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.
IBM held its Third Annual "Five in Five" which looks at emerging trends as well as what IBM itself is developing in their own labs around the world. Here's the vid.
While previous predictions given by these "Five in Five" releases can be somewhat fanciful (like mind-reading cellphones for instance), this latest list has the refreshing feel of being very near and very possible.
Solar technology will be built into everything
IBM states that within five years we could be seeing thin-film solar technology built into everything around us. This includes sidewalks, driveways, paint, windows and even clothing. Their belief is that thin-film solar will get so cheap that it can be applied everywhere in our lives. It's ability to be flexible also makes it easy to wrap around our daily devices which could benefit from a little extra power boost. It's interesting to think that while some people are clamoring for white asphalt and roofing tiles to reflect the Suns energy and save on lighting, another faction will emerge that will want solar film instead. Of course the question remains: are you going to want to hook a battery up to your clothing?
Your health can be pre-determined
Mapping DNA keeps getting faster and cheaper as the years go along. It only makes sense that very soon people will begin to use that genetic information to look for hereditary traits that could impact your health. In finding out you have a high chance of becoming diabetic, you may try and change your diet to avoid or delay its effects. Basically, it's the movie GATTACA without being able to actually alter the DNA before birth. I wonder how you'll take the news when they tell you that the junk food you so love is literally killing your body and taking years off your life.
In my book, Jump the Curve, the final chapter is dedicated to the idea of “doing the impossible.” In short, it is my contention that unless you internalize the notion of accelerating change you will dismiss as “impossible” many things that will be imminently possible tomorrow due to the exponential nature of technological progress.
A wonderful case in point is this fascinating article from today’s New York Times claiming that it might soon be possible to regenerate a Wooly Mammoth for $10 million because DNA sequencing technology is continually getting more inexpensive.
Regardless of what one may think of the moral and ethical wisdom of recreating Wooly Mammoths, it is imprudent to dismiss the idea as impossible. Yet this is precisely what Rudolph Jaenisch, a biologist at the Whitehead Institute, has done by proclaiming the idea: “a wishful-thinking experiment with no realistic chance for success.”
At today’s big Singularity Summit researcher Ben Goertzel explained to the audience that achieving a working Artificial Intelligence will need to be accomplished through open source software. This of course is a hotly debated topic in the sense that the government may step in to stop development of such a thing. The idea that anyone in the world could then develop an AI freaks out military and political groups (not to mention a lot of the citizenry).
So how does an AI learn?
Ben says games will be used to teach computers to learn functions. You might have a virtual parrot which you’d teach to speak (the parrot being the virtual depiction of the AI itself), or by putting it through virtual world immersion in an interactive digital environment like Second Life, learn a basic skewed version of human reality.
The increasing richness of memorial media is a powerful by-product of accelerating change in technology, information and communication. In five years time, both broad public-facing and private 3d memorial media has a good chance of taking off, gradually catalyzing a shift in the way we interact with history and our dearly departed.
How do we properly remember and honor the dead? Our cultural answer to this question has changed over the millennia alongside with the invention of memory-enhancing technologies such as symbols, spoken language, writing, photography, video, digital information and the web.
Now the trend continues as powerful new disruptors such as social media, semantic search, virtual worlds and mirror worlds allow us to assemble, aggregate and interact with information about the dearly departed in surprising new ways.
On the most basic level, crowd-edited text-based structures like Wikipedia have already catalyzed an explosion of biographical data capture and made possible a growing niche of specialized human memorial websites.
Similarly, account-driven portals like Geanealogy.com’s Virtual Cemetery Project, MyCemetery, and World Gardens have been growing in popularity and each lay claim to being “The World’s First Online Memorial and Virtual Cemetery” or such.
In the physical world, progressive cemetery Hollywood Forever, which boasts the densest concentration of celebrity gravesites, has sparked a media memorial trend by displaying actors’ hilight reels beside their tombs. (Yes, for a pretty steep price you too can purchase your very own Lifestories Kiosk.)
How might storing electricity in the form of solid hydrogen change the future landscape of energy? We believe it could change the performance of mobile power, lower the cost of renewable energy production, and change the nature of refueling your car by ‘swapping out’ boxes of fuel.
