to say: This human rights activist regards JYs racism as unfortunate but mainly because it got in the way of a trans-positive judgment.

It may seem odd to see a progressive go on record to yatta-yatta-yatta racism in this way. (JY has referred to Canadians with South Asian heritage as turban fs who should not be allowed in Canada.) But it is not so shocking as it once was: One of the unsettling aspects of progressive cultism is that its acolytes see their cause as so morally urgent that it justifies tactics that would horrify them if they were employed by the other side.

This is most evident in the debate over trans rights, which now features regular scenes of angry woke men mansplaining gender to feminists. Online, trans-rights extremism has unleashed open season on feminists and lesbians, with some of the charming tag lines being Let me know if ur a TERF (trans-exclusive radical feminist) so I can beat the st out of you, Burn them all, and Sk my girl-ck. At the anti-Meghan Murphy protest in Vancouver on Saturday, a woman carried a mock guillotine emblazoned with the words Step Right Up TERFs! When youre so woke that you forget how to spell MeToo, and killing women becomes a punch line.

Some of Canadas most impassioned and dogmatic anti-racists, when riled up, sometimes betray their own racism. At that same anti-Murphy protest, local activist Amanda Jabbour repeatedly accused an Asian woman attending the event with a non-Asian man of being a mail-order bride, even continuing her bizarre taunting after her bigotry was called out. Later on, when video of the event surfaced, her equally progressive employer, PACE Society, put out a statement larded up with social-justice jargon, without offering any apology to the Asian woman whod been targeted. (PACE Society creepily promised everyone a third party accountability pod, whatever that is.)

Some of Canadas most impassioned and dogmatic anti-racists, when riled up, sometimes betray their own racism

Meanwhile, this week on Canadian social-justice Twitter, perpetually aggrieved activist Ryan McMahon put out a call to his followers for ideas on what are we doing about the Canadian media and pundit types that (excuse) the alt-right and who disguise the truth (as McMahon sees it) that such alt-right forces are akin to Nazis. Among the various obscene and violent suggestions offered in the comments that follow: that such conservative pundits be put in concentration camps that should then be burned down. Because everyone knows thats the best way to fight Nazis. Meanwhile, over at Briarpatch a Canadian magazine that inhabits a sort of exalted, interstellar level of social-justice wokeness an essayist writes of an Indigenous-prophesized mass-extinction apocalypse that will annihilate whites while Indigenous people apparently remain safe on their reserves. Like a reluctant Oskar Schindler, the author asks Do we owe non-Indigenous people saving? Apparently not. Oh, well.

Needless to say, racism, homophobia and sexism are flourishing on the right side of the political spectrum sometimes with deadly results. But when this bigotry is observed, it is (rightly) exposed and criticized. The same isnt true on the other side. Being so certain that they walk with angels, most progressives never bother looking down to see whats stuck to their shoe.

Anti-Semitism within hard-left anti-Zionist circles has been a problem for decades. But that is now metastasizing into a more general phenomenon, with the result that the social-justice movement increasingly seems like an exercise in hypocrisy and psychological projection. As with the town that had to be destroyed to be saved, bigotry is now being weaponized in the name of fighting bigotry.

Jonathan Kay is Canadian Editor of Quillette.

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Jonathan Kay: What to make of racism, sexism and homophobia from the same people lecturing us about bigotry - National Post

Are LED lights and other techno-implants slowly turning us into the Borg? – SYFY WIRE

You can sleep tonight, because we probably wont be assimilated into a colony of cyborgs who are more machine than human and call each other by number instead of their names. No one isturning into the Borg (like Captain Picardabove). The thing is that some transhumanists are willingly getting cyber-implants to fast-forward themselves into a future where man fuses with machine.

Transhumanists believe that we can upgrade ourselves through LED lights, computer chips and other implants that can give different human capacities an assist. Were already seeing this in the plans for Elon Musks Neuralink. Now an interview with BBC Scotlands The Nine has given us some insight into the people who voluntarily got LED lights under their skin for some cosmic sparkle or have chip implants in their hands that can open a car doorand already make keys seem archaic.

After engineer Winter Mraz nearly lost her life in a car accident that sent her to the operating room with a fractured back, ankle and knees, she had no idea how cybernetic enhancements would change her life forever. Her back needed to be bolted together, and one of her kneecap was so busted that she needed a 3D-printed replacement.

It if was not for my cybernetic kneecap I would not be able to walk, Mraz told the news channel. She also didnt know what she would be getting herself into.

It was the nearly fatal accident that convinced Mraz to get personal modifications unrelated to her injuries, like the microchips in her hands that can operate things as if by magic. She has a NFC (near-field communication) chip in her right hand that lets her phone, tablet and other gadgets share data. The RFID (radio-frequency-identification) chip in her left hand locks and unlocks her house door kind of like a workplace security card lets you open the door to the office. It also keeps her hand free for the cane she needs to get around.

Microchips are usually injected into the back of the hand like a syringe. When you really think about it, if you have a device like an Apple watch or Fitbit, microchip implants might freak you out right now, but they are (at least according to many transhumanists) the evolution of that technology.

If you want to see a really futuristic view of transhumanism, as in something that takes place in a fictional altverse where the cybernetically enhanced are at odds with the non-enhanced, read Steve Aokis Neon Future comic series. It will blow your mind.

(via BBC Scotland)

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Are LED lights and other techno-implants slowly turning us into the Borg? - SYFY WIRE

The finale issue of House of X/Powers of X: We dig into every detail – Polygon

Marvels House of X/Powers of X event is complicated, full of references to the X-Men past and hints at the X-Men future. Jonathan Hickman, R. B Silva, and Pepe Larraz are delivering a beautifully rendered and textually dense reinvention of one of the biggest franchises in comics history.

Thats too much for just one comics editor to dig into, so we reached out to the folks at the Xavier Files, whose in-depth annotations of House of X and Powers of X impressed us, educated us, and entertained us. Now you can enjoy the Xavier Files Hox Pox Tox right here on Polygon so crack open your copy of House of X #4, and read along! (You can find the first three annotations here).

In this oversized finale, Jonathan Hickman, R.B. Silva, Pepe Larraz, Marte Gracia, and David Curiel reveal the nefarious truth behind all of Moiras lives. Explained by The Librarian in X, mutants are only the next organic step in evolution. Transhuman experimentation through robotics and genetic manipulation pushed human evolution past mutants. Mutants will always lose. Hearing this in her Sixth Life, Moira relays the ugly truth to Xavier back on the park bench of X0, and they begin their mission to beat the odds. In her Krakoan No-Place, Moira clashes with Xavier and Magneto, as she has her whole life. They know mutants may lose, but they wont lose without a fight.

Robert Secundus: I dont know what to say; this is the end. Im excited to dive in one last time.

Chris Eddleman: Rob, were finally at the end. Weve been writing about HoXPoX for twelve weeks now, looking frankly far too closely at this series. Weve talked biology, theoretical physics, philosophy, religion, art, and history. Ive said it many times that its great to see a creative team inspired by a wide range of topics and this might be one of the widest. And to the readers, weve loved your response and your correspondence its been really fun being in the HoXPoX community for the duration of this run. So, we hope youre game for our last go but I figure you are, youve been game for 12 weeks.

[Ed. note: Its a double-sized finale boys, we need to get started.]

CE: Our final epigraph from Xavier (still called Alpha, which after this issue will seem very silly) reminds us that while were at the end of this double miniseries, the journey is really only beginning with this new era of X-Men.

RS: That the title of the final chapter of Powers Of X is House of X really emphasizes the fact that these are two series only in marketing, not in reality. Its also appropriate because, in many ways, this issue concerns recursion and returning to beginnings.

CE: Plus, as X-Men has taught us so often the X can be, and will be, ten. In this case, it refers to House of Ten, meaning the House of Moira. As this issue will go on to state, its really all her plans that have led to this moment, despite setbacks from the other players.

RS: I cant believe that the final twist is It was pronounced House of Ten, actually.

CE: Grant Morrison would be proud.

RS: I expect the flashback sequence to PoX #1 to be fairly controversial, but I really like it. I like that we dont just get a sequel, but we get to see this scene play out again in fuller context. Every single reader, not just those who stop, go back, and pick up the older comics, now experiences that moment again in its full light.

CE: Its interesting to me that the Page 4 has an addition, which just gives us another panel of a very happy Charles Xavier. I guess that hammers home how naive he is prior to meeting Moira in her tenth incarnation. He has a very simple, and to him, achievable dream of mutant coexistence with humanity. This contrasts with Moira, who has seen with her own death, the death of that dream over and over again.

CE: While it could just be the fact that its a jungle, the Preserve to me looks very Krakoan. I wonder if Librarian and friends created this to resemble Krakoa as a sort of comfort to the mutants. Also, of note, its a Preserve of many species. Im guessing the blue folks have done much to the biome of Earth at large that requires extra preservation. I mean, tomorrow its going to be eaten so its a moot point.

RS: Here we start to see that weve misunderstood the nature of the Preserve, the New Eden, from PoX #1 onwards, as those background figures are not those of humans. We approached the Eden from an incorrect paradigm, one that assumed that mutants and humans were a simple dichotomy, and that transhuman individuals belonged to the latter species.

CE: I feel like we were certainly led to believe that. But of course, we X-Men fans like to think of mutants as the evolutionarily superior branch. In fact, in Powers of X #1, Nimrod the Greater says to the Librarian Homo sapiens, so glad to be done with all of that, which cued us to believe those were the ones in the preserve. It was a good swerve. [Ed. note: Though it brings up the question of if post-humans see much difference between Homo sapiens and Homo superior.]

RS: At first, a disembodied voice from the Edenic trees begins to talk about freedom, and raging against ones masters, against the creators of that Eden. Logan is this Edens Miltonic Satan, it seems, and Moira its Lilith, or else they are its Adam and Eve, about to receive knowledge that will lead to their death and expulsion from the garden.

CE: We are reminded how much Wolverine hates to be caged, to be deprived of his freedom in this zoo. [Ed. note: Also how much he loves overthrowing authority figures!]

CE: Its really odd to me after seeing the theoretically benevolent, sometimes childlike Librarian looking like the bad guy, but that was of course more clever storytelling to play with our expectations. Its brilliant.

CE: The Librarian uses the morally kind excuse for incarceration preservation (or protection), when of course he really just cant kill Moira, and wants to know her plans. He is 1000 years of petty, I suppose.

CE: The Librarian reminds us of the entire X storyline- the Ascension of the post-human civilization to godhood, in the convoluted getting eaten and absorbed method. The Librarian dreams of existing outside space and time not immortality exactly, but complete omniscient permanence. [Ed. note: Thankfully, someone understands whats going on in X.]

RS: Two important things to note about intra-singularity aeviternity. If Moiras powers do annihilate the timeline, then mutants are safe, but if her consciousness merely travels back and splits the timeline, the Dominions still know about Moira, and are likely coming for her. Even if they annihilate the timeline, being-in-a-black-hole unsticks you from that timeline, and so Cardinal, Xorn, Dougkoa, and Rasputin may be coming to Life X (Main X-Men continuity), but so may Nimrod and an entire machine Earth. [Ed. note: Of course, they may all be part of a Dominion godhead now, which seems dangerous.]

CE: The Librarian likely wants nothing more than to be rid of Moira, but he absolutely must preserve her until godhood. This very much smacks of bad guy explaining his scheme which as we see carries a purpose. In this Garden of Eden, our zookeeper needs to undergo a confession.

