(Roughly) Daily

Posts Tagged ‘Isaac Asimov

“There is nothing new in the world except the history you do not know”*…

 

world history

Map of the globe with a focus on trade and expansion, c. 1565, based on an earlier map by Giacomo Gastaldi. Image credit: Library of Congress

 

As we look forward to 2019 and beyond, we might do well to pause and take a look back…

This animation shows how humans have spread and organized themselves across the Earth over the past 200,000 years. The time lapse starts with the migration of homo sapiens out of sub-Saharan Africa 200,000 years ago, with a few thousand years passing every second. As the agricultural revolution gets underway and the pace of civilization quickens, the animation slows down to hundreds of years per second and eventually, as it nears modern times, 1-2 years per second…

Via Kottke.org.  See also time lapse animations of the history of Europe from the fall of Rome to modern times and human population through time. (via open culture)

* Harry S. Truman

###

As we listen for the rhymes, we might wish the happiest of birthdays to Isaak Yudovich Ozimov– aka Isaac Asimov– who was born on this date in 1920.  A biochemistry professor, he is better remembered as an author– more specifically, as one one of the greatest science fiction authors of his time (imaginer of “The Foundation,” coiner of the term “robotics,” and author of “The Three Laws of Robotics”).  But Asimov was extraordinarily prolific; he published over 500 books– including (in addition to sci fi) 14 books of history, several mysteries, a great deal of popular science, even a worthy volume on Shakespeare– and wrote an estimated 9,000 letters and postcards.

Isaac.Asimov01 source

 

Written by LW

January 2, 2019 at 1:01 am

It’s positively evolutionary!…

source

Since 1982, the Gallup polling organization has been asking Americans about their beliefs as to the origin of our species.  The latest results are in; and while a plurality of those queried still believe that “God created human beings pretty much in their present form at one time in the last ten thousand years or so,” a growing minority professes belief in some form of evolution:

There’s been no revolutionary change of beliefs over the last three decades, but one can detect a shift that’s…  well, positively evolutionary.

As we begin at the beginning, we might wish a happy birthday to Isaak Yudovich Ozimov– aka Isaac Asimov– who was born on this date in 1920.  A biochemistry professor, he is better remembered as an author– more specifically, as one one of the greatest science fiction authors of his time (imaginer of “The Foundation,” coiner of the term “robotics,” and author of “The Three Laws of Robotics”).  But Asimov was extraordinarily prolific; he published over 500 books– including (in addition to sci fi) mysteries, a great deal of popular science, even a worthy volume on Shakespeare– and wrote an estimated 9,000 letters and postcards.

Asimov in 1965

 

Consoling… or Alarming… or…

source: H+

Q: Do you envision robots ever disobeying military orders on the battlefield to “do the right thing?” If so, under what circumstances?

A: Asimov originated the use of ethical restraint in robots many years ago and presented all the quandaries that it can generate. In our prototype ethical governor (and in the design itself) we do provide the robot with the right to refuse an order it deems unethical. It must provide some explanation as to why it has refused such an order. With some reluctance, we have engineered a human override capability into the system, but one which forces the operator to explicitly assume responsibility for any ethical infractions that might result as a consequence of such an override.

… Ronald C. Arkin, director of the Mobile Robot Laboratory at Georgia Tech, who is working on programming ethical behavior into military robots, interviewed in H+.  (Those unfamiliar with “Asimov’s Three Laws,” to which Dr. Arkin alludes, can click here.)

As we reach for our rayguns, we might recall that humans could be a menace even before the advent of robotics:  it was on this date in 1892 that the family of Lizzie Borden (distant relatives of famous dairyman Gail Borden, of “Elsie” fame) was found murdered (by axe) in Fall River, Massachusetts.  Though the spinster Lizzie was acquitted of the killings, no other suspect was ever identified, and she entered the public memory as a patricide.

Lizzie Borden took an axe
And gave her mother forty whacks.
When she saw what she had done
She gave her father forty-one.
– jumprope rhyme, Anonymous

Lizzy

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]
%d bloggers like this: