The Dominant Life in the Universe is the Transformers!

OK, so scientists are saying that the Transformers are real! (Really?)

The Dominant Life Form in the Cosmos Is Probably Superintelligent Robots

Motherboard – By: Maddie Stone – “If and when we finally encounter aliens, they probably won’t look like little green men, or spiny insectoids. It’s likely they won’t be biological creatures at all, but rather, advanced robots that outstrip our intelligence in every conceivable way. While scores of philosophers, scientists and futurists have prophesied the rise of artificial intelligence and the impending singularity, most have restricted their predictions to Earth. Fewer thinkers—outside the realm of science fiction, that is—have considered the notion that artificial intelligence is already out there, and has been for eons.

Susan Schneider, a professor of philosophy at the University of Connecticut, is one who has. She joins a handful of astronomers, including Seth Shostak, director of NASA’s Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, or SETI, program, NASA Astrobiologist Paul Davies, and Library of Congress Chair in Astrobiology Stephen Dick in espousing the view that the dominant intelligence in the cosmos is probably artificial. In her paper ‘Alien Minds,” written for a forthcoming NASA publication, Schneider describes why alien life forms are likely to be synthetic, and how such creatures might think.

Transformers‘Most people have an iconic idea of aliens as these biological creatures, but that doesn’t make any sense from a timescale argument,’ Shostak told me. ‘I’ve bet dozens of astronomers coffee that if we pick up an alien signal, it’ll be artificial life.’

With the latest updates from NASA’s Kepler mission showing potentially habitable worlds strewn across the galaxy, it’s becoming harder and harder to assert that we’re alone in the universe. And if and when we do encounter intelligent life forms, we’ll want to communicate with them, which means we’ll need some basis for understanding their cognition. But for the vast majority of astrobiologists who study single-celled life, alien intelligence isn’t on the radar.

‘If you asked me to bring together a panel of folks who have given the subject much thought, I would be hard pressed,’ said Shostak. ‘Some think about communication strategies, of course. But few consider the nature of alien intelligence.’

Schneider’s paper is among the first to tackle the subject.

‘Everything about their cognition—how their brains receive and process information, what their goals and incentives are—could be vastly different from our own,’ Schneider told me. ‘Astrobiologists need to start thinking about the possibility of very different modes of cognition.’

To wit, the case of artificial superintelligence.

‘There’s an important distinction here from just ‘artificial intelligence’,’ Schneider told me. ‘I’m not saying that we’re going to be running into IBM processors in outer space. In all likelihood, this intelligence will be way more sophisticated than anything humans can understand.’

The reason for all this has to do, primarily, with timescales. For starters, when it comes to alien intelligence, there’s what Schneider calls the ‘short window observation’—the notion that, by the time any society learns to transmit radio signals, they’re probably a hop-skip away from upgrading their own biology. It’s a twist on the belief popularized by Ray Kurzweil that humanity’s own post-biological future is near at hand.

‘As soon as a civilization invents radio, they’re within fifty years of computers, then, probably, only another fifty to a hundred years from inventing AI,’ Shostak said. ‘At that point, soft, squishy brains become an outdated model.’

Schneider points to the nascent but rapidly expanding world of brain computer interface technology, including DARPA’s latest ElectRX neural implant program, as evidence that our own singularity is close. Eventually, Schneider predicts, we’ll not only upgrade our minds with technology, we’ll make a wholesale switch to synthetic hardware.

‘It could be that by the time we actually encounter other intelligences, most humans will have substantially enhanced their brains,’ Schneider said.

Which speaks to Schneider’s second line of reasoning for superintelligent AI: Most of the radio-hot civilizations out there are probably thousands to millions of years older than us. That’s according to the astronomers who ruminate on such matters.

‘The way you reach this conclusion is very straightforward,’ said Shostak. ‘Consider the fact that any signal we pick up has to come from a civilization at least as advanced as we are. Now, let’s say, conservatively, the average civilization will use radio for 10,000 years. From a purely probabilistic point of view, the chance of encountering a society far older than ourselves is quite high.’

It’s certainly humbling to consider that we may be galactic infants of beetle-like intelligence compared with our cosmic brethren. But despite their superior processing power, there’s a fundamental aspect of cognition our interstellar neighbors may lack: Consciousness.