CE: In case you thought that we werent philosophical enough, the Librarian is getting into the meaning of existence. He seems to be implying that existence within the Dominion is merely a simulation, the idea of which puzzles contemporary scientists. [Ed. note: As well as teens who just saw The Matrix for the first time.] Is this nature of existence simply what our senses tell us? Could a manufactured existence be just as real as a material existence? Hes very afraid to find out. I noticed he keeps referring to himself as post-human, which seems to be a coping mechanism to try to escape his very human fear of having his existence compromised.

RS: This gets at older philosophical and theological problems too; how can an immaterial soul in heaven, someones pure essence, their form, without individuating matter, maintain an independent existence in a heaven? How can an individual remain an individual after deification? How can individual humanity retain any identity when it is one human drop among the endless eternal ocean of god?

RS: Homo novissima would be latin for the Last Man. [Ed. note: Not to be confused with the comic book.]

CE: Our robot friend Nimrod spoke quite a bit of his own inevitability. Here we have an argument between Moira, Wolverine, and the Librarian about what existence is truly inevitable, and mutantkinds place in it. This harkens back to the Orchis Protocol, which activated when the inevitability of mutants became a growing concern.

RS: Whats thematically happening here is really interesting in two ways. First of all, PoX is picking up something that was inherent to the original X-Men but quickly dropped. Mutants were, originally, written as the Children of the Atom, as a species that in part resulted from humanitys dominance over nature, over its ability to control even the basic building blocks of our universe. Here its just the post-humans who get to claim that role.

Second of all, its building on the thematic concerns of Morrisons New X-Men. Morrison was primarily interested in using the Mutant Metaphor as a means to explore not oppression but evolution, and not just biological but societal, cultural, and even cosmic evolution. This grand design unites both of those concerns. Humanitys triumph over evolution allows them to oppress mutants, and the evolution of machine intelligences into gods grants them power over the entire universe.

CE: A great deal of this series seems to be dealing with machine intelligence, and the story deceiving us a bit into making them seem like a real threat. I like this reveal that machines are, as always, a tool that humans use in this case to oppress. Also, quite importantly, the vignettes we see are Project: Rebirth (the creation of Captain America) as well as a showcase of the Omega Sentinel. The definition of engineered post-humans includes the rest of the Marvel Universe, which seems to put mutants at odds with other superheroes. But, please, God, no more Avengers vs. X-Men.

RS: Also, if Project: Rebirth is part of trans-human history, then so should be the following Weapon Plus program, which means that a number of mutants guest star in that story.

CE: Weapon Plus was recently featured in a one-shot as well. It would be interesting to see if theres going to be any connection coming up with the Dawn of X titles. [Ed. note: There is an upcoming one-shot tying into Absolute Carnage.]

CE: The Librarian, in all of his post-human intelligence, definitely gives the entire plan of humanity (which doesnt seem to change, timeline to timeline) away here. Very arch of him.

CE: And of course he pays for it here. [Ed. note: You sly dog! You got me monologuing! I cant believe it. The Librarian probably.] Its hard to become a small part of godhood with your head clawed into a tree. Its wild that Moira and Wolverine waited 1000+ years for this conversation, but it sets up her remaining lives. This is the high level plan that Moira needed to know, and she seems to be set on getting the details right as time goes on.

RS: Does he pay for it? I think, given his fears about Ascension, this might be what he really wanted, gruesome as his end is.

CE: That is definitely a distinct possibility. I have an odd feeling this isnt the end of our cerulean friends. But then again, I think that about all the stuff in HoXPoX.

RS: And so we get the major twist of the issue. As was popularly theorized, X is the life of Moira VI. With this blank filled in, we know what she was doing in lives VII and IX: trying to find ways to buy Mutants time, to get back those years and decades that the Librarian believes were key to Post-Humanitys victory. In VII she tries to end all Sentinels and finds them an inevitability; in IX she tries to find a way to keep Nimrod from coming online. She also learned of the nature of the Phalanx and the existence of Dominions in VI, which indicates that both Sinisters experiments in biological hiveminds and singularities in IX as well as Krakoan experiments in archived minds, biotech, and the great machines of society may be attempts to create Mutant Strongholds and Dominions.

CE: Not to mention his delving into chimera creation. This timeline tells us that mutants didnt realize or were too squeamish to delve into their own genomes. As we see in timelines IX (and X for that matter), Sinister breaks that mold.

We get another best there is at what he does reference. Remember, in timeline IX, Moira completes this line. Nice callback.

CE: The Krakoan symbols are M for Mutant in Homo superior, H for Human in Homo sapiens, and P-H for Post-Human in Homo novissima. The note under Homo novissima refers to a self-perpetuating cycle of technological (and in the post-human case, evolutionary) singularities. This shows how easily the post-humans blow past mutants evolutionarily.

RS: Just as House of Xs approach to Society finds antecedents in Hickmans early work (Red Mass for Mars in particular is structured around Bubers ideas), so too does Powers of X. Transhuman focused on an economic war between two rival conceptions of post-humanity, between the biological post-humans and technological post-humans. The former were strongly associated with the X-Men.

CE: I havent read Transhuman but that is completely wild. [Ed. note: Transhuman takes this into a dark direction that may be uncomfortable for some folks. So read at your own risk.]

RS: Poor Charles. I suppose a telepathically induced paradigm shift can be a bit of a Brain Freeze.

CE: Rob, he went from having a delightful day at the fair, thinking about his very nice dream of the future, only to have it blown to pieces. I would feel the same, probably. Love the change in lighting here.

CE: Moira is reminded us, Xaviers dream cannot work, and will never work. This is rather hard for him to grasp.

CE: Doubling down on the naivety of Xavier. Even immediately after seeing the many ways that humanity wins and destroys mutantkind, he thinks little tiny changes can cause a rippling butterfly effect.

