Saturday, August 23, 2008

Joe Biden Part 2

Since he's nominated Biden as his running mate, I am slowly becoming more confident in Barack Obama's presidency. Obama chose someone who would be a better partner in the administration as opposed to a Bayh or Clinton who would be a purely political choice solely to win an election.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Merger between the silicon and carbon

We draw closer to merging mind and machine here

Looking a bit like the garbage-compacting hero of the blockbuster animation "Wall-E", Gordon has a brain composed of 50,000 to 100,000 active neurons.

Once removed from rat foetuses and disentangled from each other with an enzyme bath, the specialised nerve cells are laid out in a nutrient-rich medium across an eight-by-eight centimetre (five-by-five inch) array of 60 electrodes.

This "multi-electrode array" (MEA) serves as the interface between living tissue and machine, with the brain sending electrical impulses to drive the wheels of the robots, and receiving impulses delivered by sensors reacting to the environment.

Because the brain is living tissue, it must be housed in a special temperature-controlled unit -- it communicates with its "body" via a Bluetooth radio link.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Veggie v. IQ

So, I'm gonna keep railing about the connection between vegetarianism and racial differences in intelligence.

My argument is simple: the bulk of the previous arguments used to justify slavery are the same as the arguments used to justify meat eating.

So, Saletan's new column proposes a way that we can have our cake and eat it too: growing meat.

Yeah, this will no longer allow me to lord over my peers with moral superiority, but it will open up a ton of restaurants and ethnic cuisines that were previously off limits.

You munch a strip of bacon then pet your dog. You wince at the sight of a crippled horse but continue chewing your burger. Three weeks ago, I took my kids to a sheep and wool festival. They petted lambs; I nibbled a lamb sausage. That's the thing about humans: We're half-evolved beasts. We love animals, but we love meat, too. We don't want to have to choose. And maybe we don't have to. Maybe, thanks to biotechnology, we can now grow meat instead of butchering it.

So, yeah we're an immature species but that's ok in this case.

Human sacrifice, slavery, the subjugation of women—every tradition seems normal and indispensable until we're ready, morally and economically, to move beyond it.

The case for eating meat is like the case for other traditions: It's natural, it's necessary, and there's nothing wrong with it. But sometimes, we're mistaken.

Animals are capable of various capabilities once thought limited to humans. We needed meat, but every year that goes by we gain more substitutes. Every year that goes by more environmental damage continues and children die due to high food prices caused by increased demand for meat in the developing world.

Anyway, the thing is this: Saletan took major flack for his piece last year on racial differences in intelligence. But, yet, here he is extolling the virtues of vegetarianism. To not see the connection between taking a scientific approach to human differences and animal similarities is to ignore the big picture. This isn't just about affirmative action or immigration or Barack Obama. It's about what it means to be human and what it means to be a compassionate human.