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It’s a small world after all . . .

iphone app


iPhone Screenshot 1iPhone Screenshot 2



You see how the Earth turns? You imagine the storms and restless seas. You know they are there, but you can’t see them from where we are.

There’s purity in the Moon’s vacuum, devoid of storms, and one appreciates the sense of grandeur and peace.

The right woman appears and at first you’re on guard, ready to conquer and move on. Then, inexplicably, you’re like the Moon, defenseless, and the vacuum’s purity gives way to the inevitable scars of engagement.


moon express logo


NASA Description:

Moon Express, Inc,. is a privately funded lunar transportation and data services company establishing new avenues for  commercial space activities   beyond Earth orbit. This company is working alongside NASA Ames scientists to built robotic  rovers looking at lunar materials.

From Past Imperfect:

His breath in measured gasps, Gunter gave the code while his mind saw Karen and her brain, the dribbled bits she clutched as life escaped. What if the nanos had failed and an imperfect Karen, the incomplete wife was a fragmented file, too damaged for upload?



Dutch Scientists Just Shattered Our Conception Of How Information Will Travel In The Future

Business Insider

brain taxi  “Many scientists around the world today are working to develop      “quantum technology,” which is simply any technology that hinges upon these totally “abnormal” properties of the super-small stuff that makes up our world. The Mount Everest of quantum technology would be to build a quantum computer that could quickly solve problems that would leave our classical computers stumped. Instead of the standard bits we use in computers today — ones and zeroes — quantum bits, or “qubits,” can describe a one, a zero, or any value in between…

…if this all sounds crazy or hard to understand, you’re in good company with a lot of smart people. Hang in there.  A legitimate, functional quantum computer (it’s debatable as to if one has actually been built yet) would be absolutely bursting with computational potential.

…Einstein famously decried entanglement, calling it “spooky action at a distance.” But repeated variations of this experiment only lend more credence to it as a completely valid natural phenomena that we are slowly learning to manipulate.”


The Singularity Is Near: Mind Uploading by 2045?

…”Kurzweil — an inventor, futurist and now director of engineering at Google — predicts that by 2045, technology will have surpassed human brainpower to create a kind of superintelligence — an event known as the singularity. Other scientists have said that robots will overtake humans by 2100. [Super-Intelligent Machines: 7 Robotic Futures]

  According to Moore’s law, computing power doubles approximately every two years. Several technologies are undergoing similar exponential advances, from genetic sequencing to 3D printing, Kurzweil told conference attendees. He illustrated the point with a series of graphs showing the inexorable upward climb of various technologies.

By 2045, “based on conservative estimates of the amount of computation you need to functionally simulate a human brain, we’ll be able to expand the scope of our intelligence a billion-fold,” Kurzweil said.

Itskov and other so-called “transhumanists” interpret this impending singularity as digital immortality. Specifically, they believe that in a few decades, humans will be able to upload their minds to a computer, transcending the need for a biological body. The idea sounds like sci-fi, and it is — at least for now.”

blue brain 3



‘Mind-Reading’ Scientists Reconstruct Human Faces From Brain Scans



Click on image for full article and video

mind reading

Facial images shown to men and women while they were undergoing fMRI scans (above), and the reconstructed images based off of that MRI data (below).

Scientists have now used brain scanners to hack into our thoughts like never before.

After scanning the brains of men and women who were looking at photos of different faces, researchers at Yale University have found a way to reconstruct the image of those faces based solely on patterns of neural activity in the brain scans. Mind. Blown.

“It is a form of mind reading,” study co-author Dr. Marvin Chun, a professor of psychology, cognitive science and neurobiology at Yale University, said in a written statement.

In the study, the researchers showed six students and staff members at the university 300 different faces of various ethnicities and facial expressions. While the study subjects were looking at the photos of the faces, the researchers scanned their brains. Using data from those brain scans, the researchers built a computer program, or a statistical library of sorts, that uses mathematical reasoning in matching certain neural activity of the observer with certain facial features of the photo being observed.

That statistical library is the secret behind how the researchers hacked into the subjects’ minds. After building that library, the researchers showed those same six people a new set of faces while they underwent scans again. This time, the researchers used the statistical library to look for clues in how the mind was processing the facial images.

What did they find? The library allowed them to visually reconstruct the faces based on only the information provided in the observers’ brain scans.



New maps may hold clues to brain mysteries

This is a 3-D view of connections in the brain originating from different cortical areas.

By Elizabeth Landau, CNN
updated 6:15 PM EDT, Wed April 2, 2014
Click on image for article
CNN — The many connections between different parts of the brain have no street signs or trail markers.

But in order to better explore this complicated organ that enables us to be conscious, thinking, alert beings, scientists need maps. Big maps.

Two studies released Wednesday in the journal Nature showcase brain maps that could have implications for understanding both healthy and impaired brains.

One study reveals the most complete map ever of how parts of the brain are connected in a mouse. The other illuminates the developing human brain in terms of genetic expression — specifically, which genes are responsible for generating different types of neurons, and how brain circuits are formed.



    cat brain

From: NEUROGADGET  March 12, 2014

Second Life founder creates Glass Brain, a system that lets you explore your brain in real-time

Researchers have developed a new way to explore the human brain in virtual reality. The system, called Glass Brain, which is developed by Philip Rosedale, creator of the famous game Second Life, and Adam Gazzaley, a neuroscientist at the University of California San Francisco, combines brain scanning, brain recording and virtual reality to allow a user to journey through a person’s brain in real-time.

Rosedale made his wife a cap studded with electroencephalogram (EEG) electrodes that measure differences in electric potential in order to record brain activity, while he wore a virtual reality headset to explore her brain in 3D, as flashes of light displayed her brain activity from the EEG.

The Glass Brain didn’t actually show what Rosedale’s wife was thinking, but Gazzaley’s team ultimately hopes to get closer to decoding brain signals and displaying them using the virtual reality system.

“We have never been able to step inside the structures of the brain and see it in this way. It is biofeedback on the next level,” Gazzaley was quoted as saying.

The duo demonstrated Glass Brain at the South by Southwest (SXSW) Interactive festival in Austin, Texas, March 10. A projection screen showed a similar view to the audience, which you can watch below:

Link to article:

From the Overture: PAST IMPERFECT


He put a bullet in a chamber, sliding it into place. Unless he had a change of heart and reconsidered, a bullet would tear through his brain before the sun rose in the sky.


