Positive vs. Negative Futures

March 26 2008 / by Alvis Brigis / In association with Future Blogger.net
Category: Other   Year: General   Rating: 7

When considering the future, is it more important to focus on the extinction risk posed by advancing technology or the massive potential for social advancement enabled by the same?

Futurist blogger and core Lifeboat Foundation member Michael Anissimov argues that calculating and combating existential risk is the moral imperative of our time.

Anissimov writes, “In less than a decade, humanity will likely develop weapons even more deadly than nukes – synthetic life, and eventually, nanorobots and self-improving AI. Even if we consider the likelihood of human extinction in the next century to be small, say 1%, it still merits attention due to the incredibly high stakes involved.”

Jamais Cascio, founder of worldchanging.com and a popular futurist blogger in his own right, concurs that existential risk is a most valid concern.

In a recent Nanotechnology Now column he explains, “[S]ome technologies may enable individuals or small groups to carry out attacks, on infrastructure or people, at a scale that would have required the resources of an army in decades past. This is not an outlandish concern by any means; many proponents of the “super-empowered angry individual” (SEAI) concept cite the September 11 attacks as a crude example of how vulnerable modern society can be to these kinds of threats. It’s not hard to imagine what a similar band of terrorists, or groups like Aum Shinrikyo, might try to do with access to molecular manufacturing or advanced bioengineering tools.”

But then Cascio turns things around a bit and points out that “angry people aren’t the only ones who could be empowered by these technologies.”

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Longer, more exciting life ahead for everyone

August 12 2008 / by futuretalk / In association with Future Blogger.net
Category: Other   Year: General   Rating: 7 Hot

By Dick Pelletier

We often think nostalgically of our past as the “good old days,” but projected scientific and technological breakthroughs suggest the greatest and most exciting times are actually yet to come. Today, breakthroughs rush at us with amazing speeds and the golden ages of biotech, 2010-2020, and nanotech, 2020-2035, promise huge advances in health, entertainment and wealth.

Revolutionary biologist Leroy Hood predicts that in the next decade, we will understand individual genetic predispositions for most sicknesses, and develop powerful tools for preventing them. “We’ll move from a mode of medicine that’s largely reactive to one that’s predictive and preventive,” he says.

Experts believe that by 2025, nanobots swarming through our bodies will stave off most sicknesses and zap viruses before we even start to sniffle. By 2030, all diseases, including aging, will be manageable. And as we gain greater health and energy, we will become more actively involved with entertainment technologies.

Microsoft’s Bill Gates says TVs and computers are finally converging into a single media. By 2015, nearly every movie, TV drama and sit-com ever produced will be available from the Internet to your home, and voice-activation will make selecting programs as simple as talking to your screen.

Games will become more entertaining too with expected speeds of over 10,000 GHz. But no matter how far technology advances, certain aspects of gaming will remain constant. Marksmanship, speed thrills, and strategies will improve, but plots and characters of today’s role players, along with elements that charm the heart will remain pretty much the same as today.

Unlike today’s games that stimulate only sight, hearing, and touch, 2015 games will add taste and smell, creating more realism. As TVs continue to advance, flat screens will morph into holographic displays with characters seeming to hop into the room.

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Earth 2100 Game Imagines "Perfect Storm" Catastrophe Scenario

December 31 2008 / by Adam Cutsinger
Category: Metaverse   Year: 2015   Rating: 4 Hot

I wouldn't have predicted ABC News going all bleak futurist, but they did.  Earth 2100 is a massive online roleplaying game that starts out with global turmoil and devastation.  And they're going prime time with it.Earth2100

The project is pretty ambitious, but considering the recent popularity of games like Superstruct and Second Life, there should be no doubt that participation will be high.  To participate you need to record a short fictional video depicting something in 2015, then, based on those submissions, the ABC News people will design a scenario for 2050, then 2070 and finally 2100.

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[Video] What is the Future of Nanotechnology?

February 01 2009 / by Garry Golden / In association with Future Blogger.net
Category: Technology   Year: Beyond   Rating: 2

This mashup video project created by students in a Brown University Global Media course (2007) integrates various video clips that ask: What is nanotechnology?

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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.”