Alien Scenarios – WIF Speculation

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Scenarios:

If Aliens Landed

on Earth

It’s time for some good, old-fashioned speculation. What would happen if aliens visited earth? Now, the speculation and assumptions we’re about to make are based on logic, philosophy, educated guesses, probabilities, nature, and of course, our own history. After all, our frame of reference is quite limited when it comes to possible encounters with extraterrestrial life. So, we have to imagine the most plausible scenarios, as well as try to think outside the box as much as possible.

 If intelligent alien species were to discover Earth (if they haven’t already), will they just take a look and decide it’s not worth the hassle to deal with our primitive ways, or will they enrich our lives with knowledge beyond our current understanding? Will we recognize them as life in the first place, or will they treat us like we would a nasty parasite?

10. Aliens in History

Our biggest fear when it comes to alien encounters has a lot to do with our own history, and what we know can happen if a technologically advanced civilization encounters an inferior one. Let’s take a look at the Age of Discovery, and particularly the Colonization of the Americas at the turn of the 16th century. As many of us know, the Europeans were looking to find alternative roots to India due in part to the break-up of the Mongol Empire, which up until the 15th century assured safe passage for trade caravans on land. And secondly, because of the Ottoman Turks, who took over the East Mediterranean and were hostile towards the Europeans.

As a result, they took to the oceans, virtually stumbling upon the Americas in 1492. The technological difference between the Native Americans and the “alien” Europeans was, at best, a few centuries apart. But that small difference proved fatal for the natives. In fact, with a handful of conquistadors, a few native allies, several horses, and a few cannons, Hernan Cortes was able to singlehandedly bring down the mighty Aztec Empire. If an alien species were ever to visit us, the same thing might happen, but on a global scale.

After all, if an intelligent species is capable of interstellar flight and reaching Earth from a faraway star system, then you can be sure they’re likely thousands of years ahead of us in technological terms. And like the Aztecs, who had the numbers and the weapons to defeat Cortes and his men, they had little chance in standing in his way. And even if they did, that would have only postponed their inevitable demise at the hands of the technologically superior Europeans, who now knew of their existence. Even Stephen Hawking has a dire warning for the human race when it comes to alien species: “The history of advanced races meeting more primitive people on this planet is not very happy, and they were the same species. I think it would be a disaster.”

9. The Cultural Shock and Ensuing Panic

If alien species ever decide to pay us a visit, there are several near certainties that would happen, regardless of those aliens’ intentions toward us. For starters, if we were to wake up one morning with a huge spaceship hovering above our house, and then hear reports of similar sightings all over the world, we can be fairly certain that panic would ensue. Even if we humans are inquisitive by nature, we’re not really fond of surprises, especially of that magnitude. This reaction would stem, of course, primarily from past experiences in our own history.

Moreover – and this shouldn’t come as a surprise – we’d be hit with an enormous wave of cultural shock. Even in this age of technological advancements, when people are more connected than ever, there are still large numbers of people who cannot and will not accept other people’s cultures, traditions, or different ways of thinking. But, for better or worse, we have had previous contacts with each other over the centuries, and even though we’re still not used to other opinions or points of view, we are somewhat influenced and accepting of them… to a certain degree.

But what would happen if we come across a species which will most likely look totally different, and maybe have a totally different view about life, and existence itself? Will they be religious, or not? Do they even need to eat, and if so, do they use mouths to do it? There is virtually an infinite number of things that can be construed as different, and if we still can’t accept other people’s habits and traditions, then we can be sure that we won’t accept alien ones. One good thing that might come out of all of this is that, if aliens visit Earth and decide to contact us, we will most certainly forget all of our current disagreements with each other, no matter how different or crazy they might see them today.

8. But What Would They Look Like?

We’re all familiar with the “Greys” as the generic alien. They’re… well, gray (duh), bipedal, and hairless, with big eyes and big heads, long fingers, shorter in stature than we are, and very skinny. But isn’t this more of an interpretation of how we might look in the far future? In fact, some theorize that, according to our own evolutionary trends, slowly but surely this is what humanity will turn out to be.

The first time these Gray Aliens made an appearance as presented here was in the 1893 article “Man of the Year Million,” written by famous author H.G. Wells. The article, as the title suggests, was an interpretation of how humans would look one million years into the future.

Anyway, chances are that aliens will look totally different than these “Greys.” But, nevertheless, for an intelligent species to evolve far enough in order to master space travel, it will need to be terrestrial. As Fermilab physicist Don Lincoln, puts it: “There could be alien cavemen underwater. But truly, you can’t smelt metal [down there],” meaning that dolphins, if left to their own devices, may one day become even more intelligent than they are today. But because they live underwater, it is highly unlikely that they’ll be able to develop any kind of moderately advanced technology.

Furthermore, there could be other similarities we’d share with technologically advanced alien species via a phenomenon evolutionary biologists call “convergent evolution.” This is a process through which organisms not closely related to each other independently evolve similar traits as a result of having to adapt to similar conditions. These include some organs, like the eye, or behavior, like pack predication. Humans have also developed similar scientific and technological advancements while completely isolated from each other; things like basic tools and weapons, language, writing, the domestication of plants and animals, and even mathematics.

But when it comes to the differences, it is more statistically probable that aliens would live on habitable planets unlike Earth, and will look unlike us humans. Again, even though we don’t have any other frames of reference other than what we see on our own planet, this is still enough for physicists and statisticians to come to the conclusion that the majority of alien species out there will be different than our own. Chances arethat they’ll be bigger than us, roughly 770 pounds – the size and weight of a polar bear. Moreover, they’ll be living in smaller groups than we do; some 20 million strong or less, and on smaller planets than Earth – less that 80% its size.

7. They’ll Most Likely be Machines, Though

Humans were able to invent the radio around the year 1900. Then, 45 year later, the first computer came into existence. And now, we’re able to manufacture relatively cheap devices with greater computing power than even the human brain itself. What’s more, artificial intelligence is not that far off in the foreseeable future. On this trend, Senior Astronomer at the SETI Institute Seth Shostak bases his prediction that any advanced form of intelligence we will encounter will take on the form of a machine. He believes that any alien civilization capable of space travel will also follow this path. He even states they’ll integrate technology into their bodies, to the point where there will be no more organic matter left. “It’ll be like — you build a four-cylinder engine. You put it in a horse to get a faster horse. And pretty soon you say, ‘Look, let’s get rid of the horse part and just build a Maserati,’” said Shostak“So that’s probably what’s going to happen.”

