Digital 'Dark Age', Online Ad Spending Up and Chemical Castration as Behavior Mod

October 29 2008 / by memebox / In association with Future
Category: Information   Year: General   Rating: 1

The Future Scanner Daily Top 5 highlights some of the best scans submitted to the Future Scanner over the last 24 hours.

Nova Spivack: "Web OS" Midde-Ware Will Transform the Cloud Into Your Personal Distributed Desktop

October 27 2008 / by Alvis Brigis
Category: Information   Year: General   Rating: 4 Hot

To facilitate more efficient interaction with data and services available in the emerging web Cloud, we should build a Web OS or “middle-ware layer developers can write applications to”, says Twine creator Nova Spivack. Ideally, such a layer would be “brand agnostic” and serve as a neutral “marketplace for finding and orchestrating [all] services rather than one company’s services.”

“The middle-ware should be able to handle this without making me subscribe to anyone’s proprietary API,” paints Spivack, “So if I say, ‘I need to store something,’ the middle-ware layer, this Web OS, should say ‘Hmm, where do I get the best deal on storage right now?’ Maybe it’s Amazon, maybe it’s Google, maybe it’s another location.’”

Clearly such middle-ware would save time and generate other efficiencies, especially in the context of exponential information growth, creating “a major commercial opportunity” for the right developer, as Spivack points out.

Here’s the full Web OS scenario as presented by Spivack:

So the question then becomes, which organization will end up building out such a structure?

The usual suspects Google and Microsoft immediately pop into mind. Both have made big browser plays and understand the significance of The Cloud and human attention.

But perhaps it will prove too large or complex an effort or present a fundamental conflict of interest for such companies, in which case open-source efforts facilitated by the likes of the Mozilla Foundation may prove most effective.

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X-Prize CEO Peter Diamandis Announces the Formation of a SINGULARITY UNIVERSITY

October 26 2008 / by Alvis Brigis
Category: Technology   Year: 2008   Rating: 9 Hot

So it is true! Peter Diamandis, Chair and CEO of the increasingly mighty X-Prize Foundation, and some high-level folks are working on something big called a “Singularity University.” Who else could be involved? It seems like Ray Kurzweil would be a prime candidate, especially considering their back-to-back presentations at today’s Summit.

Might this be a first step toward a Singularity X-Prize? :) What do you think a “Singularity University” might consist of?

Intel CTO Justin Rattner: Intel is Repsonsible for the Trench Warfare Driving the Singularity

October 25 2008 / by Alvis Brigis
Category: Technology   Year: Beyond   Rating: 3

Intel CTO Justin Rattner acknowledges that “the Singularity is a nice organizing principle” and that Intel will be critical to any future scenario in which runaway technology enables massive intelligence. He says Intel is “responsible for the trench warfare that drives these technologies.”

The preceding video was captured at SS08 shortly after Justin’s presentation.

Rattner argues that other Moore’s Law enabled advances in other fields such as Silicon Photonics, Digitial Multi-Radio, Silicon Bio-sensors and Programmable Matter will be instrumental in a possible Singularity.

But could exponentially advancing technologies hit a wall?

“We did hit a wall,” says Rattner, “We reached the point where we could not thin the gate material any more. So, in essence, Silicon Gate CMOS ended last year.”

But engineers were able to develop a work-around: metal gate technology, and they’re also planning subsequent generations that will enable computer speeds to continue their astronomical growth.

This prompts the Rattner’s next question, “How do you define Moore’s Law?”

Indeed. Is Moore’s Law still relevant, or is a broader law of accelerating computation in effect.

Nova Spivack Discusses the Evolution of Collective Intelligence (MemeBox Exclusive Video)

October 25 2008 / by Alvis Brigis
Category: Information   Year: 2008   Rating: 3

Twine creator Nova Spivack believes we are evolving collective consciousness through the web. Here’s a summary of his ruminations on the subject (shot immediately following his thought-provoking presentation at SS08 this morning):

Nova Spivack: We Are Evolving Collective Intelligence Through the Web (SS08 Take-Aways)

October 25 2008 / by Alvis Brigis
Category: Information   Year: 2008   Rating: 4

Nova Spivack, CEO of Radar Networks and creator of Twine, has recently written about the notion of a Global Body that compliments the Global Brain.

This morning at the Singularity Summit, he posed the question, “Will the Global Brain have its own mind?”

Here are some of my take-aways from his excellent presentation (memebox interview forthcoming):

“Are we actually space-time machines?”

“Intelligence will spread throughout the universe. ... The cosmos is an intelligence spreading machine.”

“The distinction between actual and virtual will just go away. ... It won’t be Second Life anymore, it will just be First Life.”

