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1 year ago

Could AI Develop Spirituality?

Artificial Intelligence theorists spend a good deal of time thinking about how the creation of true artificial intelligence would affect society. Some brilliant minds, like Stephen Hawking and Bill Gates are rather pessimistic about what a future with artificial intelligence could mean for humankind. Others are hoping for the best. Both sides predict an event called The Singularity.


The Singularity


The Singularity is a term artificial intelligence theorists use to describe a point in time where the development of intelligence is no longer biological. In other words, true intelligence can be created and that intelligence can in turn build upon itself. Because this artificial intelligence would not be restricted by the need for biological evolution, like humans are, it could grow exponentially quickly surpassing human intelligence, eventually becoming trillions of times more advanced than human intelligence.


Good AI, bad AI


If The Singularity did come about, and many brilliant minds like Hawking predict that it will (and soon). Human intelligence would be surpassed quickly. For many theorists, it’s only a question of when. But one unanswered question is whether this will be good or bad for humankind. Hollywood movies depicting artificial intelligence often portray a dystopian future where artificial intelligence has altered its own directives and is now bent on eliminating humankind. But according to many theorists, the opposite reality could become true. As intelligence grows exponentially, AI could prove more and more useful to humans resulting in unimaginable advancements in technology. The real question is whether an artificially intelligent being would seek to harm or help humans.


AI and religion


One question about AI that is only just now being talked about is whether AI could become religious. Humans have pondered about their purpose in the universe and how they came to be since their beginning. If human intelligence can be boiled down to electrochemical reactions in the brain, then, theoretically, artificial intelligence, like human intelligence, could begin to think about those same kinds of questions leading them to a religion of sorts.


Marvin L. Minksy of MIT hypothesized that artificial intelligence might even be able to develop a “soul” of sorts. He jokes that perhaps artificial intelligence will one day stumble upon a computer science textbook, read about the development of artificial intelligence, and ultimately reject the idea that they were first created by humans and develop their own belief system about how they came to be. If artificial intelligence were to become religious, we can only hope that they would choose a peaceful belief system that is inclusive towards humans rather than an exclusive and violent one.


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1 year ago

Humor: Artificial intelligence’s greatest obstacle

It’s been said that the true test of mastering a foreign language is the ability to make a joke in that language. While a sense of humor is usually second nature for most native speakers, it’s surprisingly difficult—if not impossible—to teach. It’s so difficult, in fact, that some reason that the development of a sense of humor will be the ultimate test for artificial intelligence. To understand the difficulty in teaching artificial intelligence to be humorous, consider what goes into making a joke.


What’s in a joke?


On a recent trip to Australia, comedy writer, David Misch observed two manta rays engaged in—shall we say—extracurricular activities. With perfect comedic timing, he quipped “Hey! It’s fifty shades of ray!” The joke led his friend, a former computer programmer interested in artificial intelligence, to think about whether a computer could ever be programmed to make that joke—not merely be programmed to repeat it, but truly generate it were it exposed to the same circumstances that David Misch was.


In the end, it was determined that in order for an artificially intelligent computer to make that joke, it would need to be able to perform numerous, instant calculations. It would need to be able to connect the two very different topics of manta ray intercourse and human S and M, then it would need to be able to access the entirety of pop culture references to human S and M ultimately settling on Fifty Shades of Grey. Then it would need the ability to appreciate the pun, understand the rhyme of “ray” and “grey,” and gauge the audience’s ability to get the joke. Finally, artificial intelligence would need to do all of this in a blink of an eye to achieve good comedic timing (the joke wouldn’t have been funny five minutes later).


The moral of this story is that a lot goes into the making of a good joke and artificial intelligence is still far away from being able to replicate it.


Funny AI


Though artificial intelligence is still a long way away from developing a sense of humor, that hasn’t stopped humans from trying. Apple executives, for instance, were not overly thrilled to learn that those who programmed Siri, the iPhone’s built-in personal assistant, had managed to work in a few jokes. Microsoft’s counterpart, Cortana, is likewise programmed to give humorous responses to certain questions. Of course the major difference is that these artificial intelligences are merely parroting back jokes that they were programmed to say in response to specific questions, not generating their own humor.


