The immortal Hydra. Illustration credit: Badri Sunderarajan

There are so many ways to be immortal. Which one works for you?

A number of Silicon Valley tycoons believe that they can achieve immortality by downloading their minds onto a computer before their body dies. Leaving aside the question as to whether this is likely to be scientifically and technically feasible, just what kind of immortality could this achieve?

A mind without a body would be sitting on a server in the Cloud. What sort of afterlife would this be? Not being able to see, hear, smell, taste or touch, feel bodily emotions, move about, or manipulate the world around you? All you would have would be your memories and cognitive abilities.


They’ve turned it into a predictive science that can be used to manipulate your behavior.

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Google and Facebook began their lives with simple and laudable business models. Google wanted to access and mine the world’s information for the benefit of the public, using its remarkable web crawler. Facebook wanted to connect college students to help them to hook-up. As we know, both brilliant innovations were scalable to encompass the whole world. At the beginning, the business plan was not to charge users for the service. For the time being, the start-ups were to be sustained with venture capital. However, as…


Should He Have Played it Straight rather than Down; Been Candid rather than Reassuring?

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This is not about whether Donald Trump is a fascist, a racist, a misogynist, a bully or a liar. Those claims are for others to prove, if they are not already obvious. The immediate question is: whether he has displayed the required leadership qualities to get this nation through the worst pandemic since 1918.

Donald Trump is at heart a salesman, showman and promoter, who has honed his skills on the debating stage and on electronic media through his latter day career in reality TV. Before…


A Conversation about the Pandemic, Science, Truth, Politics and Culture

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It is amazing to me that Donald Trump still enjoys support from about 40% of American voters after the shocking leadership he has shown during the worst pandemic to hit America since 1918. To help discover the reason for this anomaly, I interviewed a Trump voter from Texas whom I knew from a former life. He’s not an uneducated man, as you will note. Let’s give him the name “John” to hide his true identity, for reasons which will become apparent. Below is a record of that conversation, expletives deleted:


The Human Mind, The Collective Mind and Artificial Intelligence

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The invention of computers and progress in neurobiology have revolutionized the way scientists and philosophers view the working of the human mind. Not that computers are exactly like brains, but the similarities that do exist opened up a whole new way of looking at the relationship between the brain and the mind; between the physical and the mental worlds. Up to that point in time, opinions were largely divided between dualists, who believed that the physical world and the mental world are in two entirely different realms, and the materialists, who…


Why a partner when a puppy will do?

Why a partner, when a puppy will do
To curl up beside and be close to you?

If you need a lot more love in your life
This is a way to get it without strife.
For a puppy, she does not ask too much
Just a kindly word and a gentle touch.

Someone to take for a walk in the park
So you feel safe when alone in the dark.


Leave me alone with my phone

How on earth can it possibly be
That we expose our stuff for all to see?

Social media, tries to make the case
That we open our hearts to show our face
So full understanding, of each other
Will avoid disputes, with friend and brother.
But how do we know, whomever to trust
To treat our stuff, in a way that is just?


Master or slave?

Fear not that you will be hit by a bus.
Self-driving cars will soon be upon us.
Who would cross before a car on the street
If nobody was there to give them a beep?

Would you trust a seeing eye computer
To stop in time to avoid a scooter?
Can AI really figure it out
At a four-way stop and not cause a rout?


A history of the universe in verse

When the sun in the east punctures the dawn
A red glow in the sky heralds the morn.
Why does it come and go every day
When it would be much easier to stay?

But science gives a simple explanation
Earth on its axis is in rotation.
But what makes the Earth spin like a top?
Why in the longer run does it not stop?
Maybe the hand of God keeps it going
To prevent it from toing and froing.


How do we prevent robots from turning on their human masters?

Science fiction features robots with artificial intelligence (AI), capable of thinking and acting independently and turning on their creators. Stephen Hawking and other scientific prophets have worried about AI surpassing human intelligence, becoming reproductive and enslaving its former masters.

There is a presumption that robots and AI will be dispassionate and mechanical when it comes to dealing with their human neighbours on the planet; or worse, copy evil human traits and become cold-blooded killers. …

Phillip Shirvington

Phillip has an MSc from the University of Sydney and attended Stanford University. He became a scientist, diplomat, CEO and writer. He lives in San Francisco.

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