So fast is this bullet, this ticket to Paradise, this ultimate solution, that nothing can stop it.

ESCAPE (Painting by Axlex Noble)

ESCAPE (Painting by Alex Noble)

No hand would intervene; no barrier would deflect this bullet from its chosen path. Nanobots wait within him, ready to gather up the Gunter files, and the nanos are faster than any bullet. All that he knows, remembers, longs for, every fear, the sum of Gunter Holden will fly into the nano Gunter folders, and the folders will fly to the shores of Bali Hai. This happens like the whisper of a baby’s breath, a bird’s sigh . . .”



 Don’t Want to Die? Just Upload Your Brain

March 5, 2014, 11:32 PM


I have, however, read Susan Schneider’s “The Philosophy of ‘Her’,” a post on The Stone blog at the New York Times looking into the possibility, in the pretty near future, of avoiding death by having your brain scanned and uploaded to a computer. Presumably you’d want to Dropbox your brain file (yes, you’ll need to buy more storage) to avoid death by hard-drive crash. But with suitable backups, you, or an electronic version of you, could go on living forever, or at least for a very, very long time, “untethered,” as Ms. Schneider puts it, “from a body that’s inevitably going to die.”

This idea isn’t the loopy brainchild of sci-fi hacks. Researchers at Oxford University have been on the path to human digitization for a while now, and way back in 2008 the Future of Humanity Institute at Oxford released a 130-page technical report entitled Whole Brain Emulation: A Roadmap. Of the dozen or so benefits of whole-brain emulation listed by the authors, Andrew Sandberg and Nick Bostrom, one stands out:

If emulation of particular brains is possible and affordable, and if concerns about individual identity can be met, such emulation would enable back‐up copies and “digital immortality.”

. . . Scanning brains, the authors write, “may represent a radical new form of human enhancement.” . . .
But what about you? gimzewskiDoes the prospect of uploading your own brain allay your fear of abruptly disappearing from the universe? Is it the next best thing to finding the fountain of youth? Ms. Schneider, a philosophy professor at the University of Connecticut, counsels caution. First, she writes, we might find our identity warped in disturbing ways if we pour our brains into massive digital files. . . .”

Link to article on BIG THINK :

From AEON Magazine, a snippet of a December 18, 2013 article by Michael Graziano re: Mind Uploading

Link to entire article:

Endless fun

The question is not whether we can upload our brains onto a computer, but what will become of us when we do


Imagine a future in which your mind never dies. When your body begins to fail, a machine scans your brain in enough detail to capture its unique wiring. A computer system uses that data to simulate your brain. It won’t need to replicate every last detail. Like the phonograph, it will strip away the irrelevant physical structures, leaving only the essence of the patterns. And then there is a second you, with your memories, your emotions, your way of thinking and making decisions, translated onto computer hardware as easily as we copy a text file these days. Virtual boat dock

That second version of you could live in a simulated world and hardly know the difference. You could walk around a simulated city street, feel a cool breeze, eat at a café, talk to other simulated people, play games, watch movies, enjoy yourself. Pain and disease would be programmed out of existence. If you’re still interested in the world outside your simulated playground, you could Skype yourself into board meetings or family Christmas dinners.

This vision of a virtual-reality afterlife, sometimes called ‘uploading’, entered the popular imagination via the short story ‘The Tunnel Under the World’ (1955) by the American science-fiction writer Frederik Pohl, though it also got a big boost from the movie Tron (1982). Then The Matrix (1999) introduced the mainstream public to the idea of a simulated reality, albeit one into which real brains were jacked. More recently, these ideas have caught on outside fiction. The Russian multimillionaire Dmitry Itskov made the news by proposing to transfer his mind into a robot, thereby achieving immortality. Only a few months ago, the British physicist Stephen Hawking speculated that a computer-simulated afterlife might become technologically feasible.

It is tempting to ignore these ideas as just another science-fiction trope, a nerd fantasy. But something about it won’t leave me alone. I am a neuroscientist. I study the brain. For nearly 30 years, I’ve studied how sensory information gets taken in and processed, how movements are controlled and, lately, how networks of neurons might compute the spooky property of awareness. I find myself asking, given what we know about the brain, whether we really could upload someone’s mind to a computer. And my best guess is: yes, almost certainly. That raises a host of further questions, not least: what will this technology do to us psychologically and culturally? Here, the answer seems just as emphatic, if necessarily murky in the details.

It will utterly transform humanity, probably in ways that are more disturbing than helpful. It will change us far more than the internet did, though perhaps in a similar direction. Even if the chances of all this coming to pass were slim, the implications are so dramatic that it would be wise to think them through seriously. But I’m not sure the chances are slim. In fact, the more I think about this possible future, the more it seems inevitable.

From: Past Imperfect (the newest version of Babylon Dreams) p. 265. 

Does it bother you, Miranda, not being real?

 Define “real,”

In this case “real” means to be born and then to make your way, to fight in order to continue existing and to procreate.

             No, Gunter, it does not bother me because I see no advantage in being “real.”

Selected quotes from:

John Havens via Mashable Op-Ed on Aug. 3, 2013

You Should Be Afraid of Artificial Intelligence

Link to article:

“When is the best time to discuss the ethical uses of these technologies? NOW.”

“How we can ensure humans will be able to control AI once it achieves human-level intelligence?”

“Not to shock you with my mad math skills, but 2023 is 10 years away. Forget that robots are stealing our jobs, will be taking care of us when we’re older, asking us to turn and cough in the medical arena.

It’s not that robots are evil, per se. (Although Ken Jennings, Jeopardy champion who lost to IBM’s Watson might feel differently.) It’s more that machines and robots are currently, and for the moment, predominantly, programmed by humans who always experience biases.

Who is deciding when a target should be engaged? Come to think of it, who’s deciding who is a target? Do we really want to surrender control for weaponized AI to machines, in the wake of situations like the cultural morass of the Trayvon Martin shooting? How would Florida’s Stand Your Ground Law operate if controlled by weaponized AI-police enforcement hooked into a city’s smart grid?

Short answer: choose Disneyland.”

“Nuclear fission was announced to the world at Hiroshima.” James Barrat is author of Our Final Invention: Artificial Intelligence and the End of the Human Era, which expounds a thorough description of the chief players in the larger AI space, along with an arresting sense of where we’re headed with machine learning — a world we can’t define.

