Page 9, somewhere in between another problem with public services and the latest celebrity gossip, is usually where I’ll find today’s horrific murder story. A teenager is brutally beaten and then “accidentally” killed when his attackers take it too far. They get a few months inside for man-slaughter; his family gets a lifetime of heartache. Consequently, the world balance between peaceful, loving, value creators and destructive, sadistic losers is shifted yet a little further in favour of idiocy. Yet, taking another sip of coffee, we turn the page.
We think to ourselves, “There’s nothing we can do”, and continue with our daily lives. “It doesn’t really affect me or anyone I know”. We blame “fate”, we think “the Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away” or, most fundamentally, we think “Everyone dies, he was just taken before his time”.
As a society, we still see death as inevitable. As a result, there is just no respect for human life. This, I believe, is why we have a situation where killing somebody can carry a lower sentence than stealing money from a bank.
Not only do the killers have no respect (another topic!), but neither do those handing out the pathetic sentences. Nor do the beauracrats who create the laws. Nor do the media, who report on deaths with a cold objectivity. As such, nor do the public, whose attitudes shape the decisions of authority. So we live in a world where the consequences of our actions are severely depreciated, a world where a mindless violent killing just isn’t important enough to get more than a passing mention.
Astrophysicist Alan Boss believes Nasa's Kepler Mission will turn up "hundreds of Earth-like planets", many of which will probably be "inhabited with something."
Considered a leader in the search for planets outside our solar system, Alan Boss says we are at a turning point in our search for extraterrestrial life. He expects we are on the verge of finding many different Earth-like planets across the universe, and he expects it will be common to find life on those planets. He shares his ideas for how the United States can be on the forefront of the next great discovery: life on another planet.
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
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
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.)
Coming soon to your living room: a wild safari in the scorching
African savanna starring you, armed with nothing but your camera.
Afrika is the next step in a generation of video games
that seek to become more than just entertainment and can actually
make you smarter.
the latest game by Rhino Studios, is set to be released in Japan on
the PS3 in late August. You play it from
the perspective of a nature photographer and naturalist armed with
a Nikon stalking realistic wildlife in painstakingly recreated
savannas. The photos you snap are saved like a lexicon, or
Africa-pedia, where you can read up all about the real facts of the
animal. The PS3’s multi-cored cell
is being utilized to is fullest potential to recreate the complex
AI and behavior of the animals in
mirror world fashion, and it’s is just one of many in the
increasing trend of video games that are as educational as they are
made to be entertaining.
Because the game is not about rifles or grenades, it is perfect
for younger children who can learn about Africa’s wildlife in a
fully immersive 3D world rather than a bread-and-butter textbook.
And what a field trip it is without all the expenses and dangers of
But using video games to teach isn’t a new idea. An all-girls
high school in Japan have already been using Nintendo DS’s to
teach English. The verdict? The students feel right at home with
the new devices. Katie Salen, a game designer and director of the
graduate Design and Technology program at
Parsons School of Design, is leading the way in using video
games as a foundation for education for an accelerating world. Her
goal is to open a school based on gaming literacy.
We’ve all enjoyed the level of comfort certain gadgets have brought us. From the incredibly useful back-scratcher to the universal remote, technology and design has made our lives easier. But the real question is this: How lazy are we going to let technology get us?
In the extreme scenario, even our jobs are taken over by machines. Instead of working eight hours a day, we’d get a weekly allowance from the government for purchases such as hotel stays at exotic resorts or a faster electric car. House repairs, food issues, and even the lawn is taken care of by nanobots (it’d only be a one-time purchase since they can repair each other in case of breakage). You find yourself waking when you want, going wherever you want, and eating whatever you want. But you feel your life has no purpose.
Would our life have a purpose? In having everything taken care of, wouldn’t it feel like we were living in a hamster cage? Having our every need taken care of, we’d mill about looking at random things, bathing every so often, while some other entity takes care of everything. We’d be pets. And like most pets, we’d get fat and unhealthy (unless the nanobots also take care of that or course).
