futuretalk's Blog Posts

Real human or computer generated image?

July 24 2008 / by futuretalk / In association with Future Blogger.net
Category: Technology   Year: General   Rating: 4

By Dick Pelletier

With all the switching between images in today’s sci-fi action films, the audience does not suspect that faces and figures appearing on screen are not always the real thing. It’s literally impossible to tell if they are real or computer generated images, digital concoctions created inside a computer at Sony Pictures Imageworks in Culver City, CA.

“We’ve reached a point where we can make every single thing computer generated,” says graphics supervisor Mark Sagar in a recent Wired Magazine article. The ability to do computer generated everything, including human faces, has recently opened a wealth of creative possibilities. Presenting accurate digital faces was the final, crucial piece to the puzzle.

But the main benefit of digital actors isn’t replacing live ones: it’s in creating scenes that are impossible in the real world. “In the past,” says Scott Stokdyk, visual-effects supervisor of the Spider Man series, “directors and editors were restricted to cuts around different quick actions, and camera angles, to convey a story. Now they don’t have those kinds of limits.”

Directors can follow synthetic actors as they swoop around skyscrapers and dodge bullets. What’s more, actors can be digitally aged, or de-aged, without having to spend hours in makeup. Some speculate that digital actors could make real actors obsolete, but most people believe there will always be a need for “real flesh and blood.”

This amazing digital wizardry has fostered another technology – interactive avatars. Driven by firms such as Microsoft and Honda, lifelike avatars with compelling characters will be available for home TV displays by 2015 or sooner.

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New you by 2018: healthier, stronger, younger looking

July 23 2008 / by futuretalk / In association with Future Blogger.net
Category: Other   Year: General   Rating: 7 Hot

By Dick Pelletier

In just ten short years, you may be looking into the mirror and wondering, “Who is that gorgeous creature?” Your reflection would reveal a much younger and healthier you; with natural hair color, youthful skin, perfect vision, real teeth, a spring in your step, and an incredibly sharp mind and memory.

Welcome to tomorrow’s futuristic world of biotech enhancements, which forward thinkers believe will be widely available and affordable by 2018. According to venture capitalists, the next ten years will be driven by lightening-fast complex medical breakthroughs that promise to improve health, extend lives; even redefine what it means to be human.

The Institute for Global Future’s Dr. James Canton believes a trillion dollar health enhancement market will evolve in the next decade. And 100 million baby boomers and senior citizens are anxiously awaiting its products; which one day will include biotech and nanotech miracles to replace aging organs, muscles, bones and skin.

Some health enhancements are already available today. Fertility science, prosthetic limbs, wonder drugs like Prozac and Viagra; even steroid use, are all designed to improve human performance. Last year, 12 million opted for plastic surgery in their quest to look and feel better, giving the cosmetics industry its largest success ever.

But over the next ten years, stem cell and gene therapies, initially developed to cure sicknesses, will dwarf what can be accomplished with the knife. These new therapies promise far less intrusive means to achieve that “younger body” look. And ‘boomers and seniors can’t wait to take advantage of these breakthrough technologies.

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Pros and Cons of Life Extension

July 22 2008 / by futuretalk / In association with Future Blogger.net
Category: Other   Year: General   Rating: 9 Hot

Opinion by Dick Pelletier

Some of you have heard me talk about prospects for extreme life extension – “To live in a healthy body continuously until I choose to die; to not be killed by disease or aging.”

I believe that science and technology will make extreme life extension possible for most of us alive today. The prime requisite is to maintain good health, keep a positive attitude towards the future, and root for science and technology breakthroughs in the coming decades.

We will soon experience overwhelming advances in disease prevention and age reversal through gene therapies and nanotech breakthroughs. Over the coming years, we will slowly grow into a body fashioned from “designer genes” that can never age or get sick.

Overpopulation: Prospects for this beautiful future are not without controversy. Some argue that humans living longer will cause overpopulation problems, such as expanding poverty and damaging the environment. However, they fail to realize that technology – spurred on by commerce (filling needs) – will provide solutions through improved agriculture, easier access to food and better use of space resources.

Poor health: Some assume that people will continue to exhibit signs of aging and be decrepit into their hundreds citing people who are kept alive for years in terrible health, sometimes beyond the point at which they wish to live. Merely extending life without improving health is a bad idea. This is why today’s medical world focuses, not just on preventing death, but on alleviating the affects of aging by curing diseases. Discoveries will soon develop for the reversal of aging, so that elderly people might one day choose to revert to the mind and body of a healthy 20-something. (cont.)

