Adventures of a Wetware Hacker
Sunday, July 30, 2006
We all oohed and ahhed when Google Earth came out a year ago. We all saw what it was like for a bird flying over our houses, we visited Hawaii while doing our problem sets, we scouted the moutains of Afghanistan in search of bin Laden, and we hopped from New York to Paris to London without wasting a single cent on airfare. But now, now the real fun is beginning. Because we all hated the 2-dimensional feel to the wonderful playground that was Google Earth. But with the release of GoogleEarth 4.0 Beta and SketchUp, we now have the ability to create the GoogleEarth world itself. Business can invite customers into their lavishly furnished office buildings, home owners can tempt potential buyers with their elaborately decorated mansions. Window shoppers can meander through the finest boutiques anywhere in the world. All they need to do is introduce avatars, and the metaverse will be complete. Our worlds will be virtual, especially as the physical barriers between man and machine diminish.
And they will diminish. I often wonder how much progress has been made on Sony's patent made last year, for a game system capable of beaming sensory input directly into your brain. The media has of course been buzzing about the recent advances in neural implants (Neural Ensemble Control of Prosthetic Devices by a Human with Tetraplegia). And top-notch scientists such as Stu Wolf at DARPA, particularly DARPA's DSO (aka "DARPA's DARPA"), expect to see computers directly linked to our brains all of the time by 2020. What do you say to the prospect of a world that surpasses our biological constraints, within 20 years?
I sure hope so...
Wednesday, July 26, 2006
From: Ms. Parijata Mackey
Subject: H.R. 810 Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act
In voting against the Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act (H.R. 810), what did you hope to achieve? More votes? Or do you just not like the idea of people with terrible diseases being cured? Does it not bother you to know that the overwhelming majority of these fertilized embryos, with potential for great biomedical returns, are simply thrown away? There is no heroic rescue of human life, merely embryonic disposal in a wasteful manner. There is no real gain from opposing this act; it merely allows selfish politicians to please their religious and conservative constituents. Quite frankly it's morally disgusting to oppose H.R. 810. And tell me this, Senator, if the embryo you "save" grows up to be gay, would you still fight for its rights?
Funny, I sent this email four days ago, with not one response...
For those of you who are familiar with BLAST, you will know that it stands for Basic Local Alignment Search Tool, and that it is a crucial part of bioinformatics. It allows you to compare your choice sequences of nucleotides or amino acids with that of every organism in the GenBank database. This is useful in so many areas, from molecular biology, to evolution and taxonomy, to locating homologues and altered genes.
GenBank and BLAST, however, like most of NCBI’s many components, are somewhat dicey when it comes to proper labeling, consistent filenames, and overall organization and efficiency. Ask any scientist who’s worked with GenBank for any length of time and they will tell you that although it’s done a great deal to advance the field, they wish there was more of a structured approach to it. Ask any computer scientist and they will tell you that it's an organizational nightmare. So if you want to do research in bioinformatics, genetics, or genomics, you’re going to want to know as much as you can about the ins and outs of BLAST. It can save you much wasted time and effort. Here are some of the best BLAST resources on the web. With any luck, you'll learn BLAST even FASTA. (If you got the pun, you've got a head start.) Use them well…
Monday, July 24, 2006
Sunday, July 23, 2006
- You refer to the Democratic Party as “those damned conservatives”.
- You follow the fashion tips in Wired.
- You stay awake for more than 48 hours straight several times a week, because you will not be a slave constrained to your biology, no matter how much it hurts, damn it.
- You or one of your pets has an RFID implant.
- You refer to gray goo theory as “sweet”.
- You have practiced saying, “Please hire me, I am an engineer,” in Chinese, just in case. (请雇用我. 我是工程师.)
- The thing you miss most when camping in the wilderness is the hum of your server and fourteen CPUs in the background.
- You have an RFID-blocking wallet that you made yourself out of duct tape and aluminum foil.
