You are browsing the archive for March 2017 - Mountain Beltway.

29 March 2017

Robopocalypse, by Daniel H. Wilson

Robopocalypse, by Daniel H. Wilson

Okay, let’s get this out of the way up front: In no no way is Robopocalypse of anything like the caliber of Our Final Invention or Superintelligence. Though written by an author who holds a PhD in robotics from Carnegie Mellon, this is an adventure novel. It explores some interesting aspects of a AI vs. humanity conflict, but it’s basically constructed in a way that’s very much mano a mano, …

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28 March 2017

P-sol in a conglomerate countertop slab

P-sol in a conglomerate countertop slab

A hardware parking lot in rural Virginia showcases an elegant slab of pressure-solution induced compaction of a conglomerate.

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27 March 2017

Cleaved, boudinaged, folded Edinburg Formation southwest of Lexington

Cleaved, boudinaged, folded Edinburg Formation southwest of Lexington

Explore a dozen photos highlighting the structural geology of an outcrop of limestone and shale near Lexington, Virginia. Cleavage refraction, overturned beds, boudinage, folds, and even a small fossil – we’ve got something for everyone. Bring the whole family!

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22 March 2017

Pocketknife for scale

Pocketknife for scale

Geologists often use pocketknives as a sense of scale. Here’s why that may not be such a good idea!

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10 March 2017

Friday fold: Sheba Mine sample

Friday fold: Sheba Mine sample

When touring the geology of the Barberton Greenstone Belt last August, our group visited the Sheba Mine, a gold mine high in the hills. Their geologist kindly showed us around and allowed us to visit his history-laden office. I have no idea where this sample originated, but it was the only fold I saw in the place, nestled between sepia-toned photographs and old lanterns and rusty picks. I wonder what …

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9 March 2017

Lugworm casts on the beach, Islay

Lugworm casts on the beach, Islay

Who dwells beneath the sands of Islay? Lugworms do. These embedded annelids process the sediment for food, extruding the undigested sand in charismatic piles that adorn the beach of Loch Gruinart.

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8 March 2017

Q&A, episode 4

Q&A, episode 4

Who are “the 3%?” A reader question prompts a conversation with “Skeptical Science” guru and cognitive scientist John Cook.

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7 March 2017

A conversation with James Barrat

A conversation with James Barrat

Yesterday I reviewed Our Final Invention, an accessible and provocative book about the development of artificial intelligence (AI) and the various ways it might represent a threat to some or all of the human species, all other forms of life on Earth, and (astonishingly) potentially even the very substance of the planet we dwell on (!). I strongly recommend everyone read it. Today, I’m please to present a discussion with …

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6 March 2017

Our Final Invention, by James Barrat

Our Final Invention, by James Barrat

I am concerned about artificial general intelligence (AGI) and its likely rapid successor, artificial superintelligence (ASI). I have written here previously about that topic, after reading Nick Bostrom’s book Superintelligence. I have just finished another book on that topic, Our Final Invention, by James Barrat. I think it’s actually a better introduction to the topic than Bostrom, because it’s written in a more journalistic, less academic style. Most chapters read …

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3 March 2017

Friday fold: Kink folded Dalradian metasediments

Let’s reminisce back to the Walls Boundary Fault on the Ollaberry Peninsula of Shetland today. Here’s a 3D model to go along with the ones I posted last time: It’s a little ragged, but so am I at the end of the workweek! Happy Friday. Have fun spinning this thing.

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