255 posts tagged future
What will human bodies be like in a hundred year’s time?
IEET Fellow Russell Blackford (author Humanity Enhanced) and Nicholas Agar (Author, Truly Human Enhancement) discuss enhancement technologies on ABC’s The Body Sphere, hosted by Amanda Smith. What will human bodies be like in a hundred year’s time? Will we be as much technological as flesh and blood, with things like cybernetic implants and modified DNA? Is a post-human future desirable..?
(via What will human bodies be like in a hundred year’s time?)
Supersonic Jet Ditches Windows for Massive Live-Streaming Screens
Spike Aerospace is in the midst of building the first supersonic private jet. And when the $80 million S-512 takes off in December 2018, it won’t have something you’d find on every other passenger aircraft: windows. The Boston-based aerospace firm is taking advantage of recent advances in video recording, live-streaming, and display technology with an interior that replaces the windows with massive, high-def screens. The S-512’s exterior will be lined with tiny cameras sending footage to thin, curved displays lining the interior walls of the fuselage. The result will be an unbroken panoramic view of the outside world. And if passengers want to sleep or distract themselves from ominous rainclouds, they can darken the screen or choose from an assortment of ambient images. But this isn’t just a wiz-bang feature for an eight-figure aircraft. While windows are essential for keeping claustrophobia in check, they require engineering workarounds that compromise a fuselage’s simple structure. And that goes two-fold for a supersonic aircraft. An airplane is stronger sans windows, which is one of the reasons why planes carrying military personnel or packages fly without them. Putting passenger windows on an airplane requires meticulous construction — the ovular shape, small aperture, and double-pane construction are all there to maintain cabin pressure and resist cracking while flying 500 mph at 35,000 feet. (via Supersonic Jet Ditches Windows for Massive Live-Streaming Screens | Autopia | Wired.com)
It’s not quite as good as an Elvis sighting, but I saw a Buddha of Bamiyan last week, the tall one, whose left leg was already missing before the Taliban blew up the rest of him in 2001. I stood at his sandstone feet, then levitated 60 yards in the air to hover near the long Buddha ears and thick gray lips. No one bothered to scan the two 6th-century monuments carved into an Afghan cliff face while they were still just mud and rock, but they left a digital legacy, mostly snapshots scattered online. Today, software can take those photographs, stitch them into a 3D model and take you on a flyby. It’s a more perfect experience than experience itself, a counter-historical present that makes you forget the Buddhas were destroyed. When machines enhance your experience with an overlay, it’s called augmented reality; when they replace it entirely, it’s called virtual reality. Both techniques have something in common — they derive from reality itself, and they do it through a sort of 3D scanning called reality capture. Reality capture and its algorithmic heart, reality computing, are two technologies on the verge of ubiquity, and they’re the magic behind a lot of things you’ve already heard of. The last 18 Academy Award winners for best visual effects have used a piece of reality-computing software called Autodesk Maya, the Sanskrit word for “illusion.” So does the video game Halo 4, which has sold more copies in America than any other Microsoft Studios title. Both of them feed off of reality scans, which is what sets them apart. While we’ve had virtual realities for a while, they’re usually a little too cute. MineCraft and Second Life are two worlds where players painstakingly created a built environment from scratch — but they’ve never rivaled the physical world in detail (or failed miserably if that was their goal). What makes reality computing different from old VR, and from run-of-the-mill 3D modeling, is its scale, speed and resolution. Sensors have begun to ingest the world — entire cities at a time — and to reconstruct a doppelganger, which is just as rich as the real, much more malleable, and unbowed by the laws of physics or the tyranny of the past. Living across multiple realities, the Buddha of Bamiyan exists and it does not exist. You met your wife-to-be on a random subway platform and did not. You live in Alaska, or Zanzibar, depending on the time of day. With visions of what might have been, this technology doesn’t just capture reality — it captures you.
The lure of the sea: Pacific islands perched in glistening aquamarine, softly lapping waves caressing Europe’s beaches. Now, many of these bucket list hotspots are about to be reclaimed by our beloved sea. Naturally, we know all about rising sea levels. Cities like Venice as well as entire coastal regions, a. o. in The Netherlands, are acutely threatened by this development. But what can we do to stave off the danger?