Hydrogen & Electricity = ‘Hydricity’
Electricity powers the future. Look beyond the transportation sector of liquid fuels, and most devices and machines run on electrons. Today, we understand the important role of electricity in our world, and tomorrow we might understand its sister companion – hydrogen.
Hydrogen might be the most misunderstood and misrepresented piece of the future energy landscape. Devotees often overstate it as the savior of Planet Earth, and staunch critics underestimate its short term challenges for longer term potential in energy systems and materials science.
A ‘Hydrogen economy’ is an economy driven by electricity. The hydrogen is merely a way of storing electron power via chemical bonds of hydrogen. So hydrogen and electricity are one in the same thing. Ballard Power Founder Geoffrey Ballad has coined the phrase ‘hydricity’ to help people understand the balance of these electrons carriers.
Fuel cells capture energy released when coated membranes strip apart those hydrogen-hydrogen bonds and merge it with oxygen to get water. This is a much more efficient (and cleaner) process when compared to blowing up carbon-hydrogen bonds via combustion. But it is also harder and more expensive (at least today!).
Advances in Hydrogen Storage
The two challenges for hydrogen are production and storage. For now we’ll focus on an emerging platform for high density, low cost and safe storage systems based on ‘solid’ hydrogen.
News from Argonne National Laboratory on ‘crystal sponges’
With fuel prices rising with no end in sight, both consumers and
automobile companies have become more and more concerned with
fuel-consumption. While drivers attempt to cut down their gasoline
usage, automobile companies are researching and producing more
fuel-efficient cars, some to come out as early as next year.
Solutions range from hybrids, fuel-efficient engines, pure
electric, plug-ins, solar panels, and hydrogen-powered vehicles.
Even with all these seemingly promising solutions, will we have
fuel efficient cars available for consumers at an affordable price
To help us imagine just what the market has in store for us over
the next 5 years here’s a timeline based on the self-reported
release dates of various major auto manufacturers (visual
first, followed by extensive text):
- Released by General Motors late 2008, early 2009, is the
Saturn Vue 2-Mode hybrid. Touted as the world’s most
fuel-efficient V-6 SUV, the Vue 2-Mode
hybrid has up to a 50% fuel economy increase for urban driving and
an overall 30% increase through the use technology such as
low-speed, electric only propulsion and regenerative breaking. It
will be classified as a Partial Zero Emissions Vehicle.
- In February, Shelby SuperCars will be releasing the
Ultimate Aero EV, which will be the world’s fastest electric
car. SSC is known for the EV’s
predecessor, the Ultimate Aero, the world’s fastest gas-powered
car. The Ultimate Aero EV will have twin 500 hp electric motors
powered by a battery. Other details regarding its production have
not been disclosed.
- Sometime in the Spring, the next generation of Toyota
Prius will be released, equipped with solar panels that will
provide a portion of the energy to run the air-conditioning unit.
Toyota is planning on bringing 450,000 of these solar-power capable
vehicles to the market.
- Audi will be bringing out their 2009
A2, a compact, fuel-efficient car that manages to feature more
cabin space than Minis. The A2 will have 1.2 to 1.8 liter engines,
as well as diesels and will have a lowered amount of CO2 emissions, due to the European CAFE regulations.
A new study from ABI
Research forecasts the number of viewers who access video via
the Web to nearly quadruple in the next few years, reaching at
least one billion in 2013. ““
“The rapid expansion of broadband video creates opportunities
across a number of market sectors,” comments senior analyst Cesar
Bachelet. “A wide variety of actors aim to gain a share of this
fast-growing market: not only content owners such as the BBC and NBC
Universal, and Internet portals such as AOL and
Yahoo!, but also
a range of new entrants including user-generated content sites such
as YouTube and
Dailymotion, broadband video
sites such as CinemaNow and Lovefilm, and Internet TV
providers such as Apple, and Zattoo
Sparked by increasing broadband penetration and rising
connection speeds available to a growing percentage of the world’s
population, online video is growing as quickly as the supporting
infrastructure can be built. (cont.)
