Antonio Manfredi's Blog Posts

The Convergence of Humans Into Products

August 13 2008 / by Antonio Manfredi
Category: Biotechnology   Year: General   Rating: 11 Hot

Genetic manipulation may create whole new industries in the future where we engineer the attributes of our offspring. Is this biological manipulation for the greater good and what role does this play in the argument of public vs private healthcare?

Imagine a world where you earn points on your Visa card that allow you to engineer your new born childs IQ. Earn enough IQ points and you can elevate this child far beyond their natural abilities, all contingent on your ability to spend.

Now proceed five years into the future. You are planning to have a second child and have earned as many points as before. Because technological evolution changes faster than human evolution, your IQ points now buy much more intellectual enhancement than with your first child. Your first born would now become a sort of Windows 95 of children. Do you discard the child? How would your first born and new born interact? With whom do you concentrate your love and care?

Aside from social and psychological issues that would develop with the children, what would this mean to our global economic class structure? Instead of getting ahead through hard work, you now would be barred from progress because the rich and their offspring would be tied to the tenants of accelerating change.

These scenarios have become more plausible in the future since the cracking of the human genome, the equivalent of the moon shot for our recent history. As more and more genes have been discovered, a roadmap for manipulating our existence has arrived.

In adopting this technology how would we insure universal access, equality, and fairness? Furthermore how does this impact the debate over public vs private medicine in the future? Interestingly the concept of genetic manipulation is looked at differently depending on whether the society has a public or private healthcare system. Personal genetic information, and the accessibility of such, also varies in these societies. European countries such as Iceland and others have developed much stronger rules governing the sharing of this information, as well as how it can be used.

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All Aboard! Why the future is pointing to Transit Oriented Development

August 06 2008 / by Antonio Manfredi
Category: Transportation   Year: General   Rating: 6 Hot

With staggering gas prices and highway congestion, more and more people are looking for alternatives not just to make their cars more efficient, but to ditch their cars entirely. Dense, walkable communities with rail links to urban centers are becoming more recognized solutions.

An idea pushed by urban designers for years, it seems that transit oriented development is an idea whose time has come. America, and the livelihood of its people, are being choked by the most poorly planned out infrastucture in the developed world. We owe our energy consumption to suburban sprawl more than for any other reason. This settlement pattern, without question, is unsustainable, and is the main cause of both our economic and environmental misfortune.

A confluence of federal policy, think tanks, urban planners, and developers are now working on projects that will represent the future of American towns and cities. According to a new Congress for New Urbanism study, the suburban image of the American dream is being abandoned to a larger degree than most people realize. Housing prices in areas with poor transportation linkage are dropping precipitously. Because of sharp increases in gasoline prices, living closer to work has become an even more important consideration in the location decisions of homebuyers. In other words anyone interested in preserving the value of their home in the future should avoid suburbs like the plague.

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2012: The year your electric meter gets smart

August 01 2008 / by Antonio Manfredi
Category: Energy   Year: 2012   Rating: 6 Hot

On July 30, 2008 Pacific Gas and Electric annnounced a plan to deploy smart meters and an enhanced electric grid by 2012. What does this mean for the future of power?

For over half a century our electricity usage has been accounted for in the most basic way. We flip on a switch, and our electric meter starts turning. Each time we use our electricity, we really have no idea how much electricity we are using at any given time. The wheel turns, and no one is home.

Suddenly there has been a convergence of technology and resources around that little round meter that you never really look at. Utilities want to know more about your power usage, and when you use it the most. They also want to inform you of the same information, so you can reduce your energy usage during times of peak energy demand. New forms of rate pricing will replace the dumb system we have now. Use less energy when those power companies are scambling to meet demand and you may be rewarded. Three advanced residential rate options on your bill will include hourly pricing, critical peak pricing and critical peak rebates, according to www.Metering.com. Basically you will be rewarded for how well you govern your consumption.

Realizing that it is difficult to watch your energy usage without the proper tools, technology companies such as Comverge are figuring out ways for you to remotely control the thermostat in your house. Other companies are working on technology that can inform you of a good time to do your laundry, such as off peak hours when it will be cheaper.