“We don’t really know how the body and mind will change.”

Buys Vinge’s assertion of “Superhuman intelligence in 30 years.”

Four scenarios through which super-human intelligence can occur:

- computers themselves become awake
- large computer networks wake up (Skynet)
- interfaces become so connected that effectively each individual awakens
- human intellect is enhanced by biological and other means

So, how to give a group a sense of itself, bring self-consciousness to a group?

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Liveblogging (and Blogging) the Singularity Summit Today - Heylin & Brigis Storm San Jose

October 25 2008 / by Alvis Brigis
Category: Technology   Year: 2008   Rating: 1

Good morning readers! It’s 7:30am in Mountain View, CA and in just a few hours MemeBox will begin liveblogging and not-so-liveblogging the 2008 Singularity Summit. MemeBox reporter John Heylin (soon to be Future of Gadgets Editor) and I will be storming the festivities to soak up some future-focused speaker presentations and asking anyone and everyone to get on camera to talk about the future, paint some scenarios and specifically make a few predictions for the year 2015. We’ll scramble and do our best to post these to You Tube and here on Future Blogger as soon as humanly possible, while still experiencing the event.

If you’re also attending (physically or virtually) and would like to post a reaction, summary or video, then we encourage you to add it to the comment threads (yes, you can embed youtube videos and image links) of our ongoing Singularity Summit 2008 pieces!

Alright, off to wake up Heylin and head down to San Jose for what’s sure to be a day full of brain-freezes, vigorous debate and non-stop journalism. If yesterday’s preceding SciVestor Workshop, organized and moderated by the capable Jonas Lamis, serves as an gauge then today should unfold very nicely. Stay tuned…

Update #1: Shortly before the summit:

Update #2: Multiple Hugo Award winning sci-fi author and coiner of the term “Singularity” Vernor Vinge is onstage right now speaking with Bob Pisani about the value of scenario planning in forecasting our future. He insists that scenarios expand our ability to collectively process the future because they open up various options to contemplate.

re: the current economic crisis, Vinge believes this can be attributed in part to the outsourcing of more and more of human processes.

Discussing the Singularity and Intelligence Amplification – Vinge concurs with Cascio’s esimation that technology growth is generally banal, but does not believe a Singularity will be banal – unless someone has amplified their intelligence to a Super-Human status.

re: Post-Singularity Future Fiction – How do you deal with thinking about super-humanly creatures? Through analogy. Human-like, systems attributes. Vinge is encouraged that much of nature is about cooperation. New life depends on old life. “It’s actually a pretty optimistic view.”

Pasani asks about failure scenarios. Vinge, “A person in America is every day faced with existential threats. ... Embedded networked micro-processors are the biggest economic win over the last 50 years. ... They may be the way the Singularity materializes. ... The become so ubiquitous that they become a ‘single failure’ point. ... We don;t know how many people would actually die if somethign like this failed.”

Pasani asks about Disaster Scenarios. Vinge, “It could be that Killjoy has it right. ... But it could be that Killjoy has it opposite, that in fact the future really, really does need us. ... We are something that can work even if technology goes away.”

Vinge on the likelihood of the Singularity. “Barring physical catastrophes – if humanity became extinct it wouldn’t happen. Nuclear war would pre-empt it.”

Responding to a question from the audience, “Any time you’re playing a positive sum game it makes sense to be nice.” Vinge argues evolution continues in the realm of psychology. “Culturally I think we’ve gotten much better in the last 5 centuries. So there’s reason to be very optimistic.”

On climate change: It’s an existential threat. “I don’t think it by itself is the most existential threat that we face.”

Geo-Spatially Mapped Life-Lines Will Soon Amplify Our Memories

October 21 2008 / by Alvis Brigis
Category: The Web   Year: General   Rating: 4 Hot

A few years into the future when someone says, “I think I’ll use my lifeline,” they will no longer be referring to Who Wants to be a Millionaire?, but instead their geo-spatially coordinated content history.

According to John Schneider, CTO of clever geo-web annotator, we’re about to experience a powerful convergence of mirror worlds and life-logging that will enable all sorts of interesting applications including community feedback mechanisms and amplified memory.

“You’ve been to something like an antique shop last month with your wife, and you just can’t for the life of you remember where this place was or what the name of it was,” lays out Schneider, “But because you’ve life-logged you can get on your account, you can take the time slider and move it back in time to the place you were. ... Now you project that lifeline on something like Google maps, bring up the Street View, look around and there it is – there is the place you’ve been looking for.”

I totally buy that scenario. Do you?

For more interesting future videos be sure to check out the MemeBox YouTube Channel

Will the juxtaposition of personal data atop geo-spatial simulations fundamentally augment our memory?

