Ron Howard: Humans on Mars? That’s just the beginning

Acclaimed director Ron Howard has told Sky News he believes colonising Mars is just the first step of further space exploration and finding other habitable planets.
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UK robot ‘to pave way for humans to explore Mars’

Work has started in Britain on building on a robot vehicle that will be sent to look for life on Mars.
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Why Is This Happening: Content for Humans About the Content of Humans

Spotify and Ancestry team up for that saliva sample sound.
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Exoskeleton that allows humans to work and play for longer

The technology to give people superhuman powers is being developed, but is it the right thing to do?
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Google to warn when humans chat with convincing bots

Humans will be told if they are talking to bots that can convincingly mimic human speech.
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Books of The Times: Steven Pinker Wants You to Know Humanity Is Doing Fine. Just Don’t Ask About Individual Humans.

In “Enlightenment Now,” the psychologist continues his argument that conditions are improving for the species as a whole.
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Without Humans, Artificial Intelligence Is Pretty Stupid

Whether it’s winning at games like Go or keeping watch for Russian influence operations, the best AI-powered systems require humans to play an active role in their creation, tending and operation.
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Humans to vet Facebook revenge porn photos

Facebook’s community operations team, not algorithms, will view photos sent to combat revenge porn.
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This Humans Of New York Post About Anxiety Is Required Reading

Admitting you have anxiety can be difficult, but doing so can also help you take control of it.

A recent Humans of New York subject is the perfect case in point. The anonymous young woman, who was featured as part of HONY’s Colombia series, candidly shared how acknowledging her anxiety helped her manage it better.

“I used to try to hide it. I would log off social media. I wouldn’t answer calls,” she told HONY photographer Brandon Stanton. “I thought that if nobody knew, it didn’t exist. But the more I talk about my problem, the more I realize that other people experience similar things. So I’m trying to express it more.

The woman also explained that the pressure she felt to perform well in school led to anxiety and panic attacks, which held her back creatively and academically. An instructor then offered her some sage wisdom after admitting she was dealing with the mental health issue.

“I had a great teacher who told me: ‘Instead of letting anxiety keep you from doing your art, let it be the thing that motivates your art,’” she said.

In typical HONY feel-good fashion, the post got an overwhelmingly positive response. Commenters left messages of support for the woman, encouraging her to continue seeking professional help and applauding her openness about mental health.

“Anxiety can be so debilitating and misunderstood,” Facebook user Meg Wallick wrote on the photo. “Thank you for sharing your experiences. It helps the rest of us know we aren’t alone.”

Nearly 18 percent of Americans are living with an anxiety disorder. The mental health issue is an incredibly common medical problem. Yet research shows there’s a good deal of judgment and shame surrounding it ― which is both self-inflicted and comes from people in society who don’t understand.

It’s this stigma that often keeps those experiencing the condition from speaking up about what they’re going through. However, advocates stress that talking about it is vital in eliminating negative perceptions around mental health.

We commend this HONY subject for doing just that. Can we get more of this?

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Strangely Compelling ‘Shybot’ Roams California Desert Avoiding Humans

A lone little robot roamed California’s Sonoran Desert for a week this month. Its only mission: Avoiding humans.

“Shybot” was part of a weirdly mesmerizing art project in early March. It was designed by the Italian artist Norma Jeane and engineers for the Desert X Biennial, which uses the “canvas” of the Coachella Valley in southern California and its desert landscape. It’s one of several projects ongoing through the end of April.

The rover’s camera streamed its experiences back to The Lab art gallery in San Francisco, which presented the work in collaboration with the city’s Italian Cultural Institute. The robot had no practical purpose. It traveled wherever it rolled, though assiduously avoided humans, and was forced to maneuver around obstacles too large for it to climb. Drones tracked its progress from the air — which Shybot at times appeared not to appreciate.

If you’re wondering what the point of the project was, whether it’s a comment on machine versus nature, or a study of a land without humans, the artist tried to clarify in a statement, calling it a “fantasy of the desert sublime.”

“The machine is let loose in the landscape, free of the human determinism that thus far framed its existence,” Jeane said. “And we, in turn, are free to imagine a world liberated from the indeterminacy of us.” 

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Humans Star Gemma Chan Talks Season 2

Humans returns for a second season on AMC this Monday, following its run in the UK this past fall. The science fiction/alternative reality series follows what life is like in a world where robotic “synths” have been created as readily available personal helpers, in every way you might imagine that could work – and what happens when it turns out a small group of synths are capable of independent thought thanks to their creator.

