Human-machine merge could provide future paradise

June 11 2008 / by futuretalk / In association with Future
Category: Other   Year: General   Rating: 6

By Dick Pelletier

We are entering the first stages of a robotic society that futurists believe will not end until man and machine join forces. Today, artificial pets act as companions to children and seniors, and self-operating machines clean homes and mow lawns.

By 2015, robots will perform a variety of household chores; by 2020, many human jobs will be filled by robots; and by 2030, robots will be competent in most human activities.

This trend will peak in the mid-2030s when machines laden with strong AI surpass human intelligence and begin making copies of themselves, with each generation smarter than the last. This will cause an information explosion unlike anything the world has ever experienced and will result in the development of machine-to-human brain interface systems.

Some people will scan their minds capturing all of the memories, emotions, and thought processes that describe them as a human being – and upload that data into a robot and become the machine. Others will download the vast stream of machine intelligence directly into their brains and become an intelligence-enhanced human.

Over the next few years, molecular nanotechnology and the number-crunching abilities of quantum computing will enable humans and human/machines to redesign their bodies and brains to increase efficiency until they both morph into a replica of each other. At that time, society may consider both machines and humans as “transhumans.”

With nano-neuron upgrades, future human minds will run at speeds up to 1 billion times faster than today’s slow mushy biological brains. We will possess unimaginable abilities in vision, hearing, smell, taste, and touch; and sport new capabilities like the magnetic sense that birds possess, and pre-cognition – the ability to see immediate future events before they happen. (cont.)

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Toyota Dealership Starts Promoting 2010 Prius Plug-ins

October 22 2008 / by joelg / In association with Future
Category: Energy   Year: 2008   Rating: 4 Hot

by Joel Greenberg

A Toyota dealership in Austin, TX sent out an email on 10/21/08 to it’s Prius list promoting the 2010 Toyota Plug-in Hybrid, asking for a refundable deposit.

To quote from the email, “The approximate release of the redesigned 2010 PLUG IN PRIUS is the last quarter of 2009.”

What’s more interesting is the mention of solar panels on the roof:

“The 2010 Plug In Prius will get approximately 40 miles to a charge without using any gas. Solar panels on the roof and our Hybrid technology for longer trips.”

Because of the small surface area, the solar panels will not be able to generate much electricity. They may be used to power a small exhaust fan which could be used during hot summer days. To quote an anonymous source cited in the International Herald Tribune, “It’s more of a symbolic gesture.”

Europeans Make Big Dent in the Auto Industry

October 24 2008 / by Adam Cutsinger / In association with Future
Category: Environment   Year: 2011   Rating: 4

Chicago Tribune, 2012

According to a June 15 analysis published in the French bi-monthly magazine L’Auto-Journal, a long-standing car magazine, the European Union will soon no longer be on the short list of the top 3 contributors of greenhouse gases. The French-originated NAC (Nouvelle Affaire de Carburant) program, widely known as the New Fuel Deal by the English-speaking world, was initially criticized by citizens of nearly every European nation for being an economic fiasco.

The brainchild of French President Nicolas Sarkozy, who served a six month stint as EU president, has certainly paid off for the environment, despite the widespread criticism and dire predictions. The Affaire was created by the members of the EU’s French-led APRE Summit (Automobile-fabricants pour la Protection et la Régénération de l’Environment, or ACRE – Auto-makers for the Conservation and Regenration of the Environment) in 2011, which formed an impressive international think-tank consisting of automobile manufacturers, leaders in the alternative fuel industry, financial wizards and various government officials. Despite initial opposition from such countries as the Czech Republic and Ireland, the plan was consensually ratified in February, 2010.

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Yucca Mountain Nuclear Storage on Ice. Now What?

March 04 2009 / by joelg / In association with Future
Category: Energy   Year: 2009   Rating: 4

By Joel Greenberg

Yucca MountainThe Obama administration recently announced their proposed budget with an interesting nuclear wrinkle:  they are no longer funding Yucca Mountain, the underground repository for nuclear wastes in Nevada, 90 miles Northwest of Las Vegas.  "Unfunding" effectively kills the project.  Supporters view Yucca Mountain as a reasonable solution to storing nuclear waste for the long term.  Critics call it a boondoggle based upon flawed science.