For our interview, he cited the Manhattan Project and the development of nuclear fission as a precedent for how we should consider the present state of AI research:

We need to develop a science for understanding advanced Artificial Intelligence before we develop it further. It’s just common sense. Nuclear fission is used as an energy source and can be reliable. In the 1930s the focus of that technology was on energy production, initially, but an outcome of the research led directly to Hiroshima. We’re at a similar turning point in history, especially regarding weaponized machine learning. But with AI we can’t survive a fully realized human level intelligence that arrives as abruptly as Hiroshima.

Barrat also pointed out the difficulty regarding AI and anthropomorphism. It’s easy to imbue machines with human values, but by definition, they’re silicon versus carbon.” her

“Intelligent machines won’t love you any more than your toaster does,” he says. “As for enhancing human intelligence, a percentage of our population is also psychopathic. Giving people a device that enhances intelligence may not be a terrific idea.”

It loves me; it loves me not.

“Options for AI”

The nature of FAB, as I’m proposing it, is to move beyond the dichotomy of only two ways of thinking about AI and elevate the work of unique thinkers in the space. terminator 2Use our Fears about the nature of potential scenarios to help create Awareness of positive possibilities that will Bias us to action regarding AI, versus succumbing to complacency or tacit acceptance toward inevitable overlord rule.

In that regard, I appreciated when James Barrat told me about the work of Steve Omohundro who holds degrees in physics and mathematics from Stanford, a Ph.D. in physics from U.C. Berkeley and is president of Self-Aware Systems, a think tank he created to “bring positive human values to new intelligent technologies.”

Steve Mann, pioneer in the field of wearable computing, has a theory of Humanistic Intelligence (HI) that also adds a unique layer to the discussion surrounding Artificial Intelligence. The theory came from his Ph.D. work at MIT, where Marvin Minsky (whom many call the father of AI) was on his thesis committee.

Mann explains in the opening of his thesis, “Rather than trying to emulate human intelligence, HI recognizes that the human brain is perhaps the best neural network of its kind, and that there are many new signal processing applications, within the domain of personal technologies, that can make use of this excellent but often overlooked processor.” By leveraging tools like Google’s Glass or other intelligent wearable camera systems, we can enhance our lives as aided by technology, versus having our consciousness supplanted by it. He described his theory for our interview:

HI is intelligence that arises by having the human being in the feedback loop of the computational process. AI is not immediately a reality, whereas HI is here and now and viable. HI is a revolution in communications, not mere computation. It’s really a matter of people caring about people, not machines caring about people.

Compared to the notion of the Singularity as described by Ray Kurzweil (the moment in time when machines gain true sentience), Mann’s description of Humanistic Intelligence in full fruition is the Sensularity. It’s an appealing concept: that technology assisting humanity towards greater innovation can feature compassion over computation as its primary goal.

I love technology, but I want to be part of the revolution that dares to stand up and say, “I like being human! I want humans to retain autonomy over machines!”

My hope is that, like the Genesis Angels, the $100 million fund created to spur acceleration in AI and robotics startups, someone will step up and justify the ramifications of AI before unleashing it full-blown onto humanity.”

Mother Hub-board has a new Baby!

From TEDxAuckland 2013


33rd Square

link to article:

Stephen Hawking thinks mind uploading is possible!

September 25, 2013 Stephen Hawking Floats

In speaking at Cambridge about a new film documentary on his life, narrated by Benedict Cumberbatch, Hawking says that he thinks the brain could exist outside the body, and like a program, could be copied onto a computer.

From the University of Washington, an August 2013 research report:

Researcher controls colleague’s motions in 1st human brain-to-brain interface


University of Washington researchers have performed what they believe is the first noninvasive human-to-human brain interface, with one researcher able to send a brain signal via the Internet to control the hand motions of a fellow researcher.   Mind control?

Using electrical brain recordings and a form of magnetic stimulation, Rajesh Rao sent a brain signal to Andrea Stocco on the other side of the UW campus, causing Stocco’s finger to move on a keyboard.

While researchers at Duke University have demonstrated brain-to-brain communication between two rats, and Harvard researchers have demonstrated it between a human and a rat, Rao and Stocco believe this is the first demonstration of human-to-human brain interfacing.

“The Internet was a way to connect computers, and now it can be a way to connect brains,” Stocco said. “We want to take the knowledge of a brain and transmit it directly from brain to brain.”

The researchers captured the full demonstration on video recorded in both labs. The following version has been edited for length. This video and high-resolution photos also are available on the research website.


90-Year-Old Grandma Tries the Oculus Rift Grandma on the Oculus


From: io9


Two of  George Dvorsky’s eight reasons why

“You’ll Probably Never Upload Your Mind Into a Computer”


4. Panpsychism is true.


Panpsychists speculate that all parts of matter involve mind. Neuroscientist Stuart Hameroff has suggested that consciousness is related to a fundamental component of physical reality — components that are akin to phenomenon like mass, spin or charge. According to this view, the basis of consciousness can be found in an additional fundamental force of nature not unlike gravity or electromagnetism. This would be something like an elementary sentience or awareness. As Hameroff notes, “these components just are.” Likewise, David Chalmers has proposed a double-aspect theory in which information has both physical and experiential aspects. Panpsychism has also attracted the attention of quantum physicists (who speculate about potential quantum aspects of consciousness given our presence in an Everett Universe), and physicalists like Galen Strawson (who argues that mental/experiential is physical). mind upload

Why this presents a problem to mind uploading is that consciousness may not substrate neutral — a central tenant of the Church-Turing Hypothesis — but is in fact dependent on specific physical/material configurations. It’s quite possible that there’s no digital or algorithmic equivalent to consciousness. Having consciousness arise in a classical Von Neumann architecture, therefore, may be as impossible as splitting an atom in a virtual environment by using ones and zeros.

Though still controversial, there’s also the potential for panpsychism to be in effect. This is the notion that consciousness is a fundamental and irreducible feature of the cosmos. It might sound a bit New Agey, but it’s an idea that’s steadily gaining currency (especially in consideration of our inability to solve the Hard Problem).

8. Uploaded minds would be vulnerable to hacking and abuse. mind uploading 2013

Once our minds are uploaded, they’ll be physically and inextricably connected to the larger computational superstructure. By consequence, uploaded brains will be perpetually vulnerable to malicious attacks and other unwanted intrusions.