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The Intelligent Egg

July 27 2008 / by Antonio Manfredi
Category: The Home   Year: General   Rating: 6 Hot

James Law Cybertecture International has just debuted its design of the so called Intelligent Egg, a building that represents an unprecedented combination of architecture and technology.

The intelligent environments created in the design offer a glimpse into what we might see in homes and buildings in the next ten years. Intelligent environments (also called ambient intelligence) offer the opportunity to drastically change our quality of life, our level of interaction with our surroundings, and our ability to choose our surroundings. They represent a plausible evolution that brings aspects of the virtual world into our built environment.

Intelligent systems and design are incredibly ambitious in the so called “Egg” project. Looking at the occupant as a user systems are designed around very personal and customizable need. Bathrooms are designed to monitor a “users” health and alert a doctor if needed. So called users can also change their view, choosing from real time scenery from around the world.

So called cybertecture is a form of design that integrates multimedia, intelligent systems, technology, and interactivity to create customizable living and working spaces focused on experiences, health, and productivity. coined by James Law in 2001, IT aims to create environments of the future with a focus on technology and lifestyle. Interaction with ones environment through the use of this technology is a key design philosophy. In Cybertecture the hardware (buildings, interiors, materials) are intertwined with software (the use of technology) creating a balance design view whereby both have equal prominence.

Cybertecture has begun to focus much more on the residential market. Recently it was announced that a company in Dubai has commissioned James Law to construct a large residential tower for young professionals below the age of thirty.

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Wake Up McCain and Obama - We need a future focused infrastructure now

July 22 2008 / by Antonio Manfredi
Category: Economics   Year: General   Rating: 8 Hot

The recent announcement of a joint venture between GE and Abu Dhabi to finance and build advanced water and energy infrastructure highlights where American investment needs to be, and why we are falling behind.

An analysis of todays announcement of a massive joint venture between GE and Abu Dhabi offers the most relevant roadmap to date for the future of high tech infrastructure, specifically the development of clean technologies. This global movement offers an amazing view into the future, as the most progressive companies and goverments in the world hash out collaborative plans to deploy the latest and best solutions for the global technology elite.

Throughout history the areas of the world with the best infrastructure have been the dominant forces in global trade and innovation. In the past it meant the best roads, ports, schools, etc. GE and Abu Dhabi show us that it is now a cross pollination of public and private partnership, facilitated by investment authorities and Fortune 500 companies. As we break down this strategic partnership piece by piece, we get a glimpse at the mechanisms in place that are creating the homes, towns, and cities of the future, and how their interplay effects a larger ecosystem of innovation. No one can dismiss this as central planning, rather it is an attempt by government to become more innovative and responsive to the needs of tomorrow. (cont.)

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OFF THE GRID: An Untethered Future

July 20 2008 / by Antonio Manfredi
Category: The Home   Year: General   Rating: 8 Hot

Events of the last five years have shown us that living on the grid, dependent on large utility companies, has been anything but stable. Large electric companies, still reliant on fossil fuel to generate power, have been forced to raise prices dramatically. An antiquated series of electrical lines, transformers, and switches have produced devastating blackouts that have cost our economy billions. With global demand for energy expected to rise, and the cost of upgrading infrastructure approaching hundreds of billions, living off the grid may become a highly plausible and desirable future for many people.

In order to live off the grid you need to tie production and consumption together, creating small scale systems for water and power that require no outside support. It also requires a heavy dose of conservation and efficiency, utilizing a system that operates within the constraints of a limited source. Living off the grid requires a large up front investment in equipment and expertise, and a pioneering spirit. Costs for solar and wind generation systems routinely cost tens of thousands of dollars, yielding a cost per kilowatt hour that exceeds that of the grid. Nonetheless it is becoming an option many people are beginning to consider as the marketplace changes. More and more people are looking to raw materials for energy that are free, inexhaustible, and clean.

As innovation and subsidies collide in the market to create critical mass for residential solar and wind systems, it is reasonable to expect demand for these technologies to grow. According to Solar Buzz, a San Francisco-based industry research company, demand for solar power has grown 20-25% a year for the last twenty years. Many of these applications of solar power come in the form of on the grid solutions, however many of these are distributed at the point of use. It is however the biggest choice for off the grid applications. Demand has grown so fast that more silicon now goes into photovoltaics than computer chips. (cont.)

