futuretalk's Blog Posts

Tomorrow's Internet - holographic get-togethers and more

April 20 2008 / by futuretalk / In association with Future Blogger.net
Category: Communication   Year: General   Rating: 12 Hot

By Dick Pelletier

A new higher-speed Internet2, now under development in labs around the world, will one day offer holographic images indiscernible from reality, providing an array of applications that we can only dream of today.

With digital video resolution four times finer than today’s HDTV, and haptic technologies that provide a realistic sense of touch, researchers can create holograph images of people filmed thousands of miles away enabling lifelike virtual interaction indiscernible from reality. The system uses cameras that capture live images of people from two or more places, merges the data, and feeds it back to all locations.

We could organize a meeting with friends or relatives from cities scattered around the world without anyone actually traveling. People will kiss, hug and reminisce as if they were in the same room. And our senses will convince us that they are there. We could even meet with a simulation of a favorite celebrity. (cont.)

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Promises, perils and hopes of living through the 21st century

April 17 2008 / by futuretalk / In association with Future Blogger.net
Category: Other   Year: General   Rating: 7 Hot

By Dick Pelletier

Many forward-thinkers see a bright future ahead as we begin our 21st century trek. The following timeline takes a positive look at how the future could unfold:


2010-2019 – The biotech revolution picks up steam; cloning tissues and organs are routine healthcare procedures now and are covered by most insurance companies. Cancer, diabetes; most heart diseases now treatable; patient records include complete personal genomes available at around $100. Humanoid robots form 10% of world population. “Big-Brother” surveillance prevents crimes.

2020-2029 – Medical ‘nanobots’ maintain health 24/7, all diseases now treatable. Star Trek-like replicators provide food, clothing, and other essentials at little cost. Driverless ‘air-cars’ whisk us about. The space elevator slashed launch fees enabling cheap vacations at orbiting hotels. A third-world nation revealed capacity to wield nano-weapons, which prompted the U.S., EU, and China to join forces and create a world-wide defense against the threat.

2030-2049 – Visionaries saw it coming: “machines would one day out-think humans”. This revolution encouraged the merger of minds and bodies with non-biological creations built with ‘immortal’ parts and powered by supercomputer intelligence. Living in these new ‘indestructible’ bodies that can shape-shift into different forms on command and never suffer an unwanted death has given everyone an exhilarating sense of comfort, security, and well-being. (cont.)

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Bioviolence - new, deadlier weapons of choice for terrorists

April 16 2008 / by futuretalk / In association with Future Blogger.net
Category: Biotechnology   Year: General   Rating: 6 Hot

By Dick Pelletier

An impending danger threatens the world – bioviolence. Although no nation state admits to having a biological weapons program, according to a recent DePaul University report, US intelligence officials assert that as many as 10 countries might have active programs, including North Korea, Iran, and Syria.

The report, authored by DePaul Law Professor Barry Kellman, also states that Al-Qaeda, Hamas, Hezbollah and other terrorist groups have expressed interest in acquiring biological weapons. Most nations see a moral problem with using bioweapons, but terrorists feel no such restrictions.

According to a lengthy fatwa commissioned by Osama bin Laden, jihadists are entitled to use weapons of mass destruction against infidels, even if it means killing innocent women, children, and Muslims. And bioviolence is perhaps the most dire, easiest means to expose millions to sure death.

Kellman believes it would be relatively easy to launch a bio-attack. An offender could infect himself with a deadly disease that has been genetically altered for a slow infection process. He would sneak into a crowded city before his symptoms ever became apparent and infect unsuspecting victims, turning each one into carriers who would then infect others.

A recent simulation created at the Center for Strategic and International Studies revealed that a single carrier of smallpox, for example, could infect 10 to 20 people, creating wave after wave of outbreaks. The number of cases projected by the end of the fourth wave was 3 million, with a third of the victims dying – one million deaths caused by a single terrorist act. (cont.)

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"Fountain of Youth" within our grasp, scientists say

April 16 2008 / by futuretalk / In association with Future Blogger.net
Category: Health & Medicine   Year: General   Rating: 8 Hot

By Dick Pelletier

Imagine playing basketball at age 200 with your great-great-great grandchildren, or flying a spaceship to Alpha Centauri in the next millennium. If life extension scientists achieve their goals, regardless of age, your “rejuvenated” body of the future will always remain in perfect health, allowing you to experience the many wonders predicted for this century and beyond.