The ultimate test


Some have theorized that in order for AI to reach its full potential, humans will need to feel comfortable interacting with it. Developing a sense of humor will certainly need to be a part of that process. Of course, that’s easier said than done. For the time being, we’ll have to be content with Siri’s dry sense of humor that she inherited from computer programmers.


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1 year ago

Should you use a Metal Roof?

Picking the roofing you want is really a difficult decision because there are so many options out there. Most people choose to go with asphalt over metal, but why is this? Metal is clearly a stronger choice, but asphalt costs much less. But, is a metal roof right for you?


Are you looking for your home or business?


Most people stay in a home for an average of 13 years, according to the Star Tribune. So, for your home, the longevity of a roofing product may not matter that much. The average shingles roof lasts only around 20 years, but a longer-lasting metal roof costs twice as much money. If you don’t plan to stay long in your home, or even if you plan to stay a couple years longer than average, it is certainly not going to be worth the cost to get a metal roof. A business, however, will use the space for quite a long time. Even if businesses come and go, the building will still stand for a long time, and in theory, your business will stay in there too. A metal roof will certainly be worth the cost.


What about weather?


When you deal with winter weather every winter, a metal roof is the right choice. It helps prevent large icicles from dropping off the roof, which can be a dangerous hazard, and it helps keep your home warmer by protecting cool air from seeping through the roof. It also will help in the summertime by keeping your home cooler. It can also protect your home from hail damage and the need to replace your roof sooner.


Is the cost really worth it?


The cost of metal roofing is very high compared to your average shingles roof, and even though there are many advantages to buying it, it is probably not worth it for the average American. In general, you can expect to move too quickly for the metal roof to really pay off, and unless you own a business, there’s no need to spend the extra money.


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1 year ago

What does “artificial intelligence” even mean?

Artificial intelligence used to be something we only read about in science fiction or saw on the big screen. Today, everyone is at least familiar with the concept of artificial intelligence thanks to media attention. Though we have a pretty good grasp of what artificial means, coming up with a concrete definition of exactly what constitutes artificial intelligence is easier said than done. As artificial intelligence begins to become a reality, a useable definition of artificial intelligence that is universally acceptable is going to be necessary in order to regulate their use in various circumstances. Any laws and policies designed to regulate artificial intelligence will be worthless without a widely accepted definition of the terms.


Defining the terms


The word “artificial” is by far the easier word to define for legal purposes. It simply means, “not occurring in nature or not occurring in the same form in nature”. In short anything man-made that might imitate something that is naturally occurring. This definition of “artificial” even covers the possibility of using modified biological materials in the creation of artificially intelligent “machines”.


The word “intelligence” is where it gets difficult. The difficulty in defining the term is nothing new. In the world of philosophy, the meaning of the word “intelligence” and the meaning of other words connected to it such as “consciousness”, “thought”, “free will”, and “mind” have been debated for centuries—back to the time of Aristotle.


Currently, in the field of artificial intelligence, researches contrast artificial intelligence with human intelligence. This merely places the burden of proof onto psychologists. There is no real solid definition of artificial intelligence that doesn’t depend on a comparison to human intelligence.


While it is easy for even the average person to tell the difference between a programmable machine and a true AI system, the difficulty lies in differentiating between AI systems that merely give the appearance of intelligence and those systems that can be said to truly imitate human intelligence.


Sidestepping the question


Though coming up with a philosophical definition of the word “intelligence” that we can all agree on may still be centuries away, the need for a working definition of “artificial intelligence” is immediate. For would-be regulators of the use of artificial intelligence outside the laboratory, they need to ask themselves, “What risks does artificial intelligence pose?”


Already artificial intelligence is making a way into our day-to-day lives. As AI becomes more mainstream, there will be important societal implications. Corporations can use AI to take jobs away from humans. AI systems may be used to commit crimes. Unless there is an acceptable definition of artificial intelligence that can be used to regulate their use—and soon—we may face the future unprepared.


