Forbes Magazine recently interviewed a number of futurists, including Stuart Brand, Rudy Rucker, Stephan Wolfram (and me!) on the topic of The Future.
Cool and loads of fun, the Dresden Codak online comic strip deals with matters like time travel and singularities.
Cool and part of the solution... the “$100 laptop” project seems to be coming into shape at last, with a robust and adaptable - wifi networked, low power and high-functioning laptop for children in the Developing World. And only off-target on price by a factor of two. It will make you salivate for one yourself. So buy one while buying one for a poor kid, in a special matchup program. "Give One & Get One" for $399.
A building built for voyeurism... Not only will the building’s glass walls allow W residents to see, and be seen by, passers-by on the street below, but Mr. Fletcher and Ms. Lillo have created peekaboo features within each apartment, like a window between the kitchen and the bedroom, and a bathroom that’s a glass cube, allowing residents to expose themselves to their roommates and family members, too. Mr. Transparency quails.
From the Transparency Front: a town in the UK that provided access to the CCTV feeds to citizens. “The scheme that gave residents of Shoreditch links to local CCTV cameras through their TV sets had better viewing figures than Channel 4's Big Brother...The Information Commissioner had ordered the homesnoop CCTV be handicapped by low resolution to prevent the watchers from identifying the people they were watching. "You couldn't recognise specifics, but you could see if there was trouble happening or if someone was roaming about. It made people feel safer," said Hatwal. "Not a single resident came back and raised [CCTV] as an issue," he said. "It was the defining thing that made people say, 'Oh yes, I want that', and they wanted to see more detail [in the CCTV images]."
A new kind of lamp/bulb has no electrodes or filaments and may last hundreds of hours, while emitting light at 50% efficiency. (Vs 5% for incandescent or 15% for fluorescent.)
See the new Paul Allen Array which takes the SETI Project to new levels. I am glad!
Speaking of which, renowned space artist Jon Lomberg - a colleague in our discussions over the METI conroversy -- has just established a “Galaxy Garden” in Hawaii, that illustrates many features of the Milky Way on a scale of 83 light years per inch. A flower might represent an entire star-forming nebula. Way cool.
Back on Earth.... see an article about using High-T plasmas to neutralize toxics.
If there are any lingering doubts as to whether the age of oil is nearing its end, the International Energy Agency has put them to rest and made it clear that only a massive and immediate investment in sustainable energy will prevent a global crisis.
When matter gets swallowed by a black hole, it could fall into another universe contained inside the black hole, or get trapped inside a wormhole-like connection to a second black hole, a new study suggests.
Read Jamais Cascio’s essay about Openness and the Metaverse Singularity. “The people who have embraced the possibility of a singularity should be working at least as hard on making possible a global inclusion of interests as they do on making the singularity itself happen.” What a wise guy.
Scientists in Taiwan are reporting new insights into why diets rich in fruits and vegetables reduce the risk of obesity. Their study focuses on healthful natural antioxidant compounds called flavonoids and phenolic acids.
Chalk up another predictive “hit”? Ultra-capacitors promise to store energy far better soon, supplementing or even replacing batteries in many uses.
The world's smallest hard drives have already shrunk to the size of a postage stamp, but nanoscale computing may soon make that achievement look elephantine.
A new startup called YourStreet is bringing hyper-local information to its users by collecting news stories and placing them on its map-based interface, down to the nearest street corner.
Last week's announcement by Shai Agassi, a former SAP executive based in Palo Alto, that he's raised $200 million for Better Place, a company that will try to revolutionize the electric car industry, is the latest sign of this region's growing role in one of the hottest sectors of the automotive industry.
Some scientists speculate that a mirror system in people forms the basis for social behavior, for our ability to imitate, acquire language, and show empathy and understanding. It also may have played a role in the evolution of speech. Mirror neurons were so named because, by firing both when an animal acts and when it simply watches the same action... The whole article is fascinating, but here’s the crucial part: that autistic children do not lack all mirror activity or ability to mentally mirror other people. Rather, in a more complex situation, they can mirror some of the time, but for more restricted groups of people, excluding those they don’t know well.
“This evidence for normal mirror neuron activity in autistic children may indicate that mirror system dysfunction in these cases reflects an impairment in identifying with and assigning personal significance to unfamiliar people and things, Oberman suggests. Whether deficits in relating to unfamiliar people that are characteristic of autism are the cause or the result of a dysfunctional mirror neuron system is unclear.” Of course I ponder how this will turn out relating to a longtime interest - the roots of our capacity for empathy, altruism or pragmatic negotiation with others.
What? No politics?
Sometimes we need reminders that civilization is continuing. And that even if a conspiratorial cabal does continue ruining our way of government, it does not have to be allowed to ruin Enlightenment Civilization or our basic way of life.
We can still keep it going, by exploring, by cooperating decently and competing fairly, and by being ourselves.