Gongol.com Archives: July 2010
Brian Gongol

July 8, 2010

Science and Technology Interview with an android
The CBC radio show "As It Happens" interviews Bina 48, a robot imbued with artificial intelligence, an Internet connection, and a "character engine" that's supposed to make it behave something like an actual human being. The goal, it would seem, is to synthesize a way to capture a human being's essence -- likely that of a particular person -- and use it to preserve their personality even after the person has died. Naturally, there will be an interest in using the personalities of some of history's most prolific writers (like Benjamin Franklin) to see whether we can approximate an answer to questions like "What would one of the Founding Fathers say about this issue?" On the positive side, it could be comforting and perhaps even instructive for people to literally hear from preserved versions of their dead ancestors. But attitudes and cultures change over time, so how will those "preserved" personalities adapt? What if great-grandmother was a loudmouthed racist? Would her preserved avatar keep on waxing philosophical about those things the same way great-grandmother always would? What if her great-grandchild brought home a partner of a different race? Would the avatar adapt?

Science and Technology Memorial service for a 333-year-old tree
People in Minneapolis will be getting together on Sunday to commemorate a 333-year-old tree that was thought to be the oldest in the city. It failed to leaf out this year, which tells botanists that it's dead. There still remains a lot to be done to confer upon humans the same kind of longevity that is characteristic of some trees.

Business and Finance "Extreme Heelys"
The people who brought us those annoying shoes with wheels in the heels are trying to keep the company from sinking into the wasteland of one-hit wonders with what looks like a miniature skateboard that attaches to an un-wheeled shoe. How strange. And how unlikely to save the company.

Aviation News How long do we have before UAVs become a domestic threat in the US?

Water News Why pumping the oil-laden water out of the Gulf is harder than it looks