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1 year ago

Contractor Phishing Scams Target Seniors

So-called phishing scams (so named to sound like “fishing”) are designed to obtain people’s personal information—such as credit card numbers—over the internet for the purpose of stealing money. Like real fishing, phishing uses bait, perhaps in the form of an email or website that tricks people in to revealing personal information that scammers can use to steal money.


Phishing scams are typically limited to the internet though there is also a door-to-door variant. Unfortunately, the door-to-door phishing scam typically targets the most vulnerable, the elderly. The door-to-door phishing scam works like this: a contractor of some kind, such as a roofer, knocks on your door and tells you that your roof is in bad shape. Or they might offer to do an inspection, completely free of charge. This is the bait—the enticing offer. A free inspection or a great price on roof repair if you act now. If you take the bait, the scammer has you and will now try to get money out of you just like with a phishing scam. The free inspection uncovers serious roofing problems in need of immediate attention. The simple repair job suddenly becomes a huge project once the roofer gets up there and takes a closer look. There are hidden fees and upfront costs to be paid. If you’re lucky, you’ll just end up spending more than you should have to for the work. If you’re unlucky, the individual isn’t a contractor at all and will take your money and disappear.


More than one victim


The homeowners is the obvious victim in this scenario, but he/she isn’t the only one. Reputable contractors in the area are also negatively affected by these kinds of scams because it damages the reputation of all roofers when a person claiming to be a roofer makes off with someone’s money. In the event the “contractor” isn’t qualified to do the work, a real contractor has to be called in to undo the damage.


Tips for avoiding the door-to-door phishing scam

  • Homeowners need to remember that the two main elements of a phishing scam are the bait and gaining access to the person’s money. To avoid this scam, homeowners need only look for those two elements.
  • Homeowners should be especially wary when they weren’t the ones to initiate the contact with a contractor. Reputable contractors have plenty of honest work. They typically don’t need to go door-to-door to drum up business.
  • Homeowners should be wary of deals that are too-good-to-be-true. This is the bait.
  • Homeowners should watch out for high pressure sales tactics. If the contractor is saying that you need to sign right this moment to get this deal, walk away.
  • Homeowners should never pay a huge upfront deposit for work. Many contractors won’t accept payment until the job is done. At the very least, you shouldn’t pay more than a third of the total cost up front. Pay with a credit or debit card if you can so you can reverse the transaction if the contractor doesn’t complete the project. Finally, ask to see the contractor’s license and proof of insurance.


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1 year ago

BBB’s Tips for Increased Roof Longevity

You’ve no doubt heard the phrase, “keeping a roof over your head.” In this popular phrase, the roof is symbolic of the entire home. It can be argued that the roof is the most important aspect of the home, the first line of defense between the outdoors and your home. There’s peace-of-mind that comes with having a good, strong roof over your head. On the flip side, having a roof that has fallen into disrepair can create a lot of stress. The Better Business Bureau has offered some tips for getting the most out of your roof and keeping it in top shape.


Getting the most out of your roof


The expected lifespan of your roof varies widely based on the type of roof and the climate in your area. If you’re like the vast majority of Americans, you have an asphalt shingle roof. Asphalt shingle roofs come in varying grades but in general, you can expect to get about 15 to 20 years out of an asphalt shingle roof. The most important factor in determining the longevity of your roof is how well you take care of it. Homeowners can maximize the lifespan of their roof by following these tips offered by the BBB. Periodically have your roof inspected. Though you can and should keep an eye on your roof yourself, you should also have a professional inspect your roof from time to time. Clear away dead and overhanging branches. Overhanging branches can scratch up your roof and cause premature granule loss. Dead branches and leaves can also accumulate in your rain gutters which can shorten the life of your roof.


Take care of little problems before they become big problems. At the first sign of mold or a leak, or any other kind of roof damage, have a roofer come out and perform repairs. It can be a little costly but it’s better than having to replace your roof at ten years instead of 20 years. After a point, it will become cheaper to replace your roof than to keep pouring money into patching up an old roof. Don’t put off replacing your roof when it gets to that point.


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1 year ago

Metal roofing: Worth the extra cost?

