Is it?

questionmarkToday I have a cold and nobody wants to be in the same room as me, so I’m spending extra time with my blogging friends instead.  Do make sure you have your antivirus software fully up to date before reading any further.

Having nothing much to do on a Sunday afternoon all alone, I started typing “is it” into the Google search box, and as usual, Google offered some helpful suggestions. Most puzzling to me were:

Is it down?

And:

Is it Christmas? Continue reading

Will robots replace humans?

friendlyrobot

Consider this. Nearly every large animal on this planet is stronger than us. Almost every predator has claws, or venom, or sharp teeth. But humans have two advantages that have enabled us to survive and thrive – a large brain, and hands that can pick up and manipulate objects. At the very dawn of pre-history we were busy making stone tools, turning animal skins into clothing, and decorating our own bodies with things that we’d made. We just can’t help it. We have to make things. Give any human a physical object and they will try to do something with it.

stoneagetools

In the modern world, we are constantly surrounded by machines and inventions – from the clothes we wear, to the houses we live in, to the cars, trains and planes we travel around in, to the computers and other electronic devices we use for work and leisure. In this article, I want to consider this special relationship between humans and the machines we create. I want to look at where this relationship with our creations is heading.

Continue reading

Book review: The End of Mr Y, by Scarlett Thomas

theendofmryWow! This book is a rollercoaster read. I finished it, then started reading it again immediately. It blew my mind.

I’ve just read it again for a third time, and felt compelled to write something. I want to evangelize on behalf of Ms Thomas and spread the word about this book. Continue reading

Physics, information, patterns, consciousness and God

thematrixLevel 1 of the universe is matter, energy, forces, space-time – the physical world. It follows rules, although precisely what those rules are and why they are like that, we aren’t yet certain. But we know enough about it to measure it and explain much of what it does.

The level 1 universe does something else too. It encodes information. Matter exists in different states, and the more physically-distinct states there are, the more information that can be encoded. For example, if an atom can exist in one of two energy states, then it encodes one binary bit of information (0 or 1). Information is not a subjective human thing. It’s an objective property of the physical universe and can be measured. The total amount of information encoded in the whole universe is mind-bogglingly vast. Continue reading

Wealth is knowledge – poverty is ignorance

technologyGive unlimited resources to a caveman and he will chop down trees and burn them as firewood.

Give unlimited resources to a Victorian and he will burn coal to power a steam engine. Continue reading

Fear of aliens

alienAccording to some surveys, many Americans believe that UFOs exist, and that aliens are in league with the US government. Reassuringly, most Americans also believe that Democrats are better placed than Republicans to handle an alien invasion.

But some folks aren’t content to let Obama fight off ET. They are taking things into their own hands and preparing for alien invasion. Yes, they really are. They are American, of course. And they have guns. Continue reading

Perfect imperfect

surrealboatI’m not a perfectionist. I never finish jobs properly. This is not laziness, but efficient time management. I never complete a task 100% perfectly. I stop at 90%, or sometimes 70%, then move on to the next job. That means I complete more jobs. Does this bother you? It shouldn’t. It’s not necessary to complete jobs perfectly. To prove this, I won’t even bother to finish this … Continue reading