It is sometimes hard to remember that it was only 15 years ago
that the first cellphones came into existence. Moreover, they were
big, bulky, expensive and of limited capability. Today, the average
$79 cellphone serves as a phone, address book, MP3/TV player, camera, Internet browser, and video
recorder. What else will they be able to do in the future?
For starters, as I explained in this piece a couple of months ago, the cellphone of
the future will likely serve as a low-cost diagnostic technician
that can tell you everything from if your breathe is bad to whether
the pollen count is reaching such a level that your allergies might
kick in. Beyond this, cellphones are likely to become an even more
dependable security blanket for people. They already serve as a
useful instrument in the event your car breaks down on the freeway,
but two recent articles offer additional glimpses into how
cellphones of the near future might function. Audi is now
installing cellphones into its cars that will snap
a picture of the the thief in the event your car is stolen, and
in Japan women are now downloading recordings designed to ward off “gropers.” (cont.)
Now, I’m no brain surgeon, but I have followed the progress that
Intuitive Surgical has been making in the
field of robotic-assisted prostectomies, and it might interest you
to know that in 2005 the company was performing less 1% of all
prostectomies. Today, it is performing over 50%!
The reason this is occurring is because the da Vinci robot (which is still
controlled by a surgeon using a computer) is so precise that the
surgery is only minimally invasive, and this allows the patient to
leave the hospital in one to two days. Patients who have a
traditional operation must stay five to seven days. Of course, this
extra stay costs hospitals a great deal of money and they now have
a vested interest in switching patients over to the robotic-asisted
surgery. Not surprisingly, convincing patients to undergo a
robotic-assisted operation has been made easier because they are
not only told the scar will be much smaller but they will also get
out of the hospital much sooner.
The NeuroArm and similar neurosurgical robots are the wave of
the future. They may not be performing many operations today, but
my guess is that just as Intuitive Surgical’s Da Vinci robots now
control the prostectomy market, neurosurgical robots will contol
the brain surgery market in 5 to 10 years.
If you are so inclined, I recommend the following 10-minute
video from Wired Science which shows how the da Vinci robot is now
beginning to assist with heart surgery: (cont.)
President and CEO of Next Retail Group,
Daniel Hopping is a futurist with some interesting things to say
about the impact technology will have on the retail industry and
First and foremost, like most of his peers, he’s cognizant of
acceleration and expects “more change in how we live, how we work,
and how we shop in the next 5 years than in the last 20”, citing
huge changes in household demographics, storage capacity and
information access as primary drivers of progress.
Accordingly, he points out that the physical “store of 5-8 years
out is going to be operating on an infrastructure that does not yet
exist” and thinks the evolving semantic web will have a great deal
to do with that transformation.
These insights and many more are captured in a recent
presentation by Hopping that he posted to YouTube just yesterday.
It’s been edited down to just the essential points and makes for
quick, enjoyable , MEST-compressed
viewing (if only more folks would edit their presentations in such
“It’s going to be a very interesting next 5-10 years,” concludes
Hopping. ... You’ll find no argument here. :)
Yesterday at the VoiceCon conference currently being
held in Orlando, IBM released
predictions for five future trends that will increase demand for
the fast-growing unified communications market and reshape the way
businesses and workers communicate and collaborate worldwide.
The predictions, made in a keynote address by Mike Rhodin,
General Manager of IBM Lotus software,
1) The Virtual Workplace will become the rule. No need to leave
the office. Just bring it along. Desk phones and desktop computers
will gradually disappear, replaced by mobile devices, including
laptops, that take on traditional office capabilities. Social
networking tools and virtual world meeting experiences will
simulate the feeling on being there in-person. Work models will be
changed by expanded globalization and green business initiatives
that reduce travel and encourage work at home.
2) Instant Messaging and other real-time collaboration tools
will become the norm, bypassing e-mail. Just as e-mail became a
business necessity, a new generation of workers has a new
expectation for instant messaging (IM) as the preferred method of
business interaction. This will fuel more rapid adoption of unified
communications as traditional IM becomes the core extension point
for multi-modal communications.
3) Beyond Phone Calls to Collaborative Business Processes.
Companies will go beyond the initial capabilities of IM, like
click-to-call and online presence, to deep integration with
business processes and line-of-business applications, where they
can realize the greatest benefit.