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New memory tech will change how we think & learn

July 21 2008 / by futuretalk / In association with Future Blogger.net
Category: Other   Year: General   Rating: 8 Hot

By Dick Pelletier

If there was a pill that could immediately improve your memory, enabling you to recall any selected event in your past with sharp detail, would you take it? How about a pill that would erase an unwanted memory, like a traumatic childhood event that still bothers you in adult life?

And even more radical, would you like to download knowledge directly into your brain enabling you to immediately speak and understand a new language, or instantly learn any new subject matter, without suffering through the lengthy process of learning from scratch?

Memory-management drugs that address the first two questions are being developed now and should be available in about five years, according to Memory Pharmaceuticals, www.memorypharma.com, a leading New Jersey drug research firm.

Most of these memory remedies focus on boosting recall, but some address the 13 million Americans who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder with drugs that will dim, or even erase, traumatic memories. Such products promise to revolutionize psychotherapy. Instead of trying to overcome a past trauma, patients will soon be able to simply erase all memories of the event as if it had never happened – problem solved.

A more radical and futuristic technology, downloading knowledge directly into our brain, could be available in the near future, according to Peter Passaro, graduate student at Georgia Tech, in his article posted at www.betterhumans.com. Passaro suggests that mind-machine interfaces will be available by 2020, and he mentions how this might be accomplished. (cont.)

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Get ready for big things from world of nanotech

July 20 2008 / by futuretalk / In association with Future Blogger.net
Category: Technology   Year: General   Rating: 9 Hot

By Dick Pelletier

Arthur C. Clarke once said: “Any sufficiently advanced technology is virtually indistinguishable from magic.” Enter mankind’s newest plunge into the future – nanotechnology.

One day soon, a small Star Trek-like replicator called a “nanofactory” will sit on your kitchen counter and let you order up any product you want – plasma TV, clothes, an appliance, or whatever your dreams desire – at little or no cost.

This wild technology sounds like science fiction, but its not. According to AI entrepreneur Ray Kurzweil and nanotech author Eric Drexler, this nanofactory will arrive by the 3rd decade of this century – 2020-2030.

Here’s how nanotech replicators would work: microscopic-size machines collect raw atoms from supplied chemicals, or from something as inexpensive as seawater, and enable those atoms to grow or “morph” into the final product: a sweater, refrigerator, health medicine, or even a duplicate nanofactory.

Key technologies of the past half-century – transistors, semiconductors, and genetic engineering – all focused on reducing size, materials and costs, while increasing power and efficiency. We now stand poised to continue this trend into a revolution that offers the potential to rebuild the entire physical world – our bodies and brains included – one atom at a time.

The National Institutes of Health states that someday implanted nanotech materials will actually become part of the body – able to search out and destroy cancer cells before they develop into a tumor, or precisely direct drugs to heal damaged tissues – and when no longer needed, dissolve and be absorbed or excreted. (cont.)

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Innovation will make living out of this world a reality

July 17 2008 / by futuretalk / In association with Future Blogger.net
Category: Space   Year: General   Rating: 5 Hot

By Dick Pelletier

The immense popularity of Star Trek suggests that “to boldly go where no man has gone before” could become humanity’s mandate for the future.

Satellite Industry Association President Richard Dalbello sees the space industry as the jewel of our economy. It drives innovation, creates jobs, and positions us to begin mankind’s greatest dream – to explore other worlds.

But many believe our progress is too slow. Past explorations produced huge benefits much faster. 25 years after the Lewis & Clark exploration, wagons rolled west to Oregon and clipper ships landed pioneers in California. 25 years after the Wright Brothers, citizens could fly around the country. By contrast, landing on the moon – our “giant step for mankind” – has only produced 40 to 50+ years of earth orbits and a few unmanned flights.

Space enthusiasts say this slow progress shows we are misdirected. They would like to see faster development of moon and Mars settlements and strong incentives created for private businesses to design and build space colonies and other facilities in space.

Space flights are expensive today, but once travel to and from orbit become cheap; profit-driven entrepreneurs will head for the high frontier to build hotels, permanent housing, and entertainment and sports facilities.

Exploring space will also push genetic research. Better Humans author Simon Smith claims environments such as Mars extreme cold temperatures and toxic atmosphere will require biological changes. Sending humans into space without genetic modification would be impractical. (cont.)

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Possibilities endless with artificial life

July 16 2008 / by futuretalk / In association with Future Blogger.net
Category: Other   Year: General   Rating: 4 Hot

By Dick Pelletier

Bodies that never get sick, clothes that change their material and color, and machines that fix their own glitches. These are some of the dreams researchers see as they attempt to copy how nature gathers non-living matter and transforms it into living things.

