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The opening of my forthcoming novel about free will

My parents died in the last battles to save democracy. Everyone had become worker bees in their tiny apartments, consuming Earth’s remaining resources. They lived glued to their smartphones and guided by the digital consensus fostered by swarming social media. The Cloud hovered over everyone. This was a treadmill existence. I, Peter Tesla, resolved to build a company and a must-have product. Wasn’t this, after all, the American dream?     I had a creative workshop in a dilapidated railroad building. There I experimented with discarded computers, smartphones, and the resources of the Internet. I was fixated on developing Pandora. It would give the user free will in the space of the whole universe.

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My exciting and thought-provoking book, Winter of the Genomes, is now published. It explores how humans will fit into an evolving ecosystem being impacted by artificial intelligence. We are entering the age of AI and robots when they could take as many as half the jobs in industrialized countries. On the other hand, robots are also making inroads as lovable companions, and they don’t eat, drink water, or create waste.   If populations drop due to pessimism about the economic future caused in part by robots and automation, as has started to be the case, the corresponding decline in energy demand will contribute to a significant reduction in global warming. Also, robots could be key to improving agricultural production thus helping to fend  off a major global food crisis.   Available as a paperback and e-book onAmazon.

Dinosaurs From Birds

An engaging example of genetic engineering, or synthetic biology, is creating living dinosaurs. Think Jurassic Park, the popular 1993 film. Imagine creating a living, breathing, Velociraptor or even a Neanderthal man.Jurassic Park portrayed extracting dinosaur DNA from mosquitoes embedded for millions of years in amber, the transparent yellow and hardened tree sap. Scientists feel that while this approach might work, the chances of success are very small. One problem is that DNA can only survive for about 6.3 million years or so, and dinosaurs died out 65 million years ago. Another approach, which has more promise, is working backwards from birds. Reversing time, so to speak. Paleontologists generally agree that birds descended from raptor dinosaurs. McGill University professor Hans Larsson and a former graduate student found that carnivorous dinosaur limb lengths showed a relatively stable scaling relationship with body size. The limb scaling changed when fore- and hind limbs dramat…

Life at the Speed of Light

I have just finished a great new book, Life at the Speed of Light: From the Double Helix to the Dawn of Digital Life by Dr. Craig Venter. It is about using DNA engineering to achieve synthetic biology. He first became well known when his Institute for Genomic Research completed the first genome sequence of a free-living organism, the bacterium Haemophilus influenzae. In 1998, he incorporated Celera Genomics to beat the government-funded effort to sequence the human genome, which has three billion chemical units and about 20,500 genes. Both teams jointly announced complete mapping of the genome in 2000 with the final sequence mapped in 2003. In that same year, Venter made the virus phi X 174 synthetically, and in 2010, he made the first synthetic bacterial cell,Mycoplasma mycoides. Synthetic Genomics is his latest company. Venter has concluded that life is a DNA software system. This software creates and directs the construction of proteins and cells. Venter explains we can read the “…

Robobees To The Rescue

Honeybees, which are of the greatest commercial interest, pollinate about a third of what we eat, including fruits, nuts and vegetables. Thirty-one percent of US bee colonies were lost in the winter of 2013 alone. Then, as the future of the honeybees seems dire indeed, the cavalry of the robots rushes to the rescue of the flowering plants and trees. Although they are not yet deployed into the waiting blossoms, they already have a name: robobees.The current leader in robobees technology is a team at Harvard University. In May 2013, their School of Engineering and Applied Sciences announced that an experimental prototype of the robobee made its first controlled flight. Half the size of a paperclip, weighing less than a tenth of a gram, it powered upward, hovered on its delicate flapping wings, and flew away.Writing in the Scientific American, the team leaders said, “In 2009 the three of us began to seriously consider what it would take to create a robotic bee colony. We wondered if mech…

Will Artificial Intelligence Destroy Mankind?

    Let us dispel the startling statements and popular movie themes telling us that artificial intelligence will greatly exceed human intelligence in just a few decades. There have been startling statements and popular movies telling us that artificial intelligence will greatly exceed human intelligence in just a few decades. There may be little doubt that this will be the case for applications mostly requiring massive and repetitive computing, but is not so certain for projects requiring significant imagination and creativity. In any case, it is highly unlikely that androids will be running around conquering the world.AI Computers can access very large databases. They can be used in detailed multidimensional design. They can manage vast projects. There is talk of computer-like nanorobots that can circulate around in your body. There are even computer programs to invent new devices. However, as far as I am aware, no computer independently came up with the general theory of relativity.…