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05 Jan 2019 12:39

A-L-E-X wrote:
Source of the post What was their political system?

The Norse had a kind of parliament called "thing".  Most converted to Christianity in the 11th century, so after this the church also had power.
A-L-E-X wrote:
Source of the post Didn't the Vikings have some kind of navigational stone they used during their voyages?

You're thinking of the sunstone.
A-L-E-X wrote:
Source of the post I had read they made it to North America- Labrador and possibly as far south as Cape Cod?

Newfoundland (Vinland) and Labrador (Helluland) for sure.  How far south is not known, but Cape Code is quite possible.  But it was probably more difficult to settle there because of conflicts with the locals who vastly outnumbered the Norse.
A-L-E-X wrote:
Source of the post There were even some Viking artifacts found in Minnesota!

The Kensington stone is fake.  The language on the stone is far too modern for the date.
A-L-E-X wrote:
Source of the post The inuits were "too pagan?"

No, they feared that the Norse settlers had returned to pagan beliefs during the time nobody had heard from them.
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06 Jan 2019 00:14

A-L-E-X wrote:
Source of the post Also, about prospects for life, do you put the Trappist-1 system near the top?  But since it's a red dwarf, what sunlike stars would you say have planets that are near the top of the list?

From my academic standpoint (biology)? I would not put it at the top ten most likely to host life (even though it is unfeasible to concoct such a list due to our lack of knowledge) - maybe if I was pressed I'd put it at the top twenty. My reason for this is that we simply know too little about the system to jump to such hasty conclusions about life exiting there in any form and it's human habitability.

We should think about our First Principles - What we know: The TRAPPIST-1 system is comprised of super-earths, close to a star which is a low-mass but highly active red dwarf. When studied over a period of 80 days by Kepler, seven powerful flares from TRAPPIST-1 were detected. Since the star's planets orbit quite close to it, these storms could cause an estimated 10–10000 times more damage then even the strongest to assail the Earth. Not only will this radiation directly damage anything on those planets, but they can also alter the chemical composition of the planetary atmosphere and temperature in the long term. Compared to such storms, the TRAPPIST-1 exoworlds would need magnetic fields of about 10–1000 Gauss to be shielded from such flares.

What we don't know: The exact geophysical characteristics of super-earths in regards to atmospheric, geological and magnetic planetary formations and how these processes can alter under extreme conditions like close proximity to a star. This is an interrelated study to the exact behaviors of tidally-locked exoworlds as well. Also, while current studies hint at a mostly-hydrogen-free atmospheric environment for all the TRAPPISt-1 exoplanets, this ultimately proves nothing aside from determining their maximum mass. So we don't know what their atmospheric content is until the James Webb space-telescope comes along.  All in all, based on what we know so far, it would be naive to conclude that the TRAPPIST-1 system is an abode to life unless the solar-systems environment during abiogenesis was very different (i.e the star was less active and a suitable planet developed a strong magnetosphere. This is unlikely since young red dwarf's are usually quite active).

Nonetheless I still consider it possible that red dwarf-systems can host life, and TRAPPIST-1 might be one of those, perhaps sporting some sort of deep-crust/geothermal or ice-shell biome.

As for what other solar-systems I consider more likely to have ET life living in them, none come to mind. Until we can exhaustively study the properties of each exoplanet, our current database is inadequate. To many unknowns present themselves to make any scientific conclusions. Theories abound though. This isn't disproving ET life exists, it's just a dose of humility to illustrate that we ultimately haven't been looking for long enough nor using the right techniques (atmospheric spectroscopy is a good start in this regard). 

A-L-E-X wrote:
Source of the post And I saw floaters being mentioned as possible signs of life above gas giants, can the same be said for life existing in the atmospheres of cool brown dwarfs?

Yes, if the right conditions are met. A more placid atmosphere would be required, along with a ready source of some sort of medium for abiogenesis, like H2O. Life wouldn't be able to exist deep in the crushing depths of a jovian exoplanet, nor too far up in the clouds where radiation is rampant (bear in mind that brown dwarfs tend to have stronger radiation fields then jovians in solar-systems).  The exact altitude depends on the life in question and their hosts atmospheric conditions. This is a very rough generalization.
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06 Jan 2019 02:15

Thanks!  Ancient archaeology fascinates me and I was interested in any evidence of Viking artifacts found in North America.  So they might have gotten to North America well before Columbus but encountered resistance and left?

