Facts So Romantic

The End of Human Uniqueness, and a New Beginning

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John Hendrix

Today Nautilus launched its second issue, “Uncertainty: A new look at an indeterminate world.” For now we’ve just opened up the first chapter, “Uncertainty in Nature,” with looks at how uncertainty is embedded in math, particles of matter, our genomes, and possibly space-time itself. The rest of the issue will emerge over the course of the month, with one chapter going up each Thursday; on most days there will also be an uncertainty-related blog post. Together, these pieces will take visitors on a tour through the big thoughts around what can and can’t be known.

As uncertainty comes to the fore, our first issue, “What Makes You So Special,” moves out of the spotlight. And while we think there was some great material in the issue and in related blog posts, the topic of human uniqueness is just to giant to exhaustively cover in a month. So here are some other related articles that caught our eyes over the past month—some more views on the question of human uniqueness, hinting at how deep it really goes.

This is what it would look like if Earth had a ring like Saturn.

Robots can’t quite feel emotions, but we trust them to perform serious surgery on us.

Humans controlling motorized robots using thought alone. What does this say about our separation from artificial intelligence?

How humans once buried their dogs. “One dog in particular was adorned with a red deer tooth necklace around its neck.”

Timelapse photography showing what humans did to the planet. Not in a good way.

Some people have especially intense sensory perception. This can range from extreme emotion, to photographic memory or synaesthesia, to a heightened sense of taste and smell, to the ability to play music after only hearing it played once.

One more technical hurdle to therapeutic cloning falls. But the ethical hurdles remain.

Stories of humans raised by animals—and why we love them.

Hollywood’s aboil with apocalypse movies. Why are we obsessed with the end of the world?

Re-examining the nature of animal consciousness—possibly including our own.

Physicists are slowly coming around to the idea that our universe might not make sense. Or maybe it’s just a tiny bit of foam in the multiverse…

What is the meaning of the human body? Are we each “a little soul carrying around a corpse”?

On “the combined power of humans and computers to solve problems that would be impossible for either to solve alone.”

Charting the relationship between human and machine with a self-proclaimed “cyborg anthropologist.”

How quickly can you tell if an image has a face in it? Test your brain, compare your results. It’s harder than you think.

3-D food printers could give the world cheap, nutritious, manufactured food. Is it a godsend? A crime against nature?

A half-hour a week of “compassion training” might be able to make people more altruistic.

Trying to eat the “Paleo” diet? There are a lot of different choices—depending on location and depending on time

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