Things tagged future:
Cade Metz in Wired: (link is to archive.is, due to Wired’s invasive advertising)
After more than four hours of tight play and a rapid-fire endgame, Google’s artificially intelligent Go-playing computer system has won a second contest against grandmaster Lee Sedol, taking a two-games-to-none lead in their historic best-of-five match in downtown Seoul.
This is extremely surprising, as as of a year ago, an high-average amateur player could beat any computer at go. Then 6 months ago, Google’s program beat a 2-dan pro, which was a shock to everyone, and now it seems to be handling a 9-dan pro, which is the top level of go ranking.
Some high level mulling of a very smart person about the future of digital currency, as relates to the involvment of central banks:
Dave Birch in Consult Hyperion’s blog:
So: imagine something like M-PESA but run by the Bank of England. Everyone has an account and you can transfer money from one account to another by a mobile phone app (that uses the secure TEE in modern mobile phones) or by logging in with two factor authentication to any one of a number of service providers that use the Bank of England API to access the accounts or by phoning a voice recognition and authentication service. Drawing on our experiences from M-PESA, TAP and other population-scale mobile-centric system that we have advised on, I think that this API might actually the most important single thing that a Brit-PESA might deliver to the British economy.
In January 2000 Jon Lebkowsky interviewed Bruce Sterling here in Inkwell about “The Viridian Future,” and in 2001 about “The State of the Future.” 2002’s discussion was called “State of the Whirled,” followed in 2003 by a discussion inspired by Bruce’s nonfiction book, “Tomorrow Now: Envisioning the Next 50 Years.” In 2004, we had the “Bruce Sterling State of the World Address,” and thereafter we called it the “State of the World” conversation.
Pundits abound, speaking with real or fabricated authority on a variety of subjects, and as the year turns spewing top ten lists and year-end summaries, and confident but subjective prognostications about the next year or five. If you’re bored with that sort of thing, you might find this two-week conversation more fun, interesting, and compelling. Our speakers are not creating keyword-rich listicles to maximize hits and produce conversions… but discussing the “state of the world” based on their perspectives as future-focused mavens immersed in information and contemporary culture.
Bruce Sterling’s perspectives are especially interesting given his global perspective as someone who travels and reports broadly, and his experiences as an author, speaker, teacher and maker attentive to trends in science, culture, politics, and design. He’s known a novelist, journalist and speaker. While acting as “Visionary in Residence” at Art Center College of Design in 2008, he wrote “Shaping Things,” one of the first books about the Internet of Things. In 2008 he was the curator of the Share Festival in Turin, on the theme of Italian digital manufacturing. He was one of the original columnists for Make magazine and wrote the cover story for the first issue of WIRED. Bruce Sterling lives in Turin, Belgrade and Austin. http://casajasmina.arduino.cc/team/
Jon Lebkowsky has been making and sharing experiences in digital culture and media for over 25 years. Currently he’s part of Polycot Associates, a mission-driven digital development co-operative based in Austin, Texas. He’s also President of EFF-Austin, an organization that’s been supporting digital freedom in Texas since 1990. He’s been an activist, sometimes journalist, and blogger who writes about the future of the Internet, digital culture, media, and society. http://weblogsky.com
Stan Cox and Paul Cox in the New Republic:
Few people we talked with in Miami believed that the city they all know and love would remain intact into the deep future. The question was not whether people will have to leave but when. When people ask Stoddard, “When should I think about selling my house?” he said he tells them, “It depends on whether or not you can afford to lose the capital in it. What happens to you? Are you ruined financially? It’s a question of risk tolerance. If you can afford to lose the capital in your house, keep it. Enjoy yourself! But if you’re counting on that house for retirement, or if you’ll end up destitute if you lose it, I say now would be a good time to sell your place.”
Via Next Draft.
Tim Urban with a decent, if pop-sci, look at the singularity:
What does it feel like to stand here?
Gareth Cook in the NYT:
The race to map the connectome has hardly left the starting line, with only modest funding from the federal government and initial experiments confined to the brains of laboratory animals like fruit flies and mice. But it’s an endeavor heavy with moral and philosophical implications, because to map a human connectome would be, Seung has argued, to capture a person’s very essence: every memory, every skill, every passion. When the brain isn’t wired properly, it can lead to disorders like autism and schizophrenia — “connectopathies” that could be revealed in the map, perhaps suggesting treatments. And if science were to gain the power to record and store connectomes, then it would be natural to speculate, as Seung and others have, that technology might some day enable a recording to play again, thereby reanimating a human consciousness. The mapping of connectomes, its most zealous proponents believe, would confer nothing less than immortality.
We are the bootloader.
“As soon as a civilization invents radio, they’re within fifty years of computers, then, probably, only another fifty to a hundred years from inventing AI,” Shostak said. “At that point, soft, squishy brains become an outdated model.”
Robert Walker at Science 2.0:
This idea dates back to the Russians in the early 1970s. The surface of Venus is far too hot, and the atmosphere too dense, for Earth life. However, our air is a lifting gas on Venus with about half the lifting power of helium on Earth. A habitat filled with normal air will float high in the dense Venus atmosphere, The atmospheric pressure there is the same as Earth sea level (1 bar). Temperatures are perfect for Earth life too, just over 0°C.