Even if we had a job, knowing that the only reason you have it is because you asked for it would seem demoralizing. “Yes sir, please turn off the computer so I can answer the phones myself. Yes, I know it’s silly, but I just have to do work you see.” It’d be like spending days putting together a model ship when a robot could build an exact working replica in less than an hour. What’s the point?
Coupled with your own personal work station that takes care of your every need (food, bathroom, washing) while keeping you connected to the global web like a prison you never want to leave. A perfect example would be the book Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury where the main characters wife lives only to watch television, yet still keeps trying to kill herself. She’s been dumbed down to the point where she has no reason to live, no purpose, no feeling or history. Many think the book is about censorship, but he’s stated himself that the book is about how television destroys interest in actual information, the dumbing of society.
I ask this question from neither a deep-seated fear of dying nor an egotistical desire to live forever. I simply ask it from the perspective of someone who is deeply interested in the accelerating pace of change and is concerned we are heading into a future for which few of us are really prepared.
Let me begin by sharing a couple of recent news items which speak to the astounding progress being made in the field of health care.
To begin, if I am in need of surgery sometime within the next few years, it is likely that that surgery will be conducted with the assistance of a robot. Given that these robots are already better than many human surgeons, this suggest I will not only get out of the hospital faster but that I will be in better condition when I do so. Continued advances in robotics will only improve surgical outcomes over the coming years.
Next, say, I am in an accident. There is now a very good chance – due to advances in the Nationwide Health Information Network, personal electronic records and the ever-improving capability of the Internet – that my providers will be able to rapidly access a growing wealth of medical knowledge in order to keep me alive.
Assuming then that I dodge some of these pesky middle-age risks, there is a very real chance, according to this article, that I’ll soon be able to “grow replacement body parts.” We can already replace our aging hips and knees, but what happens when I can replace my lungs and, eventually, my heart?
The question is a serious one because society is closer to this future than most people realize.
Alas, these advances – which I remind you are only from the past few days – are just the beginning. I am now 44 years and it is not unreasonable to think, given recent medical progress, that I will live to 100.
But even this is the wrong way to think about this issue. The question I – and all of us, really – need to ask is what further advances will be made in the next 56 years of my life and how might they extend my life past 100 years of age?
New cognitive research may help explain why human social systems prefer to push the envelope, creating critical "perfect storm" situations, instead of settling into equilibrium.
If the global social brain is really just a scaled-up version of the individual brain, which in turn can also be viewed as an accelerator of existing bio-computional processes, then we should expect to uncover increasingly more parallels between individual and social cognition. One such candidate is the phenomenon called Self-Organized Criticality, a form of inherent "brinkmanship" routinely found in advancing systems, particularly as they approach phase transitions.
Here's the more robust Wikipedia definition and links:
A new U.K. study confirms that human brains do in fact rely on self-organized criticality for behaviors that may range from perception to action, reports World Science:
The researchers used brain imaging techniques to measure dynamic changes in the synchronization of activity between different regions of the functional network in the human brain. They also investigated the synchronization of activity in computational models, and found that the “dynamic profile” they had identified in the brain was exactly reflected in the models.
Computational networks showing these characteristics have also been shown to have the best memory and information-processing capacity, researchers say: critical systems can respond quickly and extensively to small changes in their inputs.
If a virtual world works, then you can live for eternity. A new online memorial, EternalSpace, not only lets friends and family celebrate your life after death, but can be used while alive to send messages to people - friends, family and others - well into the future. It's social media feature let's you gather family and friends together virutally to share stories or view a pre-recorded greeting that can be preserved for eternity.
Following is a description of this service...while designed primarily for grieving loved ones, it's possiblities are interesting to imagine:
EternalSpace™ (www.EternalSpace.com) unveiled a completely new type of online memorials, an immersive, multidimensional experience, that allows family, friends, colleagues, and well-wishers to connect emotionally while sharing and preserving the cherished memories of departed family members or friends - forever. Personal memorials at EternalSpace.com are peaceful, serene online environments for sharing thoughts or uploading photos and videos that celebrate a life for the days, months and years to come. EternalSpace memorials can be started or added to any time and passed to future generations who can learn about their heritage and experience first-hand accounts of their ancestors.