To avoid this, each uploaded person will have to set-up a personal firewall to prevent themselves from being re-programmed, spied upon, damaged, exploited, deleted, or copied against their will. These threats could come from other uploads, rogue AI, malicious scripts, or even the authorities in power (e.g. as a means to instill order and control). Mind hacking


Indeed, as we know all too well today, even the tightest security measures can’t prevent the most sophisticated attacks; an uploaded mind can never be sure it’s safe.


In the USA, it’s  The BIG BRAIN!

March 29, 2013–From: GEN Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News

 Patricia Fitzpatrick Dimond asks “The BAM project will be an expensive undertaking. Will it be worth the cost?”

Is Brain Mapping Ready for Big Science?


V. Yakobchuk/

V. Yakobchuk/

 President Barack Obama’s public-private initiative to create an activity map of the human brain will cost more than $3 billion, projections say, or $300 million annually for 10 years. The project has multiple private and public institutions lined up to participate, including the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) and the National Science Foundation. All parties hope that the initiative will move brain science forward with the same kind of money and focused effort that drove the Genome Project.

“Every dollar we invested to map the human genome returned $140 to our economy—every dollar,” the president commented. “Today our scientists are mapping the human brain to unlock the answers to Alzheimer’s. They’re developing drugs to regenerate damaged organs, devising new materials to make batteries 10 times more powerful. Now is not the time to gut these job-creating investments in science and innovation.”

George M. Church, Ph.D., professor of genetics at Harvard Medical School and director of, said he was helping to plan the Brain Activity Map project.

“If you look at the total spending in neuroscience and nanoscience that might be relative to this today, we are already spending more than that. We probably won’t spend less money, but we will probably get a lot more bang for the buck,” he commented in the New York Times. . . .

. . . The collective idea for the initiative was generated at a meeting of neuroscientists and nanoscientists convened in September 2011 at the Kavli Royal Society International, U.K., organized by Tom Kalil, deputy director for policy at the White House’s Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), and Miyoung Chun, Ph.D., vice president of science programs at the Kavli Foundation in Oxnard, California. . .

Link to complete article:


FROM: ARTIFICIAL BRAINS   The Quest to build sentient machines

Last updated: Aug 14, 2012     Cortical mesocircuit simulati  The Blue Brain Project is an attempt to reverse engineer the human brain and recreate it at the cellular level inside a computer simulation. The project was founded in May 2005 by Henry Markram at the EPFL in Lausanne, Switzerland. Goals of the project are to gain a complete understanding of the brain and to enable better and faster development of brain disease treatments. Cortical mesocircuit simulation

The research involves studying slices of living brain tissue using microscopes and patch clamp electrodes. Data is collected about all the many different neuron types. This data is used to build biologically realistic models of neurons and networks of neurons in the cerebral cortex. The simulations are carried out on a Blue Gene supercomputer built by IBM. Hence the name “Blue Brain”. The simulation software is based around Michael Hines‘s NEURON, together with other custom-built components.

As of August 2012 the largest simulations are of mesocircuits containing around 100 cortical columns (image above right). Such simulations involve approximately 1 million neurons and 1 billion synapses. This is about the same scale as that of a honey bee brain. It is hoped that a rat brain neocortical simulation (~21 million neurons) will be achieved by the end of 2014. A full human brain simulation (86 billion neurons) should be possible by 2023 provided sufficient funding is received.  Link–


Rat to rat communication: Brains of two rats linked  (neither are on linked-in)


How can I ignore the Roboy next door?


From: Yahoo News  2/27/2013

Click picture for Roboy Facebook page


Humanoid robot comes to life


Meet Roboy, “one of the most advanced humanoid robots,” say researchers at the Artificial Intelligence Laboratory of the University of Zurich. Over 40 engineers and scientists are constructing Roboy as a tendon-driven robot modeled on human beings (robots usually have their motors in their joints, giving them that “robot” break-dance look), so it will move almost as elegantly as a human. Roboy will be a “service robot,” meaning it will execute services independently for the convenience of human beings, as in the movie Robot & Frank.

The HipHop Gamer says the Oculus Rift is a leap in VR holographic projection. Gaming jumps to a  mind-blowing level. Oh oh oh seriously!

from:   big think


How Mind-Uploading Could

Enable Interstellar Travel


December 19, 2012, 12:45

By uploading human minds into computer software, serious obstacles to interstellar travel may be overcome. One of the largest roadblocks facing the 100 Year Starship initiative, a proposal drafted by DARPA and NASA to send people to the stars by the year 2100, is the limited span of human lifetime coupled with the long spans of time needed to reach foreign stars.

Orion_jones_alhambra    by Orion Jones  

space ship mind flat

Sending avatars in place of actual humans could offer a number of advantages in getting the spark of consciousness beyond our solar system. “An e-crew—a crew of human uploads implemented in solid-state electronic circuitry—will not require air, water, food, medical care, or radiation shielding, and may be able to withstand extreme acceleration. So the size and weight of the starship will be dramatically reduced.” Advanced forms of artificial intelligence, modeled on specific individuals, could also fulfill mission requirements while not risking human life in the process.

Using current propulsion technology, travel to a nearby star (such as our closest star system, Alpha Centauri, at 4.37 light years from the Sun, which also has a a planet with about the mass of the Earth orbiting it) would take close to 100,000 years.”


Machine Perception Lab Shows Robotic One Year Old On Video

From Science Daily:

Jan. 9, 2013 — The world is getting a long-awaited first glimpse at a new humanoid robot in action mimicking the expressions of a one-year-old child. The robot will be used in studies on sensory-motor and social development – how babies “learn” to control their bodies and to interact with other people.