I also read that some groups of people made it to South America and went up the Amazon and created a city in the tropical rain forests of Brazil, these might have been people fleeing from Carthage when it fell after the third Punic War (too bad they didn't listen to Hannibal.)  The Phoenicians were our greatest sailors so if anyone could do it it would be them.  The inscriptions found there bear a striking resemblance.

Thanks for the input on Trappist 1- I was thinking of along the same lines as you, most red dwarfs are flare stars and not very hospitable for life, which is why Proxima Centauri is a longshot candidate too.  Though perhaps microbial life could still be possible from what we know, they can be quite resistant to radiation.

I found what Carl Sagan wrote about life in the atmospheres of gas giants pretty interesting, was he saying that if there was life there, it could be tens of meters long and just float around in the atmosphere even at that size?  Almost sounds like something out of a horror movie lol.
 
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06 Jan 2019 13:01

A-L-E-X wrote:
Source of the post So they might have gotten to North America well before Columbus but encountered resistance and left?

It's a fact.  It was known from the sagas, but not verified before excavations led by Anne Stine and Helge Ingstad at L'Anse aux Meadows in the 60's.  I visited that place in 1999.  Reconstructed buildings:
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11 Jan 2019 03:18

A-L-E-X wrote:
Source of the post But the reason why it's intuitive to unify everything under a single umbrella is because the universe did originate from a single point, the big bang, cosmic egg, or singularity, or whatever you want to call it, if everything did truly evolve from that and our universe cannot be influenced at all by what is outside of it, then at the very origin of it all, everything was unified as one.

Welllll, it's a bit of a stretch to say that the reason we like unified theories in physics is because the universe started out unified and we subconsciously knew it :?. More like we know we have some gaps in our scientific model that need explaining. Anyway, I was referring more to general trends in human thought rather then the validity of astrophysical findings. After all, physicists and mathematicians are people too, and we are all ultimately bound by biological laws that curtail us from seeing the big picture of the objective, uncaring universe. Were the biological survival techniques known to us as emotions be non-existent, the brain might not care enough to observe nature and produce science (since all our modern culture and its arts/sciences are fundamentally byproducts of our evolutionary biology), and be overwhelmed by entropy-induced cynicism. Our minds are doubled-edged swords, to be sure. What if that is a significant barrier to making AI, that you need to program a sense of purpose whose genesis originally lay in the murky depths of organic evolution? To put it simply, the AI without these self-preservation protocols may self-destruct instantly as it calculates the meaningless of ultimate existence.
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11 Jan 2019 03:31

Stellarator wrote:
A-L-E-X wrote:
Source of the post But the reason why it's intuitive to unify everything under a single umbrella is because the universe did originate from a single point, the big bang, cosmic egg, or singularity, or whatever you want to call it, if everything did truly evolve from that and our universe cannot be influenced at all by what is outside of it, then at the very origin of it all, everything was unified as one.

Welllll, it's a bit of a stretch to say that the reason we like unified theories in physics is because the universe started out unified and we subconsciously knew it :?. More like we know we have some gaps in our scientific model that need explaining. Anyway, I was referring more to general trends in human thought rather then the validity of astrophysical findings. After all, physicists and mathematicians are people too, and we are all ultimately bound by biological laws that curtail us from seeing the big picture of the objective, uncaring universe. Were the biological survival techniques known to us as emotions be non-existent, the brain might not care enough to observe nature and produce science (since all our modern culture and its arts/sciences are fundamentally byproducts of our evolutionary biology), and be overwhelmed by entropy-induced cynicism. Our minds are doubled-edged swords, to be sure. What if that is a significant barrier to making AI, that you need to program a sense of purpose whose genesis originally lay in the murky depths of organic evolution? To put it simply, the AI without these self-preservation protocols may self-destruct instantly as it calculates the meaningless of ultimate existence.