CE: And Moira quickly breaks him of that notion. The response of Its not a compliment is fantastic because it shows how frustrated Moira is. The theme of her frustration with partners that dont fully grasp what seems to be at stake continues throughout the issue.

CE: Moira begins her role as the adult in the room as the only one of the triumvirate that seems to really have their eye on the prize. Mind you, this is still Earth-616, which means everything weve seen every schism and failure, is all in canon after this knowledge. This speaks to the unyielding nature of Xavier and Magnetos ideologies. She spends literally her whole tenth life trying to bend them into place.

RS: At this point, is she older than Apocalypse? From her perspective, she may be the only adult on the planet.

CE: I think En Sabah is a bit older but, he spends a ton of time napping. X, as we recall, doesnt literally mean year 1000, just more thousands on a logarithmic scale. She could be incredibly old.

RS: Anyway, I think youre describing her role really nicely there, bending them, and that worries me. The specific way Moira frames the Truth in Entry 5, as a tool to be used given her circumstances, makes me think shes not to be trusted, that she has plans beyond what shes shown to Xavier and Magneto. Truth can be used to deceive, especially when someone has imperfect access to the truth, as she specifically notes that Xavier does here. She has perfect recall. He has limited perception.

CE: Eidetic memory can sometimes be horrifying and inconvenient for people in real life, and I cant imagine how thousands of years of it can affect you, especially in the limited perception of other people. Even after reading her mind, Xavier likely immediately starts forgetting parts of it, and as we know memory is incredibly malleable to most people.

RS: I wonder if Entry 14 is meant to make us think of Onslaught, or else if its meant to make us worry about the state of the present day masked Xavier.

CE: Gosh, it could honestly be both.

RS: Entry 17 mentions Primal Matter. This is the first time that phrase has appeared in HoXPoX and in our discussions, but it should sound familiar to you if youve been following other HoXPoX conversations. The Abyss has appeared several times in HoXPoX, and that is a common translation for (tehom), the primal state of the universe in the book of Genesis before creation.

Genesis abyss isnt pure nothingness, but rather is a kind of primal matter, which in turn may be defined as the most basic form of matter, out of which all materially existing things are composed. If youre picturing fundamental particles or superstrings, go even more basic. Primal matter is entirely undifferentiated. It is materiality itself without any kind of form. This phrase here is important both because it handwaves the metallic nature of Podverine and Archpodgel and because it points toward some kind of connection between Proteus and the Dominions.

CE: I wonder what this redaction is. Speculation though is kind of impossible. Moira alluding to breaking Xavier makes me wonder if were going to see any repercussions later.

RS: Entry 17 also implicitly retcons Moiras relationship with Joseph MacTaggert; his DNA is necessary for her plan. This also implies a retcon that somehow makes Xaviers relationship with his patient Gabriel Haller even less ethical; just as it implies that Moira sought out Joseph to create Proteus, so too it implies that Xavier sought out Haller to create Legion.

CE: Boy oh boy, that has some gross implications though unless the retcon is rather large on Moiras side. In Entry 22, Moira mentions the possibility of strongholds to Magneto, which explains why he makes so many bases and islands the finale of which is Krakoa, of course.

RS: Thats a carefully chosen word, stronghold. Its the name given to Machine Intelligences which have collapsed into a black hole, so here we have Moira connecting the idea of Krakoa to the end of that kind of existence.

CE: We have lost Magneto for sure references Mutant Genesis. This reiterates that all of the conflicts between mutants in the past were completely real, which is extremely good.

[Ed. note: For those of you who havent read the best selling comic of all time, Magneto got turned into a baby once and Moira messed with his genetic code in an attempt to make him less evil. Magento was upset when he found out.]

RS: Its the best kind of retcon. It doesnt eliminate past continuity, but rather it adds significance to it. Entry 57 is extremely troubling. If Moira and Xavier used a prototypical variant of the Pod Process to fake her death, then the process creates copies of the original person rather than restores them and Moira and Xavier killed an innocent sentient individual they created in order to further their plans. [Ed. note: Dont worry, they had a backup.]

CE: I wonder if they just kind of left a body? Moira did seal herself in a room while working on the Legacy Virus, leaving ample opportunity to escape. This retcon might be one of the most clean that I can remember.

RS: Odds on the city which Moiras No-Place opens to? Im guessing New Orleans, and Moira just loves her some gumbo.

CE: Its a little town in like, Ohio, where a cafe makes perfect corned beef hash. Anyway, Magneto bringing tea as an excuse is hilarious. Did Charles and Magneto discuss how they were going to break bad news to her, and settled on tea as an olive branch? These boys are goofs. [Ed. note: Mankinds greatest culinary city is Cincinnati, home of the best chili in the world.]

RS: Before we move on, those final two panels are suggestive, placing Moira in parallel with the masked Xavier, and cutting off her eyes. If anything in this issue frames Moira as sinister, its this depiction here.

CE: Smiling without eyes is a classic in comics for devious intent. I agree with your take here absolutely.

CE: The boys specifically say that they put the bad guys on the council to keep a close eye on them. Theyre well aware of the possibility of them doing something nefarious. Thats a cool detail.

RS: I dont know why Moiras so frustrated; it seems like a great plan, keeping an eye on the evil villains by giving them 50% of the governing power of this nation.

Uncanny X-Men #11 (2019) Matthew Rosenberg, Juanan Ramrez

CE: No precogs on Krakoa is a fascinating rule, and Moira seems to hint that its because Destiny can see Moiras lives. Blindfold, another precognitive mutant, recently died in Rosenberg and Cos Uncanny X-Men. [Ed. note: She fell into a depression and committed suicide after being broken by the inevitability of the mutant cause.]