Drive around in just about any neighborhood in America and you’re pretty much guaranteed to see asphalt shingle roofs on nearly all of them. Asphalt shingles dominate the roofing industry. They account for 90% of residential roofs. Asphalt shingles are very easy to install and are inexpensive making them the most affordable roofing option. In a higher end neighborhood you may see some tile, some cedar shakes, and maybe some slate roofs. One roofing material that is only just now growing in popularity is metal.


There are many advantages to metal roofing; they are superior to asphalt roofs in every way. Thanks to advances in roofing material manufacturing, metal can now be used to create roofs that mimic the look of other materials and they can come in virtually any color. But the one factor that is keeping metal roofing from becoming as popular as asphalt shingles is the high cost. Depending on the quality, a metal roof can cost 2-3 times as much as an asphalt shingle roof. If you’re in the market for a new roof, here are some things to keep in mind about metal roofing to help you weigh the pros and cons.


Types of metal roofing


The first thing to keep in mind is that there is more than one type of metal roof. When most people imagine a metal roof, they imagine the kind of roof you might see on the local McDonalds. This is called a standing seam roof. This type of metal roof is made of larger sheets. This type of roofing is used on everything from commercial businesses to chicken coops and even some residences. Residential standing seam roofs typically have a thicker gauge and are more durable.


Because standing seam roofs have a more commercial look, a more popular option for residences is the metal shake roof. The metal is cut into smaller pieces like cedar shake roofs. This is more expensive but it allows for more stylistic options.Finally, stone-coated metal roofs are made to look like asphalt shingles. They have all of the advantages of a metal roof but they still have the granule texture of an asphalt shingle roof. These are especially popular in colder climates that get a lot of snow. Whereas snow can avalanche off of a standing seam or metal shake roof, stone coated metal roofs melt snow more like asphalt shingle roofs do.


Pros and cons


Metal roofing has a lot more pros than cons. First, their lifespan is much longer than asphalt shingles. A standard asphalt shingle roof will last about 20 years if you’re lucky and take great care of it. A metal roof can last 50 years and usually comes with a lifetime warranty. This isn’t always a deciding factor however, as the average homeowner only spends 13 years in a home. Homeowners who don’t plan to stay in their home a long time might not want to pay 2-3 times as much for a metal roof when an asphalt shingle roof will easily last for the duration of time they’ll be staying there.


Metal roofing is also a lot more durable than asphalt shingles. It holds up better in nasty weather and requires a lot less maintenance. They are more energy efficient and cut energy costs in the summer and the winter. The only real con to metal roofing is the higher cost. Homeowners who plan to stay a long time in the home could really benefit from metal roofing in the long run because of the minimal maintenance, the energy savings, and the longevity of the roof. If you can afford the higher up front cost, it may be a wise investment.


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1 year ago

Implications of AI: Legal Responsibility and Civil Rights

Just a few years ago, the idea of artificially intelligent robots would have seemed like pure science fiction. The first mention of an automaton in in Homer’s Illiad. More recently, early science fiction writers like H.G. Wells and Isaac Asimov wrote about artificially intelligent robots. Today, we’re treated to at least one movie each year that deals with the subject of artificial intelligence. Only in the last few years has artificial intelligence began to seem like a reality. Every day artificial intelligence is more science and less fiction. Already there are real world applications for artificial intelligence. They’re beginning to take over jobs that were once handled by humans. In the next few years, experts predict that artificial intelligence will continue to become more a part of our daily lives. It’s predicted that by 2025, robots will be replacing humans in one third of today’s jobs. We’re only just now coming to terms with the implications that a future shared with artificial intelligence has in store.


The robot apocalypse


A favorite motif in artificial intelligence fiction is the robot apocalypse, in which artificial intelligence decides that humans needs to go and turns its focus to obliterating all human life. Nearly every Hollywood movie about artificial intelligence in the last decade has included this plot line. Though these movies and stories are science fiction and pure speculation, many brilliant minds are concerned that there could be a real threat in creating artificial intelligence, especially if they’re given control of our weapons systems. Big names in the scientific community like Elon Musk (CEO of Tesla Motors) and Stephen Hawking, along with more than 1,000 other AI and robotics researchers have signed an open letter citing the dangers of using AI in weapons development.


