OLLI Fall 2011:Indistinguishable from Magic Syllabus

Technology and Magic v6

OLLI Fall 2011 (Thursdays, 10/27-12/8 (no classes on  Nov. 17 and Thanksgiving 24th) from 1:00-2:30 PM) 
(Class to address 6th meeting time/date)
Jim Isaak – facilitator/agitator
posted on web at: http://www.jimisaak.com (with links that make it much easier to get to the online resources listed here.)

“Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic"
Arthur C. Clark

"Why, sometimes I've believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast."
Alice in Wonderland (The White Queen)

Context – the world is changing (you may have noticed)

See http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cL9Wu2kWwSY “Did you know” for some painful insight.
feedback from creator Karl Fisch: http://thefischbowl.blogspot.com/2007/03/over-two-million-served.html
and version 4.0 createdin 2009 by the Economist tells variation on the story

And what will change everything? http://www.edge.org/questioncenter.html the 2009 question

Try to view or read the ** items before our class (the rest are all optional)

  1. Memes – the concept, of a concept -- the Second Replicator
    1. Books
      1. Richard Dawkins: The Selfish Gene (identifies the gene's impact as a replicator,  defines meme's as a potential second one)
      2. Susan Blackmore: The Meme Machine
    2. TED
      1.  ** Susan Blackmore on Memes and Memeitics
      2.  Daniel Dennett – Dangerous Memes
      3. Seth Godin - Tribes we lead (spreading memes)
      4. Diane Benscoter on cults and viral memes -- exMoonie and brainwashing/intervention
      5. Deb Roy --Birth of a word -> Starts by tracking development of language in his own child, but then looks at how the tools can track propigation of ideas from media into cyber-sphere
      6. Mark Pagel - How Language Changed Humanity http://www.ted.com/talks/lang/eng/mark_pagel_how_language_transformed_humanity.html
    3. A few questions to consider
      1. What memes are currently being spread? Political? Nationalistic? Religious?
      2. What makes a meme "sticky"? Is it easier if the meme is "true" or "false"?
      3. How does the Nashua Telegraph "truth meter" affect perceptions about referenced memes? (or other credibility tests)
  2.  Consciousness and what is it to be human?
    1. Books & Articles:
      1.  Ian Steward & Jack Cohen: Figments of Reality; related keynote from Jack:
      2. Brian Christian; The Most Human Human
      3.  Jeff Hawkins: On Intelligence
      4.   Douglas Hofstadter & Daniel Dennett, The mind's I: Fantasies and Reflections on Self and Soul
        (a delightful collection of short stories in this area, touches on agumented humanity, reality and AI as well)
    2. TED: 
      1.  ** Jeff Hawkins – Brains  (But also see  Brian Christian on YouTube below)
      2.  Daniel Dennett – consciousness
      3.  Michael Pollan - the plant/animal view of humanity
      4.  Jill Bolte taylor, Stroke of insight
    3. Other resources
      1. **Brian Christian on you tube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IZpYewgWUYM 10 minutes
      2. Nova Now: Emergence: www.pbs.org/nova/sciencenow/....
      3. Entangled Life; Discover Magazine; Feb. 2009 (Quantum physitcs & conciousness)
      4. Of Two Minds; Discover Magazine; Dec. 2010 (evolution of conciousness)
    4. A few questions to consider:
      1. Is conciousness a grey scale? Perhaps with humans at one end, bacteria at another? 
      2. What are the relevant "stages"? -- self awareness, empathy (other awareness), 
      3. If we encounter alien intellegence, how might we determine if it is conscious? (or intellegent?)
  3. Augmented reality -- augmented humanity
    1. Books & Articles
      1. **IEEE Spectrum article (free) on AR: http://spectrum.ieee.org/computing/software/is-it-live-or-is-it-ar
      2. Mind out of Body; Scientific American; Feb. 2011