Diego-san’s hardware was developed by leading robot manufacturers: the head by Hanson Robotics, and the body by Japan’s Kokoro Co. The project is led by University of California, San Diego full research scientist Javier Movellan. Movellan directs the Institute for Neural Computation’s Machine Perception Laboratory, based in the UCSD division of the California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology (Calit2). The Diego-san project is also a joint collaboration with the Early Play and Development Laboratory of professor Dan Messinger at the University of Miami, and with professor Emo Todorov’s Movement Control Laboratory at the University of Washington. Movellan and his colleagues are developing the software that allows Diego-san to learn to control his body and to learn to interact  with people.      baby robot“We’ve made good progress developing new algorithms for motor control, and they have been presented at robotics conferences, but generally on the motor-control side, we really appreciate the difficulties faced by the human brain when controlling the human body,” said Movellan, reporting even more progress on the social-interaction side. “We developed machine-learning methods to analyze face-to-face interaction between mothers and infants, to extract the underlying social controller used by infants, and to port it to Diego-san. We then analyzed the resulting interaction between Diego-san and adults.” Full details and results of that research are being submitted for publication in a top scientific journal. baby robot 2“This robotic baby boy was built with funding from the National Science Foundation and serves cognitive A.I. and human-robot interaction research,” wrote Hanson. “With high definition cameras in the eyes, Diego San sees people, gestures, expressions, and uses A.I. modeled on human babies, to learn from people, the way that a baby hypothetically would. The facial expressions are important to establish a relationship, and communicate intuitively to people.”

Link to entire article:

Whoa: Physicists testing to see if universe is a computer simulation

From: Yahoo News: THE SIDESHOW

December 13, 2012 by Eric Pfeiffer

computer universe Will you take the red pill or the blue pill?

Some physicists and university researchers say it’s possible to test the theory that our entire universe exists inside a computer simulation, like in the 1999 film “The Matrix.”

In 2003, University of Oxford philosophy professor Nick Bostrom published a paper, “The Simulation Argument,” which argued that, “we are almost certainly living in a computer simulation.” Now, a team at Cornell University says it has come up with a viable method for testing whether we’re all just a series of numbers in some ancient civilization’s computer game.

Researchers at the University of Washington agree with the testing method, saying it can be done. A similar proposal was put forth by German physicists in November.

So how, precisely, can we test whether we exist? Put simply, researchers are building their own simulated models, using a technique called lattice quantum chromodynamics. And while those models are currently able to produce models only slightly larger than the nucleus of an atom, University of Washington physics professor Martin Savage says the same principles used in creating those simulations can be applied on a larger scale.

“This is the first testable signature of such an idea,” Savage said. “If you make the simulations big enough, something like our universe should emerge.”

Link to entire article:


From: Forbes tech 11/09/2012

Saying ‘Hi’ Through A Dream: How The Internet Could Make Sleeping More Social

by Parmy Olson

Daniel Oldis, a software engineer and former teacher from Costa Mesa, Calif. uses little more than a special EEG headband called the Zeo, a red light bulb, some clever programming skills and an Internet connection to engage in what he calls “social dreaming” with another person. It stems from his four decades of research into lucid dreaming, and his recent invitations to other lucid dreamers that he found online, to take part in his “open protocol” experiment.

The ability to have lucid dreams is crucial to what he does. Statistics are unclear, but it’s thought that only around 10% of the population are active lucid dreamers, meaning they have at least one lucid dream a month. Lucid dreaming refers to the ability to become aware during a dream that you are in fact, dreaming, and being able to exert some control over what happens in the dream.

Oldis, 62, says people can develop it as a mental skill, though introverted and creative types tend to have an easier time. Christopher Nolan, the director of “Inception,” said at Wondercon 2010 that he had experienced lucid dreaming as a teenager, which partly inspired the idea for his blockbuster film about dream-based heists.

HerThe Science of Lucid Dreamse’s how Oldis’ social-dreaming experiments work.

Two people in different parts of the world go to sleep wearing a EEG device like the Zeo, a sleep-monitoring gadget that wraps around the head. The device is modified to send brainwave data to an open-source computer program Oldis has developed, which is connected to the website, (There are a few gadgets like the NovaDreamer that can also nudge people into lucid dreams with a light or sound cue, but Oldis prefers using EEG devices for more accurate brainwave readings and the potential online connection.)

Each sleeper also has a colored light bulb in their room. This is their “cue.” When the program detects that both people are in REM sleep, meaning they are most likely dreaming, it sends one of them the cue, turning on a red or green bulb in their room. Sometimes they’ll ignore it, or wake up, but sometimes they will incorporate the light into their dream — in the same way you might dream about a loud ambulance siren when your alarm clock has just gone off. 

From Slate via The Week

The Distressing Rise of the Virtual Girlfriend


Posted in Slate  Monday, July 9, 2012, at 5:08 PM ET

Technophile shut-ins, rejoice. The era of shimmery, for-your-eyes-only virtual girlfriends has arrived, says this video, uploaded to You Tube by user Alsionesvx. The film showcases an augmented reality system that allows users to project the pixilated Japanese pop star Hatsune Miku into their day-to-day lives. Using video goggles and an Xtion Pro motion sensor, Alsionesvx can take Hatsune, a wide-eyed, pigtail-wearing wraith who, significantly, has no mouth (and somewhat less significantly, has no nose), to the park. It’s sort of romantic. Then he, um, plunks her in his kitchen and paws at her tie: less romantic.

The worst part, though, is when the filmmaker demonstrates Hatsune’s ability to respond to touch. Almost two minutes into the video, we’re treated to the sight of a man’s disembodied arm patting the aqua-haired apparition on the head. She closes her eyes and raises her palms in what’s supposed to be either pleasure or a cute “I surrender” gesture. But then the guy lifts his hand and whales on her. She cringes, covers her face, knits her eyebrows together in distress. The screen fades to black. Gee whiz, computers can do amazing things these days!

Putting aside the video’s oblivious reenactment of domestic violence (a topic for another post), it’s worth noting that the phenomenon of virtual lady-friends is gathering steam in Japan and Korea. To some, few things may seem as sad-sack as opting for a computerized SO. One XX Factor colleague describes it as “social surrender,” technology telegraphing failure in the real world dating scene. And that could be why digital companions like Hatsune—silent, passive creatures that follow you around and make timid fluttery signs when you beat them—play on fantasies of absolute power and control. What else do they have to offer? Not conversation, and not social capital, real or imagined: After all, they’re only visible to the person with the goggles. You can’t feel them, though they respond to your touch. And if there’s a kind of titillation in walking down the street beside a beautiful woman that no one else knows is there, surely it has as much to do with the thrill of possession as it does with pure delight at her presence.

Anyway, I wonder whether a simple semantic adjustment would help dispel the ickiness of this trend. Instead of calling Hatsune Miku an augmented reality “girlfriend,” let’s call her what she is: a toy. Men who download or buy her or whatever are not participating in relationships, which involve two people, but playing with toys, like Legos or Barbies. You can pummel a teddy bear, if you wish; you cannot bop a woman on the head. Unfortunately, I suspect it’s the consumer’s inability to distinguish between love and ownership that makes Hatsune and her ilk so popular.

