This is because the presence of a hard structure beneath the waves attracts barnacles and other crustaceans, and, in turn, fish. Dr Deborah Russell, a research fellow at the Scottish Oceans Institute at the University of St Andrews, explained how the “reef effect” attracts seals. “Things like barnacles and mussels will settle on hard structures and then that in turn will attract other marine species and it builds up over time.”
Here, we show that human participants spontaneously match facial expressions of an android physically present in the room with them. This mimicry occurs even though these participants find the android unsettling and are fully aware that it lacks intentionality.
Interestingly, a video of that same android elicits weaker mimicry reactions, occurring only in participants who find the android “humanlike.”
These findings suggest that spontaneous mimicry depends on the salience of humanlike features highlighted by face-to-face contact, emphasizing the role of presence in human-robot interaction.
Further, the findings suggest that mimicry of androids can dissociate from knowledge of artificiality and experienced emotional unease. These findings have implications for theoretical debates about the mechanisms of imitation.
They also inform creation of future robots that effectively build rapport and engagement with their human users.
“Tibetans live in a region that averages more than 4,000 meters above sea level. (Not for nothing is it called the roof of the world.) How did they come to be able to cope with their extreme environs? Some researchers in China and the United States think they might know, and their findings were published Wednesday in Nature. By sequencing DNA from a group of Tibetans and comparing the code to other gene databases, the researchers have discovered that Tibetans are inheritors of an ancient trait that helps regulate the oxygenation in their blood. But surprisingly, this trait did not arise in Homo sapiens. Rather, it came from another group of humans, the Denisovans—mysterious, little-known hominid cousins that died out some 40,000 years ago. The new study on Tibetans demonstrates for the first time an evolutionary advantage conferred directly by Denisovans, an adaptation that seems to be singular to the Tibetan people. For people whose ancestors lived in milder altitudes, experiencing a dearth of oxygen at great heights causes the level of hemoglobin, the protein that carries oxygen in blood, to increase in attempt to compensate. But this raises the likelihood of cardiac events in the short term, and it is unhelpful for reproduction, as it increases the risk of preeclampsia (hypertension during pregnancy). Tibetans don’t have the same reaction to elevation: They have greater fitness and higher fertility even when there is little to breathe. This, along with other respiratory adaptations, allows them to thrive where others cannot. Denisovans and Neanderthals are called extinct human “species”—a term that used to demark a clear line between two organisms incapable of interbreeding to produce fertile offspring. But the definition is no longer so clear. We know that these hominin cousins did couple with our Homo sapien ancestors—and some of us have inherited from them valuable modern traits. How we define “humans” past and present is a subject to contemplate—as fitting for scientists as for pilgrims to think about on their journeys across Tibetan plains.”
Apart from being fascinating in and of it itself, this matters because the Tibetan adaptation to high altitude living has long been held an example of modern human evolution, especially in popsci books like Children of Prometheus: The Accelerating Pace of Human Evolution.
To be fair, that book was published in 1998, and the first evidence of Denisovans found in 2010.
More like the accelerating pace of the understanding of the highly complex nature of human evolution.
All in all, not much information was exchanged in this set of Twitter replies and responses. It was a silly thing.
But each of us is going to have more and more bots acting on our behalf as well as trying to get our attention. What we see working on Twitter will soon spring from the computer and begin acting in the world.
Consider the digital assistants on your phone, the Facebook News Feed algorithm, even Priority Inbox for Gmail [and Twitter’s Tailored for You notifications]. All of these things are pieces of software that control one’s information flow.
As the “Internet of things” connects up an ever greater percentage of the physical world to the world’s networks, there will be little bots lurking in the coffeemaker and the shower. Nest already has a simple artificial intelligence built into its thermostat to try to detect and predict the ways that its users will consume energy.
The metaphor that I’ve been using to describe all this stuff is the microbotome. The microbiome is the set of non-human organisms that live within us. Many help humans digest food. The microbotome is all the bots that help humans digest information and interact with the machine world. The microbotome will become—if it’s not already—absolutely essential to economic and social survival.
In this scheme, the human is the center of an ecosystem, but each of the constituent members can interact with each other. It’s in those bot-to-bot interactions that things can get weird. Bot-to-bot interactions strike us as absurd. But they occur all the time already: Think of trading algorithms that detect an auto-tweeted news item and then execute financial transactions based on that information.
That’s the high-level version of this Taters-Calder-Bank of America conversation. But make no mistake: Both types of interactions are going to be happening more and more often as we invite these digital mediators into our lives, or they are deployed upon us.