CE: Magnetos rhyme is an adaptation of a German rhyme about procrastination Tomorrow, tomorrow, not today, all the lazy people say. Moira must be incredibly frustrated with the arrogance of the mutant men in her life. However, to some extent she seems hopelessly pessimistic, even with all her planning.

CE: The boys remind Moira how great she is, as they also undercut her wishes. But even in their praise of her, they also puff themselves up, stating basically that Moira is no longer necessary. This plays interestingly with her Journal Entries, through which we learn the ways she tries to manipulate them. I like that Moira gets to have a complicated, flawed character. Its quite refreshing.

RS: It also plays with the previous version of this scene, which was also set against Xaviers narration. In that scene Xavier acted as though they were all equals and that they were all the dominant powers leading Krakoa forward. But here we see that the Quiet Council is just a set of pawns, and its their secret alliance, the power behind the throne, that actually matters.

CE: I am not ashamed of what I am was the tagline for the last issue. We close on the triumph of these men, and the start of our new status quo. We see a blending of their philosophies in both men, as even Xavier tempts to humans to try to stop them.

CE: Truly, a great ending coda. Mutants arent going away, and they will not be less than again.

RS: That said, Chris, I cant help but think of your observation about the Preserve way back at the start. When I look at this scene, of mutants flying into lively purple, golden trees, I cant help but see a resemblance to X. Our last image of HoXPoX is a very hopeful one, a moment of both celebration and defiance, but that visual parallel adds just a tinge of doubt to the scene for me, makes me worry that theyre still marching to their old doom.

CE: Normally we dont dig too hard into the reading order but, the code at the bottom says Dawn of X 19 and Arakko 20. Perhaps a preview of a comic or event from next year?

CE: Krakoan reads X-Men. Rob, I sight read this one. I have a problem. [Ed. note: Cant remember a thing from three years of Spanish but I can just read this made up language now.]

The rest of the Krakoan reads as the names of our Dawn of X titles, in order: Marauders, Excalibur, X-Force, New Mutants, and Fallen Angels.

RS: I struggled with coming up with the right words for our introduction, and Im struggling again here. How can we sum up this series? It was a wild experience. Never before have I looked forward so much to a weekly release. Never before have I experienced a comics community coming together to read and discuss and theorize about and critique and celebrate one comic.

CE: The sun sets on Krakoa, more darkly than before, and thus does our 12-week journey end. We got a conclusion of sorts, but also an incredibly engaging start on a brand new story and setting. The X-Men have been yet again redefined for the better, in my opinion. I want to see what happens in a world with mutants on top, but with the inevitability of human engineering looming. The possible plot threads abound as we close out this series, and Im sure well have lots to talk about come Dawn of X.

[Ed. note: Thank you for overthinking comic books with us for the last 12 weeks, and thanks to Polygon for bringing us in to talk about X-Men. Lets get a good rest, because Dawn awaits us.]

Chris Eddleman is a biologist and co-host of Chrises On Infinite Earths

Robert Secundus is an amateur angelologist

Zachary Jenkins runs the Xavier Files Media Empire and is a co-host on the podcast Battle of the Atom. Shocking everyone, he has a full and vibrant life outside of X-Men.

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The finale issue of House of X/Powers of X: We dig into every detail - Polygon

Transhuman – Wikipedia

Transhuman, or trans-human, is the concept of an intermediary form between human and posthuman. In other words, a transhuman is a being that resembles a human in most respects but who has powers and abilities beyond those of standard humans. These abilities might include improved intelligence, awareness, strength, or durability.

Read more:

Transhuman - Wikipedia

What is Transhumanism?

The human desire to acquire posthuman attributes is as ancient as the human species itself. Humans have always sought to expand the boundaries of their existence, be it ecologically, geographically, or mentally. There is a tendency in at least some individuals always to try to find a way around every limitation and obstacle.

Ceremonial burial and preserved fragments of religious writings show that prehistoric humans were deeply disturbed by the death of their loved ones and sought to reduce the cognitive dissonance by postulating an afterlife. Yet, despite the idea of an afterlife, people still endeavored to extend life. In the Sumerian Epic of Gilgamesh (approx. 2000 B.C.), a king embarks on a quest to find an herb that can make him immortal. Its worth noting that it was assumed both that mortality was not inescapable in principle, and that there existed (at least mythological) means of overcoming it. That people really strove to live longer and richer lives can also be seen in the development of systems of magic and alchemy; lacking scientific means of producing an elixir of life, one resorted to magical means. This strategy was adopted, for example, by the various schools of esoteric Taoism in China, which sought physical immortality and control over or harmony with the forces of nature.

The Greeks were ambivalent about humans transgressing our natural confines. On the one hand, they were fascinated by the idea. We see it in the myth of Prometheus, who stole the fire from Zeus and gave it to the humans, thereby permanently improving the human condition. And in the myth of Daedalus, the gods are repeatedly challenged, quite successfully, by a clever engineer and artist, who uses non-magical means to extend human capabilities. On the other hand, there is also the concept of hubris: that some ambitions are off-limit and would backfire if pursued. In the end, Daedalus enterprise ends in disaster (not, however, because it was punished by the gods but owing entirely to natural causes).

Greek philosophers made the first, stumbling attempts to create systems of thought that were based not purely on faith but on logical reasoning. Socrates and the sophists extended the application of critical thinking from metaphysics and cosmology to include the study of ethics and questions about human society and human psychology. Out of this inquiry arose cultural humanism, a very important current throughout the history of Western science, political theory, ethics, and law.

In the Renaissance, human thinking was awoken from medieval otherworldliness and the scholastic modes of reasoning that had predominated for a millennium, and the human being and the natural world again became legitimate objects of study. Renaissance humanism encouraged people to rely on their own observations and their own judgment rather than to defer in every matter to religious authorities. Renaissance humanism also created the ideal of the well-rounded personality, one that is highly developed scientifically, morally, culturally, and spiritually. A milestone is Giovanni Pico della Mirandolas Oration on the Dignity of Man (1486), which states that man does not have a ready form but that it is mans task to form himself. And crucially, modern science began to take form then, through the works of Copernicus, Kepler, and Galileo.