It sounds bizarre, but, Schneider writes, the jury’s still out on whether any artificial intelligence is capable of self-awareness. Simply put, we know so little about the neurological basis for consciousness; it’s almost impossible to predict what ingredients might go into replicating it artificially.

‘I don’t see any good reason to believe an artificial superintelligence couldn’t possess consciousness, but it’s important to identify the possibility,’ said Schneider.

Still, Schneider feels the assertion that artificial life simply can’t possess consciousness is losing ground.

‘I believe the brain is inherently computational—we already have computational theories that describe aspects of consciousness, including working memory and attention,’ Schneider said. ‘Given a computational brain, I don’t see any good argument that silicon, instead of carbon, can’t be a excellent medium for experience.’

I hope she’s right. Somehow, the notion of a galaxy teeming with soulless supercomputers is way creepier than introspective, WALL-E-like beings, or dry, sardonic Qs.

‘It’s super creepy,’ Schneider agrees. Indeed, Schneider, who has written extensively on the subject of brain uploading, urges that humans should reflect deeply on this potential consequence of cognitive enhancement.

The concept of superintelligent alien AI still sounds very speculative. And it is. But that doesn’t mean it’s not worth consideration. Indeed, expanding our purview of alien intelligence may help us identify life’s fingerprints in the cosmos. ‘So far, we’ve pointed antennas at stars that might have planets that might have breathable atmospheres and oceans and so forth,’ Shostak told me. ‘But if we’re correct that the dominant intelligence in the cosmos is artificial, then does it have to live on a planet with an ocean?’

It’s a bit of a mind-bender to think that habitable worlds may hold false promise when it comes to advanced alien life, but that seems to be Shostak’s conclusion.

‘All artificial life forms would need is raw materials,’ he said. ‘They might be in deep space, hovering around a star, or feeding off a black hole’s energy at the center of the galaxy.’ (That last idea has seen its way into a number of science fiction novels, including works by Greg Bear and Gregory Benford).

Which is to say, they could be, essentially, anywhere.

Begging a final question: How might superintelligent aliens view us? Will our cosmic cousins see us as nothing more than convenient biofuel, a la the Matrix? Or do they study us quietly from afar, abiding by a Star Trek-esque maxim of non-interference? Schneider doubts either. In fact, she reckons superintelligent aliens couldn’t really care less about us.

‘If they were interested in us, we probably wouldn’t be here,’ said Schneider. ‘My gut feeling is their goals and incentives are so different from ours, they’re not going to want to contact us.’

That’s a welcome divergence from Steven Hawking’s claim that advanced aliens might be nomads, looking to strip resources from whatever planets they can, and that all efforts to contact said aliens may end in our own demise.

‘I’d have to agree with Susan on them not being interested in us at all,’ Shostak said. We’re just too simplistic, too irrelevant. ‘You don’t spend a whole lot of time hanging out reading books with your goldfish. On the other hand, you don’t really want to kill the goldfish, either.’

So, if we want to meet our galactic peers, it looks like we’ll probably have to keep seeking them out. That may take thousands or millions of years, but in the meanwhile, perhaps we’ll upgrade our own intelligence enough to level the playing field. And as an early Christmas present, it seems we can all tick alien alien robots juicing us for energy off the list of likely apocalypses.”


Cat Crazy!

Or, a crazy cat! (Professional stunt cat, do not try this at home!)

Download with Vixy | YouTube to MP3 | Replay Media Catcher

Geek Software of the Week: Apache Log Viewer

Do you need to check stats on your web sites? This is the tool for you!

Apache Log Viewer

“Apache Logs Viewer (ALV) is a free and powerful tool which lets you monitor, view and analyze Apache/IIS/nginx logs with more ease. It offers search and filter functionality for the log file, highlighting the various http requests based on their status code. There is also a report facility, thus you can generate a pie/bar chart in seconds. Together with this there are also statistics where you can get the top hits, top errors, number of status codes, total bandwidth and more.

Apache Logs Viewer is a great tool to use for web analytics. Use it to get your website more productive, detect any errors and fix them. You can determine the visitors originating country and if the referrer logging is enabled than it is easier to see from which website the clients are coming from, the search terms used and which pages where visited.


