The Internet is changing your brain

Of course it is! But, then, everything changes your brain, so why wouldn't the internet?

Should you worry about it? No, because everything changes your brain!
Your brain is one of the most complex things we know of (well, not just yours — other people’s, too). Billions of neurons each with myriad connections to others.
And everything you do — everything — affects its structure and those connections. Cabbies and musicians The hippocampus is a part of the brain that deals with the formation of new memories but, also, the formation of memory maps that enables its owner to navigate in physical spaces.

If you were to examine the hippocampus of a London cab driver, you would find it was considerably larger than in most other people. And that’s because, in order to become licensed cabbies, the drivers have to commit to memory hundreds of routes around the city of London and they may spend months travelling around the city, memorizing these routes and preparing for their exam to get thei…

Should Robots Pay Tax?

Around half of all tax receipts come from payroll taxes. So where will tax revenue come from if robots take all the jobs? There is no dispute that AI, robots, automation generally, can do more and more jobs that used to be done by humans. Inevitably, that trend will continue.

Sounds great - the work still gets done but we all have more leisure time.

But this means that, unless new types of jobs are created, fewer people will have productive work in the future. Which means they won’t be paying income tax!

Worse still, those who can no longer work will need to be supported by social security payments or something like a universal basic income. This will create an enormous fiscal challenge for the government.
The country runs on income tax Income taxes make up a very large proportion of government income and without it the government would have much less to spend. In the US and in the UK, for example, payroll taxes (including National Insurance contributions in the UK) make up about hal…

Elon Musk's One Million Robo-Cabs

The Tesla founder promises fully autonomous cars by the end of the year. Fully autonomous vehicles will, almost certainly, disrupt car ownership in a fundamental way. We may give up the idea of private cars, altogether, or maybe we'll share them, or possibly make some money out of them when we are not actually using them. The cost of running an electric vehicle will be much less than one with a conventional internal combustion engine. This is not only because the cost of energy is less but also, electric vehicles are much simpler,  will have much longer operational lives and will require less maintenance.
If you then remove the driver, taxis and ride-hailing services, such as Uber, will become much cheaper.
All this was detailed in a report by the think tank, RethinkX, in 2017.
But Musk has a different take. The RethinkX report considered that car ownership would plummet because using autonomous taxis would be cheaper the cost of running a private car.
Musk is floating the idea …

Schrödinger's Cat is Alive and Well ...

...and living in a parallel universe.
How can a cat be both alive and dead? How can something be in two places at the same time?

Quantum Mechanics is strange. Richard Feynman, the physicist and Nobel Laureate, once wrote, "I think I can safely say that nobody understands Quantum Mechanics" and he most certainly included himself in that assessment. Quantum Mechanics simply cannot be understood with our every-day experience of the physical world. It's a system where electrons behave like particles, or waves, or both. Or, indeed, neither. Electrons behave like electrons - they exhibit behaviour that is similar to a wave and behaviour that is particle-like. Superposition
One of the strangest aspects of Quantum Mechanics is superposition, a situation where something can be in two different states at the same time and its definite state is not resolved until an observation is made. At least, that is one way of looking at it.

Another way of looking at it is that both states …

What if Dark Matter Doesn't Really Exist?

Dark Matter makes up 85% of the universe and scientists have been looking for it for decades. 
They have yet to find it, so how do we know that it exists?
It might seem a mystery how we could be unaware of so much of the universe. Eighty-five percent is an awful lot of stuff to be missing.
But there is good reason to believe that it really is there. This is because the existence of Dark Matter would explain why the movement of galaxies appear to flout the laws of physics.
The thing is that motion of the outer parts of galaxies ought to slow down, the further they get from the centre, as the effect of gravity diminishes. The trouble is, they don't.

However, if the outer parts of these galaxies contained large amounts of matter that we are not aware of, then this would increase the gravitational effect and thus explain the anomaly. 
And that is the currently received wisdom: Dark Matter must exist because that explains the movement of galaxies.

The problem is that no one has been abl…

How to save $10,000 a year: stop driving!

Is this the end of the road for the private car?
According to the American think-tank RethinkX, the average American could save thousands of dollars by giving up their private car.

Driverless Uber-like taxis are going to be so cheap that it simply won’t be worth owning a car.

Why so cheap? Because, first, they will be electric vehicles that will be much cheaper to run than than conventional petrol, or diesel, cars, and, second, there will be no driver to pay.

Waymo (the company formed from the Google self-driving car project) is already testing AV (autonimous vehicle) taxis in Arizona and appear to planning expand further. According to the jourmal, IEEE Spectrum, both Waymo and Cruise GM (the General Motors AV company) are planning commercial self-driving services using all-electric Jaguar I-Pace SUVs and Chevrolet Bolts, respectively.

Level 4 Autonomy
The taxis will be level 4 autonomous vehicles which means that they will be fully autonomous within a restricted environment. That en…

The People Vs Tech - the Death of Democracy?

Are you an optimist or a pessimist? 
Will the new AI revolution destroy jobs creating enormous inequality between a small number of workers who are slaves to the machine and the super-rich owners of the technology? Or will it free us from the drudge of going to work each day and let us be more creative and fulfilled human beings?
Or maybe, like all previous new technologies, it will replace some jobs, change others and create an environment where new types of employment can flourish.
Whatever your view, reality will probably turn to be somewhat different.
These concerns are explored in Jamie Bartlett's new book, The People Vs Tech, but it's focus is broader: it's concerned with the survival of the way we govern ourselves; it is concerned with the survival of democracy.
Over the top? His arguments are compelling.
Bartlett begins with outlining what he regards as the six pillars of democracy. These are active citizens who can make moral judgements, a shared democratic culture…