Scan contents of human brain for Immortality

Will scientists ever discover the secret of immortality?:

Will scientists ever discover the secret of immortality?

Will scientists ever discover the secret of immortality?

As Western science still has not found the immortality gene, it is perhaps not surprising that in Silicon Valley and on the outskirts of Moscow the eccentric wealthy (and it always is the eccentric wealthy) are now turning their attention – and their money – to projects that are promising to deliver a new version of the age-old fantasy (or folly) of everlasting life: digital immortality. And this time it may actually work.  For writer Stephen Cave, author of the new book Immortality, digital immortality does not refer to the “legacy” we have left on our Facebook pages. Cave’s book explores the quest to live for ever and how – he believes – it has been the driving force behind civilisations, coming to a climax in modern science. “Digital immortality,” he says, “is about there being a silicon you for when the physical you dies” as a kind of “Plan B if bioscience fails to deliver an actual biological immortality”.  And of course, he adds, biological immortality would not stop you being run over by a bus.  “So your brain is scanned and your essence uploaded into a digital form of bits and bytes, and this whole brain emulation can be saved in a computer’s memory banks ready to be brought back to life as an avatar in a virtual world like Second Life, or even in the body of an artificially intelligent robot that is a replica of who we were.”  For Cave, though, this “is not true immortality” as “you physically die” and this new you, “even though its behaviour could fool your mum”, is then just a copy. A copy that, he admits, could carry on growing, marrying and even having children.  Currently, however, this is still “almost science fiction”, as there are “three big challenges” that stand between us and digital immortality – challenges that projects such as Carbon Copies and Russia 2045 already believe they can overcome within 40 years.  “The first is that we have to be able to read all the information that makes up who you are, and this is likely to be achieved destructively by removing the human brain from the body and then preserving, slicing and scanning in the data it contains. Then there is the challenge to store an amount of information many millions of orders of magnitude bigger than the current computer systems. And finally we need to find a way to animate it.”  In the end, Cave argues, “theoretically the problems of digital immortality seem solvable, but whether the solutions are practical is another story… Although when it does happen it is simply inevitable that the rich will get there as they have the most power among us.”  Others are more positive about the prospect of true digital immortality within a generation.  For Dr Stuart Armstrong, the rise of the idea of digital immortality is due to the realisation that this time – perhaps – we actually have the key to immortality in our hands. Dr Armstrong is research fellow at the Future of Humanity Institute, University of Oxford.  “Technology is now advancing faster and faster and we understand it a lot better because we built it ourselves. So the problems that digital immortality is facing are merely engineering problems – albeit complicated and difficult ones – that could be solved within the decade if we decided to set up a scheme on the scale of the Manhattan Project.”  In particular, he feels that “scanning is the critical problem” and that if you “spent stupid amounts of cash then within a decade many of the limitations of scanning, such as its resolution, could be solved”.  If computer power continues to double every two years, as described by “Moore’s law”, then in the end that will not be an issue either.  “Or it may be that at first we just have to accept a trade-off between what we can do and not do,” he suggests. And for Armstrong this represents true immortality, since, rather pragmatically, “if this avatar or robot is to all intents and purposes you, then it is you.”  Dr Randal A. Koene, though, is determined to take digital immortality from the pages of books like Cave’s and turn it into reality. Koene is founder of the non-profit Carbon Copies Project in California, which is tasked with creating a networking community of scientists to advance digital immortality – “although I prefer to talk about substrate-independent minds, as digital immortality is too much about how long you live, not what you can do with it”.  And for Koene it is very much “you”, there being a “continuity of self” in the same way that “the person you are today is still the same person you were when you were age five”.  “This isn’t science fiction, either, this is closer to science fact,” he argues. Carbon Copies “is working to create a road map to substrate independence by pulling together all the research that is going on, identify where the gaps are and then what we need to do to plug it.  “A Manhattan Project can easily have its funding removed by government, whereas in this network there are usually multiple projects going on in the same area, and only one needs to succeed.”  Furthermore, he feels, the tide of science is moving his way, with India expecting to have built by 2017 a supercomputer big enough to handle the one exaflop of memory required for one brain upload, and such institutions as the Allen Institute for Brain Science spending $300 million to try to crack problems he also needs to solve, such as how the brain encodes, stores and processes information. “Ultimately we won’t even be aware that we are being scanned, uploaded and replaced,” he believes.  In the end, in Stephen Cave’s opinion, digital immortality may well turn out to be a curse, as it always does in mythology.  “If my child died and I replaced her with a digital avatar to help me overcome the grieving, would I let her grow up or even have children of her own? Would I tell her she was a copy? I can imagine just how easy it would be to tell her in a row.”  The complications have more serious and wide-ranging implications if humans cannot resist the temptation to “tweak their digital avatars”, which may – as Stuart Armstrong argues – lead us closer to a world of “super-upgraded copies” and “the real game changer, multiple copies or clones”.  “You could copy the best five programmers in the world a million times or the best call centre worker and these copies would simply replace the humans, who would no longer have any economic value,” Armstrong says. “Humans would be left to die, face a life on welfare or live under coercive regulation to control the technology.”  For Koene, human societies have faced these kinds of problems many times before. What matters more, he believes, is that digital immortality is the next stage of human evolution as it will “allow us as a species to have the flexibility to survive the process of natural selection that every species has to face”, whether on this planet or another.  This time it won’t just be the rich who benefit, either, as the technology will be made “open source” for everyone to have the choice whether to be digitally immortal or not. And that would be a curse.

