Posts Tagged ‘Future’

Posted: January 2, 2013 by Wildcat in Uncategorized
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Predicted for 2003 (above): Apple redefined the desktop, laptop, and MP3 player. The next insanely great thing: an LCD arm cuff that includes a PDA, wireless Internet, a mini iPod, and, of course, a phone. The iPhone bracelet’s motion sensor allows you to scroll through apps and files with the flick of a wrist, its clasp holds a digicam for use during video calls, and its wireless ear clip lets you listen and speak to callers. And everything can be done via voice recognition or touchscreen. Talk about the right call. Illustration: Kenn Brown. (via The Future Is Now: What We Imagined for 2013 — 10 Years Ago | Gadget Lab |


Here is an essay version of my notes from Peter Thiel’s recent guest lecture in Stanford Law’s Legal Technology course. As usual, this is not a verbatim transcript. Errors and omissions are my own. Credit for good stuff is Peter’s.

When thinking about the future of the computer age, we…

When thinking about the future of the computer age, we can think of many distant futures where computers do vastly more than humans can do. Whether there will eventually be some sort of superhuman-capable AI remains an open question. Generally speaking, people are probably too skeptical about advances in this area. There’s probably much more potential here than people assume. 

It’s worth distinguishing thinking about the distant future—that is, what could happen in, say, 1,000 years—from thinking about the near future of the next 20 to 50 years. When talking about legal technology, it may be useful to talk first about the distant future, and then rewind to evaluate how our legal system is working and whether there are any changes on the horizon.

Blake Masters: Peter Thiel on The Future of Legal Technology – Notes Essay

Posted: December 28, 2012 by Wildcat in Uncategorized
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2012: Visions of the future – BBC

Image 1:

Iron giant Suidobashi Heavy Industry unveiled Kuratas: a 13-ft (4-m) high, smartphone-controllable robot with motion-controlled weapons. Yours for $1.35 million. (Copyright: Getty Images)

Image 2:

Supersonic airliner In August, the US military tested a new jet – Waverider – which may help create a future hypersonic airliner that travels six times the speed of sound. (Copyright: Nasa)

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Twist and shout Phones that can be bent and twisted may be the hot new trend for 2013, after various flexible prototypes were unveiled this year. (Copyright: Samsung)

Image 4:

Foam first aid The next generation of soldiers on the battlefields may be treated with a new method – a prototype foam – which can be injected to prevent internal bleeding. (Copyright: Darpa)

Posted: December 17, 2012 by Wildcat in Uncategorized
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A future where robots are as common as cars – and cheaper – is on the way. This is according to Prof. Hiroshi Ishiguro, named one of the top 100 geniuses alive in the world today, who has devoted himself to creating robots so humanlike it’s hard to tell the difference. “In the future, our lives will be full of robots,” he says. Ishiguro’s lecture about the possibilities for the relationship between humans and robots attracted a packed audience. He compared the evolution of robots to the evolution of cars. “Once we have developed practical robots, we can spend more and more time building autonomy,” he said. Autonomous androids which look just like you could conduct your business, attend conferences, and go shopping on your behalf, while you sat in the comfort of your home. A camera would monitor your facial expressions and your android’s face would mirror your expressions. Ishiguro says there is even a psychological phenomenon whereby, if someone touches your android, you feel it. “It’s a very tactile sensation,” he says. Ishiguro has previously left his twin android, developed at a cost of $1 million, to deliver pre-recorded lectures at his place of employment, Osaka University in Japan, while he went overseas. He also – when doubled booked for a conference – emailed the conference organisers to say that he would have to send his android to one of the events. Both conferences replied: “We want the android!” Ishiguro has subsequently developed androids at a cost of $100 000 – the price of a luxury car. They look and feel just like humans – with very realistic skin, hair and facial and body movements. (via A future full of robots)

We hear a lot about energy research and development. Perhaps that’s because it’s the one sort of policy that Republicans and Democrats generally agree on. But there’s a different kind of research that I’d like to see get a lot more attention and funding. I’m talking about research into what various kinds of energy policies actually *do* to shape the technical possibilities open to humanity. In my time researching energy, most of the people who actually care about where we get our energy from have committed to an energy source, be it oil, gas, traditional nuclear, wind, solar, geothermal, or thorium. Then, they go looking for policies that would benefit their technology. I’ve also run into a lot of people who believe in inexorable laws of change in energy, whether that’s decarbonization or the inevitable rise of natural gas or nuclear power. And I’ve run into a lot of energy experts who believe in a fairly simple relationship between research money going in and technologies coming out. Unfortunately, none of these three groups of people is likely to produce very good energy policy. To put it in more mainstream terms, we’ve got a lot of energy pundits and very few energy Nate Silvers, who put reality (i.e. good data) ahead of ideology and intuition. Don’t get me wrong: everyone in energy loves them some data, but few people are interested in using it the way Silver does. Let me introduce you to a scholar who I think embodies the kind of research we need more of. His name is Gregory Nemet. He did his PhD at Berkeley and now teaches at the University of Madison, Wisconsin. I first discovered his work through a 2006 paper in Energy Policy, “Beyond the Learning Curve: factors influencing cost reductions in photovoltaics.” Now, you’re probably familiar with the neat story that learning curves tell. They say that as you do something, you get better at it, and because it’s a curve, the assumption is that this happens at a fairly consistent (and therefore predictable) rate. This is part of the rationale for supporting photovoltaics after all. They’ve gotten so much cheaper (orders of magnitude) over the last few decades that proponents suggest they’re inevitably going to get cheaper than grid electricity some time in the near future.

The Kind of Energy Research I’d Like to See More Of – Alexis C. Madrigal – The Atlantic

Posted: December 2, 2012 by Wildcat in Uncategorized
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I have some bad news and some good news for you about the future. First, the bad news. The future is not coming at us any faster than it ever has. We will not become immortal cyborgs with superintelligent computer friends in the next twenty years. The good news is that means we have a lot more time to get our shit together, and possibly to save the world. Welcome to the slow future. Sculpture by Christopher Locke One of the big mistakes that futurists make today is suggesting that our future is accelerating because science is operating at a fever pitch. We’re churning out so many magical devices that in twenty years we’ll have transcended death, disease, and poverty. Whether they’re wild-eyed Utopians like Ray Kurzweil or pessimistic doomsayers like Bill Joy (who popularized the idea of a “gray goo” apocalypse), they’ve made the error of assuming that all aspects of our lives will change as quickly as microchips do under Moore’s Law. When you consider that our technology has advanced from the first telephones to smart phones in roughly a century, it’s easy to understand why it seems like tomorrow is arriving faster than it ever did. (via The Future Is Not Accelerating)

Posted: December 1, 2012 by Wildcat in Uncategorized
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