    2. TED
      1. **Pranav Mistry: The thrilling potential of SixthSense technology
        in India: http://www.ted.com/talks/lang/eng/pranav_mistry_the_thrilling_potential_of_sixthsense_technology.html
        in US w/MIT's Pattie Maes http://www.ted.com/talks/lang/eng/pattie_maes_demos_the_sixth_sense.html
      2. Blaise Aguera y Arcas demos augmented-reality maps    Blaise Aguera, Augmented Reality Maps http://www.ted.com/talks/lang/eng/blaise_aguera.html     and virtual presence
      3. Greg Stock - To Upgrade is Human, http://www.ted.com/talks/lang/eng/gregory_stock_to_upgrade_is_human.html
        also listed below in Immortality, and primary viewing for class 6
      4. Eythor Bender - Human exoskeletons - wearable robots
      5. Paul Root Wolpe - BioEngineering and ethics (selection, alter env., intentional evolution)
      6. Chris Abani - reflecting my humanity back at me,  http://www.ted.com/talks/lang/eng/chris_abani_muses_on_humanity.html
      7. Anthony Atala - Growing organs; http://www.ted.com/talks/lang/eng/anthony_atala_growing_organs_engineering_tissue.html
      8. Kevin Stone - Joint replacement; http://www.ted.com/talks/lang/eng/kevin_stone_the_bio_future_of_joint_replacement.html
      9. Ed Boyden - A Light Switch for Neurons: http://www.ted.com/talks/lang/eng/ed_boyden.html 
    3. Other resources
      1. PBS Parents, Augmented reality as our children's future:  http://www.pbs.org/parents/theparentshow/will-augmented-reality-be-our-kids-reality/
  4. A few questions to consider:
    1. Augmenting reality is a layer, presumably external, that provides layers of 'story' or information beyond our default senses
      Augmented people are ones with technically enhanced senses - from hearing aids and glasses to implants of many kinds.
      Where is the boundry between these?  Hearing beyond traditional ranges, seeing in infra-red ... to goggles that provide even more.
    2. What are potential educational or entertainment uses of "overlaying" reality with an additional layer?
  5.  Intelligent, Conscious Computers, and the Singularity -- the next replicator
    1.  Books & articles:
      1.  Ray Kurzweil: Spiritual Machines
      2.  **The Coming Technological Singularity (1993), Vernor Vinge
      3.  Artificial Brain Development; Discover Magazine, Oct. 2009
      4. The Omnipotence Machines; Scientific American; Dec. 2009
      5. The Rise of Robo Scientists; Scientific American, Jan. 2011
    2. TED
      1.  Ray Kurzweil: The Singularity University, and How Technology will Transform Us
        ** http://www.ted.com/talks/ray_kurzweil_on_how_technology_will_transform_us.html 
        also: http://www.ted.com/talks/lang/eng/ray_kurzweil_announces_singularity_university.html
      2. Cynthia Breazeal - Personal Robots -  Kismet, emoting robot
      3. David Brooks - The social animal - interpenetration as essence of being human
      4. Juan Enriquez; the ultimate reboot (with some initial critique on the economy – but keep watching!)
    3. Other Resources
      1. Watson on Jeopardy; Feb. 2011
    4. A few questions to consider:
      1. Will machines/computers ever be "intellegent" or "conscious" -- if not, why not?
      2. How would we know when machines "awake"?  What might they do?
  6. Practical Immortality & Transhumanism
    1.  Books
      1.  Ben Bova: Immortality: How Science Is Extending Your Life Span and Changing the World
      2.  Ray Kurzweil : Fantastic Voyage: Live Long Enough to Live Forever
      3.  Vernor Vinge: “Vinge on the Singularity” (short article on the web)
        ** http://www-rohan.sdsu.edu/faculty/vinge/misc/singularity.html
      4. Back from the Brink; Discover Magazine; March 2011
      5. 2045 The Year Man Becomes Immortal; Time Magazine (cover article); 21 Feb. 2011
      6. Why Can't We Live Forever?; Scientific American; Sept. 2010