Nuclear waste is a byproduct of generating electricity in the 104 nuclear reactors currently running in the US.  It's highly toxic with some elements remaining dangerous for hundreds of thousands of years. It's currently being stored on-site at each reactor, which are running out of room to store the waste.  While Yucca Mountain had room for the existing waste from these 104 reactors, it did not have room for the future waste from the reactors that are now planned as a result of the Energy Policy Act of 2005, which has kicked off a renaissance of nuclear power in the US after 30 years of dormancy.


"No," says Dr. Mike Kotschenreuther, a senior research scientist at the Institute for Fusion Studies at the University of Texas, "We've known that President Obama said he was going to discontinue Yucca Mountain for some time.  We're still going to need a solution to nuclear waste, even if Yucca Mountain is no longer a viable project, so we've been doing our best to come up with a solution."

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Book Review. Plug-in Hybrids: The Cars that Will Recharge America

October 01 2008 / by joelg / In association with Future
Category: Energy   Year: 2010   Rating: 3

By Joel Greenberg

It’s tough as an everyday consumer to participate in changing how we generate and use power. If you don’ t work for an automobile manufacturer, an energy company, a utility, or the government, it seems you’re pretty much out of luck in affecting real change. For transportation, you can either ditch your car and use public transportation, ride your bike, or buy a Toyota Prius or other hybrid vehicle.

But soon, there will be another choice, which takes a Prius from 40-50 mpg to 100+ mpg. By adding more batteries to a hybrid and giving it a plug, you now have what’s known as a “Plug-in Hybrid Electric”, or PHEV. But you can’t buy one…yet. You could build your own from plans on the Internet today from the PriusPlus Project, but not every Prius owner is into DIY car hacking, or violating their warranty. You can hire an after market company to convert your Prius for $8,000 to $24,000. Or, you can wait 18-24 months before the first vehicles arrive from Toyota, etc.

The basic idea is this: for the average driver, most trips during the day are surprisingly short. Let’s say less than 10 miles. Errands, grocery shopping, chauffeuring kids, etc, all generally happen within 10 miles for the average driver. A PHEV has at least a 10 mile capacity with its additional battery packs, so effectively, for 80% of typical driving, a PHEV is an electric car because it will will not need to to turn on its gas engine. The benefits: no fossil fuel combustion to foul up our air, or burn up our dollars…at a cheaper price per mile. It’s the best of both worlds: an electric vehicle for most of your day to day driving, plus a gas engine as back up when you need it.

But today, about the only thing you can do is follow the news, read bloggers, or read, Plug-in Hybrids: Cars That Will Recharge the America by Sherry Boschert (2006, New Society Publishes). In it, Boschert weaves the story of the GM EV1 electric car and it’s demise with a number of related stories including one about how a group of enthusiastic hackers, makers, and activists converted a Prius into a PriusPlus PHEV, with another story of how activists and a former CIA Director are stumping for PHEV’s as the best way to help us out of the energy crunch. Along the way she brings to light how the automobile companies change (or not), how a small group of people can help affect change, and how the PHEV activists trash hydrogen.

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Dean Kamen Unveils Stirling Engine Powered Hybrid Car, Stuns Us All

November 10 2008 / by John Heylin
Category: Environment   Year: 2012   Rating: 3 Hot

Dean Kamen has jolted the world yet again with his latest contraption — A Stirling engine hybrid car.

The Stirling engine, for those in the dark, is an engine which derives its power from an external heat source. The amazing thing about it is that the heat source can be just about anything, even your own body. Kamen’s car, dubbed “REVOLT,” can run on any conventional fuel, from biodiesel to natural gas.

Despite the practicality of such an engine, development of the Stirling engine in the world has been trying at best. Weird to think that an engine, which runs on heat and was invented in 1816, could fall to the side all these years. But we’re starting to see the Stirling engine pop up more and more these days, especially in large solar arrays.

So when are we going to see this in production?

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