A growing number of researchers from around the world believe that eternal health and youth will soon be realized. Aging is a destructive biochemical event, scientists say, and we are on the brink of understanding its life-destroying processes.

In a 60 Minutes interview, anti-aging guru Aubrey de Grey said that science will soon develop the means to create indefinite lifespans. “First generation therapies will give us maybe thirty extra years of healthy living,” de Grey said; “new therapies will then add another thirty years; always keeping us one step ahead of the grim reaper.”

Futurist Ray Kurzweil, in a recent C-Span2 broadcast confirmed that we are in early stages of profound revolutions in anti-aging technologies. “Soon,” Kurzweil says, “biotech upgrades will add more than one year of life expectancy to our lives each year.”

British Telecom’s Ian Pearson makes an even bolder prediction. This futurologist believes that advances in the next three decades will be sufficient for us to make a realistic stab at ending death. “Unless one is unfortunate enough to die from accident or disease, many alive today have a good chance of not dying at all,” Pearson says. (cont.)

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Time Travel: Swiss CERN project could validate theories

April 14 2008 / by futuretalk / In association with Future Blogger.net
Category: Space   Year: Beyond   Rating: 6 Hot

By Dick Pelletier

Welcome ladies and gentlemen to the Time Portal. In a few moments we will beam your minds all the way back to the year 2008, where you will each live a day in the life of your early 21st century self. Although your bodies remain here in the year 2110, your minds will travel back in time and merge with your younger self. We hope you enjoy this unique learning experience.

The above scenario is fiction of course, but researchers at the new CERN Particle Accelerator in Switzerland believe their machine can recreate conditions like the “big bang” which brought time and space into existence, and create baby black holes and wormholes; elements that many believe offer the best chance to validate or dispute the concept of traveling backwards in time.

Princeton University’s Richard Gott describes wormholes as shortcuts through space and time that connect two distant points, like a worm tunnel through an apple. “You jump into the wormhole and instantly pop out on Alpha Centauri; you’ve gone through a tunnel that connects two places in spacetime.”

Although today’s laws of physics cannot rule out time travel, the idea is laden with problems. Say we travel back in time and stop our parents from getting together. This would prevent us from being born; we could not exist and our journey in time couldn’t happen – scientists call this a paradox. We created a past different from the one that already exists.

Clearly, mischievous time travelers cannot change the present. People are not suddenly disappearing because a rerun of events has prevented their birth. Therefore, something is stopping time travelers from changing our present, and physicists Stephen Hawking, Michio Kaku, and others believe they know what it is – parallel universes. (cont.)

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Future of Shopping - RFID gets under your skin

April 13 2008 / by futuretalk / In association with Future Blogger.net
Category: Information   Year: General   Rating: 5 Hot

By Dick Pelletier

You enter the supermarket, grab an electronic shopping cart that recognizes you from your touch, and begin tossing items into pre-opened bags. The monitor on your “smart cart” not only displays each item, its price, and total amount spent; but also subtracts items returned to the shelf. Hold an item in your hand briefly and its description appears on the monitor.

When finished shopping, simply tap a “chipped” finger indicating which credit or debit card to use, or tap thumb for cash pay, which directs you to an automated cash machine – then out the door. On exit, select a security option to deactivate or encrypt all product chips, preventing evildoers from tracking you or your merchandise.

Though this futuristic scenario may still be a few years away, Albertson’s Chicago and Dallas area stores are experimenting with “Shop ‘n Scan”, a wireless scanner shoppers use to ring up groceries as they take them off the shelf. Eventually, Albertson’s wants to integrate this with other services that could one day become the precursor to a scenario like the one described above.

Milwaukee futurist David Zach envisions a bright future for RFID (Radio Frequency IDentification). “Chipped” tickets to local Miller Park sporting events, for example, allows management to recognize customers. Move to a more expensive seat during the game, and the system debits your account for the higher priced seat. (cont.)

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Terrorist WMD attack likely within decade, say analysts

April 11 2008 / by futuretalk / In association with Future Blogger.net
Category: Security   Year: General   Rating: 8 Hot

By Dick Pelletier

The world faces an estimated 70 percent chance of a nuclear, biological or chemical attack in the next decade, according to national security analysts surveyed for a recent Senate Foreign Relations Committee study.