  • Easy installation (Windows/Linux Application)
  • Does not require installing on Apache Server/IIS/nginx server
  • Color log according to status codes
  • Translate IP to Country (fast with no lookups)
  • Search for IP Address, Request String, Date, Referrer (and others)
  • Filter by any column
  • Export to text file/comma separated value, txt/csv
  • Visual Reports (Pie/Bar Charts)
  • Statistics

Some of the available Reports: (Pie/Bar Graph)

  • User Agents
  • Hits each Day
  • Visits by Country
  • Visits by Request *
  • Visits by Referrer *
  • Visits by IP *
  • Visits by User Agent (Browser) *
  • Visits from Country *
  • Unique Hits *
  • Bot Hits *
  • Request Analysis *
  • Visual Country Visits

* Report is available with a valid Unlock Code (see below).

Supported Web Servers

  • Apache HTTP Server
  • Microsoft Internet Information Services (IIS)
  • Nginx
  • Wamp


Apache Logs Viewer is free for unlimited use, however some features are locked. To unlock these features please support this app by a small donation €12 (approx. $16.50) (for individuals). You will be given a unique unlock code which will unlock the locked features. This unlock code also includes free upgrades for that version whenever they are available. Locked features are distinguishable because they are greyed out.”


Have You Ever Been Emailed a Wrench?

Astronaut with a wrenchHow about a wrench emailed to space? Yes!

ISS astronaut needs a wrench, NASA successfully ‘emails’ him one

c|net – By: Anthony Domanico – “We’re finally starting to see the benefits of having a 3D printer aboard the International Space Station, as NASA and Made in Space basically emailed a ratcheting socket wrench to astronaut Barry Wilmore.

Before 3D printing, if astronauts needed something that wasn’t already aboard the ISS, they would have to wait several months for the next shuttle to arrive. Now scientists and engineers on the ground can design whatever the astronauts might need, and send the file directly to the 3D printer aboard the ISS to be printed and used immediately. A post on Medium by Made in Space co-founder Mike Chen outlines the process.

Made in Space is the group created to design, build and ultimately send a zero-gravity 3D printer to the ISS. The company heard that Wilmore needed a ratcheting socket wrench and fired up its CAD (computer-aided design and drafting) software and designed one. Once the design for the wrench was complete, they converted it to a 3D-printer-ready format called G-code, and sent it over to NASA, which beamed it up to the ISS where it was printed automatically.

The wrench, as well as the 20 other objects that have been 3D-printed on the ISS thus far, will be sent back to Earth for further analysis. Made in Space plans to compare these 21 objects to identical 3D-printed objects that were printed on Earth to test things like the effect of long-term microgravity on the 3D-printing process, so they can model and predict how well things printed in space will hold up in the future. From there, they can further enhance their 3D printer and printing technology to build better objects for use in space.

So now that scientists have successfully emailed plans for an object to be 3D-printed aboard the ISS, it’s only a matter of time before they figure out how to Snapchat or Yo the designs to space.”


An Android for Cars?

Android AutoDoes this mean we will get our schedule from our dashboard?

Google Wants Cars To Come With Built-In Android-Based Entertainment Systems

Tom’s Hardware – By: Lucian Armasu – “According to a Reuters report, Google wants to build a version of Android that would replace current dashboard software that may exist in certain cars. This would be a step up from Android Auto, which requires a smartphone or tablet to be plugged into a compatible car with a built-in screen. Users must then give it access to music, apps, phone calls and so on. This new version of Android for automobiles should appear around the same time as Android ‘M,’ about a year from now.

Currently, car manufacturers use BlackBerry’s QNX, Microsoft’s Windows Embedded OS, or various Linux distros to power their vehicles’ entertainment centers. Both Apple and Google have recently entered the auto market with their own projects called Car Play and Android Auto, but neither of them actually replace the cars’ built-in entertainment systems. They are only meant to augment those built-in systems.

This provides certain advantages to drivers, such as being able to keep the new system upgraded as they buy new phones, rather than when buying a new car. It also has some disadvantages, though, such as draining the phone’s battery, although this could be relatively easily fixed with an in-car charger.