Life is generally not thought of as being mechanical, but a cell basically is a miniature machine which rearranges non-living atoms to create parts that “bring it to life.”

What makes life possible, scientists say, is the natural tendency of atoms to assemble into molecules, and molecules to assemble into larger structures. Scientists want to understand this process and use it to create self-replicating nano-materials that can be instructed to “grow” into a variety of products.

If we could make life, researchers say, we could apply its principles towards building almost any product. Life is very complicated, but it repairs itself, organizes itself, and adapts to changes – all automatically. It’s the ideal blueprint for assembling things atom by atom with no material waste and minimal labor costs.

Commercial benefits could include nano-size cell-repair machines that create new arteries, deliver drugs to specific sites, and heal the body from the inside; clothing that changes its molecular structure and color on command; bio-systems that clean up the environment; and powerful nano-chips that improve electronic and communication devices.

Leaders in artificial life research are the European Union’s Programmable Artificial Cell Evolution project, and the NASA-supported Protocell project at Los Alamos National Laboratory, New Mexico. (cont.)

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The future includes me

July 15 2008 / by futuretalk / In association with Future Blogger.net
Category: Other   Year: General   Rating: 12 Hot

By Dick Pelletier

An ulterior motive drives much of the optimism and positive take that appears in ‘FutureTalk’ articles which describe how the future might unfold.

There is an audacious thought roaming through my brain that the “magical future” I describe so often actually includes me. With a little luck, I believe that I can stay alive and reap all the benefits this wonder time has to offer.

Though more than 50 million will die in 2008, I am convinced that I will not be among them. In researching articles each week, I discover facts that support the optimistic slant that each topic seems to take.

Chronologically my body has reached seventy-seven years; biologically it behaves as a mid-sixty-year-old, and emotionally it sometimes acts like a ‘30 something. By continuing to believe optimistically about the future, it’s easy for me to imagine myself ‘being there’. (cont.)

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Life in the 2040s: indefinite lifespan, 'smart' homes, skycars

July 15 2008 / by futuretalk / In association with Future Blogger.net
Category: Other   Year: Beyond   Rating: 4 Hot

By Dick Pelletier

Imagine living in a perfect body without fear of unwanted death. Consider a world where “smart” homes with friendly bio-materials responds to our every whim; and bird-like skycars on autopilot whisk us silently through the sky to our destinations.

Although these scenarios may seem too futuristic to happen in just 32 to 42 years, positive futurists believe that exponentially-advancing technologies could turn this 2040s vision into reality.

Futurist Ray Kurzweil, in The Singularity is Near describes many of these technologies including how our bodies will evolve. Today’s frail human body “version 1.0” has a high failure rate – More than 50 million will die this year. Over the next two decades, biotech and nanotech advances will provide a stronger “version 2.0”, which will reduce deaths significantly.

“This brings us to “version 3.0”, Kurzweil says, “an amazing body that boasts a zero failure rate.” Even if a destructive accident were to occur, 2040s technologies would immediately construct a new body, retrieve mind and memories, and allow our indefinite lifespan to continue.

Homes will not look sci-fi in 2040, because most people still enjoy living in houses, not futuristic pods. But tomorrow’s residences will include biomaterials imbedded in ceilings, walls and floors that kill harmful germs, provide pleasant odors, and make us feel cozy and secure. (cont.)

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The Singularity could launch human-machine merges

July 15 2008 / by futuretalk / In association with Future Blogger.net
Category: Other   Year: General   Rating: 11 Hot

By Dick Pelletier

As the future unfolds, humanity will reach intelligence levels never before dreamed possible. Today’s powerful supercomputers will evolve into tomorrow’s sophisticated robots and achieve smarter-then-human intelligence.

These super smart machines will one day learn to build copies of themselves with each generation becoming smarter than the last. This will create an information explosion that promises to change the world beyond our wildest imaginings.

The event, called the Singularity, is projected by positive futurists to happen around mid-2030s and will speed breakthroughs in every science and technology. Genetic engineering, nanotech, transportation, space exploration, and environmental improvements will all quickly mature from the impact of the Singularity and will begin delivering huge benefits.

Nanotech, for example, promises to eliminate world food shortage and create forever-healthy bodies – even take a potshot at death itself – plus provide unlimited material wealth. But so far, progress has been painstakingly slow. The Singularity could rush this wonder technology forward overnight.

Other health problems could be solved too. Cancer, heart disease, Alzheimer’s, AIDS – virtually every human sickness could disappear.

In a recent Focus magazine article, acclaimed scientist Stephen Hawking warned that computers are advancing faster than humans. “If we don’t make changes, they could take over our world.” (cont.)

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