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By |May 1st, 2022|Information, Podcasts, Research|

“Off-Earth: Ethical Questions and Quandaries for Living in Outer Space” with Dr Erika Nesvold

Off Earth book reviewed at Bridging the Gaps: A Portal for Curious Minds

As humanity sets its sights on venturing beyond the confines of Earth, it is immensely important to acknowledge that the journey to space is not merely a technological feat, but a profoundly human endeavour. From pinpointing destinations to preparing flight plans, from developing generational ships to designing habitats, from selecting teams to establishing communities, there is a crucial element that must not be overlooked: the human dimension. From fostering a sense of community and shared purpose among spacefarers to grappling with the enforcement of laws and the establishment of governance structures in extraterrestrial settlements, addressing these aspects is essential for the success and sustainability of our off-world endeavours. Erika Nesvold’s insightful book “Off-Earth: Ethical Questions and Quandaries for Living in Outer Space” serves as a timely reminder that space exploration isn’t solely about the scientific and technical aspects—it’s about grappling with the very human dilemmas that accompany such endeavours. In the episode of Bridging the Gaps, I speak with Dr Erika Nesvold.

Dr Erika Nesvold is an astrophysicist who has worked as a researcher at NASA Goddard and the Carnegie Institution for Science. She is a developer for Universe Sandbox, a physics-based space simulator. She is a co-founder of the nonprofit organisation the JustSpace Alliance. Erika is the creator and host of the podcast Making New Worlds.

We began by discussing the significance of understanding the human aspect of space exploration. The book covers a wide variety of topics and in our discussion we touch upon ethical, social and legal complexities that must be understood and adopted or redeveloped for our extraterrestrial settlements. We also discuss the concepts and principles that can be borrowed from the laws and charters devised during humanity’s exploration of open seas and oceans. Central to our discussion is the importance of initiating a dialogue now to foster an understanding of how our humanity intersects with the challenges and opportunities presented by space exploration. This understanding, we discuss, is fundamental in shaping a future that upholds ethical principles and fosters social equity.

Complement this discussion with “A Traveller’s Guide to the Stars” with Physicist, Author and Nasa Technologist Les Johnson and then listen to “The Next 500 Years: Engineering Life to Reach New Worlds” with Professor Christopher Mason.

By |April 28th, 2024|Future, Podcasts, Research|

“Evolutionary Intelligence: How Technology Will Make Us Smarter” with Professor W. Russell Neuman

Evolutionary Intelligence book reviewed at Bridging the Gaps

Artificial intelligence (AI) has emerged as one of the most remarkable advancements of our time. It is a powerful evolving technology that has transformed the way we interact with machines and perceive the capabilities of computer systems. However, with this newfound power comes a natural apprehension. There is a noticeable fear surrounding the unintentional consequences and unintended implications of Artificial Intelligence. As this technology becomes increasingly integrated into our daily lives, the question is: how justified are our fears and just how tangible, and how real is the threat posed by this revolutionary technology? Perhaps, the underlying cause of these fears is our tendency to unjustifiably attribute human traits to the machines we may construct.

A compelling new perspective suggests that human intelligence will evolve alongside digital technology, leading to a transformative coevolution of human and artificial intelligence. This augmented intelligence will reshape our thinking and behaviour. In his recent book “Evolutionary Intelligence: How Technology Will Make Us Smarter” Professor W. Russell Neuman offers a remarkably optimistic perspective where computational intelligence not only addresses the well-known limitations of human judgement but also enhances decision-making capabilities and expands our capacity for action. In this episode of Bridging the Gaps, I speak with Professor W. Russell Neuman. We discuss how our future depends on our ability to computationally compensate for the limitations of the human cognitive system. We explore Neuman’s viewpoint that “if intelligence is the capacity to match means with ends, then augmented intelligence can offer the ability to adapt to changing environments as we face the ultimate challenge of long-term survival”. Professor Neuman’s distinctive approach to explain complex concepts through narratives and anecdotes adds an engaging layer of interest to this discussion. This highly informative discussion makes a powerful argument for the continued coexistence of humans and their machines.

W. Russell Neuman is Professor of Media Technology at New York University. He is a specialist in new media and digital education. He is a founding faculty of the MIT Media Lab. He served as a Senior Policy Analyst in the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, working in the areas of information technology, broadband policy, and technologies for border security.

Complement this discussion with Reclaiming Human Intelligence and “How to Stay Smart in a Smart World” with Prof. Gerd Gigerenzer and then listen to “Working with AI: Real Stories of Human-Machine Collaboration” with Professor Thomas Davenport and Professor Steven Miller.

“Design for a Better World: Meaningful, Sustainable, Humanity Centered” with Professor Don Norman

Design For A Better World reviewed at Bridging the Gaps

Has human behaviour pushed our world to the edge, especially the mistaken belief that the earth’s resources are infinite? And can a shift in human behaviour rescue us? The challenges we face, from collapsing social structures to the climate crisis, have been centuries in the making. It is immensely critical that we take immediate and decisive actions; we must transform ourselves to improve our circumstances. In his new book “Design for a Better World: Meaningful, Sustainable, Humanity Centered” Don Norman offers an insightful analysis of our missteps and provides a clear remedy for making things better. The book suggests that the pivotal factor for change lies in human behaviour. The book explores this through three main themes: meaning, sustainability, and humanity-centeredness. In this episode of Bridging the Gaps, I speak with professor Don Norman. We dig deep on these three themes and explore the ideas that a meaningful quality of life, rather than mere monetary gain, restructuring our lifestyles to enhance environmental protection, and adopting an inclusive approach that encompasses all of humanity, can empower us to address the challenges confronting us.

Don Norman is Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Cognitive Science and Psychology and founding director of the Design Lab at the University of California, San Diego. Business Week has named Norman one of the world’s most influential designers. He was an Apple Vice President, has been an advisor and board member for numerous companies, and has three honorary degrees. His numerous books have been translated into over 20 languages including “The Design of Everyday Things” and “Living with Complexity”.

We start off by examining the pervasive artificiality surrounding us. Misplaced and disjointed elements, such as non-native plants, high density concrete structures and other artefacts, contribute to environments saturated with artificial constructs. Furthermore, we delve into how our metrics of success are also influenced by this artificiality. We measure our success by using metrics that don’t encompass what really matters. This artificiality has consequently led to an unsustainable sociotechnical system. We touch upon the ramifications of distorted capitalism before delving deeply into the central themes of the book: meaning, sustainability, and humanity-centeredness. Exploring the human quest for significance, we discuss why a sense of meaning is essential for every aspect of our existence. Addressing sustainability, we discuss how to rectify the harm inflicted upon the ecosystem. Finally, we discuss a humanity-centered approach to crafting artefacts and lifestyles that offers a pathway to rectify our current predicament. This discussion has been both enlightening and invigorating.

Complement this discussion with “Philosophy of Technology” with Professor Peter-Paul Verbeek.
And then listen to “The Good-Enough Life” with Dr Avram Alpert.

By |March 6th, 2024|Future, Sustainability, Technology|