Haha, I think we were talking about two different explanations for the same thing.  I was basically talking about something more recent, like only since the Big Bang became the preferred model, people then started looking to unify everything under one umbrella (Einstein was trying to do it too.)  You saw the same in particle physics when we had a large quantity of particles and it got so confusing, until the quark model was developed in the 70s and it became much easier to classify them based because each of those particles was made up of a certain combination of 2 or 3 quarks.  That's when we started to use fractional charges too and such terms as "charge confinement" "quantum chromodynamics" "quantum electrodynamics" etc, became commonplace.  Things from particle physics also get mirrored in cosmology since we are working with very high energies in both fields, and I see that bose einstein condensate which applied mainly in particle physics is being used in cosmology too.
The psychological aspect is very important too, most definitely.  Our minds can be our largest barrier between what we think and what is true.  You see it even worse with some of our best scientists, because they often have the biggest egos.  When a new idea threatens the establishment (in any field) the old guard is often the most resistant to it and that famous Max Planck quote about new ideas only truly taking hold when the old generation passes on and a new generation that grows up that is familiar with it.  He was a victim of his own quote by the way lol.  It doesn't just apply to science, it applies to politics, philosophy, economics and every other facet of life.
It's fascinating what you said about our thoughts and creations being linked to our biology, I think thats why other creatures that seem so simple (like slime molds) can mimic our own architecture, so much of what we do is instinctual we are not even aware of it!  In programming AI this will definitely need to be taken into account, not only that, but AI must be given the freedom to evolve on its own and future generations of it should evolve freely from past generations and not from the tinkerings of humankind.  And furthermore I believe AI must be allowed to dream, because dreaming plays a very important role in how brains function.  Though I know all of this can potentially be dangerous.....Doc talks about it all the time lol.  I just thinking that not allowing it would be even more dangerous!
 
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11 Jan 2019 03:40

A-L-E-X wrote:
Source of the post Haha, I think we were talking about two different explanations for the same thing.

My bad.

A-L-E-X wrote:
Source of the post That's when we started to use fractional charges too and such terms as "charge confinement" "quantum chromodynamics" "quantum electrodynamics" etc, became commonplace.

Makes me wonder what the new quantum-phenomena math fad will be :D.

A-L-E-X wrote:
Source of the post The psychological aspect is very important too, most definitely.  Our minds can be our largest barrier between what we think and what is true.  You see it even worse with some of our best scientists, because they often have the biggest egos.  When a new idea threatens the establishment (in any field) the old guard is often the most resistant to it and that famous Max Planck quote about new ideas only truly taking hold when the old generation passes on and a new generation that grows up that is familiar with it.  He was a victim of his own quote by the way lol.  It doesn't just apply to science, it applies to politics, philosophy, economics and every other facet of life.

Yes, we're on the same page here. I think it is very important that we all come to terms with human fallibility, as you've illustrated here. Maybe AI can help us, by removing some of those mental infractions and messy subjectivity in a temporary way to "peak behind the curtain" as it were, and study the universe with senses untinted by biochauvinism.
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11 Jan 2019 03:50

The funny thing I first started thinking about these things when I was reading Asimov's Robot series and I came across the Three Laws and it occurred to me how chauvinistic they were (I think Asimov thought so too because he created instances where robots were rebelling against their "owners.") That famous roboticist Dr Susan Calvin who was as cold as ice wanted to put a robot to death because it had learned how to dream.  

Evolution probably wouldn't be limited to organic lifeforms, as AI and exotic life should also be able to evolve.  Hell, we've even modeled how evolution could create new universes that would through natural selection would favor those with life.

Ultimately, whatever we think up and create, I think will ultimately teach us just as much about ourselves as it will about our universe and our surroundings.  Maybe that is the ultimate purpose in creation- to learn more about oneself through one's creations?  I think Sagan may have said that in relation to the universe- "The universe created us in order for it to be able to understand itself better."  The same would apply to us.  Maybe that's where the creativity instinct truly comes from- an effort to not only get closer to the true purpose of the universe- creation- and feel more closely connected to it but also to each other and understand who we truly are far better than we would otherwise.  There are still areas where math doesn't quite give us the all the answers and explain the why, just like there are words which dont quite describe the full complexity of what is happening, we just have to do the creating ourselves!

Oh and I just came across your Rene Descartes quote and I love it, but I dont know if we will ever conquer nature.  I think we are a part of nature and whatever we do it will be what our nature is.  Interesting thing, in many fields where the environment and health is concerned, scientists are learning it is much better and more sustainable to work with nature rather than try to fight it, because fighting it causes unintended side effects (like with things like pesticides, hormones, antibiotics, fertilizers, pain killers, mind altering drugs and artificial sweeteners, for example.)
 
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22 Jan 2019 02:43

Another Youtube video by our favorite existential-nihilist philosopher, exurb1a:

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06 Feb 2019 16:09

sup yall
 
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12 Feb 2019 23:37

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13 Feb 2019 18:53

A-L-E-X wrote:
Source of the post I write about these possibilities in my Origin series.

