Karl Schroeder on likely surprises for 2009

Tom James @ 21-03-2009

Someone who may or may not be SF writer Karl Schoeder is Twittering on likely surprises for 2009:


All fairly uncontentious, no?

Wisdom in strange places – Dinosaur Comics on predicting future technology

Paul Raven @ 06-03-2009

Dinosaur Comics - 5th March 2009Some of you may already follow Ryan North’s Dinosaur Comics; those who don’t should give it a go for a few weeks. The po-mo mock philosophy isn’t to everyone’s taste, but it usually gets at least one genuine LOL a week out of me.

The latest iteration made me grin, because it seemed so apposite to yesterday’s post about the Stross/Anissimov disagreement. So click through and see the whole thing. Philosophy and dinosaurs – what more could you ask for on a Friday?

Charlie Stross’ 21st Century crystal ball

Paul Raven @ 02-03-2009

Charles StrossIf you’ve not caught it already, you should get over to Charlie Stross’s blog and check out his 21st Century FAQ; it’s your source of rant fodder for the coming week.

For example, in answer to the question “[w]hich of (Socialism | Capitalism | Libertarianism | Fascism | Democracy) is going to save us?”:

We’re still waiting for the definitive ideological polarity of the internet era to emerge, although Bruce Schneier has opined that the key political hot potato of the 21st century will be the question, “how do we maintain the concept of privacy in an age of ubiquitous communications and surveillance”, and some believe that privacy is already dead. Given the way Moore’s Law is taking us towards an essentially unlimited ability to record everything, I’m not able to argue with the inevitability of surveillance: what I’d dispute is the morality of it.

Responses and counter-arguments are cropping up already, naturally enough; for example, here’s Brian Wang refuting Stross’s claim that space colonisation and the Singularity are non-starters:

We know we can send people into interplanetary space for several days (Apollo). We could easily make the trip to Mars in days [using the Orion nuclear rocket configuration] and then onto to Jupiter in days. We could bring supplies, radiation protection in cargo that is equivalent to several great pyramids or how many loaded aircraft carriers equivalents.

Plenty of material for discussion for the more geeky water-cooler meet-ups. [image by Patrick Nielsen-Hayden]

So, do we reckon Charlie Stross is a fox or a hedgehog?

Top 10 predictions for 2009

Tom James @ 11-11-2008

Every year since 1985 the editors of the Futurist magazine have selected their top ten predictions for the future:

1. Everything you say and do will be recorded by 2030. By the late 2010s, ubiquitous, unseen nanodevices will provide seamless communication and surveillance among all people everywhere. Humans will have nanoimplants, facilitating interaction in an omnipresent network.

6. Professional knowledge will become obsolete almost as quickly as it’s acquired. An individual’s professional knowledge is becoming outdated at a much faster rate than ever before. Most professions will require continuous instruction and retraining.

[via KurzweilAINews][image from Foxtongue on flickr]

2008’s most exciting emerging technologies

Edward Willett @ 20-02-2008

fortuneteller As Brian Wang pointed out in the comments to my post about the Technology Review list of 2007’s most exciting technologies, there’s actually a 2008 list. And indeed there is, and here it is:

  1. Modeling Surprise – Computer modelling continues to advance, but can it ever be completely accurate? Probably not.
  2. Probabilistic Chips – Uncertainty may not sound like a good thing in computer chips…but then again, maybe it is.
  3. NanoRadio – Tiny radios built from tiny tubes could improve cell phones, medical diagnostic equipment, and more.
  4. Wireless Power – Wires? We don’ need no steenkin’ wires!
  5. Atomic Magnetometers – Tiny magnetic-field sensors will advance the capabilities of MRIs. 
  6. Offline Web Applications – Computer applications need to take advantage of both the browser and the desktop.
  7. Graphene Transistors – A new form of carbon could help us build faster and more compact processors.
  8. Connectomics – The circuitry of the brain is enormously complicated. But as we untangle it, we’ll learn more about brain development and disease.
  9. Reality Mining – Sort through the data gathered by cellphones, and you can learn a lot about how humans behave and how they interact with each other.
  10. Cellulolytic Enzymes – Biofuels from food? That’s just nuts. Biofuels from cellulose? Now you’re talking.

(Image: Wikimedia Commons)


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