[ The Note for May 2014 ]
When we try to judge what comes next, economically, scientifically, politically and culturally, we have some very specific and significant limitations. We can only use past experience and our perceptions about our current situation to make judgments about what has not yet happened. We can only quantify what is quantifiable, and what is not observable can hardly be quantified. When we think about future roads, we tend to look at roads we have now; when we think about future energy, we tend to look at combustible fuels as the most commonplace and naturally occurring way of harvesting energy for human uses. When we think about economic behavior, we tend to assume that all future values will be related to what we are already observing now. The intangible element of human thought, innovation, collaboration and discovery, is generally left out, leaving us looking through a very problematic blind spot.
Continue reading “Intangible Innovations Drive Pervasive Change”
a survey of the driving factors that will shape the future
As we enter the second decade of the 21st century, we find ourselves part of a global human civilization undergoing major change at an unprecedented rate, and how we adjust to those changes will determine what quality of life and how much real democracy there is, even who lives and who dies, across the global village.
For decades, postmodern philosophical theory has examined the problem of atomization of the fabric of human society, but new trends suggest there is concurrent with spreading individualism a swell of interdependence among individuals, communities and nation-states. 2010 promises to be a year of historical landmarks, with important breakthroughs in ecological science, collaborative diplomacy and key international negotiations on economics, arms reduction, democratization and security.
Continue reading “The Second Decade of the 21st Century”
The New Scientist magazine is reporting on an intriguing and brazen new Pentagon program that would create living “OrthopterNets”, communication networks made of insects implanted with special technologies to modulate their wingbeats. Crickets, cicadas and katydids, all use their wings to generate sounds, the patterns of which communicate information to others of their kind. The Pentagon wants to use this natural communications network to prompt the insects to emit specific sounds in the presence of specific chemicals.
The result would be cyborg insects, living insects with technology integrated into their physical composition. The technology could have broad application, including “sniffing” applications in the search for toxins, concealed chemical or biological agents, hazmat detection, and even the search for survivors from natural disasters. A number of factors impede the timely locating of survivors buried in rubble after earthquakes or other major disasters.
Continue reading “Pentagon Cyborg-insect Program Could Save Quake Victims”
Any communicative medium allows us to deliver cognitive information into a shared space of consciousness, and ideally, to deliver much of our “known” reality to another mind. Media shape information, decide how it can be delivered, and, how we receive and interpret it. “Cognitive science has revealed a human brain notable for its plasticity. It is not unreasonable to speculate that the Internet not only shapes itself to the mind but shapes the mind to itself”, writes Ana Menéndez in this month’s Poets & Writers magazine.
Continue reading “The Internet’s Effect on the Human Mind (discussion forum)”
Electronic medical records (EMR), like health insurance, benefit from being spread over the widest pool possible. A system that aggregates and cross-references data from hundreds of millions of patients can find statistical evidence far more efficiently than today’s statistical modeling for health problems and solution improvement.
Allowing for non-identified EMR sharing across the system creates a universal pool of data in which drug side-effects, treatment failure or success rates, disease history, specific organ damage or healing, and all sorts of incidence of drug interactions and health specifics can be cross-referenced, spurring a massive amount of data-rooted research and improving quality of care and treatment success rates.
Continue reading “Electronic Medical Records Could Help Find Cures, Speed Progress, Cut Costs”
The Amazon Kindle is a nice device, and it handles its job well, but it is just a very clumsy start to what will be a technological convergence few in mainstream media (and publishing) are anticipating, though it may not be far off. The page-perfect, for lack of a better term, e-reading device will make portable electronic reading easier and more comfortable than ever, packing huge amounts of data, as well as wireless downloading and even browsing capability, into an ultrathin tablet touchscreen.
The device may, after one or two initial iterations, come to have the computing power of today’s less expensive laptop computers, and will capitalize on the great discoveries in user-interface technology that have emerged from the introduction of the iPhone into the mainstream consumer market.
Whether it will belong to Apple, or be the next generation of the Amazon Kindle, or whether an as-yet-unknown pioneer in consumer electronics will pull it off, e-paper technology is certainly advanced enough to make it possible, and it’s just a matter of time until someone figures out the best way to market such a product, building on the success of the Kindle, the iPhone, the inexpensive streamlined netbook, and ever more available flat-rate unlimited mobile web services.
Continue reading “Page-perfect Touchscreen e-Reader will Revolutionize Mobile Computing”