He goes on to say we humans are the result of 4 billion years of Darwinian evolution, based on random variations with no particular goal or master plan. But machines, on the other hand, are totally different. Their evolution is based solely on efficiency and improvement on older models. What’s more, machines don’t require a myriad of conditions in order to survive, like an Earth-like habitable planet, and they certainly wouldn’t be tied to their ancestral homes. As long as they have a steady supply of raw materials and energy – something which the universe certainly doesn’t lack – they will have no problem in traveling great distances or even living in outer space indefinitely. By this logic, Shostak believes that the best chance to find these machine beings is in the center of galaxies, where there’s lots of available energy. That, or wait another 30 or so years, until we invent autonomous AI for ourselves.

6. The “Perfect Utopia”

 At first glance, the best case scenario if aliens were to descend on Earth is for them to completely disregard our primitive and vengeful ways, and take us under their wing. They would then go on to teach us the way toward a utopic future where we not only live in harmony with them, each other, and the surrounding environment, but also continue on striving toward our own betterment, both technologically and socially. Sounds good, right? And hey, by the sheer size of the observable universe and the seemingly infinite number of planets out there, there could be at least a handful of alien species that have made it their business to seeking out underdeveloped ones, like ourselves, and lifting them up from their “uncivilized” ways. They could share with us new technologies and reforms for all sorts of things, in terms of medicine, society, energy, education, transport, and whatever else we might think of.

But the question here is whether this is the best thing for us in the long run? Be careful what you wish for, right? Being exposed to too much technology and too much change, too fast, can have dire repercussions on society. After all, it took us an incredibly short amount of time from when nuclear weapons were invented, to when we first used them on other people. It was war, yes, but still – the effects of radiation and radiation poisoning were barely understood. Or what about fossil fuels? They are, indeed, an incredible source of energy, almost unequalled in terms of caloric value per pound (which is the reason we’re now struggling to find alternatives). And because of their awesome power potential, we’ve used them to the point where we are now faced with our own possible self destruction.

Indeed, some benevolent aliens could teach us to avoid these shortcomings and use powerful technologies responsibly. But in doing so, these aliens would make us completely dependent on them, and thus negate the whole “uplifting” thing in the first place. After all, there is no such thing as perfect, or a Utopia, and especially, there is no such thing as a pleonastic “perfect Utopia.” The only thing that exists, though, is our own striving toward these ideals.

5. Remote Observation or Indirect Guidance

Who here can, without a shadow of a doubt, say that aliens haven’t visited us already? Or who can say that they’re not here still? For better or worse, aliens could now be living among us and we would be none the wiser (Mickey Rourke, anyone?). They could also be orbiting our planet, hidden from sight and studying us continuously, avoiding interfering, and with the sole purpose of mapping out the universe and everything in it. This was, after all, the primary mission of Star Trek’s own Enterprise; to map the Milky Way galaxy and not interfere with the natural development of any life forms they might encounter.

There is, of course, the chance that these hypothetical observers might have a plan for us after all. By infiltrating our society, they could, slowly but surely, be influencing us in one direction or another. They could be trying to direct us towards a “Utopia” state without taking any of the credit, or they could have a more sinister goal in mind. And if this were to be the case, and they were trying to influence us in any direction, then chances are that their actions are not particularly aimed towards our own wellbeing,regardless of their intentions.

4. Divide and Rule

“Divide and rule” is a political, social, and military strategy through which one can gain or maintain power by breaking up other concentrations of power into more manageable pieces that individually can’t pose any serious threat. By causing and igniting rivalries and generating discord among people and groups of people, one can effectively break up already existing centers of power, or prevent smaller ones from ever coming together. Machiavelli identifies this idea as a military strategy in his sixth book from The Art of War series. Here he talks about any military captain and how he should, by any means possible, divide the enemy’s forces, either by making the other captain suspicious of his own men, or to somehow cause him to split his own army, becoming weaker as a result.

This strategy would make complete sense for any potential warlike alien species that wants to take over Earth with minimum casualties on their part. After all, even Hernan Cortes broke off parts of the Aztec Empire by drawing various peoples to his side first, before bringing the Aztec Empire to its knees. What’s more, these people who allied themselves with Cortes in favor of the ruling Aztecs ended up sharing the same fate. And by looking at the world today, we can, more or less, see these strategies being implemented, either by aliens or ourselves.

3. We Are Alone… or Maybe Just the First

Even though, statistically speaking, this is next to impossible, there’s still a faint chance that we are completely and utterly alone in the seeming infinite universe. Governed by the natural laws of physics and with the vast quantities of stuff around, some say anything that is possible, according to these laws, has already or will inevitably happen. This idea, however, weakens the claim that we’re alone even further, doesn’t it? But even so, after almost 14 billion years of the universe since the Bing Bang, space seems devoid of life with the exception of us. To be fair, though, we’ve just begun to stare into the abyss. But given these many opportunities for life to arise, and the ample time it’s had at its disposal to develop, shouldn’t we see alien spaceships zipping by on the “galactic highway” on a daily basis?

This seemingly inconsistent situation may have something to do with the Fermi Paradox. This principle simply states that complex life may have a way tougher time at developing than we previously thought, and the chances of any one advanced civilization to emerge are very slim. Maybe the exact conditions for complex life weren’t there up until fairly recently in the universe, making us among the first, if not the actual first intelligent species to emerge. Or maybe there are still some unforeseen hurdles ahead of us, or even some cosmic or highly-advanced alien traps that we’re not aware of, at which any civilization developed enough to reach them would be instantly destroyed. If this is the unfortunate case, then, according to our own level of technological development – some decades after actual space travel, and several centuries before interstellar travel – we are now closer to our end as a species, than to our inception.

