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Science

Essays and videos exploring physics, evolution, cosmology and other frontiers in science
What on earth is a xenobot? | Aeon
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essay

Evolution

What on earth is a xenobot?

The more we understand how cells produce shape and form, the more inadequate the idea of a genomic blueprint looks

Philip Ball

Recoding art | Aeon
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video

Art

What does an AI make of what it sees in a contemporary art museum?

15 minutes

The people of the cloud | Aeon
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Computing and artificial intelligence

The people of the cloud

Hot, strenuous and unsung. There is nothing soft and fluffy about the caretaking work that enables our digital lives

Steven Gonzalez Monserrate

Delia Derbyshire and Doctor Who | Aeon
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video

Music

Before the Beatles dropped acid, a BBC workshop was creating far-out sounds

6 minutes

The AI historian | Aeon
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video

Computing and artificial intelligence

How machine learning can help historians decode ancient inscriptions

7 minutes

AI’s first philosopher | Aeon
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Computing and artificial intelligence

AI’s first philosopher

Alan Turing was a pioneer of machine learning, whose work continues to shape the crucial question: can machines think?

Sebastian Sunday Grève

How does a quantum computer work? | Aeon
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video

Computing and artificial intelligence

From ‘chandeliers’ to entangled qubits, here’s what happens inside a quantum computer

9 minutes

Modular cognition | Aeon
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Cognition and intelligence

Modular cognition

Powerful tricks from computer science and cybernetics show how evolution ‘hacked’ its way to intelligence from the bottom up

Michael Levin & Rafael Yuste

Forever | Aeon
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video

Technology and the self

When an AI rejects him for life insurance, Mitch wonders if he can escape his fate

7 minutes

Simulating star-destroying black holes | Aeon
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Physics

Models capture the world-warping physics of what happens when stars meet black holes

2 minutes

Vertigo AI | Aeon
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video

Computing and artificial intelligence

Who, exactly, authored this AI-generated spin on Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo?

5 minutes

Learn from machine learning | Aeon
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Future of technology

Learn from machine learning

The world is a black box full of extreme specificity: it might be predictable but that doesn’t mean it is understandable

David Weinberger

The cliché writes back | Aeon
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Stories and literature

The cliché writes back

Machine-written literature might offend your tastes but until the dawn of Romanticism most writers were just as formulaic

Yohei Igarashi

Pixel: a biography | Aeon
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History of technology

Pixel: a biography

An exact mathematical concept, pixels are the elementary particles of pictures, based on a subtle unpacking of infinity

Alvy Ray Smith

How to disappear | Aeon
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video

War and peace

What happens when pacifist soldiers search for peace in a war video game

21 minutes

The warped self | Aeon
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Neuroscience

The warped self

Social media makes us feel terrible about who we really are. Neuroscience explains why – and empowers us to fight back

Mark Miller & Ben White

Should computers run the world? | Aeon
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video

Computing and artificial intelligence

Algorithms are sensitive. People are specific. We should exploit their respective strengths

36 minutes

Brain wifi | Aeon
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Consciousness and altered states

Brain wifi

Instead of a code encrypted in the wiring of our neurons, could consciousness reside in the brain’s electromagnetic field?

Johnjoe McFadden

Machine in the ghost | Aeon
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essay

Computing and artificial intelligence

Machine in the ghost

Can a robot pray? Does an AI have a soul? Advances in automata raise theological debates that will shape the secular world

Ed Simon

Algorithms associating appearance and criminality have a dark past | Aeon
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idea

Computing and artificial intelligence

Algorithms associating appearance and criminality have a dark past

Catherine Stinson

At the limits of thought | Aeon
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The future

At the limits of thought

Science today stands at a crossroads: will its progress be driven by human minds or by the machines that we’ve created?

David C Krakauer

Soft awareness | Aeon
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video

Computing and artificial intelligence

What’s it like to chat with an AI that mimics you? Uncanny conversations with Replika

13 minutes

Ancient animistic beliefs live on in our intimacy with tech | Aeon
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idea

Computing and artificial intelligence

Ancient animistic beliefs live on in our intimacy with tech

Stephen T Asma

The hairy Nobel | Aeon
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video

Physics

‘The secrets of exotic matter’ revealed by the winners of the 2016 Nobel Prize in Physics

13 minutes