Gemma Chan has a central role on the series as Mia, one of these special synths, who was first introduced in Season 1 as “Anita,” a subservient personality that had been placed over her true self. I sat down with Chan to discuss Mia’s evolution and what she thinks of humans at this point, along with what it’s like to play this multilayered, multi-personality character. We also discussed her cameo in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them as Ya Zhou, who briefly questions Newt Scamander as a delegate to the International Confederation of Wizards.

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39 Photos Of Pets Supporting Their Humans Through Childbirth

For over four years, the Birth Photography Facebook group has been producing slideshows of gorgeous labor, delivery and postpartum images and sharing them on its public page. After compiling photos featuring midwives, doulas, dads and siblings, the group decided to focus its latest project on another special subset of birth team members: pets!

“Dogs and other pets seem to instinctively know that something is up during a pregnancy,” the Birth Photography group’s founder Laura Eckert told The Huffington Post. “They can become more protective of the mother-to-be, as though they sense that something is about to happen.”

Eckert shared photos from “Loyal Birth Companions: Pets at Births” with HuffPost. “As these images show, pets are often very curious and maybe even concerned about what is going on during a home birth, and they often offer a sense of calm for the laboring mother,” she said. “To some moms it’s like having an extra support person right there beside them throughout their labor.”

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Are pets getting better medical care than humans?

Some of the country’s leading veterinarians say pets could potentially be receiving better medical care than their owners.
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Humans: AMC’s Sci-fi Pilot U.S. Debut Magnifique!

Do we really need another sci-fi TV show about humanoid beings you may fairly ask? For doesn’t it seem like yesterday when Edward James Olmos acted in Battlestar Galactica before Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.? Initially I was skeptical about Humans. Now I’m not.

Humans is the product of a joint British and American (AMC) sci-fi series that had a recent U.S. launch on Sunday June 28, 2015, whereas U.K. viewers had an earlier launch. Inspired by the award winning Swedish sci-fi TV drama titled Atka manniskor (Real Humans), the pilot of Humans was written by British writers Sam Vincent and Jonathan Brackley. Besides that, the two are also the creators of the new AMC sci-fi TV series.

By making it as more relatable as possible by not having the story set in some far off future as usual sci-fi, Humans begins in the here and now. And while story location is based in the U.K., the premiere episode does not fail to capture. Though patience is required from the jump. That is, if one is simply not used to leisurely paced storytelling which is the hallmark of AMC dramas.

The story begins in London, just after Joe Hawkins (Tom Goodman-Hill) had breakfast with his three children, teenage daughter Mattie, teenage son Toby, and youngest daughter Sophie. It’s then that he receives a text from his wife Laura (Katherine Parkinson), a lawyer, reading that her case is running over to which she’ll arrive home the next day. Now feeling glum before telling the three children the recent news, to attempt to uplift his spirit and theirs, he tells his daughter Sophie that they’re going shopping. And no it’s not to get the newest breakthrough smartphone.

In the world of the sci-fi film Blade Runner, humanoid machines are called Replicants. Also called skin-jobs, nicknamed by Capt. Bryant, commander of the Los Angeles Police unit of Blade Runner cops who terminates runaway Replicants in the year 2019. And in the world of the sci-fi TV show Battlestar Galactica, humanoid machines are called Cylons, also called skin-jobs borrowed from Blade Runner, yet different from the other metallic battle-bot Centurions. Now, in the world of Humans, humanoid machines are called synths, short for synthetic. Synths are programmed to serve mankind, just like both Replicants and Cylons were originally intended.

“What if she’s not pretty? Can we change her if she’s not pretty?” asks the little girl Sophie Hawkins enthusiastically, before the salesman unveils the plastic synth shroud. Enter Anita, which the Hawkins later agreed to name her, all five-foot nine with a gracefully slender frame, played by former model and drama school trained British actress Gemma Chan. And, of course she’s pretty. For one doesn’t buy expensive luxury tech if it’s not also easy on the eyes.

“This is the best thing you’ll do for your family,” says the salesman before releasing her to Joe Hawkins. For if by chance one is not satisfied after purchasing a synth, one may return it within 30 days, no questions asked, which is explained to Joe Hawkins. Next, after all formalities have been established, the female synth reaches to shake Joe Hawkins hand as she says pleasantly, “Hello Joe, I’m now securely bonded to you as my primary user.” Which shortly afterwards, the irises of her eyes gleam to an iridescent deep green.