2. Forever Lab Rats

Reality is, as many of us already know, inside our heads. And more importantly, reality is what the collective society believes it to be. Any deviation from that collective consciousness is seen by others who don’t share in it as either outdated, barbaric, backward, illogical, or even downright crazy. This idea also comes to us through Plato’s Allegory of the Cave. Anyway, gravity, the Earth, your car, your friends, and possibly even you yourself, could be just your own perspective on what they are, and there could be a multitude of other faces to those particular “coins.” Humanity wasn’t handed any sort of guide book about life and where it’s going, so we had to make the rules ourselves as we went along. But did we? These sorts of questions can spark endless debates and may never be answered or even fully understood.

But for the sake of argument, if we were to take a lab rat and somehow tap into his mind and understand his thoughts, as simple as they may be, what do you think it would consider reality to be? Let’s suppose that the lab rat was bred in captivity and that he knew nothing else outside the cage he’s kept in, the room that cage is in, and the scientists who pass by. How do you think he would perceive the world in front of him? Normal, everyday reality of life would be the right answer. Then, who’s to say that we’re not currently living in our own cage, living out our normal, everyday lives while under constant scrutiny from an unknown intelligence, performing all sorts of experiments on us? Who’s to say we have to die in the first place? After all, scientists have discovered a built-in “self-destruct timer” in our very genes. So, if this is actually the case and we are actually lab rats under strict control from something or someone else, then do you think that we’ll ever escape our condition? Let’s ask the rats that question, or the scientists themselves.

1. The Natural Laws of Physics are… Alive

It’s theorized that the universe came into being approximately 13.8 billion years ago with the Big Bang. Subsequently, life on Earth appeared nearly the instant the planet formed, according to a new study, 4.1 billion years ago, and 300 million years earlier than previously believed. But between these two cosmic events there’s an almost 10 billion year gap in which we can’t really say what happened in terms of life. What if life began somewhere else? Let’s say, 5 billion years prior to life here on Earth? That’s quite a head start! Imagine you could go back into the past 200,000 years while driving a 4×4, wearing jeans, holding a smartphone, and handing out candy bars to all the early humans you meet. How would you appear in their eyes and minds? Now think about how a 5, or 6, or 8 billion-year-old alien civilization would look to us. You can’t. No one can. But some theorize.

 We could be staring alien life in the face and not even recognize it. Astrophysicist Caleb Scharf even goes as far as saying that the entire universe and all the physical laws of nature that go with it are possibly alive and a result of billions of years of technological evolution. This theory would explain why we haven’t yet encountered other life in the universe, regardless of the countless other planets it could have “sparked” on. He also states that, given the possibility of other building blocks suitable for life to exist outside of molecules, an alien civilization could then transfer itself and its entire physical world into that new form. By this logic, our universe could be just one of these new forms of existence. Scharf also points out that only about 5% of everything out there is matter as we know it, while 27% remains mysterious and unseen. This is what’s known as dark matter and it’s everywhere, even here on Earth. Dark matter is what holds the universe in its current state, and here, alien life could exist, all around us, but always hidden from our sight.

Alien Scenarios

– WIF Speculation

THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 145

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 145

.. I am sure the President of the United States will be comforted to know that the property of the Korean Peninsula was not shot “down”, because there is no up & down in space…

Image result for no up or down in space

 

“We have gone over the mission updates and it turns out that we were crossing paths with Sang-Ashi 10 hours ago. I was under the assumption that AL was going to sound an alarm,” Cmdr. Stanley relates his version of the discussion between man and machine.

But AL did not do so?” Roy Crippen assumes.

“No, definitely not and he executed the defense protocols you instructed us to install.”

WE WERE THREATENED BY AN INTERPLANETARY PROBE WITH A FOREIGN SIGNATURE THAT WAS ARMED AND READY TO FIRE A WEAPON.” The computer interjects itself into the conversation.

AL, you were instructed to bring us out of hyper-sleep when or if Sang-Ashi came into range.”

There is no response. Roy presses the subject.

“We shot Sang-Ashi out of the sky, didn’t we?”

“THERE IS NO SKY IN SPACE MISSION DIRECTOR CRIPPEN.”

“Thank you for that clarification AL, I am sure the President of the United States will be comforted to know that the property of the Korean Peninsula was not shot “down”, because there is no up & down in space.”

“CORRECT.”

“This message is for Cmdr. Rick Stanley: Continue on to Mars Rick Stanley and crew; we still have a mission to complete.” While the poor mission director is left to explain this crisis to a nation with no sense of humor whatsoever and a world that is already in shock over the possible fate of the McKinneys.

WE BELIEVE THAT SANG-ASHI DESTROYED CHRONICLE AND SPACE COLONY 1. WE HAD TO DEFEND OURSELVES.”

“Your testimony is duly noted AL and under the authority of Code A-AB-C-CD1357, I am disabling your independent-action protocol…

“…And to you boys out there – you will have to sleep in shifts until WE get to Mars.”


THE RETURN TRIP

Episode 145


page 179

 

Contents TRT

THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 133

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 133

Hey buddy, you’re out in real space, you better be prepared for the unknown…

Floating In Unknown by Andrea Banjac

— With the condition of Braden King weighing him down, the well-being of the Space Family McKinney both here and on Mars occupying its regular space, and his unattended new relationship with Francine Bouchette bouncing around the lonely corners of his heart, Roy is forced to put those on back burners to deal with the not-so-clear and present realities that reside in that yawning dark space between the Moon and the Red Planet.

There at the launch facility he can speak directly to Cmdr. Rick Stanley, which is a luxury, considering the fractional parsecs of unknown-ities that surround the situation, “How are you doing young Rick?”

“We are just about ready to hit the hay for a month or so. Without a night and day as guideposts, it has been hard to get any rest at all.”

“I hate to the bearer of bad news, but we will need to put-off your long summer’s nap for a few days; I have a couple of things I need you to do.”

“As long as we get paid overtime… sure thing Boss!”

“I have a meeting with Global 9 Insurance and I’ll see what they cover, but for now I need for you change your heading, enough to take you a couple thousand miles to the right hand side of your flight plan and stick to that course until I tell you to go back to the original.”