(They like it, they really like it.)

‘Mind uploading’ featured in academic journal special issue for first time

From: Kurzweil Accelerating Intelligence

June 26, 2012


 “Mind uploading” is an informal term that refers to transferring the mental contents from a human brain into a different substrate, such as a digital, analog, or quantum computer. It’s also known as “whole brain emulation” and “substrate-independent minds.

Serious mind uploading researchers have emerged recently, taking this seemingly science-fictional notion seriously and pursuing it via experimental and theoretical research programs, Goertzel and Ilke’ note.

For example, Neuroscientist Randal A. Koene (a contributor of two papers to this volume) has formed a nonprofit organization called Carbon Copies ( to promote mind uploading research.

At the request of KurzweilAI, the publishers have kindly made both the Introduction and the first paper by Koene, Fundamentals Of Whole Brain Emulation: State, Transition And Update Representations, open access, available in full text on the International Journal of Machine Consciousness website.

Editor Ben Goertzel has also gathered links to informal, “preprint” versions of the papers in this Special Issue, hosted on the paper authors’ websites. These preprint versions are not guaranteed to be identical to the final published versions, but the content should be essentially the same, he advises.


“. . . He never loved me. Why was I so sure he did—convinced that he did? After all, I didn’t go back to Seattle because I . . .  I remember, now,  that day on the island when I was eight. I went too far out in the surf.  A wave caught me, and as I struggled, I screamed “Dad!” I could see him, and I waved my arms. He stood watching, his cigar frozen in his mouth. I couldn’t make out his expression, only that he didn’t move. I called again, “Help Dad please . . . pleeeese!”  I went under. There was a school of fish below me as the water pulled me deeper.  My lungs began to give way. The urge to take a breath and fill my lungs with water was winning, and just as I wondered if those fish would be the ones to eat me, a hand grabbed my arm, and I was pulled up.

Dad carried me back to shore, and, as I lay limp in his arms, I could feel his heart pounding, and I heard him crying.  His voice trembled, “Oh Gunter, my little boy. Oh please God—oh I’m so sorry, oh Gunter!” I didn’t let him know I heard him cry. I closed my eyes until he placed me on the sand, and, as I coughed up the seawater, I was happy because I knew he loved me then, the only time he ever said it. The island was why I waited on the Venice Beach and still loved him.”

ScienceDaily (May 3, 2012)

— UCSF scientists have identified patterns of brain activity in the rat brain that play a role in the formation and recall of memories and decision-making. The discovery, which builds on the team’s previous findings, offers a path for studying learning, decision-making and post-traumatic stress syndrome.

The researchers previously identified patterns of brain activity in the rat hippocampus, a brain region critical for memory storage. The patterns sometimes represented where an animal was in space, and, at other times, represented fast-motion replays of places the animal had been, but no one knew whether these patterns indicated the process of memory formation and recollection.

In the journal Science this week (online May 3, 2012), the UCSF researchers demonstrated that the brain activity is critical for memory formation and recall. Moreover, they showed that the brain patterns through which the rats see rapid replays of past experiences are fundamental to their ability to make decisions. Disturbing those particular brain patterns impaired the animals’ ability to learn rules based on memories of things that had happened in the past.

Augmented Reality is for big kids–the future of job hunting and sucking up to the right person.

Nov. 2011








Link to 3/27/2012 article by Joan Voight:

Scuba diving among the sharks along Australia’s Great Barrier Reef is a breathtakingly immersive experience. It’s also dangerous and expensive.


But exploring a virtual ocean and coming nose to nose with a real-looking shark is a viable alternative. That, in a nutshell, has been the promise of virtual reality over the years — it could put us in an artificial environment that feels entirely real, without getting our feet wet.

No more. The success of the 3-D movie “Avatar” and the popularity of super-realistic video games are bringing virtual reality and its cousin, augmented reality, to the entertainment forefront. You can now experience virtual reality technology at museums, discovery centers and trade shows and in immersive “rides” at Disney World and other big theme parks. It will soon make its way into our living rooms via devices that transport us fully into virtual games . . .

  On Mind-uploading:

From TIS (truth is scary)


Can brain uploading be achieved within 40 years?

According to Ian Pearson, a British futurist, death will be a thing of the past by 2050.

Science fiction? No. An organization called The Digital Immortality Institute (DII) is researching the possibility of doing just that. DII has determined the three things necessary to achieve digital immortality are: guaranteed Internet access; insure the identity integrity of the avatars for each individual user; and finally, make sure the personality, memory, everything that makes up the person as a unique individual, has been uploaded into the digital facsimile before the actual person dies.

Yet virtual reality holds little interest for Pearson. He wants the real thing, and so does scientist Anders Sandberg. A member of the new transhuman movement (beyond human), Sandberg believes uploading minds and downloading them again into new bodies is a technology that’s imminent . . . 

. . . Some like 80-year old Marvin Minsky, called the father of artificial intelligence, creator of artificial neural networks and the co-founder of the AI lab at MIT, believes the general masses haven’t a clue about how to handle immortality, nor do they deserve it. From his ivory tower perspective he believes that scientists need the extra time that immortality can provide, while the rest of humanity should be satisfied with normal lifespans.


A Russian mogul wants to make sure the answer is yes, and soon.

By Clay Dillow Posted 03.02.2012 at 11:22 am

“. . . At the recent Global Future 2045 International Congress held in Moscow, 31-year-old media mogul Dmitry Itskov told attendees how he plans to create exactly that kind of immortality, first by creating a robot controlled by the human brain, then by actually transplanting a human brain into a humanoid robot, and then by replacing the surgical transplant with a method for simply uploading a person’s consciousness into a surrogate ‘bot. He thinks he can get beyond the first phase–to transplanting a working brain into a robot–in just ten years, putting him on course to achieve his ultimate goal–human consciousness completely disembodied and placed within a holographic host–within 30 years time. . . “

Link to article:

From: Popsci 2/02/2012

an article by Clay Dillow


The augmented reality future we were long ago promised has been slow to come around, perhaps restrained most by the basic biology of our own eyes, which are unable to properly see detailed images placed very near the pupils. But via technology developed in part with a certain government agency, Washington-based Innovega has created a unique contact lens technology that allows the eye to focus on images projected very close to the eyes as well as objects in the real world beyond.