Who wouldn’t want to slip into Iron Man’s armor or try out the gigantic Jaegers that saved the world in the movie Pacific Rim? Wearable exoskeletons currently being built, from the military-based TALOS, XOS 2 and HULC to rehabilitative models like the ReWalk, MindWalker and X1, all have one thing in common; they are all robotic automated body suits designed to enhance or assist people. Is there a place for a skill-oriented, non-robotic walking exoskeleton, that a person would have to master physically by feel, much like how one might master riding a bicycle or using a skateboard? Jonathan Tippet thinks so. He and his team of volunteers are building Prosthesis, claimed to be the world’s first human-piloted racing robot. It’s a 5-meter (16-ft) tall behemoth that will rely entirely on the pilot’s skill to balance itself or walk or run. (via Prosthesis human-piloted racing robot aims to usher in a new sport)
BIOENGINEERS dream of growing spare parts for our worn-out or diseased bodies. They have already succeeded with some tissues, but one has always eluded them: the brain. Now a team in Sweden has taken the first step towards this ultimate goal. Growing artificial body parts in the lab starts with a scaffold. This acts as a template on which to grow cells from the patient’s body. This has been successfully used to grow lymph nodes, heart cells and voice boxes from a person’s stem cells. Bioengineers have even grown and transplanted an artificial kidney in a rat. Growing nerve tissue in the lab is much more difficult, though. In the brain, new neural cells grow in a complex and specialised matrix of proteins. This matrix is so important that damaged nerve cells don’t regenerate without it. But its complexity is difficult to reproduce. To try to get round this problem, Paolo Macchiarini and Silvia Baiguera at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden, and colleagues combined a scaffold made from gelatin with a tiny amount of rat brain tissue that had already had its cells removed. This “decellularised” tissue, they hoped, would provide enough of the crucial biochemical cues to enable seeded cells to develop as they would in the brain. When the team added mesenchymal stem cells – taken from another rat’s bone marrow – to the mix, they found evidence that the stem cells had started to develop into neural cells (Biomaterials, doi.org/qfh).
The Pentagon’s advanced research arm is always dreaming up crazy, futuristic technologies that will shape the future of the military and society. DARPA was involved in early Internet development, and these days the agency works on everything from drone-slaying lasers to humanoid robots that could save your life. Every year, DARPA gives out young faculty awards aimed at recruiting the “rising star” researchers in academia to devote their brains to the military’s technological needs. “The long-term goal of the program is to develop the next generation of scientists and engineers in the research community who will focus a significant portion of their future careers on DoD and National Security issues,” this year’s grant program announcement reads. The agency doesn’t want these young geniuses to work on just anything, though. DARPA is seeking applications in 18 topic areas, offering some insight into the agency’s priorities and interests. Here are a couple of topics we found particularly intriguing:
We’re living in an era of mechanized intelligence, an age in which you’re probably going to find yourself in a workplace with diagnostic systems, different algorithms and computer-driven data analysis. If you want to thrive in this era, you probably want to be good at working with intelligent machines. As Tyler Cowen puts it in his relentlessly provocative recent book, “Average Is Over,” “If you and your skills are a complement to the computer, your wage and labor market prospects are likely to be cheery. If your skills do not complement the computer, you may want to address that mismatch.”
An Equation for Intelligence: Alex Wissner-Gross at TEDxBeaconStreet
What is the most intelligent way to behave? Dr. Wissner-Gross explains how the latest research findings in physics, computer science, and animal behavior suggest that the smartest actions — from the dawn of human tool use all the way up to modern business and financial strategy — are all driven by the single fundamental principle of keeping future options as open as possible. Consequently, he argues, intelligence itself may be viewed as an engine for maximizing future freedom of action. With broad implications for fields ranging from management and investing to artificial intelligence, Dr. Wissner-Gross’s message reveals a profound new connection between intelligence and freedom.
Dr. Alexander D. Wissner-Gross is an award-winning scientist, inventor, and entrepreneur. He serves as an Institute Fellow at the Harvard University Institute for Applied Computational Science and as a Research Affiliate at the MIT Media Laboratory.