Android is already a highly popular operating system in the computing industry, and Android Auto has proven that Google can get at least as many car partners as Apple. Chances are Google’s new initiative will also be warmly welcomed by the car industry.

Car makers are raising some issues, though. One is that if Google wants Android to replace their entertainment systems, then the OS will have to increase its performance, especially in terms of how fast it’s booting, and also its stability.

The car makers want the OS to boot-up immediately instead of in 30 seconds, as it usually happens with smartphones today. This may only be possible if Google makes a highly minimized version of Android, and then also requires car makers to use fast NAND storage for a speedy boot-up.

Another solution could be to keep Android mostly as it is, but instead of completely powering down when the car is off, the system could have its own extra battery to keep the OS in idle mode. That auxiliary battery could also be charged up by the car’s battery when the car is being driven.

As for the stability of the system, Android Lollipop has been one of the least stable versions of Android in recent times, with many bugs being uncovered. In a way, this was understandable because so many new features were introduced, but it could be why Google is waiting until Android M to release this new software.

Google seems to want to enter this market more aggressively, which makes sense, as it would then have access to more valuable data about what the driver is doing throughout the day:

‘You can get access to GPS location, where you stop, where you travel everyday, your speed, your fuel level, where you stop for gas,’ one of Reuter’s sources said.

To gain access to this kind of data from tens of millions of users or more, Google may also have to let automakers customize the software as they wish, much like how it lets smartphone makers customize Android. The car makers don’t want all of their cars to provide exactly the same experience to their customers, regardless of what vehicle they may choose.

The auto companies also don’t seem to want to give Google access to too many of the car’s components due to safety and liability concerns. Because of its popularity in the mobile market, Android is a prime target to hackers right now. Automakers will want to ensure that even if these systems are hacked, they can’t do too much damage to the car, and most importantly don’t endanger drivers’ lives.”


Sony Hack is Big News!

Did Sony give in to terrorism, or was in the theatre owners?

Sony Hack Is Now An International Incident As FBI Fingers North Korea

Forbes – By: Dorothy Pomerantz – “Back before the Sony hack put Hollywood at the center of what is increasingly turning out to be an international provocation, Seth Rogen spoke to Rolling Stone about his new movie, The Interview. He said: ‘At best, the movie will cause a country to be free. At worst, it will cause a nuclear war.’

Rogen was, of course, joking. The satire, about a bumbling TV host and his producer sent by the CIA to kill Kim Jong-Un, seemed subversive but not like a political bombshell.

Cut to one month later and Rogen’s words suddenly seem eerily prophetic. Today the FBI announced that it believes North Korea is behind the attack. An analysis of the malware used in the attack shows similarities to other attacks known to have been perpetrated by North Korea. In a statement the FBI says there were similar lines of code, encryption algorithms and data deletion methods.

This takes the attack to a whole new level. From the FBI’s statement:

Working together, the FBI will identify, pursue, and impose costs and consequences on individuals, groups, or nation states who use cyber means to threaten the United States or U.S. interests.

Although the White House has said any reaction to the attack will be measured, it now seems likely that the U.S. will have to respond in some way. The attack has set a dangerous precedent of a regime suppressing free speech in another country.

Earlier this week Sony decided not to release The Interview in theaters at all after Guardians of Peace, the terrorist group behind the hack, threatened a 9/11-like attack on any movie theater showing the film. Many have called for the studio to release the film on VOD or for free on the Internet to at least make a statement about free speech but the hackers have sent threats to Sony executives warning them that the movie can never see the light of day. According to an article on CNN, the hackers warned Sony that they still have ‘private and sensitive data’ that they wont leak unless Sony makes ‘additional trouble.’

The rest of the film industry has so far failed to rally behind Sony. (Although the MPAA finally released a statement today.) In an interview with Deadline Hollywood actor George Clooney revealed that he tried to circulate a petition among high-level executives stating that they stood with Sony against the hackers but he couldn’t get anyone to sign it.

It was a large number of people. It was sent to basically the heads of every place. They told [agent] Bryan Lourd, ‘I can’t sign this.’ What? How can you not sign this? I’m not going to name anyone, that’s not what I’m here to do, but nobody signed the letter.

