Stephen Hawking joins the debate

Stephen Hawking has joined the small group of people sounding the alarm about the possibility of super-intelligence arriving in the next few decades. In a blog in the Huffington Post, he and three American professors at MIT and Berkeley warn that it "would be a mistake, and potentially our worst mistake ever ... to dismiss the notion of highly intelligent machines as mere science fiction." "Artificial intelligence (AI) research is now progressing rapidly," the post continues, arguing that Watson's Jeopardy success and self-driving cars " will probably pale against what the coming decades will bring. ... Success in creating AI...
Movie review: “Transcendence”

Movie review: “Transcendence”

It was keenly awaited by people interested in the possible near-term arrival of super-intelligence, but Transcendence has opened to half-empty cinemas and terrible reviews - at the time of writing it has a 20% "fresh" rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The distributors kept changing the release date, which might indicate they realised the film wouldn't open with a splash, but that they hope it could grow to become a cult classic.  Sadly, I doubt it.  Sadly, because in some ways Transcendence is a fine film with great ambitions.  For me it is one of the best science fiction films of recent...

Paul Allen’s institute maps a mouse brain

The Allen Institute for Brain Science has published a paper in Nature describing how they have posted a comprehensive data set on the wiring of a mouse brain.  The data is freely available at the Allen Mouse Brain Connectivity Atlas, in case you want to see for yourself. A mouse brain has 75 million neurons, far fewer than the 100 or so billion in a human brain.  The only species for which we so far have a complete wiring diagram (or "connectome") is the C. Elegans worm, with only 302 neurons. The researchers used genetically engineered viruses to illuminate and trace individual...