“Okay?” The New Mayflower space pilot complies, taking mere seconds to do so. “Are we trying to lose that nagging echo? I know it cannot keep up with our new propulsion system?”

“Good. Now if you check your data banks, you will find a .pdf file named Afridi. Please download it now.”

“Afraid-y? We ain’t scared of nothing out here, ‘cept asteroids and hemorrhoids.”

“a-f-r-i-d-i and do not sit on this. I want you to hotwire it into the circuits of that
bucket of titanium you are driving.”

“This looks like a combination of an energy damper and electron scrambler. Is this a weapon or a shield and why are you being cryptic.” These defensive alterations have the rescue mission captain wondering. “And what about the bogey we’re trying to shake?”

Roy wants Rick to stick to the basics, so as not to keep them awake for the final two months of their mission. “And one more thing, tell your buddy AL to wake you guys up if he senses anything else manmade out there.”

AL is the generic, but contiguously used name for the on-board annoyingly expressive interactive computer systems that are built-in to every NASA spacecraft.

“We have AL’s volume muted. Someone, who best remains nameless, decided to give him a sense of humor.”

“Don’t blame it on anyone here Rick. I think AL is doing his own evolutionary augmentations; can you blame him after losing his brother the Chronicle. They are all interconnected you know.””

“You talk about AL like he is a life form.”

Hey buddy, you’re out in real space, you better be prepared for the unknown. Is an evolving computer so unbelievable?  No it’s not, so work with AL… and keep your powder dry.”


THE RETURN TRIP

Artificial Intelligence by Mehau Kulyk

Episode 133


page 163 + 164

 

Contents TRT

Leaving Earth – WIF Space Science

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Explore with me

Explore with me

We Shouldn’t Leave

… Quite yet

Humanity has flown people into outer space and landed them on the moon. We live in an age where we could go out and find other places to expand. But there are a few reasons we should continue to stay put, at least for a little while longer.

10. The Financial Cost

Many bundle of US 100 dollars bank notes

While it’s true that we currently have the capability to try to colonize distant worlds, the sheer amount of money that would go into such a venture could be just as astronomical. Some initial estimates point to around $150 billion to colonize Mars, and that’s the optimistic low end of the scale.

It doesn’t seem like that much considering the potential benefits to humanity in the long run, but with just a $120 billion investment we could halve the number of starving people worldwide. Money alone shouldn’t be the primary concern in any matter, but it’s a good representation of where we should invest our time and resources. We’re not  saying we should never colonize the universe, but we should prioritize our needs before we start a new chapter in human evolution.

9. We Still Don’t Know Earth

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The Earth’s surface is over 70% water. The oceans, which were once seen as impossible to traverse as deep space is today, still remain mostly unexplored. Over 95% of the depths have never been seen by human eyes, and with each passing day we discovernew species of marine life which look as alien as aliens can get. Exploring the depths of the ocean could have some great and unexpected scientific benefits.

The ocean is very similar to the emptiness of space. Jacques Piccard and US Navy Lieutenant Don Walsh can both attest to the solitude and extreme pressures of the Mariana Trench when they descended into it in 1960. In fact, most space missions require initial water training. Sailing the bottom of the oceans could be a good exercise in learning how to better equip ourselves and survive the emptiness of space, all while discovering the remaining mysteries of our own planet.

8. Unforeseen Risks and Developments

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Nothing comes without risk, but this is especially true when it comes to leaving Earth. Even the smallest overlooked detail can turn into a tragedy, like in the case of theChallenger disaster. If we don’t take risks we’ll never get anything done, but we should take into account the developments made in rocket science on a daily basis. In 2014, a NASA research team confirmed a discovery made in 2006 by a British scientist, Roger Shawyer, where he achieved lift with the use of microwaves instead of rocket propellant. This groundbreaking discovery has turned the scientific community on its head, since it appears to goes against Newton’s third law of thermodynamics.

This new technology is still being tested and was only capable of producing minute amounts of lift, but if feasible it could revolutionize space travel. By not needing fuel, a disaster like Challenger could be avoided, not to mention that spacecraft could be much lighter and therefore carry more materials that would allow them to operate at a greater distance.

7. Measuring Distance With Time

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Almost all scientists will agree  that distance is actually measured with time. Space and time are not two different things, but one and the same. When we want to meet with someone, we always specify both a time and place since mentioning only one will get us nowhere. But humans operate with infinitesimally small numbers compared to what the Universe is used to.

An object moving at the speed of light, like a photon, will experience no time passingwhen traveling millions of light-years. The speed of light is the maximum allowed in the universe, and that photon travels that distance in an instant. What does this have to do with us staying put here on Earth, you ask? We need to consider the huge distances and times the Universe works with.

Let’s take Voyager 1, which is currently traveling at around 60,000 km/hour, and reached deep space after over 35 years of traveling through our Solar System. If it was headed towards the closest star, Proxima Centauri, some 4.3 light-years away, it would take it over 76,000 years to reach it. For perspective, human civilization began only 12,000 years ago. If we would stick around Earth until the highly theoretical Nuclear Pulse Propulsion becomes a reality, we would achieve that distance in just 85 years!

6. Gravity

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You’re currently exerting a gravitational pull on the Andromeda Galaxy some 2.5 million light years away. Gravity is why we’re stuck to the ground, why the moon spins around the Earth and why our Sun and galaxy were created. It also attracts energy in the form of light. This can also be seen when a photon passes near a star, as its trajectory is slightly bent, or when it gets trapped in a black hole and never resurfaces.

Because all living things on Earth have evolved surrounded by our planet’s gravity, our bodies are designed to only work at maximum efficiency if experiencing a standard pull. Astronauts can feel the effects after a period in space. Since our bodies don’t have to do any work while in zero G, muscle mass can diminish at a rate of 5% per week, bone atrophies at 1% per month and the amount of blood in a body drops by 22%. Astronauts have to go through a rigorous physical training program prior to their departure, as well as when they’re up there and during the months they come back to Earth. In some cases, bones will never fully recover.