The attack against free speech is sure to cause long term damage in Hollywood where people are incredibly hesitant to take any kind of risk. A thriller set in North Korea, starring Steve Carell, has already been scrapped. Plans to show the 2004 movie Team America, which also features satire against North Korea, were pulled when Paramount said theaters couldn’t show the film. And while plenty of writers are pulling any hacker ideas our of storage right now, they’re also shelving anything that might have the slightest whiff of controversy.”


Dr. Bill.TV #364 – Video – “The Creepy Weeping Angel Edition!”


SNL’s Star Wars Trailer for geezers, YouTube has a new GIF tool to create kitty GIFs… and other things, GSotW: MultCloud! Facebook dumps Microsoft Bing for search, Yahoo wants users to upgrade to Firefox, and a Doctor Who Weeping Angel Christmas Tree?

Links that pertain to this Netcast:

TechPodcasts Network

International Association of Internet Broadcasters

Blubrry Network

Dr. Bill Bailey.NET

MultCloud – Put multiple cloud drives into one Free App for Managing Files across Cloud Drives

Start the Video Netcast in the Blubrry Video Player above by
clicking on the “Play” Button in the center of the screen.

(Click on the buttons below to Stream the Netcast in your “format of choice”)
Streaming M4V Audio

Streaming MP3 Audio

Streaming Ogg Audio

Download M4V Download WebM Download MP3 Download Ogg
(Right-Click on any link above, and select “Save As…” to save the Netcast on your PC.)


Dr. Bill.TV #364 – Audio – “The Creepy Weeping Angel Edition!”

SNL’s Star Wars Trailer for geezers, YouTube has a new GIF tool to create kitty GIFs… and other things, GSotW: MultCloud! Facebook dumps Microsoft Bing for search, Yahoo wants users to upgrade to Firefox, and a Doctor Who Weeping Angel Christmas Tree?

Links that pertain to this Netcast:

TechPodcasts Network

International Association of Internet Broadcasters

Blubrry Network

Dr. Bill Bailey.NET

MultCloud – Put multiple cloud drives into one Free App for Managing Files across Cloud Drives

Start the Video Netcast in the Blubrry Video Player above by
clicking on the “Play” Button in the center of the screen.

(Click on the buttons below to Stream the Netcast in your “format of choice”)
Streaming M4V Audio

Streaming MP3 Audio

Streaming Ogg Audio

Download M4V Download WebM Download MP3 Download Ogg
(Right-Click on any link above, and select “Save As…” to save the Netcast on your PC.)


Weeping Angel Christmas Tree Topper!

Don't Blink!Yes, you read that right! How completely geeky is this?! An official Doctor Who Christmas Tree Top ornament! So, remember, “Don’t blink!”

I know that you really, really want one… so as a service to geeks everywhere, you can get one here:

ThinkGeek, of course!

Hey, I know it is weird, and a bit creepy… but how cool is that?!?!


Upgrade to Firefox?

Firefox munches IE!Well, it certainly would be for Internet Explorer users… but from Chrome? I’m not as sure.

Yahoo Starts Prompting Chrome Users To “Upgrade” To Firefox

TechCruch – “If you’re visiting any Yahoo property today, chances are you’ll see an ‘Upgrade to the new Firefox’ link in the top-right corner of your browser window. The prompt also appears if you’re using Internet Explorer, Opera and even the new Yandex browser. However, the prompt is missing from Safari, which will surely prompt a new round of speculation about Apple’s rumored switch to Yahoo as its default search engine.

Given that Firefox now uses Yahoo as its default search engine, this move doesn’t come as a huge surprise. Yahoo clearly wants as many people as possible to use Firefox — and with it its search engine (which is powered by Microsoft Bing).

Firefox’s user share has dropped quite a bit over the last few years, so Mozilla has no objections to putting the Firefox logo in front of as many Yahoo users as possible. Changing the default search engine in Firefox is trivial (and Firefox recently made it even easier), but most users never bother to make the switch. The new Yahoo Search design for Firefox users also looks pretty much exactly like Google’s, so some users may not even notice the difference.

It’s still too early to know whether the Yahoo/Mozilla deal made any difference in terms of market share for either of the two organizations, but chances are we’ll see at least a small uptick in Yahoo’s numbers come January.”

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