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Fabricating the Modern Dwelling: MOMA Unveils Home Delivery

July 17 2008 / by Antonio Manfredi
Category: The Home   Year: 2008   Rating: 12 Hot

The Metropolitan Museum of Art unveils an exhibition that shows the technological innovation behind the pre-fabricated home. These made to order homes may represent the homes of the future.

Highlighting the growing innovation in pre-fab homes, the Metropolitan Museum of Art has unveiled an exhibit highlighting the technological innovation behind the pre-fab home and how designers are responding to global trends.

Unveiled at the show will be a full scale prototype of the System 3, a design by Architects Oskar Kaufman and Albert Ruf. After years of pursuing the optimum in high quality low cost design, the System 3 is the pinnacle of austere elegance. Looking like a direct cousin of a shipping container the System 3 abandones traditional notions of architectural design. The truly intersting aspect of it’s design however is it’s ability to be “stacked”, taking multiple units and creating anything from hotels to office towers and luxury villas. (cont.)

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"Future Proofing" - A major trend in home buying

July 15 2008 / by Antonio Manfredi
Category: The Home   Year: General   Rating: 15 Hot

With all the media attention focused on the financial chaos of the housing industry, technology is emerging as an even more powerful force of change. More and more home buyers are placing emphasis on technology, or lack thereof, in the process of buying their new home. This is causing a surge in demand for technologies that are changing the way we have looked at homes for generations, all driven by an increasingly educated home buyer that’s looking toward the future for efficient new products and solutions.

Industry experts, corporations, and consumers are all pointing to the same trend within the housing industry: the home is no longer looked at as mere bricks and mortar, but rather as a technological platform with the capability to adapt. Technology is seen as a means to carry the concept of an affordable and liveable private home into the 21st century, a concept now under attack.

Homes, followed by cars, represent the single biggest investment for the average American. They also consume the most resources, causing the biggest pain to our wallets. They are also a place where we spend a significant amount of time, perhaps our most important resource of all. There is no doubt that the home represents a major part of our lives, both economically and in terms of quality of life.

Despite some advances the home has been slow to change hundreds of years. Studies have shown that the housing industry has been the least innovative of our major industries despite its size. Most people realize this is unsustainable, given the problems facing the world today. In response consumers are creating an insatiable demand for technology within the home. (cont.)

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Negroponte in 1984: Four Predictions (three correct, one still in development)

April 14 2008 / by Antonio Manfredi
Category: Business & Work   Year: General   Rating: 3 Hot

Nicholas Negroponte foreshadows the future i n this 1984 discussion on what we can expect in the coming decades. His ability to hit the mark on everything from CD-roms to products like the iPhone show that we can reasonably predict at least the next score of human years. Speaking at the first TED Conference in 1984, Negroponte waxes prophetic on the convergence of technology, entertainment and design:

Years before anyone was using the word “convergence,” Negroponte was thinking about TV screens as the “electronic books of the future” and computers as the future of education. In excerpts from his 2-hour talk (this was before TED’s 18-minute time limit), he foreshadowed web interfaces, service kiosks, the touchscreens for mobile devices like the iPhone, and his own One Laptop per Child project. Oh, and there’s also a fascinating project called Lip Service, which, well, let’s just say it’s still ahead of us …

Of the following four predictions for the next twenty years, what do you think is the most likely?

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Foster: Green is the New Red White and Blue

April 13 2008 / by Antonio Manfredi
Category: Environment   Year: General   Rating: 6 Hot

This is a great 30 minute video featuring Sir Norman Foster, one of the preeminent architects of our age, that brings us up to speed on many of the intertwining issues within the ecological agenda, the defining issue of our generation. From the perspective of the design process, Foster discusses how green design is producing the iconic products of our age. He takes it a step further by discussing the interconnection of buildings, cities, and sustainability.

It nicely summarizes the problems we face today coupled with potential solutions, by one of the greatest designers of our time. Showing how technology and computers can assist in green design, Foster describes how we must look to technology to move forward the most important work of our age. (cont.)

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