Psychohistory, the imaginary scientific field created by Isaac Asimov in his "Foundation" series, may no longer be fiction
Song Chaoming, for instance, is a researcher at Northeastern University in Boston. He is a physicist, but he moonlights as a social scientist. With that hat on he has devised an algorithm which can look at someone’s mobile-phone records and predict with an average of 93% accuracy where that person is at any moment of any day. Given most people’s regular habits (sleep, commute, work, commute, sleep), this might not seem too hard. What is impressive is that his accuracy was never lower than 80% for any of the 50,000 people he looked at.
Full article at The Economist.
posted by Strange Interlude
on Feb 26, 2013 -
"There are certain novels that can shape a teenage boy's life. For some, it's Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged; for others it's Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings. As a widely quoted internet meme says, the unrealistic fantasy world portrayed in one of those books can warp a young man's character forever; the other book is about orcs. But for me, of course, it was neither. My Book – the one that has stayed with me for four-and-a-half decades – is Isaac Asimov's Foundation Trilogy, written when Asimov was barely out of his teens himself. I didn't grow up wanting to be a square-jawed individualist or join a heroic quest; I grew up wanting to be Hari Seldon, using my understanding of the mathematics of human behaviour to save civilisation." [Paul Krugman: Asimov's Foundation novels grounded my economics
posted by vidur
on Dec 9, 2012 -
"It’s a long, long time from now, and machines have developed into sentient beings. Starting with the high-tech space stuff, a whole new set of different mechanistic species have come into existence. The machines are not only sentient; they are alive in other ways as well. They even produce offspring and evolve.
At first, it was just the super high-tech orbiting stuff that achieved self-awareness, but soon more terrestrial devices gained intelligence. Unfortunately the machines loathed each other, and war broke out between orbiting and earthly devices. Humankind had already moved out into space, but at the discovery that our original home world was in a crisis situation, we returned.
By the time we reached Earth again, all the original machines had been destroyed. The descendants of those original devices were still battling, trying to obliterate each other, an ancient blood feud where one planetary region wasn’t big enough for the two mechanical clans.
The future humans had to make a decision that would end the war. But it was clear that humankind had been in space too long as there was no sympathy for the terrestrial machines. And that’s when we found ourselves backing the satellite kin
." [more inside]
posted by 256
on Aug 6, 2012 -
In 1973, the BBC aired an adaptation of Isaac Asimov's original Foundation trilogy, in eight one-hour parts. It is freely downloadable (or streamable) here
posted by SpacemanStix
on Dec 11, 2011 -
Think you get a lot done?
Isaac Asimov (pronounced like "has, him, of" without the h's
) , who would have turned 87 today, wrote or edited over 500 books
, including science-fiction novels
, introductions to organic chemistry
(a field in which he held a professorship at B.U.) , indispensable anthologies
of early science fiction, jokebooks
, guides to Shakespeare
, and collections of lively essays on science
that have introduced thousands of people to the pleasures of thinking hard about the universe. He also found the time to write a few essays
and write postcards to his fans.
His story "Runaround"
, from his 1950 collection I, Robot
, is the only piece of fiction I know centered on the properties of a differential equation. His Foundation Trilogy
was given a special Hugo award
in 1966 as the best science fiction series of all time; a movie version
, to be written by Jeff Vintar and directed by Shekhar Kapur, is currently in development. Previous AsimovFilter: here
Feel like a slacker yet? Stop reading MetaFilter and get to work!
posted by escabeche
on Jan 2, 2007 -
The news this morning included a small blurb about today
being the anniversary of the first human killed by a robot. No doubt this is important to note due to the release of I, Robot
but it appears to be incorrect. The first incident I can find was on January 25, 1979
. Since then OSHA has recorded at least 10 more deaths in US factories
alone. Japan saw it's first in 1981 and as a result it's Ministry of Labor requested a 20% budget increase
for its robot related activities. All these incidents can be classified as accidents but it does force me to wonder how dangerous they will be when AI advances further. Should we mandate the Three Laws of Robotics
posted by jwells
on Jul 21, 2004 -
Isaac Asimov died of AIDS.
His widow, Janet Jeppson Asimov, reveals that Asimov acquired AIDS from a blood transfusion during bypass surgery in 1983 in a condensed version of his biography just published this month ("It's Been a Good Life"). Apparently his doctor advised that they not disclose his AIDS infection.
posted by maudlin
on Mar 10, 2002 -