Dancing Singularity

An old Zen monk came upon a mountain shrine one particularly cold night and discovered the shrine keeper shivering beside a dying fire.

The monk snatched a wooden Buddha from the mantle and tossed it into the flames.

The shrine keeper gasped with horror as the wooden statue burst into flames. So the monk began poking at the new flames with his crooked walking stick.

“What are you doing?” the shrine keeper cried.

“Searching for what you find holy.”

“You won’t find that in the flames!”

The monk stopped poking the flames, looking back with a smile. “Then may I have more Buddhas to keep you warm?”

Solutions often dance unseen before our eyes.

Institutionalized conversations about Singularity and super-intelligence commonly neglect what our own intelligence emotionally elevates — being.

None of us can regard our own smartness as exceptionally high or low, except in comparison. But we each regard our being as exceptional without comparison. We are exceptional because we exist.

Detecting Singularity — if detection is permitted — depends on what we look for. If we neglect to look for patterns of a super emotional – as opposed to a super-smart – state, synthetic sentience may dance unseen before our eyes.


nanoscience pushing back frontiers of medicine — discovers cancer softness

squamous cell carcinoma

squamous cell carcinoma


Nano breakthrough in cancer detection: study


“A nano-scale tool that distinguishes soft cancerous cells from stiffer normal ones could save lives by making it easier to diagnose cancer, according to a study released Sunday.

“Using atomic force microscopes, a team of US scientists showed for the first time that the surface of living cancer cells were more than 70 percent softer than their healthy counterparts.

“This measurable difference in elasticity held true across lung, breast and pancreatic cancers, and could provide a powerful means of detecting malignant cells that might otherwise escape notice, said the study, published in the British journal Nature Nanotechnology.

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“The researchers discovered that malignant cells — verified as cancerous by other means — were four times as soft as normal tissue across all three types of cancer examined.

“‘Our work shows that mechanical analysis can distinguish cancerous cells from normal ones even when they show similar shapes,'” . . . (full article)

Image credit: Biomedical image awards 2006

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Newcomb’s commentary: “The different branches of science combine to demonstrate that the universe in its entirety can be regarded as one gigantic process, a process of becoming, of attaining new levels of existence and organization, which can properly be called a genesis or an evolution.” Thomas Huxley


swarm intelligence — solutions distributing themselves — nothing seems more powerful against time

honey bees

Honeybees, Maine. 2007. Photo by Peter Essick

National Geographic Photo of the Day

Swarming honeybees, like these on Maine’s Appledore Island, frequently differ about where to establish a new nest. But the group usually chooses the best site. Bees reach this decision by gathering information, conducting independent evaluations, and holding a kind of vote. Scientists are studying such swarm intelligence – note the yellow and blue identifier dots on the bees in this photo – for clues about how humans might manage complex systems, from truck routing to military robots.”

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Newcomb’s commentary: “When we speak of Nature it is wrong to forget that we are ourselves a part of Nature. We ought to view ourselves with the same curiosity and openness with which we study a tree, the sky or a thought, because we too are linked to the entire universe.” Henri Matisse


CMU gets $14.4 million to improve robo-tanks — is SIAI’s laudable quest to contain AI to “friendly AI” becoming a fool’s errand?




Carnegie Mellon gets $14.4 million to build robo-tank

Layer 8  Network World

Unmanned aircraft are showing up in the skies more often and today the US Army awarded $14.4 million to Carnegie Mellon to build a remote-controlled unmanned tank./”A certain amount of the award will go toward significantly improving the Crusher, a 6.5-ton unmanned support vehicle Carnegie engineers developed in 2006 in conjunction with DARPA. Since its introduction, the Crusher has demonstrated unparalleled toughness and mobility during extensive field trials in extremely rugged terrain, according to Carnegie Mellon.

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“Ultimately unmanned ground vehicles would be outfitted with anti-tank or anti-aircraft missiles and anti-personnel weapon to make them lethal.” . . . (full article)

Image credit: Layer 8

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Newcomb’s commentary:  “The unapparent connection is more powerful than the apparent one.” Heraclitus


DARPA CALO — AI learns to detect intention

Denver Nuggets

detecting intention in basketball


Software That Learns From Users

Nomi Ali

” . . . University of Washington computer science professor Pedro Domingos is developing CALO, a massive, four-year-old artificial intelligence project to help computers understand human intentions. The DARPA-funded project involves researchers from 25 universities and corporations focusing on many areas of artificial intelligence, including machine learning, natural-language processing, and Semantic Web technologies. CALO, which stands for “cognitive assistant that learns and organizes,” tries to help users by managing information about key people and projects, understanding and organizing information from meetings, and learning and automating routine tasks” . . . .  The ultimate goal is to build an artificial intelligence that can serve as a personal assistant that can learn about a user’s needs and preferences and adapt to them without having to be reprogrammed. “It’s an amazingly large thing, and it’s insanely ambitious… But if CALO succeeds, it’ll be quite a revolution.” . . . (full article)

Image credit: NBA/Denver Nuggets

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Newcomb’s commentary:  “Without local guides, your enemy employs the land as a weapon against you.” Sun Tzu


if you build it, they may come — Widgetbox introduces AI widget for your website


Widgetbox introduces M.A.I.D. Artificial Intelligence System widget

“No one to talk to right now? Why not communicate with the M.A.I.D. – a live Artificial Intelligence System. Don’t worry about your conversation – it’s just between you and a computer!”

Widgetbox “… enables people to find web widgets across a variety of categories and interests or create their own. Widgetbox has created a platform that enables web widgets to be shared and distributed across popular blogging, social networking services, and personal websites.”  Wikipedia

Image credit:  Widgetbox 

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Newcomb’s commentary:    “I do not think there is any thrill that can go through the human heart like that felt by the inventor as he sees some creation of the brain unfolding to success… Such emotions make a man forget food, sleep, friends, love, everything.” Nikola Tesla


artificial intelligence advancing science in the global war on AIDS

A child attends a vigil for Aids victims in Ngwenya, Swaziland

 Child at vigil for AIDS victims in Ngwenya, Swaziland. Photograph: Mike Hutchings/Reuters


Researchers Discover Potential Targets for HIV Vaccines

GEN News Highlights

“An essential component of the HIV-1 molecular machinery responsible for infecting cells, the third variable loop (V3), consists of functionally specialized layers, according to investigators at the University of California San Diego Antiviral Research Center.

“The surface of the HIV-1 particle is studded with protein spikes that allow the virus to enter human cells, including the V3 protein spike. Protein components like V3 are problematic because they are so diverse; up to 35% of the amino acids can differ between strains of HIV-1. Exposed to human antibodies, V3 rapidly evolves to avoid the immune system. However, the V3 loop’s critical function as a docking mechanism for HIV-1 to infect cells must impose limits on these evolutionary contortions, report the scientists.

“The investigators developed a method that combines techniques from molecular evolution and artificial intelligence to investigate this loop. They reconstructed the evolutionary history underlying 1,145 genetic sequences encoding the V3 loop to discover groups of amino acids that were biologically dependent on each other. These coevolving amino acids formed ties across the V3 loop like rungs on a ladder, corroborating models from structural studies of the same protein.

“The researchers caution that this study was restricted to a small portion of the genome. Nevertheless, the scientists report that the study identified important targets in the protein spike for future research. The paper is published in the November 23 issue of PLoS Computational Biology.” . . . (article)

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Newcomb’s commentary:  “When asked what single event was most helpful in developing the Theory of Relativity, Albert Einstein replied, “Figuring out how to think about the problem”.” W. Edwards Deming