182 posts tagged future
Face of the future rears its head
Meet Zoe: a digital talking head which can express human emotions on demand with “unprecedented realism” and could herald a new era of human-computer interaction.
The system, called “Zoe”, is the result of a collaboration between researchers at Toshiba’s Cambridge Research Lab and the University of Cambridge’s Department of Engineering.
Analysis: Antibiotic apocalypse
A terrible future could be on the horizon, a future which rips one of the greatest tools of medicine out of the hands of doctors.
A simple cut to your finger could leave you fighting for your life. Luck will play a bigger role in your future than any doctor could.
The most basic operations - getting an appendix removed or a hip replacement - could become deadly.
Cancer treatments and organ transplants could kill you. Childbirth could once again become a deadly moment in a woman’s life.
It’s a future without antibiotics.
This might read like the plot of science fiction novel - but there is genuine fear that the world is heading into a post-antibiotic era. The World Health Organization has warned that “many common infections will no longer have a cure and, once again, could kill unabated”. The US Centers of Disease Control has pointed to the emergence of “nightmare bacteria”. And the chief medical officer for England Prof Dame Sally Davies has evoked parallels with the “apocalypse”. (via BBC News - Analysis: Antibiotic apocalypse)
What If? Visions of the future
This year the BBC is looking into the future, finding out what it holds for health, education, transport and even love. The season is called What If? - and we want you to be a part of it.
What does the future look like to you? We want to know and we want you to share your vision of the world as part of our competition - you could even win a laptop worth £2,500. We asked six artists from around the world to share their vision with us. Now we want you to do the same. (via BBC News - What If? Visions of the future)
Cities of the future
A century ago, we imagined futuristic cities full of hulking, steel buildings, their towers surrounded by a lace of elevated roads. But today, the future of architecture is biology. Synthetic biology architects and designers imagine cities that are made from bioengineered materials, fed by energy from sunlight. These cities sometimes look more like forests than metropolises. Here are a few visions of the living cities of tomorrow.
Go see all of them: at Io9
Mind of its own: building a human brain
A machine capable of thinking for itself and expressing emotion is being developed in Switzerland
At the end of last year a group of academics at the University of Cambridge asked a simple question: which developments in human technology pose ‘new, extinction-level risks to our species as a whole’?
The group, which included the philosopher Huw Price, the cosmologist Martin Rees and the founder of Skype, Jaan Tallinn, were setting up a research centre, the Cambridge Project for Existential Risk, to work out the answer, and to study those potential one-off species-ending events that are the stuff of scientists’ nightmares.
To whet the public’s appetite for destruction, they drew up a shortlist of man-made apocalyptic scenarios, which included climate change, biotechnology and nuclear war.
But it was the final item on the list, artificial intelligence (AI), that caught the imagination. ‘What happens if computers reach and exceed human capacities to write computer programs?’ Price and Tallinn asked. ‘The moment that machines are able to develop even more intelligent machines would result in an “intelligence explosion”.’ (The man who first realised this, Jack Good, who worked with Alan Turing at Bletchley Park, suggested that the creation of a machine of such sophistication would be ‘our last invention’, as ever-smarter robots left humanity far behind.)
The headlines were dramatic: killer robots? cambridge brains to assess ai risk. It was all wonderful publicity – unless, of course, you happened to be leading a scientific project of unprecedented ambition, aiming to develop supercomputers of hitherto unseen power to model the entire human brain in all its intelligent, emotional complexity.
go read.. Mind of its Own
What Our Brains Can Teach Us
By DAVID EAGLEMAN
Published: February 22, 2013
AFTER President Obama’s recent announcement of a plan to invigorate the study of neuroscience with what could amount to a $3 billion investment, a reasonable taxpayer might ask: Why brain science? Why now?
Here’s why. Imagine you were an alien catching sight of the Earth. Your species knows nothing about humans, let alone how to interpret the interactions of seven billion people in complex social networks. With no acquaintance with the nuances of human language or behavior, it proves impossible to decipher the secret idiom of neighborhoods and governments, the interplay of local and global culture, or the intertwining economies of nations. It just looks like pandemonium, a meaningless Babel.
So it goes with the brain. We are the aliens in that landscape, and the brain is an even more complicated cipher. It is composed of 100 billion electrically active cells called neurons, each connected to many thousands of its neighbors. Each neuron relays information in the form of miniature voltage spikes, which are then converted into chemical signals that bridge the gap to other neurons. Most neurons send these signals many times per second; if each signaling event were to make a sound as loud as a pin dropping, the cacophony from a single human head would blow out all the windows. The complexity of such a system bankrupts our language; observing the brain with our current technologies, we mostly detect an enigmatic uproar.
Looking at the brain from a distance isn’t much use, nor is zooming in to a single neuron. A new kind of science is required, one that can track and analyze the activity of billions of neurons simultaneously.
Could the language we speak skew our financial decision-making, and does the fact that you’re reading this in English make you less likely than a Mandarin speaker to save for your old age? It is a controversial theory which has been given some weight by new findings from a Yale University behavioural economist, Keith Chen. Prof Chen says his research proves that the grammar of the language we speak affects both our finances and our health. Bluntly, he says, if you speak English you are likely to save less for your old age, smoke more and get less exercise than if you speak a language like Mandarin, Yoruba or Malay. (via BBC News - Why speaking English can make you poor when you retire)
Researchers Demonstrate Matrix-Style Learning
Research published in the journal Science suggests it may be possible to use brain technology to learn to play a piano, reduce mental stress or hit a curve ball with little or no conscious effort. It’s the kind of thing seen in Hollywood’s The Matrix.
Experiments conducted at Boston University (BU) and ATR Computational Neuroscience Laboratories in Kyoto, Japan, demonstrated that through a person’s visual cortex, researchers could use decoded functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to induce brain activity patterns to match a previously known target state and thereby improve performance on visual tasks.
Think of a person watching a computer screen and having his or her brain patterns modified to match those of a high-performing athlete or modified to recuperate from an accident or disease. Though preliminary, researchers say such possibilities may exist in the future. (via 33rd Square | Researchers Demonstrate Matrix-Style Learning)