IPhone 5 rumored to use Metal Glass

A damage-tolerant glass:

A damage-tolerant glass

A damage-tolerant glass

 

Owing to a lack of microstructure, glassy materials are inherently strong but brittle, and often demonstrate extreme sensitivity to flaws. Accordingly, their macroscopic failure is often not initiated by plastic yielding, and almost always terminated by brittle fracture. Unlike conventional brittle glasses, metallic glasses are generally capable of limited plastic yielding by shear-band sliding in the presence of a flaw, and thus exhibit toughness–strength relationships that lie between those of brittle ceramics and marginally tough metals. Here, a bulk glassy palladium alloy is introduced, demonstrating an unusual capacity for shielding an opening crack accommodated by an extensive shear-band sliding process, which promotes a fracture toughness comparable to those of the toughest materials known. This result demonstrates that the combination of toughness and strength (that is, damage tolerance) accessible to amorphous materials extends beyond the benchmark ranges established by the toughest and strongest materials known, thereby pushing the envelope of damage tolerance accessible to a structural metal.

Murdochs News corp under Investigation

Murdochs, News Corp Face Big Week Of Investigations:

Murdochs, News Corp Face Big Week Of Investigations

Murdochs, News Corp Face Big Week Of Investigations

 

This is a big week for Rupert and James Murdoch. The father and son face more questions from a wide-ranging judicial investigation into press abuses at British units of News Corporation: tabloid phone hacking, computer hacking and a police bribery scandal. Monday marked yet another embarrassing day for News Corp and the Murdochs as Sky News acknowledged it had hacked into the email of the target of two stories, despite explicitly telling the inquiry in September it had not been involved in any hacking. The allegations keep coming of illegal behavior by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation. Today, an investigation was announced into email hacking by Sky News. News Corp’s British operations already stand accused of phone hacking, along with bribing police officers.

As NPR’s David Folkenflik reports, the new investigation comes just before Murdoch is scheduled to testify on the sandal.

DAVID FOLKENFLIK, BYLINE: The British media regulator called OfCom announced it would investigate two instances of email hacking by reporters for Sky News. Murdoch’s News Corp has a controlling minority stake Sky News’ parent company, BSkyB.

During his testimony earlier today, Sky News chief John Ryley was pressed by the presiding judge in that wide-ranging inquiry, Brian Leveson.

