Ancient “Barsoom” ocean, Multiversal anthropism and robotic morals

An international team of scientists who analyzed data from the Gamma Ray Spectrometer onboard NASA’s Mars Odyssey reports new evidence for the controversial idea that oceans once covered about a third of ancient Mars.

“We compared Gamma Ray Spectrometer data on potassium, thorium and iron above and below a shoreline believed to mark an ancient ocean that covered a third of Mars’ surface, and an inner shoreline believed to mark a younger, smaller ocean,” said University of Arizona planetary geologist James M. Dohm, who led the international investigation.

“We compared Gamma Ray Spectrometer data on potassium, thorium and iron above and below a shoreline believed to mark an ancient ocean that covered a third of Mars’ surface, and an inner shoreline believed to mark a younger, smaller ocean,” said University of Arizona planetary geologist James M. Dohm, who led the international investigation.

Slowly, but surely we’re getting a picture of Mars in the far, far past that once could have been a small, Earth type planet before Earth itself settled into its final form.

Could evidence of primitive life ( fossils? ) be far behind eventually?

As much as a third of Mars could have been underwater, UA scientists say

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Physicists don’t like coincidences. They like even less the notion that life is somehow central to the universe, and yet recent discoveries are forcing them to confront that very idea. Life, it seems, is not an incidental component of the universe, burped up out of a random chemical brew on a lonely planet to endure for a few fleeting ticks of the cosmic clock. In some strange sense, it appears that we are not adapted to the universe; the universe is adapted to us.

Call it a fluke, a mystery, a miracle. Or call it the biggest problem in physics. Short of invoking a benevolent creator, many physicists see only one possible explanation: Our universe may be but one of perhaps infinitely many universes in an inconceivably vast multi­verse. Most of those universes are barren, but some, like ours, have conditions suitable for life.

The idea is controversial. Critics say it doesn’t even qualify as a scientific theory because the existence of other universes cannot be proved or disproved. Advocates argue that, like it or not, the multiverse may well be the only viable non­religious explanation for what is often called the “fine-tuning problem”—the baffling observation that the laws of the universe seem custom-tailored to favor the emergence of life.

“For me the reality of many universes is a logical possibility,” Linde says. “You might say, ‘Maybe this is some mysterious coincidence. Maybe God created the universe for our benefit.’ Well, I don’t know about God, but the universe itself might reproduce itself eternally in all its possible manifestations.”

The Highwayman would say, “Haha, told ya so Marine!”

To me, the Anthropic Principle seems to be the Star Trek Universe writ large, humanoids and their variants abound through-out the Cosmos.

I don’t want to believe it, but if the evidence points that way, isn’t it the truth?

Read and you be the judge.

Science’s Alternative to an Intelligent Creator: the Multiverse Theory

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With the relentless march of technological progress, robots and other automated systems are getting ever smarter. At the same time they are also being given greater responsibilities, driving cars, helping with childcare, carrying weapons, and maybe soon even pulling the trigger.

But should they be trusted to take on such tasks, and how can we be sure that they never take a decision that could cause unintended harm?

The latest contribution to the growing debate over the challenges posed by increasingly powerful and independent robots is the book Moral Machines: Teaching Robots Right from Wrong.

Authors Wendell Wallach, an ethicist at Yale University, and historian and philosopher of cognitive science Colin Allen, at Indiana University, argue that we need to work out how to make robots into responsible and moral machines. It is just a matter of time until a computer or robot takes a decision that will cause a human disaster, they say.

So are there things we can do to minimise the risks? Wallach and Allen take a look at six strategies that could reduce the danger from our own high-tech creations.

The six rules the author lists only offer limited to moderate success, mostly from rules based preprogramming like Asimov’s Three Laws of Robotics.

But with our government, and private corporations like Google actively striving for a Panopticon Singularity, perhaps some rules based programming might be in order.

I’m not too optimistic about that either.

Six ways to build robots that do humans no harm

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One response

  1. Interesting post. As for Mars and what used to be water there, check out MarsAnomalyResearch.com
    Some say it’s science fiction, so it’s real. But when NASA admits they use a color filter (red) on all their photo equipment, one starts to wonder if Mars is really a red planet or maybe there is something more to it…

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