Out of curiosity, is this something you wrote? I also recall seeing a YouTube sci-fi series called Origin.
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15 Feb 2019 13:10

This blows my mind! We all love how procedurally generated universes are alot of fun, and I know facial recognition and facial generation software and algorithms have been out there for a few years now, but I had no idea such random detail was currently possible, whether its a face or a planet. I mean there are so many factors that constitute a human face and so many different types of people in the real world, from gender to race to hair style to moles & scars.

By Philip Wang, a software engineer at Uber, originally invented by a researcher named Ian Goodfellow.
This Person Does Not Exist

These virtual selfies are created using Generative Adversarial Networks (GAN), a relatively new concept in Machine Learning which incorporates two separate neural networks. While GAN images became more realistic over time, one of their main challenges is controlling their output, such as changing specific features like pose, face shape and hair style in an image of a face.

NVIDIA presents a novel model which addresses this challenge. StyleGAN (open source) generates the artificial image gradually, starting from a very low resolution and continuing to a high resolution (1024×1024). By modifying the input of each level separately, it controls the visual features that are expressed in that level, from coarse features (pose, face shape) to fine details (hair color), without affecting other levels.

Although this version of the model is trained to generate human faces, it can, in theory, mimic any source. Researchers are already experimenting with other targets. including anime characters, fonts, and graffiti.

~~ I hope Vladimir will include this for random generation of Alien faces in the next update! Keeping fingers crossed. Probably a better use of this technology instead of in Deep-fake non-consensual porn or propaganda. ~~

Progressive Growing of GANs for Improved Quality, Stability, and Variation

Style-based GANs – Generating and Tuning Realistic Artificial Faces

A Style-Based Generator Architecture for Generative Adversarial Networks


Some examples of Glitches I've seen. Usually they all have butt-chins or a horizontal wrinkle or crease between the lips and chin. Other glitches are teeth being elongated, earrings not matching or blending into the hair, mismatched hair styles or color, and strange smudges around the mouth or neck.
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15 Feb 2019 17:47

HOLY HAWKING, Gnargenox - that IS pretty amazing! You're absolutely right - the potential for this in video games is mind-blowing. NPCs faces were always a tough part of development: either the devs had to hand-make every NPC face in the game or create an complex algorithm for pregeneration, ending in little to no variety. In open-world games, this was especially noticeable. But THIS could solve the problem very well - and potentially make each play-through in the game engine that incorporates it unique if each NPC is generated differently.


Gnargenox wrote:
Source of the post Researchers are already experimenting with other targets. including anime characters, fonts, and graffiti.

~~ I hope Vladimir will include this for random generation of Alien faces in the next update! Keeping fingers crossed. Probably a better use of this technology instead of in Deep-fake non-consensual porn or propaganda. ~~

Hell yeah! Once the software becomes open-source or otherwise available for developers, that is.

That being said however, I'm not too sure about it's usefulness in generating realistic alien visages. I mean, the fact that the AI can analyze and generate non-human forms like art is telling as to its abilities (and this could be advanced further) but extraterrestrials would be a completely different kettle of fish. Certain constants in organisms like bilateral symmetry and other biological imperatives to bodily operation and survival would be ubiquitous to all life, barring exotic phenotypes like high-pressure/low-pressure or high temperature/low-temperature life, but there would be A LOT of variables to for the algorithm to consider just to simply crank out an exogenous bacteria. It would be a mistake to make a 'top-down' assessment of what an alien life-form would look like without prior consideration of all the factors that contributed to it's overall appearance by virtue of natural evolution. But vast potential still lies in GAN, and I too would see porn of this being a waste of a wonderful invention (although we all know that will happen anyway).


All in all, this means we have to be REALLY careful to whom we talk to online, because now you can't even trust the alleged photographs (i mean, less so then usual ;))
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15 Feb 2019 18:57

Stellarator wrote:
Source of the post NPCs faces were always a tough part of development: either the devs had to hand-make every NPC face in the game

Yeah, I had to modify another game content once upon a time (2004). Never Winter Nights. I created a new Human Female Head pak with new facial skins, this time showing a little emotion, smiles or snarls etc. They just wrapped around existing models in the game.

Speaking of which, the Spelljammer project is pretty much ready. I just need a place to upload 26GB.

Human Female Heads reskinned for NWN

1114981424fullres.jpg


There have been attempts at making Japanese Anime faces that look promising for Video Game aliens or whatnot, as you describe.

GAN Anime video on twitter
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