Not Worried About Artificial Intelligence? These Geniuses Think You Should Be

What do Bill Gates, Elon Musk, and Stephen Hawking have in common? They’re all worried about the dangers of A.I.

image via (cc) flickr user zen_warden

Ordinarily, if someone were to start lecturing me on the dangers of artificial intelligence, I’d smile, nod, and maybe mumble something about how how Disney’s Wall-E was “still pretty great though,” before politely excusing myself and blocking the entire conversation from my memory. That said, when it’s someone considered by many to be one of the smartest men on the planet doing the talking... well, I’m a little more inclined to pay attention.

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Intolerable Cruelty

The Imitation Game unveils the despicable way England treated one of World War II’s greatest heroes, Alan Turing

Fans of BBC’s Sherlock might well feel that old game-is-afoot thrill in the first few minutes of The Imitation Game. “I know things you do not know,” says Benedict Cumberbatch’s Alan Turing, another British genius making an art form of antisocial behavior while proving themselves indispensable to society. Unlike Holmes, cryptographer Turing—whose work contributed, at minimum, to the modern computer and artificial intelligence—never seems to be doing it on purpose. Like Holmes, however, Turing does love an almost impossible puzzle, and the Cambridge-educated mathematician has secured an interview for a job solving the toughest one available in Allied Europe circa 1939: breaking the German military’s heretofore unbreakable code. Produced by a mysterious machine called the Enigma, the code is based on a complex system that resets itself everyday at midnight, allowing the Allies no chance to decipher it.

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Recess: An App to Help You Escape Your Laptop and Save a Little Energy

On February 8-10, GOOD held a Hacking Energy Culture hackathon at Maryland Institute College of Art, aimed at generating new ways to...

On February 8-10, GOOD held a Hacking Energy Culture hackathon at Maryland Institute College of Art, aimed at generating new ways to interface with energy consumption, waste, and preservation. Here's the winning solution, from Nicholas DePaul, Katrinna Whiting, Kevin Zweerink, and Kacie Mills. \n
An epidemic is sweeping the planet. Every night, people are falling asleep with aching fingers and blurry eyes, unable to remember what they did all afternoon. What could be causing this horror?
We are on the case.We are Something Dangerous.
Millions of people use computers every day for work and leisure. But who keeps track of how much time they are actually spending glued to their screens? Or the amount of energy their devices are wasting?
Many of our friends and family complain about wasting time on their computers. We asked ourselves if we could design a product aimed at this concern, if we could somehow help all those screen-sapped souls around the world and reduce energy use at the same time. During the 24-hour GOOD Hackathon, we created the outlines of this product.
We call it Recess.
Recess is an environmentally-conscious productivity app designed to help people waste less time on their computers. Through customized notifications and monthly analytics reports, users can manage their computer time efficiently and sustainably.

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There Are No Ethical Electronics, So Buy Less Stuff

Americans now throw away about 130,000 computers per day, according to the Natural Resources Defense Council.

In a piece on Salon last week, writer Andrew Leonard laid out the raw truth: There is no ethical smartphone. The sins of Apple's iPhone factories, where laborers literally and figuratively kill themselves in pursuit of faster gadgets, are well-documented. But the problem, Leonard notes, extends far beyond Apple. "For every smartphone manufacturer," he writes, "the model of globalized production is fundamentally similar."

Just as the problem isn't only Apple's, neither is it relegated to phones. Laptops, televisions, digital cameras, and every consumer electronic in between wreak havoc on people and environments at every point in their lifespan—save, of course, for when you own them. From the mining that yields their minerals to their assembly line production to, ultimately, their disposal, our devices make messes that leave people sick and landscapes pillaged. How do we live up to our moral ideals without having to quit our jobs and live in an off-the-grid, self-sustaining commune? The answer might be simpler than you think.

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At the Consumer Electronics Show, a New Focus on Recycling Old Gadgets

Electronics recycling firm U.S. Micro opened a 130,000-square-foot facility just across town from the CES festivities.

The average consumer upgrades to a new phone every 18 months. When they do, they typically relegate their passé models—remember the once-ubiquitous Motorola RAZR?—to a junk drawer or a landfill.

At the Consumer Electronics Show, which takes place this week in Las Vegas, vendors, analysts, journalists, and consumers all are eyeing the next hot thing. The combination of technology refreshes and slick marketing have a way of making people find new gizmos they never knew they needed—the Consumer Electronics Association, which puts on the show, predicts consumers will spend a record $1 trillion on electronic devices in 2012. But noticeably absent from chatter about the latest and greatest is one major question: What will happen to the gadgets we no longer want?

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Could Cloud Computing Servers Double as Home Heaters?

A Microsoft Research paper argues that computer servers, which convert electricity to heat, would be "perfect for heating purposes."

In the midst of this heat wave, it's hard to even remember what winter feels like. But for those inclined to plan ahead (way ahead) for freezing temperatures, Microsoft Research has a pitch for homeowners: Install a computer server where a heater would normally go.

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