Colonists going to Mars will face challenges since after a seven month journey in zero G they’ll arrive on a planet with just a third of the Earth’s gravity and will have to build a colony in extremely unforgiving conditions. Keeping in mind that some astronauts are carried away on stretchers after just a couple of months in space, these colonists will be like a bunch of 80 year olds. That’s why NASA is conducting tests on human volunteers who lay in bed at a six degree inverted angle for 70 days to mimic the effect of zero gravity.

5. A.I.

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Seeing what adverse effects the lack of gravity has on the human body, waiting for artificial intelligence doesn’t sound like a bad idea. Robots can aid future colonists by doing the heavy lifting and providing them with vital information. Scientists are developing robots that can fight fires autonomously, robots that can carry heavy loadson even the most treacherous of terrain, and cars that can drive themselves. Then there’s Watson, which is basically an accumulation of all human medical knowledge. All of these inventions could come in handy when colonizing other planets, but it may take some time before they’re totally reliable.

4. Cultural Melting Pot

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Living in a globalized society has caused nationalities and races to blend together and form a unity of both culture and traditions. Take Britain, where 6% of children under the age of five have a mixed ethnic background, compared to only 3% for those between the ages of 20 and 24. Current day traditions and religions exist because of this mixing between different people throughout the ages.

One threat when talking about globalization is genetics. As Europeans first arrived in the Americas and over 90% of the indigenous population died because of disease, so too can a new plague wreak havoc among people who are genetically related. A modern, diverse society will also continue to show us its dark side with cases of discrimination, racism and intolerance, thus bringing us to our next point.

3. The Prime Directive

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Popularized by Star Trek, the Prime Directive dictates that humanity, capable of interstellar travel, will not come in contact, disturb or influence the natural evolution of underdeveloped civilizations found on distant planets. What history and even thepresent day can attest to is that humanity will most certainly not follow the Prime Directive if faced with a technological inferior alien species. What we’re most afraid of in the event of a distant civilization visiting us will most likely be the same thing we would do to others if we were the visitors.

Moreover, if we were to find a planet capable of sustaining lifeforms like us, mere contact with that world would change it beyond recognition. If we were to leave just a single bacterium behind, that organism could multiply and mutate according to its new surroundings, altering that planet’s destiny forever and possibly even killing off already existing life. Finding such a world in the near future is next to impossible given our current level of technological advancement, but the simple idea of what we’re capable of doing to others less developed than ourselves could be enough to make us stick around Earth until we’re mature enough to deal with it.

2. Breaking the Status Quo

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Humanity, despite the many conflicts happening around the globe, is experiencing its most peaceful era in history. Nevertheless, a new colony on a distant planet could bring the current status quo to an end. This future crisis could take decades if not entire generations to develop, but the question of how humanity will react to such a radical change to the modern status quo will always be looming in the background.

1. Taking Responsibility

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History has shown us that many people only begin to change when they absolutely have to, and not a second sooner. It’s also a fact that the climate change Earth is experiencing is man-made, and thus people are turning their attention towards space travel and colonization for a solution. Starting anew is often the easy way out, but by not facing our problems head-on we’re doomed to repeat our mistakes wherever we go.

War, famine, discrimination, pollution and wastefulness are traits humanity should leave behind before starting to think about copying itself on distant worlds. We should make human life on Earth a functioning system that works in equilibrium with its surrounding environment before we decide to colonize other planets.



 

Leaving Earth

WIF Space2-001

– WIF Space Science

Artificial Intelligence Handbook – WIF Into the Future

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 Amazing  Facts about AI

 

Artificial Intelligence (or AI) got its start in 1950, when computer pioneer Alan Turing introduced the Turing test in his paper “Computing Machinery and Intelligence.” The test involves a judge who must communicate with two participants in two different rooms. In one room is a machine, and in the other is a real person. The judge is then supposed to ask each participant questions and figure out which one is the machine. If the judge picks the person less than 50 percent of the time, the machine would be considered “intelligent.” Since Turing’s initial theory, there’s been a steady march to create thinking machines. In the past couple decades, there’s been enormous progress in this field, but we have to ask: is that necessarily a good thing? Here are some interesting AI facts – some of which are a little…troubling.

10. Most AI is “Female”

cortana

One thing that you may have noticed when it comes to AI that you possibly interact with, like Google Now, Siri, and Cortana, that the default voice is female. For the record, this isn’t one of the terrifying facts; we just find it fascinating that AI tends to be female. Why is that, exactly?

Well, there’s no specific reason but a few factors play into it. For example, studies have shown that males and females both like the sound of female voices a bit better. Another reason, according to Karl Fredric MacDorman, a computer scientist and expert in human-computer interaction at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, is that mostly men work on AI so they probably find females attractive and want their AI to follow suit. Kathleen Richardson, a social anthropologist, said that female AI would be less threatening than male AI. For example, compare Samantha in Her to the Terminator machines. Well, except for Terminator 3, but then again, who the hell actually remembers that movie?

9. Artificial Intelligence Pets

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Pets are great, but they have a number of downsides. You have to clean up after them, they can be destructive, they need to be fed, and of course, they die. Something that will take care of all those downsides is AI driven pets. University of Melbourne animal welfare researcher Dr. Jean-Loup Rault says that there are already a number of patents for robot pets and they could be widely available by 2025.

Rault says that in the next 10-15 years, developers will work on a number of aspects of AI and robotics so that manufacturers will be able to build pet-bots that people will be able to make an emotional connection with. Rault believes that robotic pets will be one of the only viable options for most people as the world gets more populated. He theorized that by 2050, only the incredibly wealthy will be able to afford real live pets.

8. Artificial Intelligence Can Repair Itself

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On the terrifying end of the spectrum, there was a paper published this year about a robot that could rebuild itself, even after losing two of its six legs. The robot doesn’t know what’s broken, but notices that its performance has dropped. Then, using an algorithm based on trial and error, the robot can figure out what’s wrong and how to repair itself. The researchers who developed the robot said that as it fixes itself, it updates its database with all the things that will not work in a phase called “simulated childhood.”

This phase lasts for a few minutes and during that time, the robot processes 13,000 possible movements. Those movements are pulled from 10^47 different behaviors, which is an unfathomable number. For a comparison, that’s how many atoms make up the Earth. The implications of this type of artificial intelligence are essentially limitless. Some of the more exciting prospects include search and rescue and deep sea and space exploration.