And as we do, we will understand less and less of why things are happening. The most recent advances in what is called “deep learning” make the logic of the systems opaque even to their creators. Why this Facebook post in the newsfeed and not that one? Why this temperature at 4pm on a Tuesday? Why this route through New York? Why this stock trade?
There won’t be anyone to ask, but there will be many bots that would like to help.
In an unclassified but restricted report obtained by the Guardian under a public records request, the FBI predicts that autonomous cars “will have a high impact on transforming what both law enforcement and its adversaries can operationally do with a car.”
In a section called Multitasking, the report notes that “bad actors will be able to conduct tasks that require use of both hands or taking one’s eyes off the road which would be impossible today.”
One nightmare scenario could be suspects shooting at pursuers from getaway cars that are driving themselves.
The report, written by agents in the Strategic Issues Group within the FBI’s Directorate of Intelligence, says, “Autonomy … will make mobility more efficient, but will also open up greater possibilities for dual-use applications and ways for a car to be more of a potential lethal weapon that it is today.”
This presumably reflects fears that criminals might override safety features to ignore traffic lights and speed limits, or that terrorists might program explosive-packed cars to become self-driving bombs.
The FBI also claims that tailing suspects will be much simpler with the next generation of robot cars. “Surveillance will be made more effective and easier, with less of a chance that a patrol car will lose sight of a target vehicle,” says the report.
“In addition, algorithms can control the distance that the patrol car is behind the target to avoid detection or intentionally have a patrol car make opposite turns at intersections, yet successfully meet up at later points with the target.”
4. The features of one’s baby will be as selectable as menu items at a fast-food drive-through window. Blue and green eyes will become so common that dark brown will become the rare and newly desired eye color.
7. Advertising for the beauty industry will have shifted. Since beauty will be easily attainable, models will be as relevant as a horse and buggy. Robot/avatar models with features that look totally different from the golden-skinned everyday people will represent and sell products world-wide.
8. Everyone will have at least one personal robot/assistant/companion. If a person allows that robot/assistant to suggest products paid for by sponsors, that person’s robot will be free of charge. In fact, that person will actually be paid to use the robot by a pool of advertisers. The robot will have super artificial intelligence and will be able to sense if its owner is having a low-self-esteem day and will then strategically give boosts of confidence to its owner. “Wow, Eloisa! Your eyes look especially lovely today.”
9. For those who choose not to go for plastic surgery, beauty ingestibles (active waters, etc.) will give instant, yet temporary results: contoured cheekbones, rosy cheeks, arched eyebrows. However, one must use them repeatedly to maintain results.
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Our collection of microbiota, known as the microbiome, is the human equivalent of an environmental ecosystem. Although the bacteria together weigh a mere three pounds, their composition determines much about how the body functions and, alas, sometimes malfunctions.
Like ecosystems the world over, the human microbiome is losing its diversity, to the potential detriment of the health of those it inhabits.
Dr. Martin J. Blaser, a specialist in infectious diseases at the New York University School of Medicine and the director of the Human Microbiome Program, has studied the role of bacteria in disease for more than three decades. His research extends well beyond infectious diseases to autoimmune conditions and other ailments that have been increasing sharply worldwide.
Even more serious is the increasing number of serious disorders now linked to a distortion in the microbial balance in the human gut. They include several that are becoming more common in developed countries: gastrointestinal ailments like Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis and celiac disease; cardiovascular disease; nonalcoholic fatty liver disease; digestive disorders like chronic reflux; autoimmune diseases like multiple sclerosis and rheumatoid arthritis; and asthma and allergies.
Some researchers have even speculated that disruptions of gut microbiota play a role in celiac disease and the resulting explosion in demand for gluten-free foods even among people without this disease. In a mouse model of Type 1 diabetes, treating the animals with antibiotics accelerates the development of the disease, Dr. Blaser said.
He and other researchers, including a team from Switzerland and Germany, have also linked the serious rise in asthma rates to the “rapid disappearance of Helicobacter pylori, a bacterial pathogen that persistently colonizes the human stomach, from Western societies.” Once, virtually everyone harbored this microbe, which European researchers have shown protected mice from developing hallmarks of allergic asthma.
H. pylori colonization in early life encourages production of regulatory T-cells in the blood, which Dr. Blaser said are needed to tamp down allergic responses. Although certain strains of H. pylori are linked to the development of peptic ulcer and stomach cancer, other strains are protective, his studies indicate.
Research by Dr. Blaser and his colleagues further suggests that H. pylori in the stomach protects against gastroesophageal reflux disease, Barrett’s esophagus and esophageal cancer.
Still, it is not always possible for researchers to tell whether disruptions in gut microbiota occur before or after people become ill. However, studies in laboratory animals often suggest the bacterial disturbances come first.