Friday, June 13, 2008

Self-Cannibalization, the Singularity, the H-car, and climate change in the Senate

Science Friday last week was a great one, with Ray Kurzweil and Richard Preston (Panic in Level 4) appearing. Kurzweil is low-key but persuasive. Preston had some amazing stories told with humanity. The fuel-cell piece and the piece about the climate change bill were good, too. It looks like today, June 13, they will have a segment about Mars.


Richard Preston 'Journeys to the Edge of Science' Best-selling author Richard Preston, known for his New Yorker profiles of science and scientists, talks about his latest project, Panic in Level 4: Cannibals, Killer Viruses, and Other Journeys to the Edge of Science. Preston talks with host Ira Flatow about his craft, and about the stories and people he has covered over the years.

Will We Recognize the Future? Futurist Ray Kurzweil explains the idea of the "singularity" — what happens when technology advances so much that it's impossible to predict what happens next. Will artificial intelligence, nanotechnology, and biotechnology be able to completely reshape what it means to be human?

Greener Cars Change U.S. Auto Landscape Honda plans to lease at least 200 fuel cell vehicles in the U.S. over the next three years. And automaker General Motors announced it will shift production away from large SUVs toward smaller, more fuel efficient vehicles — and close four factories in the process.

Climate Change Legislation Fails in Senate The U.S. Senate debated proposed climate change legislation on Tuesday — but the bill failed to win the needed number of votes to avoid a filibuster and was pulled from the floor. The bill would have cut greenhouse gas emissions by two-thirds by the year 2050.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I read Fantastic Voyage, The Age of Spiritual Machines and The Singularity is Near, and they changed my life. I even found some of his lectures on Itunes and I find myself impatiently awaiting his next book.

Recently read another incredible book that I can't recommend highly enough, especially to all of you who also love Ray Kurzweil's work. The book is ""My Stroke of Insight"" by Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor. I had heard Dr Taylor's talk on the TED dot com site and I have to say, it changed my world. It's spreading virally all over the internet and the book is now a NYTimes Bestseller, so I'm not the only one, but it is the most amazing talk, and the most impactful book I've read in years. (Dr T also was named to Time Magazine's 100 Most Influential People and Oprah had her on her Soul Series last month and I hear they're making a movie about her story so you may already have heard of her)
If you haven't heard Dr Taylor's TEDTalk, that's an absolute must. The book is more and deeper and better, but start with the video (it's 18 minutes). Basically, her story is that she was a 37 yr old Harvard brain scientist who had a massive stroke in the left hemisphere of her brain. Because of her knowledge of how the brain works, and thanks to her amazingly loving and kind mother, she eventually fully recovered (and that part of the book detailing how she did it is inspirational).

There's a lot of learning and magic in the book, but the reason I so highly recommend My Stroke of Insight to this discussion, is because we have powerfully intelligent left brains that are rational, logical, sequential and grounded in detail and time, and then we have our kinesthetic right brains, where we experience intuition and peace and euphoria. Now that Kurzweil has got us taking all those vitamins and living our best ""Fantastic Voyage"" , the absolute necessity is that we read My Stroke of Insight and learn from Dr Taylor how to achieve balance between our right and left brains. Enjoy!