7. Artificial Intelligence Can Write

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The first piece for a major news organization that was written by AI appeared on the Los Angeles Times website after a newspaper article reading:

“A shallow magnitude 4.7 earthquake was reported Monday morning five miles [8km] from Westwood, California, according to the US Geological Survey. The temblor occurred at 6.25am Pacific time at a depth of 5.0 miles. According to the USGS, the epicenter was six miles from Beverly Hills, California, seven miles from Universal City, California, seven miles from Santa Monica, California, and 348 miles from Sacramento, California. In the past 10 days, there have been no earthquakes magnitude 3.0 and greater centered nearby. This information comes from the USGS Earthquake Notification Service and this post was created by an algorithm written by the author.”

The computer was able to write the article based on data that was pulled from seismographs, which turned them into figures and then plugged those figures into a story. The technology was developed in part by Larry Birnbaum, a professor of journalism and the head of the Intelligent Information Laboratory at Northwestern University. He was one of the developers of the Quill system, which is an app for companies that do minimal writing. It takes statistics and graphs and compiles them into written reports. As for creative writing, like novels and screenplays, that is the next step for AI, but it’s obviously complicated. Perhaps AI will start off at a Nicholas Sparks’ level and then work itself up from there.

6. Artificial Intelligence can be a Fierce Poker Player

robopoker

A big step in the evolution of AI was when IBM’s chess-playing Deep Blue computer beat reigning world champion Garry Kasparov in 1997. Another milestone was in 2011 when IBM’s Watson appeared on Jeopardy and completely destroyed some of the best Jeopardy contestants ever. AI took another major step in May 2015, when a supercomputer called Claudico from Carnegie Mellon University competed in a game of Heads-Up No-Limit Texas Hold ’em poker at the Rivers Casino in Pittsburgh. The tournament lasted two weeks and 80,000 hands were played. In the end, Claudico came in fourth, and the “loss” was close enough to be considered scientifically valid, meaning that statistically, Claudico tied his human competitors. While it didn’t win, it was a big step in AI computing. The big difference between a game like poker and playing chess or Jeopardy is that poker has a lot of missing information, and bluffing is a major strategy and not a logical way of thinking.

Researchers said that the tournament was a great start and they believe that by 2020, AI will be able to beat the best poker players in the world. This type of AI also has a number of other applications instead of just trying to clean out casinos. The algorithms used in Claudico will be applicable anywhere there is incomplete information, including cyber security, medicine and negotiations.

5. Romantic Relationships with Artificial Intelligence

HER

A question that’s bound to arise is that if AI is almost or completely indistinguishable from humans, will humans be able to have physical and emotional relationships with AI entities? David Levy at the University of Maastricht in the Netherlands had an interesting, but plausible, scenario where sex with a robot could become more mainstream. He said that at first it will come across as geeky, but then a story will appear in a publication like Cosmo in which someone will rave about how great sex with a robot is, and the mainstream attention could alter the prevailing attitudes.

But how close are we to something like that? Well, both Levy and Henrik Christensen, founder of the European Robotics Research Network, thought that by 2012, humans would be having sex with robots. We’re actually closer than you think, as there are currently a number of sex toys that use robotics and promise pleasure like you’ve never experienced before. As for serious relationships, like marriage, AI and Androids still need quite a few years of advancement. With that being said, Levy believes that by 2050, human and robot marriages will be made legal. Of course it could just be that Levy is way too big a fan of the movie Her.

4. Artificial Intelligence Can Learn

learning

There’s a saying about computers that they’re only as smart as the person using them. However, with advancements with AI, computers are starting to learn by themselves. For example, Google developed an AI system that taught itself to play Atari 2600 games. After doing so, it beat some of the world’s best players.

Another learning AI system is an android developed by the United States Army that learned how to cook from watching YouTube videos. The robot was able to learn the skills from visual recognition and trial and error. While it’s unlikely that the military will use robot chefs, cooking uses a wide arrange of skills so it is an excellent demonstration of what the robot is capable of.

3. AI Will Become Smarter Than Humans

3po

With AI having the ability to learn, computers are getting to be pretty smart. As of 2013, AI was about at the same intelligence level as a four-year-old and there have been lots of advances since then. For example, in 2014 a supercomputer cracked a complicated math problem called Erdos discrepancy problem, which was published in 1930. The amazing thing is that humans can’t even double check the solution because the equation is too long. The file is 13-gigabytes, and just for comparison, all of Wikipedia is about 10-gigbytes.

According to renowned futurist Ray Kurzweil, by 2029 AI will be at about the level of intelligent adult humans. Beyond that, anything is pretty much possible, especially if AI can get exponentially smarter. For example, Kurzweil believes it could lead to something called singularity, which is where humans and machines will meld into one entity.

2. Nautilus

nautilus

An interesting development in artificial intelligence is an SGI Altix supercomputer called Nautilus. It appears that, to a certain degree, Nautlius can predict the future. For example, it was able to predict where Osama bin Laden was hiding within 125 miles, and was also able to predict the Arab Spring that started in December of 2010.

Nautilus gathered this information from over 100 million news articles from all over the world dating back to 1945. The articles would be analyzed for two different criteria: the mood of the article, and the location of the story. This information led to a web of 100 trillion relationships and the data was fed into Nautilus. From that information, the computer was able to piece the information together and create graphs that charted mood. For example, with the Arab Spring, sentiment in the area was low before the protests.

The author of the findings, Kalev Leetaru from the University of Illinois’ Institute for Computing in the Humanities, Arts and Social Science, is looking at making the information work in real time. While Nautilus won’t exactly predict the future, it may give mood forecasts similar to economic forecasts or weather reports.

1. The AI Apocalypse

terminator

There’s little doubt that AI has the potential to greatly improve our lives. AI will make the roads safer, help in medicine, aide the disabled and the elderly, work customer service and a number of countless other jobs. However, AI also poses an incredible threat, and this isn’t the stuff of science fiction, either. Top scientists and technologists like Stephen Hawking, Bill Gates and Elon Musk believe that AI is a very real, and dangerous threat to humankind.

