An interview with Ben Pring on what can be done to stave off the internet’s darkest manifestations

Photo by Hugh Han on Unsplash

Alongside nuclear power, the understanding of DNA, and a handful of other milestones, the invention of the internet stands as one of the 20th century’s most impactful breakthroughs. And just as with any other world-changing technology, the internet has proven that it, too, possesses two sides: the immense good of democratizing and expanding human knowledge, and the dangerous undercurrents that thrive on distance, anonymity, and bias inherent in a new digital realm.

The internet is both the genie and its lamp, and now that we’ve summoned its powers we must deal with the consequences.

Sexually transmitted disease is taking more animals to the brink of extinction than you might imagine.

Photo by Holger Link on Unsplash

Prior to the horrible outbreak of bushfires that began in September of 2019 in Australia — the worst bushfire season on record — koalas were facing another kind of outbreak that was already threatening them with extinction.

On May 6, 2018, John Oliver announced on his “Last Week Tonight” HBO show that he had helped fund (very indirectly, through an amazing back and forth with Russell Crowe) a koala chlamydia ward at the Australia Zoo Wildlife Hospital. The crowd chuckled, but the threat posed by the disease to the koala is very real and very serious.

Over 50% of koala…

ZPE might be the key to securing humanity’s future.

Humanity will forever be at the mercy of energy if we are to continue growing as a species. From the earliest times, we’ve harnessed fire to ward off predators and cook foods to increase our nutritional intake. This took fuel — first brush and wood, and eventually coal and oil. With the invention of more advanced chemical fuels and then the advent of atomic power, we’ve taken steps that have led us onto the doorstep of the cosmos.

It took centuries for us to notice and then finally understand the damage that using certain energy sources have done to our…

To find out if life as we know it is virtual, we must look for bugs in the very fabric of reality.


Is life real?

This is one of many questions that has plagued philosophers for thousands of years.

In his 2003 paper Are You Living in a Computer Simulation?, the Swedish philosopher, futurist, Oxford professor and Director of the Future of Humanity Institute and Governance of AI Program Nick Bostrom covers several topics that underlay the possibility that life as we experience may indeed be “fake news”:

Substrate-Independence — Consciousness is not necessarily a property born of biology and could be formed from other materials or even energy.

Technological Limits of Computation — Given our current rate of progress in computational…

The chances that we might discover analogs to Homo Sapiens are small, but it may be likely that we find recognizable interstellar cousins…

As of August 2019, roughly 4043 exoplanets have been detected by various research organizations on Earth. Of those, just under 50 are currently considered potentially habitable — meaning life could possibly evolve, or has already evolved, there. These are faraway worlds that orbit with the “Goldilocks” zone, just the right distance from their host star that allows for the existence of liquid water and temperatures moderate enough to avoid feeling like a planet-wide oven or deep freezer.

We have been studying life closely on Earth for thousands of years, and over the past century or so have used all the…

These wonders of modern medicine would be considered magic 100 years ago.

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1. When a distinguished but elderly scientist states that something is possible, he is almost certainly right. When he states that something is impossible, he is very probably wrong.

2. The only way of discovering the limits of the possible is to venture a little way past them into the impossible.

3. Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.

— Arthur C. Clarke

If a person born anywhere on Earth in 1899 were to be transported into the future, to right now, into a modern city, they would find a lot to recognize but they would also be mesmerized…

A disaster in the making that can be mitigated by actions we take today.

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The ever-present threat of nuclear annihilation that resulted from our ideological and political conflicts…

Pandemics borne of viruses evolved in the crowded factory farms that feed our appetite for meat…

Global warming, a climate crisis brought about by our appetite for fuel in every form imaginable…

To every action there is always opposed an equal reaction.

-Sir Isaac Newton, Principia Mathematica Philosophiae Naturalis

Nothing arises out of nothingness. In each case above, we have “reaped what we have sown” as a species.

If humanity had never banded together in groups larger than tribes, and formed towns and cities, and devised…

Might time travel be possible someday? And how could it work?

Time travel: It’s the Holy Grail of many a physicist and science fiction writers’ minds.

Is it possible? And if it is, can we find a way to harness it without destroying ourselves, our world, or even our universe?

Time travel holds a special place in many of our dreams. Most of us, at one time or another, wish we might be able to “go back” to some specific instant in our lives and relive it so that we can adjust the trajectory of our life or someone else’s and lead to some better result.

The idea of time travel…

Reaching new worlds in the Milky Way means we’ll need to push our limits. How fast can we get?

Photo by Jeremy Thomas on Unsplash

At this point, every fan of science fiction, and all casual viewers of Star Wars and Star Trek, have seen images of stars suddenly stretching out as a spaceship races forward at the speed of light or greater (Warp 9, anyone?).

Beyond the fact that we actually can’t ever reach the speed of light, because to do so we would also be approaching infinite mass, as we approach lightspeed we wouldn’t actually see the above image. …

People continue to evolve even as our societies becomes more interconnected. What are we becoming now, and what might we become eons from now?


The story of humanity is a story of adaptation. Over the past 200,000 years, ever since the first modern humans (Homo sapiens) appeared in Africa, people have been spreading outward from that continent in every possible direction. As they encountered new environments and challenges, our ancestors had to change in many ways to survive.

New dangers meant that only the physically strongest or smartest humans tended to live long enough to pass on their genes.

We began our journey through evolutionary time as a species just over 200,000 years ago on the continent of Africa: Homo sapiens lived in small…

A. S. Deller

Startup product manager. Sci fi, Fantasy and Science writer.

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