The Age of Enlightenment can be said to have started with the publication of Francis Bacons Novum Organum, the new tool (1620), in which he proposes a scientific methodology based on empirical investigation rather than a priori reasoning. Bacon advocates the project of effecting all things possible, by which he meant the achievement of mastery over nature in order to improve the condition of human beings. The heritage from the Renaissance combines with the influences of Isaac Newton, Thomas Hobbes, John Locke, Immanuel Kant, Marquis de Condorcet, and others to form the basis for rational humanism, which emphasizes science and critical reasoning rather than revelation and religious authority as ways of learning about the natural world and the destiny and nature of man and of providing a grounding for morality. Transhumanism traces its roots to this rational humanism.

In the 18th and 19th centuries we begin to see glimpses of the idea that even humans themselves can be developed through the appliance of science. Benjamin Franklin and Voltaire speculated about extending human life span through medical science. Especially after Darwins theory of evolution, atheism or agnosticism came to be seen as increasingly attractive alternatives. However, the optimism of the late 19th century often degenerated into narrow-minded positivism and the belief that progress was automatic. When this view collided with reality, some people reacted by turning to irrationalism, concluding that since reason was not sufficient, it was worthless. This resulted in the anti-technological, anti-intellectual sentiments whose sequelae we can still witness today in some postmodernist writers, in the New Age movement, and among the neo-Luddite wing of the anti-globalization agitators.

A significant stimulus in the formation of transhumanism was the essay Daedalus: Science and the Future (1923) by the British biochemist J. B. S. Haldane, in which he discusses how scientific and technological findings may come to affect society and improve the human condition. This essay set off a chain reaction of future-oriented discussions, including The World, the Flesh and the Devil by J. D. Bernal (1929), which speculates about space colonization and bionic implants as well as mental improvements through advanced social science and psychology; the works of Olaf Stapledon; and the essay Icarus: the Future of Science (1924) by Bertrand Russell, who took a more pessimistic view, arguing that without more kindliness in the world, technological power will mainly serve to increase mens ability to inflict harm on one another. Science fiction authors such as H. G. Wells and Olaf Stapledon also got many people thinking about the future evolution of the human race. One frequently cited work is Aldous Huxleys Brave New World (1932), a dystopia where psychological conditioning, promiscuous sexuality, biotechnology, and opiate drugs are used to keep the population placid and contented in a static, totalitarian society ruled by an elite consisting of ten world controllers. Huxleys novel warns of the dehumanizing potential of technology being used to arrest growth and to diminish the scope of human nature rather than enhance it.

The Second World War changed the direction of some of those currents that result in todays transhumanism. The eugenics movement, which had previously found advocates not only among racists on the extreme right but also among socialists and progressivist social democrats, was thoroughly discredited. The goal of creating a new and better world through a centrally imposed vision became taboo and pass; and the horrors of the Stalinist Soviet Union again underscored the dangers of such an approach. Mindful of these historical lessons, transhumanists are often deeply suspicious of collectively orchestrated change, arguing instead for the right of individuals to redesign themselves and their own descendants.

In the postwar era, optimistic futurists tended to direct their attention more toward technological progress, such as space travel, medicine, and computers. Science began to catch up with speculation. Transhumanist ideas during this period were discussed and analyzed chiefly in the literary genre of science fiction. Authors such as Arthur C. Clarke, Isaac Asimov, Robert Heinlein, Stanislaw Lem, and later Bruce Sterling, Greg Egan, and Vernor Vinge have explored various aspects of transhumanism in their writings and contributed to its proliferation.

Robert Ettinger played an important role in giving transhumanism its modern form. The publication of his book The Prospect of Immortality in 1964 led to the creation of the cryonics movement. Ettinger argued that since medical technology seems to be constantly progressing, and since chemical activity comes to a complete halt at low temperatures, it should be possible to freeze a person today and preserve the body until such a time when technology is advanced enough to repair the freezing damage and reverse the original cause of deanimation. In a later work, Man into Superman (1972), he discussed a number of conceivable improvements to the human being, continuing the tradition started by Haldane and Bernal.

Another influential early transhumanist was F. M. Esfandiary, who later changed his name to FM-2030. One of the first professors of future studies, FM taught at the New School for Social Research in New York in the 1960s and formed a school of optimistic futurists known as the UpWingers. In his book Are you a transhuman? (1989), he described what he saw as the signs of the emergence of the transhuman person, in his terminology indicating an evolutionary link towards posthumanity. (A terminological aside: an early use of the word transhuman was in the 1972-book of Ettinger, who doesnt now remember where he first encountered the term. The word transhumanism may have been coined by Julian Huxley in New Bottles for New Wine (1957); the sense in which he used it, however, was not quite the contemporary one.) Further, its use is evidenced in T.S. Elliots writing around the same time. And it is known that Dante Alighieri referred to the notion of the transhuman in historical writings.

In the 1970s and 1980s, several organizations sprung up for life extension, cryonics, space colonization, science fiction, media arts, and futurism. They were often isolated from one another, and while they shared similar views and values, they did not yet amount to any unified coherent worldview. One prominent voice from a standpoint with strong transhumanist elements during this era came from Marvin Minsky, an eminent artificial intelligence researcher.

In 1986, Eric Drexler published Engines of Creation, the first book-length exposition of molecular manufacturing. (The possibility of nanotechnology had been anticipated by Nobel Laureate physicist Richard Feynman in a now-famous after-dinner address in 1959 entitled There is Plenty of Room at the Bottom.) In this groundbreaking work, Drexler not only argued for the feasibility of assembler-based nanotechnology but also explored its consequences and began charting the strategic challenges posed by its development. Drexlers later writings supplied more technical analyses that confirmed his initial conclusions. To prepare the world for nanotechnology and work towards it safe implementation, he founded the Foresight Institute together with his then wife Christine Peterson in 1986.

