261 posts tagged future
Robots were supposed to become a cheap alternative to human labour. Things haven’t worked out that way, says Brendan Byrne
”Anything you can do…” Frank Langella faces the future in Robot and Frank (dir. Jake Schreier, 2012)
A spectre haunts the internet’s Thinkpiece Archipelago - the…
Will humankind become obsolete?
The main fear about the very image of machines replacing humans is the one of mankind obsolescence. This idea that our civilization will evolve into a world like Matrix, where we would be relegated to a mere peripheral equipment became incapable of managing its destiny. But as illustrated by Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee in “Race Against The Machine”, this feeling of an obsolescent humanity is linked to a vision of humans competing against the machine instead of man working with it. The question is to define this “with” and which concepts it underlies? Classical notion of tools external and fully subdue to man probably lived with the arrival of autonomous machines. A concept that may emerge is “partnership”. After having been for centuries a simple tool, our machines would become associated with us; and thus this manmachine duo creation, made effective by osmosis between our animal adaptability and digital speed and highprecision, will allow both sides to find a new place and prosper. Another way is the idea of anthropotechny,(11) working directly on bodies to the point of permanently blurring distinction between man and machine. This is of course a longerterm prospective vision and in a more practical and immediate point of view, what can be done when we see autonomous systems outperform humans in such a specific domain as medical diagnosis?
As rising sea levels threaten low-lying nations around the world, floating cities are gaining political backing and some serious investment.
The Germans Have Figured Out How to 3-D Print Cars
The assembly line isn’t going away, but 3-D printing is going to reshape how we make cars. The EDAG Genesis points the way, with an beautifully crafted frame made from a range of materials and inspired by a turtle’s skeleton. The German engineering firm showed off the Genesis design concept at the Geneva Motor Show as proof that additive manufacturing–EDAG’s fancy term for 3-D printing–can be used to make full-size car components. It’s on an entirely different scale than the tiny, 3-D printed creations coming out of a desktop Makerbot, but it’s also just a frame–a stylized chassis that’s more art than reality. Before settling on 3-D printing, EDAG tried a few different acronym-heavy options, including selective laser sintering (SLS), selective laser melting (SLM), and stereolithography (SLA). But after extensive tinkering, the final process they used was a modified version of fused-deposition modeling, or FDM. EDAG’s robot built the Genesis concept by creating a thermoplastic model of the complex interior, although the company says they could use carbon fiber to make the structure both stronger and lighter. EDAG envisions the Genesis as being surrounded by an exterior frame–likely steel or aluminum–to provide a tough exterior to protect the lattice-like monocoque. (via The Germans Have Figured Out How to 3-D Print Cars | Autopia | Wired.com)
From genetic and genomic testing to new techniques in human assisted reproduction, various technologies are providing parents with more of a say about the children they have and “stirring the pot of ‘designer baby’ concerns,” writes Thomas H. Murray, President Emeritus of The Hastings Center, in a commentary in Science. Murray calls for a national conversation about how much discretion would-be parents should have. “Preventing a lethal disease is one thing; choosing the traits we desire is quite another,” he writes. He discusses public hearings two weeks ago by the United States Food and Drug Administration to consider whether to permit human testing of a new method of assisted reproduction – mitochondrial manipulation – that would prevent the transmission of certain rare diseases and perhaps address some causes of female infertility. At issue is the safety of the technology, as well as its ethical implications. Mitochondrial manipulation creates an embryo with the nuclear DNA from the prospective mother and father (which contains most of the genetic material) and the mitochondrial DNA (containing 37 genes) from a donor without mitochondrial defects. Among the ethical concerns is that daughters produced by this procedure could pass down the mitochondrial DNA to their children. “Up to now, the United States has not allowed such genetic changes across generations,” Murray writes.
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?