Making Us Better

Tom Easton Not long after the first baby steps toward genetic engineering were taken in the early 1970s, critics such as Andrew Kimbrell tried to jump down the field’s throat. In his book, The Human Body Shop: The Engineering and Marketing of Life (HarperSanFrancisco, 1993), he said the development of genetic engineering was so marked […]

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Dirt Needs Dirt

Tom Easton When I was very young, about 1950, my grandparents’ house had an outhouse, even though the house was in town. The house, you see, was owned by my great-grandmother, in her nineties, and she insisted that her late husband (d. 1927) would never have approved of such new-fangled things as indoor plumbing, central […]

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Dealing Green

Tom Easton The 2018 midterm elections brought to the U.S. House of Representatives a flood of new Democratic talent with a propensity to say “We need to do things differently.” This propensity has taken notable form with House Resolution 109,[1] better known as the “Green New Deal,” introduced in the House by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) […]

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Why SF is where it is?

Jim Cambias and I have similar ideas about the state of sf, although we come at it from different perspectives. You can find Jim’s blogs about this here and here. My blog with the corresponding information on Amazing Stories can be found here. What I’m talking about is the point of Jim’s blogs, where it’s […]

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Are We AIs?

Tom Easton If Artificial Intelligence (AI) software is already close to being able to learn to be us by watching us, then we must be AIs. This outrageous statement follows from physicist Frank Tipler’s 1994 proposal in The Physics of Immortality (Doubleday) and Nick Bostrom’s 2003 argument[1] that we live in a vast computer simulation. […]

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AIdentity Theft

Tom Easton One of the latest wrinkles (among many) in artificial intelligence (AI) research is AI programs that can learn by watching. They don’t have to be painstakingly coded with instructions for performing a task. Nor, like the old numerically controlled machine tools, do they have to be guided step-by-step through a task until they […]

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The Frenemy Within

Tom Easton An ecosystem is a combination of living species and the environment in which they live. An ecological community is just the living species. There are a great many communities. There are even communities on and within human beings, consisting of the bacteria and fungi—and even the generally harmless follicle mites[1]–on our skin and […]

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Let It Glow

Tom Easton Once upon a time, nuclear power was pitched as promising electricity too cheap to meter. It didn’t work out that way, for the power plants turned out to be absurdly expensive. There were several reasons for this. One was the perception that nuclear power was dangerous, largely (at first) because after World War […]

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Gee, It’s Lonely Here

Tom Easton We don’t have to worry about this one at the moment, but eventually we will join the thousands of civilizations that have preceded us in the Milky Way galaxy. Not that we seem to have any chance of ever meeting them. Seventy years ago, famous physicist Enrico Fermi was having lunch with colleagues […]

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