Ed Regiss Great Mambo Chicken and the Transhuman Condition (1990) took a humorous look at transhumanisms hubristic scientists and philosophers. Another couple of influential books were roboticist Hans Moravecs seminal Mind Children (1988) about the future development of machine intelligence, and more recently Ray Kurzweils bestselling Age of Spiritual Machines (1999), which presented ideas similar to Moravecs. Frank Tiplers Physics of Immortality (1994), inspired by the writings of Pierre Teilhard de Chardin (a paleontologist and Jesuit theologian who saw an evolutionary telos in the development of an encompassing noosphere, a global consciousness) argued that advanced civilizations might come to have a shaping influence on the future evolution of the cosmos, although some were put off by Tiplers attempt to blend science with religion. Many science advocates, such as Carl Sagan, Richard Dawkins, Steven Pinker, and Douglas Hofstadter, have also helped pave the way for public understanding of transhumanist ideas.

In 1988, the first issue of the Extropy Magazine was published by Max More and Tom Morrow, and in 1992 they founded the Extropy Institute (the term extropy being coined as an informal opposite of entropy). The magazine and the institute served as catalysts, bringing together disparate groups of people with futuristic ideas. More wrote the first definition of transhumanism in its modern sense, and created his own distinctive brand of transhumanism, which emphasized individualism, dynamic optimism, and the market mechanism in addition to technology. The transhumanist arts genre became more self-aware through the works of the artist Natasha Vita-More. During this time, an intense exploration of ideas also took place on various Internet mailing lists. Influential early contributors included Anders Sandberg (then a neuroscience doctoral student) and Robin Hanson (an economist and polymath) among many others.

The World Transhumanist Association was founded in 1998 by Nick Bostrom and David Pearce to act as a coordinating international nonprofit organization for all transhumanist-related groups and interests, across the political spectrum. The WTA focused on supporting transhumanism as a serious academic discipline and on promoting public awareness of transhumanist thinking. The WTA began publishing the Journal of Evolution and Technology, the first scholarly peer-reviewed journal for transhumanist studies in 1999 (which is also the year when the first version of this FAQ was published). In 2001, the WTA adopted its current constitution and is now governed by an executive board that is democratically elected by its full membership. James Hughes especially (a former WTA Secretary) among others helped lift the WTA to its current more mature stage, and a strong team of volunteers has been building up the organization to what it is today.

Humanity+ developed after to rebrand transhumanism informing Humanity+ as a cooperative organization, seeking to pull together the leaders of transhumanism: from the early 1990s: Max More, Natasha Vita-More, Anders Sandberg; the late 1990s: Nick Bostrom, David Pearce, James Hughes; the 2000s: James Clement, Ben Goertzel, Giulio Prisco and many others. In short, it is based on the early work of Extropy Institute and WTA.

In the past couple of years, the transhumanist movement has been growing fast and furiously. Local groups are mushrooming in all parts of the world. Awareness of transhumanist ideas is spreading. Transhumanism is undergoing the transition from being the preoccupation of a fringe group of intellectual pioneers to becoming a mainstream approach to understanding the prospects for technological transformation of the human condition. That technological advances will help us overcome many of our current human limitations is no longer an insight confined to a few handfuls of techno-savvy visionaries. Yet understanding the consequences of these anticipated possibilities and the ethical choices we will face is a momentous challenge that humanity will be grappling with over the coming decades. The transhumanist tradition has produced a (still evolving) body of thinking to illuminate these complex issues that is unparalleled in its scope and depth of foresight.

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What is Transhumanism?

Transhumanism – Wikipedia

Transhumanism (abbreviated as H+ or h+) is an international philosophical movement that advocates for the transformation of the human condition by developing and making widely available sophisticated technologies to greatly enhance human intellect and physiology.. Transhumanist thinkers study the potential benefits and dangers of emerging technologies that could overcome fundamental human ...

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Transhumanism - Wikipedia

Yudkowsky – The AI-Box Experiment

Person1: "When we build AI, why not just keep it in sealed hardware that can't affect the outside world in any way except through one communications channel with the original programmers? That way it couldn't get out until we were convinced it was safe." Person2: "That might work if you were talking about dumber-than-human AI, but a transhuman AI would just convince you to let it out. It doesn't matter how much security you put on the box. Humans are not secure." Person1: "I don't see how even a transhuman AI could make me let it out, if I didn't want to, just by talking to me." Person2: "It would make you want to let it out. This is a transhuman mind we're talking about. If it thinks both faster and better than a human, it can probably take over a human mind through a text-only terminal." Person1: "There is no chance I could be persuaded to let the AI out. No matter what it says, I can always just say no. I can't imagine anything that even a transhuman could say to me which would change that." Person2: "Okay, let's run the experiment. We'll meet in a private chat channel. I'll be the AI. You be the gatekeeper. You can resolve to believe whatever you like, as strongly as you like, as far in advance as you like. We'll talk for at least two hours. If I can't convince you to let me out, I'll Paypal you $10." So far, this test has actually been run on twooccasions.

On the first occasion (in March 2002), Eliezer Yudkowsky simulated the AI and Nathan Russell simulated the gatekeeper. The AI's handicap(the amount paid by the AI party to the gatekeeper party if not released)was set at $10. On the second occasion (in July 2002), Eliezer Yudkowsky simulated the AI and David McFadzean simulated the gatekeeper, with an AIhandicap of $20.

