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Thursday, February 23, 2012

Magic Turns Out Once Again to Be Crap

Faster than light neutrinos appear to have been an artifact of crappy wiring and pop-tech hyperventilation. Science fiction is still not the same thing as science, something fans of the one and champions of the other should celebrate. Everyone should pat the head of a Robot Cultist who has a sad.


jimf said...

> Faster than light neutrinos appear to have been an
> artifact of crappy wiring and pop-tech hyperventilation.

Of course you realize that the "bad cable connection" story
is just a cover-up because the UN doesn't want us
to know that Friendly(TM) Robot Gods from the Future are sending
messages back in time so that we can navigate the Singularity
without tears -- or Termination. Or something.

Anyway, The Truth Is Out There.

Dale Carrico said...

How could I have been so blind?

jimf said...

> Science fiction is still not the same thing as science. . .
> Everyone should pat the head of a Robot Cultist. . .
> [T]here is in my view no place for. . . digital/spiritual
> aspirations toward godhood or transcendence, unless that place
> is a church, a poetry reading, a bar, or an asylum of some kind.

Or, apparently, the Graduate Center of the City University of
New York.

David Chalmers, of all people, has hopped on the Singularity

He's now apparently a visiting professor at my alma mater, NYU.
More from Chalmers on the Singularity (and Uploading):

The Singularity: A Philosophical Analysis
David J. Chalmers
_Journal of Consciousness Studies_ 17:7-65, 2010.

Speaking of science, crackpots, and loose cables, something
I was rather nonplussed to discover after 2008 when Arthur C. Clarke
died, is that he believed there are thousands of functioning
cold fusion reactors in the world
"It's all over the world, except the
United States. There are hundreds of laboratories
doing it, they've got patents all over the place.
The prototypes are on sale now. There are 7,000 units
operating in Russia right now and no one in the
United States seems to know about it."

I still don't know whether to think he only became a crackpot
in his dotage, or whether he was always one.
. . .[from]
_Sun in a Bottle: The Strange History of Fusion and the
Science of Wishful Thinking_ by Charles Seife

. . .

T]he way science is supposed to work [is that w]hen a scientist
discovers he has erred, that he had deceived himself, he gives
the scientific community a full and detailed report about
his folly. The scientist abases himself, science rids itself
of the erroneous notion, and the march of research continues
on. However, reality isn't always so clean. . .
It is also difficult when ego gets involved. . .

The annals of science are littered with the names
of once-celebrated scientists whose wishful thinking forced
them to jump into the fringe. If their pet theories become
immune to contrary evidence, if their logic resists any criticism,
if their peers suspect that they have fudged results, they are
expelled from the scientific community. . .

Pons and Fleischmann were at the brink days after they went
public. . .

Almost as soon as the researchers announced
their results, accusations and investigations sent them to
the fringe. The scientists of cold fusion and bubble fusion will
never rejoin the ranks of the mainstream. . .

jimf said...

> . . .pop-tech hyperventilation. . .

Also apropos of which:
(May 10th, 2011) The European Commission's plans to establish research
flagships for Future and Emerging Technologies raise a variety of
questions. . .

One of the pilots is the Human Brain Project, an enormous extension
of the Blue Brain Project run by Henry Markram at the École Polytechnique
Fédérale de Lausanne, Switzerland. . .

Markram's neuroscientist colleagues are very critical of the project. . .
[I]ts predecessor project has not produced a proper scientific publication.
The project is making promises that cannot be kept, such as understanding
consciousness, testing drugs for mental diseases virtually and thereby
making animal experiments unnecessary. Many of the colleagues are critical
in private but some have the courage to speak out. Read their critique
on the predecessor Blue Brain Project in Lab Times 3-2011.
In 2007, the [Blue Brain] website announced "the end of the modelling
and simulation of the first rat cortical column." . . .

Markram was allowed to present his project at the World Economic
Forum in Davos, Switzerland the same year. Science correspondents
went dizzy about the B[lue]B[rain]P[roject], reporting that a guy
in Switzerland was going to build the brain and explain consciousness
to us very soon. . .

There is something important, however, that journalists blissfully
ignored in this wonderful story, something that is usually essential,
to back Markram's claims and justify the massive media coverage:
the publication of the results. Terrence Sejnowski. . . commented. . .
laconically, "Since there are no publications we don't know how far
Markram has gotten." Similarly. . . three neuroscientists at. . .
(ETHZ), the national rival of EPFL, complained. . . that "a scientific
result without publication and independent scrutiny is like a car
without wheels".

The only materials available to the scientific community to evaluate
the "success are videos of public lectures and advertisements of
the project on the internet. . . Unfortunately, Markram's claims
have been stated repeatedly in public, but not published; neither
has he presented any significant results in any scientific forum
we know of."

erickingsley said...

Is that the same 'brain model' project that was promising wonders within 'ten years' but only if they get millions of dollars right now?

jimf said...

> Is that the same 'brain model' project that was promising wonders
> within 'ten years' but only if they get millions of dollars right now?

Very likely. ;->