More than half of the 85 analysts contacted believed one or two new countries would acquire nuclear weapons within five years, and five more will obtain them in ten. They counted technology sharing between terrorist groups among activities that posed the greatest dangers, and attacks by terrorists as more likely than those posed by rogue states.

Committee Chair Senator Richard Lugar said that though the U.S. may be successful in building new democracies, we are not safe from small, fanatical terrorist cells that could possibly get their hands on nuclear materials.

How great is this risk? During the Cold War, the possibility of a nuclear war that could kill every American made it imperative to do anything possible to avoid conflict. Today, the consequence of even a single nuclear weapon exploding in a U.S. city is almost beyond imagination.

Terrorist’s armed with one nuclear bomb could murder a million people – killing in one day nearly twice as many Americans as died in both twentieth century World Wars combined.

A WMD attack on the U.S. would have catastrophic consequences for other countries too. Researchers at RAND, a government think tank, estimated that a nuclear explosion at the Port of Long Beach in California would cause immediate indirect costs worldwide of more than $3 trillion and, the shutting down of U.S. ports would cut world trade by 10 percent. (cont.)

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Nanotechnology: incredible products predicted for the future

April 10 2008 / by futuretalk / In association with Future Blogger.net
Category: Technology   Year: General   Rating: 10 Hot

By Dick Pelletier

The late Arthur C. Clarke once said, “Any sufficiently advanced technology is virtually indistinguishable from magic.” Enter humanity’s newest plunge into magic – nanotechnology.

Imagine a world with billions of desktop-size machines that can create almost anything – clothing, furniture, electronics, and more – in just minutes. Today, such devices are not available, but one day soon, a small nano-factory will sit on your kitchen counter and let you order nearly anything you desire at little or no cost.

…“Computer, make me ham and eggs, home fries, wheat toast, and coffee.”… Although this may sound like something out of Star Trek, according to futurist Ray Kurzweil, nano-factories could be providing you and your family with meals, medicines, and most essentials by as early as mid-2020s.

Nano-factories operate similar to the way life creates its miracles. A plant grabs atoms from dirt, water, and air, and transforms them into a juicy red strawberry. Our bodies rearrange atoms in the food we eat to create new blood cells. And in similar fashion, nano-factories collect raw atoms from something as inexpensive as dirt, air, or seawater and produce clothes, food, medicine, or even another nano-factory. (cont.)

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Live 20 more years and you may never die, futurist claims

April 09 2008 / by futuretalk / In association with Future Blogger.net
Category: Health & Medicine   Year: General   Rating: 9 Hot

By Dick Pelletier

Much decorated entrepreneur and futurist Ray Kurzweil sums up how new technologies might play out over the next two decades with the following futuristic claim: “If you can remain in good health for 20 more years, you may never die.”

Kurzweil looks at today’s technology trends to piece together a convincing picture of what science hopes to accomplish in the decades ahead. He believes we will eliminate all disease, pain, and forgetfulness; even most unwanted deaths. “If you live well for the next 20 years,” Kurzweil says, “you may be able to live in perfect health for as long as you want.”

Though accidents, crime, wars, and terrorism could still cause death in this future time, nobody will die from heart disease, cancer, AIDS, malnutrition, or any of today’s illnesses.

This future is not so surprising considering the current speed of medical innovations. Almost daily, we hear researchers make new discoveries, or begin clinical trials for a new therapy; and during the next 20 years, experts say, healthcare breakthroughs will occur at even faster rates.

In Nanomedicine, author Robert Freitas talks of developing tiny nanorobots that roam through our bodies, repairing any cell damage they discover. “The hard part is building the first one,” Freitas says. “Although the road ahead may be difficult, in the end, living in perfect health indefinitely will be possible.” (cont.)

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Tomorrow's household robots will become amazingly intelligent

April 07 2008 / by futuretalk / In association with Future Blogger.net
Category: Technology   Year: Beyond   Rating: 15 Hot

By Dick Pelletier

For years, entrepreneurs have been trying to create robots to perform life’s physical drudgeries. Building mechanical bodies has been easy, but creating artificial minds to control those bodies has been frustrating.

After countless commercial failures though, things are beginning to change. Computer power now provides enough thinking ability for robots to become financially viable.

With the ability to program more intelligence into robots, tomorrow’s silicon creatures will be able to provide adequate home maintenance and care for family members when needed. But here’s the concern; these futuristic ‘bots may be required to make decisions that could affect our lives, and experts predict that people will place more trust in robots that express human consciousness than those that simply act like machines.

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