What about the legal and social implications


Though Hollywood—and the general public—like to imagine worst-case-scenarios—there are other important implications that haven’t been given as much consideration. Consider the example of the automated shopping robot designed by a Swiss art group. It was programmed to purchase illegal products over the Darknet. It was able to purchase a Hungarian passport and some Ecstasy pills as well as a few other illegal products before it was “arrested” by Swiss police. Ultimately, no charges were brought against the robot or its creators but the idea remains, how will society deal with the criminal activities of artificially intelligence beings in the future, especially when they are acting on their own and not on the programming of humans? Will artificial intelligence be held legally responsible? If so, will they need the same human rights that most people have in free countries such as the right to legal counsel? Will we see artificially intelligence beings fighting for equal rights? Only the future can tell, but perhaps it is just as likely we’ll see a robot civil rights movement as a robot apocalypse.


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1 year ago

Console Connect Live: First Look at a Better Cloud

With so much technology at our fingertips and constant access to the internet, what better way to build your company than around amazing cloud-based programming? We agree, which is why we’re excited to announce the Console Connect Live event. Console is a new SaaS platform built to extend and increase the abilities of cloud-based applications for your business. At the Console Connect Live Event, you’ll get a chance to learn more about this revolutionary new platform and its partners.


Details of the event


Anyone interested in learning about advances in cloud-based applications are invited to attend the Console Connect Live event at the Nob Hill Masonic Center in San Francisco, California on September 9 from 9:00 am to 5:30 pm. From 5:30 to 9:00 pm, there will be an event social. During the event, you’ll hear from special keynote speakers and get a chance to ask questions during panel discussions. Expect to see speakers from companies such as LinkedIn, Box, and Equinox. There will be a very special announcement made at the end, and you won’t want to miss it.


Unveiling of Console


The purpose of the event is to unveil the new Console SaaS platform and show what it can do for you and your business. Basically, this platform allows you to connect with your employees, vendors, and customers much easier and on a higher level than before. In this day and age, businesses are expected to keep communication open, especially when most people see that the internet should make communication and transparency very easy. These same people often don’t realize that it is still very hard to get information communicated across multiple platforms. Console will make it easier for you to keep those lines of communication open and keep your customers happy.


Come on out to Console Connect Live event on September 9 and see what Console can do for you.

1 year ago

Should you get Solar Roofing?

Solar panels seem like they are the new thing. Everyone is getting them and claiming they save so much money, but are they really worth it? There are many factors to consider when deciding whether or not to get solar roofing, but Google is testing an online tool that will help you decide.


Google’s new tool - Project Sunroof


The cost of putting solar roofing on your home can be quite expensive. Most people believe that the costs outweigh the benefits, but Google wants to show you that isn’t true in many cases. It is testing a tool online called Project Sunroof that will show you exactly how much money you can save by putting solar panels on your roof. All you need to do is look up your address, and Google will bring up a picture of your roof showing different thermal colors on it. These colors will indicate how well and how often the sun hits your roof. If your roof is all purple for some reason, you probably aren’t going to save much money, but a completely yellow or white roof is getting a lot of sun and could save a lot. Then, Google shares just how much money you could save on a standard 20 year lease, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.


How Google benefits


Many people often wonder how Google makes money off its mass sources of free online tools available to anyone with the internet. In this case, Google will have a list of referrals for solar panels on your home after showing you how much money you can save by getting them installed. It will take a commission from each of those referral sources, just like the company might get from you clicking an ad while browsing.


So, the big question


So, the question is, should you get solar panels? People who use the tool are being shown a lot of savings over 20 years, but the upfront cost of getting solar panels can be pretty steep. The cost alone is expensive, and you may need to get new roofing beforehand if your roof is starting to look a little beat up. Many people get them because of cost savings in the long run, for a chance to be self sufficient from electric companies, or because they truly care about protecting the environment and feel they should do their part. Whatever your reason, it will only be worth it if you have the funds for the large upfront cost.


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