Thought-Controlled Artificial Limbs – Feasible or Just Another Thought?

Scientists at Duke University are on track to link the brain with artificial limbs. If things go according to plan, a full exoskeleton on a paralyze teen will debut at the 2014 World Cup in Rio de Janiero. For this to work, electrodes will need to be implanted in the brain. Signals from the brain will then be sent to recording systems that broadcast brain waves to a remote receiver, allowing the user to move the prosthetic limbs. The user will not only be able to move, but also be able to feel said movement.

This type of technology is extremely exciting and could potentially change the lives of millions of people around the world. However, it is uncertain and requires a high amount of risk.

What are your thoughts on this technology? Do you think it’s ethical to plant electrodes in someone’s brain and record this information? Do you think the technology and distribution to the public is feasible? What potential obstacles can you see arising?

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Intelligence Explosion:Evidence and Import talks about the opportunities and risks of superhuman artificial intelligence. It argues that “with more intelligence we can hope for quicker, better solutions to many of our problems.” Some opportunities include finding a cure for cancer and achieving economic stability. But one serious risk that AI may pose is the risk of human extinction. Therefore, it’s crucial to have a controlled AI “specially programmed to preserve what humans value.” Simply, an AI that will not take us over.

Creating superhuman AI that’ll exceed the intelligence of humans is very interesting. Can a creation be superior to its creator? How do you envision a world governed and led by AI? Do you imagine an even higher power technology than AI? Would we be happier people with the creation of AI? Technology has advanced incredibly over the last few decades but we can’t argue that people are happier now than before. The things that make us feel most alive, I believe, such as love and good company aren’t much related to how great our technology is. Are we setting ourselves up for destruction by creating AI?

Will the creation of AI bring quicker and better solutions to problems NYC is facing with climate changes? Instead of taking decades to build a storm barrier as mentioned in the Battered NYC article or instead of having a list of recommendations for greening the MTA, will AI be able to provide us with THE solutions?

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How Green Technology/Infrastructure Can Combat Climate Changes

As expressed in Luke Muehlhauser’s & Anna Salamon’s Intelligence Explosion: Evidence and Import, our techonology is rapidly evolving to become more advanced. In some cases, we approach and exceed human-level intelligence. How do you see our city grow technologically? How are benefits of “greening the MTA” applicable to mitigating and adapting to our changing climate? After Hurricane Sandy, do you think New Yorkers understood the importance of being more environmentally and ecologically conscious?


Is NYC’s future already another city’s present?

In Bruce Stutz’s article “Battered New York City Looks For Ways to Hold Back the Sea,” he gives readers a peek at the protection NYC would have had against Hurricane Sandy, had the proper sea barriers been in place.  The storm would had hit regardless and crept inward, but Stutz imagines floodgates closing “across the Verrazano Narrows entry to New York Harbor, across the upper East River, [and] across the entrance to Jamaica Bay” (Stutz).  New York City scientists, economists, and risk management specialists are still finding and researching for the best possible way to protect NYC against any other future Sandys.  However, could it be that the answer is already in front of them?  Are you aware of any technology that cities in other countries are using to protect against the rising sea level that you believe could be implemented in New York City?

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Timelines Due

Hi Folks

This is just a reminder that timelines are due at 10:30 PM on Monday, March 18th.  Contact me soon if you have questions.  These timelines should be the anchor to gearing up the research you are to be doing over the rest of the semester.  Make sure they reflect the research you have done so far.

As mentioned in the original assignment, you must cite references and the timeline should be at a minimum three pages.  You may double space between line entries, but as with all assignments the entries themselves should be single spaced.

Submit your timelines as a posting on the site in the “Timelines” area, but keep a copy of the timeline in Word.   I may ask you for it if I need to verify your three page minimum.

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Oops it’s not my week to post a question :(

I once overheard a man on the train talking about the MTA system and how it was putting an endless amount of money into a system that couldn’t support itself. The foundation of the MTA system itself is very poor. Bruce Stutz talks about the disruptions of hurricane Sandy and how Mayor Bloomberg, the city, state and federal agencies, all saw it coming, but not for another twenty years from now. “It wasn’t as if they’d been derelict in starting to plan.” But the problem is that from the very beginning, the MTA failed to create a strong foundation for itself and that’s why it needs so much planning now. How do you feel about the Sustainibility report for the MTA? Do you feel that this will help with the renewal of the system and rebuild the foundation, or do you think the system is getting ahead of itself, considering “green” factors without strengthening its structure? Alongside, do you think that artificial intelligence is a good idea? In Intelligence Explosion: Evidence and Import, it was pointed out that an uncontrolled intelligence explosion could result disastrous. Similarly to the MTA system, when creating something so significant, do you think that people try to jump ahead to the good things, (ex: the MTA to provide transportation to all of New York City,) but fail to consider structure and risks (the MTA foundation and protection in face of things like weather impact)? Should AI be created and expanded?

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Week 8: Transportation systems: Transhumanism

What’s due: Memo 2: 100 year history timeline of the topic, annotated, with references – 3 pages minimum

Participatory challenge: Bring me up to date on transhumanist-tending technologies that are of cutting edge interest to you.

Click to show required readings
MTA. Greening Mass Transit & Metro Regions: The Final Report of the Blue Ribbon Commission on Sustainability and the MTA (

Stutz, Bruce, “Battered New York City Looks  For Ways to Hold Back the Sea”, Yale Environment 360 battered_new_york_city_looks_for_ways_to_hold_back_the_sea/2589/

Muehlhauser, Luke, and Anna Salamon. “Intelligence explosion: Evidence and import.” The Singularity Hypothesis. Springer (2012). [Zotero]

Click to show optional readings
New York Metropolitan Transportation Council 2003 “Freight Basics”.

New York City Solid Waste Management Plan 2006.

Nicolelis, Miguel L. “Coming Soon: Artificial Limbs Controlled by Thoughts” Scientific American, Wednesday, August 29, 2012.

Dewdney, Christopher. “Ch. 3: Television,” in Last Flesh: Life in the Transhuman Era. Harper, 1998. 40-47.  Dewdney, Christopher. “Ch. 8: Artificial Intelligence,” in Last Flesh: Life in the Transhuman Era. Harper, 1998. 113-119. e-reserves

Dewdney, Christopher. “Ch. 13: Jumping Ship: The Posthuman Era,” in Last Flesh: Life in the Transhuman Era. Harper, 1998. 168-185. e-reserves

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