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You Too Will Surf Virtual Halls of the Dead

October 20 2008 / by Alvis Brigis
Category: Culture   Year: 2013   Rating: 12 Hot

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’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.)

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Christine Peterson, coiner of "Open Source", and MemeBox Demo at Bay Area Future Salon Tonight

October 17 2008 / by Alvis Brigis / In association with Future
Category: Security   Year: 2008   Rating: 3

If you’re near the San Francisco Bay Area this evening, Friday the 16th, then I strongly encourage you to swing by the monthly Future Salon featuring Foresight Institute President Christine Peterson who will be presenting on the provocative topic:

Open Source Sensing: Using open source & nanotechnology to reduce surveillance & head off Iraq-style wars.

Christine, who coined the term “open source”, contends that distributed approaches will be critical to combating the inherently distributed terrorism phenomenon:

In the U.S. and other countries, concerns regarding terrorism are driving massive new centralized surveillance systems, with little or no regard for their potential effect on civil liberties. However, unlike nuclear weapons delivered by ICBMs, terrorism is inherently a bottom-up, distributed challenge, requiring a similar response. Open source software provides a useful model for a set of technologies that address security concerns in a distributed way, with the added benefit of relatively fast response time.

We can use open source techniques, combined with the latest in sensing technologies, as an alternative to centralized surveillance. Such technologies could also build trust when used in arms control applications, potentially heading off “wars of forced inspection” such as the recent war in Iraq.

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Garbage Spiders: Future Robots that Efficiently Piece Together and Monetize the Past

October 15 2008 / by Alvis Brigis
Category: Security   Year: 2020   Rating: 6 Hot

Atop a garbage heap amidst the expansive Westchester Landfill an iRobot Refuse Quantifier (iRQ) deftly went about its lucrative business.

Credit card receipt: inconclusive. Candy wrapper: M&M logo, no fingerprint. Check fragment: inconclusive. Candy wrapper: M&M logo, no fingerprint. Candy wrapper: Almond Joy, smudged fingerprint, image stored to temporary cache. Comb: zoom, hair strand: 92% match. Load level 2 protocols. Letter fragment: stamp fragment, zoom, puncture, contaminated sample. Product box fragment: Nintendo Wii logo, burnt, no data. Shredded tax documents: inconclusive, coordinates tagged in case of reassembly contingent on identity correlation.

The mechanical spider legs pumped and the little scavenger-bot systematically inched left, establishing a better focus point for its frontal laser array. The iRQ began scanning the next set of coordinates.

Tax document fragments continued. Shredded letters – stamp, saliva, contaminated. Faded notebook: pen indentations still palpable, scanning Page 1, correlation 18%. Load notebook sequence.

Shifting the bulk of its weight to its hind legs, the spider freed up the instrument-loaded fore-pincers and carefully commenced flipping pages.

Page 2: read ink, map indents, cross-reference Page 1, revise correlation, 64% – nearing identity threshold. Flip. Page 3: read ink, unique phrase discovered, initiate semantic sub-routine #22. Page 4: undecipherable complex symbols, snapshot, map indents, revise correlation… Sub-routine results registered. Revise correlation, 69%. Resume indent correlation, 73%, identity threshold reached. Regional identity match: subject #D471D-MZ. Persistent video commence. Ping spiders. Stream information to local node.

An identity match for a primary target had been established! Power surged from the tertiary battery outward as the spider maxed both input and broadcast. But something was wrong. The swarm network was not responding. Thus it was highly probable that the iRQ was now invisible to its peers and ultimately its owner.

Re-broadcast for 3 seconds. No ping back. Defensive algorithm, blend. Scan for disruption, risk assessment. Attempt new frequencies. Multiple frequencies inoperable. 84% deliberate disruption, 62% location awareness, evasive algorithm.

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The Future of Fertility: Lose Weight, Fix Bad Sperm

October 07 2008 / by Lani / In association with Future
Category: Health & Medicine   Year: Beyond   Rating: 8 Hot

Here’s another good reason to lay off that super-sized combo with extra fries: bad sperm. Besides being the cause of diabetes, heart disease, and back problems, a large waistline can also affect fertility. And not in a good way.

Researchers at the University of Aberdeen conducted a study involving the sperm of more than 2,000 men who were having trouble conceiving. The results, presented at a recent conference of the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology in Barcelona, revealed a substantial difference between the sperm of obese men and those of normal weight. The men were divided into four different groups, depending on Body Mass Index. Men with an optimal BMI of 20 to 25 had a healthy level of normal sperm, while the opposite occurred with heavier men. Findings show obese men produce more abnormal sperm as well as lower volumes of seminal fluid.

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