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Army Sniper/ AI & Transhumanism

Date Monday - January 26, 2015
Host George Noory
Guests Nicholas IrvingR.U. SiriusJay Cornell

In the first half, one of the greatest snipers in Army Ranger history, Nicholas Irving, discussed his extraordinary military career, including his deployment to Afghanistan in the summer of 2009 when he set a record for enemy kills on a single deployment. His teammates and chain of command labeled him "The Reaper," and his actions on the battlefield became the stuff of legend. Being a sniper is not the same as being an assassin, Irving pointed out. "90% of our job, what we go to school for for months on end, is to gather intel-- that's the snipers #1 job," sneaking into an objective, gathering information and photographs, and bringing this intelligence back, he explained.

Irving said that with a typical rifle, he was able to shoot a target up to one mile away, and that he was able to justify the kills with the knowledge that it was helping to save the lives of his fellow soldiers. He also spoke about the difficult reentry process for a soldier returning home and his own struggles with PTSD. Regarding controversies concerning the hit movie, American Sniper, about the life of Navy SEAL Chris Kyle, Irving considers Kyle to be an absolute hero, and that a lot of the people lobbing criticisms have never been in combat and placed in a position where you have to take another human's life.

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In the latter half, iconoclastic tech author and publisher R.U. Sirius and co-author Jay Cornell addressed the accelerating advances in artificial intelligence, nanotechnology, neuroscience, synthetic biology, robotics, and virtual worlds that are making transhumanism a reality. Transhumanism is a movement geared toward transforming and enhancing the human condition via technological and medical advancements. Right now, it's in an experimental stage, but with new techniques in such fields as nanotechnology, we may start to see definite progress toward expanding human longevity within the next decade, Cornell and Sirius suggested.

Sirius spoke of the singularity-- a theorized time in the future when artificial intelligence becomes thousands of times smarter than humans, such that we can't even foresee what radical changes will occur. Regarding the fear, espoused by such people as Stephen Hawking and Elon Musk, that smart AIs could somehow become a threat to humanity, Sirius finds it somewhat unwarranted, as AI could be used to design positive functional systems to resolve various global problems, though he did admit that the technology could be misused by belligerent people or nation states. How do you feel about AI? Take the C2C Instapoll. Cornell detailed some of the fascinating technologies in the pipeline including creating human organs on 3-D printers, and the biotech ability to change one's skin color. For more, check out this trailer for their new book, Transcendence.

News segment guests: Tim Ball, Dr. Gary Ridenour

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