Finally the next day, Laura Hawkins arrives. And from there, Anita, who represents the latest achievement of bioengineered beings, quickly changes the Hawkins family dynamic. Laura takes an immediate dislike to Anita, feeling that her role as a wife and mother is now in jeopardy. Especially when she later sees Anita is reading a bedtime story to Sophie. “I’ll take over now, Anita,” says Laura. “No! I want her to do it!” exclaims Sophie, who is enthralled with Anita. To which Laura adds, “Reading to you is Mummy’s job.” “But she doesn’t rush,” Sophie replies. Son Toby, sees Anita as one hot chick. While Joe, as husband and father, sees Anita as a remedy to save both marriage and family life. For during an argument with his wife, he says, “I didn’t buy Anita to replace you. I bought her to get you back.” Whereas rebellious Mattie, also sees Anita as a threat. Although bright, she explains to her parents about her underperforming at school, saying, “I could be anything I want, right? What about a doctor? That would take me seven years, but by then you’ll be able to turn any old synth into a brain surgeon in seconds.” Given that scene, the pilot episode of Humans couldn’t have come at a better time. Such as the recent July/August 2015 issue of The Atlantic with the cover story titled, “Technology will soon erase millions of jobs. Could that be a good thing? – The End of Work.”

Also later, the story flashes back to a scene taking place five weeks earlier in the woods. A group of synths under the care of a young man named Leo (Colin Morgan) begin to set up camp. The synth later to be known as Anita, is among them. Then Leo and a black synth called Max (Ivanno Jeremiah) decide to leave the others to go after supplies. Yet upon their return, they discover their synths are being stolen by men in a van as the two attempt to chase. And thus begins Leo’s odyssey, who begins a desperate search for his family of synths.

Synths are involved in all manners of service, from standard domestic such as Anita to the Hawkins family, as a caretaker like the synth Odi to Dr. George Millican (William Hurt), formerly a brilliant engineer from the beginnings of the synth project, to being also sex workers. For in a later scene, Leo visits a synth brothel to check on the blonde synth Niska, who hates her work. Already knowing that, he vows he would return to come for her but needs more time, and telling her that she would be safer where she is for now.

Meanwhile, another black synth named Fred (Sope Dirisu) while working as a laborer at an apple orchard, fails to make the rendezvous with Leo and Max. For Fred is captured and given to Professor Edwin Hobb, whose mentor was the creator of synths, a man named David Elster. Hobb is the first to discover something unusual about Fred, now temporarily incapacitated. For Hobb discovers that Fred is showing self-awareness, seeing that as he calls a singularity, and concludes other synths may be as well, like those of Leo’s. Hobb, as he speaks to a colleague while looking at Fred in fascination, sees also the possibility of danger. Now recognizing the possibility that his former mentor gave other synths consciousness, and that the world is becoming ever more dependent on synth labor, he then asks, “Do you think they would still want to be slaves?”

Then also there’s another danger, touched upon in a recent on-line June 25, 2015 article by Katharine Trendacosta for io9, titled, “In AMC’s New Android Show Humans, People Are the Real Monsters.” For within, the actor Tom Goodman-Hill states, “Because the question is not just whether the synths are sentient and what sort of people might they become, it’s more about the humans not realizing how inhuman they can be. And how unlikable they can be without even trying.” To which fellow actor Katherine Parkinson adds, “That’s sort of the human condition full stop. We cause the damage and then worry about it afterwards.”

Such a sentiment, is somewhat similar to a scene from Battlestar Galactica the mini-series. Near the beginning of the pilot episode, there’s a decommissioning ceremony on the starboard hangar bay, as Commander William Adama (Edward James Olmos) is giving a speech. For within the speech, he says, “We decided to play God, create life (Cylons). When that life turned against us, we comforted ourselves in the knowledge that it really wasn’t our fault, not really. You cannot play God, then wash your hands of the things that you’ve created.”

The pilot episode of Humans premiered both solid acting and story, and from there onward, can only get better.

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Wizard Cat: Humans Are The Absolute Worst Thing, Ever

If looks could kill, everyone on Earth would be dead right now.

And yet, like some kind of lethally engaging entertainment, we just… can’t… seem… to stop… hitting… refresh.

This cat might actually have some wizard powers. It wouldn’t be the first time cats put a spell on a human.

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‘Homing Signal’ in Brain Helps Humans Navigate, Research Shows

Finding may explain why some people are less likely to get lost than others
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Darling ‘Dawson’s Creek’ Spoof Stars Dachshunds Instead Of Humans

Bewigged dachshunds + a ’90s teen drama starring James Van Der Beek = Filmic magic.

This canine take on “Dawson’s Creek,” directed by Michael Immerman, has been wowing netizens this week with its moving coming-of-age narrative and spot-on casting.

“Makes more sense using dogs,” quipped one YouTuber Tuesday.

“That black dachshund really does look like Katie Holmes,” observed another.

dachshund-dawson

Perfect.

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