Simply put, the technology opens the door to augmented reality systems that don’t require some kind of bulky, virtual-reality-headset-from-the-‘90s peripheral visor or helmet. Instead, Innovega’s tech relies on images protected on a normal-looking set of specs and a pair of nanotechnology-infused contact lenses that provide megapixel clarity of that up-close imagery while still allowing the eye to focus on the world beyond.

At least, so goes the company’s CES pitch, which you can judge for yourself below. We haven’t tested the product, so we can’t really speak to its awesomeness. But DARPA can. The Pentagon’s blue-sky research wing announced yesterday that Innovega has developed for the agency a new breed of contact lenses that allow “a wearer to view virtual and augmented reality images without the need for bulky apparatus” and that allow users to focus on both faraway objects and images placed very close to the eye.

For DARPA’s part, Innovega is working as part of the Soldier Centric Imaging via Computational Cameras (SCENICC) program, which aims to eliminate the intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance capability gap at the individual soldier level. Read: AR setups that plug individual soldiers right into drone feeds and other intel streams while still allowing them to maintain their peripheral vision and situational awareness. Meanwhile that could lead to more immersive 3-D television and gaming experiences for the rest of us.





Excerpt pg. 30

GUNTER HOLDEN DOC. 151        Purpose: Recreational/social—re: childhood fear (save)

      What did you most fear before your bio death—your wife’s betrayal perhaps? But what did you fear as a child—you know—the fear that seemed to spring from your DNA— the legacy of some ancestor who survived because he feared something and he left the fear imprinted as surely as the shape of your ears or fingers…

…A roller coaster terrified me once. We were in Oslo and my father left me with the tutor—a young man whose name I’ve forgotten. I was restless—almost thirteen, but thought myself a man and because of his youth, I balked at his authority—so we compromised…So—the roller coaster, yes . . . that was the adventure—the “ThunderCoaster” they call it. I wonder if it is still there…

…Our seats were second in the line of cars, behind an old man and his grandson—a boy of ten with white-blond hair and a cowlick that bounced. There was this loud clicking sound as the bars were put in place, and then . . . a sudden jerk. As the string of cars began to climb, I was pressed against the back of my seat—the angle was close—I thought it was, to ninety degrees—straight up. As we climbed up . . . it was into the grey clouds and I kept hearing the click-click-click . . . then—an incredible jerk. We seemed to be in free fall and I panicked and screamed. I saw nothing but the dark as we descended and it felt as if nothing was beneath us. Then we landed for a mere second before swerving into another impossible trajectory into the clouds. All that was visible for me was the blonde cowlick as we began each plunge. It was bouncing and waving as if to say goodbye—it’s finished—you’re finished.

      The clicks were dreadful—each torturous one taking me closer to the top where I would plunge again and again and no one was there to catch me—ridiculous as it was—that’s what was in my mind. When it finished, I saw the tutor looking concerned. Later I saw tears streaked and dried on my face—but that was the least of it—I had wet my pants, and a trail of drops led back to the gate and I’m sure to that second seat. Oh no, he was very tactful, most likely because of his job…

A virtual ride on a roller coaster

VEI Excerpt p.206


“… I wear a mask and snorkel but I don’t need them. As Stephanie said—it’s a trick. I would like to self-delete, but I’m afraid. You have to really want to—that instinct to exist must disappear completely before you can. Even Karen and Jacob used the Dreams.

A turtle emerges from the waving underwater grass and behind him rising swiftly, I see dancers. Golden lovers spin towards me—their act of phantom procreation is entertainment for a ghost. Seahorses mate and stay together. Every day they dance. The father keeps eggs safe within his pouch and when they’re ready—mature enough to strike out on their own, he lets them go—tiny creatures that float head up to join the cruel ocean world—perhaps to be snapped up by a predator, or to dance and spin together with their lover.

Does it bother you, Miranda—not being real?

 Define “real,”

In this case “real” means to be born and then to make your way—to fight in order to continue existing, and to procreate.

 No, Gunter, it does not bother me because I see no advantage in being “real.”

FROM:  theguardian

via Centre for Medical Humanities Blog

The story of the self – Charles Fernyhough on the slipperiness of memory

Friday 13 January 2012

Charles Fernyhough


The story of the self

Image from Virtual Enterprises, Inc.

“Our ability to remember forms the basis of who we are and is a psychological trick that fascinates      cognitive scientists. But how reliable are our memories?

Memory is our past and future. To know who you are as a person, you need to have some idea of who   you have been. And, for better or worse, your remembered life story is a pretty good guide to what you will do tomorrow. “Our memory is our coherence,” wrote the surrealist Spanish-born film-maker, Luis Buñuel, “our reason, our feeling, even our action.” Lose your memory and you lose a basic connection with who you are.

It’s no surprise, then, that there is fascination with this quintessentially human ability. When I cast back to an event from my past – let’s say the first time I ever swam backstroke unaided in the sea – I don’t just conjure up dates and times and places (what psychologists call “semantic memory”). I do much more than that. I am somehow able to reconstruct the moment in some of its sensory detail, and relive it, as it were, from the inside. I am back there, amid the sights and sounds and seaside smells. I become a time traveller who can return to the present as soon as the demands of “now” intervene…”

FROM: HP Magazine

Editor’s Blog

Giulio Prisco
January 31, 2011

“. . . In Zendegi, Egan describes the early development stage of very advanced mind uploading technologies which, of course, at the beginning do not work well enough for practical use. . .

. . . Science fiction writers and futurists have been criticized for making very wrong predictions. When we were kids, our generation “knew” that in 2011 we would have flying cars and holidays on Mars. Looking back, it is easy to see why this future did not happen. But I have a magic device in my pocket which can hold thousands of books which I can read where and when I want. With the same device I can talk to most people on the planet, take pictures and upload them to social networks, send email, surf the web, see where I am on a map, stream video, play games, post to Twitter and edit my blogs. We are in the future! . . .

. . . Greg Egan is one of my favorite science fiction writers. In some novels like Diaspora, Schild’s Ladder and Incandescence he explores the very far future, and in others he stays closer to the present. At times, Egan also makes some very optimistic predictions. For example in Permutation City, he places the first successful tests of mind uploading in 2026, which seems quite over-optimist from here. . .