Also, just as weather balloons naturally rise to their operating level high in our atmosphere - so it works in the same way for our habitats on Venus. They float at a level where the pressure is equal inside and out, and can be of light construction. It is arguably the most hospitable region for humanity in our solar system, outside of Earth itself.
Dan Frommer in Quartz:
Toshiba, the Japanese technology conglomerate with a lineage dating back to the 19th century, is looking for growth in a whole new way. In a sterilized clean room about 35 miles outside of Tokyo, where Toshiba used to make floppy disks in the 1980s and 90s, the company is now starting to grow thousands of lettuce plants as it expands into indoor agriculture.
Nerd out time. Gets really good towards end of part 3.
The Named Data Networking (NDN) project makes use of the CCN (Content-Centric Networking) architecture developed at the Palo Alto Research Center (PARC). In this presentation, Van Jacobson speaks on content-centric networking at the Future Internet Summer School (FISS 09) in Bremen, Germany in June 2009.
In October 2002, Peter Ho, the permanent secretary of defense for the tiny island city-state of Singapore, paid a visit to the offices of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), the U.S. Defense Department’s R&D outfit best known for developing the M16 rifle, stealth aircraft technology, and the Internet. Ho didn’t want to talk about military hardware. Rather, he had made the daylong plane trip to meet with retired Navy Rear Adm. John Poindexter, one of DARPA’s then-senior program directors and a former national security advisor to President Ronald Reagan. Ho had heard that Poindexter was running a novel experiment to harness enormous amounts of electronic information and analyze it for patterns of suspicious activity – mainly potential terrorist attacks.
Where are we going, and where do we want to go, genetically speaking?
Of all the politically correct stances, the genetic unimprovability of humanity is perhaps the most inviolable. Even while we work daily, even feverishly, to improve other aspects of our material and cultural existence, our biology remains an ethical red zone, where nothing can be done and no infringement placed on individual replication. As a response to the abuse of eugenics in the 20th century, and to the deep philosophical problems involved, this is understandable. But it does not do justice to the underlying science.
Eugenics are a real issue, have been a real issue, and will continue to be a real issue. Genetic modification techniques will come to be applied on humans, and the rich will get it first. Looking away from these realities because they are uncomfortable is weakness.
In 2012, in the nature magazine Orion, Kingsnorth began to publish a series of essays articulating his new, dark ecological vision. He set his views in opposition to what he called neo-environmentalism — the idea that, as he put it, “civilization, nature and people can only be ‘saved’ by enthusiastically embracing biotechnology, synthetic biology, nuclear power, geoengineering and anything else with the prefix ‘new’ that annoys Greenpeace.” Or as Stewart Brand, the 75-year-old “social entrepreneur” best known as the publisher of the “ Whole Earth Catalog,” has put it: “We are as gods and have to get good at it.”
In December 2012, Shaun Donovan, the secretary of Housing and Urban Development, was on vacation in Berlin when he decided to detour to the Netherlands. He wanted to get a firsthand sense of the famed Dutch approach to water management. Hurricane Sandy struck six weeks before, and in the aftermath, President Obama asked him to lead a task force, whose objective was not just to rebuild but also to radically rethink the region’s infrastructure in light of climate change.
In the Netherlands, a man named Henk Ovink offered to be Donovan’s guide. Ovink was the director of the office of Spatial Planning and Water Management, meaning, essentially, that it was his job to keep the famously waterlogged country dry. As he learned about various Dutch innovations, Donovan was struck by the fact that Ovink looked at water as much in cultural as in engineering terms, which was a function of the centuries-old need of the Dutch to act together for protection.
As life has evolved, its complexity has increased exponentially, just like Moore’s law. Now geneticists have extrapolated this trend backwards and found that by this measure, life is older than the Earth itself.
You hear a lot about “next gen” science and technology, but not so much about will happen to human societies and cultures in the future. To fill the gap, we asked three futurists and one science fiction writer what social changes we should expect to see in the next century.
Continuing my posting on the Fermi paradox:
Most people take it for granted that we have yet to make contact with an extraterrestrial civilization. Trouble is, the numbers don’t add up. Our Galaxy is so old that every corner of it should have been visited many, many times over by now. No theory to date has satisfactorily explained away this Great Silence, so it’s time to think outside the box. Here are eleven of the weirdest solutions to the Fermi Paradox.
Ross Andersen in Aeon:
Last December I came face to face with a Megalosaurus at the Oxford University Museum of Natural History. I was there to meet Nick Bostrom, a philosopher who has made a career out of contemplating distant futures, hypothetical worlds that lie thousands of years ahead in the stream of time. Bostrom is the director of Oxford’s Future of Humanity Institute, a research collective tasked with pondering the long-term fate of human civilisation. He founded the institute in 2005, at the age of 32, two years after coming to Oxford from Yale. Bostrom has a cushy gig, so far as academics go. He has no teaching requirements, and wide latitude to pursue his own research interests, a cluster of questions he considers crucial to the future of humanity.
Bostrom attracts an unusual amount of press attention for a professional philosopher, in part because he writes a great deal about human extinction. His work on the subject has earned him a reputation as a secular Daniel, a doomsday prophet for the empirical set. But Bostrom is no voice in the wilderness. He has a growing audience, both inside and outside the academy. Last year, he gave a keynote talk on extinction risks at a global conference hosted by the US State Department. More recently, he joined Stephen Hawking as an advisor to a new Centre for the Study of Existential Risk at Cambridge.