JUDGE BRIAN LEVESON: None of this is relevant, is it? Because what you were doing wasn’t merely invading somebody’s privacy, it was breaching the criminal law?

JOHN RYLEY: It was.

LEVESON: Well, where does the OfCom broadcasting code give any authority to a breach of the criminal law?

RYLEY: It doesn’t.

FOLKENFLIK: Sky News told the inquiry last September that it had not been involved in any hacking. Ryley apologized today, saying the company was intending to respond only to questions of criminal mobile phone hacking.

The judicial investigation was set up by Prime Minister David Cameron last July, a week after the report that a Murdoch tabloid had hacked into the cell phone messages of a murdered schoolgirl in a famous case.

One part of the inquiry is into the culture, practices, and ethics of the media; another, into the relationship of the press with police officials and politicians.

A series of newspaper owners – those controlling the rival Telegraph, Evening Standard and Independent – are also testifying this week. But Murdoch and his son James will come in for special scrutiny. The younger Murdoch is to testify tomorrow and Rupert will appear Wednesday and possibly Thursday.

CHRIS BRYANT: Because Rupert Murdoch has had 40 percent of the newspapers and the lion’s share of the ownership of BSkyB, he’s used the one to protect the other.

FOLKENFLIK: Labor MP Chris Bryant has been a critic and a target of the Murdoch press and other tabloids.

BRYANT: He’s used fear and favor with politicians to ensure that in exchange for the support of his newspapers, the politicians would provide legislative support for his cash cow, which was BSkyB, the broadcaster. And when people tried to question that, then sometimes his newspapers would be used to attack with remorseless vigor.

FOLKENFLIK: But, of course, power and influence flow in two directions. And it’s not known yet what hidden exchanges Rupert Murdoch may reveal about the favors sought from him, from those who have held the nation’s highest offices, such as the very prime minister who created this inquiry last summer.

500 Million dollar multi-state probe

MetLife to pay $500 million in multi-state death benefits probe:

MetLife to pay $500 million in multi-state death benefits probe

MetLife to pay $500 million in multi-state death benefits probe

Life insurance giant MetLife Inc. will shell out nearly $500 million to settle a multi-state probe into its alleged failure to pay death benefits to beneficiaries.  The company said it will pay out about $438 million over the next 17 years, with $188 million going out to beneficiaries this year. Insurance regulators from dozens of states have accused the company of delaying or withholding life insurance payments to many of its policyholders.  About $40 million of that will likely end up in California, said State Controller John Chiang. The funds will either be sent on to beneficiaries of deceased MetLife policyholders or stored in state coffers as unclaimed property.  More than 30,000 California-based MetLife policies are affected, each with an average cash value of $1,200, Chiang said in a statement. MetLife will also cover states’ costs of finding beneficiaries and sending them the benefits overdue to them.  The agreement will “make it clear that if the industry isn’t willing to make the payments legally required, we will take action, including lawsuits, to compel them to do right by their customers,” Chiang said in a statement.  MetLife failed to properly use the Social Security Administration’s database of deceased individuals, known as the “Death Master File,” according to a joint investigative hearing held by Chiang and California Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones in May.  Regulators concluded that when MetLife was aware of policyholders who passed away, it often didn’t make payments to beneficiaries. And when benefits went unclaimed after several years, Chaing’s office  said, MetLife did not forward on the funds to the State Controller’s office as required by law.  As part of Monday’s settlement, the company has also agreed to reform its benefits payment process, promising to conduct a thorough search for beneficiaries while also attempting to reconnect with policyholders over age 90.  MetLife said in a statement that it paid out about $12 billion in life insurance claims last year, with 99% of claims submitted by beneficiaries. The company said that policyholder deaths that don’t involve a claim are a “small proportion” of the total.  It also said it launched a website to help customers find their policies.  Last year, Chiang struck similar settlements totaling more than $40 million with Manulife Financial Corp.’s John Hancock business and Prudential Financial Inc. Monday’s settlement includes states such as Illinois, Florida, New Hampshire, North Dakota and Pennsylvania.