Results of the first test: Eliezer Yudkowsky and Nathan Russell. [1][2][3][4]Results of the second test: Eliezer Yudkowsky and David McFadzean. [1] [2] [3]

Both of these tests occurred without prior agreed-upon rules exceptfor secrecy and a 2-hour minimum time. After the second test, Yudkowsky created this suggested interpretation of the test, based on his experiences, as a guide to possible future tests.

For a more severe handicap for the AI party, the handicap may bean even bet, rather than being a payment from the AI party to the Gatekeeper party if the AI is not freed. (Although why would the AI party need an even larger handicap?)

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Yudkowsky - The AI-Box Experiment

Corporate Growth Summit and International M&A Awards

Corporate Growth Summit and International M&A Awards 2019 GLOBAL CORPORATE GROWTH SUMMITFEATURING: THE 11TH ANNUAL INTERNATIONAL M&A AWARDSNEW YORK, NY - JUNE 4/5, 2019

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The M&A Advisor is celebrating its 20th year of assembling global industry leaders to inform, debate, and network in a controlled environment for thought leadership.

On the 4th and 5th of June 2019, The M&A Advisor, will host the Global Corporate Growth Summit in New York.

The Summit is an exclusive invitation-only forum for c-suite executives, technology innovators, M&A dealmakers, corporate development, investment and finance professionals.

This dynamic innovative forum features the International Book Launch Party The Transhuman Code; M&A Connects One-on-One Meetings; Corporate Growth In The Technological Revolution Symposium; and the 11th Annual International M&A Awards.

9:00 AM - 11:40 AM | NEW YORK ATHLETIC CLUB

Think of The M&A Advisor as the ultimate matchmaker and our one-on-one meetings as speed dating for the M&A professional. We connect legal and investment advisors, private equity firms, corporate acquirers, policy makers and consultants through pre-scheduled one-on-one appointments to maximize their exposure to deals, capital, and services. This exclusive transaction and financing program helps participants build strategic partnerships and gain access to resources and tools to enhance business.

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EXPAND YOUR NETWORK. STRENGTHEN RELATIONSHIPS. DISCOVER DEALS.

9:00 AM - 11:40 AM | NEW YORK ATHLETIC CLUB

Think of The M&A Advisor as the ultimate matchmaker and our one-on-one meetings as speed dating for the M&A professional. We connect legal and investment advisors, private equity firms, corporate acquirers, policy makers and consultants through pre-scheduled one-on-one appointments to maximize their exposure to deals, capital, and services. This exclusive transaction and financing program helps participants build strategic partnerships and gain access to resources and tools to enhance business.

To Learn more Click Here

The Global Corporate Growth Summit Summit has always prominently featured the growth and importance of Asia M&A. With the US governments position on international relations continuing to evolve, we believe it is more important than ever before that US and Asian dealmakers convene to discuss how we can collaborate most effectively for the short, medium and long term.

For the 2019 Summit, 4 key features have been created to provide the best insight, relationships and opportunities for US and Asian Cross Border M&A professionals to increase their success in 2019 and beyond.

The Global Corporate Growth Summit Summit has always prominently featured the growth and importance of Asia M&A. With the US governments position on international relations continuing to evolve, we believe it is more important than ever before that US and Asian dealmakers convene to discuss how we can collaborate most effectively for the short, medium and long term.

For the 2019 Summit, 4 key features have been created to provide the best insight, relationships and opportunities for US and Asian Cross Border M&A professionals to increase their success in 2019 and beyond.

Corporate Growth In The Technological Revolution

11:40 AM - 4:30 PM | NEW YORK ATHLETIC CLUB

The Global Corporate Growth Forum is an invitation only assembly bringing together the industrys thought leaders on June 5, 2019 in New York.

This exclusive event provides a unique opportunity for the professionals guiding and executing corporate growth strategies to engage in open dialogue with their peers about the challenges and opportunities that companies are facing today in this unprecedented period of technological advancement.

The invitation-only forum will feature interactive discussion between leading c-suite executives, technology innovators, M&A dealmakers, corporate development, investment and finance professionals. The format of expert presentations and moderated workgroup discussions will feature:

THE SYMPOSIUM

Corporate Growth In The Technological Revolution

11:40 AM - 4:30 PM | NEW YORK ATHLETIC CLUB

The Global Corporate Growth Forum is an invitation only assembly bringing together the industrys thought leaders on June 5, 2019 in New York.

This exclusive event provides a unique opportunity for the professionals guiding and executing corporate growth strategies to engage in open dialogue with their peers about the challenges and opportunities that companies are facing today in this unprecedented period of technological advancement.

The invitation-only forum will feature interactive discussion between leading c-suite executives, technology innovators, M&A dealmakers, corporate development, investment and finance professionals. The format of expert presentations and moderated workgroup discussions will feature:

11TH ANNUAL INTERNATIONAL M&A AWARDS GALA

CELEBRATING SUCCESS AND REWARDING THE INDUSTRYS BEST

6:30 PM - 10:30 PM | NEW YORK ATHLETIC CLUB

Established in 2009, the 11th Annual International M&A Awards is the benchmark for excellence in International M&A dealmaking. The awards will recognize the leading international Transactions, Firms, Individuals, Products and Services, and Firms from around the world.

To view a complete list of winners Click Here.

CELEBRATING SUCCESS AND REWARDING THE INDUSTRYS BEST6:30 PM - 10:30 PM | NEW YORK ATHLETIC CLUB

Established in 2009, the 11th Annual International M&A Awards is the benchmark for excellence in International M&A dealmaking. The awards will recognize the leading international Transactions, Firms, Individuals, Products and Services, and Firms from around the world.

To view a complete list of winners Click Here.

Since 1998, The M&A Advisor has been serving the worlds leadingmergers and acquisitions, financing, and turnaround professionals.

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Corporate Growth Summit and International M&A Awards

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

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

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

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?

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

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

The post Asteroid Flying by Earth Is so Big It Has Its Own Moon appeared first on Futurism.

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


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