. . . Much of Zendegi takes place in Iran (see Egan’s notes on his trip to Iran when he was writing the novel). . .

. . . Zendegi has financial problems and is losing market share to its competitors. . .

. . . Caplan is an extropian entrepreneur, a mind uploading enthusiast and a transhumanist cliché. When he first meets Nasim in 2010, he introduces himself as “My IQ is one hundred and sixty. I’m in perfect physical and mental health. And I can pay you half a million dollars right now”, quite in line with Egan’s unforgiving opinion of transhumanists. . .

. . . The uploading technology used, more appropriately called “sideloading”, consists of tweaking and fine-tuning a generic mindware “me-program” obtained by the Human Connectome Project, with long and involved training sessions, until it behaves like a specific person. . .

. . .the tragic end is already expected by the reader and does not come as a surprise. Egan knows that the development of disruptive technologies is never easy, never linear, and always troubled. I think uploading technology will be developed eventually, perhaps in the second half of this century, but I am afraid Greg is right, and in the early development stages there will be unexpected problems and major setbacks, there will be unhappiness, and there will be tragedies. . . “

Excerpt p. 87–Babylon Dreams (VEI)

From: VEI Memory Library Selection “Oliver Jackson’s Wedding Night”

“…Karina is still here—happily married at the moment to Sergei, a former dancer who toured with the Bolshoi Ballet—someone thirty years younger in the bio world—he transitioned when a private plane went down over the Atlantic—you may have read about it. She manifests as her eighteen-year old self and they often entertain friends and occasionally at selected events with ballet performances—she gained the skills in the blink of an eye he spent a lifetime acquiring. Sergei doesn’t seem to mind though—a real love-match. I wonder how long it will last…”

From: National Science Foundation

December 8, 2011

Vision Scientists Demonstrate Innovative Learning Method

New research suggests it may be possible to learn high-performance tasks with little or no conscious effort

“… New research published today in the journal Science suggests it may be possible to use brain technology to learn to play a piano, reduce mental stress or hit a curve ball with little or no conscious effort. It’s the kind of thing seen in Hollywood’s “Matrix” franchise…

…Neuroscientists have found that pictures gradually build up inside a person’s brain, appearing first as lines, edges, shapes, colors and motion in early visual areas. The brain then fills in greater detail to make a red ball appear as a red ball, for example…

Boston University post-doctoral fellow Kazuhisa Shibata designed and implemented a method using decoded fMRI neurofeedback to induce a particular activation pattern in targeted early visual areas that corresponded to a pattern evoked by a specific visual feature in a brain region of interest. The researchers then tested whether repetitions of the activation pattern caused visual performance improvement on that visual feature.

The result, say researchers, is a novel learning approach sufficient to cause long-lasting improvement in tasks that require visual performance.

What’s more, the approached worked even when test subjects were not aware of what they were learning…”



A Multiverse of Exploration: The Future of Science 2021

Dec 05, 2011
   “Invisibility cloaks. The search for extraterrestrial intelligence. A Facebook for genes. These were just a few of the startling topics IFTF explored at our recent Technology Horizons Program conference on the “Future of Science.” More than a dozen scientists from UC Berkeley, Stanford, UC Santa Cruz, Scripps Research Institute, SETI, and private industry shared their edgiest research driving transformations in science. MythBusters’ Adam Savage weighed in on the future of science education. All of their presentations were signals supporting IFTF’s new “Future of Science” forecast, laid out in a new map titled “A Multiverse of Exploration: The Future of Science 2021.” The map focuses on six big stories of science that will play out over the next decade: Decrypting the Brain, Hacking Space, Massively Multiplayer Data, Sea the Future, Strange Matter, and Engineered Evolution. Those stories are emerging from a new ecology of science shifting toward openness, collaboration, reuse, and increased citizen engagement in
scientific research…”

From: Plus Ultra Technologies

“. . .Here is the conclusion of the lecture delivered by Stephan Wolfram, titled,Computation & The Future of Mankind, delivered at the Singularity Summit 2011. . .”

“. . . I talk about everything being possible, but ultimately, we are just physical entities governed by the laws of physics.  So an obvious question is what those laws ultimately are. . . 

. . . In the past it would have been inconceivable that all the richness of your universe could be generated just by a few simple lines of code. . .

. . .I don’t think we know apriori whether our universe is a simple program.  We know it’s not as complicated as it could be, because after all, there is order in the universe.  But we don’t know how simple it might be.  I suppose it seems very much non-Copernican to imagine that our universe happens to be one of the special simple ones.  But still if it is simple, we should be able to find just by searching the computational universe of possible universes. . .

. . . Suffice it to say that if the universe can really be represented by a few simple lines of code, then it’s inevitable that that code must operate at a very low level. . .

. . .  In practice, I am hopeful that there are enough pockets of computational reducibility, that we’ll be able to get a foothold in comparing the laws of the universe that we know. . .



Wendy Grossman November 2, 2011

Link to entire article:


AI scientists want to make gods. Should that worry us?

“…This year Kurzweil’s talk focused on Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen’s counter-arguments. Among other things, Allen complained that Kurzweil’s “law of accelerating returns” is not an immutable physical law…

…One of Scottish science fiction writer Ken MacLeod’s characters once described the singularity as “the rapture for nerds”. The late John McCarthy, the “father of AI”, called it, simply, “nonsense”, and expressed the hope of living to 102 so he could laugh at Kurzweil in 2029. Singularitarians have been known to counter that when an elderly scientist says something is impossible, he is usually wrong. Maybe: but McCarthy knew better than anyone the difficulties of creating and programming AI….

…Singularitarians often come across as cult-like and defensive. It doesn’t help that so many see the artificial general intelligences (AGIs) they want to build as the solution to everything from climate change, radical life extension, immortality and colonising space to finding new energy sources. Immortality, gods, wealth, health, universal democracy … aren’t these the horizons that every generation has chased since time immemorial?…

…The science fiction writer David Brin told last month’s sixth annual singularity summit: “So you want to make gods. Now, why would that bother anybody?” The audience might not have taken this joke so well from anybody they admired less…

…This is where believing in the singularity is no different from belief in any other type of benevolent intelligence watching over us – gods, extraterrestrials, fairies or royalty. But suppose we do in fact build one? The reality might not be benevolent…”

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