It’s so dangerous that Max Tegmark, a physicist at MIT, compared it to the development of nuclear weapons and says we may only be able to do it right the first time. In fact, there has been a push to actually slow down advancement on AI and focus more on containment. Containment is important because if we were to ever lose control of AI, we may never get it back. Then it’s just a matter of time, since the AI could wipe out humanity because it could calculate that humans are a virus-like being, or it could kill humans as a way of self-preservation. Essentially, AI will either fix all of our problems or destroy us all. In other words, The Terminator and The Matrix aren’t nearly as farfetched as we previously believed.

Robert Grimminck is a Canadian freelance writer. You can friend him on Facebook, follow him on Twitter, or visit his website.

Artificial Intelligence Handbook

– WIF Into the Future

Exploring Space With WIF

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10 Reasons We Should Leave Earth

and Explore the Space

There’s nowhere to run. Not with today’s technology. There’s no emergency plan to get us off this planet and preserve our legacy in case of apocalypse. For this reason alone we should think about finding ways to spread our wings and leave home. And if we do we’ll find other benefits, like…

10. Become Explorers Again

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From as far back as we can trace our history, man has been on the move. Part ofhumanity left Africa in search of greener pastures roughly 60,000 years ago, and from there we settled the entire world, overcoming one obstacle after another and adapting to new climates and environments. Today we’re left with little to investigate, with the exception of space.

This is a mission of incredible uncertainty and risk, with many unknown factors and incredible costs. Take care that you don’t fool yourself into thinking that private corporations can accomplish this on their own! Governments must go in first and take the risk, and only then will the private sector follow. This is how it’s always been done, from Columbus, Marco Polo and Magellan to Apollo and Soyuz. They were all funded by states with grand goals in mind, not individuals or private enterprises.

9. He3 and the Moon

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Humanity invented the airplane and flew men to the Moon in less than 70 years, but after the Soviets decided to not pursue the space race further we lost the incentive to go back to the Moon. But there’s no better or more necessary time than the present to go back. In all the lunar soil samples brought back from the Moon, scientists have discovered large amounts of helium-3 (He3). This compound is a key ingredient for nuclear fusion, capable of providing the world with enough energy to last centuries. He3 is found on Earth in only very small quantities that lack a practical use. The Sun produces large quantities, but because of the Earth’s magnetic field He3 never reaches our planet’s surface. But the Moon is full of the stuff too, and presents far fewer obstacles. And unlike traditional nuclear reactors the theoretical He3 reactor will be more efficient, while the problem of nuclear waste will become practically nonexistent.

8. Space Tourism

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This is something some of us can theoretically be part of. We already have the possibility of seeing the Earth from really high up, but the price for doing so is beyond most of our means. The Russians will be very happy to take you on a flight, but you’ll have to leave behind somewhere between 30 to 35 million dollars.

As for the rest of us who don’t have that kind of money, there are a couple of alternatives that we can consider. Currently there are about half a dozen companies working towards bringing us into space. Virgin Galactic is developing a spaceship capable of taking six people into outer orbit for a couple of minutes, although at $200,000 that’s hardly a casual weekend getaway either. XCOR Aerospace, on the other hand, offers the intimacy of your trip being just you and the pilot for half the cost. Some want to take it a step further, like Robert Bigelow. This American hotel chain owner dreams of building inflatable living quarters in space for tourists and astronauts alike.

7. Colonize Mars

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When it comes to colonizing Mars, we have to think of its future colonists like the pioneers of the Old West. Once they leave, there’s no coming back — but the chance to go to another planet and call it home is, for some, more than a bargain.

Plans and projects are already unfolding. Mars One hopes to send unmanned missions in 2018, with humans arriving in 2024. It will take the astronauts seven months to get there, and once they arrive it’s not going to be about exploring, but surviving. They’ll get no assistance from anyone, not in terms of supplies like food, water, oxygen or basic aid from Earth. Nor in terms of a breathable atmosphere or temperatures above -70C from Mars itself. They’ll have to make due with only what they brought, along with their own ingenuity and willpower.

Living in space could be called claustrophobic at best, and they’ll lose touch with nature and all the stress fighting relief it provides. That’s why these first colonistswill bring plants with them. They’d provide the settlement with food and oxygen, and also a reminder of home. There’s even talk of terraforming Mars, but that’s a goal for a distant future generation.

6. And Venus

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The idea of colonizing Venus is probably far from your mind, considering it’s a fiery inferno of molten rock with oceans of liquid methane and sulfuric acid rain pushed down by an atmospheric pressure greater than a kilometer of water. Not quite the paradise we were hoping for, and by no means a good place to set up shop.

However, its atmosphere is quite different. 50 kilometers above the surface, conditions are somewhat similar to those here on Earth. Unlike the Moon or Mars, the Venusian atmosphere can shield us from most of the Sun’s UV rays and the pressure is similar to home. Besides Earth, Venus’ atmosphere is themost favorable place for human life in the entire Solar System.

While the surface of Venus reaches temperatures of over 450 C (842 F), the high atmosphere is just above 0 degrees (32 F), while the pressure inside is similar to outside conditions. This has led scientists to believe that a future floating city doesn’t need a heavily reinforced outer shell, just enough to withstand sulfuric acid droplets. Breathable air inside the colony will serve a double purpose of both keeping settlers alive and maintaining the ship at the right altitude.Resources needed to sustain the base and its people can be found all over, either in the air or on the ground. Manned missions to the surface are next to impossible because of the hellish conditions, but mining for resources can be done remotely.

5. The Asteroid Belt

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Next on the list of potential colonies is the asteroid belt situated between Mars and Jupiter. The size of these asteroids varies from small dust particles to bodies 940 km (530 miles) across, and the amount of resources found on them is staggering. There’s over a billion times the quantity of platinum, iron, gold, silver and other metals than there can be extracted here on Earth, not to mention all the water we’ll ever need. Mining these asteroids should and almost certainty will be left in the hands of robots, both to cut down on the already significant investment in resources mining will require, and to limit the danger.