      7. Live Long and Prosper; Discover Magazine; Oct. 2010
      8. The Healing Power Within; Discover Magazine, July 2011 (pixie dust)
    2. TED
      1. ** Harvey Finberg - Are We Ready for Neo-Evolution?
      2.  Aubey de ; Grey – Defeating Aging
      3. Hery Markham, modeling the human brain
      4. But also see many of the TED items related to agumented humanity, and Greg Stock "to upgrade is human"
    3. Other
      1. NovaNow composite on Netflix: Can We Live Forever?  segments on PBS.org search "live forever"
        see Immortality Gene (FOXO) portion at http://video.pbs.org/video/1754557053/
      2. Future Med program at the Singularity University: http://futuremed2011.com/
      3. The Quest for Immortality; 60 Minutes, CBS News; 2006
      4.  Nova Science Now on Aging :
    4. A few  questions to consider:
      1. Will life extension be limited to the rich?  To folks in a given country?
      2. What things would you suggest be included in Humanity 2.0?
  7. The Magic Continues - other topics, items "parked" for additional discussion, etc.
    1.  TED:
      1.  **Gregory Stock; BioEthics – To Upgrade is Human
      2. What does Technology Want? - A book by Kevin Kelly, and touched on in two TED videos:
         Kevin Kelly, Evolution of Technology
        http://www.ted.com/talks/lang/eng/kevin_kelly_tells_technology_s_epic_story.html (2009)
        http://www.ted.com/talks/lang/eng/kevin_kelly_on_how_technology_evolves.html (2005)
      3.  Greg Petsko – Neurological impact of extended lifespan (even without immortality)
      4.  Richard Dawkins – Our universe is queerer than you can imagine:
    2. High Impact Possibilities
      1. 12 Events That Will Change Everything; Scientific American; June 2010
        1. Cloning of a human - likely by 2050
        2. Extra dimensions - 50/50
        3. Signal from Outer Space - unlikely
        4. Nuclear Exchange - unlikely
        5. Synthetic life - almost certain
        6. Room Temperature Superconductors - 50/50
        7. Machine self-awareness - likely
        8. Polar Meltdown - likely
        9. The "big one" - California Earthquake - almost certain
        10. Fusion Energy - very unlikely
        11. Asteroid Collision - unlikely
        12. Deadly Pandemic - 50/50
      2. What Comes Next?; Scientific American; Sept. 2010
        1. The Age of Digital Entanglement - human/computer dependency
        2. Life Designed to Order 
        3. Era of Infinite Storage
        4. An Answer to the Riddle of Consciousness
        5. The Obsolescence of Oil
        6. Energy that Doesn't Harm Your Health
        7. A New Window of Human Origins - DNA
        8. Medicine I Can Call My Own
        9. The Next Revoluion in Farming 
      3. A few additions from Jim:
        1. A colony on Mars (my candidate: China)
        2. Eugenics Renasiance- test for the best; or just a few minor tweeks

Prior/Other topics that may still be of interest

Happiness and being in the zone

  1.  Books & Articles
    1.  Michaly Csikszentmihalyi: Flow
    2.  Richard Layard: Happiness : Lessons from a new science
    3. Your Brain on Music; Discover Magazine; May 2011
  2. TED:
    1.  ** Michaly Csikszentmihalyi --
    2.  Nancy Etcoff – Happiness and why we want it
    3.  Matthieu Richard – meditation & mind control
    4.  Dan Gilbert, Synthetic Happiness
  3. Other Resources
    1.  Richard Layard’s happiness lectures:
      1. What is happiness? Are we getting happier? – http://cep.lse.ac.uk/events/lectures/layard/RL030303.pdf
      2. Income and happiness: rethinking economic policy-- http://cep.lse.ac.uk/events/lectures/layard/RL040303.pdf
      3. How can we make a happier society? -- http://cep.lse.ac.uk/events/lectures/layard/RL050303.pdf

Quantum Mechaniics
Arron O'Conner  making sense of a quantum object

Other resources:
Down the Rabbit Hole, Movie/"Quasi documentry"