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This is for you, Elon Musk: 5 threats to humanity greater than artificial intelligence






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Hey there, Elon Musk. We need to have a little talk. 

I understand that you’re very worried about what artificial intelligence could mean for our future. In fact, just the other week you said that it’s the “greatest risk we face as a civilization,” an idea that has been echoed by high-profile futurists around the world. 

But I’m here to tell you that it’s time to take a deep breath and maybe get a little perspective on A.I. for a minute, when compared to the wide array of threats we face.

Elon, it’s nice that you have the privilege of focusing on an existential threat that might rear its ugly head far off in the future, but not all of us are in that position.  Read more…

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Trump’s EPA enlists controversial think tank to find climate ‘experts’ to argue with mainstream scientists






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Ever since Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) administrator Scott Pruitt and other Trump administration officials raised the idea of putting climate science up for debate, it’s been an open question as to where the participants who doubt mainstream climate science would come from. 

Now that is becoming clearer, and the answer is sure to further convince many that this entire exercise is a set up to discredit some of the most basic, rigorously studied climate science conclusions. 

The Washington Examiner reported on Monday that the EPA has reached out to the controversial Heartland Institute for help in casting the so-called “red team” that would try to poke holes in the evidence presented by mainstream climate scientists.  Read more…

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NASA wants your brilliant ideas for protecting astronauts from radiation






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NASA has always been a fan of you and your ideas, often relying on crowdsourcing for thoughts about fun projects like the search for exoplanets and studying the surface of the moon

Now comes word they’re accepting ideas on designing a radiation shield for potential deep-space flights. More specifically, “a 3D folding concept for radiation shielding used to cover human habitation sections of spacecraft.”

The new project is just one of three challenges currently active on a site that NASA is running with Freelancer.com to crowdsource solutions for various needs. Previous challenges range from building 3D models of various tools like a drill or manilla envelope to developing a smartwatch app astronauts can use during missions. Read more…

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Anybody who did high school debate knows it’s the worst way to tackle climate change






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Anybody who spent time in the low-stakes-but-ego-ridden world of high school debate knows: Debate is a terrible way to address a topic with any semblance of subtlety. 

That goes double for any topic related to science. 

Climate change, then, would make for a particularly terrible topic for an open debate. It’s no coincidence then that Scott Pruitt, administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency and an avowed climate denier, has been pushing for a “red team/blue team” debate around the science of climate change.

Pruitt does a good job of making the idea sound reasonable enough.

“There are lots of questions that have not been asked and answered,” Pruitt said. “Who better to do that than a group of scientists … getting together and having a robust discussion for all the world to see.” Read more…

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‘Fujiwhara effect,’ a rare weather event marked by dancing cyclones, expected this week






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A rare, ultimately fatal dance is expected to occur this week between two hurricanes in the eastern Pacific Ocean. This tango occurs when two storms get close enough for their circulations to interact, sending them pinwheeling around a fixed point between them somewhat like a meteorological version of a fidget spinner.

Hurricanes Hilary and Irwin will orbit around a fixed point during the middle of the week, until one storm absorbs the other, in a phenomenon known as the Fujiwhara effect. 

What’s even more remarkable is that at virtually the same time as the two eastern Pacific storms are interacting, an intensifying typhoon in the Northwest Pacific will also force another, weaker tropical weather system to twirl around its circulation, too.  Read more…

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