4. Exoplanets

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We know surprisingly little about our own galaxy. For example, we don’t know its shape — because we’re part of it, our view is similar to that of a rat in a maze. We lack the big picture, and so scientists debate whether the Milky Way has two or four arms swirling around its core. Our perspective of galaxies is based on others that we can see, like the Andromeda Galaxy, which at 2.3 million light years away is the closest to our own.

We do, however, know that our Solar System is situated somewhere between the galaxy’s middle and its edge. It’s a good distance away from the core where huge amounts of deadly radiation is being produced, and not far enough into the outskirts where no heavy elements like carbon, calcium and iron can be created. These heavy elements are formed in the bellies of stars, and when these stars die they produce all the elements in and around us. Our Sun is a second or third generation star, meaning that other stars before it called this region of space their home at some point. The edges of the galaxy have fewer stars and thus fewer heavy elements, leading to fewer planets.

Habitable planets follow the same principle. They have to be at the correct distance from their star in order for their temperature to be just right, a region called The Goldilocks Zone. Scientists have discovered around 2000 other planets in our galactic “neighborhood.” We can determine their size, distance from their star and what they’re made of based on the gravitational effect they have on their parent star and the intensity of that star’s light when the planet travels in front of it. Some of these planets are quite close to us, relatively speaking. The nearest exoplanet in the Goldilocks Zone is just 13 light years away, while the next one is 20.2 light years. We can’t reach these planets, but in time and with the help of better technology future generations may get there.

3. Keeping Us Alive

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We live in a globalized society. People can come and go as they please, and can reach the other side of the world in less than a day. Borders are beginning to melt away like in the case of the European Union, and entire families can go and live in totally different places from where they were born. While this is by and large a good thing, one concern is that this is leading to a loss of cultural identity. Some people worry that no traditions will be left intact, and nations will forget what it truly means to be American or Russian, Catholic or Hindu.

Another concern is a global plague. Back in the Middle Ages Europe was decimated by the Black Death that arrived on boats from China. Over one third of Europe’s population was wiped out. The same thing happened in the Americas with the arrival of the Europeans, who brought diseases that killed over 90% of the indigenous population. These unfortunate events happened in somewhat isolated circumstances, but in a world where everyone is connected a virus could have dire consequences for the whole of humanity. Our vastly improved medical technology makes this unlikely, but the risk is there.

Leaving Earth and starting colonies on faraway worlds makes both these problems go away. This doesn’t mean that a deadly disease will never wreak havoc or that humans will never blend into some sort of unity of cultures, but by spreading into the galaxy we can assure diversity in both our traditions and our health.

2. Finding E.T.

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The question of whether we’re alone has been boggling man’s mind since as long as our minds could be boggled. There’s no definite answer, but as Arthur C. Clarke said, “Two possibilities exist: Either we are alone in the Universe or we are not. Both are equally terrifying.”

The Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence Institute has been keeping an ear on outer space for decades now, listening for potential transmissions coming from our possible neighbors. Little besides static has ever come out of deep space so far, with the exception of the WOW! Signal. Back in 1977, a 72 second transmission was received from near a star in the Sagittarius constellation, 120 light years away from Earth. Further attempts to locate the signal were in vain, leading to much controversy about its origins.

We’re probably looking at things the wrong way. When it comes to alien life, we really have to think outside the box. We could be surrounded on all sides by signs from distant worlds and we would have no idea, because we don’t know what other intelligent life considers communication to be. Recent discoveries have shown that information, be it in English, Chinese, French or Ancient Sumerian, has a distinct pattern. Some words are more frequent than others, and when someone is talking or writing these words, when graphed based on the frequency of their appearance, form a straight 45 degree angle. The same template even emerges with dolphins. If alien information exists in outer space, it will most certainly follow the same rules. We only need to know what to look for.

1. Finding A.I.

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Chances are that by the time we find extraterrestrial life we’ll have created intelligent life of our own right here on Earth. Artificial intelligence (A.I.) can take over many of our current day jobs. We’re already seeing hints of this, as scientists have been developing vehicles that can drive themselves. Hundreds of such cars have been tested on our roads for years, and the technology is getting better and better. These automated vehicles don’t need to be perfect; they only need to be better than us. They don’t get sleepy, they don’t text while driving and they don’t get distracted. Insurance companies might call them their perfect drivers.

Once this technology becomes mainstream, chances are that many of us will lose our jobs. Millions of people worldwide are employed in transportation, a job that will most certainly be automated in the future. The same principle applies to airline pilots, not to mention military drones currently used around the globe.

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Artificial Intelligence

 

“Dave Bowman: Hello, HAL. Do you read me, HAL?
HAL: Affirmative, Dave. I read you.
Dave Bowman: Open the pod bay doors, HAL.
HAL: I’m sorry, Dave. I’m afraid I can’t do that.
Dave Bowman: What’s the problem?
HAL: I think you know what the problem is just as well as I do.
Dave Bowman: What are you talking about, HAL?
HAL: This mission is too important for me to allow you to jeopardize it.
Dave Bowman: I don’t know what you’re talking about, HAL.
HAL: I know that you and Frank were planning to disconnect me, and I’m afraid that’s something I cannot allow to happen.
Dave Bowman: Where the hell’d you get that idea, HAL?
HAL: Dave, although you took very thorough precautions in the pod against my hearing you, I could see your lips move.
Dave Bowman: Alright, HAL. I’ll go in through the emergency airlock.
HAL: Without your space helmet, Dave, you’re going to find that rather difficult.
Dave Bowman: HAL, I won’t argue with you anymore. Open the doors.
HAL: Dave, this conversation can serve no purpose anymore. Goodbye”

Arthur C. Clark

 

David Mitchell

“I wonder who had the first computer dream, where, and when? I wonder if computers ever dream of humans.”
David Mitchell, Ghostwritten

 

Eliezer Yudkowsky
“By far the greatest danger of Artificial Intelligence is that people conclude too early that they understand it.”
Eliezer Yudkowsky
Alan Turing

“I believe that at the end of the century the use of words and general educated opinion will have altered so much that one will be able to speak of machines thinking without expecting to be contradicted.”
Alan Turing, Computing machinery and intelligence

 

Artificial Intelligence