- The computer tower you built includes a transgenic fish tank as part of its cooling system.
- You would sleep with Jude Law’s robot-gigolo character, regardless of your sex.
- You plan your career around the Singularity.
- You wonder how Bill Joy went so horribly wrong.
- You cannot understand the phrase, “Leave well enough alone.”
- You secretly wish Ray Kurzweil was your father.
- You sold your car to buy the $1200 DNA-synthesizer on eBay.
- You don’t mind bio-Luddites; evolution will take care of them eventually.
- You laugh to yourself while reading this because absolutely none of it is an exaggeration.
Saturday, July 22, 2006
Thursday, July 20, 2006
You have ignored 72% of the American people, bi-partisan majorities in both houses of Congress, and our nation's leading scientists. You have dashed hope for millions of Americans suffering from diseases such as Parkinson's, Alzheimer's, Multiple Sclerosis, cancer and diabetes.
We understand your concern over Alzheimers Disease, and how it affects the people suffering from it, especially when someone suffering from it is a family member or friend. CBN has had numerous news and health features regarding how to help prevent or treat Alzheimer's Disease without using stem cells.
In addition, alternatives such as adult stem cell research have shown positive research results, without destroying a human life as is done when a human embryo is destroyed.
Some of the features we have had on The 700 Club are listed below:
During the CBN News segment, Pat Robertson gives a personal commentary. CBN's desire is to provide our viewers with the information needed to develop their own opinions and views. Feedback like yours helps us understand the concerns and thoughts of our audience.
God bless you.
The Christian Broadcasting Network
Wednesday, July 19, 2006
Tuesday, July 18, 2006
Monday, July 17, 2006
I must share with you this delightful link of incredible artificial creatures, powered by the wind and made by a man who is probably insane but unquestionably brilliant: [click] Click the link below the photo where it says [film]. This is amazing, I can't believe the robotics guys haven't picked up on this yet... This man uses genetic algorithms to evolve these stunningly smooth and complex structures, which he then builds out of PVC and tape. It's definitely worth a few minutes of your time.And if you're into bioinformatics and alternative energy, this link is certainly for you. It's for anyone who likes biology, or computer science, or complexity, or systems thinking, or anything related to the above. Just read it, mmkay?? Although I suppose if you don't want to read that, you can read the "Constructive Biology" issue of Edge Magazine.
Thursday, July 13, 2006
And our dear friend Marvin Minsky has been good to us today, we fervent fans of artificial intelligence: read a draft of his upcoming book, The Emotion Machine, here. This book focuses on what emotions are, exactly, and how such drastic changes in supposedly rational thought processes can exist (rational, hah!). It's quite excellent, to know that someone is still thinking, still working tirelessly, on the challenge of machine-consciousness. I hope it exists within his lifetime, I can't think of anyone who deserves it more. The book comes out on November 07, 2006. On the subject of machine learning, DARPA just gave BBNTech a grant to work on the "Integrated Learning Program," which would allow a computer to learn and understand processes after seeing them once. Pretty cool stuff.
"Could he, whose rules the rapid comet bind,
Describe or fix one movement of his mind?
Who saw its fires here rise, and there descend,
Explain his own beginning, or his end?"
Wednesday, July 12, 2006
Blogs are quite possibly the most disgustingly self-indulgent addition to the Information Age; a blogger can vent and write and worry and whine and hope and dream, and anyone with enough time to waste can read it and laugh at or pity the writer. Blogs are a way for a person to feel special and self-important; a way for a lonely person to pretend they have friends. Excellent.But maybe someday, we won't have to sit here sifting through this text, but will be able to glance at the screen and instantly read and understand. I'm all for technological enhancement -- physical, mental, or otherwise. And that's the core philosophy behind modern wetware hacking, also known as biohacking. There are many fields of biohacking, many directions you can take it. But from neurohacking to genetic engineering to cybernetics to modified cell signaling, there is more potential than anyone now alive can imagine to advance human evolution.